Episodes Recommended Before Reading:
In Loving Memory
Of Bats and Men
See For Yourself
After seeing HP's own markings and only gaining more questions about everything that was going on, Anti-Cosmo just needed a break. They'd promised to call each other if either of them figured anything out, but it wasn't nearly enough to ease Anti-Cosmo's weary mind. At this point, he didn't want to think anymore. Not about his father. Not about his body. Not about the Head Pixie. No, he just wanted to go home and...not think. Was that possible for him? Maybe he could ask his wife for advice.
"Anti-Wanda," he called, searching the castle. But, his wife was nowhere to be found. "Anti-Wanda, are you here, or am I just talking to myself?"
After a thorough investigation, during which he found Kitty almost completely tangled up in a heap of blue yarn and decided not to ask, Anti-Cosmo realized that his wife and son weren't home and dejectedly plopped down on the couch and stared at the blank television screen. His mind was just as tangled as his Spirit Guide. Unfortunately, he didn't think a pair of scissors were going to tell him why he and HP were experiencing a similar change in skin tone. Or, what that Lenderman character was up to. Or, what his own father had gotten himself mixed up in. Or-
Goddess, not thinking was hard.
Then, something cold and heavy landed in his lap, startling him back to reality. Vladimir had somehow managed to sneak on to the couch and rest his huge pig head on Anti-Cosmo's legs. And, it was clear that he didn't plan on moving anytime soon. And, considering that he was both immune to magic and ridiculously large, there was really no way to force him.
Sighing in defeat, Anti-Cosmo absentmindedly stroked the vampig's cool, leathery skin. "Well, I'm glad one of us is content. You're real lucky, Vladimir. Your biggest concerns are napping, playing with my son, and eating. Not necessarily in that order."
Vladimir snorted loudly in response.
"Oh, you think that's funny, do you?" Why he was conversing with a vampire pig of all things, he didn't know. Well, it felt better than letting his thoughts stew in his head, that was for sure. Maybe that was why people got pets in the first place - to talk to someone who wouldn't interrupt or call them crazy. "Well, Mr. Sheltered-and-Lazy, how would you feel if your very existence was suddenly turned upside-down, inside-out, and backwards? That your body is changing in a way that can't possibly be natural, and guess what? Someone else has the same problem! Oh, and let's not forget that my father has been killed! And, it's quite possible that that blasted Doombringer is back in the picture-" Anti-Cosmo sniffed and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.
Then he noticed that Vladimir was limp and snoring on his lap.
"Oh, why do I bother?" He scowled. "And, now I can't feel my legs!"
"Um, Anti-Cosmo." ...How long had Kitty been floating there? Concerned with his mental state, she flicked a stubborn piece of yarn off her tail and said, "Do you want to talk?" She glanced down at the sleeping vampig. "To someone who can respond?"
Anti-Cosmo just sighed and laid back on the couch. "Where are Anti-Wanda and Foop?"
"Anti-Wanda wouldn't stop crying," Anti-Cosmo flinched at that, "so Foop suggested they go do something stupid to take their minds off of...you-know-what." Kitty shrugged. "Something about a blond girl and a beaver with a hat? I don't know. I didn't ask."
"Smart girl." He tried in vain to shove Vladimir off him. "Now, will you be so kind as to please get this pig off me so I can pace anxiously?"
Kitty looked down at Vladimir's sleeping form, nervously extended a claw, and poked him as though she were poking a fresh corpse. When the pig made no attempt to move, she curiously ran her claw down his side. There was a long scratch on his skin but no blood. Or movement beyond a quick ear twitch.
Kitty hummed thoughtfully. "He usually freaks out when I do that. Sorry, but I don't think he's going anywhere anytime soon."
Anti-Cosmo huffed and crossed his arms. "How lovely. My entire life has gone topsy-turvy, and I can't fret about it the way I like to? For the Sisters' sakes, I can't even feel my legs anymore! Are they still attached to me? That's a serious question," he added, tentatively looking down at his legs to confirm that they were indeed still attached to his body.
Kitty started to say something, but the phone shrilled, only adding to Anti-Cosmo's increasing headache. "Uh, I'll get that," Kitty said, rushing to the phone nearby. "Anti-Cosma residence, Kitalianna speaking. … He's, um…" Anti-Cosmo half-listened as he continued failing to push Vladimir off him. "He's a little busy at the moment."
Giving up on freedom, Anti-Cosmo asked, "Who's bothering me now?"
"It's the Head Pi-"
Anti-Cosmo quickly reached over and snatched the phone, his heart rate increasing greatly. "HP? Any news?"
"Uh, yes and no."
Anti-Cosmo wished they were speaking in person so that he could smack the Head Pixie for such a stupid answer. Instead, he just smacked his own forehead. "What the devil does that mean? Is there news or isn't there?"
"Maybe you should get over here and see for yourself. See what I did there? With the title?"
"Now is not the time to break the fourth wall!"
"Couldn't resist. Just come over."
Then, HP hung up leaving Anti-Cosmo simultaneously confused, annoyed, and just the tiniest bit hopeful that something would happen.
It took a good ten minutes to get Vladimir off him, but Anti-Cosmo eventually managed to poof himself to HP's house. Slamming the Head Pixie's door open, the first thing that caught Anti-Cosmo's attention was the pixie on the recliner. As in, the pixie tied to the recliner with rope. That was new. Now, who was that pixie again? Those things all looked the same to him.
"Is that how all anti-fairies greet people?" the new pixie asked in the same deadpan tone that every member of the species carried. Thus, it told Anti-Cosmo nothing of who he was.
Though he was definitely not embarrassed by his frantic behavior, Anti-Cosmo calmy closed the door behind him. "And, you are…?"
HP, sitting casually on the couch, blinked in what may or may not have passed for surprise. "You don't recognize him?"
Goddess above, all pixies looked the same! "...Sanderson?"
But, HP shook his head. "No. I tried calling him, but he wouldn't pick up. This is Lenderman Dahmer."
Lenderman nodded. "'Sup."
Magic burning in his veins, Anti-Cosmo just stared at him. Lenderman Dahmer. The guy in the video. You killed my father. "A-And, is there a reason he hasn't been lacerated by now?"
"For one thing," HP said, rolling his eyes, "I'm not Foop." He turned his attention to the murderer tied up in his recliner. "Tell him what you told me. About Doombringer."
Doombringer? Anti-Cosmo sat down beside HP. Revenge would have to wait. "Forgive me, but did you say Doombringer? As in Mary Alice Doombringer? What's this about?"
"Look," Lenderman began. He may have been agitated, but it was hard to tell. "I realize that you two have absolutely no reason to trust me, but hear me out. It's a long story, but I sort of...promised to help Mary Alice take down HP."
Ah, yes. The old "pixies can't break promises" schtick. How did that work again? Something about magic… Oh, whatever.
"At first," Lenderman continued, "the whole thing was pretty much what I'd expected. But, now Mary Alice has gone completely insane."
"How do you mean?" Anti-Cosmo asked, crossing one leg over the other, folding his hands in his lap, and giving the murderer a suspicious yet pointed look. "We already know the woman is mad as a hatter, so, as the kids say, tell me something I don't know."
"Did you know that she's got Sanderson, Foop, and Anti-Wanda?"
Anti-Cosmo suddenly felt lightheaded.
"Or, that she plans to eliminate all magical creatures? All of them."
No. Not possible. Lenderman had to be lying. All magical beings? All of them? Destroyed by a mere human? It just wasn't possible. It would require an overwhelmingly large supply of power to destroy just one species. Even if she did have Anti-Wanda, Foop, and Sanderson (though Anti-Cosmo prayed to Darkness that she didn't), it wouldn't be nearly enough. Sure, Foop was Goddess-Blessed, had some very powerful raw magic at his disposal, but he was a bit too young yet for it to be developed enough to remove even a fraction of the universe's magic. And, even then it would be a stretch.
Anti-Cosmo then realized that the two pixies were staring at him patiently, so he spoke. "I...I-I don't know if I can believe that. Doombringer capturing them, perhaps. But, the rest? Is that not a might far-fetched?"
"I know it sounds crazy, but it's true." Lenderman shifted a bit. "Now, can someone untie me? I've lost all feeling in my arms."
"Why should we believe you?"
HP finally spoke up. "I believe him." Anti-Cosmo shot an incredulous look at the Head Pixie, who replied, "Hey, you've seen Doombringer. She's nuts. Possible or not, I could see her trying something like this."
Anti-Cosmo glanced at Lenderman, who continued fidgeting in his restraints. "What if he's lying? This could be a trap."
"Perhaps. Or, perhaps not. Let me put it to you this way, AC. Lenderman's a freak," Lenderman glared at him, "but at least he's relatively sane. But, Doombringer? She concerns me."
Hm. Anti-Cosmo still wanted to skewer Lenderman with a lead pipe, but HP had a point. Doombringer was a madwoman, and she positively loathed magic. The notion of destroying the world's magic sounded like something out of a cartoon, but that didn't change the fact that he hadn't heard from his wife in several hours, and she usually, if nothing else, texted him some random comment about whatever stupid thing she was doing. Nine times out of ten, it was something taken out of context and therefore made no sense whatsoever ("I picked a lock with my feet!" "I just found a worm in my pocket!"), but at least then he knew that everything was okay. And, Foop… Well, he was use to not hearing from his son, but still.
"You say Sanderson wouldn't answer his phone?" he asked the Head Pixie, who shook his head. "Is that normal?" Same response. Anti-Cosmo sighed. He was crazy. He had to be crazy or just dim. But, if there was even a chance… "Well, this is either the smartest risk I've ever taken or the dumbest."
To Be Continued...