Only yesterday, one of the strangest cases in my career came knocking on my door in the form of a multimillionaire Wocky and his spoiled daughter. I knew the father from an article in the Neopian Times, describing how he, Sir Leon Cattus, had risen very quickly through the stock market and gained millions in mere hours.
Anyways, Sir Leon Cattus charged me with finding the Tooth Faerie and getting back his daughter’s tooth. His daughter told me she had lost her tooth very late at night, when her father was away on a business trip. She wanted to show her father the tooth and keep it, so she hid it under her pillow that night for safe keeping, completely forgetting about the Tooth Faerie. I remember the moments after she told her story perfectly...
“You want me to find a tooth!” I gasped, shocked. After all, I was Bruce M’Lagos, one of the finest Korbat detectives in all of Neopia. Tooth finding was way below me. And yet, I was intrigued. This would be a very interesting case, if a strange one. “How much would you be willing to pay for it?” I asked, calculating.
“How about 30,000 Neopoints?” Sir Leon Cattus inquired, pulling out a sizable brown bag from under his coat. He shook the bag gently, making many things within it clatter softly like money.
I accepted readily, grabbing the bag from the Wocky eagerly and spilling out the contents onto my kitchen table. 30,000 Neopoints worth of shiny, golden coins grinned up at me, sparking under the light. The price was almost double of that which my usual clients paid. I smiled at my employer. “I’ll start today,” I said, fingering a coin.
I sat, sipping some tea in the crowed Art Centre, waiting for one of my many undercover informants to bring me a lead as to where I might find someone who just lost a tooth.
After about five minutes of waiting, a green Aisha walked casually towards my chair but tripped, landing heavily on me. After apologizing profusely, the Aisha left the coffee shop, soon out of sight, mingled with the crowd. I stood and stretched, glancing at the small slip of paper my friend the Aisha had dropped into my lap when he “tripped.” On it were a few words and numbers: 373622 Bracknell Road.
Seven hours later, I was hovering sleepily near the second story window of a moderately sized old fashion Neohome. I had spent half my day studying the family that lived inside, always staying out of sight but observing them. (I hated to think of studying them as spying on them, but many lawyers will argue that it was. I had to bend a few laws in the past to complete my cases, and I had no idea how not to do so with this case.) From what I’d seen so far of the house’s five occupants, I knew that the Lupe that lived there had just lost a tooth and was going to put it under his pillow tonight.
My plan was to watch the Lupe’s room all night to follow the Tooth Faerie when she showed up to retrieve the tooth. Then I would proceed to her home and ask for my client’s tooth. At the moment, however, I was just hoping the Tooth Faerie would show up.
I sighed wearily and got back to watching the window. Stakeouts were always my least favorite part of the job, especially at night. They had a tendency to be fruitless, though the tooth faerie was supposed to be very reliable.
Finally, ten minutes after midnight, the fateful hour, my sharp night eyes finally detected a slight shimmering in the air outside the Lupe’s room. My eyesight, so very much sharper than the average Korbat’s, could see a small, faerie-like creature peering into the window, a pouch hanging off her hip. I watched in fascination as the faerie placed a hand against the glass and started vibrating quickly.
I barely concealed my gasp as I saw her dematerializing slowly, vanishing right before my tired eyes. After twenty seconds of staring dumbly, she started to materialize again, and I could barely keep my wits about me as I flew after her when she zipped off down the street, very small, agile, and hard to see.
Immediately I flew after her, flying at a very high speed. The Tooth Faerie seemed to know exactly which houses to go to, and gradually her small sack filled up. I followed her to many more houses; after the thirtieth, I lost count. When my watch read four thirty, the Tooth Faerie abruptly changed her pattern of house visiting, instead flying straight up like an arrow through the dark sky. Wearily I flew after her, barely keeping her in sight as I fought down the wave of drowsiness that threatened to overcome me.
After several minutes of silent flying, I saw the familiar pink-tinted clouds of Faerieland looming above. The Tooth Faerie didn’t pause as she flew right into the huge cloud that supported the city. The cloud was easily a hundred yards thick and about half a mile wide, so I blinked in surprise when the small faerie vanished right into the heart of it. (Actually, I know exactly where in the cloud it was in, but I can’t tell you that.)
Timidly I followed, holding out my wings widely as feelers as I reached blindly into the light pink madness. I was slightly shocked when I felt something rough and solid just a few feet into the cloud. I flew farther up and immediately reached a break in the clouds, a clearing large enough to fit an Elephante. There, on one side of the clearing, was a pink wall that blended into the clouds at a glance. In the center of the wall was a brown, solid oak door, with a thin window in the center.
I was rather surprised at how this case turned out so far. The Tooth Faerie was proving to be a lot more inventive that I’d first thought: moving magically through windows; having a hidden place right below Faerieland, a place no one would think to look. But I was still very tired. I peered through the window in the door, planning to get some sleep and come back when I was refreshed.
My scanning eyes immediately took up the details of the room inside: a cheery rug on the floor, a picture of a tooth on the wall, two doors at the back of the room, and a plain wooden desk where a faerie Zafara sat in front of a computer, examining one of the many papers on the desk. The Zafara looked up as I was looking at her, her eyes startled as she caught me peering in. In an instant, the Zafara was out of the desk and bounding across the room to the door, which she promptly flung open with one quick motion. Before I could berate myself for getting caught unprepared, she asked, “Can I help you?”
“Um...” I said franticly, searching for something to say. I pulled myself together. “I’m here to see the Tooth Faerie,” I said, attempting to sound awake and alert, even though I’d been up for twenty hours straight without a break.
The Zafara smiled. “I’m afraid Deneese is busy right now. If it is urgent, perhaps I could get her, but her work is best left undisturbed.”
“Oh,” I said, stumped. That was unexpected. “When will she be available?” I was still hoping I might get a rest, but if I could get the tooth now, it would save me a trip back to Faerieland.
The Zafara consulted her watch. “In about an hour, Deneese will come out of her laboratory to eat breakfast for half an hour. If you were willing to wait until then, I’m sure she would be happy to help you.”
I furrowed my eyebrows, frowning. It was tempting to stay, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to stay awake that long. “I’m afraid I’m too tired to stay,” I said reluctantly. “I’ll have to come back tomorrow.”
The Zafara smiled even wider. “You should stay if that’s the case. Here, have a seat.” She gestured to a dark green armchair that I couldn’t have seen from the window. “I’ll be right back.” She turned and disappeared into the room behind the left door.
I hesitantly sat, listening to the sounds of glass bottles clinking in the other room. Presently the Zafara appeared again, holding a tall glass of a mysterious frothy orange liquid. She handed it to me and I eyed it warily. It looked like something out of a horror movie.
She snorted. “It’s not poisoned,” she said, addressing my fears. When I still didn’t drink it, she added, “It’s just a brew that keeps you awake even better than coffee. Deneese drinks it several times a day.
“It’s brilliant, really,” she went on when I still didn’t do anything. “Deneese somehow found out how to make any living body take this potion as a substitute for sleep. It lets your internal organs rest but at the same time allows you to stay awake.”
Timidly I took a sip of the potion. It tasted very sweet and tangy. At once I could feel energy coming back.
“It isn’t uncommon throughout Neopia,” the Zafara continued, “but most people prefer to sleep. Those who have ever used it don’t know the Tooth Faerie created it; they usually think the Healing Springs Faerie did.” She smiled brightly as I finished the concoction, and held out her paw for the empty glass. “My name is Rachel, by the way. I am Deneese’s secretary/friend/family/partner/supervisor.” She disappeared through the left hand door again, leaving me to contemplate what she said.
“What do you mean by supervisor?” I asker her when she entered the room again. “I thought you were her secretary.”
Rachel grimaced. “I’m both, really. Deneese is a little... strange. You may think she is a perfectly good faerie, but the truth is, she’s a dark faerie. I love her and all, but I think she was always a bit crazy and psychotic, even for a dark faerie. She’s a genius, but a bit clueless.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, bewildered. I had no idea what she was talking about.
Rachel bit her lip. “I’ll show you, I guess. Don’t make any noise.” She walked over to the door on the right, beckoning me to follow.
I followed her across the room, puzzled at what she was saying. Rachel opened the door, letting me see and hear what was going on inside.
The room was filled with many vials and test tubes, each containing different liquids. There was a pile of normal white and yellow teeth and fangs in one corner, in another corner was an open door that led to an entire room filled with sparkling, gold teeth. The Tooth Faerie was bending over a steaming cauldron, adding various powders and liquids to it. Occasionally she would straighten and cackle evilly like a dark faerie, her hair looking remarkably like Jhudora’s in the light.
Suddenly the Tooth Faerie reached into the huge cauldron and extracted several golden nuggets; after closely looking, I saw they were teeth.
The truth of what I was seeing came rocketing down on me.
I glanced at Rachel and saw she knew I understood. She pulled me from the doorway into the main room again, starting to explain as she closed the door. “Many years ago, Deneese found out how to truly alchemize, to turn non-gold objects into 100% pure gold. She succeeded where thousands before her failed. Fortunately for the world, she was very greedy, if very evil. Instead of publicizing her discovery, she implored my family to help her. She decided that she would save up enough money and gold (that she alchemized) to hire thousands of mercenary soldiers to take over Neopia.
“Most of the materials were fairly easy to get; she would just buy them. The other ingredient needed to make gold was teeth. For that, she was afraid to buy. She thought that if she just bough the teeth right out, people would remember that she was a scientist and figure out how to alchemize also. Instead, she crept into their homes at night and stole the teeth, leaving behind Neopoints so they wouldn’t get angry. Instead of a power crazed scientist, people thought she was a crazy faerie obsessed with teeth.
“After she turned the teeth into gold (she wouldn’t trust anyone else but herself for that), she would hand the extra money to my family so we could keep it safe and hire soldiers. In truth, we would usually just drop the money around Neopia and the Money Tree, sometimes buying random items like codestones and dropping those instead. Most of the time, honest people would just find them on the ground.
“Deneese may be a genius, but she is quite evil and insane. There is no harm done, though, and many Neopians get free money. After all, most people have no need for their old teeth.” She finished her story and paused, obviously waiting for me to say something.
I had a hard time speaking; that must have been the weirdest true story I had ever heard. I was half waiting for Rachel to burst out with “April Fools!”, but in a strange, ridiculous way, the story made sense. What else would motivate the Tooth Faerie to trade Neopoints for teeth? “I guess that makes sense,” I said slowly. “But actually, the whole reason I’m here is that one of my clients wants their tooth back.” Rachel gave me a strange look so I hurried to explain. “I’m a private detective, you see, Bruce M’Lagos, one of the best.”
“I see.” There was humor in her voice. “Did this client lose their tooth yesterday?”
Rachel frowned. “Then I’m afraid Deneese will already have alchemized it. I’m really sorry.”
Like her, I frowned. “Is there any way that I might be able to get a tooth exactly like it from the pile that she has? It’s pretty important for me to get one.” I thought of the thirty thousand Neopoints waiting for me at home. It was important for me not to have to give up all that money- it was practically double.
“Maybe.” Rachel thought for a moment. “What kind of tooth was it?”
I thought quickly. “A young female Wocky’s. It was the top left center one,” I said, pointing in my own mouth where Sir Leon Cattus’ daughter lost her tooth.
“Okay, I’ll ask Deneese. The chances aren’t very high, but you never know. Stay here.” Once more, Rachel crossed the room and opened the right side door, slipping inside.
I held my breath, waiting. After a minute of waiting, I had to breathe or I’d suffocate. I waited another five minuets. How long could Rachel take? Finally, the door opened again. Rachel walked into the room, a bright triumphant smile on her face and a plastic bag containing the tooth in her hand.
She handed the bag to me. “We got really lucky. Deneese told me this tooth belonged to a male Wocky, but there are practically no differences between their teeth.”
I took the bag readily. “Thanks, Rachel,” I said sincerely.
“You’re welcome.” Suddenly, a thought flittered across her face and her smile fell. “You won’t tell anyone about where Deneese lives, will you? She does more good than harm, even if she doesn’t mean to.”
“Of course I won’t,” I agreed. I walked over to the door, pushing it open. “I enjoyed talking to you, but if you like I won’t tell anyone.”
She hesitated. “I don’t mind, really. Just try not to get anyone mad at Deneese. Even if she doesn’t mean to, she gives a lot to the well being of Neopia. She’s something of a hero.”
“Don’t worry,” I said. “No one will think bad of her, you, or your family.” I flew outside and turned to her again. “Bye. Maybe I’ll visit every once and a while. Thanks for everything.”
Then I executed a maneuver that made Faerieland one of my favorite places to go. I turned upside down in the air, closing my wings and letting myself plummet through the light pink clouds into the clear air below. I started falling faster, enjoying the wind in my face. I fell right through a flock of startled wild buzzers and looked down to see the ground looming up. The descent from Faerieland took less than an eighth of the time it took me to get there.
About twenty feet off the ground, I pulled out of my dive sharply, opening my wings and pulling myself upright. I flew straight to my Neohome that also served as my office and opened the door. I dropped the tooth on my table next to the bag of coins. I grabbed a pencil from off the counter and rummaged around in a drawer for paper and started to write about the odd happenings.
“Only yesterday, one of the strangest cases in my career came knocking on my door...