The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Yanked Yooyus - Part Ten
What could I do?
It was almost noon on Wednesday the 5th. I paced the hotel room, white paws curled into fists and stomach in knots. Damien, Luna, and Charlie had gone to see the Yooyu Room to try and find anything we might’ve missed. I offered to go with them, but agreed that someone needed to stay here in case anything turned up.
I tightened my jaw, wishing I would’ve gone. Anything would be better than sitting around. I hated feeling this way. I wanted the big lead to fall into my lap so we could get this thing solved. The worst thing that could happen is not solving the case in time. The Yooyus would be sold and others would be trained for Yooyuball. I could see the headlines now: ‘Petpet Detectives Failed’ and ‘Altador’s Yooyus Forever Unrecovered. Was that really so bad?
The thought made me freeze. Oh, Fyora. I’m going insane. I was so desperate to get this pressing weight off my shoulders.
“Anything?” I demanded when the door started to open.
Luna’s face appeared from behind it. She shook her head. “I can’t believe it, but the Yooyu Room is completely clean.”
“Okay,” I said, exhaling slowly. “That’s okay.” I felt suddenly drained; the effects from sleeping fitfully were starting to kick in. “I’m going to go downstairs and get a coffee. My brain’s not functioning properly.”
“I want to come,” said Damien.
“Me too,” Charlie echoed.
Luna managed a tiny smile at the fact that none of us wanted to stay in the hotel rooms. “I guess I’ll hang out here,” she said, and wearily collapsed onto the white bed.
It was late morning, and the sunlight streamed through the large, glass windows in the lobby. Complimentary breakfast was still going on and I poured myself a glass of coffee, emptying a half dozen packets of sugar into it as well. Damien sat opposite me and Charlie was nibbling a blueberry from the Aisha’s muffin.
“How’s your coffee?” Damien asked lightly, trying to keep the spirits up.
“Cold,” I said, and in a tone similar to Damien’s I added: “This was the booth I was sitting at when I met Dasher Soley.”
Damien laughed. “Maybe it’s lucky.”
I rolled my eyes at him. “You’re ridiculous.”
We ate in silence until Dominic Fletcher entered the lobby and came to join our feeble brunch.
“Good morning,” said the starry Jetsam.
I found nothing good about it at all, but responded politely.
“You guys look stressed,” Dominic commented.
Was he completely oblivious as to what tonight meant for the Colosseum? How much pressure we were under? I bit back a sarcastic remark. “Yeah, it’s been a long couple of days.”
“Do you want me to call you an Eyrie cab? If you’re looking for a place to unwind, Silver Suns is a fantastic resort and it’s just a few streets down. Preston can get you there in five minutes if he’s on duty,” Dominic offered. “He’s our fastest flier.”
I lost control of the frustration and it boiled over momentarily. “Why the heck would we want to waste time--?”
Damien cut me off. “You have personal Eyrie cabs?”
Well gee, Dom, that was something you could’ve mentioned on the grand tour.
The starry Jetsam smiled. “Certainly. Our most prominent employees and biggest donors are permitted the luxury of traveling to and from the Colosseum for no charge. The cabs are stationed in the back lot. You can go through the garden if you want. I’ve found that it’s faster.”
Charlie said, “So if you’re an important person, you can get a free ride?”
Dominic nodded. “All you need is one of these.” He flashed his white access card.
Damien’s eyes met mine and I knew we were thinking the same thing.
“Dom, you’ve been very helpful,” I said, grasping him on the shoulder and shaking his fin. Damien and I abandoned our food and rushed to the elevators with Charlie clinging to the brim of Damien’s hat.
“I hope you enjoy Silver Suns,” Dominic called after us, and I had to grin at his blissful ignorance.
Once around the corner, I spun Damien around excitedly. “Are you guys thinking what I’m thinking?”
“That’s how the kidnapper escaped!” the royal Aisha exclaimed softly. “He or she took the Yooyus on one of the Colosseum’s Eyrie cabs. And if that Eyrie remembers by any chance anything about the kidnapper or where he or she asked to go...”
“We may be able to solve the case on time,” Charlie finished.
“Come on!” I said breathlessly. “Let’s get Luna!”
Damien stopped before getting onto the elevator. “Hey, I was right,” he said. “It was a lucky booth.”
“If a magical, lucky booth is what you have to tell yourself...”
Damien hopped onto the elevator and punched me on the shoulder as the doors closed and we ascended.
Once Luna joined the team, the four of us practically barreled down the near-empty hallway to get to the lobby. We accessed the Colosseum’s back lot through the French doors and down a narrow corridor. Once through the final exit, we stepped into a garden with a gushing fountain and neatly-trimmed hedges. Blue and white flowers bloomed through the bushes.
Five Eyries attached to carriages stood erect on the far side of the garden. They were as tall as me, if not taller, and boasted strong shoulders, powerful wings. All five remained poised when we approached.
“Hi,” said Luna, rushing through formalities and introductions.
“Good evening, Petpet Detectives,” said a red Eyrie, beautifully groomed and eloquent. “My name is Amira. Where can I take you?”
“We’ve come only to ask you something,” I said. “We’re looking for someone who we believe took an Eyrie cab on the first morning of this month at approximately ten a.m. Do you know who was working that day?”
Amira turned her massive head to the Eyries around her. “Who was on duty last Saturday?”
Two paws slowly rose, one belonging to an orange Eyrie, and the other a green Eyrie.
Luna stepped forward, not intimidated. “As we’ve said, we’re looking for a specific person. He or she would’ve been in this area around ten a.m. and carrying a sack from the laundry room. Other than that we unfortunately have no other physical details. If any of you can remember what this person looked like or where he or she wanted to go...”
“I know who you’re speaking of,” the orange Eyrie said. “He had an access card but I’d never seen him before.”
“Can you recall what he looked like?” Damien asked hopefully.
The orange Eyrie frowned. “Well... he didn’t look much like anything. He was invisible.”
My heart sank. Our invisible kidnapper was still invisible during his escape and although we now knew it was a guy, there were lots of males out there with either motive or means to steal seven Yooyus.
“Yes, he was carrying a large sack,” the orange Eyrie continued, “and a black rod protruded from it.” He paused and tried to justify his inattentiveness. “Things are transported to and from the Colosseum often. I didn’t think much of it.”
“Can you remember anything distinctive about him?” I asked. “Anything?”
The Eyrie faltered. “He... well, I think he walked with a limp. The sack would fall against him and dip when he moved.”
A limp? I mused.
“Did the black rod have a silver tip?” Luna asked.
“Yes,” said the Eyrie without hesitation.
“Your name is?”
“Thank you, Tristan.” I shook his paw.
The four of us disappeared around a corner to talk.
Luna looked over at me as soon as we were hidden by the leafy hedge. Her face lit up. “A cane! That explains the limp. He put the cane in his bag with the Yooyus to hide it because he had no way of making it invisible and he didn’t want to make himself stand out.”
“That’s why Dominic always met him in the courtyard,” said Charlie.
“And the only Neopian on our suspects list that uses a cane?” Damien asked.
Luna sighed dramatically. “Why is it always the butler?”
“Not just Knox,” said Charlie. “Remember those dust patterns found on the inside of the vent in Jasper Curry’s office?”
“Right,” I said, “indicating someone small.”
“Olivia Nash?” suggested Damien.
The pea Chia nodded. “That’s exactly what I’m thinking.”
“She was almost right next to the door to the Yooyu Room, after all,” Damien reminded us. The royal Aisha’s bloodshot eyes were shining with a renewed excitement. “It would’ve been so easy for her to slip inside, transfer the Yooyus to the laundry room, and then get back to her seat before the game started.”
“And,” Luna began, “because she and Knox live in the same house, it would be so easy for them to devise a story to tell us when we arrived to question them.”
“Come on,” I said, bending my knees so she and Damien could climb onto my back. “Let’s go pin these guys.”
To be continued...