The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Yanked Yooyus - Part Eleven
This time, the gate was open. Olivia, dressed in a white jogging outfit, was at the door before we could knock.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, nearly colliding into Luna. “You startled me! I was just about to go for a run.”
“Sorry to drop in,” said Luna, in a tone I knew too well. It was the slightly strained, yet careful voice that she used when we were closing in on someone. “Do you have a minute?”
Olivia backed up to allow us inside. “Of course. Would you like some tea?”
“Yes, do alert Knox,” I said eagerly. “We’d love to speak with you both.”
The royal Usul’s eyes narrowed. “Marlo, what’s the meaning of this?”
“Please,” said Luna. “Call your butler.”
Olivia’s yellow face hardened defensively, but she crossed the space to press a button. “Knox,” she said over the intercom. “I need you in the sitting room.”
I felt my body stiffen as the blue Ixi appeared at the top of the spiral stairs carrying a blue coffee mug. His black cane tapped on every step and onto the marble floor as he made his way towards us. He didn’t take a seat, but waited rather awkwardly near the kitchen doorway.
He’s waiting to make an escape, I thought.
“Thank you for inviting us in,” said Luna. “We’re not going to beat around the bush.” The shadow Yurble took a deep breath, reading their expressions. “We’re here to tell you that the Defenders of Neopia are on their way. You’re both being taken to Neopia Central for kidnapping seven Yooyus among other crimes.”
Olivia’s eyes popped. “This is outrageous!” the royal Usul fumed. “How dare you come into my house and accuse us of these heinous deeds?”
Knox’s expression remained blank. His hooves were firmly planted on the marble floor, and he kept the coffee mug pressed to his chest.
“Upon inspecting Jasper Curry’s office, where the ransom note was deposited,” Damien explained, “we discovered that the kidnapper was able to access Mr. Curry’s office through the air vent behind his desk.” He paused. “We’ve come here because you are of an ideal height to have accessed Mr. Curry’s office via the air vent.”
Olivia’s mouth fell open in a very un-royal fashion. “You can’t be serious! I swear you’re mistaken.”
“Even if you plead guilty,” I said, “the Defenders are still on their way. Every clue points to Knox. We know he was in the laundry room on the first morning of this month right before the game began. And we also know that he fled shortly afterwards with the Yooyus.”
All eyes were on the butler. The Ixi took a long, quick drink of the liquid in his cup.
“I won’t let this ruin me,” he said.
And we watched in astonishment as the mug clattered to the floor, gawked at how the butler’s blue fur and clothing faded into it a pale, ghostly color until it was camouflaged completely with the creamy walls. Knox’s cane hurtled at us and I caught it just before it smacked into my face. In seconds, Knox had vanished and was on the run.
Olivia looked like she had just seen a ghost, and I guessed (in a weird way) she kind of had.
“Get him!” someone yelled and I flew over the back of the couch, streaming towards the back door. It slammed before I could arrive and I flung it open. Wow, this guy can move when he wants to, I thought, panting.
“I’m starting to think Olivia’s not involved,” said Damien, fanning out to search the area.
“This really isn’t the time,” I hissed.
Facing us was one of the largest and most decorated backyards I had ever seen, and because there were several ideal places for a person to hide, I couldn’t appreciate the beauty. A large, gray fountain was in the center; the surface of the water inside was covered with tiny, pink flowers. I scanned the bushes around it, checking for sudden movements.
Fortunately, the hedges surrounding the backyard were too thick to climb through, so that meant Knox had to be hiding somewhere close.
Luna thrust her paw to the right. “There! Footprints in the grass.”
“Marlo!” Damien called. “Push him into the fountain!”
Thank Fyora I knew where we was going with the absurd remark, otherwise I wouldn’t have had the guts to push an invisible old man into a pool of water. Knox tumbled over the edge of the fountain as I collided with him, scattering the pink flowers on the surface.
Luna’s jaw dropped. “Was that really necessary?”
Damien pointed at us. “Look.”
As Knox emerged from the stone fountain, the little pink flowers that once covered the surface clung to his body. He swung himself over the edge and tried to brush them off but there were too many.
“Sometimes I don’t give you guys enough credit,” Luna admitted. Now when we wanted to see Knox, all we had to do was look for the pink flowers floating through the air. Luna winced. “You didn’t hurt him too bad, right?”
I gave him a hearty pat on the shoulder, or at least what I thought was his shoulder. “He may’ve had the wind knocked out of him, but he’ll be fine.”
Knox sat on the edge of the fountain, wheezing and defeated.
The Defenders of Neopia arrived moments later in Eyrie cabs as grand as chariots. Judge Hog approached us. “This is the guy?”
“Yes, it is,” I said, giving Knox a little shake. The blue Ixi’s color was beginning to return rapidly. Now he was a grayish figure seated stiffly in one of the lawn chairs, still covered with those pink flowers.
Olivia and Alexander stayed inside, away from the chaos in the backyard. I felt bad for both of them, as I had pitied other Neopians who found out that they were being deceived by people close to them. The emotional tension was strong. Olivia cried silently and Alexander squeezed her hand. The yellow Kacheek’s eyes were cast to the marble floor and he was chewing his bottom lip anxiously.
“May I ask why...” Judge Hog began in his profoundly deep voice. “Why he looks the way he does?”
“Potion of Concealment,” I explained. “That’s how he made himself invisible.”
“Ah. And do you know where the Yooyus are?” he asked as we started inside.
“We don’t believe they’re here,” said Luna. “With two other people in the house, it would be too big of a risk to hide them on this property.” She turned to me. “Maybe Knox gave the Yooyus to his accomplice for safe-keeping.”
“We’re working on that,” Luna promised. “We may be able to pick up the trail in Knox’s room.”
The Lupe and Aisha Defenders stayed on the first floor with Knox, Olivia, and Alexander while the four of us went to search the butler’s room. If there was anything more we could find out about his accomplice, it would be there.
I wasn’t surprised to find that Knox’s furniture was made of iron; it perfectly reflected what we had seen of his personality. The dimly-lit room smelled of cheap air cleaners and mildew. There was a lamp on his nightstand next to the bed that looked like it hadn’t been used in ages. There wasn’t any clutter. In fact, there wasn’t much in the room that indicated someone lived here.
Damien uncorked an empty glass bottle that he had found under the bed and held it to his nose. He made a face. “Ugh. This was probably the Potion of Concealment.”
“We should go through the desk drawers to see what else we can find in here,” said Luna after opening the closet doors to find only an array of black suit jackets.
Luna and Damien began to go through the few documents the desk contained and I picked up a picture frame on the dresser. A strapping, younger version of Knox and a pretty, blue Wocky stood outside of the Golden Dubloon. The Wocky almost looked familiar. “Krawk Island,” I said.
Charlie peered down at the picture from the top of my head. The pea Chia nodded, “He did say he was a fan. I wonder if the Wocky is his daughter?”
“Try most definitely,” said Luna, and she held out a letter for us to read:
My dearest Father,
I am saddened to hear about your departure from the Colosseum and perhaps even more saddened that there was nothing I could do about it. Nana and I are worried about you. Please come back to Altador and don’t be angry. As you’ve always told me, embrace new opportunities. Don’t ever lose your dignity. The storm will pass and the sun will shine again.
I love you, I miss you. You’re always in my heart.
“I’m betting this is the accomplice,” said Luna quietly after reading the letter. “The first sentence indicates that she works at the Colosseum, too.”
I stared at the photo, trying to recall who this familiar Neopian was.
“What do you think?” Damien asked, gesturing to the blue Wocky. “Even with a different color, she still looks like the same person.”
Luna nodded attentively. “And not only is she small enough to squeeze through an air vent, but her office also happens to be right next to Jasper Curry’s.”
“Candy is a nickname,” I answered slowly.
“Right,” said Damien, prompting me. “And her full name is...?”
The realization began to sink in.
To be continued...