The Mystery of the Brightvale Abduction: Part One
I am Spottedleaf Thunder, P.I.
Neovia: a calm, quiescent, historical city in the Haunted Woods. A place of beautiful architecture, friendly townsfolk, and plenty of mysteries for a sleuth like me to solve. Some might call it dark and gloomy, but I call it home. My home. There are few things that can take me away from my beloved town.
The first and foremost of which is: a case. A mystery. A problem for my sleuthing skill to solve. There is nothing I enjoy more than questioning suspects, searching for evidence, and catching criminals! I certainly would not do this job for the money, little as it typically pays. But now and then comes along that wealthy client... however, I digress.
It was a cool morning in winter when I first entered this case. I was, on that morning, unemployed; and as is my usual custom at such times, I had stayed up late reading mystery fiction the night before, and slept late that day. It was already past eleven when at last I awoke, donned my glasses, and slithered downstairs to breakfast. My family had already departed, but as always my owner had left an omelette for me; and, as always, my impatient Petpet had already eaten it.
"Holmes," I sighed, patting the Whoot's head, "can't you ever save any for me?"
He tilted his head at me, giving me the customary expression of innocence.
"You're the one criminal I just can't outwit."
Shaking my head, I slithered to the fridge--just because we live in Neovia doesn't mean we do not have technological conveniences--to see what there was to eat. I found a Cheese Ghostkersandwich, leftover from the previous night's dinner, which was enough to satisfy me.
And so, with my breakfast--or rather, lunch--warmed, a Cup of Hot Borovan in one wing, and the latest issue of the Neopian Times in the other, I sat down at the table and perused the front page.
" 'The Terask's Eye Diamond: Lost and Found'. How interesting. The brilliant work of some Neopian Defender? Do you think so, Holmes?"
He squawked and shook his head.
"No, of course not. But naturally they get the credit." I smiled in amusement and read on: " 'After a surprisingly swift investigation, Neopian Defender Captain K (aided by Miss Spottedleaf Thunder, P.I.) caught the thief, recovered the diamond, and returned it to Countess Lynerda, wealthy collector. More details in etcetera, etcetera.' Well, at least they credited me. Besides, I got the paycheck. Yes, that's enough for me."
"With luck, that's a client!" I slid quickly out of my chair, through the hall, and to the front door. I removed a fallen feather wedged between two scales, picked a bit of cheese from my fangs, and opened the door, letting a gust of cold air creep into the comparatively warm Neohome.
"Good morning, miss! You know, you look like a lady in need of a bottle of Hypoallergenic Facial Cleanser. And what luck! Here I am, selling them. Would you be interested in buying?"
With difficulty, I convinced the salespet that I was entirely apathetic to the item which he sold, dismissed him, and with a sigh shut the door.
Disappointed, I returned to the kitchen.
"No luck, Holmes. Just a--"
"If he has something else to sell, I'll...." My voice trailed off. I retraced my path to the door, opened it, and began, "Look, I thought I told you--oh!" It wasn't the salespet. "I'm sorry. I thought you were someone else. May I help you?"
A Blue Nimmo stood before me, dressed against the crisp air in a warm coat, donned untidily as if in a hurry. His brow was creased with worry, and his face was long. "Does Miss Spottedleaf Thunder, the private detective, live here?"
"I'm your Hissi," I answered. "You've got something on your mind, I perceive. Please come in."
I sealed the door against the cold and took the Nimmo's coat. I slithered into the sitting room, where the Nimmo seated himself in a large, soft chair as I coiled up in my favorite armchair. Holmes, perhaps sensing a client, flew in and alighted upon my shoulder, his favorite perch.
"What is your name, then?" I inquired when we were settled.
"Sir Reginald Evarsum."
"And what seems to be the trouble?"
"My--my brother has been petnapped, Miss Thunder."
"My goodness! How terrible!" As a private detective, I am callous to such dreadful occurrences, but clients always appreciate sympathy. "Have you gone to the Neopian Defenders?" I read the Nimmo's aghast expression and continued immediately, "But of course, the kidnappers offered the customary threat that if you went to the Defenders, you would never see your brother again, is this not so?"
The Nimmo nodded and said simply, "There--there was a ransom note."
Without further word he passed me a sheet of paper, which had been covered with letters cut from an issue of the Neopian Times. It read:
"If you ever want to see Sir Elgin again, you will bring the sum of 2,000,000 Neopoints to the Wheel of Knowledge, this Friday, at 6:30 PM. Come alone. If you go to the Neopian Defenders, your brother will be lost!"
I recognized the word "lost" immediately. It had been cut from the headline, "The Terask's Eye Diamond: Lost and Found." The recalcitrant kidnappers had thought this amusing, no doubt.
"A most troubling circumstance," I observed. "I see the ransom is demanded today. At 6:30, to be exact, which leaves us plenty of time. I will need to see the scene of the crime. But first, I need more information. How exactly did the abduction occur?"
"Well--I do not know, exactly," Reginald began. "My sister, Angeline, and I were asleep. When Elgin did not show up for breakfast yestermorn, I went to rouse him, but when I knocked there was no answer. Recalling that, as the previous night had been cold, we had all worn earmuffs, I knocked louder, until I was positively pounding on the door. I had already tried the knob; locked. A worried Angeline, attracted by all the noise, joined me and egged me to break the door down. With some little effort I did this, to find the room in disarray. Furniture had been tossed about, and the floor was strewn with books, papers, and quills. Worst of all"--his voice faltered--"Elgin was absent. On his bed we found that note."
Holmes hooted, as I observed silently, these Brightvalians have quite a way with words, even in as nervous a state as he is.
Aloud, I said, "How terrible! And there is so little for me to go on. Just the note. For now, at least. Did you or Angeline hear anything during the night?"
I replied, "But furniture was being tossed about, surely--ah! But the earmuffs! How unfortunate." A nod. I went on. "Is there anything else you could tell me?"
Sir Reginald considered carefully. "Well--well, now that you mention it, I recall that as I was retiring for the night, movement caught my eye outside. The moon was nearly full that night, and I could have sworn I saw a winged figure dart out into the silver glow and then back in along the line of trees."
"Line of trees?" I echoed.
"Yes, we live on the edge of a forest," Reginald explained, before returning to the subject of the mysterious figure. "But of course, it was rather dark in spite of the moon, and I was tired, so I thought nothing of it at the time. I still think it was simply my mind playing tricks on me."
"I see. Perhaps it was. Any suspects you could suggest?"
There was another moment of consideration before Mister Evarsum answered, "Various bandits and other criminals might want revenge on my brother or me, and this would be a plausible way of getting it. But perhaps you desire suspects along a different line?"
"If you have more to say, do," I replied. "As for the criminals, it is a possibility. I do not allow that anyone is innocent until it is certain they are. Even your sister Angeline is a suspect--even you, Sir Reginald."
The knight stood indignantly. "I say, Miss Thunder, I don't appreciate being accused of--"
"Do not disquiet yourself," I interrupted. "I am not accusing anyone of anything, yet. If you are innocent, you will be cleared along with every other innocent suspect, until only the culprit remains."
Reginald made to sit down. "And then you find my brother?"
"Perhaps. I cannot promise anything. There is always the possibility that there will be nothing left of your brother to be found."
The Nimmo's eyes widened. "You mean--?"
I nodded grimly. "Anything is possible. However, I do not say that it is so. At the moment I consider it rather unlikely. Now, as you were saying--suspects?"
Reginald said: "Er--yes--suspects. Well, Elgin was rather a skilled knight. He won a decent few trophies in competitions for archery, fencing, jousting, writing--things like that. Might have made more than a few of his fellows jealous--though I had no reason to be, of course, I being his elder brother and capable of besting him with a sword and various other utensils, I simply never interested myself in these competitions--but as I was saying, there was one knight in particular. Rather a dislikable sort, greedy and conceited, quite hot-tempered. Vestan, his name is, Vestan Telvar, an Eyrie. A good knight when it comes to skill, but as far as personality goes.... He often came second place behind my brother in such knightly competitions, much to his ire. As a matter of fact, there is a tournament of some sort coming up, I think. I seem to recall Elgin mentioned it. I would not put it past Telvar to have kidnapped Elgin, just to keep him out of the way. Why yes, I rather like that. I should have thought of it before!"
I listened to this verbiage in silence, taking in each detail in silence. "It is a feasible theory, that," I said, in reply to his final statement. "But it is a theory only. So far there is no proof and little evidence to support it. One must not jump to conclusions."
"Quite right, quite right," Sir Reginald agreed. "Still, I consider it quite likely. Telvar's a bad sort."
"Well, I think you've given me more than enough for the moment," I declared. "There is naught left to do here. It is time we journey to Brightvale. I should like to see Elgin's room, and to question Angeline and Telvar, among other things. If you will allow me a few minutes, I will be ready to leave presently."
With that, I slithered from the room, Holmes fluttering after me. I ascended the stair and went to my room to dress. Once I had donned my Detective Trench Coat, I reached for my Magnifying Glass, when suddenly Holmes perched himself upon it and squawked at me.
"You would you like to come along on my investigation as well?" I guessed, smiling.
Holmes nodded and hooted, hopping from foot to foot.
"Well, of course," I agreed, "I'm sure you'll be a great help."
The Whoot hooted again and took flight, the glass clutched in his talons.
And so we were set. I placed my Jazzmosis Hat upon my scaled head and proclaimed, "The Case of the Brightvale Abduction is open."
To be continued...
Author's Note: In case you were wondering, Spottedleaf_789 can be found on my side account, Thunderclan_tomcat.
Thank you for reading! I hope you have enjoyed the beginning of my story. Any comments, compliments and especially constructive criticisms, are welcome. Please join us next week as the investigation continues!