The Great Game: Golden Quill Edition - Part Three
Also by rielcz
Silence. "How do you know all this?" Abigail finally asked.
"Dear Abigail, have you never played Techo Says?" sighed AAA with slight annoyance. "We always give orders on what we want others to do."
"Can you stop speaking in allegorical terms or--or whatever symbolism you like to use? My question is, what do you mean Tobby's working for the thief? Did we just speak to a thief's accomplice?" Abigail was ready to bolt out of there. She wasn't about to stay in an empty building with two villains.
"Tobby was lying. If you recall his words, he made a lot of contradictions. 'The quill does not help people produce stories of absolute perfect quality'," AAA quoted. "'Tobby knows only of the rogue reporter who used to work in Room 650, not its current inhabitant. ' Think about it, Abigail. Are those normal responses you'd give to someone who just wanted to know more about the quill?"
Abigail shrugged. "Um, maybe?"
"Tobby is guilty, trust me. A master gamer knows these things. I'm a deus ex machina." The AAA hit the 'up' button for the elevators.
For once, Abigail was too scared to answer. All she wanted was to get out of the building--fast. "We should notify the police," she said as they stepped inside the elevator.
AAA pushed the 6th floor button. "The police couldn't solve this for days," he answered. "We've already solved more than Judge Hog in only mere hours."
Despite her anxiousness, Abigail couldn't help smiling a bit at the word 'we.' "So you're finally acknowledging that we're a team, huh?" she said.
"Well, obviously the teamwork is unequal, but yes, of course we're a team."
They stepped onto the sixth floor of the building and headed down the corridor.
"So, shall we enter?" Abigail inquired, staring at the door with 650 inscribed in the wood.
"Brawnies first," AAA replied, a hint of fear behind his smile.
The Aisha frowned and rolled her eyes. "Just open the door."
Gulping, AAA turned the handle...
It was an empty office. Or seemingly empty--the chair behind the single mahogany desk was faced the other way. The lights were off save for a single lamp on a corner of the desk.
"Maybe it's a trap," Abigail whispered nervously, inching backward.
"Maybe..." AAA closed his eyes in thought and began thinking out loud. "Something doesn't add up. It's too easy. How did the police not investigate this place sooner? Ah, wait, they must already have. The good guard Tobby made sure they were thrown off the trail. Only the finest of minds can decipher his babble and realize everything he said was contradictory. That's why no one ever got this far. Neopians are incessantly overlooking the details and devoid of any level-headed knowledge--"
"AAA!" Abigail suddenly whimpered.
The Blumaroo opened his eyes and saw the chair behind the desk slowly swivel around. In the seat sat none other than another Blumaroo, with light green skin and dark green pimples that would make a Mortog pale by comparison. The green Blumaroo smirked at the two kids, showing his crooked teeth.
"Roothless!" AAA exclaimed. "I should have known you were behind all this."
Out of all of AAA's rivals, Roothless was the most notorious. He was supposedly a king, though of what land, nobody knew. In 2008, he had transported the two siblings into a virtual dungeon in a fit of rage after losing to AAA in multiple games. In fact, the game designers of Neopia subsequently released a spin-off of the incident, the famous Dungeon Dash game.
"Did that wimp of an Ogrin sell me out?" demanded Roothless.
"Nonsense. I used my deduction skills," AAA replied, a smug tone in his voice. "Now, the gig's up. Hand over the golden quill, Roothless!"
Seeing the villain's eyes narrow dangerously, Abigail quickly attempted to stall the situation. "Wow, it's--it's interesting, huh? I mean, why would anyone want a dumb old quill?" she fake-laughed.
It worked. Roothless sat up and said haughtily, "It is not just a dumb, old quill, child. It's the most powerful writing tool in history! It grants the user enhanced writing abilities and produces flawless pieces of work with amazing brevity and beauty..."
The green Blumaroo continued talking. Meanwhile, Abigail quietly headed for the elevator. Neither Blumaroo noticed.
"I mean, it's quite simple, really. Anyone can be a game master with the right tools," Roothless continued. "A pair of loaded dice for Dice-a-Roo, some calculators for Maths Nightmare..." He chuckled darkly, squinting at the haughty young Blumaroo across from him. "I no longer care about being a games master like you. I want to be something greater."
"You mean a writer who needs the guide of a magic quill to help him write?" deadpanned AAA in a bored tone.
Roothless snarled. "Whatever insults you have will not hurt me. Soon I will reign Neopia with my powerful words. As you know, King Hagan once said the quill is mightier than the sword."
"Depends on what type of quill, really," AAA replied.
As if on cue, Roothless grinned and held out his hand. In his green, gnarly fingers was a shiny, golden quill. Even in the dim light, it shone brightly, reflecting the light off its dazzling surface.
"Want to see how it works?"
"No," AAA said, but Roothless ignored the teenage Blumaroo and scribbled a sentence on a piece of paper. The writing appeared in flawless cursive:
The possession of knowledge does not destroy the sense of wonder and mystery.
"Deep, isn't it?" sighed Roothless, giving the quill a kiss. "Soon I'll live down in legacy and soar among the white Weewoos with this quill by my side."
"Uh, yeah, can you repeat that last part again?" said AAA, crossing his arms. "You're pretty much confessing to your crime here."
"And who's going to know?" cackled Roothless with a menacing smile. "More importantly, who's going to tell?" The villain pushed a red button on an intercom on his desk and spoke into the microphone, "Tobby, please come upstairs. We have an annoying eyewitness to handle."
"You won't get away with this!" AAA said loudly. He turned around. "Abigail, let's—hey, Abigail?" He realized she was gone.
"No one is going to stand in my way, Aristotle A. Avinroo," Roothless said, stroking the golden quill carefully. "Especially not a rotten brat like you."
Footsteps echoed down the hallway outside. AAA bit his lip but kept calm. A few moments later, several shadows appeared at the doorway. AAA reached into his trench coat pocket and was about to pull out his rubber band slingshot as a last resort when he heard a familiar voice.
"There's the culprit, police officer," quipped Abigail.
Two Chia police officers in blue uniforms walked into the room. Roothless' eyes grew wide.
"But—but everything was supposed to go as planned—" the green villain stuttered as the police locked his hands in handcuffs. "Where's Tobby? Tobby!"
One of the figures at the door turned out to be the Ogrin—who was also bound in handcuffs. All the Ogrin could say were, "Tobby failed, Tobby failed..."
"Great work, kids," one of the policemen said. "We received a tip from the little Aisha here not long ago. We never thought the quill would be here, along with the criminal mastermind himself."
"I'm a mastermind?" repeated Roothless, his eyes lighting up. "Well... heh, I suppose I can't argue with that... Ouch, watch it!" he snarled as the police dragged him away.
"All right, take him away, boys," Abigail said, giving them a thumbs-up. She turned to AAA. "Let's go. We have school tomorrow."
AAA watched, dumbfounded, as the police dragged Roothless and his assistant away. Finally, he turned to Abigail and said quietly, "Um, thanks. I was getting a bit nervous."
"As was I. You can't do everything on your own, big brother."
One of the policemen suddenly reappeared. "Hey, can you two grab the golden quill and come along with us? We should return it to its rightful place in the National Neopian Bank." He disappeared out the door again.
Abigail and AAA stared at the golden quill behind them. It lay on the desk, a shimmering golden feather.
"I wonder if it's actually magical?" said Abigail.
AAA nodded. "It is. Roothless showed me."
Together, they took the quill and placed the tip on the piece of paper. They watched in awe as the quill began to move by itself, guiding their hands across the sheet in perfect cursive:
It is one of life's bitterest truths that bedtime so often arrives just when things are getting fascinating.
* * *
Order was finally restored in Neopia. The golden quill was returned safely to its vault. AAA and Abigail were heroes on the front page of the news for several weeks (though they were still grounded by their parents for being out during bedtime). Roothless was rumored to receive letters of invitation from the esteemed Thieves Guild. Tobby paid his time by being an interrogator for Judge Hog, on the recommendation of AAA ("It's obvious what the Ogrin says is true or false," AAA had explained to the confused Moehog. "The dynamics of Techo Says is a psychologically based game for deriving truths and lies...")
Early one Friday, the two Avinroo siblings sat outside on their porch, waiting for the Neopian Times to arrive.
"Do you think you'll switch to being a full-time detective from now on?" asked Abigail.
"Well, my career will always be in gaming," answered AAA. "But I suppose being the Detective from Baker Street was an okay adventure."
"Yeah. Golden quills don't get stolen every day. Who knows when the next great mystery will arrive?" Abigail remarked as they watched a white Weewoo fly over Baker Street into the sunrise.