...With a heavy sigh, Rye admitted defeat and made his way back to the Festival of Neggs. Not only had he failed, but he had less than what he started with -- both in terms of monetary value, in terms of priceless family history, and in terms of his pride.
"Heeeyyyy, there's the Neopet of the hour!" Topsi drawled upon the Skeith's return.
"Woo," Rye exclaimed half-heartedly.
Topsi hopped over to him. "Aw, come on, what's wrong?" He put a paw on the Skeith's back. "What happened?"
Rye fought back tears. "The Pant Devil stiffed me! He took my sacrifice, and the Neggs weren't where he told me they were!"
The Cybunny smiled almost unnervingly. "Oh, well there, buddy, guess what -- The Pant Devil delivered the Neggs himself! He must have gotten them before he got your amulet!"
Rye frowned... The Pant Devil must have exchanged some words with Topsi, as Rye had never told the Cybunny what the sacrifice he had chosen would be. He supposed it only made sense, though, as the Pant Devil knew whom to give the eggs to.
"Do you mind running the event for a bit, Rye?" Topsi said with a grin. "You've earned it." He winked at the Skeith.
"Really?" Rye gaped. This was like a dream... a dream after a nightmare, yes, but--
"Good," Topsi replied, "I have to run out and buy a new katana for my collection, Wonderous Weaponry is having a sale."
Dumbfounded, Rye watched as the Cybunny raced off. Well, whatever. Rye grinned and commenced the task of giving the crowds clues as to where the Neggs were hidden.
Topsi returned as evening fell, and gradually the event had worn down for the day.
"Again tomorrow?" asked Topsi.
"Maybe," Rye said. "I'm really tired."
Topsi laughed as he polished his new weapon.
Rye's mother appeared in the crowd and the young Skeith wandered up to her. "Did you have fun?" she asked as the two walked away from the Festival of Neggs toward their Neohome.
"I did... but Mum..." he started to tear up again. "I lost great great grandfather's amu--"
With an almost annoyed smirk, the elder Skeith pulled out the artifact.
Rye's eyes went wide. "Where did you GET that!?"
"The Pant Devil sold it to me." She sighed. "You need to be more careful with your things."
"But but but," he stuttered. "I used it as bait to get back the stolen Neggs and--"
"Look, son," his mother started, "the Pant Devil knows he can't keep everything he steals. So sometimes he sells things... and the ones who pay the most are always the ones to whom the object has the most value. Sentimental value." She shook her head. "I don't know how he knew to come to me, but I'm glad he did."
Just as the two neared their home's steps, something occurred to Rye.
Topsi. It all led back to Topsi. Topsi knew he had an amulet. Topsi must have told the Pant Devil where his mum was. Topsi was even going Katana shopping, meaning he must have taken some of the pay received from the sale of the amulet by the Pant Devil to his mum. Heck, Topsi might even have known where the neggs were from the very start! He might have put them in the one place he knew Rye would never look!
The Skeith all of a sudden felt very unsettled. "Mum?"
"I don't want to go back to the Festival of Neggs tomorrow."