I've solved a lot of cases in my time at MonoKeras,
Private Investigations, but very few for my own family. Partly it's because
there's only the four of us (well and our owner), and partly because I figure
it's not a good idea to mix family and business. There was that one time I investigated
the Koi Warrior for blchocobo, but that's another story.
I guess this story starts with Aunt Speck. You
probably haven't heard of her, but she's a family friend from way back. I still
remember her laughing about having a "codestone magnet" as she gave me half
of her codestone stash. It was a lot of stones, and it came in very handy! I
even publicly thanked her on my Web page for them.
The problem this time didn't start from codestones,
though. It started from another gift she gave us--or gave Heilley, I should
say. Whenever Aunt Speck gets in one of those generous moods, we can all count
on getting gifts related to our species, likes, etc., and this time Heilley
"lucked into" (as she would say) a perfectly scrumptious looking Chocolate and
If there is one thing that everyone in the house
agrees upon when it comes to taste it's that we all love chocolate, and topping
it with vanilla cream instantly made Heilley the most envied pet in the household.
But our owner decided to lay down the law: no eating it until he checked to
see how valuable it was. And he accuses me of being mercenary!
So there it sat on the counter, tempting every
one of us. Days passed. I'd find Heilley with her nose propped on the edge of
the counter and paws clasped on each side of it as she longingly stared at that
chocolate. It got put up on a top shelf for safekeeping when my owner found
her drooling at it one day. She came very close to throwing a tantrum on him!
It was out of sight, out of mind (or trying to
be) for that tempting sweet, and things continued much as usual around the house.
I kept busy with my detective work, Heilley was off playing cheat, and blchocobo
and Kallisari took care of the house and the cooking.
On the morning of the disastrous day, I watched
as blchocobo and Kallie prepared to fix another recipe of some sort. Kallie
was busily wrapping a pan in aluminium foil and sprinkling crumbs of some sort
in the bottom while blchocobo pulled out some cream cheese and began working
it into something. I decided to leave when he asked Kallie to separate the eggs.
They've still not let me forget the time I suggested putting one egg on one
side of the bowl and the other on the other side when it came time to "separate"
them. How was I supposed to know they meant taking the yolk out of the white?
The morning at the office wasn't too difficult,
and I found no big cases to totally upset my schedule. I got home for lunch
at the normal time, only to find that things were not normal at all. I heard
the loud voices the second I walked into the house. I walked into the kitchen
to find Heilley practically screaming at blchocobo and Kallisari, who both stood
in defensive attitudes against the counter.
"It's GOT to be here somewhere! You know very
well he put it up on that shelf for me! What did you DO with it? Thought you
could just take it and not get found out?"
Blchocobo ignored her and looked over her shoulder
at me. "Hi, MonoKeras. Home for lunch?"
"Uh huh. What's going on?"
Heilley spun around with a scowl on her face.
"These two hid my chocolate and cream Kyrii! I can't find it anymore!"
"Um... I thought you were supposed to leave
"No, I got permission to have it- finally- and
now it's gone!"
I gulped as that last wail threatened to pierce
my eardrums. It was then that I realised that Heilley had tears in her eyes.
"Just not there?"
She shook her head. "Just a dark spot on the
shelf where it melted a bit is all."
"Huh." I left her to sob to herself while I
strode over to the cabinets and opened up the appropriate one. Sure enough,
the top shelf was empty. I grabbed a chair so I could get a closer look, but
that just confirmed the first glance. Deserted. "Not even a dark stain up here,
looks like to me."
"She licked it all off," blchocobo muttered
"Ohkaayy....." I climbed back down to the floor
and shut the cabinet door.
Heilley had recovered her composure, at least
temporarily. "Look, MonoKeras, we found out they cost about two hundred points
in the shops If I give you a hundred, will you take the case and find out what
happened to mine?"
I glanced towards blchocobo and Kallisari. Blchocobo
was his usual expressionless self, but I could tell Kallie was feeling distinctly
miserable. "Well, I...." I looked back to find Heilley's eyes brimming with
tears again and mentally cursed myself for a fool. Every instinct I had told
me this was pure trouble, but I've always been a sucker for tears. "...ok."
"Thanks!" Heilley reached a paw back into her
huge mop of black and white hair and pulled out a small bag of Neopoints. (She
keeps just about everything in there- don't ask me how.) "Here, and I hope you
have better luck than I did with those two."
"Um humm..." I took the bag and Heilley left
"Hey!" I called after her, "Where are you going?"
"Up to my room- let me know when you find anything,
"Yeah... just one thing- when did you see it
I pulled back into the kitchen. "Last night?"
I repeated to no one in particular.
"Maybe she ate it in her sleep," Kallisari remarked
"Mmmm. Maybe you two better tell me exactly
Blchocobo shrugged. "I'm not sure what there
is to tell. Kallie and I made a cheesecake for supper tonight. I'd just put
it in the refrigerator when Heilley came flying in to get her treat."
Kallisari sighed. "I wish I hadn't been here.
She started screaming and crying when she found it was gone, then she started
yelling at me."
Blchocobo nodded. "She calmed down some, but
I think she said a lot of things she shouldn't have. We helped her hunt, but..."
"But you obviously didn't find it." They both
shook their heads no. "OK First off, it left sometime either last night or this
morning. Do either of you remember seeing it this morning?" Two more shakes
of the head.
"I don't pay attention to it at all," blchocobo
"On purpose!" Kallisari added.
"Yeah, I get the point. But Kallie, you left
Emerald down here last night, didn't you?" She nodded. "Good. That rules out
intruders during the night."
Blchocobo snickered. "Anyone willing to take
on that Slorg just to get a piece of chocolate is crazy!"
Even Kallisari had to smile- a little- at that
one, because we all knew it was true. Her Slorg turned into an avenging dark
faerie if an unwelcome stranger came around. "Exactly. So we're assuming it
was here this morning. Are you all sure it wasn't just misplaced?"
Kallisari sighed helplessly while blchocobo shrugged.
"It's possible, I suppose," he admitted, "but I really don't know."
"Hmmm...." I stood on the chair again to look
at the scene of the crime. I grabbed the shelf itself for balance as I did so,
and "whoa! Hey, this thing is loose!"
"I know," blchocobo said. "It's never been nailed
down right. I've not worried about it because we don't use that shelf for anything-
or hadn't, until now."
"Uh-huh...." I pulled on the shelf, which slid
out, and looked over the whole area carefully. I held the board itself up to
the light as well, but there weren't any traces there. "Well, looks like the
mice didn't get it, and I can't find any holes or panels in the wall itself."
I started to put it back in place when I spotted a brown glass bottle on the
shelf below. I pulled it out. "Hey, what's root beer doing up here instead of
"Uh, that's not root beer, that's vanilla."
I finished putting the shelf back in place and
unscrewed the cap. One sniff confirmed it. "Weird. Vanilla is brown?"
Kallisari tittered, but it was blchocobo who
replied again. "It is when it's cooking extract."
"OK, OK, I get the point." I put things back
up and searched through the remaining shelves. There was flour, sugar, pepper,
seasonings, and vegetable oil, but no chocolate Kyrii or even any chocolate
smudges. I finally enlisted the other two to help me search the whole kitchen,
and we did so but wound up no better off.
It was half an hour later when I called a halt
to it. "OK, let's give it up. It's obviously not in the kitchen."
"Good! Now we can get some real work done around
here. You wouldn't want to help wash dishes, would you, MonoKeras?"
Blchocobo's words made me glance involuntarily
towards the huge pile of dirty dishes in the sink, all topped off by our biggest
mixing bowl. "Uh, no, no thanks. I'm going to grab a snack and then investigate
I suited actions to words and made it out of
the house before they could trap me. I had one more lead, but when I went to
talk to our owner at work, that one was gone, too. I had hoped that he'd taken
it to get it priced or something, but he had no idea it was gone, either.
There was nothing more I could do, so I went
to the office and worked on my other cases. That may sound strange, but it's
the way any good (in other words, busy) detective works. You have to be able
to set a case aside to work on the others in your current batch. It was when
I got home that I remembered and realised again why I hadn't done cases for
my own family. You can't just lay theirs aside and not have to answer questions-
they're always around asking about it.
Heilley wasted no time at the supper table asking
about her chocolate Kyrii. I told her I still had a few more things to investigate
but that I'd let her know soon, all the while inwardly begging some friendly
faerie to give me inspiration as to where it went.
Inspiration struck at dessert, when Kallisari
started to cut the cheesecake. She'd just made the first cut and pulled the
knife out when I startled everyone by yelling "Stop!"
Kallisari froze with her knife in mid-air as
I stood up. "OK everyone, let me think here..." I stepped away from the table
and walked around it towards the counter. "Blchocobo, did you use that vanilla
He stared at me. "Yes."
"And the big mixing bowl, right?"
"OK, come over here and place it exactly where
it was this morning."
"No, I'm serious! I think I've got something
here." He did as I said and I issued my next leading instruction. "Now, reach
up into the cupboard just like you did this morning and get the vanilla."
Dead silence from everyone as we all watched.
Blchocobo reached up, standing on tiptoes as he reached to the back of the shelf
to grab the vanilla. He pulled it out... and up... and a soft thunk echoed through
the silence as he hit the empty shelf above before pulling it out.
"Bingo!" I breathed. "You weren't looking when
you just reached up there and grabbed it, either, were you? Probably talking
to Kallisari or something."
He stood there with the vanilla held in one paw,
his mouth hanging open. "Uh-huh."
The quiet was broken by Heilley's loud voice.
"So what happened?"
I tried to think of an appropriately dramatic
way to answer and our owner beat me to the punch. "Blchocobo accidentally knocked
it off the shelf and it landed in the mixing bowl."
I finally found my tongue (and my line). "In
other words, your chocolate and cream Kyrii has now become your chocolate cheesecake."
I left blchocobo to put up his vanilla and walked over, took the knife out of
Kallisari's hoof, and finished cutting the first slice before lifting it out
for everyone to see. Sure enough, it was a light brown.
"Hey!" Heilley turned to blchocobo, eyes blazing
with indignation. "What's the big idea?"
His shoulders slumped, and I came to his defence.
"Don't get upset, Heilley, I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose. That vanilla
was probably one of the last things he added, wasn't it?" He nodded miserably.
"It would've sunk right into his batter and been gone when he turned around.
The only thing I don't see is why he didn't notice his batter turning brown."
Blchocobo groaned and put his paws over the eyeholes
of his mask. "I thought I'd just put in too much vanilla."
Heilley was sputtering. "Vanilla?"
I cut in before we got into the intricacies of
cooking vanilla again. "I'm sure he's telling the truth, Heilley. And look at
it this way- you still have all your chocolate, it's just gotten bigger!"
Heilley made a sizzling noise before putting
her head in her paws and glaring at the cheesecake. I would've laughed at the
look of frustrated befuddlement if things hadn't been so tense.
Our owner finally stepped in. "Heilley, he's
right you know. That cheesecake is all yours now, and I'm sorry it happened
Her eyes narrowed as she looked back at blchocobo,
but he was quick to speak up. "I am, too, Heilley. Honestly, MonoKeras is right,
I didn't mean to do anything like that. It was a mistake. Forgive me... please?"
The anger faded from Heilley's eyes as I carefully
slid a plate to her with that first piece on it. She looked down at my presentation
before giving a loud bark of laughter. "Oh, what's the use! It's done and it
can't get unmixed. Come on, everyone, dig in, and quit acting like I'm going
to beat you, blchocobo, I believe ya."
We all let out relieved breaths before joining
her in a round of laughter, although I know mine for one was a bit weaker than
hers. Still, it was a good dessert.
I guess Heilley put it best in the end. She totally
stuffed herself before leaning back and patting her stomach with a sigh. "Now
that was one scrumptiously terrific chocolate cheesecake! Wouldn't you know
that a Kyrii would be the essential ingredient?"