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The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Traded Turdle - Part Two


by playmobil_is_my_life

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We arrived at the Turdle Races with five minutes to spare. There was an even bigger crowd around the attraction now since the races were about to begin. Some Neopets sat on the bleachers, while others just paused outside to see what the excitement was about.

      Being a large, white Eyrie I could have flown us to the racing arena but Luna said she didn't mind walking. So we walked.

      The four of us scanned the bleachers to find a place to sit. We passed a white table covered by a red and blue tarp. A glowing Pteri was rifling through sheets of paper and black markers, while other Neopets were writing down their names and three numbers. I glanced over at them and wondered what they were doing.

      "Place your bets here!" the glowing Pteri called loudly, to be heard over the crowd. He handed out more betting cards while the Neopets around him filled them out.

      "Would you like to place a bet?" the Pteri asked me, as he noticed that I was looking his way.

      "Sure," answered Damien, holding up his winnings from Ultimate Bullseye.

      "Maximum bet is 1500 neopoints. You can place three bets per day, one for each race," the Pteri explained, showing Damien a card. "There are five Turdles to bet on."

      Damien printed his name next to '27th day of the month of Running' and paused at the spot where it asked for the three Turdle numbers. He picked up the marker and printed '1', '3' and '2'. Next to the Turdle numbers he bet ten neopoints on each. The glowing Pteri skimmed over the card,

      "If the first race is won by Turdle number one then you win three neopoints for every one you bet, plus your original bet back." When he saw my confused expression he continued, "Which would be thirty neopoints, plus the ten you bet, so forty neopoints would be your total." He pointed to the top of the tent, "Thanks for betting." The four of us took a few steps back to read the sign tacked on the top of the tarp:

     Turdle #1 - Stinky, Odds - 3:1

     Turdle #2 - Poopy, Odds - 4:1

     Turdle #3 - Smelly, Odds - 5:1

     Turdle #4 - Squelchy, Odds - 7:1

     Turdle #5 - Nutty, Odds - 9:1

     "You should have picked Nutty," I told Damien. "We get nine times what we bet plus ten."

      "Yeah but look at the odds," Luna pointed out.

      Damien shrugged it off and we took our seats near the top. Other Neopets around us were chatting excitedly and clutching their betting cards to keep them from being blown away by the strong wind. Moments later, a red Techo stepped into the ring with two Turdles under his arms. Their numbers were 1 and 2. He returned later with numbers 3 and 4 and finally with 5. The trained Turdles waited patiently for their cue in the center of the ring. The Techo blew a silver whistle and its shriek sent the Turdles flying into action.

      "Come on, Stinky!" Luna called, waving the betting card.

      We watched Turdle number 1 crawl towards the ring while Turdles 3 and 5 became stuck in the sand. Turdle number 2 looked close to winning but Turdle number 1 came from behind and beat his opponent out of the ring.

      High above us the announcement rang out, "and the winner is… Turdle number 1." The crowd cheered and so did we.

      "Cool!" exclaimed Charlie, who was still on Damien's hat, "We just won forty neopoints. When do we get to claim them?"

      "After the race," Damien explained, "we show our betting card and get the neopoints redeemed."

      "Funny," said Luna, and we could see the shadow Yurble was deep in thought, "we spent a total of thirty neopoints for three races and just won forty in the first race. Imagine betting on the Turdle least likely to win and getting back your bet and nine times that. Pretty amazing."

      "I think you mean pretty lucky," I interrupted. "You only have one out of five chances to win and the odds are very unlikely on some Turdles. I bet most people leave with nothing every day."

      "Marlo's right," Damien chimed in. "The Turdle races are just for fun and I don't think anyone really takes it seriously. Every Turdle has his day, some just have them more than once."

      "You make everything sound so calm," I told Damien. "If everything was under control then why are we about to meet King Skarl and possibly take on a new case?"

      "I don't know. It's just that everything seems normal so far. Having said that, I can't help but to be curious about our new case. None of the petpets have been stolen like in our other mysteries. They're right there in front of our eyes. What could King Skarl want with us?"

      I secretly agreed with the royal Aisha. He made a good point. What did Skarl want with us if a petpet wasn't missing? We're petpet detectives: solving petpet disappearances. The more I thought about it, the stranger it sounded. The second race was about to commence so I didn't have much time to think about the mystery. I glanced over at Damien's betting card and the four of us cheered for Turdle number three.

      The second race was the same as the first: Turdles started in the center and moved to get to the outside of the ring. Bits of sand flew into the air and Turdle number 5 crawled out of the ring first. A nearby green Kau moaned dramatically, burst into tears and ripped up her betting card. I chuckled at how soap opera-ish she was being. It was just a race.

      Right?

      "Wow, I didn't see that coming," said Damien, who had his paw to his forehead to keep the sun out of his eyes. "Turdle number 5 hardly ever wins. That's why the odds are 9:1."

      There was the fifteen-minute pause in between and the four of us chatted about the race. Apparently I hadn't given Turdle Racing enough credit. If Meridellians took it seriously enough, maybe there could be a big enough problem where a detective, or detectives, would have to be called in. For the third time today the red Techo placed the Turdles in the center of the circle and blew the whistle. There was yet another scramble to be first one out, and Turdle number 5 rushed by the others, leaving them in the dust.

      The announcer went wild. "Turdle number 5 wins again! He's on a roll!"

      "Again?" Luna asked, squinting down into the stands. Turdle number 5 crawled out so fast that only a few saw him. "The least-likely to win beats the odds twice!"

      "We should definitely talk to King Skarl," Damien suggested. The royal Aisha slipped his betting card into his pocket, "and redeem those neopoints from the first race."

      ***

      If you've been to the Lost Desert and think that the Sakhmet Palace is the best, obviously you haven't been standing just outside the Meridell gates looking up at the castle.

      You have to tip your head all the way back against your neck to see all of it. The white stone has no crevices or chips, the red and blue flags are hanging from golden flagpoles at the very top, and just for scenic detail there is a sapphire colored moat that encircles the castle. The four of us, with Charlie on my head, waited patiently to be let inside. The two Eyrie guards looked a lot like me: powerful wings, impressive height and large beaks. They wore gray armor, complete with helmets and spears. There was no way you could sneak past these guys. I could tell that just by looking at them.

      The third guard, who went to ask King Skarl if we were allowed in, returned and said, "Follow me."

      The four of us started into the castle, not having time to gawk at all of the posh furniture or spacious rooms. We took several staircases to the top floor and paused outside the door furthest down the hallway. The Eyrie guard raised a massive paw and knocked.

      "Come in," came a deep voice from inside.

      The Eyrie guard pushed open the door. "Your Highness, the detectives you requested are here."

      "Excellent," King Skarl said. "The three of you," he motioned to Luna, Damien and I (Charlie was used to being overlooked), "may have a seat." The blue Skeith acknowledged the velvet sofa and chairs. We traversed the large room and took the sofa as Skarl rose from his desk. This was the first time that meeting our client made me nervous. Of course this just wasn't any old client. It was the King of Meridell and we were sitting right in front of him.

      "Good afternoon, Your Highness," Luna began, bowing her head to the king. She introduced us and we bowed, too.

      King Skarl nodded and said, "I'd like to get started right away, if you don't mind."

      "Not at all," I somehow found my voice. Luna pulled Skarl's letter out of her Faerie Back Pack and handed it to me. I continued, "Though I'm afraid your letter has left us confused. We're not sure what you need our help with."

     "Forgive me while I explain," uttered Skarl, straightening his red robe. "The Turdle Races are a very popular event in Meridell, but I'm afraid something obscure has been happening these past few days. Assuming you just came back from the races can you tell me if you noticed anything… odd?"

      Damien answered, "For starters, Turdle number 5 won two races today. He beat the odds twice and we found it strange that the least-likely Turdle to win did that."

      "You're on the right track," Skarl said in approval. "As you may or may not know, the Meridell castle supports the Turdle Racing. We always realize something out of the ordinary when it is supported by us."

      Luna was taking notes, as usual. She paused to look up at Skarl and asked, "Do you have any ideas of what could be causing Turdle number 5's winning streak?"

      "That's just it," said the King quickly and he added in an undertone, "I don't think that that Turdle is Turdle number 5. I think someone's been… trading them back and forth."

To be continued...

 
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