The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Traded Turdle - Part Four
I woke up the next morning in the Regal Oak Wood bed that
I had collapsed into last night. Yesterday had been a long flight and an even
longer day, so we all went to bed early. Damien, Charlie, and I occupied the first
spare bedroom and Luna had her own across the hall. It was quite magnificent.
The furniture was Regal Oak and the carpet was thick and soft. The walls were
cream-colored with a Meridell border running across them.
When we arrived back at the castle yesterday
afternoon, King Skarl was indisposed and not to see anyone. I decided that even
someone as important as King Skarl needed some time alone away from his hired
help. However, I was disappointed that we didn't get a chance to tell him about
what we found out about the two Turdle number 5s. Oh well, the case must go
Speaking of the case, Damien had exited the room
about an hour ago. The royal Aisha was always awake before I was. The
wall clock stated that it was after nine. Charlie was missing as well - he probably
went with Damien to get some breakfast. I guessed Luna was up too, roaming the
castle in search of clues or leads regarding the Turdle races.
A knock on the door made my head snap forward.
I climbed out of bed and smoothed the white feathers on my head. I unlocked
the door and opened it. A shadow Yurble looked up at me with a serious face.
"Luna," I said, failing to notice her grave expression.
"Hey, I was about to go looking for--"
Luna held up her paw as if she didn't want to
hear it and brushed past me letting herself in. She closed the door behind her
and spun around to look up at me, "Skarl was lying."
"Wow, umm." My eyes narrowed as I stared back
at her, still half asleep. After a moment of silence I asked quickly, "How so?"
She crossed the room and set her Faerie Back
Pack down on the small table. Luna unzipped it and pulled out a fat folder that
was stuffed to capacity with sheets of paper. She opened the front page and
flipped through the papers.
"Found this in Skarl's desk." She tossed me the
"And you stole it?" I asked, bewildered. Luna's
triumphant expression didn't ease so I stepped forward preparing to lecture
her on stealing other people's personal files. But first I asked, "Well… what
"It's a folder on the Turdle races. I nicked
it from Skarl's desk drawer. I didn't know where he was and there were no guards
so I just took it and ran. In here are records of every Turdle race, a paragraph
or so about each Turdle, and the staff. Heck, I could even tell you how much
Bryce gets on his monthly paychecks."
My beak dropped open: so much for my lecture.
This book could give us all the answers we had about the races and it was in
my paws. I only had a second or two to let my excitement and eagerness grow
because I was soon filled with dread.
"Won't someone know that it's missing?"
"Oh come on, we only need it for a day or so.
King Skarl won't even know it's gone. Besides, there was dust all over the top
of it. It's not like it's been used very often…"
I shrugged, "Fair enough. But what does this
have to do with Skarl lying about something?"
"Yesterday King Skarl said he didn't have an
idea of who was behind the trading of the Turdles. He has an idea of who it
is, he made that much clear," Luna flipped open the folder to a section marked
'Employees'. She pointed to the name 'TAVI' and in that section was the Pteri's
name, species, which department he worked at, salary, when he arrived at the
races and when he left the races.
Under the standard information, however, was
a list of complaints: 'continuously late', 'slacking on the job' and 'not making
Luna looked over at me, "Either Skarl's just
trying to nitpick Tavi into being fired or the Pteri's just not a very good
worker. He's likely to get replaced. I read that Bryce used to have the job,
but he moved over to let Tavi take the betting stands."
"How nice of him," I said sarcastically. "We
should definitely find Damien and Charlie."
That task proved to be fairly simple. They were
both on the first floor eating an assortment of berries picked fresh from the
Meri Acre Farms. A large marrow had been split open and Damien took a bite of
that, too. Charlie spotted us and pointed. Damien's head turned, marrow juice
dripping from his chin. He hastily wiped his face with a napkin.
"Hungry?" the royal Aisha asked. "There's plenty
of food for the most important meal of the day."
"Forget about the food, we found--"
"I found…" Luna corrected smugly.
I rolled my eyes. "Luna found an entire document
of the Turdles Races in King Skarl's desk drawer. Here." I removed it from under
my wing and set it on the counter. "Look through it, I'm sure you'll find something
useful. Meanwhile, Luna and I need to find a Pteri called Tavi who runs the
betting tables at the Turdle Races. We'll be back soon."
"And if Skarl finds you, hide the folder," added
Luna and she gave me a push: "Let's go." She and I exited the entry to the castle,
past the Eyrie guards and over the bridge to find another suspect. Damien and
Charlie flipped through the file eagerly and stopped when they came to the Turdle
"Here's Tavi," said Damien and his eyes widened
when he saw the list of Skarl's complaints. He paused to pop a Voidberry in
his mouth. "He and Bryce are the only Neopets who have contact with the Turdles."
"But we can't just exclude Slade," the pea Chia
prompted. "You know how he--" Charlie's words were cut short. "It's Skarl. Quick!"
He turned to Damien. "Hide the file!"
Damien frantically shut the folder and placed
it on his lap. He scooted his chair in further so that the file was hidden.
King Skarl started down the last flight of stairs, his crown glistening under
the chandelier that hung above them. He sauntered over toward them, down the
red and gold rug and said pleasantly,
"Good morning, Detectives. I assume you had a
good night's sleep?"
"Very good, thank you," said Damien, pressing
his legs up against the countertop so that the file wouldn't slide. "Just so
you know: you were right about Turdle number 5. He is being switched with another
Turdle and that's how he's been winning the races."
Skarl nodded attentively.
"So you can see our concern and now please let
me ask you this: Do you think that you could close the Turdle Races for a few
days?" Damien asked. "It would be much easier for us to work if the races were
closed. Plus, it would be a more fair race, rather than these Meridellians and
tourists getting ripped off time after time."
"My dear boy, of course we cannot close the races,"
the King said huffily. "It would mean the profits would decrease along with
the tourism. We most certainly will not close them down. There are only three
races left until the Turdles are on hiatus until the month of Swimming."
"Three races left?" shrieked Charlie. "That's
just three more days to solve this mystery--"
"Which I'm sure you'll be able to do," replied
the blue Skeith. "Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find something of mine
that I seem to have… misplaced yesterday. Good day." Damien and Charlie stole
a glance at the King, who had a sly grin spread across his normally grumpy face.
After they were sure he was out of earshot, Charlie
said slowly, "You don't think he meant the…"
"I don't know. Come on," said Damien, waving
the Turdles Races file. "We should take this back upstairs in case the King
comes down again."
It was around ten when Luna and I arrived at
the Turdle Race arena. The bleachers were abandoned until the early afternoon
and the long grass around the circle rippled in the cool breeze. The Turdles
were probably in the barn, munching on lettuce and sleeping soundly.
"Where's Tavi?" I inquired.
"How am I supposed to know?" Luna climbed to
the top of the bleachers with ease and raised a black paw to her forehead while
scanning the grounds. "There's some houses over there. Tavi probably lives in
one of them. All employees of the Turdle Races and Skarl's servants get houses
on the castle grounds."
"The document told you that?"
"Precisely," she answered smugly. "Now come on."
Luna jumped from the top of the bleachers and
scurried across the grounds. I had to lengthen my strides to keep up with her,
with is something that doesn't happen very often. The two of us had our eyes
peeled for a glowing Pteri, who would have been much easier to spot at night,
I decided. Four houses made of smooth stones were sitting in a row.
The second one had a window and through that
window I could see a glowing Neopet sitting in a chair. I pointed him out to
Luna so we started to that house first. We stepped up to the door and knocked.
The door was opened just a second after we knocked,
like the Neopet inside was expecting us. The glowing Neopet opened the door
and looked up at us.
"Sorry, no early bets can be placed. They start
"We're not looking to place a bet, Tavi," I cut
him off and extended my paw. "I'm Marlo and this is Luna. We're detectives and
I'm sure there a few questions you can answer for us."
Tavi nodded slowly, ("sure,") but he didn't offer
to let us in. No matter. This would be over with soon enough.
"We are aware that you run the betting stands,"
began Luna, her notepad already in her paw. "However, we, along with King Skarl,
believe that one of the Turdles is being switched with a faster Turdle to win
races. Were you aware that this is occurring?"
"Not at all," Tavi replied, though his tone seemed
too casual. "I just run the betting stands, I'm not in charge of the Turdles
or anything. You should talk to Bryce; he's the Turdle handler. As for me--"
"A simple 'yes' or 'no' would have sufficed,"
I said, and Tavi shut his beak. The glowing Pteri squirmed under my keen eyes.
"If you are wondering why we are standing on your porch interrogating you--"
"The thought did cross my mind."
I rolled my eyes. There was something about him
that annoyed me. Still, I continued, "We are here because of the complaints
King Skarl has marked by your name in the Turdle Races file. He says you've
been continuously late," I counted off my wingtips, "slacking on the job and
not making enough profits. Care to explain?"
"He's lying," said Tavi flatly, shaking his feathery
head. His stubborn tone didn't ease when he added, "Skarl has been trying to
get me fired since day one. Okay, I was late once. Once. And that was
because I was caught up in a game of Potato Counter and I lost track of the
time. You think the guy would cut me some slack."
Luna nodded and scribbled down the main points
of Tavi's monologue, "And about the 'slacking on the job'?"
"Again, he's lying," the Pteri answered. "I happen
to be a very hard worker. The King hates me, that's all."
"Very well," I said, realizing that we probably
weren't going to get much farther than Tavi saying that King Skarl had a personal
bias against him. "Thanks for your time."
"And we'll be at the races today," added Luna
after putting away her notepad. "See you there."
Tavi blinked a few times and it seemed as though
a wave of fear washed over him. Why was he acting so suspicious? Would he
not be able to switch the Turdles if the four of us were in the bleachers today?
Something was pfishy about him… and I knew that I would have to keep an even
keener eye over the races these next couple of days.
To be continued...