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The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Absent Anubis - Part Four


by playmobil_is_my_life

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"Who's there?" I finally asked.

     The light snapped off and I slowly opened my eyes. Standing before us was a tall desert Ruki. He had a khaki colored pack strung over his shoulder that hung limp at his side. The flashlight he was holding in his claw was pointed to the floor now. His round face showed surprise and confusion.

     "What are you doing down here?" I kept the questions coming.

     "I'm Dr. Kysen." He got around to answering my first query. "Curiosity is a superior trait, don't you think? But I believe the question is: Who are you? And what are you doing down here?"

     I recognized his name. Darius suspected him of stealing Sethnakte a few nights ago. Just by his slick attitude and tone, I could see why. I decided it was best not to answer any of his questions just yet so we remained silent. I most certainly knew that the linguist was working on translating the symbols and looking for more temples like the one Darius had mentioned when I first met him.

     "You haven't answered my questions," the Ruki simply stated.

     "We're detectives," I said. "The Petpet Detectives. And we're here to find Seth."

     "Petpet detectives?" Dr. Kysen asked, and then gave a hollow laugh. His mouth twisted into a smirk. "What, are you not good enough to solve real mysteries?"

     I took a step forward, ignoring Luna's paw on my side as if to remind me to keep it cool. My tone went from professional to acidic: "There's an Anubis worth over one million neopoints missing and a team of forty that could be potential suspects, including yourself. I think this qualifies as a real mystery."

     There was a glint in the Ruki's narrowed eyes as he took a step forward. He seemed entertained that we could put up a good enough defense for our title.

     "Be that as it may," Dr. Kysen replied huffily. "No one is allowed down here without permission from a--"

     "Forget the lecture. It was Darius who sent us," piped up Luna, from my right side.

     "Darius," the linguist repeated the same in a mocking matter, "of course. How wonderful of him. Well, I do wish you the best of luck on the case." Dr. Kysen paused and put his flashlight in the pack from his shoulder. "You're going to need it. Good-bye, Petpet Detectives…"

     I didn't flinch at his mockery. Instead, I just watched him climb up the ladder and out of sight. A growing fireball of dislike was aflame in my stomach and its burn was searing away all of my professionalism.

     ***

     We came to the surface that afternoon, famished, yet eager to find out more about the Sakhmetian caves. After our unpleasant experience with Dr. Kysen came to an end, we continued to explore, using Darius's map and lantern. The cave was enormous, much bigger than I had expected. If it were above ground, it would take up almost all of the flat sandy land in the Lost Desert.

     Of course we didn't have time to explore the whole thing, but we had seen maybe half of it. From what the map read, it went in circles and had many dead ends. Without the map we'd have to navigate through the countless similar tunnels with nothing to follow. I couldn't help but wonder to myself if we would have found anything else in the second half of the caves. I decided it would have to wait until we had more time.

     We wandered back towards camp, finally relieved to see the white tents staked to the ground. The lantern's flame was still burning as bright as ever. Darius saw us returning and came to greet us.

     "How was your day?" he asked.

     "Amazing," Damien answered. "Those caves are spectacular!"

     "I agree," said Charlie. "It's strange to think that they've been around since the beginning of Neopia."

     "I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves. But I bet you are very hungry."

     "Starving, in fact," I corrected him. "What kind of food do you eat around here?"

     "See for yourself: I've had some delivered to your tents. It should still be warm," Darius said.

     We thanked him as he acknowledged two white tents at the far end of camp. The tents were similar to the others and contained just what we expected. Our tent had three beds, a small table, two chairs and a desk. The little furniture was the fold out type, which was nifty since the group moved from place to place.

     I noticed the plates of food on the table. I offered the two seats to Damien and Luna, Charlie sat up on the table and I remained standing. I was hungry, but not tired. The food was pretty good, but nothing compared to the delicacies in Meridell. The Sphinx Links and Geopeppers tasted good; my mouth watered as I took a bite.

     "I can't wait to get back to those caves," said Damien, who appeared very intrigued by them.

     "Tomorrow would be good for that," Luna said, already making a mental schedule. "We'll get up early, go right back to the caves and tackle the rest of the tunnels."

     I took a bite of a Geopepper and swallowed. "Sure."

     I casually turned my head to the side when I noticed a piece of brown paper sticking out from one of the sleeping bags. I put my plate down and started over to it. Gently, I tugged at the corner and the envelope came free. I turned back to the group, who were all watching me. Damien slid off the chair to see what I had found.

     "What's this?" he asked.

     "Don't know," I answered. "Let's find out."

     Using my beak, I slit open the envelope and let the contents spill out into my white paw. Crossing the room to the table, I read the white note that was first in the stack.

     Detectives,

     These were taken on the night of Sethnakte's disappearance in Darius's room at around 7pm NST. Sethnakte was taken to the meeting just before. These are the original photos; I have no way of duplicating them in the desert. No one else knows about them except me. I hope they help.

     -Raia

     Instantly curious to see the photos, I put the note on the table so Luna and Charlie could read it. Damien and I flipped through the dozen photos. The first one showed an extremely messy, no, more like ransacked tent. Raia said it was Darius's. The second one was a picture of paper strewn on the floor and articles of clothing hanging everywhere. The floor was cluttered with paper, pens and other items in the third picture.

     It was the fourth picture that caught my attention. It showed the ransacked tent, like the previous three, but it focused on a small foldout desk. On it were papers out of order, pens and a gas lantern. The lantern's flame was near extinguished… it was so small that it could barely be seen in the picture.

     I passed the other pictures to Luna and Charlie so I could survey the fourth one closer. I pointed out the small flame to Damien.

     "Don't they light those at night?" I asked.

     "Yeah," he said. When the royal Aisha understood what I meant, he stopped. "But why would that flame be so low if it was just lit?"

     "Beats me," I told him, "but it's definitely something to think about."

     "Why didn't Darius tell us about his ransacked tent?" That was Luna's first question, "I mean, even if he didn't have the photos, he still could have said something."

     "Yeah," said Charlie. "Maybe he was trying to shush it all up?"

     "Let's find him," I said, and we abandoned the tent, carrying the brown envelope, to find the desert Lupe.

     ***

     We had to ask around, but a kind desert Ixi pointed him out to us. Darius was in his tent, eating dinner when I poked my head inside the flap. He saw me and motioned for the four of us to come inside. Darius rose from the table and went to see what was up.

     "Darius," I said, not pausing to wait for his formal greeting, "why didn't you tell us about these?" There was no point in beating around the Fire Bush. The Lupe's face went from confused to anxious when he saw the pictures of his ransacked tent. I quickly looked around. It looked spotless now, papers in order, furniture upright and items neatly packed away on the desk or drawers.

     "Because," the Lupe answered finally, "I think I know who did this."

     "Was it Dr. Kysen?" I asked, remembering Darius's distrust in the linguist.

     "No," he replied truthfully. Without waiting for us to say anything else, he strode over to his desk drawer, yanked it open and found the slip of folded paper. He handed it to us and I unfolded it.

     Sorry to inform you that your discovery will not be able to attend this evening. I sincerely apologize for his absence, but you should know… he will not be returned to you. He now belongs to me and we will keep it this way. Do not go looking for him. Good day.

     The four of us exchanged expressions of disbelief and confusion. This was the second thing Darius had kept from us.

     "It was found in Sethnakte's cage once the team and I discovering him missing that night. I… I was… afraid that this was going to turn into a bigger deal than I thought, so I hid it from you. If this gets out, the team and I could lose our jobs for losing the Anubis. I'm sure you can see my point…"

     Oh, but his point was far from my mind. The others were thinking the exact same thing I was. The kidnapper's note started off in a strong bold and then faded to a light gray. Whoever typed this note didn't refill the ink container in his or her typewriter. Raia's note today started in the dark gray and faded to an even lighter gray.

     Which meant that both notes were probably typed on the same typewriter. Raia had typed the note about the ransacked room… did she also type the note about the disappearance of Sethnakte?

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Absent Anubis - Part One
» The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Absent Anubis - Part Two
» The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Absent Anubis - Part Three
» The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Absent Anubis - Part Five
» The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Absent Anubis



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