Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 112,409,164 Issue: 224 | 20th day of Sleeping, Y8
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The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Absent Anubis - Part Seven


by playmobil_is_my_life

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I was pretty sure that that was the fastest I had ever flown in my lifetime. It was all a blur, tunnel after tunnel whizzing past. I swerved on numerous occasions to avoid colliding with the cave walls and listened to Luna screaming "Left!" or "Right!" to navigate our way out of the caves.

      As soon as we realized what happened to Damien, there was no time to stop and think. I hoisted him onto my back where Luna was busy making sure that the unconscious Aisha didn't slide off while shouting instructions on how to get out. Charlie was holding on for dear life on my head. There were a few times where I nearly brushed the wall with my shoulders but somehow I managed to slide through.

      We shot out the opening and into the clear, blue sky.

      Luna instructed me on how to get to the Desert Remedy's tent. I was concerned… not only for Damien's sake, but for the fact that the only healing place was in the middle of the desert and who knew what medications they had. I would be a lot more comfortable going to the Neopian General Hospital, but there was no time.

      So here we were, after flying as fast as I could to this place. It was a white tent (how original) with hospital signs on the sides. It had two rooms as far as I could see… a waiting room and a room in the back where Damien was taken. Luna was awfully quiet for a change, her paws folded onto her lap. Charlie was solemn as well. I couldn't stand the silence because it just didn't feel right. Someone was always speaking, but now nothing could be heard but the sand swishing outside of the flaps.

      It was so pointless sitting in these little foldout chairs waiting for that Shoyru to come back. When she did, Luna and I stood up as quick as we could.

      "He's going to be alright," she told us and we both exhaled, glad to hear the wonderful news. "Only because of how quickly you brought him to me."

      Relief flooded through my body. "Can we see him?"

      "He needs his rest," said the Shoyru nurse. "You should come back in a day or so when he'll be awake."

      Very reluctant and disappointed, Luna, Charlie and I left.

      ***

      It was so hard to concentrate on the mystery when our friend, partner and brother was in the hospital (or somewhat of a hospital), recovering from his injury. It had been two days, and now it was the 26th day of the month of Relaxing. Luna, Charlie and I had spent most of our time away from the caves, convinced that they were now considered 'dangerous'.

      Darius, Bek and Raia all came by and offered their sympathies for Damien. They were kind gestures, but they didn't help much. We talked to Darius briefly but he had no new information to help. Neither did Raia, except she said she was busy searching for Sethnakte. How she could find him in all this mess was a mystery itself but the desert Wocky, we saw, was working hard. It made me wonder if she was really capable of ransacking Darius's room, taking pictures of it, offering to help us and searching for what was missing.

      We visited the healing place in the afternoon of the third day to find that Damien was doing well, and awake. The Shoyru said we could see him. One by one, we filed inside.

      Damien was sitting up on a cot, his hat resting on a nightstand, and his sleeves rolled up. His leg was propped on a feather pillow; it was heavily bandaged and looked stiff. Damien sat up a little straighter and smiled. He probably hadn't had any good company since his injury.

      "Hey," I said.

      "Hey," he replied.

      "How are you feeling?" asked Charlie.

      "Better," he said. "I don't really remember what happened… only going into the crevice and then waking up here. But, I have a feeling I should be thanking you guys."

      "It's no problem," I said, shaking my head casually.

      Damien paused and said, "Darius came by. In fact, he told me something that I found really useful." He leaned in and peered out the door to see that the Shoyru nurse had disappeared. "Darius and I talked briefly about the case. He told me that he was in the caves right before he attended the meeting, searching for something else like Seth."

      I laughed. "It's funny. You've been resting for two days and all you can think about is the case."

      "Well it's important, right?" asked Damien, and without waiting for a response, he swung his stiff leg over the side of the cot. "There's something you guys need to think about… come on…"

      "Excuse me," I said, putting out a white paw to stop him. "You were bit by a poisonous petpet and could have died. Don't you think you should take it easy?"

      "Marlo, I've been taking it easy for more than forty eight hours. Please. If you want to do what's best for me, then hoist me up onto your back and fly me to the tent, okay?"

      I was taken aback. Damien had never really had an attitude like this before. He was starting to sound like Luna. I shrugged and said okay, knowing that it would be dumb to try to get him to change his mind. I held out my paw and lifted the Aisha up and he sat just behind my shoulder blades with his leg propped up.

      "You should really consider staying here for a few more days to make sure you'll be fine," said the Shoyru as she walked into the room.

      "Nurse, we can't waste any more time," said Damien, and then to me, he continued the statement. "I think someone's planning on smuggling Sethnakte out of the Lost Desert and selling him in Neopia Central. Raia's looking for Seth, and we have to find the Neopet responsible."

      "Fine," I said, stepping out onto the flaming sand. I only winced a little this time. "Where to?"

      "The tents first," said Damien. "The caves second. Come on."

      "You sure?"

      "Trust me, I'm sure."

      ***

      For once, I took Damien's advice. It's not like I never listen to him, it's just that he's never as assertive as Luna and I are. Back at the tents, Luna rapidly packed her Faerie Back Pack, knowing that we had little time left to catch the culprit before he or she left the team in the Lost Desert. If what Damien said was true about the Neopet planning to sell Sethnakte, we needed to hurry and find who it was.

      My brain was in overdrive as we headed down into the caves with the pictures from Raia, both letters to compare fonts and pages of notes that Luna had taken. We started back down into the cave, exhausted but not daring to stop. Damien told me to go back to the shrine and I flew him up to the top, carefully avoiding the crevice where he had the Wadjet encounter.

      Damien hobbled over to the top and inspected it for any trace of clues.

      "Damien, there's nothing there; Marlo and I checked," Luna told him. The Aisha just gingerly climbed off my back, ignoring her.

      "You missed something," said Damien, pointing to the floor. It took me a minute or so to see what he was looking at. It was a faint ring where the dust had been cleared away. It looked like the ring that appeared when you set down one of the lanterns.

      "Someone was here before us," said Luna, "and not too long ago."

      "It was Darius," said Damien firmly. "His lantern is slightly bigger than ours… it had to have been his."

      "Where are you getting all this stuff?" I asked. "It couldn't have been Darius; he's the one who called us to investigate!"

      "To throw the suspicion off him," said Damien. "Who would suspect their client? I promise, I've thought this through and have had a lot of time to consider all angles. It wasn't Bek, we have absolutely no evidence against her. It wasn't Raia, she's been way too keen to help. That just leaves Dr. Kysen."

      "What makes you think it wasn't him?" I asked.

      "Because of how strongly Darius was accusing the linguist when you first talked to him. Most Neopians wouldn't just jump on an idea like that. Here, let me see the pictures."

      Luna handed him the snapshots Raia had printed for us. Damien took them and flipped through them.

      "This shot right here," he said. "Look at the lantern. You said it yourself, Marlo, that lantern light is burning way too low for the beginning of dusk when the lanterns are lit. Darius lit it before he went to the caves and over time, the flame began to extinguish. While Raia was out with Bek, Darius used her typewriter to write the note about Sethnakte's disappearance. Then, he made his way back to his tent to ransack it and finally, he left for the meeting where he was to present Sethnakte. He hid Sethnakte himself when he went back to the caves. Don't you see? He left for the meeting knowing that Sethnakte was not there."

      Luna's eyes grew wide and exclaimed, "That's the only way Sethnakte could have disappeared, if Darius was the one to hide him! Nobody else could have made that Anubis disappear into thin air."

      "Dr. Kysen could have," I interrupted. "Damien, while Darius went back in the cave, Dr. Kysen could have hidden Seth at that point… it's not like we searched his tent or anything… the Anubis could have been right there. Plus, Dr. Kysen was snooping around in the caves before we met him."

      "Probably just doing his job," Damien shrugged it off. "It's Darius, I'm telling you."

      "Yeah right," I said. "You should have seen Dr. Kysen's face when I met him in the night, wandering around. He told us to drop the case and threatened me with a Cobrall Dagger. Why else would he want us to leave if he wasn't the culprit?"

      "Well, that's a good point," said Charlie. "Then Sethnakte is could still be in the cave, if Dr. Kysen had taken him here to hide," said Charlie. "But how are we supposed to find him? It'd take days to search thoroughly."

      "First," said Damien, leaning against me as he hobbled down the shrine steps, Charlie and Luna following close behind; "we need to find Darius or Dr. Kysen before either of them do something drastic…"

      "I suppose it just depends on your definition of 'drastic'," came a voice from under the archway of the entrance.

      My stomach lurched. None of us had to look up to know who that distinctive voice belonged to. It was the Neopian who was responsible for Sethnakte's disappearance…

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



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