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At the AstroVilla: Part Six


by kemppotatoe

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"Only twenty-one days left to figure this out," Cypher muttered to herself, wiping a drop of sweat from her forehead. She sat cross-legged on her suite floor with an array of mess around her. Magnifying glasses, pens, torn pieces of paper, and books created a circle around the insistent Cybunny.

      Cypher had been up all night, examining every inch of the pathetic amount of evidence she had. After her fourth Pinanna Cappucino (which Dez had kindly delivered to her room), she sat in the same place... still with no further clues. At least she had one last book to probe through.

      How To Be A Gormball Champ sat undisturbed on the carpeted floor.

      Cypher gently picked it up, sighing. With her other hand, she grasped a large magnifying glass up to her eye and peered suspiciously at the cover.

      Nothing of abnormality came into sight.

      But any of these pages could contain some sort of clue... right? Luther wasn't lying when he said it was odd that the Aisha had this book. Cypher took a deep breath and opened the front cover, positive that something of significance would pop out at her.

      The title page showed nothing, though. The title and the author were in a neat row at the top, the publishing information at the bottom, and Ursula's signature was in the middle... twice. Strange...

      Cypher moved her magnifying glass a few centimeters closer to the autographs and peered through the glass. Something was definitely weird about the signatures; one seemed to be stamped on, and the other was written directly on the page. Cypher moved the magnifying glass so close to the paper, it collided with a small, cylindrical tube hidden in the fold of the book.

      It was a complimentary AstroVilla pen.

      Cypher picked it up, bewildered. The tip was stained with blue, obviously stating what color the pen's ink was. The signature on the paper that had been written on directly was also in blue ink, contrasting with the black stamped autograph.

      Gasping in realization, Cypher dropped the pen back into the crease of the book, tucked it under her arm, and raced to the elevator.

      ***

      "Luther! Hey, over here!"

      Cypher ran into the lobby, book under her arm, and spotted the Kougra chatting with the concierge. He seemed to have not heard her.

      "Luther! I found something!"

      He turned, having heard his name, just as Cypher jumped over the railing that separated the elevator hall from the main lobby. She landed on an armchair, which proceeded to fall forward. The entire lobby stared at her as she crawled out from underneath the chair, unaware of all the attention, and seemingly unharmed considering a heavy armchair had just fallen on her.

      Mr. Griptor stood feet away, looking at Cypher with alarm as she ran to a confused Luther.

      "Are you okay?" the Kougra asked.

      "What?" Cypher said quickly, a bit too excited to remember that she had just tripped in front of everyone.

      "Never mind..."

      "Luther, look at this, I think I figured something out!" Cypher hurriedly opened the book and pointed to the two signatures. "See these? What do you think when you see them?"

      Luther frowned. "That this crazy Aisha loves the author so much, she just had to get her signature twice? I don't know, why?"

      Cypher grinned. "Look closely, this signature is stamped on! I bet they stamped an autograph on every book when it was published. See, the cover even says 'special autograph inside!' But look at the second signature, and you'll see it's written on in blue ink!"

      Luther raised an eyebrow, just as Mr. Griptor walked over, curious to see what was getting the Cybunny so excited. "Cypher, this shows nothing. She got a real signature next to the stamped one... big deal!"

      "Yes," Cypher exclaimed, "but it's blue ink! Blue ink, don't you understand?"

      "I'm aware that it's blue ink," Luther said, "but what does that prove?"

      Cypher picked up the pen from the crease and held it in front of Luther's face. "It was written with this. An AstroVilla pen... with blue ink."

      Luther's mouth was open in awe as he stared at the pen, causing him to jump when Mr. Griptor spoke right behind his shoulder.

      "Interesting..." he said, as Luther spun around and Cypher looked up at him, "very interesting..."

      "What's so interesting, sir?" Luther asked, eyebrows raised. Cypher tilted her head, listening intently.

      "The AstroVilla complimentary pens were recently redesigned. The originals had black ink. They weren't blue until a few weeks ago... long after Ursula's disappearance!"

      Luther frowned and scratched his head. "So how could Ursula have signed the book with a new pen unless..."

      Cypher's eyes widened. "Unless," she practically whispered, "she's still in the hotel."

      ***

      By three o'clock in the afternoon on that same day, another fifteen Chias entered the AstroVilla. Luther informed Cypher that they were there to perform a major search of the hotel, and that all guests were being told that it was a practice for a real emergency.

      "They're not even telling them the truth?" Cypher exclaimed, sitting on a comfy beanbag chair in the lounge.

      Luther shrugged. "They don't want anyone to worry, and they especially don't want guests contacting The Neopian Times."

      "But they have the right to know!" Cypher cried, "Anyone could go at any minute! This place is severely dangerous for everyone right now! They expect guests to remain calm and go about as usual when they're in danger of being kidnapped?"

      "That's just it... they don't know! You're the only one who knows anything, and you know an awful lot," Luther said, "and besides, what are you going to say to them? 'Leave the hotel, some figment of my imagination is kidnapping everybody'? Come on, Cypher, no one wants to believe it, so they'll convince themselves of what they want to hear."

      "And they shouldn't be hearing anything."

      Cypher and Luther jumped in unison. Mr. Griptor had come up next to them silently, listening in to their conversation. Cypher bit her bottom lip nervously.

      "You," he said, pointing at Luther, "are not supposed to be mingling with guests. Get back to the kitchens immediately."

      "No!" Cypher said quickly, "Listen, Mr. Griptor, we know that the two of us are meddling in the hotel's private business, but we mean it for the best! If it wasn't for us, the Chia search squad wouldn't be here, we wouldn't know about the double autographs in that book, and no one would have heard the mirror in Lenny's room when it broke."

      Mr. Griptor shook his head. "Whatever you did to help, it's against the rules. You two will not see each other again, and you will not try and solve a mystery that professionals are already working on. You two are in way over your heads."

      "Sir," Luther replied, somewhat angrily, "we're not babies. We're capable of this kind of thing!"

      "Oh no, you're not," Mr. Griptor said, grabbing the Kougra by his front leg and jerking him to standing position. "Get back to the kitchens... now! And you..." he said, turning to Cypher, "you will do what's best for everyone and return to your everyday life. You know too much already and I won't have you ruining my hotel."

      Cypher narrowed her eyes. "It's not your hotel, it's Marvo LeMaer's!"

      Mr. Griptor raised his eyebrows. "Oh really? Is it? It happens to be his fault that these attacks are happening in the first place! Miss, I must insist that you return to your suite at once. Good day!"

      With that, he turned around, walked away, and left a fuming Cypher standing in the empty lounge.

      ***

      Twelve days later, only three Chias remained to protect the hotel. No one else had disappeared since Lenny, and no one else had tried to solve anything since Mr. Griptor had left it to the professionals. Cypher and Luther hadn't seen or spoken to each other since the day in the lounge. Slowly, the hotel was going back to normal...

      ... just to get messed up again.

      Cypher was lying on her stomach on her large bed, flipping through the pages of the latest Neopian Times. She had barely left her room all week, choosing to get everything delivered to her suite rather than have to face the chances of seeing Griptor again. Cypher had decided that she hated him with every ounce of passion in her body.

      There was a knock on the door, followed by a voice she hadn't heard in a while.

      "You in dere, dearie? I need to be cleaning your room for ya!"

      "Aewa," Cypher breathed to herself, rushing to the door and pulling it open. Indeed, the old Wocky stood in front of her, mop in hand. She had a smile on her face, as if she knew something Cypher didn't.

      "'Ello, again, dearie!" she said, walking into the room. "It 'as been a while!"

      "Yes, it has," Cypher said, shutting the door behind the maid. "Where did you go?"

      Aewa gave her a knowing smile and returned to sweeping. "Just some business I 'ad to attend to, dearie."

      Cypher sighed and took a seat once again on her bed. "I listened to what you said about the LeMaer Legend. I tried to make my stay here more interesting. Then things got serious and I tried to help..."

      "... and old, cranky Griptor got mad at ya, I presume?"

      "Yes," Cypher said, standing up and pacing across the room, "yes, he did. I finally found something to do here! I also discovered that I seriously care about what happens to this hotel, and the pets who work here!"

      Aewa raised her eyebrows and nodded. "So why are ya lettin' dat old Kyrii stop ya?"

      "Oh, I don't know," Cypher moaned, "I guess I'm just a stickler for the rules, and Mr. Griptor said I was breaking them. I just... I just got too worked up about what I thought I could accomplish. And now I'm just failing everybody. You, Luther, myself... even LeMaer. I really thought I could save his hotel."

      Aewa stopped sweeping and looked up at the moping Cybunny. "Now, dearie. Don't be sayin' dat to yourself. I'm sure dings are going just as LeMaer planned dem to."

      Cypher scratched her head. "Are you telling me that LeMaer wanted his hotel to fade into oblivion?"

      Aewa began to walk out of the room, even though she had barely started to clean. Halfway out the door, she turned to Cypher with a strange face on. "Maybe it wasn't the hotel he wanted to fade into oblivion... maybe it was his name."

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» At the AstroVilla: Part One
» At the AstroVilla: Part Two
» At the AstroVilla: Part Three
» At the AstroVilla: Part Four
» At the AstroVilla: Part Five
» At the AstroVilla: Part Seven
» At the AstroVilla: Part Eight
» At the AstroVilla: Part Nine



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