The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Exported Eustabees - Part Eight
Charlie and I began circling the house the moment we had landed and slipped inside the open gate. I peered in through a large window and saw a gorgeous, lengthy dining room with a long table, chandelier, and marble floor. Charlie had crawled up to the adjacent window and peered in.
“Wow,” the pea Chia breathed, tiny hands pressed against the glass. “Check out that Dark Nova Sofa. Quite classy, I’ll admit.”
“Charlie, is there someone sitting on the sofa? Or around the sofa, for that matter?”
“Nope,” said Charlie. “The room’s absolutely vacant.”
“Excellent,” I said, double checking the dining room. “If the two common areas are empty, it’s safe to assume Damien was right. Now we just have to be sure that he was also right about the Monte-morphing-potion idea. Come on, let’s find a way in.”
Charlie scampered down from the windowsill and crept along the edge of the house, almost blending with the emerald-colored blades of grass. “I think I can get in through the garage. There’s a window covered by a screen.”
“Like for ventilation?”
“Exactly. And then we pray to Fyora that the door leading from the garage to the kitchen is unlocked.”
I rubbed my paws together. “Let’s give it a go.”
The screen on the side of the garage was very small. In fact, not even a Neopian as small as a regular Chia could fit through so I felt grateful to have Charlie along. I made a small slit in the mesh and watched Charlie crawl through. He disappeared quickly from sight, hurrying to the door.
I crawled down on my knees and pressed my ear up against the screen, listening for the sound. Come on, I hoped. It’s unlocked...
Click. And so it was.
“Perfect.” Grinning triumphantly, I pulled myself up and hurried to the front door where Charlie was waiting for my knock. The door swung open and Charlie climbed from the knob onto my head.
“Wow is right,” I said, sauntering into the dining room. “Ritzy.”
Never in my life had I witnessed such a spectacular sight before me. Nova furniture, a sleek, marble floor and a spectacular silver chandelier hung from the ceiling above us, accenting the entire room. Everything seemed to be designed in perfection. A narrow hallway led to a separate set of rooms, all with closed oak doors. As much as my eyes wanted to stay and gawk, my brain knew that we were here for a reason.
“We should probably head upstairs, Marlo,” said Charlie.
“How do you know it’s upstairs?” I asked.
The pea Chia shrugged. “Sullivan and Remy’s houses are in the same layout as this one, and both of their studies are upstairs.”
Not being able to argue with that, we started up the marble staircase. At the end of the hall was a picture of Monte himself looking all handsome and whatnot in a tux and bowtie. The frame around the photograph was golden and polished.
“How creepy,” said Charlie, pointing. “The eyes look like they’re staring right at us.”
A shiver went down my spine like a jolt of electricity. “The word is eccentric,” I joked feebly. Truth was, the old and beautiful house was totally freaking me out. I pushed personal feelings aside and focused back on the task.
As the hallway came to an end, I noticed the door to Monte’s study was ajar. “No lock?” I mused.
The most noticeable thing in the study was a large oak armoire with knobby feet and brass handles.
“No lock for the big, obvious armoire over there either. Seriously, who leaves something like that wide open?” Charlie wondered aloud. Sure enough, the armoire door was also ajar. This was getting sloppier by the minute.
I hurried forward and pulled it open. In front of Charlie and I were shelves and upon those shelves were glass jugs, each with a muddy-colored liquid labeled accordingly.
“Check this out,” I said. “Yellow Grundo Morphing Potion and down there is Blue Krawk.”
“There’s Brown Techo, too,” said Charlie, “in the upper left corner.” He sighed. “So Damien’s theory checks out?”
“Apparently it does,” I said, leaning back to view all of the glass jugs in front of me. On a desk were several microscopes, scales, and other scientific instruments that I couldn’t identify. “It’s amazing to think that all of these potions were homemade.”
I heard Charlie sigh. “Well, now that we have proof--”
Both of us jumped as a sound from the door behind us vibrated with sound.
“Marlo? That better be you I hear and not some freak who just drank a White Eyrie Morphing Potion,” came a weak voice from the other side. Recognizing it, but not quite believing it, I hurried to the door.
“Damien?” I exclaimed. “Is... is that you?”
“Just get me outta here, okay?”
My eyes shifted upwards to the doorknob. I turned and then tugged but it wouldn’t budge. “Ugh, now we need a key!”
“It’s in a drawer,” said the muffled voice. “I heard a drawer slam.”
Without hesitation, Charlie and I went from drawer to drawer in each of the desks, rifling through papers and files. I paused at what seemed to be a Mystery Island address. A strange feeling came over me and something told me that this would be useful in the future. I folded it up and kept it in my paw as I continued searching.
“Marlo, I’ve got it!” Charlie yelled from my right and he tossed me a set of silver keys.
Damien toppled out of the closet after I frantically twisted the key around in the lock until I heard the click. His clothes were wrinkled and his front paws were tied, but other than that, the Aisha appeared to be okay. I snapped the ropes effortlessly with my orange beak.
“Damien, do you know where the Eustabees are?”
The Aisha sucked in a good breath. “Gone,” he said. “They were sent to Mystery Island on a ferry yesterday. I figured it hadn’t left yet...” He massaged his head. “That’s why I headed here... where’s Monte?”
I helped him stand and then almost fell over myself at the awareness. Could the royal Aisha that we met outside of his house have been--?
“Monte is me!” Damien breathed, incredulous. “I watched him transform after downing this awful looking potion. It was the strangest thing... his fur changed colors from green to blue and his mane was replaced by a white shirt, just like mine!” He took a second or two to catch his breath before his repeat inquiry. “Where is he?”
“He’s back at the house,” I said, “with...”
Our eyes met.
Without wasting any more time, I practically flew down the stairs with Damien and Charlie holding on for dear life.
When we arrived home, in record time I’ll add, we found that the shadow Yurble was handling things on her own very well.
“I got him,” she said, even coming to the door to answer. “He’s not going anywhere.”
Monte was putting up a hissy fit in the Evidence Room, kicking his feet and growling. It was to be expected, though. The Kyrii, or rather, Aisha, was tied to a chair, breath ragged with fury. Luna still had the Virtublaster 3000 in her shadow paws.
“It had been in the closet for a while,” she explained. “I figured now was a good time to try it out.”
“Yeah, and my chest feels like it’s on fire,” Monte seethed.
“I think I know where the Eustabees are,” I said, suddenly recalling the slip of paper folded in my paw. “3637 Island Crescent. Does that sound familiar, Monte?”
The royal Aisha glowered at me, eyes ominous. “How’d you find that?” he spat.
“We paid a visit to your house,” I said. “Thanks, by the way, for tipping us off.”
Monte’s face contorted with even more rage. “About what?”
“About... everything,” said Damien, who had taken a seat in the bean bag chair. “When we spoke with you in Sullivan’s house, you revealed the key elements of the case... the fact that you were a chemist, for starters.”
“Oh, and that you visit Mystery Island frequently,” I continued, waving the slip of paper. “I’m betting we’ll find the Eustabees at this address. Thanks for the info about the tea leaf, by the way.”
“Don’t forget that he also told us that he and all of the other Neopians whose petpets he took were classmates way back when,” Charlie cut in. “By the way, you didn’t elaborate on that one. You must have pretty strong feelings towards seven Neopians in particular to successfully kidnap their graduation presents.”
For once, Monte looked uncomfortable in his chair. He turned his face to the floor and bit his lip. “Touchy subject?” I asked.
“SHUT UP!” he roared, sliding the chair forward a few inches in his outburst.
“Watch it,” Luna warned, raising the Virtublaster 3000.
“You don’t know what it was like at that wretched place,” he hissed, and I could tell we had him mentally defeated.
Feeling a small fraction of pity, I continued for him, “And the six Neopians still missing Eustabees right now didn’t make your life any easier.”
“I hated them,” he said viciously, “those six. They were just so...” Monte paused to search for the right word, “...perfect. They never had to work for anything in their lives; everything was always handed to them and they knew it. I knew one day I’d be able to finally get back at them.”
“By staging a full-fledged kidnapping plan that’s going to land you in a bad place for a while,” said Luna, and then added, “props for that one.”
Damien and Charlie went downstairs, going to contact the Defenders of Neopia and advise them to visit the Mystery Island address. I hung back at the foot of the stairwell, watching the deranged Neopian with great interest.
“Revenge,” I pondered. “It’s got to be the oldest motive in the book.”
“Yes,” said Luna, passing me, “but also the most common.”
As much as we would have liked to travel to Mystery Island to help with the excavation of several frightened and restless Eustabees, we thought it best to hang back and wait for their arrival on Monday morning. The ferry had limited space and even less of it with seven Eustabees crawling around and a few large Defenders.
“What’s going to happen to Monte’s Eustabee?” asked Luna, as we waited with the other anxious Neopians on the dock.
“Someone will take it in,” I assured her.
“I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!” Gracie piped up somewhere near my left elbow.
Sullivan, who was normally quite aloof, surprised me by smiling and pulling her into a one-winged hug. Remy and Evan were congregating over by the post and Nina stood with her son, also a Maraquan Shoyru, facing the horizon. Felecia was listening raptly to Damien’s story of how exhilarating it was to be kidnapped himself and tied up in Monte’s study. She proved to be a great audience, and oohed and aahed in all of the right places.
“Sometimes I think Damien enjoys the attention of being in trouble,” I whispered to Luna.
“Marlo!” she exclaimed, nudging me in the ribs.
“Hey, I was just kidding.”
When the ferry appeared on the horizon, cheers and shouts erupted from the small crowd waiting on the docks and Felecia even starting jumping up and down. The noise didn’t subside until the ferry had propelled itself all the way to the shore.
Even though the other detectives and I could not revel in the same joy, we were all still smiling. Their happiness was infectious. As the Defenders unloaded the Eustabees, stored safely in travel cages, the dock once again became a multitude of shrieks and cries. To me, it was miraculous that each Neopian could tell which Eustabee was theirs because they all shared the same red color and large eyes.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Felecia screamed, squeezing a Eustabee with bulging eyes to her chest.
“Yes,” said Sullivan, shaking our hands in turn. “Thank you. That’s quite a bit of detective work if you ask me. It’s a real shame about Monte...” he broke off. “But I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t a jerk to him at the Academy because I definitely gave him a rough time. Old habits die hard, right?”
“I guess so.”
“Still,” the ghost Hissi said, and broke off with a remorseful shrug. “Thanks again.”
Damien and Charlie made their way over to us. “Let me guess,” said Damien, “rejoicing, regretting, and reacquainting?”
“Pretty much,” answered Luna, with a smile.
“Hey,” said a voice from behind us and we turned.
It was Jazz, flanked by Dash. I was a little taken aback to see they were both smiling. If they had beaten us to solving the mystery, I’d be pretty ticked off.
“Good job, guys,” said Dash, the blue one. He sounded genuine.
“Yeah, that was some quick thinking,” Jazz added hastily.
I couldn’t help but grin. “Thanks.”
“Dash and I have given up on mysteries.”
“Oh,” said Luna, frowning. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Don’t be!” Jazz interjected. “We’ve decided to take up bungee jumping instead.”
My eyes widened. “Wow.” After an awkward moment, I forced a serious smile because it felt like I was going to bust a gut laughing. “Good luck with that.”
“Yeah, thanks,” said Jazz, clapping me on the shoulder. “See you around!”
Once they were out of earshot, the four of us broke out in laughter. Luckily there was so much rejoicing going around that nobody seemed to notice our unusual giddy behavior.
“What a crazy week,” said Luna contentedly, after our fun subsided. “I can’t wait to get home, prop my feet up and relax.”
I held up a white paw. “Ice cream first, I’m buying.”
Damien cocked his head to the side. “What exactly did you have in mind?”
“I don’t know,” I said, feigning innocence. “But I bet you can’t eat three Zeenana Splits in under ten minutes.”
Paloma strode into the Winding Wood Drive Association Offices the following Monday, feeling better than she had in days. The situation of seven... er, six Eustabees missing had been wrapped up quite nicely, residents of Winding Wood Drive were happy again, and the Petpet Detectives were handsomely rewarded. It was a good feeling knowing things were taken care of.
A white envelope was on the royal Poogle’s desk this morning. She peered down at the address and the immense line of text under it: Attn: Paloma, Sullivan, Gracie, Nina, Remy, Felecia, and Evan.
She read the letter twice and a warm smile spread over her delicate features. Paloma made a mental note to put it on the neighborhood’s notice board for all to read:
Thank you for your cooperation and kindness regarding the recent case of the exported Eustabees. We are overjoyed knowing that each of your petpets have been safely returned to you. It was a tough week but we are thankful that everyone was able to get through it safely. Best wishes to you and your families. If you need anything in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Author’s Note: I’m deeply sorry about the wait as this story began last year and managed to end up finished in the summer of the next. Anyhow, thank you for reading TPPD #7 and thank you, as always, to beewitched2 for editing.