The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Missing Miamouse - Part Eight
The wind was picking up just as I left Luna, Simon, and Lindsey. Whether it was due to a mild storm rolling through or the fact that we were thousands of feet up in the sky, where air currents could appear at any moment, I didn’t know. Faerieland meteorology was not my forte. Spotting Rowan’s yellow house on Water Faerie Way, I swooped from the sky and landed bouncily on the clouds. I didn’t waste any time bounding to the front door and knocking.
“Hi, Rowan,” I began, when a faerie Shoyru flung open the door. “I just wanted to know--”
Rowan looked pleasantly surprised. “Hello yourself, Marlo!” she chirped. “I’ve just finished baking some Chocolate Cloud Cookies. Would you like to be the first to sample them?”
“Thank you, but maybe later. I--”
“How’s the case been going? Did you discover anything new?”
I don’t know what happened to me in that moment, but I just stared blankly into the kind Shoyru’s face. I wanted to tell her about Taylor. I wanted to ask her if she knew where he was. I wanted to tell her that her suspicion was right.
And even though I had the answers she was looking for, I couldn’t bring myself to say it. Not yet. Because I somehow knew that even though Rowan suspected Taylor all along, she didn’t want it to be him.
“Umm, is Taylor around?” I asked tentatively.
Rowan sighed. “I’m afraid you’ve missed him. I’ve just been informed that he’s moving to Kiko Lake. I suppose I’m not surprised. He’s been old enough to live on his own for years now...”
But I had zoned out after you’ve just missed him.
“Where’d he go?” I asked numbly.
Rowan looked at me as if I were dense. “The weapon shop, dear. He works there.”
Feeling it would be inappropriate to scream profanity in front of an old lady and also because we were surrounded by cheerful Faeries, I bit my tongue. My eyes bugged as I became aware of what situation had unfurled.
Damien and Charlie are at the weapon shop!
Another lunatic, thought Damien glumly. Fyora, where do we get these people? The royal Aisha sat with his back to the wall as Taylor stood near the front of the store. Although the Grarrl was no longer pointing the dagger at them, Damien didn’t dare make a run for it. He had tried to reason with Taylor, but the Grarrl wouldn’t listen.
Light will show you the way. Light will show you the way. Light will show you the way. Damien’s mind wrapped around that one sentence. He hadn’t spoken for minutes.
Charlie hadn’t said a word for a while either. He was too concerned by Taylor pacing back and forth, mumbling to himself about how he was going to get out of here, and casting glances in their direction. Then as Taylor turned his back, fiddling with the cash register, Charlie climbed up onto Damien’s head and whispered in one of his four ears.
“I’m going to make a run for it,” he said. “If Marlo, Luna, or the Defenders come, I’ll meet them out front and tell them what’s going on.”
Damien feared that if he said anything Taylor would hear. The Aisha quickly nodded his head and watched as Charlie darted along the wall. He was moving so fast that Damien almost lost sight of him. The pea Chia hurried up to the window ledge and carefully slipped through the hole.
Exhaling slowly, Damien brought his feet up to his knees, tired of waiting under the eye of a maniac. Taylor turned at the shuffling noise Damien’s boots made across the dusty floor.
“Getting bored?” Taylor asked. “I apologize.”
“Don’t you think someone will come for us?” asked Damien, careful to use “us” instead of “me”. He was definitely alone now, and Charlie already at the end of the street.
“Hey,” said Taylor suddenly, rounding on Damien. “Where’s your friend?”
“Who?” asked Damien, opting to play dumb.
Taylor smirked. “The little Chia.”
“Oh,” said Damien densely. Think! “He’s in my pocket.”
I met Charlie just outside of the weapon shop.
“Damien’s still in there,” said Charlie, sounding just as breathless as I felt. “I escaped. Taylor has some kind of knife. Where’re the Defenders?”
“I don’t know,” I said finally, trying to catch my breath. “I told Luna to send them to Water Faerie Way, but they should figure out through Rowan that Taylor’s here. What’d you say about a knife?”
But Charlie did not have time to respond. The Chia pointed upwards to the sky as a red and gold cab pulled by two Eyries as large as myself dipped towards the clouds. Their landing was astonishingly smooth for such a large vehicle.
Out of the chariot-like cab stepped two Defenders of Neopia: a yellow Kau wearing a jumpsuit and a blue Kougra with similar attire. And I got that familiar feeling in my stomach whenever we encountered them. Respect. Awe.
The massive Kougra stepped forward. “Where’s the Grarrl?”
I pointed into the shop some fifty feet behind us. “He’s in that shop and he has a knife.”
“The door’s locked,” Charlie added.
“This is the Defenders of Neopia,” the Kougra called through the walls of the shop. “Please stand back.” With no hesitation, he delivered a powerful kick to the wooden door and it was flung off its hinges. The Kougra stepped inside, the Kau on his heels. Luna, Charlie and I crowded behind them.
“Put the knife down,” the Kougra commanded, his deep bass voice reverberating around the small room. “Now.”
I watched in amazement as wide-eyed Taylor let the dagger clatter to the floor. The Kau moved forward swift as ever and folded the Grarrl’s arms behind his back. After all, nobody had more authority than the Defenders of Neopia.
“A Kacheek from the Defenders is at Simon’s house,” said Luna.
Damien got to his feet and brushed the dust off his pants. I think he was almost getting used to being held hostage.
“You okay?” asked Charlie.
“I’m fantastic!” exclaimed Damien. “Quick, come here.”
As the Kau and Kougra took Taylor outside, the three of us followed Damien into the weapon shop. He spread his arms.
“I’ve solved it,” he said. “Light will show you the way. I get it now. It’s a message Lindsey wrote for Taylor because Mika was hidden at the one place they have in common. The weapon shop! Why the note was found in the pocket of the coat Lindsey was using, I don’t know, but it was definitely meant for Taylor.” Damien then turned his attention to a glowing, yellow object mounted on the wall. “This is the Light Faerie Sword. Look directly where it’s pointing.”
The sword was angled in a way that made the blade aim towards the far corner behind the desk.
“These two slabs of wood are slightly elevated,” said Damien, bending down so we could see, “indicating that they’ve been pulled up and hastily shoved back into place”
“That’s brilliant!” said Luna happily. “But how are we going to pry those pieces of wood from the floor?”
Damien smiled. “The sword, of course.” The Aisha cautiously removed the radiant weapon from its resting place and took a moment to savor the feel in his paws. He looked oddly heroic.
The sword’s glowing blade was so thin, yet incredibly strong. It was light enough to use in combat but powerful enough to deliver a defeating blow. Damien wedged it between two pieces of wood and gently tugged the handle towards his body. The slat of plywood popped upwards like cardboard.
And about a foot under the wood was a small cage with little bowls for food and water. More amazing than the sword was the Miamouse, who skittered happily from corner to corner, squeaking.
The Kougra from the Defenders of Neopia stepped into the shop, broken class crunching under his boots. “Anything else?”
“Actually,” said Luna, “there is a Neopet who’s been stealing from people’s wallets at the grocery store in Faerie City. His name is Chase, a yellow Ogrin.”
“Right on it,” said the Kougra.
“Wait,” I said, and the Defender halted. “There’s a kid who hangs out at the grocery store, Kit. He’s the manager’s son. We received a note from him that proved to be a vital part of solving the case. If you could just thank him for us, we’d appreciate it.”
The Kougra smiled for the first time. “Sure.”
We exchanged thanks and good-byes.
“How did you know it was Chase, anyway?” I asked Luna.
She let Mika sniff her paw through the bars of the cage. “It was simple. Chase was terrified of stepping forward and saying he was working behind the desk while Simon dropped off Mika. He claimed he just didn’t want to get involved, but I think he was afraid that if he spoke up it would draw more attention to him. Oh, and he had an earring missing, suggesting that Mika had snatched it from him when he stole from Rowan’s bag.”
“Geez,” said Charlie. “All of that, plus your hunch about Taylor was right.”
Luna shrugged. “What can I say? It’s been a good case for me.” Then the shadow Yurble turned her attention back to the Miamouse. “Oh, Mika, Rowan is going to be thrilled to see you again.”
And she was.
Actually, she was “smiling through the sadness” as Luna had put it. Her beloved Miamouse was safe and back in her arms again, but her equally beloved son was being taken to Neopia Central, charged with kidnapping. What would become of Taylor, I didn’t know, but Rowan was grateful to hear that he would be dealt with appropriately.
The four of us did get to try her Chocolate Cloud Cookies, which were delicious. And, to solve the problem of Rowan forgetting about Mika, we devised a mini checklist to put on the refrigerator that Rowan could view every day. ‘Feed Mika’ and ‘Water the plants’ were among the top.
“Greed is something that Taylor’s always been wracked by,” said Rowan suddenly. “Ever since he was little.”
Whether that was the motive for taking Mika or it was something else, for the first time we didn’t know for sure.
After warm goodbyes and checking out of the Iris Inn, we decided to head back to Bracknell Road.
“Thank you for everything,” said Rowan, handing us a bag of Neopoints for Damien to pocket.
“We’ll see you later,” Damien promised. “After all, I’m sure another mystery will crop up in Faerieland eventually.”
As we flew up into the sky and then downwards to Neopia Central, I felt a twang of pity for the faerie Shoyru. She’d certainly be lonelier without Taylor, even though Mika would be there to keep her company. When I voiced the thought, Luna smiled.
“Don’t worry,” she called. “I already have that worked out.”
“Oh yeah?” I yelled back over the wind. “How’s that?”
Luna giggled. “I told Rowan that you could be pen pals.”
A couple of days after the big fiasco at the weapon shop and grocery store, Rowan had just settled down in her living room when she heard the click of mail being dropped into the slot.
“Mika?” the Shoyru called. “Will you get that for me?”
From inside an empty shoe box, a small Miamouse darted to the front door and dragged the two letters
Hi. How are you? How is Mika? Everything is fine here. The weather is very nice. It has been breezy and bright ever since we arrived home, but definitely colder than Faerieland. We’ve all been relaxing and waiting for another case to solve. Don’t get me wrong, I welcome the break!
So how’s the baking coming along? Anything new?
Your pen pal,
Rowan chuckled softly, making a mental note to reply. Mika was busy chewing the corner of the envelope on the coffee table, but she was happy as ever. Rowan moved on to the second letter.
It gladdens us to know the Mika is back with you once again, safe and sound. Thank you for your cooperation regarding the case and for your generous payment; we appreciate it. If you ever need our assistance again, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Author's Note: This was edited by beewitched2. Thanks for reading; I appreciate your comments!