The Inspectre: Part One
It was about 10 o’clock when someone banging on the door woke me up. I got up as quickly as I could to answer the door. I probably shouldn’t have been asleep at that time, since I ran a business, but I didn’t get many customers so my sleeping patterns were quite a way out from normal.
“Yes?” I said in a dreary voice, to the person who woke me up. “I assume you are here because of some sort of haunting or other magical problem?”
“That’s right,” said the Aisha. “Last night there was this Wocky, and, well, it’s probably better for you to come over, if it’s not too much trouble?”
“No, that’s fine. It will be a bit of an interruption on my last case, but not much is left on that one, I’ve pretty much cleared it up,” I said. It was always good to lie about being busy to try and up the price of your services.
The Aisha led me through some of the streets of the Haunted Woods, past the residents who were probably wondering what a rainbow Aisha and a blue Kyrii were doing running through the roads of the Woods in such a rushed fashion. Let them wonder, I say.
We went past the haunted house that belongs to Eliv Thade, with its familiar ‘oD tNo etrEn’ sign. I stopped the Aisha. “There’s someone that lives near here I know; could I go ask them to come?” The Aisha nodded.
I ran to a house just a few doors away from Eliv Thade’s house and knocked on the door. A green figure opened it. “Hello,” she said. “Oh. It’s you. What do you want, Simon?”
I smiled at Wegy, the Kougra witch who stood in front of me. “I’d like you to come take a look at something with me, if you don’t mind.”
“Yes, I do mind, I’m working on an important spell.” Wegy almost slammed the door in my face.
“I don’t believe you,” I said in a singsong voice. “You might be a powerful witch, but you haven’t cast a spell in years.”
“Fine,” said Wegy. She sighed. “I’ll come, but only because I feel the need to find something that can deflate your head.”
Wegy came with me back to the Aisha, who took us to her house. The first thing I thought when we got there was that the Aisha was rich. That was good for me; it meant I got more money. Of course it wouldn’t do wonders for my reputation if I couldn’t come up with an answer to whatever her puzzle was.
The Aisha, who told us her name was Ceyra, explained that the previous night she had woken up in the middle of the night to see a Wocky take an expensive book from her bedroom. She said the Wocky was floating, but didn’t give much description to it.
“Do you think this Wocky was a ghost?” I asked.
Ceyra shook her head. “It didn’t look like a ghost; it looked like a regular Wocky. It was red. Then again, it was floating and it could pass through solid objects.”
“What do you think, Wegy? Spectre?”
“It could be,” said Wegy. “Although it could also be a summoning of some kind. I would bet on the latter.”
I walked over to the main door. “You said it passed through here?”
“That’s right,” said Ceyra. “I got up to chase it out.”
I blew on the door. Nothing happened. I tried again, making sure to blow as hard as I could, but still the door remained unchanged. “No residue on it, Wegy. It’s a spectre.”
“Wait a minute. I’m sorry for my complete lack of magical knowledge, but what’s the difference between ghosts, and spectres? And what is residue?”
“To answer the first part, a ghost is when a pet dies and returns as a spirit form. They look just like the colour you get from ghost paint brushes, surprise surprise, but they only come out at night, they haunt people, and you get a strange feeling from them when they get close to you.”
“I knew that, but what about spectres?”
“Spectres are a bit more wishy washy. Basically they appear when a pet has a lot of emotion. They look just like the pet that they were based upon, and act based on the emotion they were created from as well as the pet that had the emotions. In this case I would suspect that the spectre we are looking for came from a thief that was very happy, probably from stealing something important. We don’t need to know too badly; we just need to find and catch the spectre.
“As for residue, it is just a simple way of telling if magic has been nearby recently, and if so then who it came from. If the Wocky had been a summoning, it would have left a huge amount of residue on that door. You can also get a device called a residometer to see if there is residue in the air, but they are only used if we need to look back a few days or more.”
“I think I understand.”
“Simon, haven’t you noticed something strange about this yet?” said Wegy. She was walking around the room and following the spectre’s course. I shook my head, and Wegy looked at me like I had lost my brain to a cook. “Why would the Wocky take a long route through the doors, when it could cut through the walls?”
I thought about this for a moment. “Interesting point. That means it must be using so much power to do something else that it can only pass through something quite thin.”
“Couldn’t it just be a habit?” asked Ceyra.
“Spectres don’t really have small habits. The only rules they follow are very basic.”
“Exactly,” said Wegy. “The problem is, what else was this spectre doing? If we can find out that, then hopefully we should be able to determine what kind of spectre it is, and with that, I should be able to magically track it.”
* * *
Back at my house, I answered the door for the second time that day. It was a bit of a record for me, what with my slow business. I went to the door and swung it open. “What is it?”
“Would this be the place of business and residency of the, ah...” The Kacheek in front of me looked at the card in his hand. “The Inspectre?” He smirked, as if he found the name somewhat corny. Well, let’s be honest; it was very corny.
“Yes,” I replied.
The Shadow Kacheek looked at me. “My name is Gerard, but you can call me Gerry. I am from the Haunted Woods branch of the Defenders of Neopia; I believe you requested a liaison officer?”
Ahhh. So I had some help from the Defenders. It was about time, really. I had made the request during a previous case. Still, if he was here, I might as well make use of him. “That’s right. Come in.” I brought him inside and, while trying to ignore the fact that he said ‘nice place’ with a voice layered in sarcasm, I told him what I knew.
“Interesting,” he said.
“Isn’t it just? So what do you think?”
“I think you need to spend some time down at the library researching the tracking and capturing methods for your spectre.”
“I don’t even know what kind of spectre it is.”
“Fair enough,” he said. “So, tomorrow we will be going for a look at the crime scene?”
“Yes,” I said. “Unless you wanted to lounge about sipping Neocola.”
* * *
The following day, I went to Ceyra’s house with Wegy and the liaison officer.
“Ceyra, I don’t remember you saying what exactly was stolen,” said Wegy, as soon as we got in the door. “I know it was a book, but what else? That could be quite significant.”
“It was a book of spells,” replied Ceyra. “It was rare, and very expensive. I don’t know anything about magic; I just held it as a souvenir.”
“Family heirloom?” I asked.
“Did you ever read it?” Gerry asked. “Do you think it was stolen for a spell or some other knowledge it contained?”
“No, I never read it,” replied Ceyra.
“I can’t imagine it would want the spell anyway. Maybe the book, but not a particular spell.”
“What makes you say that?” asked Gerry.
“Most spells are in more than one book and it could just as easily get the spell from a simpler source.”
“Which leaves us with the spectre either wanting to steal something, or wanting the book in particular.”
Wegy cut in. “Now add in the fact that it was using a large amount of power. Any ideas?”
Gerry shook his head. “Not yet.”
“I think I might have one.”
Gerry looked sternly at me. “This had better be good.”
“It is,” I replied. “All that power had to come from a spell. Now, I know there is no residue on the door, but there could well be residue in the air, if it managed to stop casting the spell while it passed through the door.”
“Wouldn’t it be able to go through the wall in that case?”
“No, the doors are thinner, and it would want the spell to be on for as long as possible, if it is what I’m thinking of.”
“What kind of spell would it be using?” asked Gerry.
“Well, if I was a spectre thief and I was using a spell, I would say it involved trying to find the object.”
“Are you sure? It does seem a little far-fetched to me. I mean, it wouldn’t really bother just going through the doors just so it could track the object a few moments longer.”
“Well,” I said, “I have no idea what else it could be. Get the residometer in.” Boy, were they good famous last words.
To be continued...