The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Yanked Yooyus - Part Five
Siyana Way was a quiet street that undulated through Altador's emerald hills and tall pines. Even from the sky, it boasted large homes on private land. The emerald grass was lush and each bush trimmed to perfection.
Luna, Damien, Charlie, and I managed to find our way to number 252, an alabaster mansion that sat on several acres of property. It was three stories and had large windows that were rounded at the tops. The barrel-tile roof and trim, brick red in color, were beautifully matched with the creaminess of the walls. The way the sun hit the glass windows made them look like diamonds had been encrusted into the panes. The four of us landed outside of the wrought iron gate.
"Wow," Luna breathed. "What a gorgeous house."
"That is way more than just a house," I replied as she and Damien hopped off my back.
I pressed a button at the gate and a grave voice rasped, "Can I help you?"
"We're here to see Olivia Nash," I said, inclining my head towards the speaker.
"Please state the nature of your request.”
"We're detectives from the Colosseum. We have a few questions for Ms. Nash."
There was a pause. The faint line of static that had streamed through the line stopped. Then it returned, followed by the raspy voice. "Please come in."
The wrought iron gate swung open and we began up the brick sidewalk to the pavilion.
Before we reached the steps, one of the white French doors swung open and a blue Ixi with a silver cane stood back to let us in. He was dressed in a suit jacket, but had a rough, haggard face. His age wasn't anywhere near his voice or appearance, which struck me as odd. His large eyes were slanted, as if taking us in one by one.
"Please sit," the Ixi said. "Ms. Nash will be with you shortly."
He escorted us to the center of the enormous room and we took seats under the vaulted ceiling. A golden chandelier hung above us, crystals dangling over our heads. I tore my eyes from it as footsteps pitter-pattered from the spiral staircase.
A royal Usul emerged from the landing, fur groomed neatly and eyes sparkling with interest. "Hi," she said warmly. "I'm Olivia. I heard you over the intercom before Knox opened the gate."
We stood and introduced ourselves as Knox brought a tray of biscuits and tea from the kitchen. The Ixi carefully set the tray down with one hand and gripped his silver cane in the other. With a nod, he backed into the adjacent room, cane tapping on the marble.
"You'll have to excuse him," Olivia Nash whispered loudly. "He used to work at the Colosseum before coming here, and he just needs some time to get over it."
Good motive for kidnapping, I mused, hiding the thought behind a pleasant smile.
Olivia picked up one of the mugs in front of us and beamed. "So," she said, raising her voice to a normal level. "What can I help you with?"
"Please, Marlo. Call me Olivia."
I tried again with a polite expression. "Olivia. We are aware that you purchased eight seats in section E on the first day of the month of Relaxing. Those eight seats happen to face the door to the underground Yooyu room."
Olivia frowned. "I hardly see how that's a crime... I always buy for our colleagues. My son loves the game. Yooyuball is our favorite pastime." The Usul began to wring her paws, worry clouding her blue eyes. “I purchased those seats at the ticket booth and for the same price as similar ones in the other sections.”
"There's no problem with the price of the seats," Luna assured her. "It's the location that has us intrigued."
I swallowed a large gulp of the white tea and set the mug on a coaster. "As I mentioned before, the eight seats are only a yard from a gray door on the side of the arena. It leads to the Yooyu room." When Olivia continued to stare at the countertop, nodding slowly, I continued, "We think that someone entered the room approximately five minutes before the start of the game."
"Dear Fyora," the royal Usul breathed, clasping a paw to her mouth. "Is... is something wrong with the Yooyus?"
"We're not permitted to release details about the case," Damien interjected, "but we do need to know if you saw someone enter the Yooyu room."
Olivia massaged her temples as if she were suddenly frustrated. "Ah," she began. "Yes, perhaps. Let me think..."
"I saw someone enter the Yooyu room."
The five of us turned towards the spiral staircase where a yellow Kacheek sat with his paws wrapped around the railing, face pressed to the iron bars.
"Alexander!" Olivia exclaimed, more out of surprise than anger. "How long have you been sitting there?" Her gaze met ours. "My son. He was at the match with me."
The Kacheek flitted down the staircase and lingered near the vacant, red velvet armchair. "Actually, I saw a couple of people go through that door."
Olivia began to protest, something about making up stories, but Luna said, "What can you tell us about them?"
The yellow Kacheek grinned and finally took a seat. Even Knox emerged from around the corner. The Gnorbu butler crossed his arms and listened to what Alexander had to say: "The first was an Acara, and she was leaving. Then a Grarrl came a few minutes later, but he left real fast. Then they announced that the Colosseum had to close."
"Were the Acara and Grarrl wearing robes from the Colosseum?" Damien asked.
"And they both used a white card to open the door?"
The Kacheek nodded.
"Alexander, darling, are you positive? We don't want to give the detectives false information." Olivia shot us a concerned look.
"Mom, I was sitting right next to the door. Aunt Mabel kept asking me where I thought it led to."
Luna scribbled down what he had said. "Did either of you see anything unusual around the gray door? Even the slightest oddity?"
Both of them cast their eyes to the marble floor. Then Alexander shot up from the chair and yelled, "I did!" His eyes were glowing with pride. "There was one time when the door opened all by itself."
I held my breath and felt myself lean forward with interest. "All by itself?"
“Yeah,” said Alexander.
Olivia shot me an exasperated look that clearly said Please don’t encourage him. I ignored it.
“After the Acara left and before the Grarrl entered. Wait,” he said, and lowered his head to think. “It was right when Kreludor came out and everyone was cheering.”
Olivia sighed hopelessly. "How is a malfunctioning door relevant?" the royal Usul asked.
If only the door was malfunctioning, I thought to myself. My pulse rate increased. The door decided to randomly open just as the players came into the arena when all eyes would be elsewhere? There was no way this was a coincidence.
"You did say that there were two Neopians who either entered or exited through that door?" Luna asked, cleverly skirting Olivia's question.
"Yep," said Alexander. "And then the time when the door opened and no one went through.”
“Sweetheart,” said Olivia, “are you sure someone didn’t exit when we were watching the opening ceremony?”
The yellow Kacheek shook his head. “No. I watched the door close.”
Olivia, unsure of what to make of her son’s account, held out her arm and Alexander came to her side. "Is there anything else we can do for you?"
"That's all for now," Luna said, standing and packing away her notebook. "Are you going to be around for the next few days? We might have more questions."
"Of course," said the Usul.
"Thank you," I said, and we followed suit to leave.
On the way out, I didn't miss Knox's strange expression, a mix of slight interest and disgust. The Gnorbu held open the door and we didn't wait for him to get the gate. I sprang from the brick driveway, white Eyrie wings flapping powerfully to propel us into the sky.
Because we were flying at a slower pace, it was easier to talk over the gentle breeze. Luna had been itching to say something ever since we stood up to leave; that much was clear. She used the opportunity as soon as we were headed back to Colosseum Plaza.
"The Acara and Grarrl Alexander saw were definitely Ruby and Trent, but it sounds like an unwelcomed guest slipped into the Yooyu room that morning."
Damien nodded vigorously. "That's what Alexander was trying to explain. The Neopian timed it so that he or she could enter before Ruby and after Trent. Then he or she rolled the Yooyus down the laundry shoot before Trent arrived." The Aisha paused, remembering what Olivia’s son had seen. “And if Trent exited the room seconds later, the kidnapper would’ve still been there, unseen.”
"And remember what Dax said about hearing someone coming up behind him but not actually seeing his attacker?" Charlie asked.
"Right,” Luna began. Originally, we attributed that to the fact that Dax was hit from behind, but after what Alexander told us, I think we need to consider a new scenario regarding our kidnappers."
"Oh no," I said. "Don't even say it."
"Considering that no one seems to be able to directly see these people..."
"...but are, in fact, able to detect some kind of presence..."
The shadow Yurble took a deep breath, and I shared with her, Damien, and Charlie a sudden rush of overwhelming feelings. "I think it's safe to assume that we are dealing with not only two extremely intelligent kidnappers...
"But also two invisible kidnappers."
To be continued...