The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Yanked Yooyus - Part Six
I can deal with almost anything.
Snakes are no problem. Tight spaces aren’t an issue. Flying is actually fun. But there’s something about invisible Neopians that gives me the creeps. How they slink around in the brightest and darkest of places and you never know when they’re going to pop up behind you. And now that there were two of them on the loose, two potentially dangerous, invisible kidnappers...
“Marlo, what’s wrong?” Luna asked. “You haven’t said anything since we got back from Olivia’s.”
It was true. While she, Damien, and Charlie had eagerly conversed for hours about the new lead, I had remained silent, listening to their speculation from the white sofa. But now all eyes were on me. I felt the white feathers on the back of my neck prickling.
“This whole invisibility thing,” I said. “It’s just... really... weird.”
To my surprise, Luna said, “I know. It’s not like we’ve ever had to deal with it before.” She glanced to her right and admitted, “I feel so paranoid. They could be in here, listening to everything we say...”
The door opened and I jumped. Damien hid a smile of amusement as he came in, wiping his boots on the mat. “These kidnappers sure have us on our toes. Oh!” He quickly took a seat in the desk chair and rolled up beside me. “Guess who I saw in the hallway?”
My jaw dropped. “No way!” Damien had spotted the Shenkunese goalkeeper? Excitement and jealousy bubbled inside my chest.
“I know it was her,” Damien said, face lighting up. “How many pink Lutaris have you seen around here lately? I was coming in and she was going out and I didn’t even realize who she was until it was too late.”
I clamped my beak shut, still jealous, but happy for him.
“So what’d you find?” asked Charlie.
“Umm...” Damien took a moment to compose himself. “It took me an hour to read the list of employees I borrowed from Dominic, but I did discover that no one on the Altador Cup staff is or was ever painted invisible,” the royal Aisha said, taking a seat at the small table.
Luna pursed her lips in thought. “Since that rules out the Invisible Paint Brush, all that’s left are Invisihats and the Potion of Concealment... unless anyone can think of something else.”
“If I can remember correctly,” I began, channeling my old Battledome days, “Invisihats keep the wearer invisible for only a short time: long enough to make a move on their opponent before their turn is over. The Neopian who went to the Yooyu room needed to stay invisible for quite some time, as did the Neopian who snuck up on Dax. Two or three minutes just wouldn’t cut it.”
“How long can a Potion of Concealment keep a person invisible?” Luna asked.
I thought about it. “Depends on how much of it you drink.”
“So then we’re definitely looking at the Potion of Concealment,” Charlie concluded.
I nodded. “Unless two actual invisible Neopians stole an additional access card that we haven’t heard about.”
“Potion of Concealment it is,” Luna agreed. “If I’m not mistaken, Neopia Central is the only place you can buy one.”
I saw where the shadow Yurble was going. “If someone from Altador were to order an item from the magic shop in Neopia Central, the magic shop might have that Neopian’s name and street address.”
I flexed my white wings. “Want me to go check it out?”
“Most definitely,” said Luna. “Since I don’t see a reason for all four of us to go back to Neopia Central, I’m going to pay a visit to Jasper Curry since he requested that we keep him updated on our findings.”
“Charlie and I want to go back to the Colosseum,” said Damien, “and give the place another sweep.”
Luna passed them a room card and kept one for herself. “Then it’s settled. I guess we’ll meet back here around dinnertime.”
“Snorlkins turn invisible when they’re scared,” said Damien, and we all turned to look at him. “Sorry,” he added sheepishly, “I just thought of that. It’s probably not relevant to our case, but it’s the only thing I have on invisibility.”
I smirked. “Keep your day job.”
Luna sat opposite of Jasper Curry in his spacious office, sipping the black coffee he had offered her. It was after three o’clock in the afternoon, but the day had gone by so quickly that Luna felt as if she had just woken up an hour ago. Opposite her, the Darigan Skeith set his mug down and leaned back in his swivel chair.
Once comfortable, Jasper asked, “What can I do for you, Luna?”
“I just thought I’d pop in to share some details about the case,” the shadow Yurble replied curtly. “You’ll be happy to know that we’ve made a striking discovery.”
Jasper set his mug down to give her his full attention.
“We know that there were two kidnappers,” Luna began, “and we believe both have the ability to become invisible at will.”
The Darigan Skeith’s expression was blank. He reached for his mug and then decided against it. “Excuse me?”
“We have our search for this invisibility tool narrowed down to one item, and Marlo is in Neopia Central checking--”
“Invisible?” Jasper repeated.
Luna nodded. “Yes.”
The Head of the Altador Cup Committee shifted in his chair, making it creak and groan. “How on Neopia do you plan to track down two invisible kidnappers in a place as large as Altador?”
“Well, our theory is that at least one of them works here at the Colosseum,” Luna explained. “Damien spoke to Dominic Fletcher earlier.”
Jasper massaged his temples with a scaly hand. “Do whatever it takes to find these guys,” was all he had left to say.
“Charlie, come see this.”
Damien was standing on an overturned wooden crate, up to his elbows in dust. This was mainly due to the fact that he had his arms up the laundry chute. The royal Aisha’s flashlight had discovered that the chute seemed to narrow at the mouth. The inside was old and dented, the metal stained brown with years of use.
The chute itself was not exactly what Damien was focused on, however, and when Charlie darted over from the wooden detergent shelf, he saw it, too.
Dangling from the metal slats were several strands of colored material. Damien was careful when he removed them so as to avoid tearing them into indiscernible pieces. When they were free from the metal slat, the royal Aisha examined them in the light.
“Red and black?” Charlie asked, peering at the fabric from atop the washing machine.
“That’s what it looks like to me.”
Charlie frowned. “Are you sure they didn’t come from a towel or something? They could’ve been in there for a while.”
Damien squinted at them, knowing that Charlie could be right. “They look pretty clean to me, and the towels in the Yooyu room were gray.”
He handed them to Charlie since they were some of the only items on Neopia that the pea Chia could actually hold. “I found a lot of dents in this chute. If the kidnapper had his hands inside the chute like this--” Damien demonstrated by planting his feet firmly and reaching upwards into the chute, “--maybe when he or she was getting the Yooyus out, a piece of shirt fabric got snagged.”
“Possibly,” said Charlie, holding up the strands, “but these don’t look like they came from a shirt. Feel how thick these are compared to cotton.”
Damien took the red strand and then the gray. The material was indeed thicker, almost a heavy fabric. He bit his lip. “If these didn’t come from the arms of a t-shirt, where else would they come from? Gloves?”
“The only gloves I’ve seen around here are the ones the players use, and those definitely aren’t made out of this material,” said Charlie, and it was true. Damien knew the players’ gloves were leathery and coarse. “What else do you wear on your arms?” Charlie asked.
“Arm warmers?” joked Damien. It was way too hot for those.
But Charlie was smiling. “No, not arms... wrists.”
As the thought hit him, Damien’s eyes met Charlie’s.
“Wristbands!” he exclaimed. “That’s it! I’ve seen them everywhere in the gift shops. Neopians buy their team colors and wear them to matches.”
Charlie’s eyebrows knit together in confusion. He asked slowly, “Are the red and black Kreludor colors or Mystery Island colors?”
Damien paused at the good point and examined the strands again. “Neither,” he said. “Red and black are Krawk Island’s colors.”
“So...,” Charlie began, “we’re looking for someone who wore Krawk Island wristbands on the day that Kreludor was playing Mystery Island?”
“That doesn’t make much sense,” said Damien, “but I guess so.”
Charlie half-smiled. “Well, I can think of a few people who would wear Krawk Island colors all of the time.”
Intrigued, Damien tore his focus from the tiny threads. “Who?”
“Someone on the Krawk Island team.”
Damien laughed. He didn’t mean to, but the idea was so bizarre. An actual Yooyuball player sabotaging the entire competition? What would the purpose be? But the more he thought about it, the more possible the idea became. A real-live Yooyuball player would be the ideal kidnapper because no one would suspect any of the Neopians on that field. Each team received an intense level of respect and admiration, and rightly so, Damien thought. It would be the perfect disguise...
The Aisha wouldn’t allow himself to venture too deep into that pool of conjecture. A Krawk Island teammate was a possibility, but it didn’t mean that an athletic pirate was the likeliest candidate.
“Oh boy,” he said, waving the red and black strands. “Marlo’s going to be thrilled to hear about this.” The white Eyrie did, after all, think that Krawk Island could do no wrong.
After landing in front of the blue, triangular tent, I folded my white wings behind me and pushed past the yellow flaps.
Kauvara, the shop owner, was just finishing up with a Elephante who had ordered a bottle of blue, gurgling liquid.
“Drink it first thing in the morning for best results,” the starry Kau behind the desk said. “Have a nice day.” When the Elephante politely brushed past me and disappeared through the yellow flap, Kauvara came from behind the counter. “Marlo, it’s good to see you! How is everyone?”
“Good, good,” I answered. “I actually stopped by because we need your help.”
The others and I had known Kauvara for years and she was always around to assist us whenever we needed it.
“Oh, are you on a case? What can I do?”
“If an item from this shop was ordered from someone who lived elsewhere, would you be able to identify the consumer?”
Kauvara answered, “Certainly. What’s the item in question?”
“The Potion of Concealment.”
The starry Kau chuckled. “Those are quite popular. Entertaining and low in price. You said you were looking for one that was ordered from out of town?”
“Altador, to be specific.”
Kauvara’s eyes widened. “Altador? Oh my Fyora, Marlo, don’t tell me... are you... you’ve taken the Yooyuball case?”
I could only smile.
“If your team can land that one, you’ll be world renowned,” she said with a wink.
Kauvara pressed a few buttons on the Virtupets keyboard, hooves clacking noisily. She stared at the monitor until a new screen popped up. “We have a match. Let me write this down for you.”
She folded the slip of paper and handed it to me. “Come by and visit again, will you? Bring the others. It’s been too long!”
“We’ll stop in when this Altador thing’s settled,” I promised.
We said our good-byes and I pushed through the yellow tent flap. Once outside, I unfolded the slip of paper and stepped into the sunlight to read:
Purchase: Potion of Concealment
Date: 5th of Hunting.
Address: 1667 Alabriss Court, Altador.
There was nothing out of the ordinary in those sections, but the last line made me shudder in the 80-degree weather:
Consumer: Dominic Fletcher.
To be continued...