The Amazing Dr. Wilbur and the Treasure of Five-hundred
It was the most splendid sun-blessed day – as always in Brightvale, only Snorkles would live in any other part of Neopia - when came that certain firm yet gentle knock on my door that would change my entire career. Having just prepared myself a glass of warm milk – a true heroes’ beverage – I confess I was slightly drowsy as I walked into the carpeted hallway to open above-mentioned door.
I opened my heavy oak-wooden front door, did I mention it has hand-carved elements embedded in the frame? Anyway, I pushed it open and found myself staring into the eyes of absolutely nothing. Yes, dear reader, there was no living soul to be seen; had the door knocked on itself? Were mysterious faeries trying to contact my deeper spirits?
I gently rubbed my eyes and opened again, to discover a White Weewoo sitting at my very feet, a roll of parchment held in its beak. The Petpet tilted its head and glanced at me curiously, obviously impressed by my handsome features and dashing emerald evening robe. I cleared throat and held out my hand, the Weewoo dropped it and took off with a whoosh, grazing my head and unsteadying my hair-do.
Opening the scroll I noticed the crest on the scroll: a Weewoo holding a quill (note that Weewoos can hardly remember their given names, let alone write something, preposterous). Puzzled and highly intrigued, I hastened to read the letter.
From: Neopian Times HQ
To: Dr. Augustus. F. Wilbur
Subject: Urgent case
Dear Dr. A.F. Wilbur,
Request your immediate assistance at NT HQ for most delicate and secret matter.
Barely having time to grasp the full content, I saw a flock of White Weewoos divebombing towards me. Being a true hero, I flailed my arms wildly and emitted high-pitched noises, all with the purpose of protecting myself from the psychotic Petpet-attack. Yet the little twerps remained unimpressed and decided to peck away at my robe, velvet slippers and striped pajama-trousers.
I blinked and batted my handsome eyelashes in shock when I found myself flying over Brightvale amongst the flock of Weewoos who were flapping their wings furiously, naturally the poor creatures must have been aware of the importance of their task. Dropping an award-winning detective somewhere halfway across Kiko Lake would not look good on their resumes, no sir!
After a two hour flight across the night sky, having one frozen ear, and having dropped one of my slippers above an undisclosed location, the Weewoos basically threw me through an open window, and I landed thus, one-slippered, on an antique wooden floor. I lay there for a few seconds with my eyes closed until a wheezy voice spoke in the distance.
“P-p-pirates.” I jumped up on both feet, ready to knock out some foul pirate with the Filibertus Martial Arts Technique (copyright Dr. A.F. Wilbur). To my own disappointment I just saw an elderly female Cybunny sitting on the floor, clutching her chest with one hand and her hairnet with the other.
I spun around and looked for someone slightly younger and less confused (there was no pirate to be seen). A blue Kyrii walked up to me, a yellow pencil behind his ear and an issue of the Neopian Times clutched under his arm.
“Detective Wilbur?” he asked extending an ink-stained hand.
“Doctor-Detective Wilbur, yes,” I said adjusting my evening-gown.
He eyed me suspiciously, scratched his chin and started explaining why they were all looking over-worked and slightly snappy and cranky, one might add (I supposed the coffee-machine was broken). As most of you will not know, simple souls you are, the Neopian Times has arrived upon its 500th issue! A landmark in the history of Neopia! Now, the pickle was that someone had decided to symbolically place all issues of the 500th Neopian Times in a nice wooden chest to later present it theatrically in the Art Centre. I do hope you understand where I’m going, dear reader. Pirates, hairnet, wooden chest. Treasure of course! The blue Kyrii informed me that as two volunteers were bringing the chest down to the Art Centre, a bunch/herd/flock (the terminology depends on the witness you might speak to) of pirates assaulted them, yelled “yarrr” many times and stole the chest!
“With issue 500 gone, the editor in chief is – errr – a bit nervous... So we’ve decided to send all Neopia’s finest detectives on the case, but so far you’re the only one that was available on such short notice.” The blue Kyrii fell silent and scratched his chin again, eyeing me in a very strange and unpleasant fashion.
I was not going to stand for some spotty youth’s disrespectful comments. “I demand to see the editor! I am not just anyone, I am Dr. Augustus-”
“Look, sir, the NT editor is busy breathing in a paper bag. So you’re going to have to deal with me,” said the blue Kyrii in a huffy tone.
Ten minutes of awkward and annoying briefing later, I found myself embarking upon a boat (still with just one slipper, mind you; you’d think they would have had the brains to give me a pair of shoes) sailing for Krawk Island. Luckily we had the wind in the sails, the captain told me. Sadly enough, so did the pirates. I paced the deck endlessly, trying to avoid the crew’s lowly conversations and dubious jokes. With my bare foot I kept stepping into puddles of water, remnants of fish and algae that had not seen the sea for a very long time.
“Ye might want to take off that slipper, gov’.” I turned to find a wrinkled Blumaroo eyeing me with what I could only assume to be a glass eye. “Nothing like bare feet to not fall of a ship,” he added with a grin, hobbling away as swiftly as he came to fasten a sail. Audacious as I am, I removed my remaining slipper, spoke soft words of farewell and entrusted it to the sea. It landed on the surface of the water with a soft splash and I watched it bob away into the sunset. Adieu, dearest friend.
Just as I was reliving some of my finest moments with the pair of slippers, a most horrid and screechy voice yelled, “Ship ahoy!”. Yes, dear reader, to our right one with eagle-eyes could distinguish a pair of sails and a black flag. Not being a sailor, I could not grasp the meaning of the profuse yelling, adjusting of ropes and some more yelling. I can tell you, however, that pretty soon the ship was turning right, in pursuit of the pirate ship, which seemed to have taken port – how does one say “stop” for a ship? – along the coastline of Meridell.
“You,” the captain said, pointing at me, “this is it; we drop the anchor here, you can take a dinghy and save the treasure.” The yellow Eyrie crossed his arms, indicating that he and his crew were just a taxi and I the hero (obvious statement, thank you very much). Before I knew it, the crew had pushed me in a dingy and was lowering me to the surface, leaving me defenseless and shoeless. Reluctantly, I grabbed the oars, not that I am a coward towards physical work, but my brain needed all the energy it could use to find a mind-blowing plan to stay alive and save the Neopian Times. During this inner monologue – typical for heroes and great thinkers in literature – I almost died of shock as I saw a shadow shift at the front of the dinghy. Was it a ghost that perished at sea? A pirate? A Pawkeet?
“Show yourself you... shadow!” I yelled brandishing an oar in defense. The shadow moved again, stood up and materialized itself into a red Ixi. “You... I know you! Do I?”
The Ixi threw her head back, laughed loudly, swayed because of a large wave and fell down. She coughed slightly and sat down, holding on to the edges of the boat. She had a long red braid running over her back and was distinctly wearing pirate-like clothes (striped, dirty, frayed, patched, need I say more?) and a black pirate bandana (the horror).
“Naithea,” she said simply, extending her hand. Of course, she was the arrogant know-it-all who assisted me in my last adventure (see issue 486). I shan’t say her assistance wasn’t of any use, but her attitude could do with a bit of polishing. Maybe some etiquette lessons at an institute for troubled young women?
“I’ve come to retrieve the stolen copies of the Neopian Times. I have an article in it in honor of the 500th issue; we can’t have it fall in the hands of pirates, can we now? Once we set foot on land, I’ll do the talking. I talk a bit of pirate and somehow I doubt that you,” she eyed me from head to foot, “have any experience with pirates?” I opened my mouth in protest but she raised a finger and placed it on her lips, indicating we were approaching land. She had me hide under some smelly blanket at the bottom of the boat, while she happily rowed and sang some horrid “yoho” or “ohyo” –song at the top of her lungs, not exactly discreet, if you ask my opinion.
Hidden beneath that horribly smelly blanket (emphasis is necessary), I could feel the boat slide of the water onto the beach and come to a halt with a thump. I was then hit in the back of the head with both oars that were being dropped in the boat.
“Ahoy, gentlemen o’ fortune!” I heard Naithea yell in confidence. “How be you on this glorious day?”
I lifted the blanket to sneak a peek at the pirates, yet couldn’t see a thing. I decided to clamber out of the boat and sit behind it; in doing so I could be of immediate assistance to Naithea if she were to be in any danger.
“Avast!” yelled one of the pirates, a black Lupe. “You have no business here, lassie.” His crew growled in acknowledgement.
“Any treasure from Neopia to here is me business, matey,” Naithea countered confidently. “This is not your territory. Any passage here comes with a price,” she added, nodding towards the wooden chest lying in the sand.
“This may not be my territory,” the Lupe conceded, “but what tells me it’s yours?” A few of his shipmates stood up and flanked their captain. Namely a very dodgy looking Krawk and a Shoyru with a wooden leg drew their cutlasses and grinned.
“Would I come to you, alone and without a guard, leaving my ship, if I were not the Lady of these seas? My dear captain.” Naithea bowed. “I have only come to claim what is mine. What is the nature of your treasure?”
“The nature,” hissed the Lupe, “is none of your business.” He stepped up to Naithea and looked down at her, his eyes narrowing, but Naithea’s stout green eyes didn’t waver and he was forced to back up again.
“Skyler,” he said, extending his hand.
“Nai,” said Naithea, shaking the captain's hand with some reluctance (I’ll say, how often do pirates bathe according to you?).
“Lady Nai. Pretty. Well you see, Lady Nai, we’re in a spot of trouble with our ship there, so we decided to make berth here and discuss the situation with my finest crewmembers.” He pointed towards the scruffiest gang of dishonest Neopets ever and smiled at Naithea. “So, beggin’ your pardon, I’m sure you’ll understand why we have halted on your territory. We shall only require a few more hours and we’ll be on our way.” He flashed the most smug smile at Naithea who nodded slowly, obviously thinking how to get herself out of trouble. Luckily for her, Dr. Wilbur’s amazing brainwaves are never far away in times of need!
Just as I was preparing to engage into heroic action, Naithea beat me to the punch and spoke: “I have something far more valuable to offer than what your chest holds.” She shook a few lose strands of red hair out of her eyes and place her hands on her hips in confidence. “You haven’t come all the way to Neopia to bring home some paper to fire up the stove with, have you now?”
“Paper for the stove? HA HA HA.” He turned to his crew whilst laughing maniacally. “Dear lady we have robbed the Neopian Bank. You speak of paper? I say coins.”
“Bank?” asked Naithea in disbelief. “What bank? Your idiots there have stolen copies of a newspaper; they never made it to the bank! They attacked the office of the Neopian Times.”
Captain Skyler frowned at Naithea’s dead-serious and earnest explanation. “Open the chest!” he yelled at the Krawk and Shoyru. Both scoundrels “yarr”-ed their acknowledgement and ran at the chest, their swords brandished, and started hacking at the smooth wooden surface of the chest. Sending a myriad of splinters into the air and into the eyes of not so innocent bystanders.
Skyler hid his face in his hands and sighed loudly whilst muttering, “Must I really do everything?” He rolled his eyes, pushed the lock on the chest and stepped back to inspect its contents. His face faltered somewhat but I must say he saved face altogether in front of his daft crewmembers who probably believed that paper was the new gold.
It was at this precise moment I jumped up and screamed: “Hold your peace, esteemed scoundrels, and return the chest to the fair lady.”
The pirates turned and stared at me with their mouths hanging open (quite a few hadn’t seen a dentist for a while).
“Arrr, what have we there, a landlubber! Get him, boys,” said the Kyrii. Six toothless pirates charged at me yelling ferociously. I jumped in the boat, grabbed an oar to defend myself, caught a glimpse of Naithea bent double with laughter and slipped on the smelly blanket. All went dark.
I woke up on a stack of newspapers, staring at a pair of legs coming from underneath a desk. A most insistent odor of coffee persisted to assail my nostrils along with a more subtle hint of ink. I could only be in one place. The Neopian Times HQ! I rubbed my eyes with caution and sat up straight.
“Ah, you’re alive.” I turned to my right and saw the assistant-editor coming towards me, carrying a cup of water. “We weren’t sure. You’ve been lying here for two days.”
“T-two days? But what of the Neopian Times? Issue 500? Oh no-”
“Relax, relaaaaax,” the Kyrii said holding up his hands in defence, “it’s all ok. We found you two days ago, unconscious, tied to the chest with the 500 copies in it, lying in the middle of the market place.” He chuckled.
“Tied up? I, dr. A.F. Wilbur? Outrageous, preposterous! You lie, sir!”
“I most certainly don’t!” yelled the Kyrii. “We even took a picture to prove it.” He pointed at a framed picture hanging above the coffee machine. “Memorable issue 500,” he added, gazing dreamily into nothingness.
“But, I don’t understand... Oh dear! Where is Naithea?”
“The other detective you engaged the services of, without telling me, I might add. Most unprofessional on your behalf!”
“Oh yes, the girl. Don’t know, mate, don’t know.” He shrugged and wandered off into another office.
Years of coffee and ink-fumes must have damaged his brain. You will understand, dear reader, I had to make myself scarce as to preserve my most rare and precious brain cells. I do hope my story has thought you that journalists and artists are a danger to society and should must likely be monitored closely. I have written to King Hagan about this, hoping he may have some influence on that dark place they call the “Art Centre”.
As for Naithea. I do not know where she has gone or what happened to her. No doubt impressed after my heroic self-sacrifice, after my successful defeat of the pirates she chose to withdraw in shame, not having been of any help whatsoever.
Thus, dearest fan, I take my leave and give you this word of advice: stay clear of Weewoos and journalists.
Dr. A.F. Wilbur