The Mystery of the Brightvale Abduction: Part Three
The Brightvale Castle Library: an incredible literary collection replete with information; rivalled only by the Faerieland Library and Altadorian Archives.
It was here that I enacted the final stage of my investigation. I sat at one of their tables, an array of clues and books before me. I had an aged map of Brightvale, an ink-blackened metal disc, a piece of fabric from Sir Vestan's tunic, the ransom note, several books describing old Brightvalian legends, and a book of Brightvale maps. Holmes sat on the back of a chair beside me.
"First of all, my dear Holmes," I began, "we consider. We have three suspects: Reginald, Angeline, and Vestan. Oh yes, they are all suspects. Any one of them could have abducted Elgin. Of course, there is the possibility that none of these three had anything to do with it. It is possible that it was, as Sir Evarsum originally suggested, a criminal out for revenge. That possibility must always be remembered. But now, let us consider our suspects.
"Sir Reginald Evarsum. There is evidence against him, and he said himself he could best his brother with a blade, among 'various other utensils.' But he also said there was no reason for him to be jealous of his brother, no motive to abduct him. And I have seen nothing to contradict this.
"Miss Angeline Evarsum. Impossible that a sweet, innocent girl such as she could have forcibly abducted a trained knight--but let us think. Elgin would have surely trusted his own sister. The darkness of one's heart can be so easily concealed, especially when that one is trusted implicitly. Angeline could easily have tricked her brother into a trap in some way. But here again, we lack motive.
"Sir Vestan Telvar. He has motive. He could have easily overpowered Elgin while the latter was asleep. He's the type to resort to abduction. His profile matches that of Elgin's captor. Indeed, there is much evidence against him. Too much. I want to believe he is innocent--but if he is innocent, then who is guilty?"
Holmes hooted and shrugged. "And that," I went on, "is exactly why we are here. Among these clues and these books, I hope to find answers." I lifted a book and shook it for emphasis. "Inside a book, there are always answers. It is up to me to find among them the proper answers to the proper questions."
It was with the maps I began, comparing the old and the new side by side. "This older map has a large red 'X' upon it. Interesting, eh, Holmes? But it gets better. According to Brightvale Maps, the 'X' has been drawn upon the very spot that the Evarsum home stands now!"
Holmes squawked, always understanding of my meaning if not my words.
"Indeed," I muttered. "Indeed. Now, then, I have another book to dive into." I lifted one, entitled Brightvale Legends, and scanned the words under "T" in the index. I found the word I sought, and flipped to the page indicated. "It gets better all the time! Here's a rather fascinating legend about a treasure, said to have been buried in Brightvale by pirates long ago. Fascinating."
I put down the book and addressed each of my clues in turn. I began by scratching the ink of the metal disc, which only confirmed my theory. I had already suspected what it was. Next I rubbed my feathers along the fabric thoughtfully, wondering if Telvar had lost it on the bushes or if it had been placed there by someone else, and if so, who and why?
Lastly, the ransom note. Possibly my most important clue. The most definite link to the abductor. Yet, at that moment, it yielded nothing to me.
"And now, Holmes, we sit back and think," I said, tapping the side of my head.
And so I sat back, and so I thought, and so Holmes fell asleep. I weened, long and hard, considering every clue, every suspect. I considered these facts from various angles, searching for a way they could all fit together, and work in harmony to explain Sir Elgin's disappearance.
But somehow, everything would simply not fit. The facts did not want to harmonize, no matter whose guilt I viewed the case from.
In frustration I leaned over the table, staring down at that vital ransom note. I read it again and again, searching and hoping for a clue. As my eyes passed over the "lost" that had been taken from my article that morning, I felt a slight twinge of guilt. It was not at all my fault, of course, but it naturally made me feel somewhat responsible.
"I rather wish they could have waited until after Elgin was kidnapped to publish that article," I muttered, tossing the ransom note back down. It had hardly touched the table when I grasped it again, a thought forming in my mind. "I rather wish they could have waited until after Elgin was kidnapped to publish that article," I repeated.
I slammed my open wings down upon the table, nearly frightening the sleeping Whoot out of his feathers.
"That's it!" I exclaimed, grabbing the Petpet in my wings. "Don't you see, Holmes? That article--my article--it's the answer to everything! It puts everything into place! The case is solved!"
And with that, I was shown politely out of the library by a pair of Brightvale guards, but not before convincing them to transfer a message to Sir Vestan for me. I left them with specific instructions when it was to be given him before returning to the Evarsums' Neohome.
It was to their garden, however, that I went primarily. A stroll there, among lovely flowers, trees, and other vegetation, was exactly what I needed to soothe my mind.
Relaxed and elated over my latest success, I at last rejoined my clients in their home.
"The case," I announced as I entered, "is solved!"
Angeline clapped joyfully, and Reginald leapt to his feet, exactly as he had done less than a few hours before.
"That is wonderful news!" Reginald cried.
"Where is Elgin?" Angeline asked.
"Who was it that kidnapped him? Telvar?"
"Has he been arrested?"
I held up a hand to staunch the flow of questions, frowning and shaking my head. "It is not that simple. I know exactly where Elgin is, and exactly who has abducted him, but that is just it. I know only. I lack proof. And it is proof that I need--proof that I promise, I will get. Tomorrow, I will have it. In the meantime, I can assure you, Elgin will be perfectly all right."
The Evarsums' smiles faltered for a moment. Then Angeline said, "Well--that is good enough, for now. At least we know that he is safe--and that his captor will soon be brought to justice. Our deepest thanks, Miss Thunder."
"And now, the mental portion of the case finished, would I be putting you to too much trouble to request a little sustenance?"
The Purple Acara acquiesced immediately, rushing off to the kitchen. I followed, and with a little assistance from me she put together a large meal and left me to consume it voraciously. Afterward, their spirits lifted by my success, Reginald and Angeline challenged me to a game of Key Quest, and the three of us entertained ourselves with the game for several hours.
At last, Angeline proclaimed, "My, look at the time! I had best retire for the night."
"It is getting quite late," I agreed. "I had better be going as well, to find an inn to--"
"Why, don't be silly!" Angeline vociferated. "Of course you may sleep here!"
Reginald concurred, "Naturally you will be our guest here for the night--we would not hear of anything else!"
My protests were denied, until I was forced to relent to their persistent insistences. Angeline redressed Elgin's bed for me to use. It was, she explained, the typical guest room when her brothers were on duty, otherwise the Nimmos would simply share Reginald's room for the duration of the visit.
The preparations made, we three bid one another good nights, and retired to our individual rooms.
In the guest room, its furniture arranged once more as it should have been, I gazed out the window at Kreludor. The light of the sun reflected off its whole surface that night, making for a beautiful sight. Presently I lay down on the bed, leaving the curtains open, amused by the thought that I was sleeping in a crime scene.
? ? ?
My eyes fluttered open as a floorboard creaked. Without moving my head, I squinted into the shadows and discerned a figure moving about. I could not tell whom it was, though I knew already. Moonlight glinted off a sword in their hand.
Slowly, Elgin's abductor crept up to my bed. They grasped the sword in both hands and raised it above me.
I gasped. I could not help it. This was not the kidnapping I had expected! My trap had been sprung--and I had been caught in it! I closed my eyes, resigning myself to my fate. But the blow did not fall.
A screech rent the air, and the criminal grunted. I took immediate advantage of the distraction and whipped the body of my attacker with my tail, knocking them to the floor.
The moonlight fell across the face of Sir Reginald, even as Holmes clawed at it. In a moment the knight recovered from his surprise and seized the Whoot, throwing him across the room, where he collided with the wall before falling to the floor with two sickening thuds.
Sir Reginald leapt to his feet. "You're smarter than I thought, Miss Thunder," he growled. "But I'm through underestimating you. That's a lot of money, and as soon as you are out of the way, it will all be mine!"
"Don't be so sure!" roared a third voice, as a muscular figure dove through the open door, knocking Reginald to the floor. The two Neopets struggled, but the mighty sinews of Sir Vestan won out in the end. Reginald's hands bound in iron, the pair rose to their feet.
"I got your message," Telvar explained. "It's lucky your Whoot screeched, though, or I would have waited for your signal, as you told me." Gazing at me with a new respect in his eyes, he added, "Who are you, anyway?"
"At heart, the same as you, Sir Telvar," I answered with a smile as I put my glasses on. "A guardian of justice."
With that I slid out of the bed and over to my fallen friend. Tentatively, I cradled him in my wings. His big eyes rolled up to meet mine and he hooted dazedly. Relieved, I hugged him gently, tears in my eyes. "Oh, Holmes!" I whispered. "You saved my life! I should have known I would always be safe with you around. Thank you!"
The door flew open and Angeline rushed in. "What is going on?" she cried. "I've heard bumping and screeching and--oh!" She screamed. "Sir Vestan! So it was you!"
"Not quite, Angeline," I said, slithering into the moonlight. "Sir Vestan is guiltless--concerning this crime, at the very least."
"But--I--why--? What--?" Angeline stuttered. At last her voice died, and she simply sat upon the bed, mouth open, head shaking slowly in bewilderment.
"I believe an explanation is in order," said another voice from the doorway. We all turned to see Sir Elgin, beaming at his sister.
In unison, Reginald, Angeline, and Vestan gasped, "Elgin!"
In an instant Angeline had gotten to her feet and thrown her arms around her brother's neck in a strong embrace. "Oh, Elgin! But--how--? Who--?"
He hushed her with a hand, and I nodded gratefully.
"Quite right, Sir Elgin, an explanation." I began, "You see, Angeline, long ago, a treasure was buried on this very property by pirates. They built a chamber inside a deep pit, placed their treasure inside, sealed it, and buried it. One way or another, your brothers found out about the legend of this treasure, and located a map.
"To keep their search a secret, they looked only at night--perhaps to surprise you, Angeline, or to save themselves from the disdain you would likely face their foolishness with. But it was not foolishness--they found the treasure. Because it was found on your property, it belonged to the three of you. Riches would be theirs, and yours, Angeline! A third of the treasure belong to each of you. For the greedy Reginald, however, that was not enough."
Reginald bowed his head. "I did not want to hurt anyone. I simply wanted to keep Elgin out of the way--"
"While you snuck the treasure off the property," I finished. "After that you would simply flee to another World, where you would buy a Morphing Potion and adopt a new name. You planned to start your life anew, rich beyond your wildest dreams. It was a simple plan, at first. You tied Elgin up and locked him in the treasure vault while you took away the treasure. You made a mess of his room to distract from the real crime, carefully, making as little noise as possible. You had even told Angeline to wear earmuffs, as a precaution against her hearing you. But one thing stood in your way: time.
"The treasure was too large to be moved in one night. It would take time to move, and obviously you could not simply ignore Elgin's disappearance. It was then that your plan began to grow out of control. You had to do something about the kidnapping, and of course you did not want to leave your brother to starve in the chamber. So what could you do? To whom could you go for help? The Neopian Defenders? No, you were not confident that you could elude them. The knights of Brightvale? Even worse! Whom, then? A lowly private detective? Of course!
"But you underestimated me, Mister Evarsum. You expected that your trail was covered well enough for a simple private detective, that by the time I figured out who had abducted your brother--if ever I did--you would be long gone. You even laid false clues--the ransom note, the fragment of Sir Vestan's tunic. You did everything you could to convince me of Sir Vestan's guilty.
"When it was time for the abductor to make an appearance, you even tried to emulate Telvar. You covered your entire body in black to conceal everything but your physical form--which, with the aid of fake wings and straw stuffed in your clothes for fake muscles, looked nothing like yours, but everything like Telvar's. I admit, it rather confused me--but not for long.
"All along I had my suspicions about you, Reginald. But there was no motive! Why would you abduct your brother? That was the question I could not answer. But then I found this map under Elgin's bed, and a small discoid object in his inkwell--as it turned out, a Fifty Dubloon Coin. With a little research I found out about the treasure, on your property, a perfect motive--but then again, it might as well have been a motive for Angeline, or even Sir Vestan. I could find nothing that could point to the criminal--until, that is, I looked the ransom note over more carefully.
"This ransom note was the most important link to the abductor. But I saw nothing that connected it to a suspect until I considered more carefully its final word: 'lost.' I had recognized it immediately as taken from the Neopian Times this morning. Specifically, from an article titled "The Terask's Eye Diamond: Lost and Found." It was in that article, I am certain, that you first heard of me. It was a cruel little joke you played on me, Sir Reginald, using a word from my article in your false ransom note. But the joke was on you.
"I was a fool not to have realized what the word meant sooner. It was not I, nor Elgin, who was truly 'lost' when you used that word, Sir Reginald; it was you who were lost! How foolish, how truly foolish, I had been not to see it sooner! The word had been taken from the Neopian Times this morning, yet you claimed you found the note yestermorn!"
I gave the words a moment to sink in. Holmes squawked loudly. At last I went on triumphantly, "It was the final piece of the puzzle! Everything fell into place! Everything pointed to one Neopet as guilty: Sir Reginald!"
The Nimmo was crouched on the floor, defeated. He was a knight skilled in combat; but in Brightvale, wit is far more valuable than strength. He had challenged me to a duel of wits, and he had lost.
"And so, the case solved, I made my preparations. I left a message at Brightvale Castle for Sir Vestan, and I located and released Sir Elgin, lending him most of the meal Angeline kindly prepared for me. I suspected that Reginald here would attempt to remove me from his path--but I failed to foresee such drastic measures. Thanks to Holmes and Sir Vestan, however, I survived the encounter, and hence this criminal will be brought to justice."
So the case was, at last, fully closed. Sir Reginald's title was removed and he was imprisoned, after confessing that he had hidden the treasure in an empty Neohome nearby. Elgin and Angeline were very disappointed in their brother, naturally. I had told Angeline at the start of my investigation that she might not have been happy with the results, but it could not be helped. Money, however--especially such an amplitudinous quantity--has a way of cheering people up.
I was offered the share of the treasure that would have been Reginald's, but I declined. "I think," was my answer to the proposition, "that I will keep your ransom instead, Elgin."
So it was that the Case of the Brightvale Abduction was closed. Holmes and I returned home, his ego and my pockets a little heavier. Holmes still steals my breakfast while I sleep in, but I do not mind. It is the least I can do to repay him for saving my life. Someday, however, I will have to match wits with my Whoot, the most devious criminal I have ever known.
? The End ?
In case you were wondering, Spottedleaf_789 can be found on my side account, Thunderclan_tomcat.
Thank you for reading my story to its finish! I thoroughly hope you have enjoyed it. Any comments, compliments and especially constructive criticisms, are welcome. I hope to entertain you again soon!