Sir Reginel and the Day the News Went Missing
I let out a grunt as I slowly settled down into my chair in my office for my Private Investigator business. It was a quiet day, and I knew exactly what I would do with my free time... drink some cheap coffee from my grandfather's mug and read through the latest issue of the Neopian Times in hopes of finding a potential case.
Recently, I had given up on cases coming to me and had decided to start finding my own cases instead. Some may think that I was acting out of pure desperation, but I only saw it as pure genius... after all, only the truly astute private investigator can find a case where others saw no problem. I chuckled lightly at my brilliance and began to pull open the Neopian Times. "Farmer From Meridell Harvests 10 lb. Turnip," one headline read.
"Hmmm... I wonder if it was that chap I helped out a few months ago," I wondered out loud. "That was certainly an interesting case." And, sadly, it was the best source of income that I had come by lately.
At that moment, a soft rap on the door interrupted my thoughts before I could divulge into a series of self-pity and doubt.
"Come in, my dear visitor! The door is unlocked," I hollered, hoping that my guest will not only hear me, but also be here in hopes that he or she might solicit my services.
Slowly, the door creaked open and a head poked through into the room. I tried to observe my new guest, but this stranger was too far in the shadows for me to see whom it was that was visiting.
"Come in, please- there's no need to be shy," I prodded, motioning with my hands that he or she should come closer.
"Uh- hello. You're Sir Reginel, right? The detective?" my guest asked gently as they stepped forward.
As soon as my guest came closer and into the light, my jaw dropped. Why- I knew this Aisha! I recognized her bright red locks, green eyes and large square shaped spectacles immediately. The Aisha currently standing in front of me- and in MY office- was Cassie, the investigative reporter for the Neopian Times.
"Oh. Uhm... hello?" the Aisha asked, waving her right paw in front of my star-struck eyes, bringing me back into the present moment.
"Oh my. I apologize for that. It seems I am just in awe that you're... well, you're Cassie! And you're also in my office! Having a guest in my office is startling enough (sadly), but for it to be somebody like you, well... I'm beyond myself."
The Aisha blushed and lowered her eyes abashedly. "I'm so sorry, Sir Reginel. I truly hope that I'm not bothering you or-"
I interrupted her unnecessary apology quickly. "Oh not at all. I was just... ahem, reading. What can I help you with, my dear reporter?" I gestured her to sit down in front of me and pulled out my notepad to take notes.
"Well, you see- the 600th issue of the Neopian Times is coming up in a couple days. As you may know, this is a very momentous occasion for us, and we wanted to throw a grand celebration to mark this great event. But well..."
It was at this moment that my guest began to burst in tears. Alarmed and unaware of what the proper social protocol for this would be, I stood awkwardly away from her and offered her my hanky.
"There, there," I said, patting her robotically on the back. I was sure my attempt to ease her obvious sorrow did not work, but I had no idea what else to do. Whenever my Raeir- my twin sister- cried, I usually just went into the other room. Unfortunately, my genius stops short when it comes to social protocol. Taking a shot in the dark, I quietly asked her, "Would you like a hot beverage?"
"What?" she asked confusedly. "Oh- no. No thank you. I'm so sorry for making a scene. I just- well, I'm desperate. You see... I lost the Neopian Times."
My eyes widened as I immediately felt a mix of both confusion and terror for her part. "You... lost... the Neopian Times?"
Her eyes began to tear up again, and I immediately regretting my previous question.
"Yes!" she yelled as she struggled to fight back tears. "We printed a special issue a week ago in preparation for our celebration. But yesterday, all of our data and notes disappeared. We weren't too worried since I was given the special copy to keep in the bank, so we still had our newspaper. But when I went to retrieve it, it was gone!"
She paused to wipe her nose. "You're the only one that I can turn to, Sir Reginel. I have to keep this matter quiet- so I cannot ask the Defenders of Neopia. Please... will you help me?"
There was something about the awkward situation that put me on edge, mentally. Without thinking, I blurted out, "I'll help you find your lost issue, I promise."
Again, I immediately regretted what I allowed to slip out of my mouth. I promise? How could I promise her that? How can one even go about finding a lost newspaper?
However, I couldn't take back what I had told her. Already, her face had brightened up and she was staring up at me like I was her shining knight. Not to mention that I really didn't want to risk causing her to cry again.
"So you can help me, then? Oh goodness- that's wonderful! Thank you so, so, so much," she exclaimed, as she ran over and hugged me gratefully.
"Uh yes... I will find it for you," I said, grimacing, as I took a couple steps back.
I then stared down at the copy of the newspaper that was lying on my desk. At that time, only one thought came to mind: 'What on Neopia have I got myself into?'
- - - - - - - - - -
I found myself pacing frantically around my office a few hours later, after Miss Cassie had left. We had spent a bulk of that afternoon trying to come up with as many facts or details that we could. And now, I found myself stressing out, trying to make sense of these facts.
Cassie had informed me that she had stored the copy of the Neopian Times in her Safety Deposit Box at the National Neopian Bank. She had it locked away, and nobody had access to her key, which she still had on her keychain.
I moved over to my desk, which was currently hosting a pile of photos that Cassie took. The door of her deposit box certainly looked as if it had been tampered with. As I looked closer, I could notice several marks on the lock, as if someone had fumbled around with it trying to unlock it.
"Assuming this is foul play, I suppose the first place to start would be deciding who would be an obvious suspect..." I mumbled. "Hanso? Kanrik? Dr. Sloth?"
I chuckled at that last one... the thought of Dr. Sloth involving himself with the kidnapping of a newspaper seemed farfetched to me. However, Hanso and Kanrik both had merit. I grabbed my trench coat and ran out the door, determined to set out and investigate the alibis for the two notorious thieves.
- - - - - - - - - -
"Well that was a complete waste of time," I muttered to myself, as I walked up the stairs to go to my office. "I have spent all evening tracking down those two thieves, and neither one of them made a valid suspect."
Before I was able to complain further, though, I was stopped in my tracks. My office door was thrown wide open and everything had been ransacked. My papers were thrown everywhere, and my barely-used visitor chairs were turned upside down, trampled upon and broken.
"Oh my Fyora... What happened here?!" I rushed around my office frantically, panicked at the thought of such an unpleasant event occurring in my own office. My fortress of solitude had been permeated, and it left me with a very unsettling feeling.
Suddenly, my rational, detective self gained control of the situation and I paused in the midst of my panicking. After calmly searching through the stacks of papers and finding no photographs, I knew exactly what had happened... whoever took the newspaper must have followed Cassie to my office and stolen the only evidence that I had.
Then- just as quickly as a flash of lightening- an idea came to mind. Running over to the door, I inspected the locks. Just as I was hoping, the same, strange scratches that were on Cassie's door are now on mine.
It was official... this was now a case of foul play. Also, I needed a new door.
- - - - - - - - - -
"Someone broke into your office too? But... I don't understand. Who could be doing this?" Cassie asked me horrified, as we sat huddled over cups of coffee in a nearby Coffee Shop.
"I'm not entirely sure, yet. I thought perhaps it could be Hanso, Kanrik or someone from the Thieves Guild, but they all have proper alibis."
We sat in silence, both stumped by this case.
"So... what do we know then?" the Aisha asked me, hopeful for some concrete evidence that would help us with our investigation.
"Well, there is definitely a third party involved in the disappearance of Snowflake. Likewise, whomever it was that intruded into your house is the same person who broke into my office and stole my notes and photographs. Were you followed by anybody when you came to see me?"
"No! Not at all-" she said firmly. "I checked over my shoulder the entire way. There was nobody on the street behind me. I'm a renowned investigative reporter... even if someone was invisible, I would have known."
I smiled at her self-assurance. However, self-confidence doesn't always make one right. If she could spot an invisible Neopet walking behind her, I don't even know what could possibly follow her without her knowledge.
Suddenly, I stopped mid-thought. Nothing is impossible, and apparently, neither is solving this case.
- - - - - - - - - -
"I don't understand- what are we doing here?" Cassie hissed at me angrily.
I had dragged her out of her house late that night and brought her to an abandoned warehouse that I found a few blocks away from the Neopian Times office. Although it was abandoned, the janitor who worked next door swore to me that he noticed some suspicious activity going on the previous night.
"This place, my dear reporter, is the location where I believe we will uncover both your missing issue AND the person responsible for its disappearance," I whispered back, hoping that I was correct in my hypothesis.
My thoughts were quickly interrupted as the warehouse door slowly creaked open. Alert and ready to finish this case, Cassie and I peeked over the box to see who our new guest was.
A group of four small, unimposing Grundos then scampered into the warehouse. One of the Grundos, a nervous guy dressed all in black, cleared his though. "I don't understand sir- what do you want us to do with this?" he asked, as he held up his arm.
My eyes widened as I realized that he was carrying the Neopian Times.
I glanced over to Cassie, asking for her confirmation. She nodded back in return. We were both ecstatic as we realized that our nearly impossible search was over, and that we could save the Neopian Times after all!
Suddenly, our joy dissipated when the Grundo's question was answered, and we realized that we now had an even worse problem to deal with.
"Dr. Sloth?!" Cassie exclaimed, horrified. Realizing that she forgot her reason amidst and her emotions and spoke too loud, she quickly shut her eyes and closed her mouth, as if she could will her words back inside her before they reach the dastardly villain's ears.
I closed my eyes too, knowing that the worst was about to come. I had never met Dr. Sloth before, but I had heard enough stories to know that he wasn't to be messed with. But here we were- obviously with the intention to mess with his plan.
"Well, well... I didn't realize I had visitors," I heard a menacing voice coo. "And if it isn't Cassie, herself. I'm impressed, it seems you have found out that it was I who took your silly newspaper."
"You won't get away with this!" Cassie hissed, as Dr. Sloth directed his minions to take us into captivity.
"Not get away with it?" Sloth laughed. "Darling, I already did! And now, all of Neopia will witness my ingenious plan."
We were marched down a hallway only to meet what I assumed would become the end of my career, at least. I began to frantically search my mind to figure out what we could do to get out, but I was stuck.
"And what ridiculous plan is that?" I asked Sloth, hoping to stall until I could figure out a real plan.
"Ridiculous?! Oh no, my dapper detective... this isn't a ridiculous plan at all. Rather, it is ingenious! It is deliciously evil. And it is exactly what Neopia needs!"
We suddenly ended our march as we entered what I could only describe as Sloth's Doom Room... lasers, menacing robots, and screens used to monitor Neopians everywhere filled the room. Sloth's minions shoved us into a corner and tied our wrists... just what I had expected from someone who considers himself an evil villain.
"You see," Sloth continued his narration, "every week, Neopians everywhere get the Neopian Times and then read articles on how to defeat my terrifying robots with typing. Or they learn about some silly farmer and his oversized vegetables. And every week, I moan in disgust. We need to be using our literature to educate Neopians about my great ways and my incredible genius! Where are those articles?! Nowhere!! So- finally, I had enough. And I decided to-"
Sloth stopped in the middle of his story to fiddle around with several different gadgets. As he handed some scary-looking item to a couple of his minions, I realized that he was going to get them to guard us. Thanking Fyora for our luck at being caught by a cliched evil genius, I realized that I might have a plan, after all.
I looked over at Cassie, who was tied up on my left. Nudging her, I tried to let her know to follow my lead. Before I could tell her my plan, though, Sloth turned back towards us began to talk again.
"As I was saying- I decided to fix this. I realized- that by stealing the notes and your special copy of the 600th issue- the Neopian Times would be forced to shut down their ceremony and the 600th issue will never be published and distrusted. Then, when all of the Neopians begin to wonder helplessly what they should be reading instead, I will introduce them to this!" He triumphantly flourished a newspaper that was lying on the chair next to him.
"Dr. Sloth's Newspaper? Really? That's the best you can come up with?" Cassie sneered.
"It's ingenious!" he snapped back, offended. "Now, I have better things to do... like mess with your printers. In the meantime, my minions here will see that you're taken care."
As he walked out the door, I realized this was our perfect opportunity to try to escape.
"Nicely done, Cassie. As if losing an incredibly important newspaper wasn't enough, now you've landed us in this awful mess!" I yelled at her.
Cassie stared at me, dumbfounded, as tears began to fill up her eyes. She looked truly hurt and it pained me. However, I knew that this was our best way of getting out... I just hoped she would forgive me later.
Just as I had played it out in my mind, she began to sob loudly, startling the four Grundo minions guarding us. As they looked around awkwardly, I felt a small pang of victory in my chest.
"What are you doing?" I yelled at them, "Go get her some tissues!"
Thankfully, three of them ran off to find tissues within the warehouse, leaving Cassie and I alone with just one minion and the 600th issue. Shaking free of my rope bindings, I pulled Cassie up and grabbed the newspaper.
The lonely minion was startled at the change in events; instead of charging towards us, he stood there shocked, buying us a few extra seconds. I quickly ran out of the room, dragging Cassie down the corridor with me. We quickly came across a broom closet, which we immediately snuck into.
As we heard footsteps running in different directions outside the closet, I knew that from this point on, it was just a waiting game. Eventually the search would go outside the warehouse, leaving us the perfect opportunity to sneak out, undetected.
- - - - - - - - - -
"And with that, my team of incredible writers and I would like to introduce you all to the Neopian Time's 600th issue!" the Acara on stage declared. With a flourish, he yanked on a rope, filling the room with confetti and cueing the celebration to begin.
The room filled with noise as the audience began to talk excitedly. Smiling, I stood in the back of the room, witnessing the celebration.
"Little do these people know, but things could have gone so differently today," a voice said beside me, startling me. I turned around to see Cassie smiling over at me. "Thank you for your help, Sir Reginel."
I smiled back at her. "Oh it was quite a pleasure. I'm just glad I could help."
"I wish I could return the favor, though," she said, wistfully. "But who knows- maybe this won't be the last time that we worked together."
I glanced at her, thrilled by the thought of another adventure. "You know... I would like that very much."