Janet and Jane: The Case of the Missing - Part Three
How in Neopia could we tell Natia she was our number one suspect? Ever since we met her, she no longer wanted anything to do with crime except stop it. She was our... our... friend. There, I said it. She was a friend of ours. Yes, she was (very) annoying at times, but it's nice to have someone who regularly talks to us. It's nice how she's interested in our work.
"It couldn't be Natia, could it?" Jane asked.
I sat on the table in the middle of our investigating room. I sighed. "I can't believe it, either, but all the clues point to her." I closed my eyes. "We should really talk to her about it."
"Talk to who about what?"
What do you know, right on schedule. Natia hopped up onto the table I was on and looked at me with curious eyes.
"Natia, we need to tell you something," Jane said.
"Ooh, what? Is it about your investigation?" she asked.
"Sort of," I answered.
"I'm going to be involved in the investigation? Yes!"
"It's not good news."
"It isn't? Then what is it, then?" Natia was getting really excited really quick. She was naturally curious about this type of stuff. "Tell me already!"
I sighed and looked at her. "You're our number one suspect."
I saw the excitement and ecstasy melt away from her face. It was replaced with worry and a hint of anger. "What? I didn't do anything!"
"I'm sorry, but it's true," Jane sighed.
"What about the rights of the accused? What's the crime, anyway?"
I got up off the table and walked around the room. "I don't know if you know or not, but Naia was taken."
Natia's eyes widened. "She was? I heard she was missing, but... Wow, I can't believe it."
"Other than the clues we got, we noticed you turned Alien. How'd you do that? You didn't go to the lab ray and there's no Alien Paint Brush. Naia could have done it, but--"
"You're wondering how I turned Alien," the Aisha finished. I nodded. "Of course. A few days ago, I went fishing and got two Flasks of Rainbow Fountain Water. I drank one and turned Alien. The other I was going to sell, but..." She went through her backpack and pulled out a glass bottle. The contents inside were a gray blue. "I've been meaning to show this to you. I didn't know why it turned this color instead of being rainbow colored. I guess it makes sense now that I know Naia was taken."
Her alibi was weak, but she never lied to us. She was truthful to us. Should we believe her?
I decided to show her the gauze I got yesterday. By now, the gauze had dried stiff, but the red smear still stood out against the light beige. "Is this yours?" I asked.
"Yes, it is! How'd you find it?" Natia asked back.
"It was in the Rainbow Fountain. Why'd you have it?"
Natia walked up to her gauze and reached for it. Jane slapped her wrist. "Ouch. Sorry," she apologized. "I had it for this cut on my left wrist." She stuck out her left arm to show the cut. It had scabbed already and hadn't healed quite yet. "I was airing out the cut last night and when I woke up, it was gone."
"Well, an air Faerie claimed to have seen you at the Rainbow Fountain over the past few days," Jane brought up.
"That's impossible! I wasn't even in Faerieland! I was at Roo Island for the last two weeks for a book convention. You know that!" Natia shouted.
That was true. She told us she was going to Roo Island. She even sent us a postcard. From what Natia told us, the chances she took the Fountain Faerie were slim to none. Still, we were going to keep an eye on her.
"Can't you just check the crime scene again?" Natia asked.
"Nope. Since the secret's out, we can't get to there without being spotted," Jane answered. "No doubt that the Neopet that has her knows we're investigating."
I examined the notes once more. The handwriting was definitely the same. Natia couldn't have possibly wrote it -- she couldn't even read cursive. So what could have written these?
I noticed something on the back of each note. It seemed to be half of a faint drawing on each parchment. I placed my finger over it, tracing the design. As I traced it, the drawing began to disappear. No wonder we didn't notice it before. They're watermarks (and fake ones, too).
"Guys, I think we have our next clue," I said.
Jane and Natia walked up to me. They looked at the papers and their watermarks. I knew they didn't know where I was going with this.
"What are they?" Natia asked.
I traced my finger over the second parchment. The drawing disappeared right before their very eyes.
"Watermarks!" Jane exclaimed.
"Fake ones, at least," I added. "It makes sense, too. This way the Neopet could give us a clue to where they are without anyone spotting it first. That and it makes a nearly traceless clue."
"Smart. So what are they of?"
"We wait to find out."
As we waited for the watermarks to reappear, I grabbed and put on a pair of latex gloves. Something this delicate needed precautions. When I walked back up to the notes, the watermarks were coming back.
This was the careful part. I needed to put the pieces together without making the watermarks disappear again. If they did, we had to wait a few minutes for it to reappear. I carefully placed the two halves together. The total picture was the symbol for Faerieland's Altador Cup team.
"What does this mean?" Natia asked. The Aisha carefully leaned over the drawing.
"I think it means that Naia is still in Faerieland," I answered. I whistled. "Supra!"
My glowing Miamouse ran right up to me, along with Alize who happened to follow her. I picked up my Petpet and held her over the watermark. Two words written in the same cursive appeared at the bottom when I held her over it.
"Hidden Tower," Jane read.
"We're going back to Faerieland, aren't we?" Natia asked.
I didn't need to answer. She knew what I would say.
The frenzy had not stopped. If anything, it had gotten worse. I really wasn't that surprised. It had only been a day -- and chaos does not end that quick. What were we supposed to do? We couldn't get even close to the Rainbow Fountain. Not because of the frenzy, though -- someone called the police and they're investigating.
We decided to go to Faerie Foods for lunch. We could also interview some of the Neopets and Faerie's there. The shop was barren today except for the earth Faerie who ran the shop. She tried to act happy, but I could see the worry in her eyes.
"Three Crazy Crisp Tacos, please," Jane said as she placed a handful of Neopoints on the counter.
The Faerie gave us our food and took the Neopoints. "Thank you for your business," she said.
As we ate, I began to speak. "Are you worried?"
"Of course I am," she answered. "Naia is missing. All of Faerieland is worried."
Yeah, we noticed.
"Hey, did you ever see something suspicious over the last few days?" Natia asked.
She shook her head. "No. Nothing other than bright-eyed Neopets and friendly Faeries."
"Well, do you know of any Aishas being around? Particularly around the Rainbow Fountain?" Jane asked.
"Aishas?" the Faerie asked as if she was surprised. "There haven't been any Aishas around here in weeks! I think a lot of them went to some convention on Roo Island."
Like Natia. This was surely strange.
"Well, do you know why anyone would do this?" I asked.
"Hmm..." The Faerie stared out into space as she tried to recall something. "You probably know that some Neopets were mad at her for not giving her a quest, correct?" Jane, Natia, and I nodded. "Of course you do. Ooh, here's something. Naia was giving out more quests than usual. I know that some Faerie's were jealous. Many Neopets were quitting their quest for one of Naia's."
This is just what we were looking for -- the motive. That was one thing we needed. After we finished our food, we left the shop.
"That's interesting. We never considered Faeries," Jane said.
"I know. Why didn't we?" I asked.
"So do you guys know what happened a couple days ago? Did anyone see anything?" Natia asked.
"Well, an air Faerie named Sheree said she saw a Blue Aisha around the Rainbow Fountain over the last few days. That's why we thought it was you," Jane answered. "That's surely strange, since there are no Aishas in Faerieland at the moment."
Yes, surely it was strange. Maybe...
"Definitely. Janet, what do you think?" the Korbat asked me.
I turned to my friends and said in the most declaring of voices, "Maybe she didn't see an Aisha around here."
To be continued...