Mayor May Not
In their small apartment in the heart of Moltara City, Jacob and Stealth sat at their table reading the Neopian Times. All the while, H.O.O.T., Jacob's Albot, served them toast.
"Thanks again, little friend," said Jacob, a Christmas-colored Kacheek clad in brass goggles. He rubbed said goggles against his shirt to reduce the fogginess. He then returned to the paper.
"Anything good?" asked Stealth, the brown Grundo currently meandering about the comic section and giggling to himself.
"Yes, actually. Did you read the piece on page four debating the ethics and after-effects of Darigan and Skarl's first war? It offered a fascinating perspective." Jacob lifted his eyes from the page to see Stealth fashioning a tricorne hat out of his paper. "...I'll take that as a no."
"You got me," Stealth said as he adjusted his tricorne. "It definitely sounds neat though."
"A lot of times we as a society are inclined to just accept things as they appear, and to never question the norm," mused Jacob. "While some may go overboard with it and raise outlandish conspiracy theories, a healthy amount of skepticism could never hurt. Why, just think of some unanswered questions plaguing Neopia. Where did Sloth come from? What really went on during the War for the Obelisk?"
"Yeah, and what's the name of our Mayor?" added Stealth.
Stealth sipped his coffee. "Think about it. Have you ever heard his full name be said at all?"
"Stealth, that's ludicrous. He's an elected official! Surely something like that is common knowledge."
"Then why don't you know it, Mr. "Holds a Degree from Brightvale University'?" Stealth said with a smirk.
"Two degrees..." Jacob mumbled. "And I never claimed to know everything!"
"But you did vote for his re-election," said Stealth. "What check box did you fill in on the ballot?"
"...Vote for...Current Mayor..." Jacob paused. "And the time before that, during his initial election, was...Vote for Mayoral Opponent..."
Stealth chuckled to himself.
"Stealth...why is no one talking about this?"
"Weren't you just going on about how folks too often accept things as they are?"
"Yes, but that was for things like Sloth's origins or the reasons behind wars. This is so much more...blatant."
"Then maybe it's for the best not to dwell on it? I just brought it up because it was funny," Stealth said as Jacob flipped through the Times.
"Fyora be bottled..." Jacob muttered under his breath. "Moltaran Mayor announces another scholarly Brightvale partnership." He scratched his head. "That was the headline. The article never addressed him by name."
"I still fail to see why this matters so much...you always supported the Mayor."
"You see no issue in the fact that we've continuously elected him as Mayor despite not knowing his name? What if he's a Sway plant or something?" Jacob said. "I'm going to the Arcanium. They have a news archive."
"Okay, but just don't..." Stealth started before Jacob shot out of the apartment, "...worry too much. Oh well." He then proceeded to fold Jacob's newspaper into an additional tricorne for H.O.O.T.
Jacob hurried to the City's outskirts and proceeded through the magma caverns until finally reaching the great stone staircase leading to the Arcanium. Many of Moltara's scholars came to the institute to study, be they the mechanical geniuses of Moltara City or the wise mystics of the Magma Caves. It wasn't unheard of for surface pets to come there either, creating an academic melting pot in one of the more literal cases.
And if there existed a single document listing the Mayor's name, it would be there.
Jacob entered the facility and went to the news archive, wherein limitless back issues of the Neopian Times and the Rocky Times, Moltara's local news outlet, were held. Searching tirelessly, Jacob was certain he'd reach this mystery's conclusion.
And that certainty held through the first hour of his search, along with the next eight. And the eight after that.
"Maybe he's just embarrassed of his name," Jacob mused aloud. "If he ran under the name of 'x_tw1sted__r0ses_x,' no one would take him seriously..."
"Jacob?" Came a voice from the door, causing Jacob to jump. It was Stealth.
"Oh, hello Stealth, what brings you here?"
"You've been out for almost the entire day; you missed dinner."
"Oh," Jacob uttered, embarrassed. "I can't really drop this right now, though. I'm almost done here. I've searched through every back issue...all that's left is the big one itself."
"The big one?"
"Yep. They don't have it in the Arcanium currently. Their only copy was apparently taken out by a former Brightvale University freshman."
"Former freshman? Did they drop out or something?"
"Nope. They graduated years ago."
"Yeah, the effort of getting the overdue book back from above ground wasn't something most of the staff wanted to do, so now the only public copy is in Town Hall itself."
"And what book is it?"
"The Town Hall Records book. Normally I'd just buy it at this point, but rent's coming up and the book is pretty expensive."
"Gotta love our economy," muttered Stealth. "So you're heading to Town Hall?"
"I'm left with no other choice, Stealth. I'm the only one willing to even look into this, for whatever reason. Maraqua has Kelpbeard, Meridell has Skarl, Brightvale has Hagan, Altador has, well, Altador, and Faerieland has Fyora. And Moltara? Well, we have...the Mayor. And somehow no one else is bothered by this."
"Maybe he has a really embarrassing one, like x_tw1s-"
"I've already thought about that actually. Even then, he'd likely come up with an alias, but he outright seems to have no name at all."
"Well, if nothing else," began Stealth, "at least eat something beforehand. I snuck you some leftover moltato salad."
Jacob smiled. "Thanks, Stealth. Will do." He put the newspapers back into order and gathered his things.
"Fair warning though, it's a few hours old, so it's more of a warm-ato salad than anything," said Stealth with a laugh.
After eating, Jacob made his way over to Moltara City's Town Hall and entered the building. A JubJub receptionist sat at the front desk and called the Kacheek over to him. "Can I help you?"
"Umm, yes," Jacob said. "I'd like to see the Town Hall Records, please."
"Certainly," said the receptionist. "The archive is down the hall and to the left."
"Thank you," said Jacob as he headed down the hall. This would be it. That book likely contained the copies of each act the mayor signed off on. A signature. A name.
On the desk, right inside the archive, was the book in question. Jacob almost shed a few tears. Briskly he walked toward the record, carefully opened it to the section consisting of approved orders, and lo and behold he was met with...
"A...smiley face stamp. In...in the signature space." Jacob was beside himself. Unconvinced that this wasn't just an April Fools joke gone awry, he flipped to the next page, only to be met with the same stamp. And again. And again. And every time after that, until reaching the inside of the back cover.
But then...Jacob flipped back a few pages, to an act that caught his eye. It was the Moltara-Brightvale Shared Knowledge Act, the act penned by the Mayor and King Hagan of Brightvale that allowed for easy access to each other's library archives. Jacob had been really happy when it passed, when he was still attending Brightvale University. It not only made him less homesick while abroad, but allowed him access to some otherwise hard to find Moltaran Engineering books he used when creating his final projects.
He turned another page to find the Obsidian Surplus guidelines. This was one of the Mayor's attempts at removing the excess obsidian from the mines (while not causing a shortage) all while increasing tourism. A rousing success in the eyes of many, the plan was also something Jacob felt nostalgic toward.
Other acts, laws, and rulings were strewn throughout the book. The Magma Cavern Cleanup Act. The Neopian Core Care Plan. The Moltaran Engineering Festival approval. The Glow Worm Protection Bill.
"He's been so driven when it comes to helping Moltara..." Jacob muttered. Not only did Jacob realize that Moltarans gave an almost startling amount of power to their mayor in comparison to other regions of Neopia, but also that not once did he abuse that power in any way. "You know, maybe he deserves a few secrets. Maybe he's earned them." He closed the book, being careful not to read the back cover, lest the book disappear in a puff of smoke.
The next morning, Stealth and Jacob once again sat at their breakfast table, waiting for H.O.O.T. to serve them toast.
"So basically, I just thought it wasn't worth the mental anguish," said Jacob. "The Mayor is a genuinely good person. He cares. What's in a name, you know?"
"I see," said Stealth. "So are you on Team Embarrassing Name, or Team Witness Protection Program?"
"Oh, definitely the former. He's much too high profile for the latter," Jacob said with a laugh. "But seriously, some things just aren't worth getting worked up over. The Mayor's name will just be one of life's great mysteries, at least for now."
"Yeah, like how tchea fruits manage to balance two completely different flavors, or why the Moltaran Yooyuball is almost always terrible," said Stealth.
"Or why Geraptiku has a petpet shop despite being abandoned, or why we continue to support Team Moltara anyway," Jacob added with a laugh.
They each ate some toast.
"Wait a minute," Stealth said. "What was that about Geraptiku?"