The Case of the Lying Letter: Part Six
Also by tambourine_chimp
From the case-files of Kojak Hommes, Lupe Private Eye…
Great, just perfect. Just when the whole sorry case was
well under wraps and we could all go home, fate throws one last spanner in the
The family was reunited, we could all go home
and I could go back to actually being paid for my services. Hopefully, we could
have gotten the kidnapper lost in the dark tunnels (that would have been sure
to teach him a lesson)…no such luck, of course.
Sadly, the no-good Kougra was now situated between
us and the nearest exit, from what the waves of fresh, sea air I could smell
Frankly, I was blaming myself right about now
for being so stupid, so…amateurish. Did I honestly imagine that the kidnapper
would have let Wiseguy out of his sight? I should've stayed back in the shadows,
ready to leap out at the then-surprised Kougra. But I hadn't, and now he had
us all captive. Great going, Hommes old buddy…
"Well, this is annoying," I muttered as I glared
resentfully at the evil blue Neopet. "Did I just come all this way, do all this
hard work, just to get caught?"
"Evidently," the Kougra smirked as he edged closer,
narrowing our chances of escape down even more. "I don't know who you two are…are
you by any chance related to these two?" He pointed towards Wiseguy and TigerWing,
and though I favoured the idea of her being trussed-up and gagged, it didn't
help improve my temper.
"She is," I growled, jerking a thumb towards
Cali. After all, it was really no use lying to this guy; he already seemed to
smart for that kind of thing. "I'm a Private Investigator."
"Really?" the Kougra murmured with an accomplished
smile. "Well, aren't I the lucky one? The ransom's just mounting higher and
"Is this all the kidnapping was for?" I asked
in bored disbelief. I looked to the trio for help, but they were too busy consoling
each other. "Actually, no, it can't be just about ransom money…no one as smart
as you would travel halfway around the world with their hostage just to hide
themselves here…so let me ask you this; what are you looking for down here that
you needed to take poor Wiseguy here to help you find it? Is it so dark you
need him as a living torch?"
"He never runs out," the Kougra laughed dryly,
"and is that really his name? He's never spoken a word in my presence until
you three turned-up…and you're right, of course, I am searching for something.
Something that will make you collected ransoms seem like Pocket Money."
"And that would be…?"
"The Lost Gem of Quotzknowitall!"
"That stupid myth?" I retorted, wiping the proud
smirk off of that guy's face. "You actually believe it exists?"
His next answer caught me completely off-balance.
"Yes," he muttered good-heartedly as he drew
even nearer. "Yes, I suppose I am insane…but, then again, all geniuses are."
His calm composure un-nerved me, which I'll be
the first to admit it isn't all that easy to do. But in his eyes I saw the flickering
flames of madness, of thoughtless greed. Any thoughts of resistance, of battling
this nut-job totally drained from me when I looked into those eyes. He was probably
terribly stronger than me anyway, fuelled by his insanity.
"Let's see if my mythology is up to scratch here,"
I began with a false pretence of being unfazed, an act that I'm actually quite
good at. "The Lost Gem of Quotzknowitall is a stone imbued with the powers of
eternal healing, invincibility and an ability to command all living beings?"
"That is correct, yes," the Kougra smiled, slightly
"Well, I can't imagine why a nut like you would
want that," I retorted sarcastically. "Oh, and the Lost Gem can only be revealed
from it's hiding place when the place in question is bathed with, and I quote,
"The Living Light'…oh," I stopped abruptly, everything suddenly falling into
place with alarming clarity. Here I was, thinking Wiseguy's kidnapping was just
a random act because of his rare glow, when all the time it was really the key
to unearthing a legendary artifact that probably didn't even exist, but was
bad news if it did.
And I thought the old Indiana Jubjub stories
grew wild near the end.
"Yes," the Kougra nodded, smiling the smile of
a madman. "This Wocky is my Living Light -"
"He's been dragging me around all the tunnels
for ages," Wiseguy sobbed morosely as he shuffled uncomfortably. "I've lost
track of the days!"
"- How convenient," the Kougra continued, ignoring
the poor Wocky completely as he stared straight at me, "that you should all
be here when I finally find it!"
I look to Cali, but she seemed more focused on
tending to her brother than anything else.
"You think you've found the hiding place?" I
asked as casually as possible. Evidently, if this Lost Gem was real, and it
did have the powers the described, then the Kougra had to be stopped no matter
"Ah, ah, ah!" the Kougra interjected teasingly
(was he toying with me? Eugh), wagging a paw in the direction of Wiseguy. "I
need him, not you," he added. "It's his glow that is the key."
"Can't I at least watch?"
The blue Kougra seemed to consider this for an
awful long time, and I felt ready to pounce if he said no. "Very well," he stated
flatly, as if bored. "But only you and the Living Light…the other two stay here.
They try and escape, and they know what will happen to their dear brother."
"Monster!" screamed Cali in a fit of blind rage,
leaping at the Kougra before I even had time to think.
Which is why I'm glad to have been born with
fast instincts. "No, Cali!" I snapped angrily, putting both paws on her shoulders.
"Stay with your sister, I'll look after Wiseguy!"
Cali struggled weakly for a few seconds, then
just nodded glumly and turned back to her sister. Sighing with relief, I turned
back to the Kougra and motioned for him to lead the way.
"Not so fast," he growled mockingly as he swept
a paw towards the direction of a dim tunnel that went in the opposite direction
the trio and I really wanted to go. "You two first, please…"
So that's how I found myself trudging down a
dark and dank tunnel, barely lit by the glow of Wiseguy's fur. The Wocky in
question was walking along beside me, wide eyes fixed on mine.
"Wow," he murmured as we stumbled further into
the unknown depths of the mountain. "I had always hoped my sisters would figure
out I'd been kidnapped and come and find me, but I never dreamt they'd hire
a detective to help!"
I decided it was best not to dampen his spirits
by telling him that the only reason I was here was because of some stupid sense
of commitment I had felt upon hearing the two Neopets' plight. And I didn't
even want to mention I wasn't getting paid. "Yeah," I muttered after a few moments
of uneasy silence, "they sure care about you all right."
"Silence!" the Kougra snapped abruptly, causing
both the Wocky and I to stand stock-still without being asked. "So you can feel
it too, can you? You both stopped because you can sense this is the place?"
he asked with a dangerous purr.
No, I wanted to snap back, we stopped
because we're afraid that you'd bite our heads off if we moved again. But
I said no such thing, instead I just stood there, head bowed with shame. Us
Lupes are supposed to be brave, strong and fearless, and yet here I was being
ordered around by someone three quarters my size, admitting to myself that I
was frightened of him.
Whilst my eyes were staring at the rocky ground,
the green light shook wildly as Wiseguy was pulled aside roughly by the Kougra.
As I brought my head up to view the center of all this drama, my jaw dropped.
There, inscribed into the rock-face of the tunnel wall was a depiction of a
figure holding a jewel aloft. From its open mouth came lightning shapes, a symbol
of commanding I guessed. All the other figures bowed-down to this one, which
is what gave me the feeling that maybe this Gem did give the bearer superiority
among all others.
As the Kougra's paw dipped into a hole at the
base of the picture, I could've sworn I felt a faint shake beneath my own four
feet. And as he withdrew his paw, which clutched a gem as big as a Pea Chia,
the shaking itself grew rapidly, joined by a ominous rumble that unnerved me
more than anything the Kougra had done.
Grabbing Wiseguy by his arm, I yanked him softly,
nodding my head back towards the way we had just come. "Come on," I hissed into
his ear, "before it's too late!"
"Stay where you are!" the Kougra ordered with
a bellow that dwarfed the earthquake that was inevitably taking place.
I braced myself for some kind of mystical force
to bend me to his will, something that would stop me from moving…nothing. I
took a step further away and laughed with relief. "Seems that that certain power
doesn't work," I called back jeeringly as I pushed Wiseguy before me. "You're
welcome to stay and find out if it makes you invincible, though."
"STAY WHERE YOU ARE!" the Kougra tried again
at our retreating figures, putting his heart and soul into it this time. After
a while I guess he twigged that the Gem didn't have the power of command after
all, for instead of having his scent get fainter as we left him behind, it remained
constant as he gave chase. What is with this guy?
As we tore into the chamber, it didn't take me
much to convince Cali and TigerWing that we needed to move. Already, stalactites
were beginning to break off, smashing to the ground in an explosion of dusty
To be continued...