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The Case of the Lying Letter: Part Six


by playmobil_is_my_life

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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 works…big time.

     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 told me.

     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 higher…"

     "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 impressed.

     "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 what. "Where?"

     "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…"

     "Whatever."

     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 debris.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» The Case of the Lying Letter: Part One
» The Case of the Lying Letter: Part Two
» The Case of the Lying Letter: Part Three
» The Case of the Lying Letter: Part Four
» The Case of the Lying Letter: Part Five
» The Case of the Lying Letter: Part Seven



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