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The Case of the Wand That Wasn't: Part Two

by tambourine_chimp


From the case files of kojak_Hommes, Lupe Private Eye.

So my first real mystery had a scenario, two Neopets who fell equally under suspicion, and a few little tricks thrown in just for spite. Lucky me.

     When I arrived at Trixy the Jubjub’s place of residence (pretty ordinary looking Neohome, with most rooms made of brick, but with a few jelly ones for the novelty of it), she was kind enough to allow me to enter first…

     WHAM! A small ball of brown-and-white fur zoomed into sight, barking it’s little head off. Growling as was the little tyke’s namesake, the Doglefox began to chew on my front-left paw with vigour. If it hadn’t been for my thick layer of fur stopping my from getting really hurt, or the fact that the Petpet’s owner was watching, I swear I would’ve batted it clean away.

     “Hey, calm down, little fella!” I muttered with as much happiness as I could muster while the mutt tried it’s very best to gnaw my ankle off. “I’m here to help sort out the theft that wouldn’t have happened if you had done your job,” I reduced this last comment to a low growl that the Doglefox seemed to understand. After all, we were both canines, right? And what’s a threat between kindred spirits? Nothing, that's what...unless you happen to be the smaller of the two, that is.

     “As you can see,” the Jubjub offered politely with what I figured was a mix of pride and confusion. “Growler is quite hostile towards unidentified intruders.” I would've laughed at the sheer hilarity of the way she had put that if it hadn't been for the ankle that was only now beginning to throb something awful.

     “So I discovered,” I muttered as the Doglefox took to gnawing the life out of its Striped Fuzzy Scratching Post with gusto. “Cute…is there anyone besides yourself who comes round often enough to familiarize themselves with Growler…?”

     Okay, so I could’ve phrased it more precisely, but give me a break here! Thankfully, though, the Jubjub was smart enough to know what I really meant. “Why, no, Mr. Hommes! I only ever meet Sammy at the Battledome, he doesn’t even know where I live…and Thomas prefers for others to come to him, the arrogant so and so...” Leading the way into another room that looked pretty much the same as all the others I had seen so far, the Jubjub pointed to a Grey Coral Table situated in the middle of the thickly-rugged room.

     “That’s where my Wand of Ultranova was the night before it was taken. And no,” she added hurriedly, answering my next question before it even left my muzzle, which I found annoying and impressive. “I haven’t set foot anywhere near it, just like you advised in you letter…actually, I’ve been bypassing the room especially.”

     Now, if you just happen to own a Lupe as naturally cautious as I am, then you can easily imagine what I did next. Backing up a bit into the hallway, I shot forward suddenly, leaping off the floor (with elegant grace if I may say so) and over the rug, landing heavily on the Coral Table (with not so much elegance, I'll admit), which teetered uneasily from my momentum and weight. “Don’t you dare,” I muttered hopefully under my breath as I wobbled to and fro on the cold stone top. But it soon stopped rocking and stayed upright, much to my relief.

     “Why…?” Trixy asked, caught up between confusion (which I was soon to learn was second nature to her) and awe. She made to take a step forwards, but I ushered her away with a sweep of my paw.

     “Don’t want to disturb any footprints,” I answered her questioning look, and shivered uncontrollably. A small, sharp gust of cold air had hit my small black nose and, by using my powerful senses, I soon managed to trace it back to a window on the right-hand side of the room. “Tell me,” I asked softly after much squinting at the window, not sure if what I was seeing was actually there, or just a trick of the light. “Do you always keep the windows open a crack overnight?”

     “Huh? Oh, no…I always shut them firmly, it gets awfully cold round about midnight” after carefully studying my concentrating scowl, she began to add. “Here, you don’t think…?”

     “I don’t think,” I assured her, muttering somewhat dramatically, “I know…and what have we here?”

     Directly underneath the window were two sets of footprints imbedded in the rug. They weren’t fresh, but I could judge they were probably from the same night as the theft. They were both from the same person, though the species of the Neopet was now undiscoverable due to the age of the footprints and the time the rug had had to rise back up, but they were still pretty much clear other than that. One set of prints led to the table, the other going back to the window. Upon closer inspection, however, I noticed something strange about both sets…

     “That’s odd,” I muttered after finally deciding that my discovery needed announcing. “Trixy, come over here…don’t worry about disturbing anything now, I’ve probably found everything worth knowing." While the Jubjub slowly crept into the room, I placed a paw lightly in each print, just to make sure. And sure enough, they were uneven, my sense of touch has never let me down yet. "Look here,” I added when she had finally made her way around the footprints and arrived on my side. Pointing a paw down at the rug, I asked slyly. “What do you see?”

“Uhm, a series of footprints, leading to the table and back?” she asked hesitantly, and I could sense her doubting my expertise. I couldn't have that, of course! The one thing us Lupes pride ourselves on is our knowledge and certainty that we're right. If I were a wild Lupe, then Miss Trixy would be running right about now unless she wanted to be my afternoon snack.

     “Well, I don’t,” I announced abruptly, my sense of pride restored by the confusion I had no doubt arisen in Trixy. When the Jubjub threw me an odd look, I lamented my harshness and explained. “Well, yes, of course I see the footprints…but I also see that the prints of all the left feet are deeper than the ones for the right feet!”

     “Why, so they are!” Trixy muttered in astonishment, bending down for a closer look. “That’s awfully clever of you to notice, Mr Hommes!”

     “Oh, please,” I blushed deeply, my short ears flattened with embarrassment. “I wasn’t at all sure at first…”

     “But you were right! Are all Lupes as smart as you?” she asked in what I hoped was a rhetorical tone. When I didn’t answer out of modesty (and the thought that saying "No, they're all mostly dim-witted mutts," would count as treason against my species), she added. “But what could’ve made them like that?”

     “Three ideas at this point,” I replied, sitting down on my haunches. “Firstly, it’s probably just the rug rising back up weirdly…then again, maybe not, why not evenly? No, my second idea is that if the thief was trying to creep in and out of the house unnoticed, maybe he or she swung around every second step to make sure no on was about?

     “Or, and I think this is more probable – they had a sack slung over their left shoulder…not that heavy, of course, but just enough to make a substantial difference…”

     Standing up, I made a note of this in my Fire Faerie Notepad and turned back to Trixy. The Jubjub was taking it in turns to stare in wonder and (you guessed it) confusion from the footprints then back up to me.

     “Know where I can find Sammy and Thomas?” I asked finally, not being able to bear her fascinated eyes on me one second longer.

     “Well, Sammy the Grundo usually helps out at the Petpet Shop in Neopia Central…and I can give you Thomas’s address – Fyora knows I’ve been to see the Aisha enough times –”

     “Whoa, hold up a second there,” I muttered, not sure that I had heard the Jubjub correctly. “This Sammy character works at the Petpet Shop?” In my mind I was dancing happily around the room, shouting I think we have our thief already!

     “Yes…but, oh! I got Growler from my friends shop at Mystery Island…a Neofriend Discount.”

     Back to the two-wayer again, I though glumly as I left the Jubjub’s house. I should call this mystery ‘The Case of No Hope, Hommes.” But at least I had the two suspects and where to find them…

     That had to count for something, right? I mean, one of them had to be the guilty party, right?

     No matter how many times I tried to assure myself of this, I couldn’t help but fret that I was about to screw-up…Big-Time.

To Be Continued…

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Other Episodes

» The Case of the Wand That Wasn't: Part One
» The Case of the Wand That Wasn't: Part Three
» The Case of the Wand That Wasn't: Part Four

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