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The Mystery of the Stolen Gem: Part One


by ridergirl333

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Author’s Note: “The Mystery of the Stolen Gem” was a collaboration between some of the members of the Pen’s Ink writing guild. All of the pets in this story (with the exception of Indigo,) belong to past or present guild members.

The world was dull and steely gray, like it was enshrouded in a silver veil. Winds shrieked, ripping and tearing at the trees. Leaves were scattered all over the sidewalk, being swept helter-skelter by the gale. A misty fog obscured everything in the distance and a driving rain soaked RubyRainbow333 the rainbow Uni, drenching her fur and getting in her eyes. The wind turned her mane into a twisted, tangled knot and it blew rainwater onto her hooves.

Ruby splashed in a puddle on the side of the road. Ever since the wind blew her umbrella into a tree, she had given up all ridiculous thoughts of staying dry. The weather had been terrible for over a week now, and it was hard to find a dry spot even indoors. But no matter. Ruby thought. I’m not going to let a little rain spoil my fun today at Indigo’s birthday party.

Ruby rang the doorbell at Indigo’s door. Indigo Musician the blue Gelert had been her best friend for as long as she could remember. “You’re the first person here.” Indigo said, handing Ruby a towel. “Dry off. Then you can help me get the snacks ready.” Before she could say another word, the doorbell rang again.

“Party’s in the house!” Called Ale76. “Party over here! Whoo! Whoo! Party over there…” Indigo stuffed a towel in the Starry Poogle’s face before he could say another word. “Dry off, Ale. You smell like wet dog.”

“You would too if you were out in that rain, girl.” Ale said, shaking his wet fur. Droplets splattered on Indigo’s rug, Indigo’s hardwood floor, and Indigo’s side.

Ruby giggled but Indigo just glared at Ale. “Dry off.” She ordered. Ale dried off, but it was a while before he totally got rid of the wet dog smell. Ruby and he then helped Indigo set up the snack table. While Indigo was pouring the chips, the doorbell rang again. It was FierceFire4000 the shadow Shoyru, Grigknot the purple Grundo, Torissa0812 the baby Kougra, and Flacra the spotted Kougra.

“Hope we haven’t missed anything.” Fire said as she shook rain off of her fur. Flacra cringed a bit as some droplets hit him, but otherwise said nothing.

“Mmph… ymm… mmmm. Ye mithed the potado chibs.” Ale said through a mouthful of the crunchy, salty snack. Indigo snatched the nearly empty bag away from Ale. “How did you…” She said, stunned. Before she could finish her sentence, the doorbell rang again.

“What’s up my girls?” asked Amianale the blue Ixi. With a leap and a bound, she dove inside where it was dry. “It is way too wet out there. My fur is a mess.”

“I’ll say.” Replied Starlight_Shadowhunt the blue Uni as she shook out her dripping umbrella outside. “It’s raining Aishas and Gelerts out there! Don’t step in a Poogle! No offense, Ale.”

“None taken.” Ale said, helping Ruby and Indigo supply towels for everyone. “Is this the party? There doesn’t seem to be enough snacks.”

“Well despite our lack of munchies, Ale,” Ruby said tartly, “I’m sure this party will be… how do you say it? ‘Off the heezy for cheezy’.”

“It’s ‘sheezy’.” Ale said, seemingly unaware that Ruby was being sarcastic. “‘Cheezy’ is what Indigo’s Cheesy Neos tasted like.” He licked an orange, powdery substance off of his paws.

The look Indigo gave Ale could have split stone. “You’re a Snorkle.” She muttered at him.

Starlight stepped between the two bickering NeoPets. “So, what are we going to do first?”

“I had a series of games planned,” Indigo sighed. “But they were outdoor games. We’ll have to make the most of what we have indoors.”

So we talked while Indigo rummaged through her closet. “There has to be something in here to entertain a crowd of partying NeoPets.”

“What about pin the tail on the Uni?” Ale asked jokingly, holding a pin dangerously close to Ruby’s behind.

“I’ve got it!” Indigo saved Ruby at the last minute by holding up a blue box. “Who wants to play horseshoes?”

Ale gave a barking laugh. “I am the champ-i-on of horseshoes, girl, so just step aside and watch the master.” He carefully taped the stick to the ground and stood back about seven feet. A competitive gleam came into his eyes as he flexed his arm muscles. He was entirely focused on the stick and the plastic yellow horseshoe in his paw. He let it fly!

There was the hollow thud of plastic on metal as the horseshoe hit and bounced off. It was Indigo’s turn to give a barking laugh. She picked up a blue horseshoe, grinning. Then, she stood about ten feet from the stick and without a pause, tossed the blue horseshoe. It flew gently, quite unlike Ale’s horseshoe’s intense speed. Indigo’s horseshoe hit the pole and wrapped itself around it perfectly.

Everyone gaped in shock. For a while, the only sounds that could be heard were the pitter-patter of rain on the windows and the quiet barking of Indigo’s Anubis Noel. Ruby was the first to clap. “Way to go, Indigo! You rock!” Soon, others joined in, clapping and cheering. Ale, however, wasn’t too pleased. “Lucky shot.” Growled Ale. “I challenge you to a rematch. Unless you’re too scared.”

“Scared?” Indigo asked. “This Gelert knows no fear. In fact, I’ll let you choose where we have to stand to throw our horseshoes.”

“Twelve feet away, O Gelert who knows no fear.”

“You’re on.”

So the horseshoe championships began. Time after time, Ale’s horseshoe ended up flying off the pole or bouncing off of it or not even hitting the pole at all. Time after time, Indigo’s horseshoe hit home. They played left-pawed, blindfolded, and even upside-down with their feet hanging from the bar in Indigo’s closet where she hangs her clothes up. “I wish I could have a talent like that.” Starlight said in awe. “It would be cool to be good at something. But I’m just plain old me.”

“The girl’s got skills.” Came the smooth, charming voice of Grigknot, admiring something in his hand. At the same moment, Amianale let out a wail. “Where’d my lipstick go? Grigknot!”

“Ami my lady, you’re talking to the finest pickpocket on the streets of Neopia Central.” Grigknot said, giving the lipstick back to the Ixi. “Not even your precious gold lipstick is safe from my sneaky hands.”

“Just keep away from my stuff!” Amianale protested. Grigknot shrugged and returned to watching Indigo defeat Ale.

Meanwhile, Fire was talking to Torissa about the Battledome. “You know what I want more than anything else in the world?” Fire asked. “To beat the Space Faerie in the Battledome. That would prove that I’m the master of battle.”

“At least you can go into the Battledome without having to listen to people mock you.” Torissa growled. “I’m just a baby. I really wish people would stop treating me like a baby. I really do.”

Finally, a disgruntled Ale ended the competitions. “Fine. I give up, Indigo. But I will get you back for that. I promise I’ll settle the score.”

“The score has already been settled.” Indigo said cockily. “Thirty-five to nothing. Me.”

Ale just gave a small growl and stalked off, nearly stepping on the tail of Noel the Anubis. Noel bared her teeth at Ale in a wolf-like manner.

So,” Indigo said, breaking the awkward silence. “Who wants cake?”

There was an immediate clamor to get the Caramel Volcano Cake off of the kitchen cabinet and bring it to the table. Shouts of “I want the piece with the most caramel on it!” and, “Save me a big piece!” Rang throughout the dining room. Even the sullen Ale had to enjoy the chaos as he and Ruby stubbornly fought for the peak of the volcano. “Give it here, Ale! I claimed it first!”

“But I got to it first, didn’t I Ruby?” Ale stuck his tongue out at the rainbow Uni, holding the piece of cake out of arm’s reach. Ruby pounced on him and the cake went flying. It splattered on the floor, where Noel devoured it in two bites. “Now look at what you’ve done!” Ruby screeched as if it were Ale’s fault. It was all meant in good fun, and before long the two were chatting about what caramel is made of.

“I wanted the piece on the side!” Torissa whined; staring at the puny, caramel-free piece of cake that Indigo had given her.

“Aren’t you a bit young to have something so sticky?” Indigo asked skeptically.

“I might be painted baby, but I’m older than Amianale.” The baby Kougra groaned. “I wish people would stop treating me like I’m two days old!”

“I’m going to get napkins.” Fire said, as if looking for an excuse to leave the arguments at the table. She started to go over to the kitchens, but she jabbed her toe on a lump in the rug. “OW!”

“Fire, are you okay?” Starlight asked, rushing over to the injured Shoyru. Meanwhile, Indigo lifted the rug up and retrieved a Red Toy Car from beneath it. The Car had several dents in the roof, as if someone had been gnawing on it. “It’s Noel’s.” Indigo explained. “She’s a total pack rat. She finds lots of shiny objects and stashes them away in the oddest places. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Fire said, shifting her weight to her injured foot and wincing. “I’m fine. Now I’m going to get those napkins.”

After the cake had been eaten, it was time for Indigo’s favorite part of the party. “Presents!” She called, racing to the living room, a mob of wound up, sugar-high friends on her tail. “What did you guys get me?”

“You’re acting like we’re going to tell you.” Torissa groaned, placing a sloppily wrapped, slightly beat-up package in front of the birthday girl. “Happy birthday, Indigo! I kicked it around a bit but I think it’s still okay.”

Indigo tore the wrapping paper eagerly, as if the present would get up and walk away if it wasn’t opened within the next millisecond. “Feeding Lupes! I’ve always wanted this book! Thanks Torissa!”

“I got you a book too,” said Fire. “Cybunny Down.”

“Thanks.” Indigo hugged the shadow Shoyru gently. She opened the rest of her presents, most of which were books. (Although she did get a Scorchio Scarf from Amianale, which Grigknot stole and returned.) It was finally time for Ruby to give Indigo her present. “I hope you like this.” Ruby said, handing a lilac gift bag to her best friend.

Indigo reached into the bag and pulled out the most beautiful gem she had seen in her entire life. It was about the size of her paw, a perfectly cut diamond that glittered like a star. It split the light of a nearby lamp into a thousand different colors, like a prism. It was shaped like an orb, with a thousand different facets dazzling Indigo’s eyes. “I don’t know much about this.” Ruby said, picking the gem up. “But I do know that it’s a Battledome weapon. And it’s powerful.”

“Let’s see just how powerful it is!” Ale said, jumping from his spot on the couch and moving into a fighting stance. “I’m going to get you back for beating me at horseshoes.”

Indigo shivered. “Okay, here goes nothing.” It was probably a magical gem, she reasoned. And although she was no mage, she had a basic understanding of the magical arts. All you had to do was focus your mind power. She concentrated on the gem with all her might, picturing it striking Ale down. Picturing it…

A flash of rainbow brilliance! Ale was on the ground, knocked unconscious. Amianale let loose an ear-splitting screech! Indigo nearly knocked a lamp over in her haste to get a Healing Potion. She threw open the cabinet doors and came out, potion in her paws. She poured it down Ale’s throat, sweating with worry. Exactly how hard had she hit him?

To her relief, Ale coughed, sputtered and sat up. “Wow,” he breathed.

“Good show, Indi.” Fire said softly. “I could beat the Space Faerie in the Battledome with that.”

Noel came over and whimpered her agreement.

Flacra stared, mouth agape. “That was amazing.” He said in shock.

Torissa stared in awe. “No one would ever treat me like a baby again if I had that in my paws.”

Starlight nodded. “You could really achieve something with that. I’d love to have one.”

“Who cares about using it as a weapon?” Amianale asked, seizing the gem from Indigo’s paws. “It’s a priceless treasure! Perfect for formal eveningwear. I wish I had one.”

“Yeah, a little disco ball hanging around your neck that could beat up the waiter if he’s too slow with your order.” Ruby said sarcastically. “This is the perfect weapon! If I had known how perfect it was, I would have kept it for myself. Hey! Where’d it go?”

Amianale gasped, staring at her empty hooves. The gem was gone and she didn’t even notice! “Grigknot…”

“Relax, I was only playing with you.” Said the sly Grundo, throwing the gem up and then catching it again. Then he tossed it gently to Indigo.

“Well, whatever.” Indigo said, stuffing the gem back into its bag. “We can’t sit here with our mouths gaping all day. Let’s do something! Anyone up for another round of horseshoes?”

An immediate chorus of “no”s filled the room.

Ale, who had finally recovered from his beating, shot Indigo a look of pure venom. “I’ll get you back for that too. In fact, let’s play my game this time. Let’s play…”

Before he could say another word, the electricity went out. The NeoPets were enveloped in total darkness, so they could not see their own paws in front of their faces. Amianale screeched and Fire gasped. Noel whimpered pitifully. “Where is everyone?” Flacra called out. He took a step, and the sound of shattering glass broke the room. “Um… How much did that lamp cost?” Torissa asked nervously.

Then, a more peculiar sound. The sound of rippling paper, not unlike the sounds of leafing through a notebook, stepping on a hat made of newspaper or wadding a bad report into a ball. Or… the sound of a paper gift bag being knocked over. Then, the sound of a rolling gem. Then silence. Silence so tangible you could reach out and touch it. Scarcely anyone breathed.

“No one move!” Indigo broke the silence, but her cry was unnecessary because no one dared to move anyway. “What just happened here?”

As if to answer her question, the lights flickered on again, revealing the lilac bag lying on its side, tissue paper strewn across the floor in front of it.

And the gem inside was gone.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» The Mystery of the Stolen Gem: Part Two
» The Mystery of the Stolen Gem: Part Three
» The Mystery of the Stolen Gem: Part Four



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