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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 14th day of Eating, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 112 > New Series > Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part One

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part One

by scriptfox

Things had reached something of a lull at MonoKeras, Private Investigations. I’d taken care of all the little stuff for the day, and my major cases were all at one sticking point or another. The big bribery case was stalled until I got the findings back on some paint flecks I’d found. I thought I knew what had happened there, but a second opinion that would stand up in court was always a good idea.

     I was spinning Sun Pegasus on one hoof, wondering how his orange fire always managed to clash with my golden coat, when the door opened. I looked up to see a heavily veiled figure in purple and blue robes. Dark blue eyes stared back at me over the veil, and then the stranger opened her robes to reveal a Faerie cadro.

     Since she hadn’t said anything, I decided to start the conversation. "Ah, good morning, miss. That’s a nice petpet you have there. Is there anything I can do for you?" The cadro spun in midair, hovering there as it waved all four arms at its mistress. For some reason, she was ignoring me. I cleared my throat. "I said…."

     The cadro piped up and interrupted me. "Good morning, sir. I have need of your services."

     I stared. "Excuse me? I’ve had some strange clients before, but I’m afraid never a petpet. But perhaps…" I stared back at its owner, who was still busily waving her own paws at her petpet.

     "No, you do not understand. It is I, Sadiyah, who wishes to hire you. The cadro’s name is Mu’awin and he translates for me."

     "Huh? Can’t you talk?"

     More paw-waving. Then the cadro replied, "That is not the problem. I can not hear you. I am deaf."

     "But what..."

     The cadro continued as if it had not heard me either. "Mu’awin communicates with me by moving his arms and fingers, while I do the same with him. It is called sign language."

     Sign language! I mentally kicked myself for not picking up on it sooner. Of course I’d seen various types of sign language before, usually in the form of secret signals among group members of some sort. "Oh, of course! I understand now. My apologies, Miss…" I stumbled, having not remembered her name.

     "My name is Sadiyah. Thank you for your understanding."

     Mu’awin’s voice did not show much emotion, but even behind her veil, the slight narrowing of Sadiyah’s eyes told me that I had just been the recipient of a nicely ironic turn of phrase. My cheeks prickled with heat. "Sadiyah, yes, please I am truly sorry. Won’t you have a seat?" I motioned towards the chair in front of my desk.

     Sadiyah hesitated for a couple of seconds as her petpet translated, then nodded and slid into the offered seat. Mu’awin perched on the edge of the desk in front of his mistress, back to me and Sun Pegasus. I realized that Sun Pegasus was giving Mu’awin a very intent stare and I decided to snag him before anything unfortunate happened. We were having enough troubles communicating as it was. I wasn’t about to go through any more apologies with someone who couldn’t hear them. Sadiyah watched silently as I dropped my baby fireball back into his tube and put it up. In fact, she seemed perfectly content to wait for however long it took for me to talk again.

     I finally looked back up and continued. "So, Miss Sadiyah, what mystery do you need solved today?"

     Silence hung in the office while that phrase got turned into a series of paw wavings. "Recent events have made me suspect that my life might be in danger."

     I remained outwardly unfazed, though inwardly I was a bit surprised. For such a bold statement, there seemed to be an awfully lot of cautious ‘I thinks’ and ‘maybes’ implied in it. "What sort of events?"

     I began to wonder if I was ever going to get an answer to that one. It seemed to take forever, two Kyrii paws and four cadro ones spinning in midair. "In the past several days I have had a feeling of being watched. Several times I have thought I saw someone following me, but I never see them. Then last night at work, a knife was thrown at me."

     My eyebrows did go up at that one. "A knife?"

     Sadiyah didn’t try to say anything, she simply pulled a dagger out from under her robes and dropped it on the desk in front of me. I picked it up, trying to ignore that intent gaze of hers. It suddenly proved easy to do.

     The hilt of the knife appeared to be a black wood or polished stone with a series of parallel grooves winding around it. They were interrupted by an even broader groove spiraling around it in the opposite way. Purplish highlights reflected from it as I turned the dagger in my hand. The blade itself seemed to be relatively thin, with a slight wiggle to it. I wasn’t sure if you could call it a proper kris blade, but… I turned it over and gulped. There was a broad groove running down the middle of the blade and I suddenly realized what I held.

     "Very interesting," I remarked with as casual a tone as I could manage. I put the blade down on my desk in a seemingly careless manner and leaned back. "But that’s no throwing knife. Where did you get it?"

     My tones were lost on Sadiyah. "I told you, " the cadro recited, "I was at work. I am a belly dancer at the Ankh-bar café and this hit the table at my feet last night."

     "At your… hey wait a minute!" My head spun. "A belly dancer?"

     The cadro was already talking- it was obvious that Sadiyah had anticipated my reaction. "I hear the music through my feet, MonoKeras. The beat is all I need to keep the proper rhythm."

     I stared at her and she stared back at me. I’m sure neither of us was surprised when I broke eye contact first and had to laugh. A deaf belly dancer! I sobered up quickly, not wanting to offend my prospective client, but Sadiyah was just giving me that calm deep-sea stare, obviously waiting for me to get it out of my system.

     "Okay, you got me. So, you were dancing on the table and someone threw this at you?"

     "That is apparently correct. I felt it hit the table and neither of the customers beside it had put it there. They were both so stunned that I managed to get it first."

     "Hmmm… let me get this straight. You’re doing a belly dance and when you feel an extra beat in the rhythm, you immediately see the knife and grab it before anyone else can react?"

     "But of course. You would have me let the owner retrieve the knife so they could try again."

     Mu’awin’s tone didn’t put the question mark on the end of that last phrase, but the look in Sadiyah’s eyes completely filled in the dry tone behind it. I had to grin. This female knew how to handle herself.

     "I get your point." I winced as Mu’awin began to translate that unintentional pun. "So what happened after that?"

     I waited through the usual paw waving, but the answer didn’t take long. "I finished my dance and left at the usual time."

     "You mean nothing else happened?"

     Sadiyah’s expression changed to a puzzled frown when that question made it through to her. "Nothing unusual," was the reply, "but why should there be. Is not a knife enough."

     I would have contradicted her, but a second glance at the blade in question shut that objection before it was made. Considering the type of knife, it was most certainly enough.

     Sadiyah made more motions to her petpet and then leaned forward to stare at me intently. I noticed a tattoo under her left eye, and almost missed her very urgent message as it was relayed. "Please understand, MonoKeras, that I am not given to flights of fancy. If I did not believe that the threat was real, I would not be here today."

     "Yes, of course," I muttered. I looked down at our only piece of evidence thoughtfully. "But wait. Didn’t you say you had been followed? What about them?"

     "Yes I believe so. What about them."

     "Well, I mean, what sort of pet- you know, what species, what color or sex or…" I stalled, trying to add more questions. "I need a description here."

     The answer was already coming back. "What color is a shadow, or what species is the wind. I can not say, MonoKeras, for I truly did not see anything. Nor did Mu’awin, and he is eyes in the back of my head."

     I grimaced. She might wrap it in beautiful imagery, but no matter how poetic you got, it was all adding up to a big nothing. "Looks like the only way I’m going to find out about this is by playing bodyguard for a while."

     Sadiyah sat up straighter when that statement penetrated. "Yes, that would be a good idea. I truly would appreciate it. I am sure I would be safer if you were there tonight."

     "Tonight?"

     Sadiyah was waving some more before I finished getting the word out of my mouth. "I dance tonight again at the Ankh-bar tavern. If you were there, we would be sure nothing bad could happen."

     I grunted a bit sourly. That silent blue gaze had more faith in me than I had. But then, I’d been in enough scrapes to learn a long time ago that I didn’t have any sort of magic that could stop trouble from doing whatever it took a mind to do. "Okay, it’s a deal. Meet you tonight at the tavern about what, six? Seven?"

     "No, please, let us meet at the rainbow pool. That is a very public area and I would feel safer joining you there."

     I frowned. "Well, okay, but I don’t see why you would say that."

     Sadiyah dropped her gaze from my frown and looked at her petpet for the explanation. Then she gave me that intent stare again as she motioned her reply. "Please. I told you I was being followed. I think that danger would be even greater near my place of work. That is where the bad things happen."

     I shrugged. It made sense in a sort of cock-eyed way, and it really didn’t make much difference to me. "Okay. Tonight then."

     Sadiyah looked relieved even before Mu’awin confirmed my exact words to her. Her reply was swift. "Thank you very much. Tonight at seven, please."

     "Sure thing."

     She stood up and began to tuck her petpet back into her robes. It was then that a thought struck me. "Say, Sadiyah, why don’t you let Mu’awin fly in front of you when you walk? That way you can get a running translation of what is being said."

     Mu’awin dutifully swung his four little arms around and Sadiyah gently tossed him into the air so she could wave a reply. "I do just that, MonoKeras, but that is for normal times. My robes are conspicuous enough, but all I have are these colors. I would not ease my tracker’s job by having my very noticeable cadro floating in front of me. He would be a big blue magnet for him or her."

     I chuckled. "A good point! Very well then, tonight it is."

     Sadiyah simply nodded as she hid her petpet and left. On her way out the door, I called, "And don’t worry, Miss Sadiyah, I’m sure we can solve this."

     She didn’t stop or turn at all as she left. I groaned. Caught again. This was going to be a rough case, I just knew it.

     Still, I had to admit that things would at least be interesting. I doubted that most would regard going to watch a belly dancer as work… My own belly sank as I realized that I was going to have to tell Kallisari that. I frantically searched for an opening line. "No, I’m sorry, I have to go watch a belly dancer…" "Yes, a client of mine wants me to watch her at work… no, I mean as a bodyguard…"

     I covered my eyes in despair. This was going to go over like a lead balloon, I just knew it!

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part Two

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part Three

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part Four

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part Five

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part Six

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part Seven


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