"Oh! Nice bottle, MonoKeras," chittered Myncha. "A lot smaller than the one
we had during the war. Looks handy. Where did you get it?"
"From the dark faeries," Tekeli-Li said before I could reply. "They're the
only ones that would make such a thing."
I nodded. "It's an inside story, but Tekeli-Li is right. Only dark faeries
make this particular kind. I did them a favor and got two of these some time
Sabre-X stepped in again. "That was the situation that he brought to me. Now,
his proposal, which Kyruggi is even now busily arranging, is to have us appointed
by the Terror Mountain government to investigate this matter."
Myncha shook his head. "What's to investigate? Here's all the proof you need
right here." He tapped the bottle. "Just show this to the court and it's all
"No, it's not," Tekeli-Li said, just as I replied, "I wish."
Myncha looked up in confusion at our simultaneous responses. "What am I missing?"
"It's a simple matter of law, Myncha," I explained. "Magical evidence can
not be used in a court of law."
"But you and Tekeli-Li use magic all the time, and I don't see anyone complaining
about that. You've even been in court on cases you used magic to investigate."
"That's true. But that was with evidence that was actually gathered and shown
through ordinary means, not magical."
Tekeli-Li took up the thread. "What MonoKeras is trying to say is that you
can use magic to gather your evidence, but magic itself can't BE the evidence.
We can use this-" he nodded towards the bottle- "to catch our Lupe, but we can't
just show it in court and say there he is. We can use it to find where to look
and what to get, and THAT evidence works fine in court, but the actual magic
itself isn't allowed."
"But... why not?"
Tekeli-Li didn't offer to continue, so I did. "Separation of powers," I said.
"The Faerie Queen has jurisdiction over all magic used in Neopia, and any sort
of magical evidence can only be used in faerie courts. The legal rationalization
is that judging the validity of magical evidence is beyond any normal NeoPet,
so it can't be allowed. The real reason, as far as keeping it that way is concerned,
is that the Faerie Queen might object."
"I don't know why," Myncha grumbled to himself.
"You don't have to," Tekeli-Li retorted. "She's a law unto herself and you
don't argue with her rules unless you want to be turned into something really
"So you see, gentlemen, the need for our investigation," Sabre-X continued,
smoothly getting us back on course. "We'll be a special commission, appointed
by the government, to go out there and find the causes of the avalanches, and
how to stop them. What we don't want them to know is that we have this lead
here--" he pointed to my bottle-- "and that we know it's being done on purpose."
Myncha looked about ready to pop off with another question, but he was interrupted
by the arrival of Kyruggi herself. She strode in briskly, took one quick look,
and nodded around the room. "Good to see everyone here," she said. "Saves me
some time. Sabre-X, I have just returned from talking with the Terror Mountain
government. It didn't take much persuasion at all for them to see your little
group here as a light-sent gift from above. Looks like MonoKeras wasn't wrong
in estimating how nervous they were getting. Not only did they accept it, they're
rushing it as fast as they can. You've got to have the whole team there for
a press conference this afternoon at 2:30." Sabre-X just nodded. "Oh, and MonoKeras---"
she looked at me and lowered her voice to a meaningful tone. "You've got something
big here. In fact, it's so big that I predict you're going to be sick to death
of politics before it's over."
"Ahhhh..." I replied with my usual intelligence. I didn't get a chance to say
any more before she nodded curtly and swept out of the room. We all blinked
a bit, though we were used to it. Kyruggi is not one to waste time. She gets
the job done with a minimum of fuss and goes on to the next. I must say, though,
I think she managed to set records in that little trip, even for her.
The only one who didn't seem taken aback by it all was Sabre-X. "Right, you
heard the lady. We've got some packing and planning to do, quick, before we're
ready for that conference."
Tekeli-Li started talking before Myncha could get his tongue untangled. "MonoKeras,
you seem to be starting all this, but no one's said you're going to be on this
I tried to act casual, which is hard to do when he gives you that lizard stare
of his--particularly when, as I well know, he has the ability to see through
any normal act by using his magical abilities. "Two reasons, actually. One is
personal--the role I'm choosing to play is simply that of a hired investigator,
because that's how I function best. It lets me collect a fee and gives me the
freedom to look as I see fit. The second reason is a bit more ominous...."
"Yes?" he said, when I paused too long.
"Remember, the Blumaroos think the Bruces don't want them there. And also,
remember that these avalanches are being set deliberately. The Blumaroos could
well be right, in which case, powerful Bruces and maybe the whole government-
could be behind this scheme to chase them out, or ruin them financially....
and these are the same pets who have hired us."
Myncha just chattered wordlessly as the import of that hit him. Tekeli-Li
didn't show much emotion, and Sabre-X looked, if anything, bored. He'd already
seen all this yesterday, of course, before he'd even agreed to get into it.
"You might say we have two investigations in one, gentlemen," Sabre-X said.
"One is our public one, where we are out there doing all sorts of huge public
things like you, Myncha, organizing search teams to scour the mountains for
any sort of clues. The other, though, is the secret one, and it's conducted
by MonoKeras here, using his magical bottle to follow our clue from that end."
"Playing both sides of the street, and not letting either of them know what
we're doing," mused Tekeli-Li. "I always thought you had the devious type of
mind needed for faerie magic, Sabre-X, and now I'm even more sure of it."
Sabre-X's tusks jutted out aggressively. "I want nothing to do with your magic
mumbo-jumbo, Tekeli-Li. Just be glad I can accept MonoKeras' little toy here.
I like the practical, and if you don't think that the ordinary psychology of
NeoPets and other intelligent beings can be as devious as faeries..."
I quickly forestalled the old running argument before it continued. "Be that
as it may, everyone, don't you all have a press conference to get ready for?
And while you're busy parading before the officials and citizens of Neopia,
I'm just going to gather up our little prize here..." I put my bottle back up...
"and go see about getting some behind the scenes work done. Just one thing."
They all looked at me. "What's that?" Sabre-X asked.
"Don't forget to get a good fee set up for me," I said, and left before they
I returned from the meeting with the newly appointed investigation team to
find blchocobo sitting quietly on the front doorstep of my office. I was rather
surprised at that.
"Well, hi! I didn't expect you here."
He shrugged slightly. "Why not? I'm your younger brother, can't I be interested
in what's going on?" He stood up to let me at the front door.
I tapped the panel above the doorknob with my paw, then opened it. "Yes, of
course, particularly after I already took you into my confidence and let you
help once in this case already. Come on in." That last was unnecessary, since
he'd already followed me in and shut the door with a slight frown on his face.
"Is something wrong?" I asked as I sat down at my desk.
"How did you do that?"
"Open the door. I tried and tried, and it was just locked, like there was a
deadbolt. But you didn't have a key, you just... tapped it and it opened."
"Oh, that. Magic," I said dismissively. "Sit down and I'll tell you all about
our latest big problem. I got our client all lined up and ready to go."
"Great!" and he sat down to listen as I explained what I'd been doing. As I
came to the end of it, he grinned appreciatively and said, "I think I agree
with Kyruggi. It's devilishly cunning and I love it."
I laughed. "Thanks, but it's not over yet. We've actually just now gotten started
on it. In fact...." my voice faded out as I looked at him thoughtfully. "In
fact, I may have another little job for you, if you're willing to accept a semi-permanent
position with me."
"As a helper? I'd love to."
"I'm flattered," I replied, and honestly meant it. Blchocobo and I had been
brothers for only a little while, but I'd already come to respect his self-control
and intelligence. I opened up my case of magical supplies that I'd brought back
and pulled out the faerie bottle "crying glass" that had become the key to the
whole thing. "Remember I told you I'd seen our criminal setting off the avalanche
by using this? I don't think I ever showed it to you."
Blchocobo shook his head silently and watched the miniature figure of the Lupe
inside in fascination as he stopped for a midday snack made from an animal that
he'd caught earlier in the morning. "No, you hadn't," he murmured absentmindedly.
"Well, this is it." I said rather lamely. "Anyhow, here's my problem. It shows
the action in 'real time'- it shows what he is doing now- but I have no way
of knowing when he is going to do something significant, or of knowing if he
has already and I just wasn't looking at the time. What I'd want you to do is
just sort of hang around the office here during the day, and keep an eye on
things- but especially on this." Blchocobo managed to drag his eyes off of the
bottle's image and quickly agreed. "Good," I declared. "Now, one more thing-
I need to get your aura folded into my doorlock spell."
That perked his interest up quickly. Though the exact details must remain confidential,
I will say that he was surprised and amused at how simple it was to give him
access to lock and unlock the door with a mental command. After that, I left
him to tend to the office and bottle while I went out for a quick bite to eat,
and then back to Terror Mountain. I hoped I would get paid for travel fares
on this. I could tell right now that my commuting miles were going to really
I'd hoped to find Councilor Bloriarity at his office, but he was out. In fact,
he was at the big press conference announcing the avalanche committee. I should
have realized that, I thought, as I headed over to watch it. It was pretty much
the usual thing- Several Bruces getting up and praising Sabre-X, Myncha, and
Tekeli-Li for all of their past exploits in the Tyrannian war, for their wisdom
and public dedication, and wishing them every success in solving such an important
problem. I must say the new committee took it well, although Myncha was fidgeting,
which was no surprise. I wondered what Sabre-X was doing when I noticed a few
Bruces stumbling on their lines after looking him in the eye. Probably just
being a normal saber-tooth Lupe, I guessed.
Sabre-X got up and thanked the council on behalf of the committee, promising
them a thorough investigation and hope for a safer future. I loved that last
phrase, it made me wonder if he'd thought it up himself or borrowed it somewhere.
After it was over, everyone shook paws all around, light bulbs flashed as they
posed, and the crowd began to break up, with everyone getting back to whatever
urgent business that they had.
Councilor Bloriarity apparently didn't get a chance to speak. I managed to
catch him as he was leaving the conference area.
"Excuse me, councilor, could I ask you a few questions?"
"Sorry, no public comment at this time," he snapped and continued walking.
I edged in front of him. "Actually, I was wanting to talk in private, not public."
That stopped him. He looked at me and frowned. "What about?"
I waved a vague paw towards the now mostly deserted podium area. "The avalanche
problem, and all that."
He looked at me silently for a few seconds before nodding briskly. "Right.
Come to my office and we'll discuss it."
To be continued...