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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 17th day of Sleeping, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 75 > Continuing Series > Dragonmist: Part Six

Dragonmist: Part Six

by jenjen26785

Scapegoat
    
Landing on the beautiful beaches of Mystery Island, Saf took in a deep breath and beamed happily. "Aah! Mystery Isle! Back to the scene of the crime!"

     "Back to the scene of so many crimes, in my experience," muttered Angel gravely. Her last trip here had ended in the escape of Malkus Vile, a leader of the criminal underworld who she believed had hidden a key to her past somewhere. "Let's just get this over with. I don't want to stay here too long."

     "Not stay here too long? We should ask for a extended holiday here," said Saf, eyeing up the beach kiosk. "Don't tell me you're gonna go all psycho on me too, are you?"

     "Uh, the word is psychic, and Jen was just worried about what a dream like that could entail. She said so herself."

     "Yeah whatever. What was the mission again?"

     Angel cleared her throat and quoted in a mock-official tone. "The NSPA Mystery Island division 3 has found evidence against the claims of the Island's tourism department, which allegedly claims that the events that came to pass on 11th day of Hiding, Year 4. On said occasion, a member of an unknown tribe on the island appeared in front of an audience of millions in front of the Neopia Central Arts District, prophesying the certain doom empire that the unveiling of the Kumlaa Scrolls will entail. As this has recently happened, and there has been no effect where the empire is concerned, the records proving that the industry has dropped over the past few months, not days, seem to indicate that the Head Office isn't being exactly truthful. The current mission is to unearth the real reason behind the drop in tourism and a possible reason for the Head Tourism Office to be lying to us like this. Sounds official."

     "You bet. Where first? The Tourism Office?"

     "Doy. Where else?"

     At that moment there was a horrific scream from somewhere in the crowds. A young boy with a Yellow Kyrii and blue Flotsam leaped from the shies and kiosks and skidded to a halt, breathless, collapsing on a bench outside the tourist information office. A few pets and owners darted forward to help them. The Eyrie and Aisha stood their ground, but watched with interest.

     Spluttering, the boy caught his breath amidst cries of 'Monster!' and 'Run away!'

     Luckily the Kyrii was a little more together than the boy. "There was a monster in the bushes," she squeaked, "A huge monster with a ripping tearing mouth than glinted in the light, because we were just walking through the jungle, and light only came through the trees in pieces. It leaped forward in front of our path and glared at us, and then Ewan screamed, and it ran away."

     Eventually the boy's stifled sobs became too much to bear, and the Kyrii halted her explanation and rushed to comfort him.

     "Uh... do you still want me to answer that?"

     Angel growled to herself. "Never mind. It may be a totally unrelated incident. Let's keep going."

***

The manager of the tourism department at Mystery Island was a stern-looking, middle-aged Desert Kacheek who glared at Shining_Safyre from across the desk. Saf glared back solemnly.

     "And you are confident that the appearance of this 'Witchdoctor' is the direct cause of your drop in business?"

     The Kacheek bristled slightly, and nodded. "Yes. The incident of the last few days has left a horrible dent in the tourism industry."

     "That's odd. The last few days? This Mystic must have been bothering you for a while then, sir. Because according to these records, you've been experiencing difficulties for quite a few months now, haven't you."

     She flung a bundle of documents across the table and leaned back on the comfy computer chair.

     The Kacheek went pale, and his upper lip started to tremble and sweat. The pupils of his eyes withdrew as he looked at the papers, and back at the Aisha.

     "Just give it up. I am Agent Shining_Safyre of the Neopian Special Protection Agency, and I am here to investigate the real reason behind your drop in business, and whether it could prove a threat to any innocent bystanders. I know that you are just using this Mystic act as a scapegoat. Who was it - one of your lackeys? We've got all the evidence. Just spit it out."

     His eyes darted to the door and back, as if contemplating an escape. He blotted his forehead with a flannel, and slumped on the desk.

     "All right. You got me. But it was not my idea to blame the whole deal on the Witchdoctor - that was another employee's."

     Saf gave him a smug smile. "So who'd you get to play him?"

     "Play him?" The Kacheek looked up from his crossed arms. "Like an actor? Oh no. We had nothing to do with the guy. It was just fortunate he appeared when he did so we could place the blame on him. The right place at the right time."

     "Or the wrong place at the wrong time, whichever way you think about it." Saf's bright wide eyes skimmed over his panicked face, and back to the desk, where a newspaper had been appropriately placed with the silhouette of the island man on the front cover. No. He was telling the truth. The man in the photo was not a Neopet, and he doubted any pet would have been smart or malicious enough to trick their master, nor any human stupid enough to fall for it. This was the real deal.

     She sighed softly. "Okay. But in that case, why would you need a scapegoat in the first place? What do you need to hide?"

     The manager shuffled his feet uncomfortably. "There... there is a creature. A creature has been scaring our customers away from the resort. There. I said it. Well? Laugh!"

     But Saf didn't laugh. She knew what the Kacheek was talking about. Her mind cast back to the distraught young boy, Flotsam and Kyrii they had seen just before.

     "No, sir. I believe you. There is an animal scaring the tourists away. But why have we only just heard of it? Surely we should have been informed, at least through word of mouth. The Beast of Bodmin has had more publicity than this! How can a 'monster' that has totally ruined the industry of an island be so little-known, sir?"

     The Kacheek mumbled something under his breath.

     "I'm sorry? I didn't hear you."

     "I said the witnesses were blackmailed. Bribed and blackmailed to keep their mouths shut to stop word spreading like wildfire."

     "But you couldn't stop the witnesses telling their friends and family for fear of them meeting their fate on the Island. And they told their friends and family. And their friends and family. It's like putting a drop of ink in a clear cistern."

     Saf stood up, the chair scraping beneath her. "I don't think you realise how serious an offence this is, sir. What if someone had become seriously hurt by this animal in the woods? What then? Saved a bit of business still, did you?"

     She turned and marched to the door, throwing her words over her shoulder. "We're giving you 24 hours to put right your wrongs. Go and warn the people now, and alert the papers, otherwise the NSPA will be forced to intervene."

     And with that she clucked her tongue for her Snarhook, Ambron, to follow, slammed the office door, leaving the Desert Kacheek a mass of nerves, lost in his own mangled thoughts of how he was to tell his ex-customers their lives could be at stake.

***

Saf met up with her friend on the outskirts of the Mystery Island Market, who sat on a bench chewing happily on a hot dog.

     "Solved it then?"

     "Not quite," grumbled Saf.

     "Rats. I hoped I was gonna have an easy mission."

     "What, where you didn't do anything? I did all the work?"

     "Aye. Pretty much." She lifted herself off the seat and sauntered happily along the road with her, the sun gently warming her face.

     "The Kacheek's off the hook. Apparently he only used the Island Mystic story as a cover-up for the fact that the figures for the Island tourism department were dropping. And why? Because there was a monster in the woods scaring away his customers."

     Angel bristled her fur, picturing the head of a Skeith on the monster's body. "Just like that little boy. Hmmm. Mebees this is just a little more serious than I thought."

     "Always is. Anyway, I told him to apologise to his customers and get them off the island, ASAP."

     "Mmmmhmmm."

     "And I also contacted Angle, who thinks we should stay here and follow up an investigation on this monster."

     "Mmmmhmmm."

     "And then aliens came through the roof, abducted me and replaced my brain with a thick wad of smelly cheese."

     "Mmmmhmmm."

     "You haven't been listening to a word I've been saying, have you?"

     "Uh?"

     Saf blocked Angel's way playfully, jerking her out of a zombie-like trance brought on by the excessive heat and making her trip over her own paws. "What's with you? I was talking to Jen a little while ago. She said you were walking about like a zombie on horse tranquillisers the last time you came to Mystery Island. Is there anything wrong?"

     Angel squinted at her, bleary-eyed. "Nope. Nope. Nothing's wrong. I just really like this place."

     "What?"

     "Y'know. Mystery Island. The whole place is always so alive, so welcoming... and those mountains."

     "What mountains?"

     She sighed like someone about to admit to a terrible crime kept under wraps for a lifetime. "Last time I came here, me and Jen found Rincham, right?"

     "Your Kougra brother? Yeah. So?"

     "Well, on the night he decided to join us there was a horrible storm, and we intercepted Malkus Vile and his cohorts talking about capturing him over the Heart-Charm Contact. I ran ahead, thinking I could outrun them. And then... then I saw the mountains. Those huge mountain peaks shadowing an abyss that it seemed would take a lifetime to reach. I don't know what it was, but against every will I had - the will to help Rin, and to save him - I turned from the path and started to run in the direction of the mountains. It took every ounce of my strength and willpower to drag myself from the sight of the mountains and back towards Rincham. And to this day I still don't know why I wanted to see those mountains. Or what was beyond them."

     Saf was silent for a while, then gave her a supportive and reassuring look. "Don't worry about it. Maybe if we finish this mission, and if Angle's in the very best of moods, we can go up to those mountains and find out exactly what drew you in there. But for now let's concentrate on finding this creature, shall we?"

     Angel nodded and chatted back jokingly. "Aye. Why not? Certainly shouldn't be as bad as the lgasho incident last Halloween, should it?"

     Saf never got any opportunity to answer that, as suddenly a Flotsam skidded round the corner and bowled Angel over onto the ground.

     "So sorry, Miss," he apologised, shaking himself and almost immediately starting to run again.

     Angel jumped to her feet. "Woah. Woah. Hey, what's the rush?"

     "There's a fight! Between that monster we saw earlier today and some Kougra. I've gotta find Ewan and get offa this Island!"

To be continued...


Author's Note: Can you guess what it is yet? Next week, Angel engages in a vicious duel with the 'monster' of Mystery Island.

I love to know the audience's opinions on my stories, so if you have any compliments, criticisms, whatnot, send 'em on in!

Previous Episodes

Dragonmist: Part One

Dragonmist: Part Two

Dragonmist: Part Three

Dragonmist: Part Four

Dragonmist: Part Five

Dragonmist: Part Seven

Dragonmist: Part Eight

Dragonmist: Part Nine

Dragonmist: Part Ten

Dragonmist: Part Eleven

Dragonmist: Part Twelve

Dragonmist: Part Thirteen

Dragonmist: Part Fourteen

Dragonmist: Part Fifteen

Dragonmist: Part Sixteen

Dragonmist: Part Seventeen

Dragonmist: Part Seventeen

Dragonmist: Part Eighteen

Dragonmist: Part Nineteen

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