The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Traded Turdle - Part Five
"So he claims that King Skarl hates him? Is that really
what he said?" Damien chuckled and popped a Conkerberry into his mouth.
Luna and I arrived back at the Meridell castle
to find Damien and Charlie still sampling some of Meridell's finest foods. The
file regarding the Turdle Races was hidden safely back in our room. Luna just
repeated everything Tavi had said (which wasn't much) and how he thought that
the King was planning to fire him.
"That's really what he said," I confirmed Damien's
question. "He was a strange one, that Pteri. One minute he seemed too casual
and the next paranoid as ever."
"Do you really think King Skarl would be so unfair
to one of his workers?" asked Charlie. "From what you've told me I don't buy
anything Tavi's said."
"I don't think any of us do, Charlie."
Sensing that there wasn't much to do around the
castle or mingle about with the residents, the four of us planned to wander
around Meridell before the Turdle Races began.
The red-cloaked figure could feel the excitement
running through his veins and detect a slight whiff of anxiety stirring in the
Turdle Races crowd. Some of the Neopets looked familiar and others new to him.
The four detectives were seated on the bleachers and the shadow Yurble was speaking
rapidly to her comrades.
He was carefully hidden behind the Turdle Pen,
very keen not to make any noise or draw attention to himself. The Turdles were
in the room next to the Neopet (along with possibly someone else) so at the
time the figure was avoiding attention. He knew that just two more races excluding
this one and his plan would be complete. He was sure that it would carry through
without any flaws.
But those detectives were getting warmer. They
had already spoken to some of his colleagues at the arena and gone snooping
in Skarl's castle. The figure knew that there was no way that he could let them
discover the truth. There was nothing he wouldn't do to stop them.
From the stands the crowd burst into cheer waving
blue and red Meridell flags with the number '5' printed on them. Turdle number
5 just won another race, his second in today's event. I was probably the only
one who wasn't clapping. Damien, next to me, applauded half-heartedly but a
frown formed on his face. The second race had ended and the third would be commencing
in ten minutes time.
"This is insane." Luna nudged me, "How in Neopia
could one Turdle get so good merely overnight?"
"If we knew the answer to that, Luna," I replied,
"we probably could have solved this mystery by now."
Charlie was sitting on the top of my head, his
green arm raised to see in the sun. "Hey, Marlo!" he said, pointing towards
the Turdle Pen area. "Look at that guy over there, in the red cloak. What do
you suppose he's up to?"
I turned my head to the left and saw a Neopet
standing to the edge of the barn's side door, carrying something under his cloak.
It was obvious he was trying to be discreet but the four of us knew better than
to think that. My impulse was to stand up and fly after him and I almost did
but Luna pulled on my paw.
"Wait until after the race," she whispered. So
I could only watch him disappear into the edge of the forest until he was out
of sight. It was strange and the red-cloaked figure stirred up some questions
in my head.
"Please take your seats," the announcer's
voice boomed over the loudspeakers. "Race number three is about to begin."
I glanced over at the Turdle Pen to see that
the red figure was gone. I checked the betting stands. Tavi was sitting at his
normal post with wings crossed and looking a bit on-edge. Bryce the Techo was
bringing the Turdles out again for their final race and Slade--
Where was Slade?
"Guys, where'd Slade go?" I asked, swiveling
my head around in hope to see him in the stands.
"Slade?" echoed Damien. "He was sitting across
from us a minute ago." But there was an empty seat in the stands across from
us, where the blue Draik used to be.
I knew we were all thinking the same thing: Was
Slade the Neopet in the red cloak? And what was the figure doing sneaking into
the forest with something hidden? Sadly, we would have to wait until after the
last race to find out.
Bryce blew his silver whistle and the Turdles
in the center of the ring struggled to be the first out. It felt like I had
watched them do this countless times but each one was important. After a few
moments Bryce blew the whistle again and one of the Turdles was out of the ring.
It was Turdle number 1.
"What a surprise!" The announcer went
crazy, "Turdle number 5 seems to have… fallen asleep." And sure enough
there was the big winner: sleeping in the middle of the arena. "Let's hope
that Turdle number 5 will get some rest and continue to please the crowd. Thank
you coming to today's Turdle Races!"
There was a loud groan from the crowd and disappointment
lingered in the air. As the Neopets around us stood up and departed I noticed
Slade was back in the stands, grinning.
We were the last ones to leave and just as we
did so, I began to put the puzzle together. The figure in the cloak disappeared
carrying something with him… something that I could not see from the stands.
The final race of the day Turdle number 5, who seemed so pumped up, fell asleep
in front of everyone. Something definitely wasn't right and this mystery was
getting more complex by the minute.
Making up my mind, I started off towards the
forest. "Marlo!" Luna called after me, "Where are you going?"
"To find some answers," I replied, storming past
the Turdle Pen. Realizing that she couldn't persuade me to come back to the
castle, Luna started to catch up closely followed by Damien and Charlie. I pushed
through the thick layer of overgrowth to squeeze into the forest. The trees
were so vast and thick that no sunlight came through.
"There has to be something here," I said, pushing
a few branches out of the way.
"Care to explain what makes you say that?" Damien
I sighed and began, "Turdle number 5 won two
races today. We saw a heavily clothed figure; impossible to tell what gender
or species he or she was, hanging around the Turdle Pen. The figure disappears
with something under its cloak. He or she inconspicuously disappears into this
area right here," I pointed to the ground, "and at the final race Turdle number
5 falls asleep. Tell me, does that seem strange? Because it better NOT be just
me who thinks so…"
"It's a good theory," agreed Luna. "And I'm assuming
you think the thing under the figure's cloak was--"
"The fake Turdle number 5," Charlie finished.
"So the real Turdle number five would throw the race."
"Exactly," I beamed, as though expecting applause.
There was a long moment of silence, and the three other detectives just stared
at me. Perplexed by their expressionless faces, I asked, "Well?"
"Marlo," Luna said softly, "There's nothing here."
I looked around. True. There were only trees,
grass and bare bushes. Not an ideal place to hide a Turdle. But I wasn't about
to give up my theory.
Damien piped up, "Maybe we should get back to
the castle. Perhaps run the theory by Skarl and see what he thinks about your
idea? I mean, cloaked figures and hidden Turdles is a little… out there."
"Fine," I reluctantly agreed, "but you have to
admit… it's a possibility."
"I'll meet you there," said Luna. "I'd like to
play a few round of Kiss the Mortog before it's too late."
"Cool, I'll go with you," I offered.
Luna looked over at me and raised an eyebrow.
"I thought you hated that game?"
"Nah," I answered, "I wouldn't pass up a chance
to see when you pick the wrong one and it explodes in your face."
"Hah!" Luna exclaimed. "Yeah right."
Luna was right… again. She's almost always right,
She and I arrived at Kiss the Mortog while Damien
and Charlie went back to the castle. The shadow Yurble had already played five
games winning each one. It was getting to the point where the Kacheek Prince
was sick of being rescued. Luna didn't quit; she was on a roll and never wasted
I watched her, for the eighth time, size up the
two Mortogs, listen to them and weigh them. She picked the uglier one on the
right and kissed it. Its skin started to stretch and a familiar gold light burst
from it. A Kacheek Prince replaced the strange Mortog.
"Thank you for rescuing me," he said, in a rather
monotonous tone and his face was expressionless. Luna beamed, despite the fact
that she had heard him say it a million times today.
"Okay, you know what? My turn." I gained a bit
of courage and put fifty neopoints down on the table. The Grundo retrieved two
Mortogs and I picked them up, like Luna did. I weighed them, like Luna did.
And I listened to them, like Luna did. Without much thought I quickly kissed
the one on the right and waited.
His eyes started to bulge and his green skin
expanded. However, I did not see a burst of warm light coming from its body.
Instead, a foul-smelling red and green slime exploded all over my face and the
Mortog in my hands was gone. Luna giggled. I snatched away the towel that the
Grundo offered me,
"Tough luck, sir."
I nodded courteously to the Grundo and glanced
towards Luna, "You make it look so easy." Wiping the bits of slime from my white
feathers and beak, we headed back to the castle.
Moments after we stepped inside, past the Eyrie
guards and over the drawbridge, Skarl started over to us as if he was expecting
"Good afternoon," he said in tone that could
please anyone. "I've spoken with your other two members and just wanted to inform
you that there would be a dinner for anyone who works within the castle grounds
tomorrow evening. You aren't expected to bring anything; it will be provided
for you. It's my way of saying thank you for your hard work."
"Sounds good, thanks," said Luna, turning to
"Seven o'clock is when the caterers will bring
the food. It will be in the main dining room; down the hall and to the left,"
the King pointed. "Since this is a rather, err, upper class dinner you will
be expected to dress for the occasion. Thus, I've assigned a six thirty time
for you tomorrow to be fitted into your dress clothes. I hope to see you tomorrow
evening." Skarl started off down the hall, his red velvet robes following behind
"Dress clothes?" I mouthed to Luna.
"Tomorrow at seven? Oh, we'll be there all right,"
she said, eyes narrowed. "You can count on that."
To be continued...