The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Lost Lizark - Part Five
A crowd of archaeologists, reporters, and photographers gathered around the Eyrie cab. As soon as Raia, Luna, Charlie, and I stepped out of the base station, some of the media rounded on us. Cameras flashed, hand-held tape recorders were shoved into our faces.
“Petpet Detectives! How does it feel knowing that your partner has been framed for the disappearance of a Lizark in the surrounding area?”
“Do you have any leads?”
“If Damien isn’t proven innocent, will you quit the detective business?”
Raia stepped forward, paws out. “I’ve told you all that the Petpet Detectives have nothing to say!” she exclaimed, looking exasperated. The smiles began to slip from their faces, and the group began to disperse at the sight of a fuming Wocky and a no-comment detective team.
Raia blushed. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea the press would be here! I told them days ago that you were not to be bothered, but I guess they got a little out of hand.”
“That’s okay. We didn’t realize Felix’s arrival was such a big event,” said Luna.
“Neither did I,” was Raia’s reply. “I’m stunned as to how they knew about this before we did.”
“Felix didn’t specify when he’d be back?” Luna asked, her casual tone colored with suspicion.
The brown Wocky shook her head no. “He just said he had business to take care of.”
Now that Felix’s cab had landed, the crowd of Neopians all had their cameras at-the-ready and thumbs on the ‘record’ button. As soon as the cab door swung open and an island Draik wearing glasses and an exhausted expression started down the steps, the cameras began flashing again.
Kale was among the crowd. The red Lutari turned to us briefly and gave a sheepish wave. I remembered what he had said about ‘where the wind was blowing’. The Head Archaeologist’s arrival was definitely the place to be for a newspaper team.
Felix brushed past the crowd of protesting reporters without a word and he and Raia started into the base station with the three of us in hot pursuit.
“Felix, these are the detectives you’ve heard about,” Raia said, and she introduced us. “They have some important things to discuss with you.”
The island Draik looked up at us wearily. “Ah, yes. Forgive me, I am very tired from the trip and the chaos that has ensued. Please come into my study.” His voice was thin and reedy, matching the rest of his body. He motioned for us to follow him, carrying his suitcase in one arm and jacket in the other.
Felix’s study was at the end of the hall and to the left, past the numerous other bedrooms, closets, and bathrooms. The Draik unlocked the door and we stepped inside, taking a seat in the two chairs across from his desk. The walls were covered with art, but nothing modern. The floor was dark wood in lieu of stone and the walls were painted a soft blue.
As Felix set his briefcase down and made himself comfortable in the swivel chair, Luna turned to a fresh page in her notepad. Felix took a moment. He stifled a yawn and folded his hands across the table. “What can I help you with? And what did you say your names were again?”
“Marlo,” I said, offering a paw to formally introduce myself, “and this is Luna and Charlie. We would like to ask you a few questions.”
“If it is necessary,” said Felix, with a sigh.
“On the third night of the month of Hunting -- during Geraptiku’s Annual Festival -- a Lizark was stolen and our partner Damien was framed.”
“Yes, yes,” said Felix. “This much I know.”
“And you were in Neopia Central?”
“Why?” asked Luna.
Felix squirmed uncharacteristically. “I was organizing a fundraiser.”
“The night of the festival?” Charlie inquired.
“It was for the festival.”
While it was odd that the fundraiser for the event took place the exact time of the event, I nodded my feathery head quickly, making Charlie bob up and down. His grip tightened on my ear.
“How long have you been an archaeologist here?” Luna wanted to know.
Felix thought about it. “It’s going on fourteen years on Mystery Island, five years as Head.”
“Were you born here? And your parents?” asked Luna.
The island Draik twitched, but perhaps just at the suddenness of her question. He laughed and adjusted his glasses. “I—I’m not sure what that has to do with--”
“Just curious,” said the shadow Yurble, saving herself. “I find the whole Geraptikan lineage thing fascinating.” She paused. “So... are you?”
I stepped on her foot and she held back a wince.
“Am I what?” Felix echoed, confused.
“A descendent of one of the Geraptikans?” chirped Luna.
“Yes, yes,” said Felix. “I am of the Geraptikan bloodline. Quite proud, as you might imagine, as there are so few of us still living. But Geraptiku has been lost for many years, crumbled beneath my family and when I was very young. I don’t remember much of it.” He drew in a deep breath, chest puffing out with pride. “I suppose that is why I became an archaeologist. I not only wanted to discover the pasts of others, but of myself.”
“Have you had any luck?” Charlie asked.
“Oh yes,” said Felix happily. “Several miles from here lies a tomb, called the ‘deserted tomb’ for lack of a proper name. I have discovered a treasure in its underground tunnels far greater than I could have ever imagined.”
I found myself leaning forward. “Gold? Jewels?”
“No,” Felix answered with a small smile. “A tree.”
My muscles began to relax. “A tree?”
“A family tree.”
My heart jumped excitedly. I exchanged awed glances with Luna. “You mean to say that there is a depiction of all of the Geraptikans somewhere in this deserted tomb?”
Felix nodded. “I spent every day there for weeks, trying to find my own history. My name is on the wall, along with my parents. It was most enlightening.”
“It’s crucial that we go and see this wall,” I said. “Is there any way that is possible?”
“I’m afraid not,” said the island Draik. I felt a pang of disappointment and watched Luna’s shoulders slump at the news. “We still don’t know much about the tomb and it is very dangerous. We are prohibited from putting anyone outside of the archaeological community at risk, and even then there are only a few of us with permission to enter.” Felix cocked his head to the side. “I am curious as to why you would need to visit the tomb to solve the case.”
“We believe Damien was attacked by someone with natural magical abilities,” said Luna as if she were talking about something like the weather.
I stepped on her foot again and this time she kicked me back.
“Ah,” said Felix. “Like a shaman? I’m sorry, but you must be mistaken. While it is true that some Geraptikans possessed an incredible magical ability, it is unlikely that it still exists. Nowaah contrayent was the term used in the ancient language, controlling the magic. Using a magical item is one thing, but creating it is another.”
“There must be a way we can see the wall you’ve spoken of in the deserted tomb,” Luna said quickly.
“I will let you know if I can make any arrangements,” Felix replied, “but the outcome will likely be negative.”
After that Felix proclaimed his tiredness from traveling and we took the hint. I tried to keep my front professional but inside I was seething. How on Neopia did the Defenders expect us to solve this case when the main clue was dangling above us, peevishly close but yet still out of reach?
As soon as we were out the door and down the hall, Luna wheeled around and poked me in the chest. “What is up with you?”
“Me?!” I exclaimed. “You were the one blurting out all of our leads like that!”
“Well, I got some answers, didn’t I?” the shadow Yurble remarked harshly. “We don’t have time to beat around the bush. Besides, we have bigger things to focus on, such as finding a way to access that wall of descendents. If Damien really is positive that the cloaked figure we’re looking for has a natural magical gift, then this could be how we solve the case!”
“Felix seems really convinced that we’re not looking for a shaman,” said Charlie, and I could hear the concern in his voice.
I was worried about that statement, too. “Yeah, but we either have to trust Felix or Damien, and Damien said he was positive about the shaman thing.”
Luna exhaled slowly. “I sure hope so.”
When we went to visit Damien to tell him all about the Head Archaeologist and the wall of Geraptikan descendents, he looked wearier than ever.
“Have you been sleeping well? Are they feeding you enough?” asked Luna, squinting at him. There were dark circles under the Aisha’s eyes.
Damien waved a paw. “I’m fine. Really. Just a little tired.” He glanced out his small window at the afternoon sun. “For the first few days I was so restless, all of this built up energy. And now I’m just always tired like I’ve run a marathon or something... but it’s okay, really,” he said, still endeavoring to reassure Luna, “it’s not so bad.”
I smirked. “Am I the only one who finds this situation a teensy-weensy bit amusing?” Luna shot me an icy glare.
Damien’s eyebrows rose. “Huh?”
“Let’s see...” I began, enjoying my moment of fun. “In this case, you’re being wrongfully imprisoned. Several months ago you were tied up in some wacko’s closet and then impersonated. In the Lost Desert, you were bitten by a poisonous Wadjet while we were exploring the Sakhmetian caves. You were almost eaten by a Maraquan Krawk in Kiko Lake, and let’s not forget being trapped in that sinking boat right off Krawk Island.”
“No fair!” Damien exclaimed. “Luna and Charlie were there for that one, too.”
Charlie laughed. “While that may be true, you tend to land right in the middle of trouble.”
“I think he’s cursed,” I said, with a wink.
“All right, all right, I can take a joke,” said Damien, swatting at me through the bars of his dungeon. “Now get outside and find some clues. I think I’m going to go crazy in here!”
As we stepped out of the small building, Raia almost plowed into us. The brown Wocky looked up, panting, not pausing to apologize.
“I’m glad I found you!”
“Raia, what’s wrong?” Luna demanded.
We had noticed that she looked rather upset, her face creased with fright. “The tents in region five,” she managed to say. “They’re... they’re on fire!”
To be continued...