Acemane Homely and the King's Diamond
He was an odd one, Mister Homely, never seeming to be able to stop using that brilliantly complicated mind of his. He seemed always to be thinking of something, deducing some fact about something or another, no doubt! Why, I recall one time where he solved a crime in his dream! Of course he proceeded to wake me up blabbering nonsense to my sleeping self. For a genius he certainly seemed to be a fool sometimes. Oh well, you have no idea what I'm talking about so let me start from the beginning. I now recount to you the case of Acemane Homely and the King's Diamond
It was a normal day in the land of Brightvale; smells of berries and potions filled the air as the Neopians went about their daily lives. One Neopian, a Draik, lounged about in his armchair thinking. Suddenly, but not surprisingly, a knock came about his door. The Draik arose from his chair to greet his undoubtedly needy guest. On his way to the door he peered out the window to see a curious looking carriage pulled aside his home. As he opened his door, the stranger almost immediately began to come inside and he seated himself on the couch.
"Mister Homely, I am in great need of your help," the Yurble stated, almost frightened by his own words. "But this matter is of utmost importance so please forgive me, now, for asking that you give a small demonstration of this gift people say so much about."
Homely seemed as if he were staring into oblivion. The stranger waited for a moment before speaking up. "Well–" The stranger was immediately cut off by Homely. "You are a simple man with no need for extravagance, but your wife prefers for you to look as if you do. You are undoubtedly in the King's service; a high ranking official. You often spend your time Turdle racing and kissing Mortogs, and, I won't tell your wife, but, you often spend a good amount of Neopoints playing Round Table Poker. The matter you've come about is something that has made you so desperate that you would come to Brightvale to look for help, but yet so embarrassing that you wouldn't go to the Brightvale Guard to find it. And the fact that you, one Yurble, is here is fact enough for me to believe that it was you who slipped up. Money enough for a private carriage and the finest attire, I'd say you have the salary of the Royal Minister of Banking. Plus the vaults are really the only thing that could cause such a ruckus. So, how is it that you allowed the vaults to be infiltrated, and what exactly was stolen?" Homely sat back in his chair with a satisfied smirk on his face as he stared at the dumbfounded Yurble.
"So, are you ready to tell me why you're here?" Homely said after a few seconds of enjoying the look on the Yurble's face.
"I– I! Yes, sir, but how did you know all that?" was the Yurble's terrified reply.
Homely, undoubtedly wanting to impress our new friend, obliged his request. "Your jacket is covered in crumbs and dabbled with stains. No man who thinks highly of his appearance would wear something so fancy, yet so maimed. So, obviously your wife takes as good of care of you as she can manage. Your carriage has Meridellian flags on it so obviously you're a high ranking official, but what official you were is what took me a moment to deduce. Ticket stub from a Turdle race sticking out of your left pocket; stains on your shirt from exploding Mortogs. At this point I could bet that you probably liked to do some things that didn't involve your wife and her dignity being projected onto you, and I had deduced already that you enjoyed the occasional gamble, so it wasn't a stretch to guess that you might often play poker. The rest I believe I made sufficiently clear. So I ask you once again; what was stolen from the vaults and how?" Homely, once again very satisfied, leaned back in his chair with his smirk.
"You really exceed the tales, don't you, Mister Homely?" the Yurble said with a nervous gulp. "To start off; my name is Felix Wendell. I am, as you say, Royal Minister of Banking in the King's Palace. I oversee the placement of the guards, their shifts, the vault checks, the person allowed near the vaults, everything pertaining to those vaults is my responsibility. To start, we have a guard at the entrance to the King's Throne Room, another next to the entrance to the Hall of Vaults, four patrolling all throughout the rooms at set distances and times, and one in front of each vault door. Furthermore, there are four vaults but only one of them actually has any treasure in it. Each time the vault is accessed we change the vault the treasure is in, and once weekly we have a crew check all the vaults to ensure everything is in order; inside and out. Even if a man got into the Hall of Vaults and somehow knew which vault was the correct one, it would be impossible to get into it without some guard noticing it. Just impossible. Mister Homely I can't see one flaw in my security; not one! Please help me, sir." Felix, now seeming almost as if he was going to cry, put his face in his hands and awaited Homely's response.
"Dear sir, did you come all the way out here to make me listen to you drone on about your security for no reasons or was someone actually clever enough to infiltrate it?" Holmes inquired sharply.
He has little patience when it comes to extraneous activities like "worry" and "sadness" and, most devilish of them all, "happiness". He sees himself above all that "muckish feel-y stuff". I know better, though; I see him when he has just solved a case; the joy he gets from it. Boy, he just lights up with pride and happiness. One day he'll realize the value of emotion. But for today he'll continue to be the Homely he always has been.
"Yes, yes; of course, sir. Th-the King's diamond was stolen; that's the most precious single jewel there is in this kingdom! It is the most precious jewel to the King and he is furious about it's theft. He told me that if I do not recover it then he will remove me from my position. And sir my wife, and chil–" Homely cut him off again. "You say the Diamond was the only thing that was stolen?"
"Yes, sir, the only thing stolen," Felix responded quietly. "Is that of significance, sir?"
"Very interesting," Homely said with such intrigue. "We will take the case! Hurry back to your home before your wife misses you and we will be down to inspect the vaults tomorrow afternoon. Good day to you, Mister Wendell." Homely rushed our new client out quickly thus leaving me to inquire as to why he did so.
"What's the matter, Homely? Are you onto something?"
"It is not a problem with security measure, it is a problem, I believe, with his personnel, but I cannot know for sure until I investigate on the 'morrow. But why would the thief only steal one jewel? He must have been able to carry at least two. I must think on this matter more." And with that he retired to his chambers.
A curious creature is Mister Homely. His mind has the ability to distill all information into their simplest, most essential facts. He wades through a sea of insignificance and yet finds things of value and importance. Certainly, he was born to deduce.
I went about the rest of my day, after all, I do have a life outside of Aceman Homely. I work as a nurse at a little shop called Brightvale Physicianry. It's not that bad of a job, especially after I lost my other one, but, I'm sorry, no one is reading this to hear about my life; this is his story and so it shall continue.
On the next morning, Homely was buzzing about his business – whatever that was! He had some maps hung on the wall; I think some schematics. Fyora knows where he found those! He must have been up much earlier than me to have found all this without me. And even amidst his curious silence, coupled with his odd gestures and expressions, our precious landlady, Mrs. Wuckson, brought him tea and breakfast without fail. She was a king old Wocky; Good humored and sweet. She never seemed to find a good time to interrupt Aceman's contemplations, though. Poor lady always talked at the wrong time and Homely was always so unpleasant to her. Underneath it all I think they love each other like grandma and grandson, or, I know Mrs. Wuckson loves him at least. At any rate, aside from Homely's early rise, this morning was fairly usual.
"Good morning, Jon." Homely across the room without even looking to see if I was there.
"Good morning, Acemane. What is it that you're working on?" I said as if straining courteously.
"You see, Jon," he spoke up, not missing a beat. "Last night I was presumptuous. The man did not tell us everything we needed to know. We must go to the castle and see for ourselves. To accurately think as a criminal, I also must be able to work with exactly what the criminal worked with. It will take us some time to get to the castle so I suggest that we make preparations to leave." And with that he stood from his chair, handed me my coat, and walked out the door.
I scarfed down a crumpet and some tea as I made haste to the door. In my haste, as I walked out the door, I bumped into Mister Homely. Without turning or giving me any notice he said, "Fetch us a carriage, Jon. I'm still thinking." I knew he had that smile he always has. "Hurry now, we've no time to lose with a diamond on the loose!"
The Draik was very socially unacceptable. I don't think he was intentionally self-serving, but he did come off that way. It is my opinion that he ranked the importance of all tasks and objectively viewed them so as to decide if it was worth his energies to do it. This comes so naturally to him that when people try to impose their illogical ideas of social acceptability the poor Draik is utterly confused.
Don't think he's stupid, though, either. He undoubtedly knows these social rules are there, but he chooses to break them almost as a way to remind everyone that he's something special. Or that he knows better than the rest of us. It would be aggravating if it wasn't so true. After a while I began to not just tolerate his way of thinking, but understand and emulate it. So, with some resentment, I went out and found a carriage to take us to the Meridellian Palace.
Upon arriving, we were let loose into a veritable sea of Neopians. We walked along the drawbridge into the castle and saw children playing, a prisoner being released, carts traveling in and out. It seemed much more active than Brightvale. I couldn't decide if it was a good thing or a bad thing.
We walked into the castle and immediately saw our client, Felix Wendell, eagerly awaiting our arrival. His face seemed to nervously light up at the sight of our arrival.
"Come right this way, sirs. Oh, uhh, and thank you for meeting me here. It's been a hard couple of days for all of us." He walked us through the doors into the Throne Room. Felix and the King exchanged looks as we walked in and the guards moved their spears to allow us entrance into the Hall of Vaults.
"This is it," said Felix. "This is the Hall of Vaults. As you can see, here, the walls are made of solid stone; the floors, are stone covered in marble, and each vault is made of stone akin to the walls and floor."
"Hmm, and you say you get these vaults checked out recently? Now, which vault is it that has all the treasure?" Homely said curiously. "Well, actually, I do prefer a challenge so allow me to find out." Upon saying this, Homely left the Hall of Vaults and headed toward the main gate. Naturally, I followed along curious as ever to see the Draik at work.
"Excuse me, sir," Homely said to start a conversation with a guard. "I'm not from around here, and I certainly wouldn't want to be, but I am here on business. Could you please direct me to the dunghill you call the Hall of Vaults?"
"Acemane..." I interjected to try to shut him up.
"Dung'ill you say? Why, I fink I can diwect you in the right diwection, sir," the intimidating Skeith replied back. His dialect was clearly that of an uneducated Meridellian.
"How can you possibly tell one dunghill from the other?" Homely replied smugly. "They all seem to look the same to me. But maybe you can't point. It's obvious that you're not educated so it wouldn't be a stretch to guess that maybe you're not even capable of pointing."
"ACEMANE!" I shouted. "Are you trying to get us thrown into the dungeons?!"
"Da dungeons, eh? Your skinny fwiend makes a good point. Hehehe. Ay, I'll fwow you into da dungeons if dats a good enough dung'ill for you," the Skeith said with a smirk as he grabbed our arms and pulled us.
"I am not with him!" I screamed as if it would make a difference in the oaf's mind. It didn't work. Even if I was telling the truth the idiot was too thickheaded to care.
We were taken inside the castle to a staircase not but a few feet behind Kayla's Potion Shop. We were dragged down the stairs and into the dampest, stinkiest, dirtiest, nastiest, worst place ever. Literally the worst place I've been in, or ever will be in.
The walls were made of a cobblestone, as were the floors. The darkness was too deep for me to even see the ceiling. Each cell seemed smaller than the last. The doors were of wood; blocking most light and trapping the most putrid smells.
"By Fyora!" I said, enraged. "You must be as dense as Brick Cheese, Acemane! Your head is as thick as a Conkerberry and your brain has been made into a Bucket of Slops! What in Neopia could possibly make getting us thrown in a good idea? Sometimes you are insufferable. Just insuff –" I was cut off by Homely as seems to be his custom.
"Do you ever shut up, Jon? Fyora! If you would take but a moment to observe, everything would be made clear to you," was Homely's insensitive reply.
"I have no interest in playing your games, Acemane! For once you should maybe play the part of a decent Neopian and tell me what in all of Kreludor we're doing here!"
"Where are we in the Castle, Jon?" he began in a whispered tone. "We're in the dungeons, yes, but what is above us? The Hall of Vaults, Jon. The vaults are above us. One of these cells is directly underneath the vault that holds the treasure. Which means, Waterson, that we may be in the very presence of the man who holds the diamond."
"That's brilliant. Acemane! Th-the diamond! It's here! Hahahaha! We've done it!" I was ecstatic.
"Shhh! Not so loud, Watterson! You'll let everyone in the castle know! Besides, it's doubtful that the crook is still here. It's not impossible, though, so do keep your voice down please."
"You're right. You're right. So what's the plan here?" I asked, trying to keep myself hushed.
"We must get Felix down here and talk to him about our theory. Upon talking to him I hope to prove my theory correct." Homely shouted for the guard to come and upon his arrival said, "Sir, if you wouldn't mind I would ask that you get Sir Felix, Prime Minister of Banking, to come down here."
"Ha! Fat chance, mate. No favors." The guard was stubborn, but Homely isn't esteemed as a genius for no reason.
"Sir, it appears to me that there is nothing for you to lose by my request. It is my belief that Felix would be very interested in what I have to say seeing that I am a private sleuth hired by him and I now know the whereabouts of the King's diamond! Being the guard that brings this news to Felix may warrant a promotion from the depths of this dungeon, eh?" And upon hearing that the guard was gone to speak the news to Felix as quickly as the buffoon could run.
Felix arrived as quickly as he could to talk to Acemane.
"Do you have it? Is it safe? Please, it must be returned!" Felix couldn't stop talking as if he was a giddy Neopian girl who had just met Hanso.
"I suppose perhaps I was slightly misleading. I would ask you to please release us from our shackles and let us have a look around these cells. I had the crime solved upon entering into the Castle and would like to show you exactly how the culprit pulled off his crime."
Felix had the guard unlock the door and they let us out. Acemane went in and out of cells checking for something that he was too proud to tell us about.
"I FOUND IT!" Homely cried as if he had found millions of Neopoints, which, in the form of a diamond, we thought he might have. Upon walking into the cell I noticed no real difference from the others. It was dark, damp, smelly, and slightly dirtier than some of the others we had been in.
"This is it! Look, Jon!" There was a curious patch of cobble that seemed to catch Homely's eye.
"It doesn't look like a diamond to me!" I said. "Nor does it look like a solution to our mystery."
"Oh Jon, you are always so sure of yourself. This is where we find the answer to the robbery and to who the thief is. See, the Neopian who was last in this cell is the culprit!" Acemane said as if Fyora herself came down and told him the solution.
Naturally, I was skeptical as to how a bit of cobblestone could be the answer to the whole mystery. So, I inquired of Acemane
"How exactly is it that you can prove this, Homely?" I said with a bit of disbelief.
"I'm so glad that you asked! You and Felix must pay close attention to this, Jon. Right above this little pile of stones is a small hole in the ceiling; for, where else could it have come from? I will bet to you that straight above this is some sort of entrance right into the vault with the treasure. Wait, who was in this cell last? Felix! Guard! Who was in this cell? We must find him before he gets away! What was his name?"
Felix called the guards and, upon a moment of recollection, they told him that it was a blue Korbat by the name of Jared Clarke who had been this cell's most recent inhabitant and he had been released two hours ago.
"Yes! It all makes sense, Jon. Felix says he has a crew come in weekly and inspect the vaults. What's the name of that crew? Felix! Quickly!"
"It's the uhhh, Meridell Repair and Construction Company; why? It's a group of a bunch of Neopets. They're the best in all Meridell; you can't think they had anything to do with this?" Felix responded, perplexed.
"Felix, summon the guards, get them to search this ceiling for an entrance into the vaults and send men out to Meridell Repair and Construction Company right away and get men to Jared Clarke's house right away! The diamond is close. I estimate you'll find it before the day's over. For now, Jon and I can do nothing more to help you. Please do inform us of your progress and if there is anything more we might do please contact us. We will be returning to Brightvale now."
And with that Felix went to work and we just went home. It seems kind of anticlimactic to me, especially in light of the things that come later, but I should leave those stories for another time.
Upon returning to our home, we had a few good conversations about whether we thought the Meridell Guard could handle the task of finding a diamond by themselves and we ultimately concluded that there might be no worse hands for this diamond's fate to rest in. That conclusion was only bolstered when we heard news from Felix.
Felix told us that he did find the crook. He was, as Acemane theorized, a part of the Meridell Repair and Construction Company. Him and his whole team were in on it, actually. They installed a trap panel door in one of the vaults and planned to be arrested just to sneak up in there and steal the treasure. It was slightly genius.
The only problem was that there was no diamond to be found. The King's Diamond was gone. At the time we received this news they had questioned Jared Clarke and his whole crew for three hours with no response. The only thing they would say was, "I'm guilty."
The Meridell Guard continued the search for the King's Diamond even though they had no idea where they could find it. And it was upon the 'morrow of the next day that we received a curious package.
"Acemane, are you expecting something in the mail? We just got a package and I don't know if it's yours or not."
Acemane didn't respond so I shouted again. "ACEMANE! PACKAGE!"
It obviously wasn't his because he was ignoring me. So, I thought I'd go ahead and give it an open. I opened the box up and brushed aside some flowers and saw it. The King's Diamond. I dropped the box in utter shock and fear. I didn't know what to feel.
"ACEMANE! THE KING'S DIAMOND! TH-The – IT'S IN OUR HOUSE"
Acemane rushed into the room brushing by me and picking up the box. He looked inside and sure enough it was there. The genuine King's Diamond. A note sat in the bottom of the box that read:
Thank you for playing my game, Acemane.
You played very well. I look forward to
future games with you, sir.
"By Fyora! Jon, the theft was a game. Jon. A game. For me. This whole thing was a game for me."
He was shaken for a moment. But he snapped out of it and almost immediately grabbed our coats and pushed me out the door to head down to Meridell to return the Diamond. And so we did. Felix had not lost his position yet, but now, with the diamond back in safe hands, his job was safe, and the King was settled in his mind.
We didn't tell them about the note, though. We feared it may cause too much trouble. This was a note for us, and us only. This was the first of many cases for us. We realized now that we had caught the eye of someone very evil and twisted and that terrified me.
When we arrived back home, I asked Acemane what he thought about the note and his only response was "The game, dear Waterson, is afoot!"