Reginald Acorn's Case 3 : Treasure
Note to readers : Reginald's previous cases are available for a read in a previous NT:
Case 1 : //www.neopets.com/ntimes/index.phtml?section=577257&week=839
Case 2 : //www.neopets.com/ntimes/index.phtml?section=577908&week=848
Neovia, on a Sunday, 14:03
I try to hold my tears as I read the letter in my hands over and over again. Mama wrote to me every weeks and now that the excitement of my new life has calmed down, I realise just how much I miss her. I miss her sweet voice, her cooking and how she used to pass her hands through my hair to make it all messy. She's the most beautiful faerie Gelert you'll ever find ! She also sent a package which contains some homemade cookies (mmmhh!!) and a new sweater she made herself.
My name is Reginald Acorn, I'm 20 years old and I'm a grey Gelert ! Almost two months ago now, I moved away from my hometown Brightvale to join the Police Forces of Neovia, which had been a dream of mine since I was just a small pup ! I've already had quite a few adventures ! I came across a jewel thief that is plaguing the city but sadly, we weren't able to caught the guy just yet. Two weeks later, I met my first new friend Viktor Arnalds, and together, we solved the mystery of an enchanted book ! We almost ended up as Mortogs but it was so much fun !
I wrote all the details of those cases to mama just so she can support me from afar. She said she'd love to meet my boss because he apparently sounds like a fun guy. Mama is really good when it comes to see the true nature of neopets. I haven't had much to write to her lately as things have been really calm, I'll have to see what tomorrow brings.
Neovia, Monday, 08:23
I rush out of my bed at full speed, falling over my pants that were on the floor and face plant, almost hitting the chair next to my desk. It's 8:23 and I overslept !! My boss doesn't joke around with the schedule. We're supposed to be there at 8:00am. Not 8:01 or 7:58, 8:00 ! I don't even take the time to brush my teeth or my hair and jump right out of my place, still trying to finish dressing myself. My breath is terrible and my hair makes me look like a scarecrow but I run as fast as I can towards the Police Station, getting weird and disapproving glances along the way. Finally, the station is getting close!
I stand in front of the door, trying to catch my breath, rearrange my hair a little to be at least a bit more presentable.
As I reach the doorknob to enter the station, a Kyrii of average height gets out. He gives me a scornful look as if I was merely a bunch of trash standing in his path. His eyes are red and don't have a single shade of compassion, he's also wearing a grey suit with grey pants. He himself isn't really more colourful than that, I think his colour is shadow ? His hair is also black and held into a short ponytail that stops at the bottom of his neck.
"You're in my way. Move." he declares with a raspy voice.
Quite shocked by his rude attitude, I move aside, happy to see this guy disappear. He jumps into a carriage which leaves at full speed. Who even was this guy ?
I enter inside the police station, ready to apologize to Big Skeith, my boss, but he, himself look like he met with that Kyrii and he's currently fuming and cursing. Big Skeith, whose real name is actually Marcus Worsley is the biggest Darigan Skeith I've ever seen. He has a rude mouth, tell whatever is on his mind and likes to push us so we can give the best of ourselves every day. He always wears a black trench-coat that is so tightly fitted to his body, it's a miracle it hasn't exploded just yet. He also wears a hat, even inside but I think that's just because he can't get used to the baldness on top of his head. He's shooting orders at my colleagues and a bunch of them rush out of the station, it feels like a tornado is currently going on here and I don't feel like moving out of the way, too afraid to get caught in it. As I stand there like an idiot, my boss spots me and yells for me to come to his desk.
"I..I'm sorry boss, I know I'm late bu..."
"I don't care about that !" he screams, cutting me off. "Sorry kid, shouldn't take my anger out to you." he says as he brushes his temples with his big, clawy hands.
"What even is happening boss ? And who was that rude Kyrii ?"
"Hmmpf. Remember that jewel thief ? Ahaha, of course you do, you ended up in the river because of him. Well, last night, he sent us a letter, all it said was that he was bored and will just rob as many mansions as he could in a night. Some kind of challenge or something, that little ..." he grumbles, his teeth scrapping one another with a terribly high pitched noise. "As for that Kyrii .. tche !" He slams his fist on his desk getting even more mad. I figure it's best to let him finish before asking questions.
"That guy was Raleigh Von Verzweiflung, a famous and rich tailor that lives in the outskirts of Neovia. His mansion was robbed by our star of a thief, hence why he was here. But this guy is trouble, that family is cursed and has too many secrets if you ask me... I'll have to go there and investigate myself, I can't let someone less experienced than me get into that cursed manor, too dangerous." he sighs, adjusting his hat on his head.
"What's so cursed about this place chief ?"
"That guy had a wife and three sons. The wife, she was a Xweetok if I recall, passed away a few years ago. Their first son ran away a few years before that and the second son disappeared right after his mother's passing. If that doesn't sound fishy, I don't know what is. As for the last son, he's a doormat or something."
"I see. Please take me with you chief !"
_ "You lack the experience kiddo, you have a good nose but you're far away from being a top notch detective just yet.
"I know that ! But how can I get experience if you brush me aside every time a difficult or dangerous case arises ?"
He looks at me dumbfounded for a few seconds before he explodes in a fit of laughter, making his big belly jump up and down, almost knocking his desk over.
"Ahaha, good one kid ! You're pretty sharp, okay you're coming with me, you'll be able to watch my back ! But first, and I'm not joking around, you have to do as I say, understood ?"
"Yes sir !"
I watch him grab a bunch of papers, his bag and a giant sandwich that he shoves into it.
"Let's go !" He walks towards the door, but stops right in his track, turn around to face me and say with the most serious face before laughing again : "Did you brush your hair with a toilet brush this morning or what ? Ahahaha !!
Not cool boss, not cool.
Outskirts of Neovia, 10:02
We jump out of the carriage that bought us to our destination : the Von Verzweiflung's manor. It's a really big building, you could fit my flat in there so many times ! ! We go up an alley made of tiny pebbles that makes crunchy sounds under our feet. Around us well trimmed bushes intermitted by rosebushes with an heady perfume. The façade of the building is mainly dark, giving the whole place a gloomy atmosphere. I don't want to admit it but I'm glad I didn't came here all alone. Big Skeith knocks on the heavy wooden door and a servant quickly opens the door for us. He's a Blumaroo who's age I can't tell.
"I'll bring you to the crime scene since it's the Master's wish. Follow me.
We follow the guy around in those never-ending stairs, covered with a red carpet. We pass by a multitude of corridors and empty rooms full of dust.
Finally, he opens a door with gold moldings and lets us in.
"Here's the crime scene, investigate all you want. If you need me, please ring the bell near the door, and I'll come right away." he bows, leaves the room and close the door behind him.
"Now that we're here, let's do our job. Show me how you investigate kid. " says Big Skeith as he nods towards the room.
Feeling a tiny bit pressured, I start to look around. This room is huge and probably a living room. The furniture is all made of the finest wood and not a single grain of dust can be seen. This place must be used often and be well loved. On the right side of the room, a fireplace, currently in use, giving a much more lively atmosphere. Right in front of it, a round red carpet, and sitting on it, two comfy chairs with red velvet and black wood. Hanging over the fireplace, a portrait :
On the right side, that rude Kyrii, his right hand is resting on the crest rail of a chair identical to the ones sitting there, his left hand, on the shoulder of a young Darigan Lupe with dark hair, probably a teen. Sitting on the chair, a beautiful Xweetok with brown wavy hair, brown fur, wearing a black and red dress. On her lap, a baby Bori, whose colour must be halloween. On her right, standing next to her, a young Darigan Gelert with black hair. This must be the whole family. As I recall what Big was saying, I assume that lope and that Gelert are the ones who ran away. The "doormat" must be the Bori. None of them but the beautiful Xweetok are smiling. I sigh and go back to the rest of the room.
With the fireplace behind me, I glance at the wall opposite, which is covered in paintings, though there are a few missing, I can tell because the wallpaper is faded where they used to hang. A large black piano is also standing proudly there, a few music sheets on the bench. Next to it, on the ground, a bunch of broken glass. I look outside from the broken window : it is possible to reach the place by climbing the façade but one must be very strong and agile to do so. I guess it's not impossible for our thief, he's done thing more impressive apparently.
I turn around looking, trying to find some clues but I really can't find anything, we know where the thief came but that's about it. Looks like he decided to expend his business to painting theft instead of just jewellery like he did until now. As I go toward Big Skeith to give him my conclusions, I hear the door open up slowly, a small Bori is standing there, hiding behind the door as much as he can. He's pretty short and slim and barely a teen. He must be around 13 or 14 years old. His hair is combed like his father's except that it has several shades of red. He is wearing some kind of rather pompous coat and a red neck scarf. His eyes are red like his father's.
"You must be the kid living here eh, do you want to tell us anything" says Big as he gets closer to the kid who looks terrified. "Hey I know I don't have the look of a faerie princess, but come on, I won't eat you !" The Bori is still frozen behind the door. "Okay, Regie, you take care of this, I'll go look around." He opens the door further, pushes the kid inside the room and close the door behind him. We both stare blankly at each other while Big's footsteps get further away until everything becomes quiet again.
"My name's Reginald ! I promise we're here to help ! Your father, well I assume he is, asked us to find the paintings that were stolen."
"... I knew it ... The paintings it is .. I don't even know why I thought things would be different this time around." he sighs, looking pretty depressed. "My name is Vincent, Vincent Von Verzweiflung, I am the youngest here. I really don't care about the paintings, but the thief did steal something that was really precious to me !"
"Really ? What was it ? Your father only asked us to find the paintings back."
"A locket, made of gold with a ruby on it. The ruby has the shape on an heart." He triturates his hands nervously. "The locket used to belong to my late mother, Lili Von Verzweiflung. It was a wedding gift from my father, when he used to have feelings... She always said cheerfully that she had hidden the things most important to her in that locket, I never knew what it was. I always thought it was a ruby or something, she loved them. There was a secret to open it but she never had the chance to tell me before she .. You know ... The bijou used to hang under our family portrait, but as you can see, it's all gone. That's the only memento I had of her. My brothers are gone, to who knows where, and I'm stuck here..."
The poor little guy is on the verge of crying and I can only feel pity for the poor thing. I never grew up with my father around but at least I had the best mama one could hope for. I put my hand on his head and pass my hand in is red hair just like mama used to do with me.
"I'll find that locket, I promise !"
"Excuse me, don't close the door please!!" I yell as I rush in the book shop where my friend Viktor works. "I'm sorry to bother you as I know you're closing the shop for the day, but I really need some intel !
"Oh.. S..Sure Reginald, take a seat." he says as a shows me an empty stool.
"Thanks so much, you really are the best!! You've been living here your whole life so maybe you know. Where does a thief go to to sell his stolen goods ? I mean, Krawk Island has the Smugglers Cove, so I assume there's a similar place around here to do shady business, no ?
"Hmmm well.." he ponders as he rubs his chin. "I'm not into shady business myself, but I heard some rumours...Do you know of the Meepit Oak Sanatorium ?
"Nope ! Never heard of it, though, it sounds creepy !" I shiver.
"It is ! It's an old asylum that has been abandoned years ago, somewhere along the time the whole town was cursed... I heard that's the place to go for shady business but please, please, please, don't go investigate alone. It's dangerous ! I really don't know much than that...
"I promise, thank you for the info !
Meepit Oak Sanatorium, 23:17
The fog is thick again and I'm freezing. Big Skeith is hiding next to me, his eyes locked on the decaying building. We've been coming here for 4 nights already , but so far, nothing has happened. The place is empty, rusty and bat infested. If it were me, I would just jump inside but I can't break the promise I made to Viktor. I know he's probably really worried about me, I would have asked him to come with me, but I know he's too fragile for spooky and haunted places like this one. A strong gust of wind passes by and makes me shiver. I see something move on the path leading to the only entrance of the asylum but it's just a Meepit. Said Meepit turns around and looks at us with bulging eyes. Yuck, that's super creepy !!! Mama, please protect me !!
"Something's happening..." whispers Big. I tense up and try to smell the air again. He's right, there are people coming this way.
Suddenly a procession of neopets : some tall, some big, the only thing they have in common are the black hoods they're all wearing to hide their identities. Or at least, I presume that's what they're for. We let them pass and watch them enter the place. As the last ones enters, Big jumps out of hiding at lightspeed, grab two of those suspicious figures, and promptly knocks them out. He grabs the hoods and throws one at me.
"Here's our tickets to enter this place." he says, grinning. Please remind me to never go against this guy !!
The inside is just as creepy as the outside. There's mold growing everywhere, melted wax on the ground right under the lit candles, and the walls are rusty. We follow the whispers so we can fake knowing what we were doing. The asylum has a lot of cells but in each one, at least one or two sellers waiting for their customers. All we can do now is hope our gelert thief is in here somewhere. All around the place, precious gemstones, rare artefacts, paintings, jewellery, even weapons ! The buyers uses neopoints, dubloons and even codestones to buy the various goods.
"I swear to Queen Fyora that I'll personally shut down this place." says Big in a whisper.
The building, for the most part is built as a square, in the middle, the garden, if you can call two dead trees and rotten leaves a garden. That garden is circled by the asylum's walls, making it a safe and closed space for the old patients that used to live here. The garden is also the only place from which you can access the last part of the asylum. It's where the cells of the most dangerous patients were located. A narrow corridor, with cells on each sides and at the end of it, one last cell. We hear a voice coming out of it, boasting the merits of those pieces of art. That voice ... Annoying and rather high pitched .. It's him ! Big and me both rush at the same time towards the cell shoving away the poor neopet who only wanted to buy stuff. Sitting on the ground, the hood covering his face, with only the tip of his ears coming out, the jewel thief was right in front of us.
"Oh my, looks like you got me. Please arrest me Mister Officer." he yelps in despair, as Big reaches to grab his arm to tie him up, he somehow managed to slide under him, push Big in the back so he falls down and runs past me. Shocked, I wasn't even able to move a finger.
"Or, you know, maybe not, I think I've changed my mind !" he smirks putting his finger in front of his mouth. "Shh, you haven't seen me !" was the last thing he said before dashing through the corridor and disappearing somewhere in the asylum.
"I swear I'm gonna dance in front of his cell the day I arrest him !!!" roars Big Skeith as he tries to get up. On the ground, various paintings, items made of gold and ... the locket ! It was just as Vincent described it, a beautiful locket with a ruby heart.
"So that's the locket the kid asked us to find eh ? I've seen lockets like that before. To open them you have to twist the jewel on top to the right and then push it down slightly."
"Let's see then!" I do as Big told me and thankfully, the locket opens. I get tears in my eyes as I witness Lili Von Verzweiflung's most prized possession.
Outskirts of Neovia, 08:30
I only had a few hours of sleep but I really couldn't stand still, excited as I was to bring back all those items to their rightful owners. We finally reach the mansion of the Verzweiflungs and it's still as creepy as it was a few days ago.
"Okay Regie, I'm gonna go see Mr Raleigh for the paintings, go find the kid and give that locket back to him." Big nods to me as he follows the same servant as last time.
"You took your sweet time, didn't you ?" Raleigh's voice resonates in the room. How rude can you be, seriously ? I shrug as I walk away in search of Vincent. I decide to go check the living room since it seems to be a special place for him.
I'm still far away from the room but I can already hear the music notes playing and dancing around my ears. What a beautiful melody !
"You're really talented, Vincent." I say gently as I enter the room.
He sighs : "You should have heard my brother Maxime. He was a genius like no other... I'm nowhere near as good as he is..." He brushes the piano's keys with a sad smile on his face. Without a word, I give him the locket and show him how to open it. He takes the bijou into his hands and tears start flowing out of his eyes while he's sobbing heavily. He falls into my arms, completely overwhelmed as I pat his back, trying to comfort him.
In the locket, a picture of the three brothers, standing in front of the piano, smiling with all their teeth. Lili's treasure.