The Case of the Missing Spardel
"Igot a bad feeling about this, boss…" voice croaking, Peri the Faellie stumbled back behind the over-sized soft azure paws of Private Detective Viindus, infamously known for taking small cases with little to no gratitude.
And Peri did mean no gratitude, their detective agency on Mystery Island had been operating under the red line for six months. Not that Viindus seemed to care, as he continued to take cases that paid through favors or sob stories.
Often it was both.
Viindus seemed to not hear his assistants meek complaints, his eyes twinkling as he cleared through the humid cling of fog that obscured their way, leading them away from the comforts of Mystery Island.
"Look, this Neopet obviously can’t pay for our services, sir. The Kougra was playing hide and seek for Neopoints when he lost his Petpet for Fyora’s sake!"
Peri groaned, kicking up a tiny spurt of dust as he dragged her exhausted feet behind Vi. They had been tracking and traveling across Mystery Island for half the morning, searching in vain for the little guy’s Petpet who had rightfully escaped after the fifteenth attempt at Hide and Seek.
"I like Spardel’s as much as the next Faellie but this is clearly a lost cause…I'm sure the little guy just ran off on his own accord…"
"Hmm…curious," Viindus stopped abruptly, feeling the persistent furry body of his assistant slam into the back of his heels. He glanced back with a showcase of worry, nudging Peri forward when suddenly….
A steady rise of steam puffed forth from the grey-scaled towering deserted tomb. The evidence of whistling hot air piercing through the muggy tepid air contradicted the tomb’s long-standing reputation of being ‘deserted’.
"You know they say Geraptiku is haunted and cursed?" Peri squeaked in reason.
The ornate stone door had been left cracked open, barely a slit large enough for a small-sized body to disappear into the unknown ruins of the tomb.
"Come on Peri! Have a sense of adventure!" Vi chortled, pushing his companion in front of him by the snout of his wet nose.
"Listen, we’ve had a good run. I think it’s time I put in my two weeks…"
"Nonsense, Peri!" the Detective was having none of it, his eyes glistening at their first real lead of the morning to find the startled little Petpet that had vanished when things had gone amok in a hide and seek game that their tear-stained Kougra friend had described as ‘potentially life-ruining’ and ‘nightmare-inducing’.
Ignoring the words of common sense, Detective Viindus marched forward, unafraid as his body pushed the stone cold door open, a blast of chilled air sweeping past their knees and catching Peri in the face as he wobbled backwards.
"He’s not even a paying client!" he tried desperately one last time, executing a groan of defeat as Viindus headed through the ominous door and vanished from sight.
With his head hung low, Peri grumbled over needing an extended vacation and demanding dental in his healthcare package, feet fumbling over each other as he quickened to catch up with the Detective.
"Peri, muster that courage and see what’s through this tiny hole…"
"I will not," the opening that Detective Viindus had found could barely fit one of his four grandiose paws. The Faellie gathered all the dignity he could as he righted himself with a tiny chin jerked forward, "I told you when we started this shamble of an agency, I was the Petpet behind the desk, answering phones and talking to reporters…not that we’ve solved any cases big enough to attract reporters."
"We’re in the deserted tomb of the Lost City of Geraptiku, Peri! Who knows what we may discover on our mission to rescue a daring and beloved family member? We have to stand by our slogan, Peri! No Mystery too small on Mystery Island!"
"Ugh…fine, but I’m serious about the vacation," Peri muttered. At least the opening was too small for traps or poised arrows.
He wedged his fluffy face through, squirming and kicking out his legs with a gigantic "OMFPH" as Viindus lent a muzzle and gave a gentle shove, his tail crunching through the opening as he rolled into a much larger room.
Peri scrambled to his feet, eyes enlarged by the gold scripture and ornate pillars decorating the room. His feet were scrunched on a lavish magenta rug, with more gold thread embroidered, showcasing their own Island Faerie - Jhuidah.
Her stretched out red-tinted wings on the tapestry glittered. Upon further inspection, Peri could make out hundreds of rubies, printed and stitched into the lavish fabric.
Surrounding him were towers of golden trinkets and extravagant jewels: chalices filled of rare diamonds and golden bowls spilling over with glorious pearls that shinned so bright he could see his gleaming, euphoric reflection.
The sound of the Detective calling for Peri momentarily drew him from the drool-worthy discovery of what the Deserted Tomb’s held.
"DID YOU FIND THE SPARDEL?" his voice echoed and boomed across the room, bouncing across the piles of treasures that reached towards the exalted ceilings.
"Forget the Spardel!" Peri whooped!
He grabbed the first gold coin he could fit in his tiny grasping hands, dragging it enthusiastically back towards the crack in the wall’s foundation. Determined, he lugged the coin in front of him, pushing it out frantically and tumbling onto his face as both Faellie and gold coin popped out of the hole near Detective Viindus’s paws.
"Is that…?" Viindus took a closer look, squinting his eyes as he pulled out a magnifying glass and holding it above the printed coin.
"By Jhuidah! It is! Did you happen to pay attention in history class, Peri?"
"Economics was more my specialty, sir," Peri grunted and gave a good shake, a puff of dirt expelling from his fur as Viindus marveled over the coin.
"Geraptiku was once a thriving city, they had their own currency and markets. The Neopets who lived here worshiped their Island Faerie. One of Mystery Island’s greatest mysteries surrounds the tales and theories of Geraptiku."
"What's your theory, sir?" Peri asked, interest piqued as he gathered closer to investigate the intricate details of the coin.
Detective Viindus nodded, shinning the light through the hole in the wall for a closer investigation. He talked as slowly tapped against the wall to measure it’s durability in widening the gap, tapping as he went.
"There’s evidence of a greedy prince, coveting all the treasures of the Island for himself, allowing his subjects to suffer greatly under his rule…."
"The people of Geraptiku looked towards Jhuidah, begging not for rescue but revenge…"
Tap. Tap. Tap.
"In a swift move, Jhuidah answered their plight, and condemned Geraptiku to becoming a lost city, cutting off their trades and contact with the outside world…"
"That sounds like a terrible idea," Peri muttered.
"Hidden from the rest of the world, the Neopets who lived here turned on the prince and sealed him in his tomb with the treasures."
"Erm…you mean to tell me there was a mummified body in there with me?!"
"Not at all, Peri. The other part of the legend holds that the greedy prince had found his way towards the fountain of youth, and through its magical powers had gained immortality. So if the legends are true, you were in there with a very alive body!"
Peri gulped, and looked a little sick as Viindus gave one last tap.
The entire wall shuddered, and a door sprung open, revealing the colossal towers of enchanted gold and gleaming jeweled.
Smug, Detective Viindus took a step into the coveted treasured room, his eyes darting towards the over piling chest of gold coins puffing up on the alter, taking up the center of the room.
Peri weakly stumbled from behind, pale eyes flickering towards every corner of the room, "How do we know if the legends are true?" his voice darted as he kept close to the Detective.
Viindus gave a rough bark of laughter, "We gather evidence and seek out the truth, Peri! As we would with any other case."
"This seems above our pay grade," Peri argued, now wishing they had kept to finding the Spardel. Suddenly charity cases didn’t seem quite so bad compared to stumbling upon the mysteries of a cursed treasure with an imprisoned immortal prince.
Viindus seemed unconcerned as he waded through the treasures of the room, stopping short at a gold throne that had been left abdicated. A cold metal crown sat on the plum colored threaded cushion of the chair.
"Fascinating," Viindus mumbled, giving the crown closer inspection as Peri sank further to the ground.
From around the corner of the room, a sharp bark echoed, causing Peri to nearly jump out of his fur as he whirled around and stumbled into a pile of treasured coins. His feet slipped out from under him, and the avalanche of treasure carried his body towards the surprised bite of sound.
"Viiiiii!" Peri whimpered, voice echoing in panic as the gold chips delivered his sliding body onto the floor, his tail causing cushion as he slid against the sleek ground until smacking into the wall. He groaned out, head spinning from the ride as something wet and cold fell against his cheek.
Glancing up, Peri felt a wave of relief wash over him at the droopy expression of the blue Spardel, his tongue lulled out to the side, covered in saliva that was currently pooling for another spill against his face.
Peri gathered himself up quickly, the Spardel gave a terrific shriek of delight before rushing up and covering Peri’s face with cheerful licks of gratitude.
"Oh. Great." Peri muttered, attempting to shove the Spardel off him. The Petpet mistook his shoves and became further enthusiastic, pushing the Faellie back down with his front paws and giving more frantic kisses.
"Viindus!" Peri snarled, relieved when the Detective finally made his way over and picked the Spardel up from Peri’s sprawled out body.
The delighted Spardel turned and gave Viindus a lick against his face before nestling himself safely in the leathered pouch that Viindus always carried by his side.
"I’d say the Case of the Missing Spardel is closed!"
Peri gave a sigh of relief.
"Great, can we leave before we end up cursed for eternity?"
"Celebrate Peri! We found a lost treasure, this will surely put us on the mark!"
"Woo Hoo" Peri grumbled, deciding right then and there that his vacation would be taken far, far away from Mystery Island.
Three weeks later.
The gold keys gave a cheerful jingle as Detective Viindus unlocked the front door the mystery agency, their reputation gleaming since the discovery of the lost treasures and reuniting the lost Petpet with his Neopet.
He swung the closed sign back towards open and flipped on the swam of lights overhead.
Not only the business roaring to life, but their bottom line had improved greatly since they cashed in on the fortune of the lost city. Of course Viindus had insisted most of it go towards the museums and schools for future research and studies. They had kept enough to turn the electricity back on and keep their rent on the tiny office space located near the Cooking Pot.
Jhuidah herself had stopped by to congratulate him on rescuing the Petpet and finding the treasure.
Their picture had been taken together and proudly had been mounted on the wall, next to a shot a reporter had taken on the Kougra grasping eagerly for his lost Spardel that Detective Viindus had courageously pulled from the deserted tomb.
Peri had taken a rightful five week vacation, which was why Viindus was shocked to find the Faellie crunching numbers at his desk, a look of agitation clear as dawn as the Lupe walked through the doors.
Viindus examined the pile of expresso cups knocked towards the floor and made the observation that Peri had been at the books for a while now.
"You’ve solved eight cases since I've been gone and haven’t asked for a single Neopoint! A single one!" Peri groaned in disgust, tossing his pen to the ground and scrunching up the numbers he had scratched out all night and morning into the trash.
"Peri! You’ve come back early! Now this is a true mystery…" Viindus joked, smirking as his assistant remained tight-lipped and serious.
"When I heard you were taking cases for free, again….I felt it was time to come back and remind you this sudden flow of cash won’t last the agency forever."
"Of course, but look we’ve got an envelope! See, one of the eight cases decided to send payment."
With a roll of his eyes, Peri reached forward, grumbling under his breath on how ‘one out of eight was nothing to celebrate over’.
The envelope ripped, shredding the postage as Peri yanked out a stained piece of paper, that most certainly was not payment. Peri glanced at the paper, a yelp sounding out as he dropped the note.
Roughly sketched in thick black letters, the parchment only said three words.
ENJOYING MY TREASURE?
"Now that’s a mystery!" Detective Viindus’s eyes lit up as he grabbed at the parchment, eagerness thrumming into his voice as he ordered Peri to fill their bags with all the necessary gear of another trip into the Lost City.
"We’re not going back!" Peri argued instantly.
"We have to Peri! No Mystery-"
"Too small is one thing, too big is completely out of our territory!" Peri reprimanded, grabbing the stack of papers and giving a shake of his head, "Not happening!"
His body was suddenly lifted out of the chair with an undignified squeak of protest, the calculated billing notes scattering as Detective Viindus yanked him up against his will.
"I should have stayed on vacation…" he lamented, Viindus carried him between the clutch of his jaws, an eager step in his bounce towards the door.
His tail gave a gleeful swing, turning the sign on their door from ‘open’ to ‘closed’ that hung above their remarkable slogan "No Mystery Too Small on Mystery Island".