OFFICIAL SA: THE FANTASTIC NEVER-ENDING PARTY
tessa last edited by Tinarandel
—-> A little bit of a background story for this: https://redwallslegacy.com/topic/1390/story-arc-the-never-ending-party/1
So here is where the mystery begins, one of the party guests nearly got taken out by a falling statue on the edge of the gardens, turns out a chisel and a hammer were found near the item and it was intentionally broken off, now everyone is a suspect at the party. It's up to a group of amateur detectives to get to the bottom of this. Will you join? Or will you just party the night away?<——-
“Welcome one and all to the Fantastic Never-Ending Party, hosted by yours truly Commodore Dominique Perrier, Treasure Hunter Extraordinaire.” The DJ announced and Dominique graciously stepped up to the platform where the DJ was playing, “Thank you Grundlink.” She said, accepting the mic from him. “I personally want to welcome each and every one of you here. I’m so excited you guys could make it, hopefully, you will have as much fun as I had planning this party. Don’t forget, refreshments are on the far side of the hall, with food from all over the world along with an open bar and a dance floor with a DJ. We also have games set up at the tables, remember to keep it friendly and keep it safe, and without further ado let party the night away!!! Take it away Grundlink!” And handed the mic back to him before stepping off the platform.
Instantly her smile vanished as she stepped out of the lights, as she thought over the events that transpired in the last hour. Hopefully, they can figure out who’s done it quickly before any more guests get hurt...or worse. She looked up as a beast came towards her, “Yes?” She said giving a small smile.
As Dominique welcomed the guests to the resuming Party, Grundlink stood by and listened patiently. He exhaled low, hoping that the mystery of whoever was trying to disrupt the party – and by extension, endanger the lives of the partygoers – would be solved soon before any more accidents happened. He put the mic back in its stand and went to his DJ set.
“Oy, everyone!” The rat spoke into the mic out at the crowd on the dance floor. “May I have everyone’s ‘ttention, please? I’d just like t’ ‘nnounce that I’ll now be takin’ song requests fer th’ remainder o’ the nigh’. So, come on up an’ look at me playlist on my laptop, an’ feel free t’ choose whatever sticks out t’ ya, ‘kay? Thankee, everyone, an’ party on!” He turned his laptop back on and prepared to set the needles on a new duo of turntables.
Azem and Azroel watched their younger sister Starlight as she played basketball on the court on the west end of the enormous yard. Azem sat in a lawn chair munching on a ham and cheese sandwich; Azroel was sitting cross-legged on the grass, scanning the chisel and trowel he’d found earlier with a blacklight, hoping to find pawprints or fingerprints.
Azroel growled in annoyance and shut off the blacklight. “Damn it. No good. Whoever used these must’ve been wearing gloves. Smart that they knew to cover their tracks.” He stood up, holding the chisel and trowel delicately in his latex gloves. “So, we’re back to square one. I guess the only other option is to start asking around.” He looked back up at the center of the lawn, on the dance floor.
“We already know that Grundlink has been in his place the entire time. He’s only ever left to eat or go to the bathroom.” The black fox rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “We’re innocent in this, for sure. You guys arrived at the Party before I did, with Grundlink, of course. No way either of us would’ve had the time to climb up and mess with the stone on the roof.”
Azem swallowed his bite of sandwich and nodded apologetically at his twin brother. “It’s still my fault for not texting you back when you got here. You don’t have to forgive me, bro. That’s on me.”
Azroel snickered and ruffled Azem’s hair. “I’ll let you off the hook this time. It’s just one party. But do it again on any future parties, and I might not be as lenient, and neither will Mom and Dad.”
Azem finished his sandwich and wiped his paws on a napkin. “So, what do we do now?”
Azroel sighed regretfully and shook his head. “I’m going to beat myself up for this for the rest of the night. But…the only choice we have left is to question everyone. Problem is, everyone has an alibi, just as Dominique said.”
Azem passed Azroel a Sprite and opened his own Coke. “‘Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.’”
“F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby,” Azroel nodded and clanked his soda against his brother’s. Both foxes drank deeply, and Azroel began to make his way back up.
“Oh! Azro, wait!” Azem redirected his attention back to the basketball court. “Star’s going for the goal!”
They watched with bated breath as Starlight juked around one lunging beast and spun past another, leaping effortlessly into the air to perform a perfect alley-oop right into the hoop.
Her brothers cheered with admiration from the sidelines. “Yeah!” Azem pumped his fist in the air. “That was the best alley-oop in history!”
“That’s why she’s the school team captain!” Azroel whooped and clapped for his sister. “That’s our baby girl!”
Starlight blew a kiss to them, and they blew theirs back. Azroel patted Azem on the back. “All right, bro. Keep your phone close. I’ll let you know if I learn anything.” He turned and climbed up the stone staircase back to the main party area, sipping his Sprite.
He found Dominique and went up to her. “We’re going be stuck here for the rest of the night questioning everybody. I don’t think we’ve got a choice, though. Where do we even start?”
While the party continues on, two beasts from outside the gates make their appearance.
"Oh 'ow long 'as it been since we seen our beautiful Abbey?" One of the creatures spoke. The other looked in awe, still viewing the tall ramparts and large red sandstone fortress crafted within them as a testament of perseverance to those who lived before them.
"Aye mate, I couldn't agree with you more! I'm just glad to be back home. It's been a long journey. It's just crazy how vast of a country Mossflower is!"
As both creatures looked onto the gate keeper, they gave a look of disbelief and a big smile before opening the gates for the two. Both walked on, getting closer to the Abbey building, before they heard loud commotion as if a party was going on. They both entered and walked toward the noise.
Both were battle damaged, dirty, and torn up from the longest campaign they completed since they first became warriors many years ago. The mouse warrior, who wore full armor, had massive dents, pieces of chain mail and full plates missing, sword had cracks and hilt was destroyed. His fur was tattered and dirty, with random bandages patched all over. The slightly larger squirrel warrior had deep bruises under his fur as he did not wear armor. His clothes were torn, his head was bandaged, and muscles were fatigued heavily due to his constant bloodwrath state during his battles and because of his fighting style.
The two were tired, sore, but relieved to be home. They opened the door to the room where all the commotion was coming from. "Well would you lookit this!" The large squirrel said.
Dominique mused, "That is a good question." she muttered looking around and locating a few of her crew. "Wavestream! Fabi!" she shouted, Fabi and Wavestream were at the buffet table stuffing their faces with food. Fabi walked over with Wavestream, a huge otter following behind. "Cap'tn." Wavestream said giving inquisitive look, "Did you find something Dominique!?" Fabi said in anticipation. Dominique shook her head and looked at Azroel, "They lucked out finding anything on the statue, not even a fingerprint. Trying to figure out ideas how to question creatures without causing panic."
Fabi mused but it was Wavestream who spoke up, "Watta 'bout a game?" Everyone looked at the huge otter, "A Game?" Dominique repeated, "Youre not serious." Wavestream shrugged, "I am, ma'am. Wat if we send everyone on aye scavenger hunt in the orchard and gardens? They coulda find apple, a flower, thread, and so forth." he took a breath, "then we can casually observe all em beasts and see if any are up to no good. Meaning they mighta strike again."
Dominique's eyes went wide, "Brilliant!" she said clasping her hands together. "Fabi, Azroel. Do you think you guys can help come up with a list?" Both nodded with Fabi saying, "While most guests are at the scavenger hunt, we can interview the remaining guests who aren't and see if we can get a list of creatures at the point when the accident happened! or if it happens again. Lets do it."
Tessa and Jessie were off chatting with creatures and keeping an eye out for any trouble. Well Tessa was, Jessie was slightly intoxicated and was happily dancing away, oblivious to where she was going. Spinning around in a circle she stopped and looked at the gate, was that? she rubbed her eyes and then reached for Tessa and tugged on her sleeve, "Sister, we gots old friends." Tessa sighed and looked to were Jessie was pointing and couldn't believe it. "Its Oliver..and Bradley!!!" She shreiked and dashed over with Jessie following. "OLIVER! BRADLEY!" Tessa hugged the battered Bradley tightly, "Its been to long!" Jessie fell into Oliver, "Ollie you came!" she said happily, "This is the best day ever!!" she wrinkled her nose, "Youre hurt, both of you and..." she sniffed, "Smell bad. No offense."
Oliver and Bradley were taken by surprise by the encounter. Bradley reciprocated with a hug of his own and Oliver caught the squirrel maid as she fell into him, giving her a tight hug of his own. They both winced slightly because of their injuries and sore bodies.
"Oh how three years goes by since we left for our journey, we've missed you a great deal." The ex champion exclaimed while embracing Tessa. Oliver blushed slightly while holding Jessie tightly, "I'm just glad t' be back 'ome." Oliver heard what they said and chuckled slightly "Well, 'ard t' get a bath when yore stuck on a ship fer th' last 'alf of th' campaign! We could really use one though, right Bradley?" Brad looked toward Oliver and spoke up, "You're right my friend, we really need to get ourselves cleaned up and then our wounds redressed. We really are a mess after this."
Oliver looked down into Jessie's eyes and sighed before laughing. "Yore a little drunk, aren't ya? After all the grog me an' Bradley 'ad on that last voyage, I can just tell!" Bradley looked at Tessa and smirked, "Yeah we can tell alright, well let us bathe and get our bandages redressed, we want to join you guys! Bring out the strong ale for us!" He exclaimed excitedly.
Azroel finished his Sprite and tossed the empty can into a recycling bin. “You’re a genius, Wavestream! I think a scavenger hunt is a perfect way to finally find the culprit of this crisis, and have some fun to boot! Okay, I’ll get started on a list…”
He pulled up a notes app on his phone and began writing things down. “Let’s see, what can we have everyone find?” He typed on the phone’s built-in keyboard. “Fruits, flowers, string, rocks? This sounds like a lot of fun. Does anyone have a pen and paper? We should make a copy in case anything happens to my phone.”
In a couple of minutes, they had formed a somewhat exhaustive list of scavenger hunt objects. Azroel walked out by the dance floor: creatures had made their favorite song requests, and Grundlink loaded them onto the queue list. During each song, Grundlink would add his sick stylish turntable scratches during the instrumental bridges. Azroel texted a copy of the list to Dominique, Fabi, and Wavestream, then texted his twin brother.
Come out to the courtyard when you can. Wavestream came up with the idea for a scavenger hunt. Meet me at the entrance. Bring Star with you.
As Azroel sent the text, the sounds of greeting from the estate entrance caught his attention. He saw Tessa and Jessie there greeting a male squirrel and a mouse. Packing his phone into his pocket, he hurried over to join them.
He chuckled at the squirrel girls poking fun at the way their old friends smelled. But he did feel concerned about their wounds and injuries. The fox extended his paw and introduced himself.
“Hello! Welcome to the party! I’m Azroel Kurgrun, a friend of Dominique and Tessa and Jessie. What are your names?”
Fabi looked at her phone as Dominque brought out paper and pens. With the help they managed to get the list copied. Dominique headed up to the DJ both, “Alright. Let’s give a hand to our DJ!” Waiting for the clapping to die down she continued, “we have a fun game tonight to play, it’s a scavenger hunt! You will form teams of two to three people and find all the items on the list. Once you found them, Mark where and the first team to come back to the DJ Both with the items wins an awesome prize! If you are interested, please form Aline near Wavestream and Fabi and good luck!,”
Fabi and Wavestream waved at the crowd.
Jessie giggled and blushed, “a little, .” She mumbled before hugging him tightly a little longer before slipping out of his arms. “Bradley. So good you are home.” She said giving him a hug before heading off, “Imma go grab another flask..” she said, Tessa grabbed her by the shoulders and prevented her from advancing forward “You are not going to grab some because you will hurt yourself bringing it up here. Go sit in your hammock ok?” Jessie looked crest fallen before skipping off to her hammock strung under the trees, humming a happy tune.
Tessa smiled and gave Oliver a hug. “Now hurry up and get a bath and patch yourselves up, looks like we have a scavenger hunt about to go on!” She grinned at Azroel, “Hey Azroel!” She said before hurrying off after her sister so she can join in the scavenger hunt calling out, “Be quick! The hunt is about to begin!”
Oliver's face felt hot from a deeper blush after she spoke before slipping out of his arms. Bradley smiled and gave Jessie a hug back as Oliver gave Tessa a hug back as well. "Oliver, you're too shy." He said with a chuckle. "Shuddup!" He exclaimed to Bradley."
Oliver laughed as Tessa pulled back on Jessie's shoulder. "Don't worry Jess, after we clean up, we'll join ya both fer some all night drinkin'!" Bradley smiled as he remembered his Walkie Talkie was still on making a static noise. "Ah I forgot to turn this thing off. We were using them in our last battle before we made it to this Estate here. Crazy how long the battery life is."
“Hello! Welcome to the party! I’m Azroel Kurgrun, a friend of Dominique and Tessa and Jessie. What are your names?”
Both looked toward the Fox who was half a head shorter than Oliver and about the same height as Bradley. Foxes never sat well with Oliver, as his whole battling career were against them, but he didn't feel the slightest bit of danger from this one. Bradley wasn't as critical of them like Oliver, but he wasn't naive either. Both warriors intuition of other beasts were very good, they felt a kindness from his introduction and words.
Oliver extended a paw out and grasped firmly with his, a stern look upon his face before softening it up with a laugh. He was always a goof at heart and liked to mess around with new people. "I'm Oliver Swiftstream, nice t' meetcha!" Bradley extended his paw out and grasped Azroel's after Oliver let go. "Any friend of those three are a friend of ours, I'm Bradley Steelwall, it's a pleasure!"
Rouki looked around frantically. He'd gone off to grab a single can of Coke, but had somehow managed to lose his new-found friends in less than a few minutes. He looked about the courtyard from over near the edge. "Where'd they --" he started, but instantly had the air knocked out of him as something slammed into him from behind.
He fell forward, his head smacked against the wall, and he immediately blacked out.
Katsuke took a break from his food to look up at the newcomers. He trotted over and threw an arm around Azroel's neck. "Ay, and who are these creatures?" he asked the fox. He stuck a paw out as well to snatch Oliver's back from his side and shook it heartily. "Nice to meet, name's Katsuke!" Without hesitation, he removed his arm from Azroel's shoulders and threw it around the shy mouse's, always ready to recognize a kindred spirit when he saw one. "You're a warrior, aren't you?" he asked, lowering his voice, grinning.
Hinata, noticing the fox's outgoing approach to making his new friends, quickly walked over and bopped him in the back of the head. Take it easy on the loudness, Bakuchiku, she signed. Come over here and help me with Etain. She's still a bit woozy. She grabbed him by the ear and pulled him along.
He stumbled a little, and she spun around to look him in the eyes intently. . . . you're a damn idiot, you know that? She chuckled a bit, and took the can of Mossflower IPA from his paw, tossing it in the trash. Go clean yourself up.
"But I'm having fun!" he protested as she pushed him towards the bathrooms.
"Go," she ordered.
"Hmph!" He tried to stand up straight and waltz off in a huff, but nearly tripped over his own tail and ended up plunging headfirst through a bathroom door and dunking his head under the sink, which turned on immediately and showered him with a spray of cold water.
Serves him right, Hinata thought. She looked about quickly for Dominique, waved at her, and signed, Come here, real quick. She knelt beside Etain again, who was sitting up straight now, sipping on some Sprite to help alleviate the dizziness. Did you say you remembered the fall? she asked.
"Yeah . . . sort of. There was a ladder outside? And a couple tools scattered around the base, like somebeast had been working on the wall or something," she murmured. "I put my paw on one of the rocks, and it just sorta . . . slipped out from under me. And I landed on you." She winked, then put her head in her paw. "Ooh . . . my eyes hurt."
Hinata blushed, but looked up at Dominique. You get all that? she asked. Sounds like someone was already trying to get that chunk of stone off the wall.
Etain nodded slightly. "That's what I was thinking," she managed, after another gulp of water. She stood up, slightly unsteady, and balanced herself against the wall again. "Are the tools still out there? Somebeast should go check."
Azroel smoothed out the fur on the back of his neck and shrugged apologetically to Bradley and Oliver. “Sorry about that. I think my friend Katsuke Ikari had a little too much to drink tonight. Whomever authorized the alcoholic drinks tonight is going to get in a lot of trouble after this is over. This is why I don’t like going to parties!” he exclaimed and glared coldly at Katsuke as Hinata led him to the bathrooms.
He turned as Azem came up behind him, their younger sister in tow. “Yo, what’s going on?” Azem asked, holding up his phone and showing his brother the text message.
“Scavenger hunt,” Azroel explained. He turned on his phone and pulled up the list of items. “We’re going to use this to flush out the beast responsible for these accidents. Anybeast who participates in the hunt we must judge as theoretically innocent. Anybeast who remains behind is our mystery criminal. The sooner we start the hunt, the better. Here, I’ll text you the list, too. Dominique, Fabi, and Wavestream already have a copy. Let’s get going.”
Azroel packed away his phone as Azem and Starlight excitedly went off to join the scavenger hunt. He dug the trowel and chisel from his backpack and looked over his shoulder at Bradley and Oliver.
“Come on in. I’ll show you where everything is. Help yourself to some food and drinks, and you can jump into the scavenger hunt if you want to.”
He showed the newcomer squirrel and mouse around the vast estate’s courtyard. As he led them upstairs to the balcony, his eyes fell on a familiar sight.
“Rouki!” Azroel hurried over to where the unconscious black ferret lay and turned him over onto his back. “He’s got a pulse,” he observed to Oliver and Bradley. “That’s good. Looks like somebeast knocked him out. We need to find out who!”
With some effort, he carried Rouki inside the mansion and laid him comfortably on a couch in the sitting room, and put a blanket on his body.
"Don't worry. You're going to be all right. I'll send someone to look after you while you're out."
Azroel sprinted down the balcony and back onto the courtyard, examining the trowel and chisel in his paws.
“Who could’ve done this? Who is causing all this chaos, this danger? Think, Azroel, think!”
He paced back and forth along the shape of the emptying square dance floor as everyone dispersed to the hunt.
His detective mind began to speak to him. Could it be somebeast with a grudge against Dominique?
“Sounds reasonable,” he muttered to himself. “But it’s too easy.”
Somebeast who knows the estate well enough, inside and out?
“That makes more sense. Dominique is the richest gal in town, after all. She gets a lot of visitors on a weekly basis alone.”
So then, it’s got to be somebeast who’s been here before. Somebeast who comes over a lot.
“Dominique has so many friends. It could be anybeast who’s responsible for this. Who would want to endanger innocents? What have these creatures done to deserve this?”
That doesn’t mean we can’t keep trying.
He ended up where Hinata and Etain sat talking to each other. As Etain inquired about the tools, Azroel held them out to the arctic vixen. “I’ve got them here. I hope this will help you somehow. Have you two had any luck at all? The scavenger hunt might be just what we need to finally flush out our amateur stonemason once and for all.”
Fabi and Wavestream wrote down the groups and names of all who were participating in the scavenger hunt. “Alright last call ladies and gentle beasts! Scavenger hunt is in 5 minutes! Please stay here and don’t go anywhere.” Wavestream called out, the burley otters deep voice rang out, Fabi covered her ears at the sound laughing. “You are so loud.” She said in her quiet voice. Wavestream grinned, “that’s why Cap’t has be as her first mate on her ship.”
“I see why...” then said, “I wonder if we will find who ever been behind the accidents. Do you think someone has a grudge against Dominique?” Wavestream looked at her, “Plenty, over the years she has clashed heads with several creatures, crew members also.” He shrugged looking over the list, “But no one on this list is familiar to me. But to let the Cap’t see.” Fabi took the list from his hand and scanned it. “Nobody that I know.” She said simply before the list was taken out of her hand. Dominique scowled at Wavestream, “Yes I am aware of that, and I have my suspicions on who it can be but I”m giving a benefit of a doubt. Now make sure everyone who is ready, is ready to go. You two need to supervise the hunt.”
She saw Hinata signal her over and Dominique hurried over to Etain. “Someone has been working on it before? I wonder if it was a freak accident, but I don’t have any renovations going on currently.” Dominique responded frowning. This was getting more odd by the second, and further more her phone rang, Dominique carefully took it out, she still wasn’t used to this technology.
“Apparently another guest was attacked.” Dominique said grimly, Looking up and saw Azroel coming towards her, What happened?” She said, “Who was attacked? Speak!” She said sharply.
Jessie was happily munching on a nut looking at the scavenger hunt list, “It’s gonna be fun!!” She said “Tess you joining?” Tessa looked at her little sister, “of course, someone needs to keep you occupied.” Jessie grinned happily, “You signed us up!” Tessa ruffled her hair “Of course,” she heard Waverunners voice giving the all clear, “Come on!!!” She said excitedly and skipped away towards the manor, “I know where we can find a chest!” She said.
“Jessie! Wait!” Tessa said chasing after her sister.
Oliver and Bradley were both taken by surprise by the creature at first, before grinning at his antics. "Katsuke ya say? Well it's nice ta meetcha."
Bradley also greeted him as well. "Yeah, I used to be the champion at ol' Redwall, but Tessa over there took over for me while Oliver and I were gone on our campaign. We both had our roles in protecting the place. Now she's the protector and permanent wielder of the Sword of Martin." He said with prose. Bradley smirked after, "But that doesn't mean we don't know how to party either." Oliver laughed heartily, "Well we did come off o' that Sea Otter ship last before gettin' 'ere! Th' amount o' Grog we consumed, an' all those sea shanties we sang with them while dancing like a bunch o' crazy drunks."
Oliver stopped speaking once he heard Azroel speak. "No worries mate, we been there before, it's all apart of th' fun! Now this 'unt sounds interesting." Bradley then spoke up after Oliver finished. "Thanks for the hospitality too! We will go clean ourselves up, we have some clean tunics and bandages in our bags. We'll go bathe, and get cleaned and come back later." They looked onto the knocked out creature. "Now this isn't good. Maybe we can lend a paw while joining the hunt at the same time. We can look for clues while having some fun, right Ollie?" Oliver smirked and came back from the table where the drinks were. "Oh yeah.. lots o' fun" He had two flasks full of whatever alcoholic concoctions were in the punch mix. Plus he had stashed a huge bottle of that Sea Otter's Grog from their adventure in his bag.
It wasn't too long before both came back from getting cleaned up. They had fresh bandages, clean tunics, and fur clean and soft again. On the other paw, both had finished a lot of those drinks they brought with them. Bradley, while visibly a bit drunk, kept a calm composure still. He joined with those who were trying to solve the mystery. "Azroel, sorry if we might have taken a while. Ollie insisted." He turned around and noticed his friend was missing. "Oh, here we go again." He said with an eye-roll. "Well I'll help you all out over here, what clues do we have to run off of?"
Meanwhile, Oliver scurried off with the rest of the flask mixed with the Grog. He caught up with the other two, also visibly drunk, but not serious like Brad, he was more oblivious than anything. "Ahoy!! Tessa, Jessie!" He shouted catching up to Tessa who was in the midst of trying to keep up with Jessie. "Where's she running off to so fast?" He spoke between breaths from running. "Care fore a drink when we find whatever she's looking fore?" He said before giving a hiccup.
Katsuke stumbled out of the bathroom, shaking water from his ears furiously. "Well . . . I needed that," he said to no one.
And promptly collapsed onto a nearby bench, instantly asleep with his face halfway fallen into a cheese Danish.
Etain shook her head to clear the last of the blurriness, and pushed herself away from the wall, straightening her back as she did so. She flipped her blue headfur out of her eyes. "Those are the ones I saw," she confirmed, looking closely at the ones that Azroel offered. She picked one of them up and tossed it in the air. "Well . . . we're not gonna solve anything any time soon. Where's the drinks?"
The arctic vixen spotted Hinata and grinned wolfishly. "You're a cutie, and you're coming with me." She slid an arm around the hapless vixen's waist and started walking towards the tables. "Where can I get a bit of fun around here?"
Hinata felt a furious blush creep up beneath her fur, and her tail flicked with pleasure against her will. "I . . . er . . ." she quietly stammered, the tips of her ears turning pink. She finally pointed towards a cooler by one of the tables. The two made a beeline for it.
Jurou slowly opened his eyes. He was inside, on a couch, with nobeast else around him. "Ooh . . . my head," he muttered. He pushed back the hood on his dark hoodie and carefully sat up. His temple throbbed. His eyes hurt, and there seemed to be a very large bruise forming in the center of his back. He reached back and rubbed it. "What the hell happened?"
"You got hit, and pretty hard by the looks of it," a voice said from behind him. The black ferret spun around and jumped off of the couch, drawing a knive from his back pocket.
A wizened old fox, silver as snow at dawn, wearing a simple grey t-shirt and faded jeans, sat in a nearby chair, watching him. "I've heard there's a villain o' sorts causing all kinds of havoc around here tonight," he chuckled.
Jurou relaxed and sat back on the couch, his head spinning slightly. "That so?" He reached into his hoodie pocket and pulled out his pipe, as well as a match, which he lit and popped into his pipe-bowl. "What's your name, old-timer?"
"Name?" The fox thought for a moment. "Might as well call me Noel. That's what most folks call me, anyhow." He leaned back in his chair and sighed deeply. "And yours?"
"Rouki." He took a deep drag of siatha. "For short, at least. You here for the party too?"
"Course. Never one to miss out on a shebang like this one," Noel laughed. He stood up. "Come on, then. You all right to stand up?" Jurou nodded and struggled to his footpaws, then took Noel's offered paw and leaned on him slightly. The old fox was surprisingly strong.
The two shuffled out of the mansion and into the courtyard. "Sit down over there, by your drunk friend," Noel said, pointing to Katsuke. Rouki rolled his eyes and flicked the red fox's ear, taking a seat beside him. He rubbed his forehead with another groan of pain.
"Ow," he muttered. He looked about, but the courtyard was relatively empty. "Where is everybeast?" he asked aloud, to nobeast in particular.
Tessa looked at Oliver, “Not you also....” She said giving a small chuckle. “Someone needs to stay sober to keep an eye on things.”
She halted next to Jessie who was pointing at a chest. “Found the first thing on the list!” Jessie giggled in excitement and pointed to a chest. Tessa took a deep breath and took out her list, “Chest...check.” She said. “Next is either a rock, a white flower, a red fruit, something sweet, something soft, a pine cone, a jug and a smiling face.” Jessie skipped up to Oliver and grabbed the flask off Oliver, “found a smiling face.” She said taking a drink and pointed at him. “That’s two off thee list.” She said making a face at the grog, “What is this stuff?” She said handing it back to Oliver and shaking her head. “Tastes nasty.”
Tessa chuckled, “K, we got two. Where to next Jessie?” But before she completed her sentence Jessie went off skipping happily off passing a passed out fox and his friend. She skidded to a stop, leaned down and whispered, “You friend ruined a perfectly good danish. There is more on the table!” Tessa pulled Jessie away, “I’m so sorry Jurou.” She said quickly, recognizing the ferret. “Hope Katsuke will be alright, do you need anything? I think Dominique is on her way over, .” Tessa looked around a gave a groan, seeing Oliver and Jessie already off hunting a next clue before turning back to Jurou and seeing the old silver fox. “Sir.” She said.
Oliver was surprised looking at his paws at first, before noticing it was Jessie that took the grog. "Careful, it's really strong, a gulp will get ya even more dru-" but it was too late. He just shrugged his shoulders as she made that disgusted look on her snout. "Ol' Sea Otter Grog! It's th' best stuff 'round th' seas!" He said with a drunken chuckle, his rosy cheeks covered by his face fur.
Before he knew it, Jessie beckoned him and they both had run off for the next clue.
"Hehe, where we goin'?" he said as the alcohol started hitting him harder than before, chasing behind her for the next clue. "We might be able t' find th' next one somewhere where no beast would even think t' look." He grabbed her paw with his to stop her from running too far. He then pointed with his free paw, thinking like a dibbun would as where to look next. "It could be up those stairs! We should check it out." Oliver smiled happily, having so much fun with this whole scavenger hunt.
Bradley took a quick swig from his share of the Grog, before putting a paw to his chin, thinking of who could be the cause of this mess. He broke away from the group for a moment, looking at everyone else, who was just scattered about. The mouse was trying to think, but he felt a twinge of hunger in his stomach.
"Well I'll grab some snacks" He thought to himself, feeling slightly more drunk than before. He still kept his composure, not letting it take effect on his thought processes with these serious matters. He walked back over with the clue finding group, hoping to see if any other beast had any thoughts.
Out in the forest, Azem scanned his phone for the scavenger hunt list. So far, he and Starlight had found a cardboard box (it was full of fresh ripe oranges), a small rock (an irregular granite chunk), an apple, a pine cone, and an unbroken empty ceramic jug. He checked those items off the list and looked up at his younger sister emerging from the undergrowth.
“What’d you find, Starlight? Wow!” Azem marveled at Starlight excitedly brandishing a feather pillow. “Somebeast must’ve misplaced that. I hope we can find its owner. Anyway, I think that qualifies as something soft, huh? What next on the list?”
Starlight pointed at the item, ‘a smiling face’. Azem laughed out loud and pulled his sister into a bear hug. “Aww, we've got our smiling faces right here, honey!” he happily exclaimed and kissed Starlight lovingly on her cheeks. “We can check that off the list!”
Azem pointed back into the undergrowth. “Why don’t we go that way again and look for a white flower now?”
Azroel reflexively caught the trowel as it fell from Etain tossing it in the air. He threw the tools into his backpack and slung it across his shoulders, following the vixens to the food tables. Helping himself to a cup of cherry soda, he snickered at the sight of Katsuke passed out with his face halfway into a delicious cheese Danish.
“How’s it going, guys?” Azroel sipped his cherry soda casually and filled a paper plate with potato chips and salsa. “I’m getting nowhere with this. I thought this would be an easy mystery to solve.” He scratched his black headfur in irritation and popped a salsa-coated potato chip into his mouth, swallowed, and continued. “Whoever is doing this is smart and well-organized, knows how to cover their tracks, and is skilled at making themselves appear innocent and suave. They’d be good at persuading others of their innocence to save their own fur. They’d also not have involved themselves in the scavenger hunt, and would instead go do something else, all while maintaining a cleverly-crafted façade.”
Azroel looked around curiously at his company, balancing a dry chip between his fingers. “Now, I’m not saying that you’re all guilty just because you’re standing around here and not on the scavenger hunt.” He chewed on the next chip contemplatively. “I guess we can only turn now to the last reliable resource…”
Wiping his paws on a napkin, he sank into a chair by the table. “Does anyone have the guest list? Maybe we can narrow our culprit down by finding who’s on it and who’s not.”
He looked up at Grundlink at his DJ set. The black-and-white rat had his headphones over his ears, laying down some new sick beats and scratches for the few guiltless creatures who’d remained on the dance floor, disinterested in the scavenger hunt. His gaze circled back to his company at the table: Etain and Hinata, Rouki, Katsuke, and one unfamiliar silver fox.
Azroel finished his chips and salsa, threw away his plate, and then began gathering graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows. He stood up and held out his paw to introduce himself to the stranger. “Evening, my fellow fox. I’m Azroel Kurgrun. I hope you’re enjoying the party. All this detective work has made me hungry.” He gestured towards the remains of the bonfire. “I’m going to restart that fire and make some s’mores; would you like some?”
Jessie halted went she felt Olivers paw in hers, she glanced down and felt her cheeks flush, shaking her head, “must be the grog...” she muttered then listening to Oliver, and her eyes widened, “Oh yes! A white flower or a rock is next..” she said racking her brains on what was on the list and as best as she could manage she yanked Oliver to the stairs, “Come on!” She said laughing and making her way slowly up the stairs, making sure not to skip a step. “Whatcha step.” She said. Up the stairs they went, and before long, they reached the top, where a rose vine was crawling up the side of the wall. She was huffing as she spotted the white flower, “White...flower...” she said before dropping to the ground, her head spinning. That grog was hitting her hard. “Hold on,” she said looking at Oliver before giggling uncontrollably, “I might be drunk....” she said and picked up a rock that broke off the step, “would this be considered a rock? Tis a rock, I declare.” She said picking it up in her free hand.
Back at the food table, Dominique caught up and nodded at Tessa, “See you’ve joined.” She said, Tessa smiled, “Yeah, we’ve been discussing, someone is covering their tracks good, No leads yet. Jurou here got knocked out, our vixen friend nearly got smashed, what’s next a explosion?” She stopped and looked around quickly. Dominique pulled out the guest list and scavenger hunt team list, “Here, I crossed checked them but a second glance is always good.” She noticed the white fox and frowned, he seemed familiar but she couldn’t place where she has seen him. She must of seen him enter the gates...but then a part of her nagged that it wasn’t so. Besides her and Tessa, Azroel, Hinata, Rouki, Katsuke and Etain and the mysterious silver fox. She waited for his introduction, crossing her arms defiantly.
Noel chuckled. Good thing I snagged that invitation off the drunk kid a minute ago, he thought with a smile, as he bowed to Dominique and Azroel, accepting the offered paw with a vigorous shake. "Name is Noel Schwartz, at your service!" he declared with a flourish of his arm. He slipped a small bottle of white-out in his pocket while he talked, out of sight from prying eyes. "I heard of the party takin' place here, and asked somebeast over the phone for an invitation -- don't remember who, though." He put a paw on his chin thoughtfully, then shrugged. "No idea. But I can never stay away from a good party." He laughed and clapped Jurou on the back. "Especially when there are fine beasts like this young lad here."
The black ferret winced and rubbed his shoulder. "Careful of the bruise," he muttered.
Katsuke snorted awake, still-warm cheese filling stuck on the end of his nose. "Wasgoinnon?" he slurred. Hinata bopped his head.
Pay attention next time instead of drinking your weight in beer, she signed. Katsuke shook his head, rubbing blurriness from his eyes, and looked up.
"Ay, Noel!" He stood and walked over to the old fox and slung an arm around his shoulders. "I love this guy!" He swayed a little, slightly tipsy still.
"You know him?" Jurou scratched his head. "How?"
"He and I talked some before the scavenger hunt thing. Did you know he's a woodcarver?" He took a drink of punch from a nearby cup, which just so happened to be Etain's. She glared coldly at him until he placed it down. "Sorry," he chuckled, but quailed under the blue-eyed gaze of the vixen. She slowly raised it to her muzzle and downed a long draft, sitting down on Hinata's lap as she did (whose ears turned a very obvious shade of pink where the blush was visible), then spoke.
"Have we figured out our mystery creature yet?" she asked Azroel. "My bet's on somebeast in the hunt -- it's the perfect opportunity to get away and cause some chaos."
"But nothing's happened since the hunt started," Jurou interrupted. He looked about. "If something happens during the hunt, then we can narrow it down to the creatures participating."
Oliver kind of realized what he did after awhile and blushed deeply himself, being drunk didn't help neither. He felt his body get jerked toward a direction as she pulled him by his paw to where she knew to look. Oliver just laughed heartily with her. Oliver started to feel the grog more as well as he listen to her deduction of what they found. "Yes Jessie! That's definitely a rock! What kind of rock did ya find there?" He said, still holding onto her paw with his other paw. He let out a hiccup, feeling that he'd be in for a long adventurous night with Jessie. He didn't mind it. The large squirrel was happy to be among friends after being on his campaign for so long.
He just happened to be with the squirrel maiden he was so fond of, alone around the Mansion. He didn't know what to think, whether it was the alcohol influencing his feelings or not. Oliver was just happy to be with her.
Bradley, still chowing down snacks as his grog started to hit him harder, made a declaration. "I think we beasts should take an intermission and have a contest. Maybe it'll help us with gathering more clues." He nodded to his own words. "Pies!! Nothing like those sweet pies with those flaky crusts. Maybe if we turn it into a contest too.. That would be even better!" Bradley continued on with his tirade. "If we make this contest, the culprit would have to participate or at least be present."
“A contest!?” Tessa said happily, “Pie!?” And gave a grin, dashing off and coming back with 4 pies delicately balanced before grabbing four more. “Alright, I got a blueberry, an apple, peach cobbler, raspeberry, a blackberry pies.” She claimed the ‘Raspberry pie.’ Dominique smiled, “A good goal, but did you have to grab the last of the pies?“ Tessa looked at her pointedly, “They are going to get eaten anyway might as well put them to good use!.”
Dominique chuckled, “Can’t argue with that. Contest is as follows! Everyone has a pie in front, first one to finish their pie wins. All of it has to be gone, or it doesn’t count Can’t use your paws, or hands, face only. . Sound good?”
“Any questions?” She added quickly at the end. “Alright, contestants, please choose your pie,” she waited til the creatures got there pies, “On my mark. Get set. GO!”
Fabi and Tessa stood next to each other, ready to dig in the pie along with the others who wanted to participate.
Jessie concentrated on the rock, “This is a sandstone rock, makes sense since the stairs are made of sandstone.” She scraped it against the ground, “see the sand coming off? So its in the sedimentary group.” She grinned and put it in her small stashel she had at her side, “Also the white flower!” She said pointing to the wall where, beautiful white roses were growing. “Think those are roses...” she said squinting. “We need it.” Instead of reaching for it she looked up, “Stars...” she muttered, “So many stars....wow.....” her eyes grew bigger as she looked at the sky using Oliver for support, she staggered up to her feet. The dark sky was littered with stars, millions of them, all shimmering against the inky blackness. Reaching a paw up as if she could reach the stars Jessie murmured, “Do you think we could ever travel to the stars? Or visit the moon?” She said looking at Oliver drawing back slightly as her nose nearly touched his. She looked at him blushing, “It would be a grand adventure think of all the rocks there would be.....” she muttered.