Case of the Monkey's Paw It was a warm, lazy afternoon in There, and the renowned detective, Sam Kantana, was dozing in his office, dreaming about the delightful meatloaf he’d enjoy at lunchtime. Just as he was about to enjoy his first bite, he was rudely awakened by the sound of his office door crashing open. Startled, Sam’s head snapped up off of his desktop, his eyes focusing on the stranger who had interrupted his nap. The man was disheveled, with a wild look in his eyes and a grubby furry object clutched in his right hand. “Help me,” the man exclaimed as he approached Sam’s desk, “Please help me, I’ve got nowhere else to turn.” Sam motioned toward the chairs that faced his desk and said, “Have a seat, I’m sure we can get to the bottom of your problem in no time.” Noticing that his potential client was sweating profusely, he offered him a box of kleenex and a glass of water. “My name is Casey McPhee, and up until last week, I led a pretty normal, quiet life.” “So what happened?” Sam enquired. “I went on vacation with my girlfriend Betsy. We went on one of those guided tours of the Monkey Ruins. That tour ruined my life!” sobbed Casey. “What happened?” Sam asked patiently, hoping that Casey would get to the point soon. “Well, three days into the trip the itinerary called for lunch and shopping in the Monkey Mall. We had a nice lunch and were walking around the mall when Betsy decided to try on several dresses. While I was waiting for her to finish, I decided to browse through an antiques shop. Just as I was about to enter the door I heard a sound and stopped to look for the source. I’d just about given up when I spotted a man standing in the alley by the store. Once I made eye contact the man waved me over and said,” “I have a real Monkey relic, not like that replicated tourist junk you’ll find in that shop.” Casey continued his tale, “I asked to see the artifact and the man produced a small monkey’s paw on a chain – a lucky charm, he called it, claiming it was from the early Ming Monkey dynasty.” “Not so lucky for the monkey,” Sam murmured under his breath. “The price was reasonable, so I bought it, thinking that I could certainly use a bit of good luck, and for the first day my luck was great! I won three rounds of bingo that night and was crowned ‘Bingo King’, Betsy agreed to marry me, and we were upgraded to a great hotel because the one we were supposed to stay in was overbooked.” “So what went wrong? It sounds like you were having a great time.” Sam queried. “Everything! Everything went wrong! The next day Betsy dumped me, I lost my job, my car exploded, and my dog ran away.” Casey moaned, “It’s all because of this monkey’s paw – it’s cursed I tell you, cursed! I’ve tried to get rid of it but it just keeps coming back and every day my luck is worse than the day before. Help me get rid of this dratted monkey’s paw before I wind up dead!” Sam thought for a moment and said, “Alright, I’ll take your case and I’m sure we can figure out what’s going on and set things straight. First, let’s head over to the Monkey Mall – maybe we can track down your mystery relic salesman and find out where he acquired the monkey’s paw. Where did you park?” “In the lot out front,” Casey answered, looking a bit less distraught. “Okay, I’ll meet you outside and we’ll get started.” As Sam left his office building, he pulled his sunglasses from is pocket and slipped them on, observing that it was a very bright day in Kantana Point. He looked around for Casey, puzzled that he wasn’t visible in the small parking lot. Sam stepped forward and spotted Casey sitting on the curb, cradling his head in his hands. “Are you okay?” Sam asked, worried that perhaps Casey’s health had been affected by his stress level. Casey shook his head in reply and pointed toward the right. Sam looked toward the right and saw a tow truck leaving the village with a tan buggy in tow. “Um, was that your car?” Sam queried. Yes, it was the car I rented after my car exploded,” Casey said in a dejected tone. “Where did you park?” Sam asked curiously. “Right here,” Casey answered, pointing to the parking stall directly ahead of him. “Whoops,” exclaimed Sam, “Didn’t you see the ‘Emergency Vehicles Only’ sign?” “No,” Casey sighed, “When I arrived there was a man wearing a signboard advertising meatloaf standing in front of it. Just another example of my terrible bad luck streak!” “Well, we’ll figure it out,” Sam said in a reassuring tone. “Let’s start by heading down the road to the Monkey Mall” Sam and Casey hopped into Sam’s bright red buggy and took the West road out of Kantana, heading toward the Monkey Mall. Hearing emergency sirens behind him, Sam slowed his buggy and pulled to the side of the road, about a block away from the Monkey Mall. “I wonder where all those fire engines are heading” he mused. Even as he asked the question, he saw the black smoke billowing from the area that used to contain the Monkey Mall. “Wow, look at that,” Sam gasped. “The Monkey Mall has been reduced to rubble!” Sam heard a moaning sound and glanced over to see Casey turning green. Sam parked the buggy went to the trunk to grab a bottle of water for Casey. “Here,” Sam said as he offered him the bottle of water, “Have a drink of this and let’s get you some fresh air.” Sam opened the door and Casey joined him beside a shady palm tree. Surveying the situation, Sam suggested “Let’s head over to the mall – it looks like the firemen have put out the blaze and maybe we can still pick up a clue or two.” Sam and Casey headed out on foot to wander through the broken columns that had once lined the spectacular Monkey Mall. Casey led the way through the smoldering rubble that had once been the most spectacular mall in all of There. Soon he stopped and pointed toward one of the shattered columns. “I met the man who sold me the monkey’s paw right there, beside that column.” “Hmmmm,” Sam spent a moment observing the destruction, and finally came to a startling conclusion, “I believe that this area was at the center of the blast that destroyed the mall. Notice how the columns all around this spot are toppled away from here?” Casey gulped, “The cursed monkey’s paw did it – it must have gone after the guy that sold it to me.” Sam and Casey stood quietly for a moment, absorbing Casey’s dire pronouncement. Before either could speak, a fireman came up behind them and suggested they move along, as the area had not yet been cleared by the structural engineers. “You know, there’s already been one injury in this area, and we don’t want to send anyone else to the hospital, so you really do need to stay beyond the yellow police tape,” instructed Jed Lambert, Chief of the There Fire and Rescue unit. “Someone was injured?” Sam asked. “Yes, he was apparently standing near this column when the lightening bolt struck. That’s what did it you know, a freak bolt of lightening hit this column and blew the mall to smithereens. Sure is odd, considering we haven’t had a thunderstorm in this area in years,” Jed replied. Sam decided that moving along was probably a wise idea and stepped away from the teetering columns. He surveyed the area and noticed a scrap of paper that looked like it had been torn from a packing slip beneath a bush. Sam folded the packing slip and tucked into his notebook. “This could be a clue,” he said, “perhaps the man you met is somehow connected with this antiquity dealer.” “I don’t know,” replied Casey. “I think the man I met was named Ali, or at least that’s he said when he answered his cell phone while we were negotiating the price for the monkey’s paw.” Sam led the way to the Nurse’s station, and greeted the red-headed nurse sitting at the desk, “Hello Bonnie,” he said, “Long time no see.” “Very true Sam, “ Bonnie chuckled, “Let’s see, I think the last time we saw you was when you came in with indigestion after that big meatloaf cook-off you attended in Tyr.” Sam looked a little embarrassed and said, “Anyway, it’s good to see you. We’re here today trying to track down the man who was injured in the explosion over at the Monkey Mall. We think he may have information that is vital to my client. Any chance we can pop in and talk with him for a minute?” “Well, you know that I should make you wait and ask the doctor, but since he’s stable at the moment, I’ll let you go in – but only for 5 minutes, and be sure you don’t upset him,” admonished Bonnie. “He’s right down the hall in room 107.” Sam opened the door to room 107 and turned to Casey. “Does that look like the man who sold you the monkey’s paw,” Sam asked quietly. “Well,” Casey replied, “It’s a little hard to tell with all the bandages, but he does seem to have the same large nose, and the jacket hanging on the hook next to the bed is definitely familiar.” As Sam walked toward the bed, the man suddenly pointed toward Casey, his eyes widening in horror as he gasped “Get it away from me, no, no, don’t bring that evil thing any closer!” Sam turned toward Casey and motioned him out of the room, before turning back and addressing the obviously terrified man lying in the hospital bed. “It’s gone now,” Sam reassured him. “We’re trying to figure out how to get rid of it for good, and need your help.” “It’s evil, I wish I’d never laid eyes on that evil thing,” the man moaned. “Can you give me any information about it,” Sam asked. “I was, um, sorting through a box of relics that my brother, Abe, had just received from one of his contacts in Monkey Crater, when I saw a scroll. I was able to translate a portion of the scroll, which led me to the monkey’s paw – the scroll said it would provide good luck, but it’s evil!” Ali whispered desperately. “Do you have any idea where the scroll is now?” Sam asked eagerly. Ali pointed toward his jacket, “It’s in the inside pocket.” At that he fell back onto the bed and closed his eyes. Sam went over to the jacket, which was hanging next to the bed, and reached inside and withdrew a scroll. Carefully unrolling the scroll, Sam realized that it was written in an ancient monkey dialect. With a final glance in Ali’s direction, Sam left the room and joined Casey in the hallway. “We’re going to have to get help from an expert to get this scroll translated,” Sam told Casey. “Let’s head over to the There University of Antiquities, which is over by Island Tours South. If we’re lucky, we’ll catch Professor Panzhee in his office.” Casey muttered, “if we get lucky?!? Oh my gosh, I'm doomed,” as he followed Sam outside. Sam and Casey climbed out of Sam’s buggy in the main University parking lot, and headed up the ramp to the University entrance. Along the way, Sam spotted his old friend Professor Simeon. Sam waved, and called out to Professor Simeon, “Hey Bob, is Jim Panzhee in his office?” Bob Simeon called out a greeting, “Hey Sam, long time no see! I’m afraid you’re out of luck today if you’re looking for Jim – he left about 10 minutes ago for Motu Motu to do some fishing.” “Does he still favor the lake by Pier 41?” Sam asked hopefully. “As far as I know, he does,” Bob replied. “I need to get going to teach a class of freshmen the difference between chimpanzees and orangutans so I’ll see you later.” Bob waved as he ran off in the direction of Monkey Hall. “Well, I guess we’re going to have to head over to Motu Motu if we want to catch up with Jim.” Sam said. “Good thing we’re so close to Island Tours, since they have a hoverboat shuttle service that leaves every hour.” Sam and Casey boarded the next hoverboat headed to Motu Motu and then took a taxi to Pier 41. Sam hopped out of the taxi and started down the pier, looking for Professor Jim. He’d just spotted Jim sitting in a dingy floating near the dock when he heard a yelp and a loud splash. Sam turned around just in time to see Casey’s head disappear from view. Sam grabbed a life preserver from the side of the pier and threw it toward the spot where he’d seen Casey sink. He waited for a moment, but grew concerned when Casey didn’t resurface. Fearing that he was in the process of losing a client, Sam quickly divested himself of his jacket and shoes and leapt off the pier. Moments later, Sam surfaced with a sputtering Casey in tow. Dragging Casey back to shore, Sam heaved a sigh of relief to see that Casey’s color was returning to normal. “Well,” Sam said, “That was a close one.” Casey heaved a sigh and said, “Just my bad luck catching up with me – one minute I was following you and the next I was in the water. It seemed like something was holding me under or like I’d gotten caught on something.” “Good thing I was close by,” Sam replied. “Why don’t you stay here while I go and show the scroll to Professor Panzhee?” “Sure thing,” Casey answered, before flopping back onto the sand. Having heard all the commotion, Professor Panzhee had docked his dingy and was standing on the pier when Sam approached. “Hey Jim,” Sam greeted the professor, “Sorry about interrupting your fishing trip, but I need help with a rather puzzling case.” “Happy to help, Sam,” Jim Panzhee replied, “although I’m not sure I’ll be much help unless you’ve taken up a study of the Monkey ruins.” Jim chuckled as though he’d made an incredibly funny joke. “Funny you should say that,” replied Sam, as he pulled the scroll from his pocket. “It appears we have a case that is rooted in Monkey antiquity.” Jim carefully unrolled the scroll and studied it. “Hmmmmm,” he finally said. “This looks genuine. The words that comprise the main text seem to be from a couple different Monkey dialects that are at least 1,000 years old. This set of hieroglyphs in the middle, though, I’ve never seen anything like them.” “Do you think you’ll be able to help us translate any of it?” Sam asked eagerly. “Yes, but I’m going to need a couple of the reference books in my office at the University. I’ll put my fishing gear back into my storage locker and meet you in my office at the University in about an hour.” “Sounds great, thanks!” Sam said as Jim hustled off with his fishing gear. Sam then went back to the beach to find Casey and head back to the University and Professor Panzhee’s office. Arriving at Professor Panzhee’s office, Sam and Casey watched the professor pulling down reference book after reference book from his office bookcase. “Found it!” Jim exclaimed after several minutes. “The first line of text appears to be from the early Monassic period, if you give me a few minutes I think I can do a rough translation of that line.” The professor started flipping back and forth in the heavy volume scribbling in a notepad as he muttered to himself. “Ok,” Professor Panzhee said, as he leaned back in his chair, “Here’s what the first line in the scroll translates to: “Behold the blessed paw of the great king Poflimaas”” “Do you think that anyone might mistranslate ‘blessed’ paw as ‘lucky’ paw?” Sam asked. “Oh certainly,” replied the professor, “Early Monassic writing was full of very subtle, but meaningful variances, so only a trained scholar would likely catch the difference between those words..” “Well, Casey,” Sam commented, “I guess that explains why Ali told you it was a lucky charm – apparently he misinterpreted the scroll.” “Lucky charm?” Professor Panzhee replied. “There’s no way this is a lucky charm, far from it in fact, as I recognize a couple words from the remaining text, which is from the late Orantic period. I’d say anything that is associated with the words ‘cursed’ and ‘doom’ is NOT a lucky charm.” Casey moaned and whimpered, “doomed?” “Well now young man,” the professor said cheerfully, “no point in borrowing trouble. I don’t have a copy of ‘Manser’s Guide to Orantic Linguistics’ here, so we’ll need to run over to the Library of Antiquities and hunt one down.” “That’s just a short hop East of the Jungle Pools Day Spa, right?” Sam asked. “Yes, that’s the place. I’ll meet you in Orantic Hall,” Jim replied. Professor Panzhee arrived at the Library well ahead of Sam and Casey, who appeared to have turned off at the wrong exit. The professor figured he’d go ahead and start looking for the text he needed, knowing that eventually the others would find their way to the library. Hunting through the dusty rows of reference books, the professor eventually found the book he was seeking, buried under three years worth of periodicals from the Monkey Crater Foundation. Taking the book over to a table, Jim started working on the translation of the remaining text. Sam and Casey arrived to find the professor scribbling furiously on a tablet of paper. They sat down across the table from Professor Panzhee, and waited for him to finish his translation. Minutes ticked by without any acknowledgement that the professor was aware of their presence, until a loud crash resounding through the silent library caused the professor’s head to snap up. “What on earth?” the professor exclaimed. “This is a library – you need to be quiet!” Casey’s face went a peculiar shade of red as he picked himself up off the floor. “Chair leg broke,” he mumbled as he grabbed a chair from another table. “Well, be more careful,” the professor admonished. “Now then, I think I am making progress with the translation of this portion of the scroll, although you know that Orantic is much more challenging to translate, considering its relatively primitive syntax. One thing I have uncovered, however, is that the hieroglyphs in the center of the scroll seem to be the work of a secretive Monkey Cult that flourished from the late Oratic period through the early Monassic period, which fits with the reign of King Poflimaas. It looks like you have a genuine artifact, which means someone has finally figured out how to get into the tomb of Poflimaas!” the professor finished excitedly. “Shhhhh,” the group heard someone at a neighboring table hiss. “I’ll continue to finish the Orantic translation, but you two need to head over to see Dr. Nick Tanger. He’s one of our best research archeologists, and is currently heading up a dig that has uncovered several artifacts we believe are associated with the Monkey Cult.” Professor Panzhee proceeded to draw a crude map to Dr. Tanger’s dig site. Sam took the map and headed out to the site of the Monkey Temple, which was located just north of Karuna Plaza. Dr. Nick Tanger was taking charcoal rubbings of the carvings on the back of the temple wall when he saw Sam and Casey approaching. Sam noticed that Dr. Tanger looked a little annoyed by their presence, so provided a quick synopsis of the reason for their intrusion on the good doctor’s dig. “A scroll with hieroglyphs you say?” Dr Tanger asked dispassionately. “I’d like to see that.” “Here’s a photocopy of the scroll,” Sam replied as he handed the document to the doctor. “Professor Panzhee currently has the original at the Library, and is doing the translations for the sections written in text form. He sent us to see you about the hieroglyphs.” “As well he should, considering I am the one who found this scroll,” Dr. Tanger replied sardonically. “This scroll was stolen along with a crate of relics that were packed for shipment back to my lab at the University.” Sam took Dr Tanger aside for a private chat, “You see, Dr Tanger, my client purchased one of those relics, a monkey’s paw, and now believe’s he’s been cursed. Whether the curse is true or not,” “oh it’s probably true,” Dr Tanger murmured. “As I was saying, whether it’s true or not, my client believes its true and seems to be suffering from a series of unfortunate events, which he considers to be evidence of the curse. We need to find a way to ‘undo’ the curse, so that he can return to his normal life.” “Undo the curse, eh?” Nick Tanger stroked his chin with his thumb and forefinger for a moment as he considered this notion. “Well, the best bet is to find a way to decipher the hieroglyphs. Fortunately, I have a program that will do just that. Unfortunately I don’t have all the data I need at this point, and don’t have enough volunteers to comb through all the Monkey Ruins to locate the scroll fragments I need to generate a full translation.” “We’ll be happy to hunt down the scrolls if you can point us in the right direction,” Sam replied. “Ok, that’s going to be a big job, but you’re welcome to try. I’d suggest you begin at this small temple in the northern region of Monkey Crater. It’s an odd little temple with a very interesting rune which appears to float in the center. It is widely considered to be one of the secret ceremonial sites used by the priests of the Monkey Cult. Be sure to scan and transmit anything you find to me, and I’ll input it into the program.” Sam located Casey (who’d been sitting by a lily pond dipping his fingers in the water), and hurried him back to the buggy. Sam decided against mentioning the crocodile he’d seen heading in the direction of Casey’s fingers. Arriving at the mysterious temple, Sam and Casey are amazed to see that the rune in the center of the temple really does seem to be floating. Sam found himself fighting the desire to spend time examining this odd phenomena, reminding himself that he was there for an entirely different purpose. “Let’s split up and see if we can find anything that looks like those hieroglyphs,” Sam suggested. “I’ll take the area on this side of the temple and you can look in those trees over there.” Casey agreed, and they started searching for clues. Excited that they’d found a clue so quickly, Sam and Casey waited impatiently to hear back from Dr Tanger. Within a few minutes of transmission, Sam’s cell phone started to chime. “Hello” he answered, curious because the caller’s id was listed as “private”. “Nick Tanger here,” the voice on the phone replied. “Good work – the two symbols that you found are part of the code used in the scroll. Here’s what you found: the first symbol translates as the letter “A”. The second symbol translates as the letter “C”.” “Got it,” Sam responded as he jotted the information down in his notebook. “Where should we go next?” he asked. “I think the simplest path will be to visit the ruins in a circular order. Considering your current location, you should head south east until you find another site. It’s one of the lesser tumas, and not in the best condition, but from the right era, so will hopefully yield more data”. Sam put the buggy in gear and headed toward the South. Once again Sam and Casey split up to hunt for clues. Sam privately agreed with Dr. Tanger’s opinion of the area – the tomb had definitely seen better days. After about an hour of hiking around, Sam and Casey met back at the buggy, feeling a little defeated and dehydrated. They decided to take a quick break and refreshed themselves with water and protein bars – both a bit warm from sitting for so long in the trunk of Sam’s buggy. Refreshed, Sam and Casey headed out to continue their search for clues. This time the call from Dr. Tanger takes a bit longer, and Sam can see that Casey is getting a bit nervous. Finally the phone rings and Dr. Nick provides the translation as follows: The symbols (in the same order listed in the scroll fragment) are equivalent of the letters D, E, and H. Dr. Nick suggests they head over the hill to the ruins in the center of the crater. Once a fabulous labyrinth, Mura Kami is now somewhat unstable, which explains the forcefield fence surrounding the area, intended to keep casual visitors safe. Sam fires up the buggy and heads up the hill toward the west. After quite a bit of driving and a couple minor accidents, Sam and Casey finally found the Mura Kami Labyrinth. They hunted for the better part of three hours for clues, but could not find anything. They gave Dr. Tanger a call, and he agreed that it sounded like it was time to move on to the next site. Dr. Tanger also told Sam that he’d gotten a call from Professor Panzhee, and that Panzhee would like Sam to call him as soon as possible. Sam quickly called Professor Panzhee, and found that the Professor had completed the translation of the second line of text on the scroll. According to Professor Panzhee, the second line of text translated as follows: “Cursed are they who dare defile the tomb of Poflimaas” Upon arriving at Tuma Tower, Sam and Casey took a moment to appreciate the engineering abilities that the ancient monkey’s had demonstrated. “Imagine that,” Sam mused, “Monkeys building a tower that tall. Amazing considering the structural engineering requirements for a tower that tall and narrow.” Returning to the task at hand, Sam and Casey proceeded to split up and hunt for clues. Excited that another clue had been located, our intrepid explorers waited anxiously for Dr. Tanger’s call. When the call finally came through, they found that the first symbol on the scroll translated as the letter “I” and the second as the letter “K”. Upon enquiring where Dr Tanger recommended they go next, they were surprised when he suggested they continue to explore the Tuma Tower area – that there had been many small caches of relics found around the perimeter of the tower, so continuing their search in the vicinity might prove fruitful. Sam and Casey hopped in the buggy to scour the perimeter of the area. Sam quickly stopped the buggy after hitting a particularly deep pothole and hearing a thud on the passenger side of the vehicle. He looked to his right and saw that the passenger seat was empty, and looked back to see a dazed Casey sitting on the ground. Running to Casey’s side, Sam helped him get up and asked what happened. “I don’t know,” replied Casey. “I was wearing my seatbelt, but suddenly found myself flying out of the buggy.” “All the more reason to get hunting for those scroll fragments,” replied Sam, relieved that Casey appeared to be in one piece. The duo searched the area for clues. Sam and Casey sat on a log, watching the archeological team work, while waiting to hear back from Dr. Tanger. They’d come across the team while searching for scroll fragments and were happy to take a break and have a cup of tea with the team. One of the team members, Dr Joe Argula, was quite excited to share his findings. “Did you know that the ancient Monkey tribes were actually quite skilled at creating epicurean delights?” Dr Argula shared. “In fact, I’ve discovered that they had several quite complex dishes that they prepared using Echimys semivillosus as the main ingredient.” “Echimys semivillosus?” Sam asked, feeling a little out of his depth. “Well, the common name for the Echimys semivillosus is the speckled tree rat, but you can call it a tree rat for short,” responded Dr. Argula, not seeming to notice that his audience looked a little queasy. “Well, um, that’s certainly interesting,” Sam replied politely, wishing that Dr. Tanger would hurry up and call so that they could move on. “Oh, yes, it’s a fascinating study,” Dr. Argula continued, clearly oblivious to the discomfort this information was causing his audience. “In fact, I’ve just uncovered evidence that one of the favored dishes of the monkey king Poflimaas was a dish made with ground Echimys semivillosus, mixed with quail eggs, some sort of tomato like fruit, a few herbs and their version of bread crumbs.” “Really,” replied Sam, glancing surreptitiously at his watch. “Yes,” answered Dr. Argula, “It would be somewhat like the dish we commonly call meatloaf.” Fortunately for Sam, at that moment his cell phone chimed, so he missed hearing the reference to meatloaf. Dr. Tanger called and shared that the latest two letters translated were L and N, and suggested they head to the nearby tomb of King Gara. “Wow,” Casey exclaimed, “This looks like a Ziggurat” “It certainly does,” replied Sam, hoping that they wouldn’t actually have to climb it to find the clues they needed. The duo split up and following their usual methods went to work hunting for scroll fragments. While sitting on the back bumper of the buggy awaiting Dr. Tanger’s call, Sam started counting the steps to the top of the Ziggurat. “Wow, I’m sure glad we didn’t have to climb that thing,” he commented to Casey, who appeared to be napping. Casey’s eyes opened as Sam’s cell phone chimed. Dr. Tanger quickly shared that he’d successfully translated their latest find, and the three symbols translated as O, R, and S (using the same order they were presented on the scroll). Dr. Tanger suggested they spend a little more time searching the Tuma Gara region, and quickly hung up. “Well, it seems he’s in something of a hurry,” commented Sam. “Or else he lost signal on his cell phone,” suggested Casey. At that moment, the phone chimed again. Sam answered assuming it would be Dr. Tanger, but was surprised to hear Professor Panzhee’s voice. “Good news,” exclaimed Professor Panzhee excitedly. “I’ve translated the third line of the scroll. Here’s what the third line says: “Only they who speak the sacred words from within the fire will be saved from eternal doom”. The professor went on to say, “Based on the research my assistant is doing, we are hypothesizing that the hieroglyphics in the middle of the scroll are the sacred words that must be spoken to break the curse. The thing we’re debating at this point is whether the hieroglyphs should be read left to right as three rows or top to bottom in three columns.” Sam and Casey pondered the professor’s words as they returned to their search of the Tuma Gara region. Happy that they’d found another cache of relics, Sam and Casey began sifting through the area hoping they’d find another piece of data for Dr. Tanger. Sam noticed that it was starting to get a bit dark, which surprised him, since Caldera was known for its long days. Sam napped while waiting for Dr. Tanger to call with the results of their latest transmission. Fortunately, Sam was a light sleeper, so when he heard the scream, he roused quickly and jumped out of the buggy. “Help me” he heard, just before hearing a ‘gurgle, gurgle, gurgle’ sound. Sam sprinted toward the noise and found that Casey had managed to step in quicksand! Sam ran back to the buggy and grabbed the rope he conveniently kept in the trunk, then ran back and pulled Casey from the quicksand with no time to spare. Casey sputtered and coughed for a moment before starting to brush off all the muck which now covered ninety percent of his body. Sam shook his head and wondered why Casey was so accident prone, and then found himself wondering if it was possible that Casey really was cursed …. then laughed to himself and discarded that notion as absurd. Casey called out to Sam that Dr. Tanger had called and told him that the translations were taking a bit longer with this last batch, and had suggested they take a break while he finished running them through his program. Sam agreed that this was a good idea, and headed over to the Star Garden café, so that he and Casey could have dinner and get washed up from this latest “accident”. Feeling refreshed and full, Sam and Casey lingered over a steaming cup of coffee. Sam started to wonder why they hadn’t heard from Dr. Tanger, and glanced down at his cell phone, only to realize that he’d run out of battery power. Sam decided to plug the cell phone into the car charger, and as soon as he did so, it started playing a melody. “Well, someone must have left me a voicemail,” he commented as he punched in is voicemail password. Sam jotted down the information that Dr. Tanger had left in his voicemail message. The first symbol translated to the letter “T” and the second translated to the letter “U”. Also, Dr. Tanger suggested that a visit to the tomb of King Poflimaas would be a good idea. Naturally, since King Poflimaas was the grandest of the monkey kings, his tomb is the largest, and sports a giant sarcophagus with an enormous banana on top. “Well, this sure is aptly named,” said Sam, upon arrival at Grandis Tuma. “That sure is one huge banana,” replied Casey. The two quickly got down to business and pleased when they easily found a scroll fragment. Moments after they’d transmitted the scroll to Dr. Tanger, they received a call providing them with the translation. “The first symbol translates as a “V” and the second translates as a “Y”,” explained Dr. Tanger. “This last bit provided enough data for my program to finish decoding the hieroglyphs, so at this point you should be able to translate the ancient words.” “Ok,” said Sam, now we know the sacred words, we just need to find the fire that is mentioned.” As Sam finished speaking, they noticed that a hoverboat had landed near the ruins and saw Dr. Tanger and Professor Panzhee hop out and head in their direction. “We still cannot come to a firm conclusion which direction the words must be spoken,” announced Professor Panzhee. “True,” responded Dr. Tanger, “however, my program indicates that there is a 51% probability that it is across, rather than down.” “I disagree,” countered Professor Panzhee, “The historical records my interns have been combing indicate that the word ‘Nicto’ very likely means ‘so be it’, which would only be found at the end of the phrase, indicating that it should be read down, not across.” “Well, either way,” Dr. Tanger continued, “It would seem you need to use this portal to continue.” You click on the link below and are teleported to a strange place where you must make a choice – one decision will free you from the curse, the other will lead to your eternal doom. Casey finished saying the words on the scroll and gingerly opened his eyes. He was relieved to find that he was still alive and upon patting his pocket realized that the evil monkey’s paw had vanished. Giddy with relief, he almost stepped off the edge of the platform, but caught himself in time and chuckled, “No more bad luck for me!” At that moment he heard a voice calling his name and saw his girlfriend Betsy running toward him, his dog Spot in tow. Delighted that his luck had clearly improved, he joined Betsy and Spot and the three of them hopped in Betsy’s TUV and headed for home. Sam sauntered down to the Crow’s Nest café, relieved to have solved another bizarre case. As soon as he opened the café door, he smelled Mabel’s meatloaf, and when he sat down he happily told the waitress that he’d like a nice club sandwich and cup of coffee. Congratulations! You’ve completed the Case of the Monkey’s Paw, a Sam Kantana mystery quest. We hope that you enjoyed the quest, and will return for our next Sam Kantana installment, “The Case of the Burgled Brew”, coming to the AQ club soon!
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