The previous day’s investigation had not deterred the midnight thief in the least. Twill was furious at the loss of another two portions, as was everyone else. Ter’ae had caused an enormous uproar in the midst of the horde of children. He told everyone about all the hints Kelin had told him, minus the part about Yan, and then explained why each group could have been lying. It was an outrageous sight after that, as everyone didn’t trust anyone of another species after that. Even those who were the best of friends split apart if they were different. With accusations flying everywhere, Sensei was unable to maintain control over anyone.
“Don’t you want to know what’s going on outside?” Pete asked his two lupine friends. Va’il looked to Kelin for an answer, but Kelin only continued to read. Va’il shrugged at Pete, and the two sighed together.
“Let’s just go, we should at least find out how bad the commotion is.” Pete walked over to Va’il and pulled him up by an arm, which Va’il didn’t resist. They walked outside of the tent, an action they soon regretted.
“White hair and clawed! Him!” Nekoto screamed while pointing at Va’il. Pete was stunned at the sudden accusation, and Va’il wondered what exactly was going on. Just before walking out, the horde of kids were discussing the clues that the detective duo had gathered the other day. It was in a series of yells at each other; however, they did come to a general consensus that the thief might actually be someone fitting the description that Ter’ae provided, despite his claim that it was just each group lying to save themselves. The arrival of Va’il on the scene suddenly made everyone realize they had a child who fit the description.
“Everyone calm down and back off.” Yan had suddenly appeared in front of Va’il. “This child doesn’t deserve your accusations. I’ll save you a wasted effort. Two nights ago, he and I talked under the moonlight in the middle of the night. He couldn’t have been the one to take anything, I would know.”
“Did you just say that Va’il was outside the night of the first crime?” Kelin asked while walking outside of the tent.
“Well, yes, but it was with me. Do you not trust me?” Yan asked, but his defense was an epic mistake. The horde started yelling accusations again, and Yan soon regretted his action.
“Did you watch him the entire time he was outside?”
“Were you up before him?”
“How do you know he didn’t go out again?”
“You put the suspect on the scene of the crime, and you expect us to think he didn’t do it?”
The horde was slowly advancing on Pete and Yan. In back of them were Kelin and Va’il. Va’il was still at a loss for words. He still didn’t fully understand what was going on.
“Did you really go out that first night?” Kelin asked Va’il quietly. Va’il nodded in return. “But didn’t you say you stayed in the tent all night?”
“The second night. You didn’t ask about the first. I woke up that night,” Va’il said.
“I see. You’re a half all right; I couldn’t tell. But, you didn’t do this, right?” Kelin asked.
“No, I didn’t do anything. I just walked around,” Va’il said.
“Then, did you see anything, feel anything, what happened?” Kelin asked with panic in his voice.
“I, I’m not sure. I woke up feeling both hot and chilly suddenly. It felt strange, so I wanted to walk around. I think I imagined something appeared in the woods, I was tired still, then I sat down, then Yan came out and we talked,” Va’il said.
“What did you imagine? Woods, what did you see? No, first, what did you hear about the suspect from my investigation?” Kelin asked while grabbing Va’il’s shoulders.
“Nothing, you kept me away, remember? Why is that important?” Va’il asked.
“Just answer the questions!” Kelin said.
“You’re really acting strange, but okay. I thought I saw something white disappear into the woods that night. I still think I just imagined it, or maybe it was a bird.” Va’il said while shrugging. Kelin dropped his head, and breathed a long sigh. He let go of Va’il.
“I can only believe you, my friend. You’re innocent. Let’s prove it,” Kelin said with a wide grin on his face. He walked past Yan and Pete and started to yell at the horde of children. “You can all stand back. This is still my investigation, and I will prove that this half is innocent, no matter what you and your prejudices think!” Kelin pointed back towards where Va’il was, but then noticed that Va’il had already taken off running towards the lake. Everyone saw this and started screaming to run after him. Kelin was the first one to start running, and caught up to Va’il in an instant. “What are you doing? This doesn’t help prove your innocence!”
“Don’t you hear it? There’s someone drowning!” Va’il yelled, and then ran faster. Kelin suddenly stopped and turned to face the other students.
“Someone is drowning! Jo’se, come here,” Kelin commanded. The children suddenly stopped, and Jo’se came to the front. “Jo’se, look out over the lake, can you see anything?”
Jo’se had eagle eyes, so he quickly climbed on Hein’s shoulders and looked out over the water. Everyone else had stopped, but for Va’il who had dived into the water. They were skeptical, but they let Jo’se answer before they continued. Kelin tried listening for what Va’il heard, but nothing arrived in his ears. He shivered once uncontrollably, as he realized that there may be a possibility that Va’il’s ears were better than his own.
“He’s not lying!” Jo’se said. “There is someone out there, quite a ways, I can barely see them; they are splashing! They are way too far out!”
Kelin and Pete suddenly took off towards the water’s edge, but before they could dive in, they were stopped from behind. Yan had grabbed them both, and turned them around. There was Sensei, wheezing from lack of breath. He took a few deep breaths before speaking.
“You cannot go. He’s already too far out. It’s too dangerous for anyone else to risk going.” Sensei had Yan keep a tight grip on the two boys, who were now unable to help their friend. All they could rely on now were the eagle eyes of Jo’se.
Va’il knew he wasn’t a great swimmer, but the sudden screams he heard urged him to run and swim as fast as he could. He took a deep breath as he dove into the water. It was morning still, but the water was already warming up. He swam as fast as he could in the general direction of the screams. It seemed like hours between each breath, and minutes between each stroke.
He wasn’t sure who it was, but he soon saw the person splashing in the water. They came into his vision every time he came up for another breath, until he was within twenty meters of where the person was. When he came up for air again, they were gone. There was no splashing any longer. He stopped and paddled forward slowly, towards where the person was last.
Bubbles appeared. Va’il dove on the spot. The water was considerably clear, but he still couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of his face. He stopped going any deeper; the water pressure was keeping him up. He breathed out some air, and that was enough for him to keep diving. Another few feet and he saw the person; they were still moving, reaching up with one arm. He reached down and grabbed hold of the hand. The person was sinking, and quickly. Va’il tried turning around and swimming up, but there was something keeping him from going up. He pulled himself down towards the person and hugged them. It was then that he noticed they were being sucked into a whirlpool. As they fell deeper, Va’il’s thoughts faded. What is that yellow thing, he asked himself. He felt the person he was hugging suddenly reach their arms around him, and grab him tightly. His last thought: A girl?