“Are ya quite sure, master?” Raymond asked, raising his eyebrows in surprise. And when you had eyebrows as thick as Raymond's were, raising them was indeed an interesting sight to see.
“Unfortunately so,” Descole muttered, face still buried within the piles of books and papers he'd been pouring through, “Which would be just our luck.”
“I don't think that anyone cares about the Golden Garden any more though. Or at least, nae one important. It'll just be tourists you'll have ta watch oot for,” Raymond replied.
“Tourists are considerably easier to deal with than Targent would have been,” Descole said. He never wanted to have to remind himself of them, but at the same time it wasn't so bad when you were just reminding yourself that you didn't have to deal with them anymore.
“So, should I take us over there?” asked Raymond.
“Yes, please do. I'll carry on looking over these in case we've missed something,” Descole answered.
Nodding silently, Raymond left to go pilot the aircraft. This sort of routine had become quite common between them these days – Descole would spend hours looking through documents about lost treasure, before summoning Raymond and instructing him to fly them to some obscure ruin, where the two of them would embark on their private little quests to obtain said treasure. Usually illegally.
Today was the first time that Descole had suggested travelling to somewhere so public and he was in himself completely aware of the dangers that doing so brought. It was for that exact reason that he'd been putting off this particular adventure for a while now, despite the fact that he kept happening across varies writings that had led him to this conclusion.
The most important part of the Golden Garden should have been the garden itself. That was exactly what he'd been searching for when he first went to Misthallery four years ago. The fact that there was a large sea creature of unknown origins trying to stop him had, at the time, been nothing more than a mere obstacle for him to overcome.
But no, years later it turned out that Loosha was more valuable than he could have expected.
The blubber of her species, according to what he'd read, was actually quite similar to that of most whales, meaning that it had some marginal worth in the train oil market. This alone wasn't enough to get Descole's attention, as he was not at all interested in the idea of hunting aquatic mammals for oil. But further reading showed that the meat of Loosha's kind had a much higher wealth amongst the upper-classes. At one time it had been a much craved delicacy that had only soared up in price as the species itself rapidly declined in numbers.
Now thought to be extinct, Loosha could fetch a very hight price if sold on to the correct person through the black market. And helping wealthy citizens part with their money certainly was something that grabbed Descole's attention at least enough to make today worthwhile.
The one problem was that Loosha really was extinct.
A few years ago her body had sunk to the bottom of the deep lake within the Golden Garden and with it, in all likelihood, went the last of her kind.
However, that wailing creature had somehow managed to find her way into that garden in the first place. So it wasn't impossible that there may have been more of her kind in the area. Which was what he hoped would prove to be the case.
It was nightfall before they arrived, landing some considerable distance away from Misthallery itself and walking the rest of the way to avoid attention. Descole donned a disguise that made him appear to be a casual visitor to the garden, probably a student there for research, if anyone was to ask. As usual, Raymond didn't bother with a disguise at all. This irked Descole, but he valued Raymond's help too much to draw attention to it unless his not wearing a disguise would prove foolish. No one from Misthallery had ever seen Raymond before, as Descole had been sure to mostly keep him away from the place during his first visit. The only people who might have seen him were a corrupt police chief called Jakes, who had long since been arrested, and Layton's gang. There was thankfully no chance of Layton or his apprentice showing up, since his sources had informed him that for whatever reason they had taken a train to Dropstone today, a place nowhere near here. As for Emmy, her whereabouts were still unknown. But running into her was a risk Descole took regardless of where he was travelling.
Now that it was essentially just a magnet to draw in tourists, there was no need for the Golden Garden to have any kind of overnight security beyond a simple alarm on the gate that the two of them easily bypassed. As they walked down into the depths of the garden, Descole couldn't help but note exactly how down-trodden the grass had become due to frequently being walked upon by visitors.
“We'll never find anything if we just stay here,” Descole said to Raymond, as they approached the edge of the lake, “Everyone comes here, so if one of those animals had so much as reared its head out of the water then it would have been all over the newspapers. We need to try somewhere that's less accessible.”
Raymond nodded in agreement and the two of them began to trek around the edge of the lake. At first, this seemed to be fruitless, as most of the lake's edge was what would be considered as a pleasant walk to most people and probably acted as just that. But after a while they came to a place where the water bent around much rockier ground, that only seemed to get steeper the further away it moved. While he didn't doubt that the more adventurous tourists would have tried, it was very clear that no one without the kind of expertise that both he and Raymond possessed would be able to make too much progress in crossing it.
“Hopefully none of them researchers would have bothered,” Raymond called, as the two of them scaled around the rock-face.
“Everything they wanted was in plain sight,” Descole replied, “And they were probably keen to preserve at least a bit of this place from human contact, so they didn't have to feel as bad from pocketing from it. No, I doubt that many have been here recently.”
There was little conversation throughout the rest of the journey, as both men were too busy focusing on what they were doing. The water got much deeper quickly, so falling from the rocks wasn't particularly desirable.
After some time, they did manage to reach a small area of of flatter ground nestled between the rocks. It was slightly sandy and Descole did not need Raymond's comments about it to draw the same conclusion from it as his partner had.
“Looks like its bin walked on recently,” said Raymond, “Maybe by some other animal, but hopefully what we're lookin' for.”
“We'd do well to spend some time here to find out,” Descole agreed.
He crouched down to get a closer look at the tracks. Thankfully, they obviously weren't from any sort of bird. It looked more like a small animal dragging itself along. Perhaps an adult seal. Or a young Loosha. Descole hoped for the latter.
They sat there for some time, with little more to do than feel the chill of the night's air. While Descole was content to just stare out over the water, Raymond eventually gave in to hunger and pulled a sandwich out of his pack. He offered one to Descole, but the irritable grunt he got in response was as much of a dismissal as he needed.
The sound of Raymond chewing was almost enough to distract Descole from the slight ripples that appeared in the water soon after. But if there was any chance of him ignoring them, it was soon gone, as several blue-grey lumps appeared above the surface, drifting towards them.
“I don't believe it!” Descole gasped. This was far too good to be true!
“Looks like the old gal wasn't the last one after all,” Raymond added, as the first of the pups pulled itself onto the rocks.
“There's at least six of them,” counted Descole, “They'd make enough money to fund our ventures until every last mystery on Earth has been uncovered.”
“Aye, but I don't think that's what they're bothered aboot,” Raymond replied.
The approaching pup snatched what remained of Raymond's sandwich out of his hand, swallowing it swiftly before crying for more. It wasn't alone in this, as the others had now also reached the shore and were all making what Descole could only describe as a horrible din.
“Do you have any more?” Descole snapped, darting over to grab Raymond's pack.
“Plenty, which is probably a good thing, I'd say,” Raymond answered.
As soon as the pack was taken, the young Looshas were now at Descole's feet, whining up at him for more. He pulled several sandwiches out and threw them to the floor just to distract the demanding beasts for a few minutes.
“We'd better get the net ready,” he said, hunting through the pack, “I'd planned for at least one animal the size of Loosha, so that should be enough for all of them.”
“Maybe so. But is it enough for all o' them and that?”
“What do you- ...Oh.”
The two were now faced with a fully-grown creature, that had risen out of the water to see what had caused such a commotion amongst its young.
“That's impossible! Surely someone woulda seen it before now!” Raymond gasped.
“Do you want to tell it that?” sneered Descole, before addressing the animal itself, “Hello Loosha, my old friend. I don't care that you're probably not the same one, you're all Loosha to me. And you're going to make me a pretty penny, aren't you?”
Although this Loosha had no way of comprehending any of what Descole had planned, it wasn't going to comply anyway, instead craning its large head forward and taking hold of the pack Descole held in its mouth.
“What are you doing? Let go!” Descole snarled, clutching onto the pack tightly.
This was definitely not the right choice to make, as the more powerful Loosha easily lifted him off the ground, shaking to try and dislodge him. Much of the content of the pack fell out and the younger Looshas squealed happily as they returned to the lake to try and snatch anything edible.
Raymond moved quickly, scrambling up the rocks until he was close enough to Loosha's head to make a grab for Descole. He held out an arm and without much persuasion Descole grabbed his hand, releasing his grip on the pack and allowing the new Loosha to have it. He crashed against Raymond. The two of them hissed in pain as they in-turn smacked against the rocks.
“The... the other pack!” Descole yelled, “It's still down there!”
“I'd leave it if I were you,” warned Raymond.
They watched haplessly as, after discarding the now-empty first pack, Loosha then moved on to grab the second one from the rocks below them. It nudged the pack, before again grabbing it in its mouth and shaking free the contents. The only thing of interest to the Looshas were a few more small items of food that the younger ones chased after once they'd been dislodged. But everything else that had been inside, and the duo needed, was also lost to the water, sinking down before either of them could so much as get close.
“Curse these bloated manatees! We should have prepared better!” Descole spat.
“With all due respects, master, this was always just gan ta be a scoutin' trip. We never even expected ta find anythin',” Raymond consoled, “Now that we know they're here we can better prepare fer next time.”
“Yes, you are most certainly right,” Descole agreed, “And fortunately no one else seems to have discovered them yet, either. So I assume it will be safe to leave them for a short while before returning to capture them. We won't even have to sell them right away. I assume there will be at least one pair amongst them that we could potentially breed if we were to learn more about the species. So we'd just have to make a place to contain them then sell them on a few at a time as we don't need them any more.”
“That's a heck of a lot o' Looshas,” commented Rayond.
“Well, I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but in this case perhaps the more Looshas the better,” Descole replied.
As they watched the little family return below the lake, leaving the two empty packs to bob on the surface, Raymond thought to himself that next time they tried this, it would be more a case of the more sandwiches the better.