Chapter One

The Mythtery Detective Agency –

No Case Too Epic!

Hmm, thought Sammy Athens as she studied the large sign in the window above the post office. That's the first case of 'Written Lisp' I've ever seen! I wonder if the owner knows 'Mystery' is spelt wrong.

Maybe it was this curiosity that made the nine year-old girl take a deep breath and push open the door. Beyond it was a blue staircase that seemed to stretch up forever, high into the gloomy shadows. At first she was too scared of the mountain before her, but then a loud noise caught her attention…

CRAASH!!

In an instant, she was taking the stairs two at a time. Whether they knew the sign was spelt wrong or not, it sounded like whoever was up there had hurt themselves, and she wanted to help them.

It turned out that the staircase didn't go on forever after all, and seconds later Sammy found herself standing outside the 'Mythtery Detective's office door. She took another deep breath before knocking on the door.

"Hello?" she called out moments later, "Is anyone there?"

"Yeah," replied a gruff voice, "I'm here. I work here, where else would I be?"

"I heard a crash," she said uncertainly. "Is it okay if I come in?"

"Of course it is," answered the same gruff voice as if it were talking to a complete idiot. "What kind of detective business would I be running if I didn't let any clients in?"

"Good point," Sammy considered, shrugging her shoulders, "but I'm not a client."

"Oh," the voice sounded heartbroken. "Then go away."

"Really?"

The voice gave a heavy sigh, "No, not really. Come in, kid."

Sammy pushed open the door, took one step into the office and froze, mouth hanging open. The detective agency she now found herself standing in was like nothing she had ever seen before. Where a normal agency would have newspaper clippings of successful cases, this one had ancient scrolls written in languages she couldn't read. There weren't any filing cabinets crammed with case files stacked along a wall, just a bookcase lined with encyclopaedias and historical textbooks. Historical relics were everywhere – in glass cases, on the only desk in the room, hanging from the walls, the ceiling… even the floor!

And standing there, on top of his desk, was the strangest detective Sammy Athens had ever seen in her life. He wore a dark red suit and a long green coat, with purple boots a pair of starry spectacles. Oh, and he had a Viking's helmet on his head.

He caught her staring at him in disbelief, looked down at himself and laughed nervously. "Would you believe I fell into my wardrobe?"

"That depends," she replied slowly, eyebrows raised, "was that the crashing sound I heard just now?"

"Well, no, that was when the ancient Egyptian sarcophagus there," he paused to point down at the long, human-shaped gold coffin by Sammy's feet, "it fell from the ceiling. That was the crashing noise you heard. It's really heavy."

"Why tie it to the ceiling, anyway?" she asked, barely holding back her laughter. "Why not just set it up against the wall?"

The detective looked down at the sarcophagus, his mouth opening and closing silently for several seconds. Then he took off his Viking helmet to scratch his head of unruly blond hair. "Because, er… well, because that would be too obvious, now wouldn't it?"

Sammy looked up at the ceiling. "You've torn out a chunk of plaster, too," she pointed out.

The strange detective studied the gaping hole and the wooden beams above it. "So I have," he mused softly, stroking his chin, "funny, that… I've always meant to redecorate. Guess I have a good reason to, now."

"Uh-huh," Sammy shook her head sadly, bringing her gaze back down to the strange man on his cluttered desk. "So… if the crash was this golden box hitting the floor – and I'm frankly surprised it didn't go straight through it – then how do you explain your outfit?"

The oddly-dressed detective looked hurt. "What, you don't believe me when I said I fell into my wardrobe?"

"Nope."

"Good call," he smiled thinly, jumping down from his desk and placing the Viking helmet on it. "Truth is, I was just messing around with different clothes, trying to come up with a new uniform… What?" he added defensively when he caught her sceptical gaze, "I'm all alone: I get bored easily."

"So, it's all random stuff you're wearing?"

The detective looked down at himself once more. "What? Oh, no," he laughed, flicking off his glasses, "just these stupid things and that helmet. Everything else? It's all me, kid."

"Somehow that doesn't make you look any better," Sammy retorted dryly, not enjoying the name 'kid' one bit. "Did you dress in the dark?"

"I can't see colours," he answered sullenly, "happy, now?"

"Oh… really?"

"No… I mean, yes… wait, no! I mean, of course I can see colours. I just like this suit," he crossed his arms, glowering at Sammy as if daring her to say anything else about it. "Now," he added after taking a deep breath, "why exactly are you here?"

"Me?" Sammy panicked, her mind racing back through all the insanity in an attempt to remember why, aside from the 'crash', she had even come into the office. Eventually it came to here, "Oh, that's right – I came about the sign."

"The sign brought you here?" mused the detective as he pulled out a chair and sat on it. "Well, at least it's doing something right. Or, at least it would if it ever brought in actual clients…"

"Maybe that's because it's wrong?" suggested Sammy with a polite smile.

"What is?"

"The sign."

"What's wrong with it?" the strange detective smiled and sat back in his chair, as if he knew what was coming.

"Well," started Sammy, not so sure of herself now, "it's spelt wrong."

"No it's not," his smile broadened.

"But it says 'Mythtery Detective Agency'!"

"And that's what I am – a Mythtery Detective," he leant forward in his chair, elbows resting on his desk. "The name's Ruben Zeus, kid. I investigate the mysteries of ancient myths. Fun, huh?"