Men of L33t, Part XXXI
Highway Robbery

"Ser Opt, are you sure we've got enough money?" A carriage rolled bumpily along the road as Ser Opt and the Elder Sabyr played chess inside.

"I'm quite sure, Elder. The corruption that chokes this land may be a curse upon us, but in this case it is a blessing. Our debtors paid generously to keep from any… untoward tales reaching the Emperor's ears. It has taken time, though, and-"

"Indeed. She may already have been compromised."

"Compromised? Check."

"Ah- her runes, I mean. Dangerous magic to fall into enemy hands. Foolish move, my young apprentice."

"If they could read them, Elder! I am more concerned about her life! …And I hate you."

"Yes, yes, of course, Ser Opt. Check. We- but why is the carriage stopping?" Elder Sabyr stuck his head out of the window. "Driver! Why are we-"

"Good day, Ser Elder." The smiling face was accompanied by a sharp blade that seemed to be made of light. It waved towards the forest. "Would you kindly accompany us outside the carriage?"

The Elder looked around as he carefully stepped off the carriage. "…brigands. I see. So we are to be robbed like commoners."

"Oh, but surely not like them!" The thief let his sword disappear. "We reserve these enlightenments specifically for the great houses." He smiled sharply. "And it wouldn't do to let a commoner fall victim when he's already been robbed and starved by the great houses."

"We, sir, are a religious sect! We do not receive or ask for money!"

"Ye' certainly carry enough in that sack, there" said another thief, nudging it with his blade.

"Leave that money be! It is for one of our own!"

"Naturally; for why else would you have it?" said the thief, cutting Sabyr's sack free with his axe.

"It is for a ransom!" The Elder snapped. "She is in danger and we are attempting to free her!"

"What's going on here?" spoke two voices. Ser Opt flushed and turned to see who had spoken with him. A young man with flaming red hair stood before him, his arms crossed. He started at the sight of Opt.

"Do I know you?"

"Aye… aye, ae've seen his face before, too!" said ax-man. "He was with the girl that took your friend!"

"Sir Largo!" cried Opt. "And Sir… I don't believe I got your name at the time. What are you doing here?"

"They are apparently robbing us." The Elder Sabyr said, walking up behind Opt. "Though upon my word, Ser Opt, I cannot imagine how you would know such criminals."

"What- robbing? But Sir Largo, I thought you were a good man!"

Largo scowled. "We do this for the good. The money we take is the people's own, bled from them by the Emperor's best. They survive on what we acquire."

"But we are not-"

"You do business with them! And the Church hides it." Largo turned. He clenched his fist. "The Emperor has not a clue of the poison the sickens his land."

Opt stood still for a moment, and then walked over. "I know of it." He said, placing a hand on Largo's shoulder. "We fight this fight, too. The Temple gives aid to any we can, and if we are rich it is because God has blessed our work. But we do need this money, Sir Largo. We go to ransom Ping, and-"

"Then you know where he is?!" cried McFinnigan.

"Wh-Piro, you mean? Yes, we believe he is with her."

"Where man? Take us there!" McFinnigan grabbed Opt's collars.

"I-I-I don't-"

"What my esteemed colleague means to say," said Sabyr smoothly, "Is that we've only been given a meeting point for the exchange. And, unfortunately, only for the automaton Ping."

McFinnigan growled. "I swore the Lady Kimiko that I'd take care of him…"

"Ah, sir… Mc… fin- sir? Could you… could you-?"

"Ach. Yes, of course, sorry." McFinnigan let Opt back down gently. He looked up with a glint in his eye. "You make the meeting. We follow them."

"But they will catch you!" Sabyr said. "They are Knights of the Game."

"Not if we don't use mag-"

"AUUGH!" Lightsider cried, clutching his head.

"Lightsider!" "What's wrong?!" Largo and McFinnigan rushed to his side.

"Two Piros." panted Lightsider. "In two… places. Shouldn't be affecting me like this. Enormously powerful, but…"

It's really more of the fact that you're picking up his mind in a dilated time zone. And mine too, thank you for that!

Will?! I thought you were-

Ya, Piro-girl here just asked the same question. oO Gah, he wants me to save them all! Darnit, just because he's suddenly all-powerful doesn't mean- ah, they're arguing now. And I think I've got them all, so… gotta go!

Will's mind slip away in that familiar vlip that it did when he ported, and a second or so later one of the Piros disappeared. The pain in Lightsider's mind began to recede.

"…are ya sure it will really work?" he heard McFinnigan's worried voice.

"Well, the herb is a psychic dampener, so if your man really is feeling-"

"It won't be needed." Lightsider interrupted, picking himself up off the ground. He stared into the forest. "I know where he is."

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