Men of L33t, Part XXXII
"We have to go save him!"
Erika sighed. "Kimi, do you even know where he is?"
"Dr. Trent does!"
"Dr. Trent-" Erika looked pointedly to the side. "-is unconscious with three fractured ribs and a broken arm. It's unlikely that he'll be waking up any time soon. Where did you learn that move?"
Kimiko flushed. "Erm… you used it."
"You can't see me move."
"I watched what happened instead of what you did. It wasn't that hard to figure out, actually. I mean, all you've got to do is-"
"You still haven't figured out how to get to your soppy young man."
"Dr. Trent also said that mages all over the country could sense him."
"And how many of us use magic?" Said Erika. She looked around. "Ian!"
"Mad assistant, ma'am."
"Hamster, oh beauteous one."
"…where are you, Ancestral?"
"The basement underneath the stairs, milady."
"We never had a basement."
"You don't have a second floor anymore, either."
"…ah. At any rate, Pamelasriana!"
"I'm- how did you know that name?!"
Erika sighed. "Certainly not magic. And I know you don't have any, Kimiko. That leaves us with Dr. Trent."
"Double headaaa…" The doctor in question folded as he fell silently to the ground.
"I believe he was the one we wanted, dear."
Erika sighed again. "Alright, you!" She pointed at one of the soupy men. "You said you brought down an army! Where is it?"
"We had a rhyme." The second man broke in. "Not a location, just a rhyme. If you answer it right, you go there. It's part of the soup magic."
"Mm, fine, whatever." Erika rubbed her eyes. "What is the rhyme?"
The two men looked at each other. "Well, ah…" the first man hesitated.
"It's over the river, and through the woods!" the second man blurted.
Erika stared at them pointedly. "Aaaand?"
"That's all there is to it." Said the first man nervously.
"But it doesn't even-" Erika stopped, and closed her eyes. "No. No, no, no, not even…" She fell back against a tree. A pause.
She looked up. "…to Grandmother's Steakhouse we go?"
* * *
"Summon all the guard!" Miho snapped. "Move them up to the grand cathedral and call to arms. Gather the blacksmiths and have them check everything!"
Shadowdancer leapt from a dark corner. "Milady Miho! The exile Piro is-"
"At the castle, yes, we are aware." Miho turned. "Practically every magic user from here to France can feel him."
"Then we are going after him?"
Miho spread her arms. "Look around you." She began to walk down the hallway. Shadow hurried after her, following close behind. She stared at the churning bustle.
"All of this for one man…?"
"He's always escaped before hasn't he?"
Shadow's face darkened. "Simply a matter of bad luck and ill-timed friends. He is alone this time."
"Yes, but alone in a castle full of men sworn to the Knights of the Game. One of which resides there. Did you so quickly forget the Maenadian magic?"
Shadow sobered. "No, I had not. But surely the Knight only wishes to sell his catch to the highest bidder- what use has the Order of Sagas with an exile?"
"None, at the moment. They haven't a clue as who they've captured- but that won't last for long, especially not after today."
"As to who- who have they captured, then, Milady?"
Miho smiled slightly. "A powerful and dangerous murderer." Shadow raised her eyebrow. Miho smiled again. "So you did catch that." she said softly. They turned down a corridor. "Do you remember the fairy tales about the prince who searched for his princess?"
"They are old, very old. Based in Europea, actually."
"Yes, I know. They refer to the Lion's family. The legend goes that they couldn't touch their power until…" she stopped.
Miho placed her hand on a door handle and smiled. "Yes…?"
"Careful that you don't blaspheme your gods there. Come in." Miho said, opening her door. She walked around to a desk and began shuffling through papers. "I had hoped that exiling would keep him away. The current Emperor is easy to deal with- a desk man, very proper. No real ambition. Our very dear Piro, however, is very strong-headed when he's put to it. He has to be- however deep the Lion's blood sleeps in his veins, you cannot avoid the fact that it is there, growling. I had underestimated how strong. And now that young girl has awakened it." She looked up. "What did you do to the poor thing?"
"Ah, here we are!" Miho pulled out an ancient book and blew the dust off of it. "I think we shall find the plans we need in here." She let the book fall to the desk. It hit with a hefty thud. Miho gently opened the cover and carefully began peeling back its pages. "Julias Caesar's Fortress Design for the Aesthetic Mind."
* * *