You are LIAM THE THIEF.
You have no exile.
You never did.
The only carapace that might have become your exile died up on Derse and never made it to Earth.
As such, there’s no one to try to warn you about those two people plummeting out of the sky above you.
He was knocked to the ground and pinned beneath the combined weight of Vita and Hugh. He lay there on his belly, pounding his limbs on the ground with fierce curses pouring from his mouth. When their weight came off him, he snarled and pushed himself to his hands and knees. He looked up; a sword was swinging at his face.
With what felt like the universe folding upon him and a small pop, he was standing some feet away. The horned imp stumbled with its failed swing, falling straight into the bash of Hugh’s wrenches to the back of its head. It was rocked was firework explosions before bursting. Instead of collecting the grist, Hugh swung out both wrenches to catch hold of gears that unfolded from nothingness.
All Liam saw was Hugh spin the gears back a revolution. He could not understand the seven copies of Hugh that appeared in different places, scattered amongst the horde, and so he stared with his mouth slightly open. He watched, panting and shaking, as the copies surged into the fray. They aided each other the exact moment they were needed, and he spotted Ninjasprite flickering in and out of sight, slashing down underlings with each Hugh in turn.
He heard another pop and saw Vita appear some feet directly ahead of him. The bokken she drew out of her deck was not made of the wood he was so used to seeing, instead made of shimmering blue crystal that flashed with every impact of sword to underling. She fought as she had every other time he had seen her: elegantly. Attacks were ducked beneath with the grace of a dancer; blocked with perfect timing; parried with fierce cries; and interrupted with punches and kicks when possible. She whirled on imps that tried to ambush her from behind, leaping up to bound head from head like a game of hopscotch. One set of imps she used as a springboard to launch at the bear-headed ogre that lumbered forward. It shrieked when the sword came down on its head and followed the long guide of its muzzle. It burst, and in her falling Vita vanished with a resounding pop.
Yet another pop sounded, then on his left, and he turned with every expectation to find Vita there. What he saw was a troll woman he had never met, lifting up a grim black scythe. Liam’s eyes widened; the sudden panic that gripped him at the sight of her drawing back the scythe kept him from reaching out for her mind. She swung. He first felt the blade pass over his head, and then was felled by the lion basilisk head that dropped upon him. The grist that appeared from the head was absorbed naturally when he stood up. He swallowed, sucked in air, and locked his knees as he lifted his kusarigama.
Four imps barreled into him at once, tackling him with loud warbling barks. He stabbed two in the eyes with quick jabs of the sickle, wrapped the chain around the neck of a third, and slammed his feet in the face of the fourth. He got up, panting through his teeth and pulling hard. The imp choked, kicking weaker and weaker until its neck snapped. He let the body drop and stormed forward to lop off the heads of the three other imps.
At the sound of an ogre’s roar multiplied threefold, he looked about. Mahima slid back on the balls of her feet, drawing back the fist that had shattered the ogre’s shin. The creature dropped to one knee, its three bull-horned wolf heads rolling on its broad shoulders. She leaped hard, smashing an uppercut on the middle head’s chin. The jaw crumbled, a sound of surprised pain tumbling out with a number of fangs. She caught hold of the fur on its neck and swung to its mid shoulder on the right. A kick to the neighboring head broke its neck, but she was punched by a fist larger than her body in the next moment. The ogre tried to smash her into the ground, but she brought her feet beneath her, withstood the blow easily, and pulled the ogre’s arm off for its trouble. It ruptured lazily, massive gems of grist falling dropping to the ground around her.
A hand caught the back of Liam’s shirt. Before he could whirl to cut off that hand, the universe closed on him again. The release did not favor him that time, and when he reappeared in a different place, he stumbled away with a reeling, splitting head. He tripped and vomited into the dewy grass under him. With how hard his breath still tried to come down his throat, he nearly choked. He coughed as hard as he could, feeling snot running from his nose to smear on his burning lips before he wiped at his face with one arm. Grimacing, turning the expression to a scowl, he struggled to his feet and spun about.
“Stop fucking doing that!” he shrieked.
The troll woman looked at him mildly, head tilted slightly. She blinked once before teleporting away and leaving him to stare at where she had been standing. In short order, she reappeared with a trio of pops and Vita, Hugh, and Mahima in tow. Mahima was the only one to react, half leaping back when she saw the woman.
“What are you doing here?” she snapped.
“Um...actually, it’s more what you’re doing here, because I didn’t think you’d be hanging around humans.”
“That begs the question as to why you’re ferrying two of them around when you never trolled them back in the Veil!”
A slow blink. “You use way too many words for a lowblood.”
She snarled, lips pulling back to show her fangs. “Give me a good reason, Tenoch, and I swear I’ll rip your fucking head off.”
“That sounds more like a lowblood.”
She began to stride toward her, hands closing to fists. “Like you’re that much higher on the hemospectrum.”
“At least I’m on the spectrum, mutant.”
She stopped before her and leaned down to shout in her face, “Stop calling me that!”
“It’s not like I’m saying anything that’s not true.”
“You always say that you’re Makram’s moirail and then you turn around and say exactly the opposite of what he tries to espouse! If you support his efforts, then why the fuck are you constantly—”
Hugh barged between the duo, shoving them apart and snapping, “Would you two shut the hell up already?”
A low growl came up from Mahima’s throat. “And who the hell are you to give either of us orders?”
“I’m the goddamn Heir of Time, I’m the leader of this session, and I’m the counterpart player to the Prince of Time.” He jabbed a finger in her chest. “If you really have a problem with me, then you can take it up with your leader.”
“I never acknowledged Makram as my leader, and I won’t fucking accept a little human for a leader.”
He frowned. He reached out casually with a wrench and turned back a gear. The next reversed instant, he was standing behind her. He swung his wrench and caught her in the back of the head. Liam would have expected that she wouldn’t react. However, the fireworks were enough to make her swear and put her hands on her head. She spun about, but he simply reversed time for himself to slip behind her and smack her again.
“Stop fucking doing that!”
He put his wrench to her chest and pushed her back when she turned to face him. “I’m going to keep doing it until you calm down and stop acting like you’re going to punch everyone’s head in.” He turned and jabbed the wrench at the other troll. “And Galina, that goes for your—whatever the hell you two were arguing about with blood and mutants. It sounds stupid and annoying and weirdly racist, and we’ve got one dead troll teammate. I don’t want you to kill each other.”
“Wait, what do you mean we have a dead troll?” Mahima asked.
“There was a dead troll on Lotar, my planet,” Hugh replied. “Galina called him Cosmin. The Knight of Breath, I think.”
“If that was that guy’s name, yeah.”
“It was probably the Brute,” Galina said, frowning. “He hated Cosmin.”
“What about the others? Jadzia? Ruzgar?” She paused, glancing at the ground before taking a deep breath. “Have you heard from Vilmos?”
“Why would he troll me?” Galina asked. “The only ones who I know are definitely alive are us, Azriel, Kijani, and Devaki.”
Liam stepped forward, neck going taut. “Devaki? The one Mahima told me about—she’s still alive? Why?”
“Azriel said he trusts her not to do anything we can’t deal with. I trust him and he left her in the Veil, so that’s going to have to be good enough for you until we really figure things out.”
“Wha—no! Man, fuck that! She fuckin’ attacked me! And Mahima! She was gonna make the underlings fuckin’ eat me if she hadn’t shown up to save my knocked-out ass! She’s gonna—”
Mahima took his arm carefully. “You and Makram met her in the Veil?”
“What was she doing there?”
“Fighting underlings in the meteor lab.”
“But not you?”
He sighed. “She freaked on us, but Azriel said she wasn’t there to mess up our ectobiology or to attack us. I had to leave after that because of that weird singing shit in the Veil, and then Galina and Vita came to help me out.”
She looked at him a long while. “You’re aware of her instabilities as the Grand Highblood?”
“If that’s what made her freak on us like that.” He paused, dismissing his wrenches to cross his arms and tap at his biceps. “But Azriel...punched her in the face to make her stop, so I think she’s not completely crazy. If he says she’s okay, then we’re going to go with that.”
“All right. I’ll go with that—and you—for now. Why did you come to Lobas so suddenly?”
“That’s a pretty lame thing to ask the people who just came to save your asses from an army of underlings,” Vita grumbled.
“Liam and I were doing fine.”
“The Thief looks like he’s going to pass out,” Galina said. “He threw up after I teleported him here.”
“Fuck you. You pulled me through a black hole or somethin’.” He scowled, closed his eyes tight, and shook his head. “Look, I’m fine. If you can just teleport everywhere, why are we fuckin’ around? Why haven’t we gone to get Amie?”
“The Seer isn’t in any danger,” Galina said with a shrug.
“Hey, with your goddamn psycho bitch runnin’ around, ain’t none of us safe. And for fuck’s sake, we have names.”
Galina glanced at Mahima. “Okay, I can see why you were hanging around with him.”
“Jesus shit will you shut up to her? And how the hell do you know Amie’s not in trouble?”
“Because our chat client can look at the person we want to troll. I’ve looked and she’s fine. Last I checked—which wasn’t too long ago—she was sleeping.”
“Then we should be going to get her! She could be in trouble if somethin’ catches her while she’s sleeping!”
“Liam, chill out,” Vita said. “We got you off of Lobas for a second because you guys were totally going to get overrun. Even though I hate it, I have to stay here on Lofaf and hunt frogs.”
He stared at her, face twisting. “Hunt frogs.”
“Yeah. It’s something I have to do for the game if we want to win, okay? Don’t mock me about it. I’m going to stay here to try and get it all done sooner than later, and Galina’s going to help. Let me just pester her before we go planet-crashing, okay? We don’t want to run into any of these weird Agent assholes that’ve killed people.” She drew her On-the-Go set and opened Pesterchum with a few flicks of her fingers.
“She’s not gonna be online if she’s asleep!”
“Well, it looks like she’s up now. Be quiet for a minute, okay?”
—voice chat enabled—
—tirelessGuardian [TG] began pestering aspiringCarver [AC]—
TG: amie, you’re online so you’re awake, right?
AC: oh um
AC: hi vita
TG: sweetie, what’s wrong?
TG: you sound awful.
AC: no nothing’s wrong
AC: i just
AC: i just woke up from sleeping
AC: my voice is always kinda screwed up when i wake up
TG: look, here’s what’s up.
TG: you remember the trolls, right?
AC: how could I forget them?
TG: no kidding.
TG: so they’re actually real people with horns and stuff like your sprite.
TG: and they came here from a different session of the game to help us with our game because weird shit’s happening.
AC: i know
TG: wait what?
TG: why do you know that?
AC: because my planet started changing shape and i met up with consorts who told me about the rogue of mind
AC: this lady called devaki?
AC: that was after this weird guy they called the heir of rage flipped out and tried to attack me to make her come help me
TG: the heir of rage?
TG: o...kay, that’s a kinda weird title
TG: Wait, She’s Met Vilmos?
TG: Ask Her If He’s All Right.
AC: what the hell
TG: mahima, I told you guys to be quiet for a minute.
AC: who the hell is that?
AC: who’s there with you?
TG: it’s me, hugh, liam, and a couple of the trolls named galina and mahima.
AC: that’s a lot of people
TG: Amie what the fuck is going on with you?
TG: everyones sayin were not going to come get you off your stupid snowy planet
TG: theyre seriously bein assholes about it
TG: holy SHIT I told you guys to just shut up!
TG: that was liam just now.
AC: i figured
TG: okay, honestly now.
TG: is everything fine with you?
TG: do you want us to come help you with your quest or anything?
TG: I can try to put off frog hunting for a little while if you want us to come to losac.
AC: no i’m fine
AC: just fine
AC: you guys don’t have to worry about me at all
AC: you shouldn’t really
AC: go do your own quests and stuff
AC: i’ll be fine
TG: wow, you are a really terrible liar.
TG: you know I know that.
TG: sweetie, what’s wrong?
AC: nothing’s wrong
AC: you don’t have to worry
AC: just don’t
AC: don’t pester me okay?
—aspiringCarver [AC] ceased pestering tirelessGuardian [TG]—
—aspiringCarver [AC] has gone offline—
She stared at the tiny screen with a smooth face. She reached up to tap at the earpiece and dismiss it from her face. She took a deep breath and released it through her nose.
“We’re going to fuck frog hunting and go find Amie,” she said.
“No, we’re not,” Galina said.
“Oh, fuck you!” Vita shouted. “You didn’t fucking hear her! She was starting to hyperventilate and it sounded like she was going to cry! She’s having a panic attack and she’s offline now and I am really fucking worried about my best friend! Who in God’s name are you to tell me that I can’t go help her? Absolutely fucking no one, and there is no way I’m letting you keep me from going!”
Her face twisted into a scowl, and she snapped, “Azriel doesn’t want you four to be together at one time!”
“What?” Hugh asked. “Why would he say that?”
“Because if we’re getting killed, the last thing he wants is our only way of winning this game and getting into a new universe dying! And if it’s the Agents killing us, then there’s no fucking way that you humans are going to beat them right now!” She held up her hands, shaking them once as she curled her fingers. “Don’t you idiots get it? This is your game! If you die, we lose and we’re all going to be stuck here forever! We fucking won our game and made your universe, and if we don’t make sure the players of this session win then we lose everything!”
“If you don’t want us to die, then you let me go find my friend.”
Liam stormed forward, grabbing Galina by the front of her shirt and shaking hard. “You fucking let us go help her or I’m going to slit your throat!”
“Tell me a good reason to let you. Better than her just being your friend, or I’m going to drag you all back here no matter how many times Vita teleports you away.”
His eyes widened; his brows dropped; his lips pulled back in a snarl. He opened his mouth to roar at her.
“You will listen, Maid.”
His voice was quiet, carrying a soft hiss. He stumbled back, grabbing at his throat. His mouth opened again.
“You will listen to the Highblood.”
They stared at him, eyes widening and brows rising and jaws dropping. Mahima whispered, “Devaki?”
“The Seer’s necessary. We need her to help plan our way. A Seer’s always necessary.”
Liam waved his arms frantically, pointing at his throat and looking from person to person with desperation in his eyes. He grit his teeth and whined frustration, but his mouth opened again.
“There’s a reason. You need to know.”
He felt his throat closing. He choked; he whimpered.
“And you, Thief, are going to learn why.”
His world went black.
He is bound in chains and gagged. He sits in a small dark room slumped against a wall. The darkness is so deep he cannot see if there is a door to escape through, a window to slip out. The chains are too strong; he can barely wiggle about. He sits in silence, staring into the furthest corner and willing his eyes to adjust. Brows furrowing, he soon looks around the room with increasing anger and begins to shout against his gag. He tilts his head back and looks at the ceiling and screams.
A light turns on and blinds him. He screams again, this time in pain, and slams his eyes shut. He writhes and kicks his legs to no avail. He squirms and swears and blinks against the burning tears from the light.
“What the fuck are you doin’ awake.”
He cannot see past the bursts of burnt in light.
“The little shit’s not supposed to be awake.”
“What the fuck are the underlings doin’ down there. Useless fuckers.”
“Think the bitch squealed?”
A pause. He realizes the voices are identical.
“Don’t think so.” A low growl. “I think it’s that fuckin’ Rogue. God fuckin’ dammit, that Rogue.” His voice rises. “Why haven’t we fuckin’ caught her already? How shittin’ hard is it to catch one stupid screwball like her?”
“Can’t underestimate any of them, even her. Probably usin’ the Mindgrip all over the fuckin’ place to make people forget she was ever around.” A rustle of paper. “Look at this. We took it off the body of one of our lower guys.”
He tries to open his eyes. The flares of light are less agonizing.
Another growl, deeper than before. “That fuckin’ bitch.” His voice becomes a shout. “Tellin’ us to give her the little Seer bitch? She’s gonna fuck it up for us! She’ll fuckin’ kill her before we get done!”
His breath stops. He opens his eyes and grimaces at the pain, but he does not shut them anymore. He stares at his feet and tries to resolve their edges in his sight.
“That’s why we gotta make sure she doesn’t get near the Seer.”
He sees a hand, pitch black and shining like a shell, grab his violet shirt. When he looks up, he still cannot see the face of the voice.
“Nighty fuckin’ night, Thief. You ain’t gonna wake up here again.”
A fist smashes into his face and his world goes down.
Liam jerked when he woke on his back. For a long while, he was paralyzed. He felt wicked terror gripping his bones and sitting on his chest. He wanted to roll over and choke on the air, if only to bring in the tiniest measure of breath. Vita was suddenly crouched over him, hands gently shaking his shoulders. He wheezed and shoved himself up on one elbow; he grabbed her shirt.
“They have her!” he gasped. “And they—they got me somewhere, I don’t know where the hell I am—I don’t even know if it’s fuckin’ Derse anymore!” He swallowed. “Vita, for God’s sake, they’re doing something to her! They don’t want us to get near her!” He let go of her shirt and struggled to his feet. He looked about, seeing the others gathered round. Panting, feeling his eyes burn, he shouted, “Please! We have to go find her!”
A long pause. Galina looked at the ground. “I don’t know if we can get to her.”
Hugh stepped in, putting a hand on Liam’s shoulder to hold him back from screaming and charging at her. “Why? What’d stop us?”
“Aside from Agents?” She sighed and frowned. “She’s the Seer of Void. I don’t know what level she is—but something the Hero of Void can do is block people out. Put themselves in a void you can’t look into and I can’t teleport to directly.”
“You’re so very useful,” Mahima muttered.
“It’s not like your Sylph of Blood powers are going to do anything for us.”
“God dammit, this is more important than your stupid bitchy arguing!” Liam shouted.
“If we can’t directly teleport to her, then we’ll have to go to Losac and search for her the hard way,” Hugh said.
Galina’s frown deepened. “I just said Azriel doesn’t want you all to be together in one place.”
“Fine,” he replied. “Then we’ll look for her one at a time in shifts, you teleporting us on and off Losac as we go. I’ll go first.”
Liam spun about to grab his shirt and shake him. “No, I’m gonna go first! I’m more worried about her than any of you!”
“Oh please,” Vita said. “I’m her best friend.”
“What the fuck does a best friend matter?” he snapped. “I’m—I fucking—I love her, you idiot! If I don’t get to go help her, no one fuckin’ does! Now send me to Losac before I—”
Mahima moved close, leaned down, grabbed him by the ankles, and pulled him off the ground. She dangled him upside down, letting him sway back and forth slowly. When he tried to kick free of her grip, she swung him up and over her head, and adjusted her grip to hold him high above. “What did I tell you about acting like a petulant wriggler?”
He crouched down and pulled hard at her fingers. “Let me the fuck go!”
“Do you want me to throw you into the air? I can do that very easily. If you hate the height you’re at right now, you really won’t like how high I can make you go. And I don’t think Tenoch will try to teleport all the way up there to catch you, not if you’re going to keep being such a brat.”
He opened his mouth to shout again, but Hugh raised his voice to shout, “Okay, knock it the hell off, everybody!” He stared at them, gesturing vaguely before putting a hand to his head. “Jesus Christ, how did Azriel ever lead you guys when all you do is fight?”
“The same could be said for you, Heir,” Mahima said.
“I have a name,” he said evenly. “Use it. And I’m giving the orders right now, and the order for everyone is to shut up for a minute.” He brought his hand down, hitching his thumbs in his pockets. “Mahima, put him down. And Liam, just...just don’t shout at anyone for, like, ten minutes, okay? We’re not going to make any sort of plan if you’re just screaming.”
Sneering, Mahima brought Liam back to the ground. He stumbled away, skipping on the leg she had accidentally squeezed. He panted, half bent over to hold his thigh in a vague attempt to press away the pain in his shin. Scowling, narrowing his eyes, he kept his mouth shut.
“Okay, good,” Hugh said. “So. We are going to go to Losac to find Amie. Whoever it was that made Liam talk like that said Amie’s necessary for us to win the game, so I’m going to bet that she is.” He looked at Mahima. “You said ‘Devaki’ when he said ‘Highblood.’ I don’t care what that last part means, but is that the same Devaki that Azriel and I would have met out in the Veil?”
She rolled her eyes, but said, “Yes.”
“Then how did she make Liam say that stuff? And pass out like that?”
A long pause. She sighed. “On top of being the Rogue of Mind, she has the Mindgrip. For...” She grimaced. “For lowbloods like myself and humans like you, she can control our actions. It would be nothing for her to make him talk, and even less to make him lose consciousness.”
He looked at the sky a moment. “And what about underlings?”
“Everything up to Agents.”
“Well, that explains what happened in the lab.” He sighed. “Okay, let’s just assume that she’s not going to mess with us.”
“That’s a shitty assumption,” Liam muttered.
“She helped us learn what was going on with Amie. That counts for something. For now, though? We need to split up into shifts. And I’ll go first.” He paused, frowning at the way Liam looked at him. “Don’t make that face at me, man. You’re just going to flip out right now and you know it.” A sigh. “You’re starting to just freak. You need to sleep.”
“I am not fuckin’ sleeping right now! If I go to sleep, then I fuckin’ wake up in chains again! I’m not gonna be any use asleep, so if you’re not gonna let me go help her then let me keep wailin’ on my underlings and getting levels so I can help her!”
A long silence. He licked his lips and nodded. “Right. That’s okay.” A pause. “Mahima, you stay with him. Galina, you keep checking up on them with your program while you help Vita with the frogs.” Another pause. “And don’t let me hear that you’ve been not watching them because of this weird highblood-lowblood-mutant bullshit thing you have going on. If Azriel told you to make sure we don’t die, then you don’t get to wind up screwing my friend because you want to mess with one of your teammates. Got it?”
“Okay, good. I’ll go to Losac and get my bearings—see if I can get her consorts to tell me something about what’s going on. Vita, I’ll pester you and Galina if I need you to pull me out of there fast.”
She did not answer him. She crossed her arms and looked at the ground. She tapped one foot on the ground and dug her toes into the grass. She muttered, “Fine.”
He sighed, pulling one corner of his mouth into his cheek. Gently, he patted her shoulder. “It’s not like I’m never going to let you meet Amie, all right? You have something to do, and I already did my huge thing with Azriel. I’ve got the time to check this all out, so don’t be upset with me. Please?”
“You’re lucky I don’t hate you or anything,” Vita murmured.
He blinked. He chuckled. “Thank you, copy of Miss Laurent. I’ll go check on the real one and get back to you guys soon.” Hugh took a deep breath and held out his hand to Galina. “Send me to Amie’s house.”
She gripped his hand; the universe gripped his body.
He stood before her house, as tall as he had last left it hours ago. He did not hesitate in opening the front door and striding inside. All the lights were on; he still drew his wrenches. Slowly, he moved into the living room. He looked about slowly, studying the high walls and the portraits and bookcases on them. It was still the same pale blue as before, almost white under the brightest of the lights; the carpet under his feet was a faint gray. He saw dark spots on the floor near the couch and went to them. Touching the spots revealed their crusty nature, and he rubbed at the flakes that came away on his fingertips. He stood back up and went from the living room, hurrying up the stairs.
“Amie!” he called. “Amie, hey! I came to check on you! Vita said you sounded—uh, sick or something!” He came upon the landing, moving quickly to her bedroom. The door was ajar, and he pushed it further open slowly.
Nothing. There was no sign that she was there, nor was there any sign of her having been there in any recent time frame. He reached out with one hand, but stopped short of catching hold of the gear that appeared at his willing. He turned from the room and jogged down the stairs and into the basement below. The wreckage of the statue tossing was still jammed in the stairwell, and he grumbled at himself as he climbed over it to enter the studio.
“What are you doing here?”
Hugh did not leap back at the voice, instead lifting his wrenches. When he saw the sprite floating in the furthest dark corner, he lifted a brow. “Where’s Amie?”
“I could ask you the same question, Heir.”
“Hugh. For God’s sake, you guys need to use our names.” He put away the wrenches with a sigh. “Amie didn’t tell me yours.”
A pause. “Well okay then.”
“I don’t know where she is,” Timsprite said. “I can’t appear where she is. There’s something wrong with the planet—there’s a large area that’s corrupted.”
“If you head east, then you’ll eventually come to the corruption. From what I can see, it’s some kind of merging with information that didn’t exist in this session. There were no designs for a city on the Land of Snow and Crystals.”
His eyes widened. “Then there probably weren’t any designs for a giant ocean under the ground on the Land of Tomes and Ruins, either.”
“I would think. But I’m unable to go into the corruption. It hurts.”
“Sprites can feel pain?”
“We can die, just like anything else. But I think players are able to withstand the corruption. You need to find Amie.” He paused, looking to one side. “I want her safe, despite her arguing with me before she vanished.”
Hugh snickered. “First I get Liam screaming that he’s in love with her, and then I get you acting all bashful and stuff because you fought with her.”
“It’s not bashfulness. You aren’t her, so it’s easy to say I regret arguing with her. You can tell her that if you want, though I don’t think she’ll believe you.”
Another snicker. “Okay. You said east, right?”
“Correct.” He looked away from the wall and met Hugh’s eyes. “Bring her back.”
He smiled, said, “That’s the plan,” and left the room and the house entirely. With a light step, he jogged through the snow. No underling harried him as he went, and he soon crested a hill to discover the city mentioned. It was sprawling, spreading in every direction and rising high. His advance grew slower, feet shuffling on the pavement when he stepped from the snow. Again, he drew out his wrenches; breathing quietly, he walked into the city.
—tirelessGuardian [TG] began pestering tergiversantChaotic [TC]—
TG: christ, I can’t believe I’m doing this.
TC: hEy BaBe!
TC: SoRrY sOrRy
TC: I dIdN’t ThInK yOu’D tAlK tO mE aNy TiMe SoOn.
TG: it was an idea I had, but I hate myself for even thinking it up.
TG: I want to ask you a favor.
TC: FuCk YeAh BaBe!
TC: I’lL dO wHaTeVeR yOu WaNt!
TC: An’ HeY i’M sOrRy AbOuT bEfOrE.
TC: i SeRiOuSlY dIdN’t WaNt To MaKe YoU pIsSeD aT mE.
TG: look, that’s not the point.
TG: I didn’t pester you to get an apology session.
TG: if you help me out
TG: jesus fucking help me
TG: I’ll actually talk to you again.
TG: galina made me promise.
TC: bAbE, i’Ll TaKe AnY pRoMiSe YoU wAnT tO gIvE mE.
TC: wHaT’s Up?
TG: you said you were the mage of void.
TG: my friend is the seer of void, and we think she’s really in trouble.
TG: but she’s not replying to any messages, and we don’t know if we can find her.
TC: tHe SeEr’S pRoBaBlY hIdIn’ HeRsElF iN tHe VoId.
TC: WaIt WaIt, I tHiNk I gEt YoU!
TG: do you think you can help us find her?
TC: fOr YoU, bAbE, mOtHeRfUcKiN’ aNyThInG!
Be forced to LISTEN