Disclaimer ½ Prince and all of the characters belong to Yu Wo

Wu Qing jumped off Sunshine's carpet and took a few shaky steps back, watching while Yu Lian and Lolidragon dragged the limp and submissive shopkeeper to the ground. Sunshine, seeing everyone was off, hastily put his carpet away and gave several frightened glances in the magician's direction, as if worried that she would make use of his carpet in another unwanted way.

"I'm going to go talk to Gui about that note," Wu Qing announced, retreating further back and hoping that he wasn't going to be called on for any more help with "persuading" the man, as Yu Lian had put it. At least her methods had seemed to work quickly, even if they were rather extreme.

Lolidragon glanced toward Sunshine, shoved the shopkeeper at him, then went to stand beside Wu Qing. "I'm going with him."

"I hope you figure it out quickly. This situation is becoming more and more irritating." With a wave of her hand, Yu Lian turned away. "Come on, Sunshine. Let's go interrogate him."

Sunshine gave a brief look to the dazed shopkeeper in his arms, then stared pitifully at Wu Qing and Lolidragon, obviously asking for help. However, without another word, Yu Lian dragged him off by the elbow, heading for the castle.

Mentally apologizing to the distraught pet, Wu Qing sighed and hurried off down the road to the weapons shop, Lolidragon at his heels. Sunshine would probably be better off with Yu Lian, anyway, Wu Qing thought. With as curious as Sunshine was, he probably wouldn't run out of questions to ask. Hopefully the man would have answers for all of the questions. Helpful answers, not whiny noises like the previous replies the man had given.

Throwing open the door, Wu Qing hurried into the shop, stopped a few steps in, and glanced around, searching for the professor. Ugly Wolf, Wicked, and Kenshin were cleaning up the back of the shop, Doll was sitting on the counter top and was giving them orders, but Gui was nowhere to be seen.

After giving a questioning look to Lolidragon—she shrugged—Wu Qing wandered over to Doll. "Doll, do you know where Gui went? I want to ask him about the ransom note."

"Mm?" Doll hummed, looking up at him and sticking a cracker in her mouth. Once she'd swallowed, she nodded toward the door he'd just come in. "He left a couple minutes ago."

"Any idea where he went?"

"Nope. He didn't say anything."

"I'm gonna stay in here," Lolidragon announced, easing herself up onto the counter to sit with Doll and also bark orders at the three who were, with many an annoyed frown, still cleaning.

Sighing, Wu Qing hurried back outside, switching to the private messaging system. "Gui, where are you?"

"Castle!" he bluntly messaged back, sounding somewhat out of breath, as if he'd run the whole way.

"Oh. Well, um, about the note. I was wondering if you knew what it meant, 'cause I'm a bit confused about it," Wu Qing slowly admitted, giving a somewhat lazy glance about the bustling market road. "A bit" meaning completely confused. The bad karma for copying all of Lan's literature comprehension homework assignments seemed to be catching up to him.

"Its meaning is obvious!" Gui declared a moment later. "What's there to be confused over?"

Eyebrows drawing together, Wu Qing slipped the rumpled and torn paper out of his pouch and read it once more, wondering if he'd missed something. He pressed his lips together in frustration, still not understanding. "Kinda…everything?"

"'Give us the money for Lolidragon, you've got three days to come to the mist lands alone, and hurry up or else,' is what it basically means," Gui swiftly explained, once again amazing Wu Qing with his Amazing Brain Powers. "How is that hard to understand? It is completely simple!"

"Oh, yeah, I see now," Wu Qing said, nodding in agreement, though he still had no idea where Gui had gotten that from. Then again, the bard was a literature professor, one who…who…

Wu Qing paused, eyes widening. "Wait a minute!" he exclaimed. "Three days! The mist lands are all the way at the north-west corner of the continent!"

"Go find Nan Gong Zui," Gui suggested. "His alliance owns a lot of horses. I'm sure he'll have one to spare."

"Oh, good idea." He automatically gave another agreeable nod, then took a step toward the east, where the alliance was housed and the stables were located, but then came to a halt, realizing he couldn't just leave. "'The money for Lolidragon'…How much do you suppose that is?" he continued, frowning.

"Ask Lolidra–" Gui's voice was abruptly cut off before he could finish his sentence.

Wu Qing waited several seconds to see if he would continue, but no finish came. "Gui?" He waited again, but the bard didn't reply. Feeling a bit worried, he quickly messaged Yu Lian that Gui might be in trouble, then hurried back inside the shop to rejoin Lolidragon. Doll and Lolidragon both looked up when he stopped beside them again.

"That was fast," the thief remarked.

"I need the ransom money," he explained. "You–"

"Go ask Yu Lian." She waved a hand dismissively before Wu Qing could finish what he was saying.

Feeling irritated at all of the stops he was going to have to make, he crossed his arms and stared hard at Prince's body, which was inspecting its fingernails closely. "The kidnappers want the money back that you stole from them!" Or so Gui had said.

The red eyes went from staring at fingernails, back to him, and widened. "Oh, is that what they want?" Lolidragon mused, tapping a finger on her chin. White eyebrows pulled together, she shrugged. "All of the money I've stolen from people in the past has either been spent or given to Yu Lian to put into the city's finances, so, as I said…ask her."

"But I need to know what the amount is," Wu Qing sighed in exasperation. Why did this all have to be so annoying? Stupid sister…he was definitely going to nag her for his favorite meals for a month, in repayment for making him do all of this bothersome stuff in-game.

Lolidragon snorted incredulously. "As if I would remember the exact amount I've stolen from every single person! It's impossible!"

"Well, get to remembering!" he ordered. Grabbing Kenshin's sketch of the kidnapper off the counter top, he thrust it in her face. "This is the person! Remember now?"

"Of course not!" she yelled in reply, glaring irritably at him as she shoved away the drawing. "I can't even recall seeing this guy before!"

Leaning forward, Wu Qing threw the paper over his shoulder and snarled, "WHY'D YOU STEAL IT IN THE FIRST PLACE? IF YOU'D JUST LEFT IT ALONE, NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED! STUPID THIEF!"

Lolidragon grabbed his shirt front and roughly shook him back and forth. "DUH, YOU MORON! I'M A THIEF! I STEAL STUFF! AND ANYWAY, IT'S THE OTHER PLAYERS' FAULT FOR LEAVING THEIR MONEY IN SUCH AN EASY-TO-SNATCH PLACE!"




"IS SO!"

Although Wu Qing kind of wanted to continue their shouting match, he quickly stepped back and recrossed his arms, putting on a mature air in a want to look more impressive and adult-like. "I don't have time to argue with you," he snootily declared, then, dropping all of his maturity, made a face at her. "If I take the wrong amount, it's all your fault!" Before Lolidragon could retaliate, he turned and ran out the door to collect some money—hopefully somewhere around the correct amount—and get a horse, so he could rescue his stupid sister.