The minutes dragged on like hours as they waited for Mackie and his captors to make their appearance. Aislynn’s potion showed them when and where to be, and they had arrived five minutes ago. Before Jac and the girls could spot anything, though, a commotion down the street started heading in their direction.

Hidden by the magic of her invisibility potion, Aislynn hovered on her snowboard up around the clock tower that stood above Boogerburt’s & Son. Their eyes for this operation, she was also their backup in case something went wrong. Jac and Pia were mixed in with the crowds of shoppers on the street, waiting. The plan called for Pia to summon up a mist, confusing Mackie’s captors, while he flew in and whisked his brother away. Once Jac had him, everyone was to meet back up at the park and then return to the Tower via his key. It was a good plan Jac thought, but he was still nervous as they strolled from store to store, waiting to make their move.

“Calm down, Jac,” Pia whispered, squeezing his hand. “You will attract attention.” Instead of noticing, Jac, though, everyone turned to a loud group marching towards them instead. Hand in hand, Jac and Pia dashed over to stand in front of the gathering crowd for a better look.

Scanning the street and shops lining it, Jac still couldn’t detect any sign of the men they were looking for or his brother. Activating a chatterbox they had purchased earlier from Loudmouth Communication he said, “They gotta be here somewhere! Lynn, you got anything yet?”

“Not yet. Whatever that is going on is not helping either,” Aislynn’s voice came crackling back to Jac from the small box he held.

“The Necromancer is a real,” the group chanted as they marched towards them, and now visible to Aislynn up near the clock on the tower.

“Look’s like some kind of protest march. They’re heading your way,” Aislynn warned.

The crumbling streets of Old Town tripped one chanter, but he did not miss a beat. “Where is the Duke?”

“Do you know where your loved ones are?” a blue-bearded dwarf-maid screamed, dabbing her eyes with a tattered old rag.

“Where is the Duke?” the group shouted again in unison.

“Where was he when they took my MaMaaMa and PaPaaPa!” a tiny little stick like figure riding on a goblin’s shoulder demanded.

“Zombies and Ghools are overrunning Franklin! Took everything! Where was the Duke when they took my family and turned them into zombies?” an old goblin wailed.

“Hey, he looks just like one of those things that took Mackie,” Jac whispered into his chatterbox, taking a step towards the marchers.

“I see him – but be cool,” Aislynn’s voice chirped from the chatterbox. “Yes, he’s a goblin, but from the looks of him, I doubt he could take on much of anything other than his supper. Besides, we got a real problem. This protest will attract the attention of the Duke, and that won’t be good for me… ah, I mean us—won’t be good for us.”

Jac calmed himself with two deep breaths, searching everywhere he could see for his brother’s captors when a siren sounded overhead. The gathered crowd looked up to see the Lawson Legion, Archduke Roland’s personal guard, come swooping down on steam-punkery™ jet packs.

Watching from above, Aislynn cringed. “Oh-no, that’s not good!”

Having reached Jac and Pia, the marchers dispersed into the crowd when they heard the siren. Their leader, a tall blond boy with an odd gait, walked directly up to Jac as if he knew him. Then, what they all had been waiting for finally happened, Jac spotted the people that now had his brother across the street. Using the protesters as cover, they were about to load Mackie into the back of a steam-punkery™ wagon.

The boy pushed Jac back a few paces. “Hey, hold up there brother. Don’t you want to know what’s going on in the Hidden States?”

“Oh my god, Elrick! No!” Aislynn yelled into her chatterbox, causing the boy to glance around in confusion.

Failing to get past the boy, Jac realized there was no way to reach his brother in time. “Mackie!”

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