The Gusu Lan enclave was surprisingly easy to get into if you didn't count the magic forcefield. Parker wasn't sure if she believed in the magic forcefield but Sophie knew how to get around it so that was okay. Almost every building was surrounded by gardens or nature or trees which made for lots of places to hide. And doors just slid open. She'd tried about a dozen just to make sure. There didn't seem to be any locks which was sort of disappointing. What? Was she supposed to just waltz in and take the flute? Where was the challenge in that?

She was on her final approach to the Jingshi, out past the treeline where there was no cover, but that was fine because there was no one around but then suddenly there was someone around, a kid in flowing white robes floating down on a sword. "Who are you? Why are you out after curfew?"

The earbud squealed but Parker kept her eyes in the kid, waiting to see if he'd start floating again.

"Uh, sorry. A bit of glitchy glitchyness. I'm on it," Hardison said.

The squealing gave way and she could hear Nate. "Parker? What's going on?"

"There's a kid."

"Please tell me that by kid you mean baby goat."

"If I hit you," she asked the kid, "will you bleat?"

"What? No!"

"Eliot," Nate called out.

"On it."

"Parker," Hardison asked. "How'd you let your self be spotted? Ha, situational awareness my ass."

"You said there were patrols," she hissed. "You didn't say they could fly!"

"Fly?" Hardison asked. "What? Do they have wings?"

"No, on their swords."

"I think we're exaggerating just a bit," Hardison said. "It's okay if someone spotted you. It doesn't make you any less stealthy except that it technically does."

"Um, yeah," Sophie said, "about that flying on swords bit …"

"I, uh, what?"

"And you didn't think to share this with us?" Nate asked.

"I didn't think you'd believe me."

"Who are you?" the kid demanded. "Are you talking to ghosts? Are you a ghost?"

"Don't you think you should introduce yourself before asking for my name?" It was the kind of question Sophie would ask and Parker didn't think it would work, but it did.

"My name is Lan Jingyi. Who are you?"

"Your doom," Eliot said. He and the kid, Lan Jingyi, got fighty after that. Parker wondered if she should feel sorry for the kid. It was the sort of thing people would tell her she should feel, but Lan Jingyi had pointed a sword at her. Eliot won of course because he was Eliot but Lan Jingyi did hold out longer than she'd expected.

When Lan Jingyi was down on the ground, Parker poked at him. "Did you kill him?"

"No, I didn't kill him! And don't sound so happy about the idea."

"Focus, people," Nate said. "We still need to locate the flute."

"Demonic flute," Parker whispered.

"How many times do I have to say it?" Hardison complained. "The flute is not demonic. It's demonic cultivation. Honestly, sometimes I think I'm just talking to myself."

"Only sometimes?" Eliot asked. "We're gonna have to work on that."