“WHAT YOU DID TO MY HOUSE?!!!” Was Karim’s first reaction when she entered the spare room of her apartment. It wasn't her spare room anymore though, which was half the problem though.
“I connected it to my things. Nothin' much…”
The room connected to the apartment was even smaller than the other bedroom and made of what seemed to be polished concrete. There was a mismatch in style for sure, but the contents were even weirder.
A dozen trolley bags, all of different colors and sizes, filled the nearest wall of the room while piles of suitcases filled the other side. Even the small plain bed, the few pieces of clothing hung on a metal bar and what seemed to be a workbench occupying most of the remaining space were weird.
There were also some maps and whiteboards covering parts of the wall and a small bookshelf, but those were minor details.
In summary, it was way too cramped to be a decent room and wasn’t even half close to the neat little room Karim had prepared. It was also missing all the little trinkets and other smaller items that were stored in the empty room earlier.
“Where are all my things then?!” The house’s owner asked in panic. "All my tabletop and... I mean! All my important tools."
“They still where they should. I connected this room with that door and nothin' more.” Anna answered as she went to retrieve a tool from inside the workbench's cabinet. "We ain't in yer room fer real now..."
“Undo it then! A bunch of my things were inside that room.”
“Nay. That bullet's expensive.”
While the talk was happening, a bulky device as big as a television and what seemed to be a stone carver antenna came out of the nearby cabinet.
Annabeth then set the big device together with the antenna and headed to the pile of suitcases without a care for her nominal partner. There, after some fiddling around, she started to choose between the collection of small gems she had there.
“How much? I’m not trying to look good, but I’m very well-paid. Giving a few thousand to remove this thing from my house wouldn’t be a problem.” Karim proudly proclaimed while trying to squeeze her way around the room.
“Two million plus taxes. Continental ducats, obviously.”
If it wasn't for the clicking of jewels, Anna's answer would have sent the room to absolute silence. That ridiculous number she gave as a price not only killed the conversation but also made Karim freeze in place.
It didn’t last for long though.
“You’re messing with me, right? I swear that if you’re messing with me…”
“Hey, havin' more of those would be wonderful! I've no reason to pretend they way too expensive like this...” Anna continued while setting the jewels in their right order. “Actually, don’t you demons have some way to replicate the effect? Havin' an easy way out or somewhere would be very useful.”
“We don’t do sorcery here… Maybe some kitsune could enchant her way through it, but otherwise...” The petite girl answered with a bothered expression. “AND I’M NOT A DEMON!!!”
“Fine, fine… Spirit or whatever. Can't you do enchantment too? Yer a mage, ain't ya?”
“Your sorcery is not magic.”
“Magic, sorcery, what’s the difference anyway?”
“One is natural, limited, and attuned to the user's own self. The other is this nonsensical thing that does whatever you think it should do using whatever method is necessary. Very different, right?”
The machine Annabeth was working on came to life under the tanned girl’s explanation, even if the person she was explaining to wasn’t paying attention.
“Magic is magic. Find the rule, draw the circle, pay the price, ignite the spell. Havin' innate spells or not ain't changin' the process…”
While she was saying so though, the tattoos on one of the red-haired girl’s hands started to glow. And as if taking said glow as a cue, rhythmical beepings started to leave the machine.
“It’s not the…!”
“Shush!” Anna suddenly cut in with her hand in a motion to make silence, which somehow had the expected effect. After that, she kept on glaring at the beeping machine for a while longer and then moved her hand that wasn’t glowing to the tool attached to said machine.
Each time she moved her hand, a similar beep from the ones received earlier came, and it was starting to make Karim crazy. Before the tanned shorty could ask anything though, she heard a small muttering and focused on getting what it meant.
“…base set. Dangerous group. One dragon variant. One fairy. One fox demon. Two possessed objects. One golem. One archdemon. One succubus. One witch. Stand by fer now. Will retrieve the package soon. Over.” Anna went silent after her ramblings and a new string of beeps came from the machine, which ended with her turning the whole thing down.
“What was that?”
“Just markin' out the bigwigs. This kinda information y'all gave's very useful…”
“What information are you…?”
“The navy is led by some half-dragon with a fairy aide. I couldn’t get much from the admiral other than that he’s probably very strong and ancient. The girl is a run-of-the-mill water fairy though, which means a lotta speed and magic, but li'l physical strength.” Annabeth started to recite.
Her words were very on point though, which was weird considering that she never really read the personal files left in the meeting room. And Anna wasn't even close to being over by then.
She could further explain how spirits couldn't live without spiritual energy at all and, in most cases, were heavily linked to a certain attribute instead of pure energy, but that wouldn't be useful for someone who was a spirit herself.
“We've a fox demon from the south with fire and light attunement and two 'blank-magic' possessed objects as bodyguards. Although the objects ain't much, the fox demon herself seems related to old royalty. I'd need some heavier equipment to deal with her without trouble. Fox fire's a real pain and she’s overflowin' with spiritual energy, so that's that…”
The names weren’t the ones Karim was used to, but she could understand the idea. She still couldn't explain how the inquisitor was gauging the strength of each member though.
“We also've the army guys. One golem, and a shitty archdemon. Golems are mostly the same, big movin' rocks that can somehow punch above their pay, but're easy enough to deal with. And somethin' like an archdemon is irrelevant... It'd be a different matter when the old demon king was still there, but now they don’t pose a threat even with the cool name. He's still air-attuned if ya wanna know and should be very experienced in fightin' due to age.”
Annabeth stopped to take a breath by then as it was too much encyclopedia for a day, but there were still two members not mentioned. Saying the expression on Karim's face though, the red-haired inquisitor decided that she should keep going.
“And lastly, we've the succubus boss lady and the little witch as an aide. Both shadow-attuned, so I’m not sure how far you can go. Shadow's pretty much a buncha random spells that pretend to be the same, but magical hazards are a perfect match for me. Even if the boss lady took me while asleep, I would still be able to deal with it if one-on-one.” The girl ended at the same time that the bright hue in her arm went away. “It’s all ciphered, cataloged, and telegraphed home now. I could even send more details, but it'd waste time and they've people who focus on it anyway...”
“Is this thing a telegraph?!”
“A ciphered one, yeah. Works on gems even, so no need for electricity.”
Anna started to remove the jewels from her device and move them back to the suitcase while Karim watched from a little away. These were as much storage for magical energy as they were precious stones, by the way, but using them without a catalyst of a system, like the telegraph, was almost impossible. Living beings didn't have complex methods of turning pure spiritual energy into magic for nothing.
“And why you’re telling me all this…?” The blondie asked with suspicion.
“Take it as a payment for the outin' without supervision I’m takin' now.”
“Are you trying to…?!”
“Bribe ya? Yes. I can’t do much to ya before dealin' with that lady unless I wanna fight the whole city, so this approach works best... Fer now, at least.”
“I would never accept…!” An outraged Karim started to shout back in complaint, but a conversation was never what the inquisitor wanted. And her movements went unnoticed until it was too late.
“I’m not askin', partner.”
Even before the short girl could react to Anna's words, a suitcase smashed against her head and she lost consciousness.It was time for an outing with no babysitters.
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