Chapter 13:

Knight's Vow - Part 1

Gloudhaus


The moment he heard the chanting, the wounded ifrit made a pained expression and flew away in a hurry. As he fled, the red-haired girl on the ground cockily waved him goodbye, but there was little he could do now. Fighting against a holy mage and maybe more reinforcements would be way too much in this situation.

Without reacting much and still on the ground, Anna could see one of two other figures taking flight and going after him, but that was beyond her now. Her waiting around ended less than half a minute later though.

Karim, the origin of the hymn, had finally arrived at the battlefield.

She was alone now that her escorts gave chase to the flying spirit, which wasn't very recommended for a holy mage, but that was that.

Karim was still singing when she entered Anna's line of sight, but her voice was starting to fail. The petite girl seemed out of breath by now, probably due to running while singing or maybe due to having used too much spiritual energy.

It wasn’t her favored method, but Anna made sure to take notes on the fact that her little enforced partner could actually use prayers. Even among inquisitors, someone with the training and aptitude to use an old-fashioned method like the so-called holy magic was very rare.

It took too long to learn all the different hymns, prayers, mantras and etc, and they weren't that effective energy-wise too. More than that, holy magic wasn't something everyone could use effectively. It was a very troublesome method, no matter what, but a very powerful one.

The most powerful one even, in some cases at least.

Be as it was, it was already time for Karim to stop and Anna was now calmer too, so she could warn her partner of such.

“He left already, gal. Ya can stop now…” Annabeth told the arriving girl as she sprawled herself on the ground. “That demon has somethin' to do with the man in the picture, so y'should call a search instead of helpin' me.”

A shadow covered the redhead’s face as her petite partner ignored her suggestion and instead got closer.

“What you're doing here?” Karim asked while standing almost on top of Anna’s head.

“I could ask the same, y'know? Or you forgot 'bout yer skirt?”

The tanned girl looked down to the inquisitor’s upturned eyes and then to her own bottom, reddening almost instantly. She still moved herself to smash the head of said inquisitor as she did so though.

Her attacks were still a little too slow for Anna, even in her current state, so all Karim ended up doing was kick some dust. It was a very dangerous kick, even if it missed though.

“Stop tryin' to hit the wounded person, brat! It’s not my fault that ya decided to show that much to me…” She complained while rolling around.

“It IS your fault!”

At some point, Karim’s curved blade appeared in her hand and she switched from kicks to trying to stab the other girl. Both her speed and technique were lacking, so Anna was managing to stay alive, but she was already overextending herself.

“Wait! Why would… Ow! So it ain't a fashion thing… Bein' breezy and all...”

“OF COURSE IT’S NOT!!!”

Annabeth forced her body to stand up again as dodging on the ground was doomed to fail, but some wounds were open again due to that. She was still under the side effects of her wonder drug too, so it didn’t take long for her moving around to backfire.

“Could you calm down and… Guh!” The red-haired girl tripped in the air during an almost-failed dodge and fell headfirst to the ground before she could calm down her partner. And then she stood there for a while.

“Can you explain what you were doing here now?!” Karim asked again, now a little more realized due to the small payback.

“I’m doin' mah' job, 'kay? Walkin' 'round with a babysitter isn’t mah' style and I've lotta things I ain't gonna show ya lot...”

“Your job is killing yourself or something?" Karim asked with a bothered glare at the redhead on the ground. "You look like someone who was hit bit a truck. A few times even…”

In some senses, being hit by a truck would cause less damage than what Anna had at the moment. Her clothes weren’t made of normal cloth, and even they were quite damaged after all that fighting. And for the girl beneath these clothes, she was covered in new and dry blood, in ashes and dust, and in half-closed wounds of many kinds.

She still had in her the capability to keep playing around though.

“Oho? Yer worried 'bout me, cutie? Was that before an invite or...” Her words were cut short by a blade stabber on the ground a hair away from her neck and by an angered voice.

“Do you really want to go back to that?”

“The answer ya wanna hear or the truth?”

“Why do you keep looking for a fight?! We’re on the same side here.”

“I don’t see it like that, ‘partner’.” Anna’s answer was filled with a seriousness she had yet to show around here, but the tanned girl in front of her could sense something more there. “We’re temporary allies at best, and I don’t even see a reason to work with ya…”

“Because those were the orders. We’re partners at the moment and partners work together.” The petite girl answered in a matter-of-fact way. “Why are you so against it? We barely know each other yet and you even said that I wasn’t a menace.”

Annabeth got up again while gazing at her so-called partner and then smirked for no reason.

“If yer a menace or not, it ain't worth a damn to how I work. Fer me, this whole place is enemy grounds...” The redhead went on with a rare gaze of real anger on her face. "I won't be trustin' a spirit or whatever you call 'em just 'cause there's no 'corruption', y'see? A common spirit just like ya is enough to cause a calamity..."

“A spirit would never…”

“But it did. I saw it all. Not many survived to see the results, but I saw the whooooole process.” Anna cut in while filling her words with raw hate. “Y'all can slap a common human and it’ll die, y'know? Some even have weapons in their own bodies and several can innately use magic... How can believe yer pureness of heart will keep ya away from blowin' me, or worse?”

“I have no reason to betray you!” The outraged girl protested only to see the redhead approaching her.

“What if yer wonderful boss ordered ya? Should I just trust her too?” Anna almost glued her face to the petite girl while saying so and then used her sharpest tone yet. “This place is behind enemy lines to me and yer an enemy agent, got it? Keepin' my hand to the chest and workin' alone is the best fer both sides.”

Karim’s eyebrows formed a V shape as her expression changed from amazed to seriously angry.

“I see this stupid way of yours is working very well, right? Almost dying for some goons by yourself seems like the best way for both sides.” Karim answered while pointing to the area around them. “If you like it or not, you’re not some one-woman-army that can do all by yourself. You’ll never trust someone if you never try to!”

The two girls stood in a staring contest for a good while without any of the two even trying to convince the other after this.

Anna was the first to disengage though.

“Sigh… This ain't goin' anywhere. I’ll just repay my debt and go my way…”

“What you’re talking about now?”

“I'm talkin' 'bout the help ye gave me right now. No matter how, you made that ifrit go away…”

“Saved you too.” Karim interrupted and got an annoyed glare in answer.

“You HELPED me there, mate, and I owe ya fer that.” And Annabeth obviously made sure to ignore it and continue. “And since I owe…”

She took a deep breath and fixed her posture as, as much as she disliked it, that was in the code and had to be done.

“What ya wanna receive?”
Vforest
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