Karim kept staring at the taller girl for a while before she could process what Anna said, and even then, it still made no sense.
“What in the heavens are you talking about?”
“I meant what I said. I don’t plan to own somethin' to ya, ever if possible, so I’ll repay it now.” The red-haired girl answered with a resolute tone.
“You’re going to do something that’s worth your life right now?”
“I’ll say it again, ya didn’t save mah' life 'ere, shorty. If anythin', y'saved dozens of them, but mine wasn't one…”
There was something in Annabeth’s tone that made her sound very persuasive, but it wasn’t what mattered right now.
“Even if you say so, what do you expect me to do? Ask for some compensation or something?” The petite girl asked with a cynical tone that made her instance very clear.
“If ya wanna… I’m not in the money, but I have a fair amount.”
There was a matter-of-fact expression on Anna’s face, which was weird for Karim. She was still trying to understand what was happening, but she couldn't see another answer by now.
“Are you serious? You’re really talking about something like debts right now?”
“Mah' leads either fled or are dead. The priority right now is bein' sure you don’t have anythin' to use against me.”
“You’re very petty, you know?”
“I've got a code. No two ways 'bout it…”
“Some kind of inquisitor laws or something?” The blonde girl still trying to understand the weird request asked to be sure.
“More like a knight’s vow, but yer not wrong,” Anna answered, receiving another weirded-out stare in answer and having to continue. “There are five articles to my code, 'kay? Strive for yer objective, repay yer debts, fight when threatened, obey yer superior’s orders and avoid civilian fatalities.”
“So you’re just a weirdo in the end… Most of these can even contradict themselves, so how this thing would even work?”
“The order matters, y'see? What comes first has priority. Easy as that.”
“What convenient system you put yourself into...” Karim gave up and turned a tired expression to what she saw as the biggest stupidity of the day. “This dumb kid’s play is why you want to repay this ‘debt’ of yours so much then?”
“Pretty much so.”
“Not to me.”
All the tanned girl wanted at this point was to call it a day and go back home. She had to search through the whole city after the rogue inquisitor and then had to make her hymn cover a few hundred meters while still running.
In summary, Karim was very tired physically and mentally. And, of course, Anna’s antics weren’t helping at all.
The taller girl didn’t seem to be willing to retreat though.
It was obvious that, if this childish ‘vow’ of hers meant anything at all, she would keep pestering Karim until she gave up either way. The fact that she was a guest and that Karim had already put herself in a bad position by punching her earlier weren’t helping too.
“Fine…” She conceded. “What can I ask?”
“As long as it’s fair, then I'd do mah' best to fulfill your wishes. Focus on the fair part though.”
The blondie started to think with her bothered expression at its maximum.
What would be a fair trade against saving someone’s life...? No, Anna would claim she didn’t save her life, so what would be a fair trade with helping someone not kill a bunch of people? It was a tricky question with no real answer no matter how she looked at it, so there was only one way to go about it.
“What if I told you to tell me exactly what happened here? All details.” She tried as a probing question.
“This much I can tell ya as a courtesy. I would've to report it anyway…”
Annabeth started her business-like recounting of the happenings around the slums right after saying so. She went through how she came to get some equipment, how she mistook the holder and got into a fight, how she got the weird artifact and how she fought the people looking for it.
She even went through the details about her barrier and how it made an area almost impossible to notice. It was a very textbook application of modification magic as she said, but Karim couldn't really understand the jargon.
The only detail she ‘forgot’ to report was who was her contact around there. That was something minor in the end, although she would find it weird if the cops lacked data about him.
“That’s it. Mah' fight was quite big and all, but ya won't find much in the realm of clues. This place would be a field day fer a spell specialist though… I used three of the four main schools 'ere.”
“Magic has six schools, not four. Seven if you count sorcery…” Karim butted in to correct the inquisitor with an annoyed glare.
“That's a dumb way to put it, y'know? Even the elemental bullshit you demons use would still be into four...”
“Six. Water, fire, air, earth, holy, dark, and continental’s sorcery.”
“Four, gal. Creation, transformation, modification, and destruction.” Anna rebutted again while putting a smug grin on her face. “Going by element and whatnot ain't useful at all. It tells nothin' 'bout the spell's structure, y'know? It’s an outdated and useless system that only tells what type of demon yer expecting.”
“It tells everything you need to know.” Countered the small girl as she puffed her chest. “Water, fire, air, and earth control their respective elements. holy uses the power of the heavens. dark encompasses the abnormal powers you can't fit in with the others. And sorcery is for all nature-altering unholy things.”
“Sayin' 'controls' when yer able to create, move and destroy an element is quite stupid, ain’t it? And two of them aren’t even properly defined there!” Anna continued with her headstrong explanation. “I’m not paid to teach ya modern spell theory though, so say what ya wanna already.”
They both could see that it wasn’t going anywhere again. Cutting the discussion short was pretty much the only answer, but it was still bothersome. It was never fun when, after learning something hard, someone said it was all dumb and useless.
Karim got a good idea of payback from it though.
Something that would either give her an advantage or make that smug brat suck her own words.
“I know how you’ll pay me back now…”
“Oh? Lookin' very sure there. You gotta an idea on that li'l head of yer?”
Karim ignored the redhead’s words and focused on saying what she wanted with the least ways to interpret as possible. She had heard of genies already and knew how dangerous a badly worded wish was, so even if Anna was a human, it was better safe than sorry.
“It’s very simple…” She started while opening a small smile. “From now on, I’ll be the added on top of that ‘superiors’ part of this ‘vow’ of yours.”
The smile on Annabeth’s face suddenly vanished as she heard those words. Karim’s words were very unexpected and carried a weight the petite local couldn’t even imagine at the moment, but they were valid.
Showing her hand would hinder Anna’s objective and even if she was to be added to the small list of two ‘superiors’ she had, it wasn't that much. It was just the fourth article, in the end, nothing that could control her much, but it was some control still.
It would give some o Annabeth's autonomy away, but that was, in the end, why a Knight’s Vow wasn’t something one should play around with. This danger was also why it was so powerful though.And the smug Karim had no idea at all of what she did and of what power she could wield now...