Chapter 31:

The Princess' Assignment - Part 1


Reaching the city’s temple, the second biggest one in the whole Archipelago, was very easy. Maybe easier than reaching the hospital or the police department even.

The two main streets that cut the city, one from each corner of the massive port that covered most of the seashore, ended both right in front of the temple. From there, all you had to do was climb a small path of tooris and you would reach the temple that didn't match the path's style.

It was a very accessible place, and for a reason.

Religious support, exorcisms, charm-making, blessings, and even medical care could be dealt with at Cenfratia’s temple, so its position kind of made sense. It also sat atop what was the only elevated area of the city and, from there, one could oversee the whole city. This much was part of the legacy as a colony though.

And so, even while carrying two other people and having to follow a convoluted path made by Anna, it still didn't take long to reach their destination. Better than that, they had moved fast and stealthly enough to avoid calling any attention. Or they should at least...

As one could infer by their situation though, somehow their movements were predicted. Either that or this temple was a very violent place.

“I come in peace.” Annabeth said with her hand on the revolver at her hip. “I’ll still fire if ya people move though.”

Cenfratia’s temple was a thick rectangular construction with an open middle area and two towers opposite to the entrance. Other than the towers, the back of the building was almost like a high keep. An ornate and good-looking keep, but a keeper nonetheless.

It was hard to be sure right now, but it seemed that each tower and the main building had different purposes since their styles were different. The doors at the side walls and the tents with holy goods in the courtyard also brought the question of how far could a civilian walk around there.

From what Anna could see, the outside was where most sold things were. All from talismans and charms to less believable ones like holy water and prayer beads, they probably sold all.

Weirdly enough, these tents set in the courtyard matched quite well with the ornated walls and complex architecture. Even the huge statues set around the perimeter weren't enough to make the style weird.

It wasn't time to admire the architecture though and none of it would answer how they were detected either way.

The group of spear-armed priests and suit-clad gunmen surrounding the trio also didn't seem to care about it in the end.

“Calm down, Annabeth!” Karim shouted with her hands to the sky.

“What have you done, Anna?” The third girl in the group asked in a hushed tone while still carrying the two wounded kitsunes.

“I would love to know, ay? I barely even know these lads…”

It wasn’t as if Anna got herself into trouble with the temples, yet, so it was weird that armed people would be waiting for them right after the path of tooris. There weren’t strong fighters around at all, but fighting them back would be too much trouble.

The trio needed information and not a new group to antagonize them, at least not for now and at least not until they had investigated this side.

“Hand over the shrine maidens, inquisitor!” One of the spearmen ordered, threatening to step forward only to be scared away by the redhead’s revolver. “Know that you’re in sacred grounds with the Circle overwatching you.”

“Oh, is It, ay?! What ‘bout sendin' ya towards It fer a talk?!” The gunwoman taunted back with her weapon almost out of its holster, her temper almost going nuts. The priests were lucky that she wasn't alone there though.



The two other girls shouted at the trigger-happy member of their group as she was losing sight of her objective. Some habits were really hard to avoid, and Anna had some very bad ones, but being called out got her enough control.

“Aham! Sorry ‘bout that… We’re ‘ere to help ya, ‘kay? Let’s calm down and talk.”

Even with her hands leaving the weapon and the threatening aura dying out, the spearman and bodyguards didn’t seem to be retreating. They seemed shaky and unsure about stepping forward, but their weapons were still up.

That was, at least, until a new figure left the inside of the temple.

“Lower your weapons. They’re not our foes, for now at least.” The five-tailed shrine maiden said in a tone that wasn’t loud in the least but still filled the whole courtyard. “The two maidens in their arms need help right now though. Take them to the infirmary.”

Just like during the meetings, Minako's voice was calm and controlled. She sounded much more resolute than when speaking at the Bureau though.

She had a reason for such, of course. Her words alone made every priest and suit-wearing man bow down and lower their weapons, with two of them moving to take the wounded foxes.

The two inquisitors exchanged nods when seeing such, and the wounded girls were taken away. And just like that, the temple was soon working as normal. There were still no civilians around, but that was for later.

“Thank you, Ms. Chiron.” Karim was the first to say something after the situation was defused. “I was unsure of how things would go if you hadn’t luckily appeared in time…”

“Luck had nothing to do with this, Karim. All happened as it should have and in its right time too.” Minako answered with a sure and proud tone before turning around and heading back to the temple. “Follow me now, please. I believe you wanted to talk, right?”

“No, we...” The petite cop tried to continue since the words she heard didn’t match what she expected, but the five-tailed fox was already away before she could.

The priests were returning to their places, the bodyguards were hiding again and Minako had vanished inside the pagoda’s closest annex.

All unmoving figures now were the three girls, with two of them frozen in confusion at the situation and the other not sure of what was happening.

“So…” Col broke the relative silence between the trio, even if their tone was as small as possible. “We want to have a talk with that fox?”

“Yes, but that ain’t how I planned to have it…” Annabeth answered while trying to fix the information in her head.

“And here was I thinking that all you wanted was to interrogate those maidens... What are you planning here, Annabeth?”

“I wanted to investigate, y'know? Do our job and all… I wasn’t expectin’ to be outplayed right away.”

“Oho? The big bad inquisitor couldn’t see how a little kitsune would act? That’s what you get for not explaining what your plans are.” Karim snarked with a grin. “I could have told you about how good at politics Minako is. Auntie says she's somehow as good at reading the situation as she is…”

“That sounds like a lot. Can you deal with that, Anna? I’m not getting many confidence vibes from you right now.” Col added to the fire while also smiling at Anna’s expenses.

“Well, as long as we don’t say anything unnecessary, it’ll still be a short talk.” Karim finished before moving away with Colette in tow. “I don’t think the Toori would be our target either way…”

Different from her two companions, Anna was still unmoving while thinking about this situation though. She could feel that something wrong had happened that wasn’t her messing the observations up, but she was unable to say what.

It could be that she was simply trying to find something that didn't exist though. It wasn't as if she never messed up this bad anyway.

Be as it was, she got her meeting. Now, all that was left was to follow their host who was headed to the tallest part of the temple.