Chapter 34:

Silence in the Infirmary - Part 1


“I hate these stairs...” Annabeth complained after slugging through the stairs after being properly lectured. “Why y’all like heights so much?”

“Vantage points are important. And the space part too. I already explained this much to you, didn’t I?” Karim answered as she was now used to how her red-haired partner would react to high places, but was more interested in other things. “Anyway, we’re going to the wounded maidens first, or do you have another plan for this situation? I would also like to know why you gave the artifact away like this. You could’ve left with auntie if all you wanted was to use it as an exchange token.”

“On the second half, I gave it because it ain’t change a thing. And 'bout the first one...“ Anna started to answer with a somewhat serious expression on her face even if her aura was still as easygoing as ever. “Not much of a plan fer now. We can talk with ‘em fer sure, but it’s hard to say how much we can get.”

“My vote is to rampaging until we find this army, just so you both know, okay?”

“We know!” Both the tall redhead and the small blondie answered Col at the same time. They both then turned their stares to each other, one with an interested smirk and the other slightly surprised.

“No need to gang on me, damn.” Colette went on with a slightly depressed expression and then pointed her hand toward Anna. “Now give me the leaves and ignore me until you stop thinking about whatever…”

“Y’know me well, eh?” The other inquisitor answered under the even more confused gaze of her small partner and then threw a small cloth bag toward the brunette. “Have fun with it. To the wounded foxes now!”

Both inquisitors then started walking towards the closest door, since neither knew where the infirmary was, leaving a confused Karim behind. One of them was confident in her skills to find things at random and the other was more focused on hugging her stolen tea leaves.

“Can you two at least explain what just happened before leaving me behind?!” Exclaimed their left-behind companion, drawing even more attention from the priests toward the trio. The attention made the small cop blush though and she rushed closer to the other two while quietly apologizing.

“I had to see if that fox was some real skilled trickster, y’see? And unless she’s the best actor of all, I’m sure our top shrine maiden up there isn’t much.” Anna answered while still passing through random doors in search of their targets. “I stole those things right in front of her and she didn’t even notice it. Makes me wonder how she predicted mah’ moves though… She knew we would come but didn't see me takin' things at random. It's very weird.”

“I’m not sure if I’m following…”

“Ain't no need fer it too. All ya have to know is that Minako ain’t a fighter or a liar. Either that or she’s better than anyone in our li’l group at it.” She dismissed her petite partner and crossed another opening, finally arriving to what seemed to be an infirmary. “Think the rest by yerself, ‘kay? We have a questionin’ to do.”

Annabeth had other suspicions about that temple leader who couldn't notice a sloppy thief and was too trustful in her, but it was for later.

She had no reason to explain this much to Karim right now and, more than that, they had work to do now that their random walking around had reached their goal.

The trio entered a bright room made in the same style as all other plain stone rooms of the temple but with some extras. Some plain tall mattresses, a few of them occupied, some priests watching the patients, and some plain wooden cabinets holding a variety of herbs and magical concoctions, to note them all.

It was a simple infirmary with some patients, including the two kitsunes they had rescued, inside. How quiet the whole place was at the moment was a little off-putting, but hospitals were never meant to be noisy, so maybe this place was the same.

“G’mornin’, Ms. Fox. All of ya even.” Anna started, gathering the attention of everyone who could give it to her while aiming at the only of the two rescued foxes who were awake. “May I make some questions to ya?”

Her exaggerated entrance had a few objectives. First, stop Karim’s questions. Second, present herself and her objective to everyone around. And third, try out how fast Minako could give orders to her priests.

Luckily, all these answers ended up being inside what Anna wanted them to be. She would’ve been kicked from the temple if the last one wasn’t, at least, so that was a very good result. She could let Karim deal with the complaints the nearby priest would make too, so that was fine.

Either way, since no one was moving to shut her up, the red-haired inquisitor approached the awoken fox girl. She hadn’t changed much from before, still dark-haired, two-tails, and wearing shrine maiden garbs, even if these were now clean and whole. The only weird thing was the fact that only the shot kitsune was awake and not her friend.

“So, can ya answer or not?” The approaching inquisitor asked the recovering maiden again while sitting down on the floor by her side. But while Anna did so, she felt something weird on the kitsune. Familiar, but still weird. And it only became weirder when instead of answering, the wounded girl simply waved her head negatively.

“Hey! I’m tryin’ to help ‘ere. Ya can’t just… What is it, shorty?” A small arm held Anna’s should before she could continue her complaints, and then the answer to the situation came.

“She can’t talk, dumbass.” Karim proclaimed while looking to the caretaker that had explained this much to her. “They’re trying to find out why, but she won't be answering you. In fact, all patients here but that fainted one are being afflicted by the same thing.”

“That’s… That’s very troublesome… It’s solvable though.” The tall girl on the floor concluded while trying to think of a solution. “We don’t have time to lose, so I’ll use what I can… Ya can’t talk, fox lady, so we'll work with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, ‘kay? Nod the answers and then we’ll find who did this to ya. I’ll be sure to get ya some justice, both of ya even.”

The two-tailed girl seemed confused for a moment, but she soon nodded in agreement with a determined expression on her face. Seeing this much, Anna smirked back and then started to organize her thoughts to make the questions.

As she was doing so though, Karim approached her ear to make a question she didn't want everyone around to hear.

“How will you manage an interrogation only with ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions?”

“I won’t.” The inquisitor whispered back. “Gettin’ the full picture ‘ere is impossible, but I can try some theories at least. It’s better than nothin’ at least.”

“How do you have any theories when we didn’t even investigate a thing yet?!”

Instead of answering right away, Anna leaned down a little bit and gazed into the eyes of the hunched from below with a smirk on her face. She then tapped the side of her golden-colored eye and then to every other patient around.

“That’s because I can feel that same kinda skill I have on ‘em, which means a common treatment won’t work,” Anna spoke while doing her best to keep her words only between her and Karim. “I’ll explain later, ‘kay? Hard to know who’s hearin’ ‘ere…”

And after saying what very few could even understand, the redhead went back to her earlier position and smiled at the kitsune as if nothing had happened.

It was time to start a little quiz here.