Chapter 36:

Game Plan - Part 1


They returned to the main street and then quietly snuck to a little sidestreet that seemed as empty as possible. It was likely that a few people would use this path, but it should be quite enough. Even if it was all due to paranoia, it was better to go to a more secluded place right now.

A more secluded place would also raise the chances of their enemy appearing in an ambush, but that much she didn’t have to say. One of the two girls following Anna could notice this much, but she also had no reason to warn Karim.

“Such a nice alley…” Col noted while the trio walked deeper into the few smaller streets of the city. Her tone didn’t have much of an edge, but the other inquisitor knew what she meant. “I know you like to have fun, Anna, but sometimes it’s better to talk somewhere safe.”

"What if I don't wanna safety?"

"Then choose somewhere I can fight well. Moving around alleys is a pain in the ass. It was obvious that Anna would be very happy if the thing observing them would just appear and attack. Dealing with spies wasn't fun in the least, but fighting in alleys didn't fit Colette's style, so she wasn't that up for it right now.

“I know the perfect...” Karim started to say just like she did a good number of times the last week, but her words were cut short this once.

“I’m not goin’ to that restaurant again! My body fat’s increasin’ lately…” Anna answered with half the words coming in a hushed tone. “We’ll have to keep movin’ too after this, so this place’s fine.”

“Now that you mention… My diet is also fucked up due to that place.”

“Exactly. We talkin’ ‘ere and then movin’ without some afternoon snack or whatever. It’s not as if someone could ambush me this easily anyway…”

“You’re not wrong, so that’s fine.”

“You both are wasting an opportunity..." The girl that never had to bother with her weight complained lightly. "Having a conversation while Satan cooks for us would be better, but I guess you both can’t hold out well enough...” Karim added as a final thought while her two companions were deciding to not leave this place for now. Most of her words were ignored this time though.

“Anyways…” Anna started, finally reaching the main point of the whole talk. “Should I start with our next move or with the evil eyes?”

“Evil eyes?” Both Karim and Colette asked at the same time, with the former sending a questioning gaze to the as she thought it common knowledge to inquisitors.

“What? I heard about them, but I can’t be bothered to remember such complex bullshit.” Col gave shoulders while explaining herself to the confused blondie. “Especially when I know someone who can explain them to me.”

“Yeah, yeah, we know ya don’t like studyin’… I’ll give a summary now, ‘kay?” Annabeth cut in before the talk could be sidetracked and started to explain before anyone could react. “Evil eyes are pretty much the only thing ya could classify as real sorcery, y’see? They have a chance to appear spontaneously in a human and have so many different capabilities ya could lose a decade studyin’ ‘em all. They barely have rules though, so they're both hard to use and to counter.”

“Wait. Are you telling me that this appears just like that? Like a sickness or something?”

"That's a good way to explain it, shorty. Some think it's caused by stayin' too close to powerful magic or places with lotta bloodstones or catalysts..."

"And these two are?"

"The first multiplies spell power and the other can make ya absorb pure energy from the ambient."

"My weapons have a bunch of bloodstones, and they're, like, super useful," Col added while pointing to the small gems on her bracelets. "I'm pretty sure catalysts are rare, dangerous and outlawed though."

An accusatory glance went towards Anna, but she turned her face away and pretended it had nothing to do with her. She instead cleaned her throat and then continued with the explanation.

“I heard it explained that this whole evil eye thingy is 'cause humans are chaos, y'see? We have no magical attunement, but can use all types of spells and even create new ones sometimes. Is it that weird that these chaotic beings could sometimes mess up the rules?” The inquisitor continued, now with her brunette companion reaching the point where she lost focus, which stood in opposition to Karim’s growing attention. “It’s like some mutation or deficiency. Yer born with it, in an active state or not, and it’s very hard to be sure how it came to be... That is, unless someone transfers an evil eye from someone.”

“You can transfer them?!”

“Yeah. Pop the thing out, socket into another person, and pray it’ll stick. Very simple and has a decent chance of success...” Anna explained while articulating the procedure with her hands. “Their powers are too big and too varied to be left alone, y’see? It’s not unusual fer high-class inquisitors to receive and apprehended one. Havin’ a thing that can do anythin’ from kilometer-range sight to weaken spiritual energy is too good to be true.”

“It sounds insane.”


“You have to be insane if you want to fight things with ten times all your capabilities...” Colette added to the conversation with her eyes locked on Anna’s face. Of course, this movement was easily noticed by the short member of the group.

“Then, this golden eye of yours…” She asked with her gaze also fixed on the redhead’s eyes.

“Yeah. That’s why I could notice the effects of another eye back there. An evil eye to fight an evil eye, gotcha? Ya need either that or some very specific brand of holy magic.”

“And what yours…?”

“That I’m not tellin’ ya, shorty. Ya can understand why, ‘aight?”

A heavy mood filled the alley where the three girls were having their discussion after this answer. Again, it was a reasonable answer, but it was also a hard one to swallow. More than that, under these circumstances, it was obvious that Annabeth was much more dangerous than she seemed to be earlier.

Still, if she was right, there were very few ways to counter their current enemy if the red-haired loose cannon was taken out of the picture.

“'Bout the other question...” Anna broke her serious aura and started to answer in her usual easygoing ways as if to steer the conversation away. “That one is simpler, ay? All we’ll do is search the suspicious places we’ve been patrollin’ lately.”

“So all our walking around had a reason, eh? I was sure we were going blind all along.” And as if following her cue, Colette also went back to normal and answered in her usual tone while trying to confirm her suspicions.

Even so, Karim was still thinking in silence on her corner of the alley. The best would be to ignore this and keep going though.

“Mah’ original plan was to sneak around each place before assaultin’ 'em, but since we have big game ‘ere, I’m keener to a faster approach...” The red-haired inquisitor smirked in a way too eerie for such a small answer, which soon became obvious why. "We'll be usin' the li'l plan from earlier already."