For the first time during the whole talk, Annabeth stopped in place. She had to think about what she heard properly this time. More than that, she had to answer in a way that wouldn’t give too much away.
It wasn’t as if there was any certainty the teleporting voice could prove it knew what it was talking about.
“I don’t think y’know what yer talkin’ ‘bout.” The inquisitor answered without even changing her position. “There’s no such thing as a mean to use what I’ve got ‘ere.”
“A body that’s not here nor there and an eye that’s pretty much a soul-destroying strategic weapon? I can see so many ways to use it…”
“None good and none that ain’t aimless causing a calamity.”
“What if I tell you’re wrong there too? We don’t have the time for it right now, so all you have to know is that this whole treasure hunt could solve our problems.” The ghost from the rooftops answered again but then changed its tone. “Maybe we’ll talk about this later… You have bigger problems now anyway.”
Anna didn’t have to ask anything more as she soon felt the same spiritual wave from the skirmish at the harbor. It was soon followed by movements on the streets too and, after another while, by echoes of a voice coming from above.
This voice was also approaching Anna’s position and she could, with some trouble, understand the words ‘rise’ and ‘form up’. The evil eye user was approaching as his army rose.
“Could’ve warned me earlier, ay? Mah' supposed ally…” Annabeth snarked back as she thought about how she would leave this place now. “Maybe kicking yer arse a li’l bit and then talkin’ ‘bout this idea would be the best.”
“Don’t say that… What about this then? Wait for a little and I’ll give you a nice goodwill gift, no, two of them.”
“What yer playing ‘ere…?” The question ended halfway as all signs of who it was aimed at vanished. “I guess that’s how other people feel, eh?”
There was a lot to think about this encounter, but it wasn’t the time to do so. It was also such a big mess that Anna didn’t really want to think about it.
Either way, this place was a little too low and a little too small for a rifle. For now, Anna was more focused on leaving the area than on whatever ‘gift’ she could receive.
Soon enough, the two figures the inquisitor knew quite well by now appeared followed by the echoes in the sky. As the orders to the dolls kept approaching, more and more figures rose on the street. And a good deal of them was already surrounding Annabeth’s hiding spot.
The ifrit was flying while holding his companion with an evil eye, which was quite a dangerous situation if they weren’t hidden by the cover of night. Something like the cover of night wasn’t relevant to Anna and sniping them down could work quite well, especially if she used the surprise.
She was unable to engage, though. Even if the situation was perfect, it was still more risk than if she left, which would mean breaking her order.
“What a waste...” The inquisitor complained to no one and then turned away from the flying enemies, going back to sneaking through the street. But there was a detail Anna was forgetting as she did too... Something she saw in use a moment ago and that she only remembered when the flying figures were right above her position.
“I’m startin’ to think I’m not cut fer this, ay...” The redhead sighed right as the two figures flying above decided to stop around her position.
They seemed to be talking about something and it was obvious to the inquisitor what it was. Such was soon confirmed by the next order the dolls received.
“Hunt the inquisitor!”
The voice of command spread around the area, flipping the dolls that were once marching forward and making them spread around. It didn't seem they had any idea of where she was, but dozens of randomly moving dolls would find her no matter what. It was a matter of time only.
On the bright side, one of Anna's chains was already broken and she could deal with these mannequins. She would have to take the first shot, though.
There would be no problem if it was a single enemy or even a small number of them, but getting a full volley of pipe guns wouldn't be fun. Even with her first seal open, it would still be too much damage.
Annabeth would need to set the ground a little first, and even then, it would still have collateral damage.
“I hope ya can manage fer a while, shorty…”
Annabeth’s eye could see spiritual energy, but that was just a side-effect that came by when her evil eye was sealed off and/or fed by outside sources.
Now it was partially open and her external source of energy was almost depleted. The moment the last catalysts turned into dust, then things would get serious.
And everyone in half a kilometer radius would feel that.
“'Ere goes nothin'...” The coming disaster perked herself and then broke the closest window she could see with her rifle. The noise called the attention of her pursuers, even though they had no ears, but Anna was already hidden inside by then.
It was still enough for the mob of dolls to rush their way in that direction, attacking the facade of the building blindly. And at the same time as they did so, every living being in the affected area felt the heaviness in the air and their soul being pulled out.
Meanwhile, the source of this feeling was being peppered by shrapnel as the improvised firearms kept firing. None were direct hits or powerful ones, though, so they would never take Anna down now.
They would need ten times this number or much bigger weapons to take her out with a broken chain. Even more if they weren’t puppets with little spiritual power to exploit.
Even as the building became less and less of any use as a cover and more dolls approached the window, it was still irrelevant. Their attacks would never overwhelm a demon-eater, even in its first stage.
And so, without even waiting for all pipe guns to fire, Anndbeth rose her body and fired the overcharged rifle, deleting all who surrounded her.
It wasn't a complex spell or even a powerful one, just the same air-explosion one that one henchman used on her a while ago. Still, the amount of energy the girl used on this one was leagues above the other one she saw. Even calling it the same spell would be hard by this point.
“Yer lucky we’re not in the temple, brats… That place has a lotta more food.” She growled as the empty cartridge hit the floor while still smoking.
There was no time to lose, though, so she pushed the bolt and kept on firing. A pool of blood forming below her body as the wounds from the pipe guns were yet to close, but none of it mattered.
As long as she had bullets and the area wasn't a barren wasteland, she could keep going, even if her going meant a pile of corpses at the temple.
“If ya wanna gimme a gift, then helpin' 'ere would be good...” Anna complained to the ghost that couldn't hear her as she burned the last bullet of the magazine. “Guess that’s that then.”
Such convenient help would be too much to expect, though, so it was better to give up on that improbability. In fact, there was a bigger chance that the losses would force the ifrit and his friend to give up than a chance of her supposed friend helping right now.
The plan stood the same then. Damn all the consequences, reload and keep firing until it's all over.
A second magazine was already in place, so it was only getting up and unloading it again... And that was when the unexpected gift changed this very simple plan.
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