Chapter 55:

Bloody Moon - Part 2


“Thank ya fer the help, fox lady.” Anna thanked the person who had floated her away from the roof and then headed to where Col was tending to their enforcer companion.

“You’re welcome, Anna.” The overfamiliar five-tailed fox answered while following the redhead from a little too close to comfort. “Are you feeling bad right now, though? Maybe a little tired or something...”

The red-haired inquisitor was a little sluggish indeed as she kept her golden eye forced shut, and it seemed to be showing even with her best efforts. The overextension of her fighting style and the copious amount of elixir she took until now were the likely causes, but she had to keep moving still. “I’m good, don’t worry. Y’should go to yer people, fox lady… I’m sure they need more help than I do.” Annabeth snarked with a somewhat harsh tone as she looked around. “Quite sure ya could’ve helped ‘em before mah’ arrival, though.”

From what she could see, few of the temple's forces were still combat-capable. The shrine maidens and the guards in suits, mostly, and even those who were showing signs of being depleted. It would be a matter of time before they would reach the same state as the people they were moving inside.

Still, they were hurdling the wounded inside and readying barriers around the temple at a fast pace. Even while being drained by Anna, it didn't seem like the toori's zeal would lower at all. In fact, there was already a visible dome around the temple and most priests were inside.

The only real problem was still Annabeth. Even with her golden eye closed and focusing her mind on getting as little as possible, she couldn't stop it. In due time, everyone around would be depleted if things went as is.

Having a source of energy walking by her side was helpful, but she would still drain the others. The fox' suspicious behavior didn't fit well with the inquisitor, though.

“I can’t say I’m happy with the situation, but I did all that could be done. It’s not always that interfering can help, you see?”

“Sounds like bullshit… Why yer followin’ me still?”

“I’m not so sure, but I’m sure it’s for the better if I stay by your side for now.”

“Is that so…” Anna cut the conversation as she couldn’t let herself get too suspicious right now and kept going. Letting the massive source of spiritual energy move by her side was a plus either way, so that was fine, for now.

Dealing with the fainted Karim and with the sure-to-come second assault was more important either way.

“How’s she, Col?” The redhead asked right away as she got close enough to the girl tending her partner. “Ain’t it better to send her inside?”

"I'm not sure... She seems fine, but she shouldn't be." Colette answered with some confusion in her voice and expression while still poking the unconscious girl in front of her. “Shouldn’t spirits, you know, get fucking faint when they spend that much energy? They’re made of the thing and all.”

"It's a li'l more complex than that, but kinda..." Humans and all ‘non-spiritual’ beings could be classified as lumps of mass that had a soul embedded in them by the Reincarnation Circle. They were more limited in spiritual power but could use more of it without receiving damage.

Spirits, on the other side, are, obviously, different on those same points. They were more like high concentrations of energy that got a form and conscience and then got a body from it. Basically, a bigger upper limit with harsher consequences.

Theories on why this was true were many and had few points in common, so it was somewhat of a waste of time to think about them.

"It's weird that she'd seem to be just sleepin' after usin' judgment like that." Anna continued while guessing that Karim's earlier attack was the bigger version of Holy Smite, Heaven's Judgment.

She had never seen someone use it alone and not almost die of soul depletion, though, which should be even worse for a spirit. It was a very weird situation to be in.

“I was going to, but the more I look at her, the more I think we could just slap her awake or some shit...”

"And you probably can, Col." Minako interjected while gazing at Karim's body with a lot of focus. "I don't see any signs of spirit depletion or even something that would sign that she's not just sleeping. I could even guess that little Karim here could use spells after waking up."

"What? Really?! Is this girl that fucking powerful?" Col exclaimed in surprise, turning to nudge Karim as little in order to wake her. "Last guy I saw throwing thunderstorms got out for a few days..."

"It's weird fer sure... Can ya explain why, fox?"

"You can call me Minako, Anna."

"Good luck with that."

"Boring..." The five-tailed fox complained as she thought of anything that could answer their dilemma. "I would guess that she somehow can use the sacred soil we're in. Karim can use holy magic, right? Isn't she a priestess with a blessing too?"

“I think she would've told us if she were, but well... It makes more sense than a witch that's actually an angel or somethin' related to the temple.” The redhead went on by dismissing the few theories she could make on the spot and then turned away.

"Either way, since shorty's fine, wake her up, Col, and let's go."

"Hmm? Ok, but... Go where?"

"We've to either destroy the doll's army or hold long enough fer the lady boss to arrive, so we both goin' downstairs before they can attack again."

Anna didn't believe that Louise was incompetent enough to miss the mess happening here, so the cops should arrive. As long as the temple was safe when they arrived, then it would be all fine. And there was no better way to keep the temple safe than tying the enemies outside of it.

And as long as it was a fight, then Colette would be up for it.

"Sounds good to me, Anna. Any big plans?"

"I hit the gunners and ya keep me in one piece until the ifrit arrives. Just rampage as much as..."

“No, you won’t.” Mina cut Anna’s words halfway through her plan and gathered the surprised glares of both inquisitors.

The moods behind these glares were very different from each other, though.

“Holy shit, she’s crazy!” Colette exclaimed in surprise to the sudden order that was given to the one person one should never order. And this one person was clearly annoyed by now.

“What ya said?” Anna asked in a way that expected no answer.

“None of you are charging down. This battle has to happen and end inside here.” Minako continued with an unexpected level of authority in her voice. “That’s the only way for us to win. We fight together or don't fight at all.”

The five-tailed girl seemed very sure of her words and wasn’t budging an inch under the inquisitor’s glare, but Anna couldn’t just accept it. For starters, her staying here was a very serious danger for anyone around. Hurting innocents for no reason would crush her honor.

“I know you understand, so I’ll be brief...” She growled back, already under the assumption that this girl somehow knew how her eye worked. “If I stay ‘ere, all yer li’l priests will go five feet under, ‘kay? Leaving’s the best way forward.”

“Draining the priests to death would surely be bad, but you’re way too important for things to go right. More than that, you won’t be draining anyone that can’t take it.” Minako answered at the same time that she drew a small knife and some talismans from her kimono. “All I have to do is fill your tank to solve everything, right?”

“What’re yer tryin’ to...” Anna tried to complain while on guard against the weapon, but, likely due to one of her eyes being closed, failed to react in time to the kitsune's spells.

In a moment, golden chains left the ground beneath Minako and snaked their way around Anna, and, just as fast, the taste of blood filled her mouth.

And at the same time as all that, shouts from the scouts on the walls warned about the start of the second wave.

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