Chapter 62:

Behind Sealed Doors - Part 1


Annabeth groggily opened her eyes and looked around, ending up unable to understand what was happening even after a few seconds.

Her body was hurting and her mind was a little hazy, but it didn’t take long for the memories from that night to return. She first looked at her arm in a hurry, though, making sure the chains were back there, although very damaged.

"Needs some repair, but ain't a problem..." She commented as her eyes wandered around the room. "No idea where am I, though."

About one thing she was sure: this place wasn’t her room and neither it was the cell she thought she would be after that chaos. If she was to guess, this place should be some rich person's bedroom.

The walls were wooden just like the floor, but both of them looked glossy and expensive. Dead nature and landscape paintings decorated the walls while a random-looking set of furniture set around the room.

A pair of chairs, a small couch, three cabinets, and some stands. All of them positioned around the room without a bother to how they would block the passage or look weird.

There was also the fact that the bed was way too soft and way too big, and as a side note, there was a petite girl sleeping on a chair by its corner. Anna could deal with the blondie later, though.

It was sure to be the house of some very eccentric rich person. Likely someone with a connection to Louise, and someone she could use to isolate Annabeth while a part of her body was unsealed. She should be in some far-from-the-city mansion. Even the main suspect was easy to see.

Why Karim was napping by her feet was too much of a mystery still, but it was a question for later.

It would be better if she stood far away from the walking calamity that Anna was while unsealed, but waking her up just to kick her away was bad taste.

"Why yer waitin' fer me like if I'm some hospital patient...?"

“She spent more of her time waiting around here or trying to heal you if that’s what you thinking.” A low and regal voice answered as its owner entered the room with her usual overcomplicated shrine maiden clothes. “She almost didn't leave this room after I called them, and panicked a lot after leaving the hospital and not seeing you. Neither she nor Col seems to have noticed your abnormalities, though... Even if I very much did.”

“Mornin’, fox lady. I see yer still unnecessarily mysterious…” The redhead quipped right away as she saw Minako at the door.

Be as it was, dealing with this kitsune was a little too troublesome for a not-that-woken-up Annabeth. Even more now that it was clear that she had way better skills than she seemed to have during their meeting at the temple.

If Anna at least knew what this person wanted, then things would be easier, but trying to understand the mind of a kitsune with this many tails was useless. And the fact this maiden likely knew more than her didn't make the situation any better.

The inquisitor could never lower her guard in from of her.

“It’s evening already, but you don’t need to be this guarded about me, Anna. I’m on your side, believe this.” The five-tailed tried to assure the recently awoken girl. “We spent almost ten days here and I’m still to disclose anything I found out about you. Can’t you trust me a little then?”

“I ain’t believin’ someone who’d assault me like that anytime soon, y’know?” Annabeth went on with a stern expression on her face that soon broke into a more worried one. “But ten days, eh… Did somethin’ happen while I was out?”

“Nothing much. The cops arrived almost at the same time you took down the ifrit, and the fight soon ended after that.” The local religious leader pointed out as she reminisced a little. “Karim was dangerously drained by then, though, and Col was very wounded even if she was saying to not worry. They took a little more than three days to be discharged from the hospital after overdoing healing magic that much…”

“And why I’m not at a hospital?”

“You know the answer to that, silly.”

“What I know won’t explain where am I, ‘aight? This room’s no cell or safe house, I’m sure of that…” The inquisitor continued in a skeptical tone. “I’d get if it was somethin’ the boss lady did, but you wouldn’t be ‘ere if it was.”

“You’re very much right.” The five-tailed fox confirmed the situation with a calm smile and then started to explain. “I own this nice place, and it’s very far from anything with a population, in a relative way... It’s also the only place I could safely keep you until those chains on your arm somehow came back. Would you bother explaining how they work, by the way?”

“I break ‘em to let mah’ body use and recover its energy, they burn this energy to recover.” The redhead explained as she looked at the worn-out tattoos on her arm. “Ya’ve to repair 'em from time to time, but it’s the only way to keep somethin' like demon eater under control.”

She was skipping some steps, like how she couldn’t use most of her soul at all while the seals were there, but it was a simple system. Her evil eye wouldn’t be activated as long as she didn’t need any energy, so all the seal did was make her unable to spend her.

It was like sealing all exits of a water tank connected to a turned hose, some water would spill with the pressure, but the water flow would go down. That was, until the tank blew up, at least.

But she had no reason to explain this much.

“That’s… That’s much simpler than I expected. Considering what it holds in place, I would expect this seal to be a little more complex.”

“I won’t explain ya how it’s made or give more details.” The inquisitor shut down the house’s owner as she wouldn’t risk disclosing something like the inner workings of her skill like this. “Think of it as something very well made, ‘kay?”

Again, there was no lie there. Anna’s tattoos were indeed a masterpiece of seal-making. Something that took most of all enchanters in the Federation and a freighter of catalysts to be made. The process of making it was at the level of national secrets and was only used because there was no better way to ‘deal with’ Annabeth’s eyes.

Weaponizing it was more convenient to the church too, so there was that.

“I guess I’ll have to accept it for now… Maybe someday you’ll be willing to explain everything, though.”

Minako’s voice seemed both hopeful and melancholic for some reason the inquisitor couldn’t understand, but it didn’t matter. Annabeth's eyes were focused on the third person in the room anyway, so her answer wasn’t that focused.

“Don’t bet on that, ay?” She dismissed the longing kitsune right as she went back to looking at her and then tried to go back to what mattered. “And go back to explainin’ where’s this already.”

Keeping this up was a pain and wouldn’t go anywhere, so the better was changing subjects as fast as possible. More than that, the petite girl by the bed’s border seemed to be waking up and Annabeth didn’t want to have her in this talk.

“Tis' my ‘safe house’ if you will. We should talk about it more calmly in the living room, though.”

“Maybe we should…” Anna answered as her eyes went back to waking up Karim in the corner of the bed. “Good morning, shorty… Had fun nursin’ me?”

Right as her partner woke up, and for a moment only, Anna could swear she had a look of relief and happiness, but it went back to her usual cynical one right away. The small cop then sighed and rubbed her eyes lightly before answering.

“It was the least fun I ever had...” She answered with a bothered expression that turned to a small smile a little after. “Welcome back, Annabeth. Try to not worry us like this again.”

“I won’t lie to ya and promise a thing I can’t keep, ‘kay?” The taller girl answered with a snicker and then got up from the bed, finally noticing that she wasn’t in her usual clothes. “This thing’s breezy… So that’s how ya felt on day one?”

Her bad taste comment was rewarded with a good punch to the belly, but Anna only laughed at her partner while pretending to not feel the pain. And on the door, the kitsune only watched they playing around with a hard-to-describe expression…