Chapter 68:

For the Winners, the Spoils - Part 3


Convincing everyone to leave wasn’t the easiest thing, but it got simpler when Louise also added that she would like to have a private talk. And so, the room was half-vacated and a proper talk between two liars could start.

“Wasn’t expectin’ to’ve you playin’ along… What ya wanna from me?” Annabeth asked in the closest to a serious tone she could go easily. “And don’t worry, I’m only lettin’ ya go first ‘cause I’ll be throwin’ some real ludicrous requests fer ya.”

“Considering what I’ll ask from you, something ludicrous will be fair.” The overseer started as she went through her papers and got some files from there. “But what I’ll start with is being sure that the evil eyes you talk about are the same as the ones I know…”

It was clear that Louise was a little more experienced than her appearance suggested, so this question wasn’t that unexpected. It wasn’t as if evil eyes were a secret or anything of the kind anyway.

They were just very rare and only found in humans, which made them even rarer here, but it wasn't a secret. As long as someone had the proper background, knowing about them as more than some myth was very plausible. The question seemed to be more about another detail in there though.

“I’d ask fer an explanation only to be sure, but I don’t feel the need fer that ‘aight now... The answer's yeah. Mine's very much a strategic weapon 'ere and our foe's may too.”

“It would be hard to believe, but with your background...”

“Considerin’ mah’ background, ay? Can ya tell me how deep yer check went then? Outta curiosity only.”

Cutting into Louise’s words was disrespectful, but being sure of what she knew beforehand would make the conversation flow better. She wouldn't want to give them information for free but hiding what they already know was useless.

Anna was also curious about how good the archipelago's network was. And the blonde woman seemed to not care about complying with her request.

“That I can do without a problem...” She answered while opening the file in her hands and reading the first few passages. “Where and how you were born is a mystery since you appeared one day as part of the Solomon family, but no theory could be confirmed. All that’s recorded is how high your aptitudes to magic and learning capability were, and how low was your everything else.”

The lady in a scant dress flipped the page of her report, scanning through the next few entries like she did before and then summarizing it. It wasn’t as if she had to explain Anna’s life to the subject herself either way, so a fast summary would work best.

“Getting to know how your training happened was too hard, but we know it was done in a faraway village run by nuns. Seeing your presence in the few rare social gatherings a few years later was much easier. Even if no agent had ever managed to get an answer from you.”

It was all true until now. Somewhat less than Annabeth expected, but still more than anything but a high-class spy could manage. She also had to think about the few people that tried to speak with her during those old rich-people parties, but it was hard to pinpoint an agent there.

Louise was also close to finishing the small profile she kept on hand, so she didn’t have the time to lose reminiscing.

“And finally, after the Raze of Astellia and the death of all your relatives, you vanished again for a few months only to return to claim your father’s title. And also cause a lot of chaos in name of his job and get a neat nickname.” The bombshell succubus finally finished her summary’s summary and then stopped to look at Annabeth. “So, is that fine for your standards? Collecting data inside the Federation is already hard, even more from someone from the high-class, but we did a good job, I think.”

“Nay, ya’ve lotta information. More than I believed you would tell me even... So I’ll be honest with ya.” The red-haired inquisitor finally closed her expression and spoke with proper seriousness. “I know many evil eyes, most of everythin’ in the archives even, but I never heard of a mind-control one. Even more ‘bout one that could control dolls too.”

“It’s not an evil eye then?”

“Nay. It’s one of ‘em fer sure. But this one’s outside the archives, y’see?” The arch-inquisitor pointed to her own golden eye after saying so and only then finished the sentence. “Just like the one I’ve got ‘ere.”

“Something outside archives... So it’s either something they had hidden or found before your people could, eh? Makes sense considering… Wait!” Louise broke her own conclusion as she ended it for the simple reason that detail from the earlier talk returned to her. It wasn’t anything big, but it was enough to create an abnormality. “Isn’t your skill a named one? I remember there is a myth about it even. How is your not in the registers then?”

“Now ya've got the idea!" The inquisitor known as an strategic calamity smirked and then went on. "This Demon Eater of mine is an off-grid evil eye the church kept well hidden, and whatever they have on the other side should be too. Either that or they’re some hella lucky terrorists that got a huge boost fer free.”

Knowing everything that was available didn't mean having all information the Federation had. To be honest, the archives she used to learn likely had many hidden sections she never could enter even. Rivers of information she could never memorize and items she could never see.

And somehow, their enemies had their hands in one of those.

It was too strong to believe they got their hands on it by sheer luck. If someone with such a huge power that could be felt a hundred meters away appeared, this person would be arrested by the inquisitors very fast. Noticing that an evil eye appeared before the Infina Church would already be a massive feat.

“That’s some good information. More than I expected to get from you even… Your request is something that outrageous?” Louise asked with a mix of impressed and reluctance on her face.

“As if yer askin’ me what yaw anna fer real… Go on with it already, ‘kay? Those gals will barge in if we take too long.”

“Okay, okay, Ms. Inquisitor...” The boss lady smirked as she answered, but her expression suddenly closed right after. “Now tell me, what do you want with Karim? I see you two got ‘closer’, but I don’t believe it’s just because you decided to be friends with spirits now.”

Anna was now receiving the most intense stare she had ever seen and there was something dangerous about this question too. The kind of danger that could get you killed in a moment even, and that most would wish to avoid as much as possible.

The kind that was enough to make Annabeth genuinely smile for once.

“Wanna honesty, ay? Then I’ll tell ya…” The smiling maniac answered without wavering. “She’s useful. Her influence’s useful, her skills’re useful, and she’s useful against you. It’d be stupid to waste such a useful ‘partner’, y’see?”

“You... You're not very honest, are you? But I can see how it is now...” The puppeteer on this side of the law kept her closed expression as she uttered words Anna failed to comprehend, but then changed subjects without anything more. “It’s your turn now… What do you want from me that’s so outrageous?”

The redhead wasn’t exactly ready for this question, even more after what she had just said, but she could recover fast. Keeping the flow was more important than understanding what Louise meant with her first sentence anyway.

“It’s simple, actually. I likely ain’t in a good spot after that chaos, y’see? Quite sure mah' supplies will be cut fer a while. Still, I made lotta work there, so I wanna get some spoils fer it...” She started to explain her request, slowly building to the question that mattered.

“I wanna custody over mah’ prisoner, boss lady. I'll be usin' him fer a while.”