Chapter 72:

Deal With the Devil - Part 2


Anna entered the small backroom, a very simple five-by-five wooden room with a single table and a couple of chairs. There was also a small cabinet by the side and a bucket of ice, but that was it. And of course, who Anna came to see was already waiting in there.

“Welcome, wolf hunter. Any trouble finding the place?” The head-numbing voice of the ghost Anna was seeing clearly for the first time, although what she was seeing was hard to describe. It was as if this ‘person’ was a blurry mirage or something of the kind even. The most she could do was say that 'it' used a black cloak. “Didn’t expect you would bring drinks though… Even if the choice is a little weird for the place.”

“Laws, y’know? And it ain’t as if I could be bothered to get booze.”

“Well then… Take a seat. We have a lot to talk about.”

The blurry figure pointed to the small seat by her table and the inquisitor complied without much to say. Both her curiosity and her hunting senses were telling her that getting information from this one was too important.

“Waitin’ too much’ll be a pain, so no pleasantries ‘ere… Explain what ya meant back there, ay?”

“I can go on for sure, but shouldn’t we first talk about what I gain here?” The mysterious creature started right as its hand was slapped away from Anna’s bottles. “That’s how you deal with information brokers, as you surely know.”

“What ‘bout some of mah’ goodwill? I may even align with ya fer now if it’s somethin’ good.” The redhead stared with a poker face that was still showing a lot of hostility. “Those ‘gifts’ last time were a pain to deal already, so I’m kinda thinkin’ ‘bout poppin’ yer ass.”

For a second, Anna could swear that she saw a troubled expression behind the layers of disguise covering her roommate’s body, but it was hard to be sure. And either way, it wasn’t as if she would be able to notice any changes in voice and acting in this situation.

“But why so angry? I got you exactly where you needed to be and managed to help in the capture of an enemy commander. What’s there to complain about?”

“To be fair, nothin’ much. I just wanted to be sure yer the one behind the berserker ifrit...” The girl opening the bottle of white bubbling liquid smirked as she answered. “Could you confirm that you people gotta more than a single evil eye too? Maybe even tell me if they’re actually from Infina’s secret stash…”

“Heh… Heheh… HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!” The disconcerting voice started to give a burst of almost as disconcerting laughter before coming to a sudden halt to answer. “Do you want anything more? Some coffee? A massage? Something more personal, maybe?”

“Are all spirits half-succubus or somethin’, dammit? I know I look fine but still…”

“Well, it’s not like that. It’s just that you…” It continued after recovering from the laughter burst from earlier. “You kind of look like the type, don’t you? I was sure you knew that.”

Anna looked at her clothes for a moment and remembered what they actually looked like for the first time in a while. Cut-off jeans shorts, a tight top, and a lot of bare tattooed skin.

The glitching ghost kind of had a point.

It also meant that her outfit served its purpose even outside of human lands, though, so it was pretty much perfect. Well, at least it would be if the inquisitor was still trying the honey trap tactics she wanted to use some time ago as she knew they were effective. Her good looks had to have a better use than being ornaments.

Any tries at prolonged endearing strategies always ended in utter failure and a shootout, though. And she had never even considered it as a viable tool against demons.

“That’s a point, but y’know... Can’t feel a thing fer a spirit, even more when I don’t even know if it’s a man behind all this cover of yers.” She answered plainly and with a clear intent behind it, although it did very little difference to her.

Anna's looks were custom-made with both the purpose of showing the most skin and helping in honeytraps, but she never managed to do the second half. She received some help and tried her hand at using such techniques, but the best she managed was a shootout.

Going to mixers or whatever Col called them usually ended with very adverse too. And it was especially bad for whoever was unlucky to try to partner with her.

She never bothered to change her looks after those experiments, though.

“No matter how much I look at it, I can’t seem to decide if you’re a wolf in sheep’s clothes or a sheep in wolf’s clothes...” The figure concluded without much input from the redhead and then decided to go back to the subject. “Anyway, I’ll give you a treat since you took the time to be here.”

“Make it good then.”

“Oh, I will… What if I started by saying that both your group and mine, or well, both of mine, are named after the same thing?”

“Gloudhaus? Is it somethin’ important?” Anna asked while trying to remember any information she had about this word she had ignored for a while now. She failed to find anything on her head, though.

“Yes, exactly. The language it comes from is irrelevant and the literal translation would be something like House of the Light, but that's not how you should know it... You would call it the First House of Worship, you see?”

“What?! You can’t mean…”

“The place where the first hero found his sword and the place that was said to be capable of ending all wars if it wasn’t for a natural disaster? Yes, that’s the one.” The deafening voice went on with a cocky and lecture-like tone as it spoke about something that shouldn’t be more than a legend. “That island even had a different, and better, name around these parts. One that kept going after the Archipelago became independent.”

“Bullshit. Only civilians think ‘bout the Hero’s Blade as some sort of mystic weapon found at a lost island. That thing’s just a masterpiece enchanted item made with more blood painted on it than one can ever imagine.”

“That’s only because a lot was lost during the centuries... You would likely understand if you got your hands on that blade.”

“Ya sound like the scammers on the high-echelons… As if some tool could turn ya into some all-powerful killin’ machine or brin’ global judgment.”

Annabeth’s voice had a matter-of-fact tone to it and for a very good reason. She saw firsthand the blade she was speaking of and other than its user, it had very little of special.

The trick was all about the vows a hero would need to take and all the restrictions it had instead of being related to some legendary weapon.

The blade itself was the pinnacle of weapon making, though, to the point that it wasn’t worth replicating at all.

“You wouldn’t believe what’s possible with the right tool, inquisitor.” The double agent went on with a serious tone that risked breaking its voice modulator. ”Still, you’re a very skeptical for a nun, eh? Can’t you be sent to the pyre by saying all this?”

“Not likely. I’m kinda a big shot back home, y’know? Payin’ off any accusation or even the whole parliament wouldn’t be that hard.”

“Huh! Honorable much, eh?”

“Don’t get me wrong, ay? If I had to, I’d simply show ‘em that yer ain’t messin’ with me.” The redhead answered with a dangerous glint in her eyes. “It ain’t as if those bureaucrats and military fanatics could manage me either way. I got ‘ere without a problem fer a reason...”

In one way or another, Anna’s banishment only went forward because she endorsed it herself. Antagonizing someone with such a dangerous evil eye like the Demon Eater was too much trouble even for a country like the Federation. They already had to deal with a very powerful neighbor and rival, so triggering an inner calamity was too much

It could be a different matter if the Demon Realms were subjugated or if the hero was still around, but strategic threats were too much for the Astellian Federation right now.

“You seem like a lovely ally to have… To the point that I’m even reconsidering if I should be here.”

“Sound like an 'you' problem, y’know? But now that ya’ve mah’ attention…” The inquisitor with a heating-up demeanor drank all that remained on her bottle and then spoke again. “Ya better’ve a good deal fer me.”