Chapter 106:

Below the Light - Part 2


“I can see something, but the light seems a little weird…” The cop climbing the stairs shouted to the girls waiting below. “Can you move the flashlight, Annabeth? Maybe if you move it around, I’ll see it better.”

“And from up here, the shadows are way too much!” Col shouted from her position at the top of the tower. Her head showing from the small opening that was where the flame or lamp or whatever from the lighthouse should be.

“I’ll be movin’ it then.” Since both observers were saying the same, Anna dislodged her flashlight from the wall and tried moving it around a little. “Any better?”

While she was moving around, the other member of the group on the ground floor lost focus and was instead poking the holes in the wall. What she was trying to do was beyond anyone’s comprehension though.

“It helps, but also doesn’t… Try to get another one maybe.”

“Same thing for me! Get more light instead of moving around!”

“Then get me other one, dammit! This one’s all I got.” The redhead shot back since she was the only member of her group with something similar to a set of equipment. And even she wasn’t capable of carrying infinite things, especially the less-than-useful ones.

Her bullets and syringes already occupied enough space in her shoulder bag as is. Packing it full of generic tools would break the inquisitor’s back.

“We should start thinking about carrying more things than our weapons next time… But I also think that more light would help.” Karim added over her partner’s complaint, although her words didn’t help the situation at all.

“Very useful comment, Shorty… Lemme see if I do somethin’ ‘bout it either way.”

If she needed more light, then the options weren’t that varied in this place and in this situation. She could even think of three options right now, and one of them was straight-up stupid.

It was either setting some torches around, using spells in a bootleg way or bringing some fairies here to use them as lights. And which one of these was stupid was easy to see, even though the three were viable. The better one was starting with the first option still.

But as Annabeth started moving towards the door, what should’ve been her first option appeared on her path. A certain kitsune with some very useful and malleable mobile torches, although it could be a little disrespectful to use them. And also, someone who had noticed the redhead’s stare, and was staring back in confusion.

“There’s something on my face, Anna? Or are you finally enthralled by my beauty?!”

“That’s why I don’t think ‘bout yer feelings before askin’…” Annabeth rolled her eyes and ignored the little worries she had. “Get yer fires out and set’em ‘round the room. Use those stupid holes fer it, ‘kay?”

“Ow… Ow! It makes sense.” The fox nodded fast and, in a moment, created her max number of fox fires, moving one to each slot on the wall and keeping the last one close by. “Should I move the last one somewhere?”

“Hmmm… Dismiss it instead. I wanna make a test first.” The shoulder bag inquisitor answered, turning her flashlight off right after, and then going to the foot of one of the staircases. “Move away from the middle too, ay? We may be causin’ a problem ‘ere.”

Minako nodded again at the redhead’s words and undid the last of her fox fires before rushing her way through until she was at the same staircase Anna was at. In fact, she seemed to be willing to get even closer to the inquisitor if this one wasn’t glaring at her a lot.

Luckily for the fox, the other two girls started to speak again before she could be kicked out of the area.

“Damn! There’s something very fucking big now! I have no clue what the fuck it is, but it’s a drawing and looks magical…” Col shouted from the top of the tower again. “It has a lot of rubbish too though.”

The 'rubbish' lines were either a sign that something was moved away or a try to make whatever was on the floor impossible to read, Anna was sure of it.

It was weird that they would lose time making a drawing on the floor and then destroy it later, but it wasn't impossible. Still, deducting what was removed or why it happened was for later.

“Can ya explain these drawings, Col? Just an overall idea’ll do.”

“Hmmm… If you ask me, they look like those things on your gun, but with a bunch of straight lines for no reason!” The brunette watching from above answered with what was likely the most problematic answer possible. “The problem is that the whole thing changes when I move around…”

“It… It what?!”

“The image changes when I move! Like those hologram pictures that were popular with kids.”

“That’s weirdly specific… And I don’t see how it could…”

“But it does.” Karim joined the conversation while still stepping up the stairs with her face locked on the floor below. “I’m not sure how, but it’s changing. It’s changing too much even.”

“What in the twelve hells yer seein’ there, shorty?” Anna turned to her partner in exasperation as she couldn’t explain how it was happening. She couldn’t feel any grooves or changes on the flat floor that could cause an optic illusion and if it was caused by coloring, then they would’ve noticed the drawings right away.

“From what I can see, it’s some sort of story, I guess… Many panels that form something, even if I’m unsure of what.”

“How can it…”

There had to be something more in play for this ‘changing image’ to work. The only other option would be some spell, but something that could easily affect everyone without them noticing had to show to Annabeth. It was too big even in her half-blinded state... That is, unless there was a whole chain of smaller spells in play.

They would still be visible, but with the huge lump of energy and the distance, then it could be possible to hide.

“I don’t think the how matters right now, Annabeth. This thing has way too much… and it keeps going.” The moving cop kept speaking with her legs moving forward and her eyes stuck to the images. “I don’t even know what half the things I’m seeing are. It’s as if this one floor was a whole book… or more.”

Karim was way too focused on what she was seeing to pay any attention to all else, and Col had lost interest and couldn’t be seen anymore. Worst of all, it was unlikely that either of them could actually describe what they were seeing.

“Hey, Anna…” The shrine maiden called from Anna’s side, looking very interested in what the petite cop was doing up there. “Can I, you know, go see these things?”

It was an irrelevant question that Annabeth didn’t even know why was made. It wasn’t as if the kitsune needed permission to do anything, but that was as weird as usual when dealing with this fox. And for this one time, it was useful too.

“Ay. We better go see this too… It sounds like a pain to explain and I’m too lost to guess.”

“What?! We?!” Minako asked with glowing eyes and a smile, likely because she noticed exactly what Anna was trying to say. Or in more direct words, noticing that she needed someone else or she wouldn’t climb the stupid tower.

“Shut up and move, fox.” The inquisitor snarked with a glare of annoyance trying to flatten the five-tailed girl, which failed as usual. So she instead clicked her tongue and started to climb.

“And keep that floaty spell ready, ‘kay?”