Chapter 107:

Below the Light - Part 3


“Tis’ incredible… A nun receivin’ a visage? Or is it somethin’ else…?” A breathless Annabeth uttered the moment the first image became clear, a carving showing a winged woman in nun clothes holding a kind of sphere. But understanding how this whole thing worked was even more breathtaking. “To think it was all a hallucination…”

“A what?!” Minako shouted in surprise as she heard the mutterings of the girl using her as a safety support. “Karim! You know purification or something of the kind?!”

“What? Why?!”

“Shut up and keep movin’, fox. I’m almost sure I know what we seein’ ‘ere…”

Anna nudged the kitsune to keep moving as she wanted to see more and wasn’t willing to stay this high too long. Explaining the number of small smells and the possible existence of illusion spells thrown around could be left for later. Or even better, ignored at all.

It was too hidden and too complex of a mechanic that even she wasn't sure how it worked anyway. Combining everything from small innocuous spells to more 'analogic' methods was a lot.

The biggest mystery was why someone would spend enough time in a random landmark to create patterns of hallucinogens and illusions that would trick the mind into seeing the right images when in relation to the mess on the floor.

Even the redhead with her abnormal amount of knowledge in many areas would take a good while just to create a theory. And it would be considering the fact that she had the idea presented to her instead of having to think of it from zero.

Either way, a few steps above and the image changed to what seemed to be a battlefield where small figures fought a trio of much bigger ones. These last being what Anna knew as devils, another theoretical and extinct race like angels, that was believed to be the last stage of a corrupt soul.

Beings with red ashen skin, long curved horns, tattered wings covered in a dark mist, or miasma, and powerful enough to bend the world’s laws. And they came from before spells were a thing.

In summary, the very definition of the ultimate enemy of an inquisitor. No registries on these existed, though, so it was hard to be sure if they were even real.

And the other side of the battlefield was more interesting anyway. Especially because it was populated only by angels, the very textbook definition of them too. But as weird as it was, they didn’t seem to be winning at all, even with the numerical advantage.

A few steps later, the image changed again, turning into what seemed to be a nun, maybe the same from earlier, raising a staff with Infina’s Church symbol. It seemed like the one known to be the pope’s symbol of power and also his most powerful weapon. And as such, the angel nun was using it to vanquish the three devils.

But neither of these was as impressive as the next one, for this one showed three castles leaving a hole in the sky and approaching the ground. And in front of these, was a sword-wielding devil that was more imposing than anything other on the floor.

“This doesn’t fit…”

“What? Calm down a little, Anna!”

Each image was speeding up Anna’s pace and the amount of strength she put into moving Minako along.

Next was something that was easy to understand. A simple image with a dozen of small cities and castles in flames. Even without the full context, getting this one was no surprise at all, especially if the forming theory in the redhead’s mind was right.

Further on, the scene changed for a ship on which the winged nun was embarking with many other ships around it. And if intuition was of any worth here, then this was sure to be some kind of exodus.

An exodus that, based on the next image, brought the angels to the shores of some ancient village. One inhabited by humanoid figures drawn with sticks.

The simplistic figures used simple clothes and their houses were no more than cloth tents. It seemed like a very measured effort to show how one side was less developed than the other.

After another few steps, though, this little village was now a city. One with stick laborers on the lower parts of the image and angels overseeing from above. And one which was on the other side of a wall splitting them from an island of burning cities.

But this one image was one Annabeth had already seen before, although only its first half. And since the wall looked like the same barrier splitting the Continent and the Archipelago, it didn't make sense too.

For her, this image was the representation of when angels descended to help the humans fight the demons that were oppressing them. That was how it was registered in the church’s library, and there shouldn't no Great Barriers yet by then.

She was still rushing, overtaking Karim on the steps soon after while moving without a care for safety. This whole situation was taking way too much from Anna’s brain for her to care about anyone, even herself.

And so, she reached the next panel, one on which ships being boarded with sticks on one side of the image went towards a wall in the sea. This was then continued on the next panel... A huge battle with the old devils, this one with both humans and angels fighting on the same side, and with a huge amount of death all around it.

Then things started to change with each step.

In the first one, the battlefield became red and there were all but a few figures standing on it.

In the second one, the nun and the sword devil were clashing in the field full of death.

In the third one, both of them were painted in red and their once well-carved clothes were tattered.

And in the fourth one, to Annabeth’s displeasure, both figures were skewered by dozens of spears. Spears held by the same stick people that could only represent humans.

But there was a problem after this one.

She had only climbed enough to reach the foot of the lighthouse. It was only the point on which the stair's diameter stopped changing as it went up the tower. But still, that was the point at which the images ended.

Even seeing the floor was hard from this here, but it didn’t seem like the right point to end the story. There was something missing, but Anna had no idea of what.

“Tch! Whatever they moved out must be it… I can’t believe that I… W-wow?!”

And the moment she calmed down and started to think was also the moment she noticed how high and how close to the edge she was. It was bad enough to blank her mind completely, and even noticing the tired kitsune by her side took a while.

“Uff… Uff… Finally stopped? You’re so mean for not letting me enjoy the pictures too, Anna. Now I’ll have to… Anna?”

There was a reason why the original idea was taking it slowly and going with support instead of rushing while pushing this support for no reason. Processing the change in height this fast didn’t help with the fact that she would react badly either way. And so, right now, the redhead inquisitor’s skin was turning as close to white as it could.

More than that, she couldn’t feel anything but her golden eye for a while, and even hearing the approaching Karim and what seemed to be Col’s shouts was beyond her. And in this situation, there was only one thing to do…

“I said… I’d need… that spell…”

“What? Wait! Anna?!”

To everyone’s surprise but for the one girl that expected this situation, and in too sudden of a move, the red-haired inquisitor fell forward. Freefalling towards the floor to the panic of everyone else.

Panic that was, luckily, small enough for the levitation spell to still be fired. Which then ended when the tattooed inquisitor landed safely.

At least until everyone could process what had happened.