Chapter 113:

The Temple of the Crystal Slab - Part 3


Anna was rushing through the stairs, but this time, it wasn’t only because she had to move before her mind understood the situation. She was rushing so her companions would hurry up too.

If they didn't, there was a decent chance that a broken stalemate between the two forces in this room would cause something.

Best case, the unconscious brat would overcome the crystals and would wake up without consequences. Worst case, the opposite would happen and some huge magical reaction would occur right in the middle of her group.

Very dangerous and very easy to explain, but from all Anna knew now, it would still end up with some random setback if she tried to. How they were soon to engage in something like a ‘mimic or not’ discussion a moment earlier was enough proof of it.

And the redhead knew she would only worsen the discussion. She had already accepted that her teamwork skills were terrible, so the best was using the skills she was capable of.

Namely, compelling them to act as she wanted by manipulation.

“By the heavens, Annabeth! Stop rushing around like some kid full of sugar.” The first confirmation that her plan worked shouted from some steps away as she also rushed up behind the inquisitor. “We should be seeing if that person is wounded instead of running away right now. Who knows what they did to him…”

“Lemme ask ya, what in the hells you can do in a hole, ay? I’d like to leave this place fast and think ‘bout whatever that thing’s later.”

“Thing… Not sure if it’s worse when you speak like this naturally or that I’m getting used to hearing you.” Karim sighed in her tired voice during her second or third pause on the stairs. “And if you’re so hurried, then what about walking a little faster?”

Her complaint was almost enough to make Anna stop on her not-so-fast climbing up, but she knew that turning around wouldn’t do any good.

And it wasn’t as if the small girl’s point wasn’t fair anyway. Not that being fair would make the redhead don’t snark back either way.

“Then carry me ‘round next time, Shorty. It’ll be faster fer sure.” She retorted without even thinking about the answer, using the discussion to take more of her attention away from the staircase. It was a small speed boost but seemed to work well enough.

“Hmmm… I don’t think it would work.” The blondie answered, seemingly understanding Anna’s aim and playing along with it. “How much do you weigh? I don’t think you’re ‘heavy’ like Colette, but you’re quite tall, so…”

“Now that’s somewhere yer wrong. I’m very much a lightweight, y’know? No more than some fifty kilograms even.”

“That’s…” The girl behind her back started to say, and Anna herself felt a through stare on her for some seconds before finishing her sentence. “That’s hard to believe. You’re all, you know, and tall, and all else, so…”

“Just say mah’ boobs should weigh some, ay? Much simpler than doin’ this whatever yer tryin’ to.” Annabeth continued, with her words going further than usual as she got higher on the stairs. “But yeah, I’m ‘equipped’ if ya wanna say so, but I’m still very light. Maybe 'cause I ain’t very muscular and my fat percentage is low as heck.”


“Says the brat that eats her own weight and’s still slim. That’s real cheating fer ya.”

“Well… You’re right. Sucks to be you, I guess.”

“Haha… Ya li’l bastard…” The scared inquisitor finally stepped outside of the stairs, feeling the smirk of her partner as she did so. “And now that we’re done ‘ere… What do we do with ‘em?”

She was now looking up and glued to the walls, but Anna could very well feel the other two girls still climbing up. And going by their speed, it was easy to know that something weird was happening.

“Well, I was more focused on distracting you, so I didn’t look there too much, but…” Karim said as she tried to look down the stairs to locate the remaining members. “Minako seems fine, a little unfocused even, but I think Colette is having trouble carrying the boy. Is he that heavy?”

“You’d need half a ton to make trouble to Col as long as she had some spirit left… Even a golem’d lighter than that. There must be somethin’ else happenin’ ‘ere.” Anna calmed herself and tried to look around, searching for the one theory she had for now. “Go tell that airhead kitsune to use her floaty spell already. And tell her to put all she can on it… Gettin’ that lad ‘ere’ll be a li’l more troublesome than expected.”

“Okay…” Karim nodded without thinking too much about it, leaning towards the pit and then doing as she was told. “HEY, MINAKO!!! START LEVITATING ALREADY!!! I know it’s tiresome and all, but it’s taking too long!”

“Okay then!” The kitsune answered, moving closer to Col, with one of the moving-around lights turning off as she did so that she could start the spell. It was likely that doing it again would burn the energy she had to the third remaining reading, but it was necessary.

As a disclaimer, levitation wasn’t anything special like a fox fire or specialized skills some spirits had, but it was a very troublesome spell. One that kitsunes, with their cheat-like bodies, could use naturally, but a troublesome spell still. Too many variables to account for and the extra risk of killing whatever you’re trying to move while also being very energy-inefficient.

And Anna didn’t like its concept too, for obvious reasons.

“They're moving faster now, but…”

“So even you can see it now, ay? Yeah, we’ve causin’ somethin’ ‘ere… Ain’t sure if it’s good or bad yet.” Anna answered with her eye looking to where the two sources of energy were clashing, which was even creating ripples in the air now.

They were forcing one of the two clashing forces up, so what was happening here was easy to understand. The big problem was that this kind of reaction didn't feel very safe.

“I never saw something like this… They look like bubbles trying to smash each other. Shouldn’t we stop and do something about them?”

“Nay, the only other option’s blowing those crystals up, and then I can only guess what’ll happen with the stairs.”


“Don’t worry, Shorty. I’ve gotta plan already.” Anna tried to calm her partner down while getting the automatic pistol from its holster and loading it with a single spell bullet. “I’ll pop the bubbles with an anti-spell, and then we run. Run very very fast fer I’ve no idea what’ll happen after that. And take me with ya.”

“That’s a terrible plan.”

“Just the usual then, ‘aight?”

“Sigh… Pretty much so.” Karim resigned herself, closing her eyes and starting a silent prayer as she got ready to move on. By her side, the maniac running the plan instead warned the arriving girls of their ‘plan’.

“Hey, ya both! When ya hear the shot, start running, ay?”

A bubble of hazy dark energy being pressed against a brighter one, both compressing by Col's movements. It felt dangerous and looked dangerous, even if Anna was unsure of what exactly would happen there. She wasn't even sure if these two forces were simply spiritual energy too.

If it wasn't for the situation and location, the best would be to research this situation a little. The redhead would like to at least observe what would happen when a critical point was reached. Sadly, it was too risky right now, and Col was already slumbering her way outside the staircase by now.

Either way, they were in position, so it was time to give the order.

“We meet on the other side!”

And with a shot and an ominous ‘pop’ sound, all hells broke loose in the room.