Chapter 180: Surveillance
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“Lost him on the Scry.”  Richard said.

“Really? What happened?”

“He went into an abandoned building, shit in his hand, gave the entire room the finger, which I assume was meant for me, lit his clothes on fire and teleported out.”

“Huh. That’s a new one.”

The two inquisitors sauntered back into the precinct, hours ahead of the team sent to investigate the Dentons and their connection to this mysterious hand-shitter.

When they got to the High Inquisitor’s office, Richard smelled something foul. Nathaniel took one peek in the former chief of police’s office and growled a bit.

He closed the door and stepped back, craned his neck and shouted “Finn! Grab some cleaning supplies and get over here on the double!” The fat man in the main office started and fell off of his chair, nearly faceplanting on the dirty office floor.

Richard got curious and peered into the room.

It was covered in shit. Shit was smeared on the walls, the floor, the desk…even the ceiling.

“Well, that’s troubling.”

“The shit’s a distraction,” Nathaniel said. “Check to make sure nothing’s missing from the rest of the office. Stay within earshot.” He clapped Richard on the shoulder.

“Sir.”

“I gotta check to see if anything’s out of place.” Nathaniel said with a scowl.

The two went their separate ways, but a couple seconds later Richard heard the High Inquisitor chuckle.

By all the gods, what could make that man laugh? Richard thought in alarm, scrambling back to the Chief’s office.

Richard took a deep breath, held it, and then entered the shit-covered room, spotting the High Inquisitor looking down at the desk in amusement.

On the desk, written in human shit, was a limerick.

 

Jim got nervous, and sent me a tool

He was callous, half-nosed and cruel.

He swung and he missed

And then I got pissed.

And now his desk is covered in stool.

 

“That’s the best laugh I’ve gotten in fifteen years,” the High Inquisitor said. “We’ve got a prankster.” He gave Richard one of the secret Inquisitor hand signs.

Set up a Dimensional Trap.

“Doesn’t seem that funny to me.” Richard said, acting as if he hadn’t seen it. They didn’t have the luxury of avoiding Scrying as easily.

“You lack perspective. I’m gonna rub his face in it. Get back to your orders.”

“Sir.”

“FIIIINNN!” Nathaniel shouted as Richard left the office. “Where are those cleaning supplies!?”

Finn the scribe hustled past Richard, the jiggling mass puffing as he carried a bucket full of soapy water sloshing down the hall.

Some of it got on Richard, but he didn’t backhand the scribe. He felt like a shower anyway.

Richard walked all the way to the storeroom where the inquisitor’s storeroom, his senses strained to their utmost. It occurred to him now, that he was alone, just like Emilio had been when he was killed.

Richard cautiously entered the room and fished through their supplies for the expensive enchantment that would trap anyone teleporting in a stasis bubble.

The Dimensional Trap came in two parts, the enchantment itself, and a space-sensitive crystal that would trigger it when it felt any folding of space within one hundred feet.

Setting up the device was as simple as sliding the crystal into the enchantment… which was somewhat phallic.

Richard put it together without incident then brought it back upstairs, spotting the jiggly scribe on his hands and knees scrubbing at the inquisitor’s floor while Nathanial flipped through his documents.

***Garth***

“Why are you naked again!?” Alicia demanded as Garth walked back into the lair, sans clothes. Caitlyn blushed and turned back to her drafting project, secretly peeking.

“Scrying is a bitch. Even if people can’t Scry on you personally, they can do it to your clothes if they got a good enough look at them. Ask Caitlyn.”

Garth had written the spell down in a notebook and hidden it in his bedroom somewhere she could find, because the girl seemed to get off on spying, even learning faster when she thought she was forbidden than when she was spoon fed, which was weird…Scry seemed like a good spell for her.

Caitlyn froze, shoulders hunched guiltily, but Alicia ignored his comment.

“Can’t you keep a spare set of clothes somewhere?”

“Yes.” Garth answered deadpan, going into his room and putting on some pants before he set Emilio in front of the Scry-tube.

“Let me know if they do anything funky.” Garth said. “I gotta prepare to receive an old friend.”

“Roger,” Emilio said, watching the pool of eight major figures that Garth needed to keep an eye on.

Inquisitors were normally difficult to spy on, but Emilio had given him the access code, essentially. Such a helpful brain-plant.

Garth walked back out into the living room where Alicia was practicing her mana control and Caitlyn was drafting a new gun.

The two girls were nowhere near where they needed to be in order to protect themselves. Garth needed two things for them. Combat experience, and Classes.

“Listen up!” Garth said clapping his hands. “Enjoy your last night of freedom. I’m going to be accelerating your training with real world experience over the next couple days.” He clenched his fist. “Fights to the death with people who are better than you in every way. Like in anime.”

“I…don’t wanna do that.” Caitlyn said.

“Damn. Al?” he turned to the black haired girl sitting croslegged in the middle of the room.

“Pass.”

“You’re right, that anime trope is stupid,” Garth muttered to himself. “Well, I gotta go have a talk with Mrs. Banyan, and I’ll get back to you on that one.”

Now to lure Alicia to the dark side.

Garth snapped his fingers and pointed at Alicia. “Don’t bother Emilio while I’m gone,”

“Why would I-“

Garth snapped his fingers again, walking backwards, eyes fixed on Alicia until the wall came between them.

Teleport.

Garth turned and jumped through space to land in the center of the practice yard.

“Mrs. Banyan.” He called, and she stepped out of a trunk.

“Yes?”

“Can you make this?” he asked, creating one of his laser eye-pokers with dark blue-green leaves.

“Not from nothing like you do. I may be a Beladian Dryad, but I lack the sheer talent,” She said, shaking her head. “I could grow them, easily, however.”

“Hmm…” Garth glanced back down at the tiny sapling in his hand. He wanted more options against the Dan Ui Clan when they showed up a second time. Swordfish were one thing, but he wanted many different lines of defense.

When Cass had made world longer in one direction, he had mentioned that the heat still hit him.

The spell Horn Guy had used to kill him had been a ball of heat in a dimensional lock tube.

It seemed to follow that simple heat and light had the quality of being hard to defend against with magical shenanigans.

Garth knew he was punching above his weight class, and that meant he had to set the most vicious trap he could imagine if he even wanted a couple extra seconds of breathing room.

The laser eye-pokey thing was so heavily modified it didn’t even give off viable seeds, so he’d have to make each seed himself.

Well, better modify it some more. Add a connection to Grass, raise the size limit, tweak a few things…the first one was a hell of a rush job anyway.

“Alright, I’ll make you dumpster filled with seeds. When I get them to you, I want you to cover both sides of the mountain with them, kay?”

“sir.” Banyan snapped a salute.

“And can you ask everyone in the refugees if they know how to make a Class Orb?

Mrs. Banyan’s face went blank for a moment, like someone taking a satisfying dump, then she refocused on his face.

“Sorry, there aren’t any. Although it seems to be common knowledge that Class orbs are limited to the pre-rendered classes their creator defined.”

“I wonder how Clark got Phytomage, then,” Garth mused.

“Probably got burned into the orb by Beladia.” Mrs. Banyan said, blinking her big brown eyes. It still took Garth aback how similar she looked to Jessica.

“Comes down to the Gods again, doesn’t it?” Garth asked, shaking his head. That amulet of Endeavor was looking more and more attractive.

All he needed to do was set an impossible task in front of them and set them loose. Shouldn’t be too hard.

***Alicia***

“Don’t bother Emilio…Pfft. I’ll show you bothering,” Alicia muttered to herself, standing up and heading for Garth’s room shortly after he left.

She didn’t exactly have a plan for what she was going to do to the disgusting brain…thing, but any idea of petty sabotage flew from her mind when she spotted what was happening in the bottom right hand screen, where her aunt was talking to two men in golden armor.

“Let me hear what they’re saying!” she told Emilio, who startled when he saw Alicia right beside him.

A second later, her aunt’s voice began to flow from the plant’s pot.

“She killed her brother for standing against Kyle in the Succession.” Maggie shrugged. From Alicia’s aerial point of view, she could see the Inquisitor’s eyes flicker down and back up to the lying bitch’s face. Almost in perfect time with her shrug.

“When she killed James, I kicked her out of my council. I couldn’t bring myself to look at her.” Kyle said, a single tear forming at the corner of his eye. He wiped it away. “James was my friend.”

“You son of a bitch!” Alicia shouted to the heedless figures on the other side of the Scrying spell. Her vision began to tint red. “He was my friend!”

Emilio wisely said nothing.

“She started making deals outside her authority,” Maggie said. “Getting involved with crime and bringing shame to our household. That was when she started hanging out with this Edward boy you’re asking about. When we finally disowned her, she snuck back into the mansion and kidnapped her younger brother. Some insane part of her mind believed she was still in the running for First chair. Ever since then she’s made multiple attempts on the lives of her brothers and sisters.”

“During the ‘field trip’, she tried to throw me into the fire,” Susie said in her smoky voice from across the table. “I’ve got the burns to prove it.”

“Fuck!” Alicia said, kicking the scrying bowl over so hard it shattered under her foot and sprayed water everywhere.

“hey!” Emilio the Brain said, but she didn’t hear him.

Hang me out to dry? I’ll execute every last one of you!

Alicia knew exactly what the logic behind their actions were. Make her a scapegoat and distance the family themselves from any involvement with Edward – Garth – so that the family could continue on with the least amount of damage.

It didn’t make it feel any better. Once they had voiced it to an Inquisitor, it had become the Truth, with a capital T. The Inquisitor would compile the report, which would then be filed in the Empire, and her ‘murders’ would become fact. And if they changed their story a little bit, it would all come crashing down on them.

So they lied.

Smeared her name.

If there was one thing Alicia couldn’t tolerate, it was being accused of killing James.

She turned and stormed out of Garth’s room and headed for the living room, where Caitlyn was glancing over her shoulder at the sudden shattering noise.

“I’m taking this,” she said, picking Caitlyn’s most recent pistol up and hanging the holster over her waist.

“Umm-“ Caitlyn tried to say something, but she stopped when Alicia looked at her, swallowing and turning even paler, if that was believable.

“Have fun?”

“Oh, I will.” Alicia said, feeling a smile start to rise to her face. She felt…free somehow.

Alicia tromped into Garth’s workshop with the strange Garth-plant. She slapped one of his Status bands on her wrist, feeling the stat boost fill her with strength.

She picked up one of his armor enchantments and put the disc on her back, where it fused to her clothing, causing a slight pressure in her ear as a suit of invisible armor snapped up around her.

Alicia spotted an amulet on the wall and put it over her head, stuffing several of the ancient wizard’s explosive seeds into the status band, along with vials of his so-called performance enhancing drugs.

In the center of the room was a golden sphere on a pedestal, with mana swirling around it so thickly she could almost taste the stuff.

She grabbed it and put it in the status band.

Alicia stalked back to her room, ignoring Caitlyn’s panicked looks, grabbing Cunning and Guile.

The wand on her right hip, and the long rapier over her back, Alicia marched out of the cozy house in the center of a dungeon, through the underground forest, and out into the light of the sun.

***Garth***

Garth stood beside Emilio, watching Maggie and the Inquisitors giving each other hand signals under the table while Alicia headed toward their trap, wearing the Amulet of Endeavor.

“I had to make the Inquisitors know I was watching them to pull off this little trick. Girl needs a class, and to do that, she’s got to walk headfirst into doing something really stupid. I could have never pulled off something this convoluted when I was building decks and unplugging septic lines.”

“I wonder if this is what it feels like to be Moriarty.” Garth said, arms crossed as he watched Alicia use her new skills to skate across the ground at bullet-train speeds, doing exactly as he’d predicted. Garth wasn’t even sure how he’d predicted it. it just kind of…flowed through him.

“I don’t know who that is,” Emilio said.

I’m so smart I can’t even comprehend it. Garth thought, peering into the scrying bowl.

“Think you could lower the angle a little and turn it a bit to give us a nice three-quarters view of her butt?” he asked.

13/20 Chapters. The flurry continues.

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