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44 Examining the Loot & Future Endeavors

    "First things first," I mutter to myself.

    I sit at the desk in the high backed chair and summon a bowl of ramen. The steam comes off the top of the liquid just as it did when I placed it in my storage ring back in Japan.

    I move my head close to the bowl and take a big whiff, 'I've been craving some ramen, and if I keep my head down like this, I can't even tell that I smell like rancid garbage.'

    Keeping my head low, I eat while looking toward the items on the table. My eyes keep moving to the top hat, but I suppress my urge for now and instead turn my attention to the first item I received, which is the EMP Earring.

    In my head, I repeat the familiar word, '\u003cAnalyze\u003e.'

    {Name: EMP Earring (Modified)

    Grade: C+

    These were pretty uncommon in the past and were also not considered very useful. Originally they were used to cause slight disruptions to mana shields in order to attempt to get a quick unobstructed hit on a target, but the mana required to generate this disruption was generally not worth it.

    However, that was then, and this is now. In the current times, this device should be more practical, especially against modern technology. Also, this device has been modified to run on blood or, more specifically, Essence, which leads me to believe it's possible to perhaps keep it activated, preventing many modern weapons and devices from coming too near. It could also prevent mana shields from working nearby, but right now, that isn't much of a problem. Anyways, it might be difficult finding enough blood to keep this thing running for long periods of time, but if I can, it would be very useful.

    'Let's check the next item, \u003cAnalyze\u003e.'

    {Name: Shadow Magic Book - Novice (Arcane)

    Grade: B-

    This is what I was expecting or at least what I hoped it would be. There are Arcane Magic Books like these, and then there are Non-Arcane Magic Books, which are just like a traditional book. The only downside is I won't be able to let Eden and the others read it, but it's likely they wouldn't be capable of reading whatever language it would have come in anyway. I'll just have to teach them the hard way later, assuming they are even competent enough to understand.

    I lean back in the chair and begin to think, 'To be honest, I need to take time to improve and practice my own blood magic and weapon handling. Maybe, I should go Crawler hunting at night for training and practice...**sigh**, but for now, let's move on to the last item.'

    I pick up the last item, and this one seems to be giving me an odd sense of wistfulness. I work my fingers across the smooth surface and brim of the top hat. I then move my hand to the flowers that run along the side and play with the little petals.

    'Why does this seem so familiar? \u003cAnalyze\u003e.'

    {Name: Master of Deception)

    Grade: A

    Realizing why this hat is so familiar, I begin to recollect past events, 'Oh, so that's why this feels nostalgic. A mixing is the blood races equivalent of a marriage where the two partners will mix the blood of their bodies together in a special ritual. As for the hat, if I remember, Callista never actually wore it, but she was very flattered by the hatter's gesture and subsequently rewarded the man. If I recall, she had the blood moon appear over the man's mixing, creating quite a romantic and beautiful atmosphere. The tales of a hatter making an offering so excellent that even the Goddess attended his wedding spread far and wide among the blood races denizens.'

    Abruptly a strange feeling of grief and sadness begins to fill me, 'This hatter and his partner were still alive when Callista fell. I wonder...in the end, did he still have faith in the Goddess even as everything around him crumbled?'

    Suddenly I feel someone touch my shoulder. I jump in surprise, causing my knee to slam into the large wooden desk. I push the pain down and quickly spin around to find Eden, "How did you sneak in here so quietly?"

    Eden looks at me with a look of confusion and concern, "I tried calling out to you, but you wouldn't answer, but Eira, are you crying?"

    "Eh?" I reach out and touch my face finding my cheeks wet, and I quickly wipe away the tears. "...Oh, yeah. I just ate some really spicy ramen shouldn't have gotten extra spicy. **cough** I'm about to shower is there anything you need right now?"

    Eden shakes her head, "Uhh, no, I was just going to ask what you were looking at so strongly."

    I quickly move to change the subject, "Before that, did you do something with the kids?"

    "Yeah, they're cooperating well enough. They don't seem to have any idea what's going on outside."

    "Did you take their cell phones away?" I ask.

    Eden nods, "Annie didn't have one, but I took Lukes."

    Eden hands me Lukes phone, and I'm surprised to find that it isn't turned on. I turn the phone on to see dozens of missed calls and texts from someone named 'Jessica' followed by hundreds of missed calls and texts from 'dad.' I ignore 'Jessica' and simply text 'dad' back a, "😉" and turn the phone back off.

    Eden continues, "He said he turned it off because he got in a fight with his girlfriend."

    I give Eden a serious look, "The kids a little player. Stay away from him, Eden."

    "Yeah, I'll keep that in mind. Now about the hat..."

    I look out the window to see the sun peeking out over the horizon, "Sorry, but another time. I'm going to get a shower now."

    "But..."

    "I already know what you want to say, and...there's plenty!" I store the three items away and then make two bowls of ramen appear. "One for you and one for Aponi."

    I can hear Eden begin to protest, but I quickly make my way into the bathroom and shut the door, 'Obviously, I can't tell her it was an offering to the Goddess, then she'll be asking me how I have it.'

    I sigh, 'Speaking of which it seems the feelings left my Callista run much deeper than I expected.'

    I stand in front of the mirror and peel the tattered and bloody dress from my skin. I do a little spin in front of the mirror, checking my body. I frown, looking at the wound in my abdomen from where I was shot by the rifle yesterday. I take a deep breath and begin to focus the blood in my abdomen. I tune my senses and begin feeling any sensation that hints toward foreign objects being imbedded within my body.

    'I can feel several things that need to come out. I can't afford to keep wasting mana I need to allow it to recharge in case of unexpected events which means I'll have to remove it the hard way.'

    I use a tiny amount of mana to unseal the wound and extend my claws and use them to begin removing bits and pieces of metal and cloth from the wound. I ignore the pain and instead focus my efforts toward removing the objects as quickly as possible. Finally, with a clink, the last piece of metal hits the sink, and I take a deep sigh of relief and immediately reseal the wound. I move to the shower, turn on the water, and prop my head against the wall watching the red-tinted water flow down the drain.

    I begin to mumble to myself softly, "To push my plans along, I'm going to need to do something about the soldiers as soon as possible. Aponi was the most valuable among them, but that Terry fellow seems promising as well. As for the Sam person, I don't know much about him, but he should be in enough of a vulnerable state right now that I can turn him."

    I continue my shower wiping away the tar and begin feeling refreshed for the first time in days. Exiting the shower, I steal a robe with the word 'Karen' inscribed on it. I walk out of the bathroom to find Eden and the bowls of ramen gone. I quickly make my way to the bed, collapsing face first. My body slowly sinks into the expensive high-quality mattress and silk sheets.

    'Unfortunately, we can't stay here since Congressman Miles knows I'm here he might tell the military. If the military finds out I'm here, they'll likely come to find me when their hands aren't so full.'

    I turn over and take out Jarrolds phone and begin searching through the maps app until a particular location piques my interest, 'A hospital...might not be a bad idea abundance of resources and plenty of desperate people to manipulate. Lots of places to hide and escape as well...Hmm, I'll think about it more later, but for now, I could really use a nap before things take another turn.'

    With that thought, I set an alarm and close my eyes, quickly finding myself drifting off.
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