Chapter Ten

“So, what did you say to Ana to piss her off like that?”

Grimory looks up at Koltira from his place on the ground without turning his head. “What do you care?” he growls, leaning back against the tree behind him.

Koltira drops onto the wool blanket and leans on an elbow. “Ana’s a nice girl who’s been through a lot. That’s why I care. You can hate me and my wife all you want, we were all strangers before and we could be strangers again tomorrow. But Ana…she’s your friend.”

Grimory narrows his eyes, his anger igniting anew. “You two have gotten pretty close in the short time we’ve known each other. Sure, she and I are friends but you apparently already know more about her than she’s told me in six months.” His scowl deepens. “And since we’ve met you two she’s been cold and rude toward me. I wonder why.”

Koltira remains calm. Be the bigger elf. “Yes, she and I have talked quite a bit, as we were doing when you were busy fucking and mangling my wife. It could have something to do with that. But I’m no expert.” He tosses a twig into the fire and meets Grimory’s gaze with all the calm in the world.

Grimory holds up a finger. “Okay first of all, I didn’t know she was your wife and at no point until afterward did anyone tell me.” He holds up another. “Secondly, she asked for the knife play and we didn’t do anything that wasn’t agreed upon first. He pauses and lowers his hand back into his lap. “And lastly, Ana doesn’t feel that way about me so that wouldn’t be the reason.”

Koltira shrugs. “Yes, well, if you’d taken the time to get to know her… Tell me, knowing what you know now, having spent this time around Alisbeth, would you go back and still give her the knife?” He waves a dismissive hand. “Don’t bother answering. If you had any common sense you’d understand why your friend has been treating you the way you claim she has. To be honest, I think you deserve every glob of water she drops on you, and then some.”

Grimory says nothing and glares, then turns his attention to the flames. A silence passes and he finally sighs and runs a hand over his hair. “I’m sorry,” he blurts, desperate to change the subject. “For…well, you know. I feel shitty about it.”

Koltira raises his eyebrows. “You should feel shitty! If Ana and I hadn’t come in when we did one—or both—of you would have bled to death! It was reckless, giving her a knife. And for either of you to engage in that sort of blood play without potions or bandages…? It was downright stupid. She has rules she has to follow. No weapons in the room, the guy stays tied up because she doesn’t like when they touch her. I wouldn’t have left you two alone if I’d known you were both so reckless.”

Grimory narrows his eyes once more at the man, a mix of disbelief and pity cemented on his face. “You… I…”

Alisbeth stomps into the camp, her hands balled into tight fists. She takes a moment to glare at Koltira. “I wanted him to touch me.” Then she stomps over to Grimory and pulls back her leg to kick him in the stomach.

The demon hunter’s attention turns to Alisbeth. He opens his mouth to say something, but instead grunts in pain. “What the hell?!” he yells, a hand over his stomach.

“She’s my friend!” Alisbeth shouts in his face. “You’re supposed to be my friend. You said we are friends!” She folds her arms over her chest. “Give me a good reason to let you keep your horns attached to your head.”

Koltira raises his eyebrows, trying not to laugh.

Confusion apparent in his features, Grimory leans away from her. “Beeeeeecause we’re friends?”

She grabs the nearest curled horn and yanks. “Ali.” Koltira smiles calmly. “He apologized.”

“But… What did he do?”

Grimory winces in genuine pain. “I didn’t do anything!” he hisses. “We had an argument, that’s all! She’ll get over it!”

Koltira holds up a hand. “Ali, come sit. I’ve got your blanket here and everything.”

She shrugs and releases Grimory’s horn. “Okay.” Alisbeth plops down beside Koltira and reaches her hand out to the fire.

He sighs in relief and rubs at his head, closing his eyes. “Look, it’s clearly in everyone’s best interest that we all get along, right?” His eyes flick between the two. “So what say we start from the beginning?”

“Get your hand out of the fire.”

Alisbeth pulls back her hand and smiles. “Start from the beginning? But it’s a whole day’s walk behind us!”

Grimory lifts his eyebrows before shaking his head, giving up completely. “Never mind, I guess.”

Alisbeth’s smile disappears and she sits up straight, her eyes trained on Grimory. “My name is Alisbeth Redblade, daughter of Malath and Diori Redblade. My father was captain of the Stormwind guard and he served under many kings, Llane being the last. I am a paladin of Light’s Hope and guardian of the Light. It is a pleasure to meet you.” A beat passes before he gives a hearty laugh. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, too, Alisbeth Redblade. My name’s Grimory Silversong, son of A’dallah and Runi, loyal servant of Lord Illidan Stormrage.” He turns his attention to Koltira and puts on an airy kindness. “And how about you, good sir?”

Alisbeth smiles pleasantly, her demeanor reserved. “Well met, Grimory Silversong.” She bends the littlest bit at the waist, casting her gaze to the ground as a sign of respect.

Koltira stares at her, his eyes lit with pure joy, he regards Grimory without taking his gaze from her. “Farstrider Koltira Deathweaver. Guardian of Quel’Thalas.”

“Hm. You must know your way around a bow, then,” he muses, lifting his hands to fasten them behind his head. “And you a hammer.”

“Sword,” Alisbeth corrects. “My father’s sword.”

Koltira shrugs. “Bow, sword, axe… Give me a weapon and I’ll use it.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt it.” Grimory gazes up at the stars. He inhales as if to continue but stops as Anarchaia steps out of the shrubbery. Color hinting in his cheeks, he glances away as regret from earlier fills him.

Anarchaia looks between the three, somewhat baffled that they’re all getting along. She takes up an empty spot at the fire. “What’re we talking about?” She crosses her legs and rests her hands over her ankle.

Alisbeth casts her stoic gaze to Anarchaia. “Grimory said we should start from the beginning. We were just introducing ourselves.” Koltira reaches up to stroke her hair. “Mind your hands, farstrider.”

Anarchaia waits for a moment. “Oh!” she says, realizing. “Um… My name is Anarchaia Starling.” She clears her throat. “Apprentice to the Archmage Khadgar, resident of the mage city of Dalaran.” She taps her fingers. “Accomplisher of nothing. Heh.”

Alisbeth furrows her brow. “Archmage who? I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with those of Dalaran. I only passed through once on my way to Lordaeron. What is it like living in Hillsbrad? Is it always so beautiful?”

“No one important,” Anarchaia jokes with a quiet chuckle.

“It’s very quiet,” Grimory responds with a smile. “But very boring. Cold winters. Hot summers.”

“Alisbeth,” Koltira sets his hand on her arm. She clears her throat and he moves his hand. “Apologies. Captain Redblade, where are we right now?”

She smiles at him like he’s lost his mind. “The southern forest of Quel’Thalas, of course.”

He casts his sad gaze to the other two, then down at his hands. “When did you arrive in Silvermoon?”

“It has barely been a fortnight.” She observes him carefully. “Are you ill Farstrider? You seem…pale.”

He slides away from her. “I’m fine. Thank you for your concern, Captain.”

Grimory and Anarchaia exchange apprehensive glances despite their current grudges. “Are you feeling all right, Al—er—Captain?” Anarchaia asks with a heavy hint of caution. “Perhaps you should lie down.”

Koltira shakes his head at the two. “Do either of you have a mirror?”

A hand mirror appears in Anarchaia’s upturned palm and she offers it. “Please don’t break it.”

“Captain, will you look into this?” Koltira holds up the mirror.

She smiles and takes it. Her face falls as she looks at herself. “Oh,” she gasps. “I remember now…” Tears line her eyes as she hands the mirror back to Anarchaia with shaking fingers. “I’m sorry. So sorry. I don’t know…” She stands and steps over Koltira. “Excuse me.”

Anarchaia accepts the mirror back and sends it away, concern crossing her face. She stands. “Are you going to be okay, Ali?”

Alisbeth waves a hand behind her and continues walking. When she’s out of earshot Koltira clears his throat. “Sorry about that. It happens every so often. It’s nice having her back, even for a short while. She’ll be fine, Ana.”

Anarchaia sinks back into her place with a quiet groan of apprehension. “If you say so.” She pulls her knees to her chest. “You must be exhausted dealing with her all the time…” she says under her breath. “Granted, she’s worth the effort, I assume. But…”

Koltira smiles at Anarchaia. “I accept people for who they are, not who I’d like them to be.” He groans, stretches, and lays back against the hard earth. “But yes, it can get exhausting. Keeps you on your toes. So, Lady Starling and Sir Silversong. Finally some complete names. What shall we discuss now? Or is it the boy’s bedtime?” He gives the demon hunter a rude smile.

Grimory opens his eyes only halfway to give Koltira an unenthused glare. “I’d rather be tired than dead.”

Anarchaia flinches at the slight sent unintended toward her, but recovers. “I…” she begins, then closes her mouth with a shrug. “I’m not very good with conversation. Sorry. Grim and I mostly spend our nights without it. Heh.”

Koltira shrugs and stares up at the stars. “Fair enough.” He chooses to ignore Grimory altogether.

The Illidari motions for Anarchaia to toss him her pack and she does so. He rummages through it until he finds what he’s looking for: a ration of dried meat. He shoves the end of it in his mouth as he hands the bag back. “You two have any place you call home or is that floating pyramid where you live?”

Anarchaia glances once in the direction Alisbeth had gone and fidgets.

Koltira watches the demon hunter chew on the meat, and for a moment he misses the taste of a hot, fire-cooked steak. “We live in Acherus, yes. Though it would be a better idea to get her a nice cabin away from…people. What about you? You live on that space ship, or whatever it is they’re calling it?” He glances at Anarchaia. “She’s fine. But if you absolutely must check on her…”

Grimory gives a curt nod. “The Fel Hammer is our center of command. We train there until they feel we’re ready to be sent out.” He swallows his bite. “But that wasn’t until after the whole ten-years-in-a-crystal bullshit. Before that we just lived in Mardum.”

Anarchaia shakes her head after a moment’s thought. “She looked like she needs a bit of space. Plus, I’m no good at consolation.”

Koltira smirks. “Like Acherus. We use it to train out new ‘recruits.’ Before that we trained at the Citadel.” He shrugs at Anarchaia. “It’s really up to you. Alone she’s more prone to breaking breakable objects. With someone there she… still breaks things, but can be calmed. I see no difference so I just let her have it out.”

“You aren’t making the decision any easier,” she grumbles, then finally stands and trots of after Alisbeth.

“Keep a safe distance,” Koltira advises as she leaves.

Grimory watches her go and chews on the end of his ration thoughtfully. “So were you willing to join the Lich King’s ranks? Or forced?”

He turns to Grimory. “I woke in the morning with the sole intention of killing Thassarian. I failed. But he admired my skill and so had me resurrected to serve. I had no choice in my service, as I had no choice when I tried to kill Alisbeth. I watched from a prison in my own mind as my body did horrific deeds.”

The corner of Grimory’s mouth pulls into a sorry frown. “That’s rough, buddy.”

He shakes his head. “Your people, though…you were imprisoned simply for becoming something greater in order to save Azeroth.”

He glances back up to Koltira in mild surprise and pulls the meat from his lips. “They don’t trust us. Not then, not now. At any moment those whores could change their minds.” His glare turns back to the fire. “We’re doing more than they are at this point. How many Wardens do you see around?”

Koltira nods his agreement. “This isn’t information to share, but, even the Lich King stirs against the Legion.”

Grimory furrows his brow at the odd news, then shakes it off, shoves the remainder of the meat in his mouth, and leans back again to rest against the tree. He sighs through his nose. “You’re pretty dedicated to that girl to go through all this shit. You sure this adventure is worth it?”

Koltira’s eyes frost over with little blizzards of their own. “And what would you do? Abandon the woman you love just because her mind isn’t always the most stable?”

The Illidari holds up a hand. “Calm down I wasn’t implying anything. It was just a question. You spend a lot of time doing what she wants, I assume. You ever get the time to do what you want?”

Koltira thinks for a long time. “I’m not even sure what I want.”

“Hm,” Grimory grunts. “Then I guess you’ve got all you need.” He stretches his legs out and crosses one over the other.

“What about you?” Koltira asks. “You haven’t once shown genuine interest in this endeavor since Ali and I showed up. Why are you here?”

“I do as I’m told by my superiors. That’s all the interest I need.”

Koltira smirks. “Ah, something we actually have in common besides knowing Alisbeth intimately.”

Grimory returns the faint smile. “It’s rough-going but it’ll pay out in the end if you work hard enough. At least that’s what I’m told.”

He nods at Grimory. “Maybe it will. I’m told to shut up and do what they tell me.” He shrugs. “Motivation is motivation, right?” He grins sardonically.

The demon hunter gives a single laugh. “What do they do to motivate you in Acherus?”

Koltira lays back to look at the two moons in the night sky. “Well, first, it was lack of choice. Now? It varies from death knight to death knight.” He groans at the subject, deciding to use the opportunity to urge answers from the demon hunter. “So, you and Anarchaia aren’t…involved…are you?”

Grimory raises his eyebrows at the other, interested. “Why?” he asks, a strange mixture of worry and curiosity mixing in his stomach. He does his best to sound bored. “You want her or something?”

Koltira moves to the trunk of a tree, a better angle to gauge the reactions of the demon hunter in the firelight. He shrugs, feigning mild disinterest. “Oh, you know. She’s smart and sweet and really, really pretty, so…maybe. I don’t know. We’ll see.”

The muscles in Grimory’s jaw flex as he grits his teeth behind his lips. He gazes over the fire at the death knight with a cool calm. “How do you know she’s pretty?” The fire pops as though feeding off his inner irritation.

Koltira waves a hand dismissively. “Oh, you know, you can hear it in her voice, too, I’m sure. Her lips are nice and her nose comes to the perfect little point.”

Grimory narrows his eyes, biting back a large amount of words. “Perhaps,” he scoffs. “Your wife is much prettier, though. Nice body.” He grins, his sharp teeth glinting in the green light of the fire.

Koltira smacks his lips and tries to hide his annoyance. “Well, with Ana’s white hair I’m sure I’ll get along just fine, no matter the body beneath those robes of hers. Nice figure in her trousers, anyway.”

Grimory hums a note of disagreement and shrugs a single shoulder. “Ana is much too small. A stiff breeze could knock her over. Alisbeth, on the other hand, is sturdy, well built. Knows her way around a blade.” He grins again. “And ropes.”

Koltira inches a little more upright, his brow low. “Oh, trust me, I know well what Alisbeth can do with some ropes. And whips. But sometimes you just need to fuck a sweet girl. Or is it just me?” He gives Grimory a devilish smirk, though he cringes inwardly at his own crude phrasing.

His irritation boils over and Grimory can no longer contain his scowl. “Must just be you,” he growls darkly, flecks bursting from his eyes and floating upward toward the canopy. “Though Ana says you two haven’t done anything, which makes my tally count higher…which makes my opinion more educated.”

Koltira folds his arms over his chest. “Oh, so, Ana is a lousy lay? Maybe it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with you. A girl like her needs a more gentle touch. Something to cool her down instead of heating her up.”

“I didn’t say that,” Grimory grunts, mirroring the man by folding his own arms. “She was actually one of the better ones. Very hot. She wouldn’t want your icy fingers all over her anyway.” He spits off to the side. “After all, you have to fight fire with fire. Ice will just melt.”

“Oh,” Koltira places his arms behind his head. “So, then, Alisbeth is the one not worth your time?”

Grimory tilts his head, an unimpressed glare washing over his face. “You sure are wishy-washy. I wonder what your wife would say if she knew the things you’ve been saying about another woman.”

“Judging by the tips of your ears last night, you already know the sort of things I’ve heard her say about other men. I’m sure if I spoke of another woman she would join me.” He smiles. “You know, that gives me an idea. Two beautiful white-haired girls and one very large bed. That would be some real fun.” Koltira’s grin is evil as he stares through the fire at the demon hunter.

Grimory inspects his fingernails, still glaring. “You’re pretty full of yourself if you’d assume Ana would just agree to lie with you.” He clicks the nails of his thumb and middle finger against each other. “It’s also pretty insulting towards her character. Your wife may fuck anyone that flexes their muscles at her, but Ana is more reserved. I’m confident you aren’t a threat.” He clears his throat. “Not that it matters. She’s not my girlfriend.”

“You’re right. It was a slip of the tongue. Ana is the sort of girl you…get to know personally. Spend some one-on-one time with her. I can’t imagine why she fucked you, though, if she doesn’t go for empty-headed bags of hot air.”

The Illidari bristles at the insult and straightens his spine. “If she’s willing to fuck me but not you that must make you lower than an empty-headed bag of hot air. Perhaps a coin purse full of a dead man’s cold, weak final breath.” He points a finger at him. “If your only reason for wooing her is to get at me I suggest you reconsider.” His voice lowers to a hiss. “If I ever find out you hurt her…”

“You’ll what, big brother? Show me your fingernails?” Koltira chuckles. “Those might do it for Ali, but not me. And, really, you flatter yourself too much. Wooing a woman simply to anger her silly little traveling buddy? Please. She already made it clear to me she wanted nothing to do with you. It must be a shame to be nothing more than a woman’s hungover regret in the morning.”

Grimory squares his shoulders, his eyes bursting into small balls of fel fire. The cords in his neck protrude and he struggles to control his breathing. “I’d think regret is out of the question if it’s happened three times.” The muscle above the corner of his mouth twitches as he does his best to restrain himself from asking the next question. He fails. “What did she say?”

Koltira smirks. “Oh, you know, this and that.” He raises a devious eyebrow. “Three times, huh? Does she know or did you just help yourself?”

“She started it. And when she didn’t she didn’t resist,” he sneers. “Not sure about your standards but I’d never force myself on a woman.”

Koltira remains calm, his cool eyes fixed on the demon hunter in their flurry. “Well, whatever you did to her, she doesn’t want it again. I believe her words were ‘a big, stupid, drunk mistake that will never, ever happen again.’ Yeah, she sure sounds pleased with your work, buddy.”

His eyes crackle and Grimory chews on the inside of his cheek. He drums his fingers against his bicep. “I don’t believe you,” he finally says, looking away. “Ana doesn’t speak ill of anyone. If you knew her better you’d know that.”

“She didn’t speak ill of you, she just said it wasn’t one of her best decisions. You know, for not caring, you sure seem to…care.”

“Of course I care,” Grimory blurts. “She’s my friend. I don’t care about her teacher – he seems like a nice enough guy—but I’ll be damned if I let her slip into the hands of someone like you.”

Koltira straightens. “Someone like me? What, you’re afraid I might do nice things for her? Compliment her on how beautiful her eyes look in the moonlight? You’re not looking out for her. You’re reserving her like a seat at the banquet that you have no interest in actually using, you just want to slide in and help yourself to the sweetest dessert which no one else can get to from any other seat. You’re a selfish bastard trying to dig your claws into a poor girl who’s had far too much pain in her past for some asshole like you to come stirring it up!” By the end Koltira is shouting and his cheeks are a darker shade of angry blue, his eyes a blizzard glaring at the demon hunter.

Grimory leaps to his feet and the fire within the pit suddenly sputters out, leaving the two in the light of nothing but both men’s burning eyes. Breathing heavily through his nose in a feeble attempt to retain his anger, he again points at Koltira and growls his words slowly. “You know nothing about how I feel for her or what the two of us have been through. I don’t care about reserving her for myself; she doesn’t feel the same way that I do—I’m not so dense that I can’t see that. So if you do happen to, for some reason—despite being a taken man—gain her trust, her love…” He swallows at the thought and clenches his fangs together. “Then whatever. You’d just better not break her heart.” The light in the area dims as he narrows his eyes. “Or I’ll fucking come for you.”

Koltira jumps to his feet as well. “And now you show your cards,” he says with a greedy smile. “Come on, windbag, keep talking. Maybe then you’ll actually tell the truth for once instead of using Ali to make Ana jealous. Ali likes you and you’re using her. In the end you’re going to hurt both of them. Ana will walk away with a broken heart, but Ali? She’ll be the one coming for you.”

“I’m not using anyone,” Grimory responds. “Neither Ana or myself have made any sort of commitment to one another. And as I’ve said multiple times, if I’d known you two were married—which you lied about—I wouldn’t have done anything with Alisbeth.” He scoffs. “If anyone’s going to end up hurting someone, it’s you.”

Koltira growls. “I keep our relationship secret because if I don’t then there are those who will hurt her or kill her to get to me. And I know you don’t understand this sort of thing, but I love my wife and will do anything—anything—to keep her safe and happy.” He flexes his hands and his sides, balling them in to fists. “And I’ve already let you off that hook. But maybe I shouldn’t have.” In a flash, he reaches to Bloodmist and withdraws Byfrost. “You dishonor them both by breathing their names!” He charges at Grimory.

Grimory nimbly dodges, claws morphed and at the ready. “Even talk about fucking other women? How noble.” He aims a slash at Koltira’s back as he turns to counter.

Koltira arcs away, air brushes the linen of his shirt as Grimory’s hand passes by. He spins and raises Byfrost over his head, the green of the blade leaving streaks of light in its wake.

~ * ~

Anarchaia stops among the brush and glances around, straining to listen. “Ali?” she calls with a palm cupping her lips.

Alisbeth hears Anarchaia’s call. Instead of responding, she gets up from her spot and runs away.

Anarchaia’s head cocks towards Alisbeth’s position, hearing the foliage crunch. “Ali! Wait!” She bounces on her heels for a second of hesitation before bounding after her.

“Don’t look at me!” Alisbeth yells.

“Why?” is the only thing the mage is able to call.

“I’m hideous!” Alisbeth shrieks. She drops to her knees and covers her face.

Anarchaia skids to a stop beside Alisbeth and falls to the dirt beside her. “No! You’re not!” She wraps her arms about the girl’s shoulder without a moment’s thought. “You’re very beautiful!”

Alisbeth whimpers and leans her head on Anarchaia’s shoulder. “No. But thank you for lying. It helps a little.”

“I’m not lying!” The mage pulls Alisbeth’s head into a hug. “You’re very far from ugly.” She brushes her ivory hair with her own thin fingers. “And anyone who tells you different is the liar.”

Alisbeth sniffs. “That feels good. You smell good.”

Anarchaia blinks, then chuckles, continuing to brush. “You do, too,” she lies, not having had the ability to smell much in the last ten years or so.

“Koltira put oils in my hair,” Alisbeth responds.

Anarchaia grins. “He did a good job.” She sighs and glances out at the trees to nowhere in particular. A cold wind rustles through the leaves and the moonlight filters down. “I’m so sorry for whatever’s happened to you.”

Alisbeth sighs against Anarchaia, turning her head to look at the peaceful scenery. “They took…everything from me… They didn’t mean to kill me, but when they did…” She shudders at the memory.

The thought of her own death is shoehorned into her mind and Anarchaia frowns. She tightens her hug. “They can’t hurt you anymore. And they didn’t take everything. You still have Koltira…and now me.”

Alisbeth grins manically and sits up to stare at Anarchaia. “We’re friends? I like having friends!”

Her own smile growing into one of slight worry, Anarchaia nods. “Of course we are. Unless…you don’t want to be.” She pouts comically and turns away to pretend she’s been hurt.

Alisbeth grabs Anarchaia in a tight hug. “But I do!”

She stifles her laughter and gives a faux sob. “Nooooo. You hate me!” Her hands cover her face and she struggles weakly to pull away.

Alisbeth grips Anarchaia tighter. “I don’t hate anyone. Except the warlock. And the priest.” She goes quiet for a minute, then says low, “If I ever see them again I’m killing them. I don’t care where I am or if they take my own head for it. I will kill them.”

Anarchaia’s smile fades. She swallows as the other girl grows grave. “I don’t know what they did to you, but…” She pauses and thinks for a moment before she continues. “If you do eventually find them, and you need any help…”

Alisbeth’s eyes light with excitement. “Can you light them on fire while I chop them to little bits? I’m going to start at the toes and work my way up a little bit at a time. Make them feel every second for hours, like they did to me.”

The flash of a blade cuts through Anarchaia’s mind and she shakes her head. Her limbs ache. “Yes. I can do that for you.”

Alisbeth leans her head on Anarchaia’s shoulder again and stares off into empty space. “You’re a good friend.”

Anarchaia pats Alisbeth’s back gently once again and says nothing. She instead takes in the sounds of the trees and crickets and hugs the death knight tighter to her.

After what the mage deems to be a good amount of time passes, she leads Alisbeth back toward the camp, her own fingers wrapped gingerly around the other girl’s third and pinky fingers. “Let’s go sit around the fire, okay? We all just need to relax for a while. Forget things. Listen to the forest,” she coos, pushing shrubs out of her path.

Alisbeth smiles. “I forget things sometimes. Koltira helps me remember them. I think he loves me, and I love him. Can I tell you a secret?”

Anarchaia returns the grin and nods. “I never release secrets I’m told.” She motions to her mouth as though closing it like a zipper.

Alisbeth smiles, though her chin quivers. “Every time I’m with someone else all I see is him, and I wish it was him. I know he hates me for it. It’s only a matter of time before he leaves.” Her smile widens. “This is probably the last adventure we’ll go on together. But…I’ll have you, right?”

Anarchaia stops and turns, her eyes wide and sad beneath her mask. “He doesn’t hate you, Ali.” She gives the girl’s hand a squeeze. “And I don’t think he’ll ever leave you.” Her face softens. “And if in some impossible event he does, yes. I’ll be here.”

Alisbeth grips the other girl’s hand and skips a little. “I like having friends.”

Anarchaia smiles and skips alongside her, giggling carelessly. She glances ahead once they’re a few yards from camp. “Huh. I guess they put the fire out,” she muses aloud, slowing her skip to a cautious walk.

Alisbeth stops, her ears perking when she hears her name. “They’re talking about us,” she hisses.

Anarchaia stops as well upon hearing her own name. She hesitates and glances back the way they’d come. “We…shouldn’t eavesdrop.”

Alisbeth smiles in excitement. “But, I want to know what they’re saying!”

Anarchaia perks at the sound of yelling and pushes past Alisbeth. “They’re fighting!”

Alisbeth follows Anarchaia, leaning to look around her. A frown pulls at her lips. “Koltira has the redblade!”

“We have to stop them!” the mage cries, running forward at a sprint. “Stop!!” She lunges from the brush.

Grimory growls as the blade leaves a shallow cut down his front. Deep crimson blood dribbles onto the hem of his pants. He ignores Anarchaia’s cries as she enters the clearing and slashes again at Koltira, not aiming for anywhere in particular—just hoping to make contact.

Koltira cries out as Grimory’s claws rip gashes down his left shoulder. He grips Byfrost in his right fist and swings out wildly, aiming to take Grimory’s head.

More blood spatters across the dark dirt as Grimory’s cheek is opened. He stumbles back, a hand over his face. Crimson leaks out from between his fingers, dribbling down his chin and into the blond hair of his goatee. He growls out again and lurches forward to ready another attack, bloodied hand pulled back with claws wide. Before he can complete his move, however, his body becomes encased in violet light. He’s pulled violently from his feet and slammed into a nearby tree. He struggles against invisible restraints.

I said stop!” Anarchaia cries, a hand out to hold Grimory in place. “What in Gods’ names is going on, here?!

Blinded by his rage and encouraged by the wounds inflicted on Grimory, Koltira throws Byfrost at the pinned Illidari. Alisbeth slides along the dirt under her feet, coming to a stop in front of Grimory. The tip of the blade hits her in the sternum and knocks her backward into the demon hunter. She crumples to the ground at the base of the tree.

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