Chapter Thirty-Six

Alisbeth runs through the streets of Dalaran, a manic smile on her face as she weaves through the crowd. She runs into a shop with toys dangling from the ceiling and drops onto her rear in front of a toy train making the rounds on a circular track. She sticks her finger across the tracks, then cackles when it derails and tips onto its side.

Grimory quickly follows Alisbeth as he sees her hair trail into the toy shop. He huffs a sigh of relief when he finds her. “Ali, you gotta stay by me, okay? I’m taking care of you while we’re here. You don’t wanna get both of us in trouble, yeah?”

The death knight looks up at Grimory, a curious expression on her face. “Why am I staying with you? Where’s Kolty?”

Grimory frowns, feigning hurt. “You don’t want to be with me? I thought we were friends.”

Alisbeth frowns. “That’s not what I said. But, he stays with me. Why are you?” She catches sight of a toy zeppelin and squeals. “Can I have a little zeppelin?” She jumps up to climb the demon hunter in an attempt to use his height to rip the toy from the ceiling.

Grimory pulls Alisbeth down from himself and sets her gently on the floor. “No, but I’ll buy you something that doesn’t fly.” He gives her a fangy smile, hoping the distraction is enough.

Alisbeth ignores the fangy smile entirely, staring past him at the door where a young high elf child with light blonde hair has entered with her mother. She squeals with joy and runs to the train set beside Alisbeth. The death knight smiles, biting her bottom lip. She kneels down and strokes the little girl’s hair.

“Do you like trains?”

The little girl smiles up at her. “They’re cool!”

“I like them, too.”

Grimory looks down at the woman in front of him, folding his arms. His face softens. It’s like night and day with this girl. He smiles. There’s something very attractive about a motherly woman, though. “You wanna buy her the train?” he asks quietly.

Alisbeth’s face lights up. “Oh, can we?” She smiles at the little girl then her mother. “Can we buy the train for her?”

“Pease mommy!” the little girl begs.

Her mother smiles. “I don’t see why not. That’s really very kind of you.”

Alisbeth returns her attention to the girl. “How old are you?”

“Five.”

The death knight tries to keep her smile, though her chin quivers the smallest amount and her eyes shine with tears she’s resisting. “Almost five, wow. You’re such a big girl.”

Grimory gives the woman a bashful smile and scratches at the back of his neck. “It’s nothing,” he says with a smile, observing the price at the front of the toy and leaving the amount on the counter behind him. He glances down at Alisbeth and kneels, a gentle hand on her back. “Are you gonna be okay, Ali?”

Alisbeth frowns at the demon hunter. “I’m fine, what do you mean?” She wipes her eyes and stands, running out of the toy shop as fast as she can.

A strike of panic runs through Grimory and he glances back at the mother. He gives a small nod and an embarrassed smile. “Uh…nice meeting you.” His boots nearly scuff across the floor as he chases after the death knight. “Ali, wait!”

“Hey,” Alisbeth hisses to a Forsaken warlock exiting the Dalaran Sewer. “Hey, come here. You gotta see this.”

“Okay, but make it quick,” he responds, following her into an alcove on the other side of the Violet Citadel.

Alisbeth yanks the scythe from his back and leers at him. “It won’t take but a moment.”

Grimory scans the crowd with desperate eyes, looking over heads for Alisbeth’s familiar white hair. He’s subconsciously drawn to the towering spire of the Violet Citadel. “Ali!” he calls, pushing his way past multiple men and women. He curses under his breath when he sees no indication of her.

“What in gods’ names is this?” the warlock demands. “Give that back!”

Alisbeth holds out the scythe, then smacks him in the face at the last minute. “Your kind are a sickness in this world,” she hisses. She makes to cut through his belly, but only finds cloth as the curve of the weapon hits his spine; she jerks upward to hook behind his ribcage. She pulls the weapon back and he comes with. She shrieks in disgust as he slams against her. Angered, she pushes the weapon back and lifts the Forsaken, smacking him against the wall over and over. Green blood seeps from the wounds she is causing.

A blade rending through flesh and organs—a noise his tall ears are very accustomed to—cuts through the air to his right and Grimory turns his head just in time to see a flutter of white hair around the corner of an enclave beside the citadel. He bounds around said corner and grabs Alisbeth under the arms, wrenching her away.

Ali, no! What are you doing?!

Alisbeth wriggles from Grimory’s grasp and drags the Forsaken through the grass as she backs away from the demon hunter. Tears spring from her eyes and her voice thickens with panic “He has to die! They all have to die! Don’t you understand that?” She emphasizes her point by flicking the scythe forward. The unconscious Forsaken flies from the weapon to smack against Grimory.

He stumbles some but catches the man in his arms. He grits his teeth. “I’m so sorry,” he hisses, lowering him into the bushes beside him. “Ali, it doesn’t matter what your opinion of them is!” He glances around to see if anyone has noticed his yelling, then lowers his voice anyway. “You can’t just kill people because you don’t like them! There are consequences for that shit!”

“I don’t don’t like them!” Alisbeth argues. “They killed me first! They’re awful…monsters…” Her speech becomes belligerent and unintelligible as she breaks down into hysterical sobs.

Grimory growls, her tears swaying him to comfort her, though he wants to appear stoic and serious as the situation calls for. He gives in and goes to her, leaning down to look up into her face. “Look, Ali. I understand that things happen and maybe people do deserve to have…whatever you did to this guy done to them. But just because one of them is bad doesn’t mean—” He flinches as she slaps him.

“Stop talking to me like I’m fucking five!” She shoves him to the ground and takes off into the crowded streets once more.

“I’m not—!” He grunts as he falls to the ground, then growls and scrambles back to his feet, taking off after her. “Ali, hold on!” He loses her in the dramatic shadows cast by the setting sun and stops, running a hand through his hair. “Gods damnit,” he breathes, looking around for her. Well, I guess I’ve already fucking lost.

Alisbeth shoves her way to Krasus Landing, then drops down the broken wall and into the grass. She peers over the side at the sea below, then sits down to watch the angry skies over the green spire in the distance.

Grimory rubs at his face with both palms, then throws them in the air. “Whatever. Fuck it. Kill everybody. See what I care.” He turns into the Legerdemain Lounge and sits himself in a seat at the bar.

~ * ~

The mage’s face softens with a disappointed frown when she comes through the portal to find Grimory and Alisbeth already gone. “That didn’t last long,” she mumbles.

Koltira glances back at Anarchaia when she comes through. “They ran that way.” He jerks a thumb toward the north bank.

“Oh! Uh, actually I—” Anarchaia’s eyes widen and she gasps. “Oh no! I never contacted Master like I said I would! It’s been nearly two days.” She clenches her fingers against the sides of her head. “Ugh, I promised–twice! He’s going to be so disappointed. I-I’ll be back! Here!” She conjures a small violet token with a glowing eye etched upon it and thrusts it into his hand. “Go enjoy the city.” And with that, the mage disappears in a flash of light and sparkles.

Koltira raises one eyebrow and stares at the sparkles left in her wake. He inspects the token she’d given him. “What the…” He shakes his head and pockets it, then heads for the Filthy Animal, where he takes up a seat in the corner to silently watch the patrons. Deciding to do something rather than waste time, Koltira finds a quill and parchment, and pens a quick advert to nail on the message board outside. Then he waits at the inn for any prospective healers.

Koltira closes his eyes and sighs. When he opens his eyes a female blood elf has taken a seat across from him, her face set in a resting scowl. “I can heal. I don’t like to, but I can.”

The death knight looks her over. “And what sort of healer are you?”

“Priest. Can’t you tell?” Her voice remains monotone, her eyes sad under the bangs of her long black hair. “I can heal.”

Koltira clears his throat. “This is nothing personal. Really, it’s not. But I have to say no.”

“Okay. Why?”

“Holy magic…hurts my kind.”

“Fair enough. Good luck.” She stands and sweeps from the tavern, her skirt flowing around her feet, her movements so smooth she seems to be floating.

That was the weirdest, blandest priest I have ever met, he thinks.

“Never fear! Edrah is here!”

Koltira’s nerves jolt as a female blood elf enters the tavern, proclaiming her arrival with arms raised. A few men lift their mugs and cheer. The bartender hands her a bottle of rum. She pulls the cork out with her teeth and spits it into a nearby bin with astounding accuracy. She’s dressed as though she’s been living in the wilds for some time, an animal skull sits atop her head, with high antlers and fur down the back, the jaw has been split in two and attached to the top by leather straps that dangle to her own jaw. Her red pants are stitched together like patchwork, and her tan shirt seems to have been crafted from leather scraps and a few belts with shining silver buckles. She says ‘Hullo’ to those who seem to know her, each step she takes is a weaving one as though she’s already drunk.

“Who is this Koltira fellow that seeks a healer?” she shouts.

“You’re actually leaving the tavern?” a man asks.

She taps his nose and smiles. “Only for a short while.”

Koltira clears his throat loud enough for her to hear. “Over here.”

Edrah drops into the chair across from Koltira and smiles warmly. “So,” she says, her speech slurring with intoxication, “you need a healer. Ask anyone in this tavern and these blokes’ll tell you that I’m positutely the best around. Edrah’s the name, healing’s the game.”

Koltira realizes she smells like she bathed in vodka, and if it’s that pungent to him, with his lowered sense of smell, then he can only guess what she smells like to others. “What sort of a healer are you?”

“Monk,” she says after a hefty swig of rum. “I trained as a brewmaster, but found it lacking. I didn’t like the whole ‘everything wants to kill me’ thing. Learned the ways of a mistweaver, had a knack. Turns out, things just want to kill me even more now. Funny how that works.”

Koltira nods at the monk. “So, are you celebrating something?” He motions at the bottle of rum in her hand.

“Oh, no. Just a light afternoon drink.”

He blinks in quick succession. “Light.”

“Mm-hmm!” She takes a long pull from the bottle, then smiles at him.

Koltira sighs and decides to ask her questions as he would any candidate. “Our mission is one of great importance, so it’s imperative that we all go into it with a clear head.”

“Right.” She nods in agreement. “I understand matters such as these. I always go in clear-headed and ready to take care of my team. After all, you’d be my temporary family!”

Koltira pinches the bridge of his nose. “The drinking isn’t a problem, is it?”

Edrah shakes her head insistently. “Not at all! It’s never been a problem!”

“But…you’re drunk just past noon.”

She laughs brightly. “I was drunk before noon, too! Trust me, it’s not a problem.”

A shadow falls across the table. Koltira and the monk look up into the stern face of a troll. Her blue skin is smooth, indicative of her youth. Her dress is green with the sides open to expose her skin from shoulders to knees. The shoulder pads she wears have wings attached, which flutter impatiently. Her green hair is pleated in a tight braid out of her face.

“It’s filled,” Edrah says.

The troll rams the tip of her staff against the floor as a demand for silence, then turns her gaze to Koltira. “I was told Koltira was a death knight. You are a death knight. I will speak with you.”

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