Book 2 – Chapter Five

“We can help you,” a blood elf man says to Alisbeth with a grin, pushing his hood back to his shoulders.

“If we get something in return,” a dwarf at the blood elf’s side says through his beard with a hearty laugh.

Alisbeth gives her voice an airy tone. “Oh, how ki—” She pauses and drops the damsel façade. “Wait, like, what kind of something? Cause I don’t really have anything and I’m just trying to make sure you’re stand up guys, but you have to tell me what you want or I can’t really tell.” She sets her hands on her hips, cocking one out to the side, and gives them an impatient stare.

Another dwarf lifts his mug of ale, eyes glazed over with intoxication. “Well seeing as ye haven’t got much on ye, I’d say what ye have at the moment would suffice.”

The men laugh in agreement. A fourth man scoops Alisbeth up from behind, arms hugged tightly around her own.

Grimory bites at his thumb in anticipation, waiting for the first sign that Alisbeth may be in a situation she cannot handle.

Alisbeth giggles. “Your grip isn’t very strong. Let me show you.” She pushes his arms away with little trouble, then leaps onto his back and wraps her arms around his neck. “See, you have to really squeeze if you want to keep someone still.”

He claws at her arms as he gasps for breath.

“It’s okay,” she hums. “Just let go.”

He crashes to his knees.

“That’s a good boy.” She kisses his temple.

Grimory bites his lip as he watches. Ugh, that’s so sexy. When the other men quickly jump up to help, he takes his cue to interfere and leaps from the shadows to kick one of them face first into the dirt before he can draw his blade. “Good job, Ali.”

She smiles up at him. “They’re bad men. I found out. Oh! Try not to ruin their clothes! I want to try them on.” She tackles the blood elf, pulling on one of his tall ears to control him. “Then we can burn them!”

“Okay, okay! I’m sorry!” the blood elf shouts under her.

“Nope. Too late. Ooo, I like your boots. Wonder if they’re my size.”

Thank gods. Grimory turns on the dwarf as a flicker of a dagger glints out the corner of his eye. He turns and kicks it away, then throws another kick to the man’s face. “Let’s just make this quick.”

“Oh, okay.” After a quick struggle, she gets her arms wrapped around the blood elf’s neck, then jerks his head to the side. A snap and small crunch sound inside his neck before he goes limp beneath her. “Is that fast enough?”

“Yes,” Grimory says with a laugh, plunging his claws into the eyes of the second Dwarf and watching him drop. “All right. I guess you’re gonna have to rummage for an eye patch.” He turns to swipe at the first.

Alisbeth rummages through a few packs. “I don’t see any eye patches. But uhh…one of them has a seeecreeet!” She sing-songs and holds up women’s clothing. “Too big for me, but I can make it work. I bet they’re this guy’s.” She slaps the rear of the dead blood elf, then starts to work adjusting the clothes. She takes a few pieces of plate armor from one and fastens it to some trousers. When finished she bundles everything up, dumps out a satchel, and shoves it inside. “Oh!” She snaps down to pick something up from the contents then skips over to Grimory and holds out two pieces of jerky. “You like this stuff, right?”

Grimory grabs the jerky and stuffs one into his cheek while securing the blood elf’s cloak about his shoulders. He gives a snort of a laugh. “I bet they get lonely with only each other to keep company. Best use the girliest looking man, eh?” He exchanges breeches and boots and throws his own clothes into a knapsack.

Alisbeth pulls the boots from each man and tries them on, laughing as one pair reaches her hips, another pair is short but the feet are too long. She stuffs scraps of cloth into the toes of one pair that reaches her knees, then shoves them back on and nods at the fit. “I think next was shower? Oh, but let’s see if they have any valuables first! And gold! Take all the gold.”

“I’m not gonna say no to that,” Grimory laughs, grabbing each pack he can find and rummaging through it. He pockets all the gold and jewelry he finds. He pulls out a lavish necklace of emeralds and amethysts and holds it up for her to see. “This would look great on you.”

Alisbeth gives a small scoff and blushes. “No.” She looks away, but glances back at the item several times.

Grimory rolls his eyes and crosses the space between them to drape the item around her neck and secure it. “There. Beautiful.”

Alisbeth bites her lip and smiles. She looks down at the piece, then up at him. She leaps up to wrap her arms around his neck. “Thank you, Gary.”

Grimory chuckles and returns the embrace. “Well it’s not like I bought it, but you’re welcome all the same.” Perhaps her remembering my name was just a coincidence…

Alisbeth shoves him gently. “Buying it doesn’t change how pretty it is.” She runs her fingers along the stones. “Now I just need a shower.” She looks around the camp and shoves a few more things she wants into the bag at her hip, then smiles to signal she’s ready.

Grimory thinks for a long moment. “Go figure none of these assholes have soap on them. We can head back to the hot spring. I’m sure Ana and Koltira have given up by now.” And have gone off together. He can’t resist a scowl. “Or we can search for an inn with soap and running water. Though this is tauren territory, so…that may be hard.”

Alisbeth chews on her bottom lip. “Well if you think they’re gone, you have got to try that water. It’s so nice! And I did leave soap there. I went prepared! Come on Gimli.”

Grimory lifts his eyebrows and follows. “It did look pretty nice. I’ll skip the mud though if that’s all right.”

Alisbeth tosses a smile back over her shoulder at him “That’s fine, Gatsby!” When she turns back forward she purses her lips. This game is getting boring.

Grimory bites at the inside of his cheek. “Grimory,” he says quietly as if correcting her in private will somehow fix the problem.

Alisbeth turns and jumps up to encircle Grimory’s waist with her legs and wrap her hands over his shoulders. She smiles up at him. “Did you say something?”

Grimory nearly stumbles at the unexpected weight, but corrects himself and clears his throat. “My name. You got it right once. Don’t you remember?”

Alisbeth taps his nose and smiles wide. “Of course I remember. And you’ve been letting me call you all those other names. Did you know that apparently I do that? I didn’t.” She snuggles against him, leaning her head on his collar bone.

Grimory blinks down at her and narrows his eyes. “Very funny. Maybe I’ll just start calling you the wrong name on purpose.” He wiggles his fingers against her waist to tickle her. “But seriously, what’s my name?”

Alisbeth twitches under the tickles. “You’re Grim!” She smiles at him, holding back her laughter. “I don’t remember your full name, though. I hope that’s not going to count against me cause no one said it and so I just don’t remember it and—”

Grimory gives an endearing smile and cuts her off. “Grim is good enough for me.” He carries her all the way back to the hot springs. The crickets are already singing and stars poke through the clouds. “Wow,” he says softly, admiring the steam against the purple sky. “Much prettier at night.”

Alisbeth turns to smile at the springs. “That’s why I brought Aggy here. The other guy told me about it when I had him search for places.” She jumps from his arms and runs for the pool, tossing her bag and her underwear to the side before she jumps into the hot water. She resurfaces with a squeal. “It’s so hot!”

Grimory laughs and undresses himself, deciding to walk in slowly rather than jump. “Oh gods that’s great,” he hisses when the water reaches his throat. He submerges his head and resurfaces with a gasp, smoothing his hair back. “Definitely coming back here.”

Alisbeth smiles and laughs. “It’s so nice.” She leans back against the edge and crosses her ankles as they float in the middle of the pool. “How long was I gone? It felt like forever. I think it was forever.”

Grimory looks around for the promised soap. “A month, actually. Unless you mean here. Then it’s three days. Either way, too long.”

Alisbeth rolls onto her stomach and crawls to the edge, reaching for the bag of toiletries she’d brought. “Do you want some?” She asks as she digs through the rather abundant supply.

Grimory holds out his hands, admiring how her shoulder blades roll as she rummages. “If you’d be so kind.”

“What kind?” Alisbeth asks.

“Something…not girly, preferably,” Grimory responds with a crinkle of his nose.

Alisbeth sneers at the collection in her bag. “Come pick one. They don’t have strong enough smells for me to know.” She taps her nose. “Weak sniffer. Kinda part of the whole dead thing. Some death knights can’t smell at all! I’m one of the ‘lucky’ ones, according to Thassarian.”

Grimory glides through the water to her side and glances into the bag. He grabs a non-threatening looking bar of soap and gives it a sniff, then shrugs. “Good enough.” He lathers it through her hair.

Alisbeth giggles as he washes her hair. “You wanted me to smell like a guy?”

Grimory laughs. “I don’t care what you smell like, to be honest.”

“What if I smelled like rotting corpses?” She makes a gurgling sound and waggles her fingers, imitating a ghoul. “What does this smell like?” She shoves her head closer to his face to smell the soap.

Grimory flushes as her face comes close, but he doesn’t move away. “Smells like ginger and sandalwood. Not girly but not particularly…manly…”

“I smell like nature? I can accept that.” She sits up and turns her back to him, so he has a better angle for her hair.

Grimory runs the soap through her hair with care. “Most nature smells good,” he laughs. “What would you prefer to smell like?”

“I like to smell like flowers!” she says with a wide smile. “Or chocolate. Or strawberries. Or strawberries and chocolate!”

“Why not all three?” The Illidari gives a playful grin and shoves Alisbeth’s head underwater to rinse away the suds.

Alisbeth squeals and opens her mouth to take in as much water as she can. When she emerges she turns and spits more water than any mouth can naturally contain at his face.

Grimory laughs and attempts to shield his face with his hands. “I wash your hair for you and this is the thanks I get?” He splashes water at her face once she’s out of ammunition.

Alisbeth turns and coughs up more water, her chest gurgling as she takes in air, then coughs out more water. She smiles and inches closer to him. “Thank you.” She grabs his hand to take the soap from him.

Grimory pulls the soap away and holds it above his head with an impish grin. “Oh, you’re most welcome.”

Alisbeth growls and presses to him, reaching up for the soap. “I’m still dirty!”

Grimory closes his eyes and throws his nose into the air, giving her a sideways glance. “That sure is a shame. Guess you’ll have to stay dirty, then.”

Alisbeth shoves away from him and lays back to float in the water. “Fine. I’ll just wait until you’re sleeping.”

Grimory grunts and tosses the soap to her. It lands with a splash on her stomach and he pouts. “That was no fun. You didn’t even hit me. You’re pretty easy to win over in a power struggle, girlie.”

Alisbeth rolls her eyes. “I just didn’t want to ruin your pretty face.” She wades over and reaches up to poke him in the cheek. “Thanks, Grim.” She rubs the soap over one arm, but keeps her smile on him.

Grimory grins at the sound of his name and leans back to float as she had. “Yours is prettier.” He thinks for a long moment. “But not by much,” he says with a playful flash of fangs.

Alisbeth laughs down at him as she continues to wash herself. She takes in his features that the moonlight illuminates. Her smile slowly falls and she turns away.

Grimory catches the subtle change in her demeanor and pushes himself back to his feet. He reaches out a hand for her shoulder. “What’s wrong? Is everything okay?”

Alisbeth wipes away her tears and takes a breath. “Why didn’t you come visit me? Or rescue me or something? No. Don’t… That’s a stupid question. I just… I was so lonely.”

Grimory gives a genuine frown and wraps his arms around her from behind. “I wanted to. You have no idea. I…” He sighs. “I was so angry.”

Alisbeth nods, then shakes her head. “I’m out, now, right? And you won’t let me go again… Right?” She turns to smile up at him and set the back of her head on his chest. “We’re highway robbers now. Partners in crime. We have to stick together.”

Grimory nods into the crook of Alisbeth’s neck. “Only if you promise not to leave, either.” He hugs her tighter. “Like you did last time.”

Alisbeth wraps her arms around his head in a hug. “I think I can promise that. I don’t want to miss you again. You’re fun.”

The demon hunter cannot help but glance downward, then closes his eyes and smiles. “Then we’re set. No more frowns, right?”

Alisbeth releases his head. “Okay!” She immediately frowns again. “I dropped the soap.” The death knight turns from him and slides back over to her bag of soaps to reach in and grab any random one.

Grimory leans forward and pokes her in the small of her back. “Hey! No frowning! That’s a rule, now. I’m making it a rule. Punishments will be severe. Don’t test me.”

Alisbeth giggles, then turns around and forces her face into a frown. “What kind of punishments?”

Grimory pokes her in the nose and smirks, eyes half-lidded. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

Alisbeth laughs while trying to keep her lips turned down. She sets fingertips to the corners and pulls, but her laugh ultimately wins. “You’re going to tell me, aren’t you?” She rubs the new soap across herself to return to cleaning any lingering mud. “What does this soap smell like?”

Grimory reaches over to grab her by the upper arm and pull her close again. “Violets and apples,” he says quietly, slipping an arm around her waist. “And no. No, I’m not.”

Alisbeth giggles at the sensation of her soapy skin on his. “Is that a bad smell?”

Grimory pulls her closer yet and lifts his eyebrows. “Pretty feminine…”

Alisbeth crinkles her face in a smile. “And now it’s all over you.” She takes the soap, biting on her bottom lips as she rubs it across his chest.

Grimory touches his forehead to hers and stares down into her eyes. “What a crime.”

“I thought only frowns were crimes. What’s the punishment for smelling feminine?” She reaches up with a free hand to run her palm along his horn, closing her eyes and smiling at the feeling.

Grimory swallows hard. “This.” While her eyes are closed, he leans down and slowly pushes their lips together. She’s gonna kill me…but it’s worth it.

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