Alisbeth’s eyes widen and she squirms, but only slips around in his arms. She turns her head away as her palms slip around instead of pushing him. “No. You don’t do that. You’re wrong. You’re all wrong.”
Grimory smiles anyway and his grip remains. “Why not, though?”
Alisbeth pushes harder in a slight panic. “The real Grim doesn’t kiss me. You can’t be real. You’re not real.” She drops the soap and it sinks into the depths of the spring. Tears spring to her eyes as she watches the soap go.
Grimory can’t help but smile at her being flustered. “The only reason I don’t is because you won’t let me. Trust me, I’m real. I’m here, aren’t I? Like I said I’d be.” He turns her face to look at him. “Why are you so afraid?”
Alisbeth shakes her head and covers her face with her hands. Her breath shudders with her panicked tears. “I don’t understand. That wasn’t a punishment. Grim doesn’t kiss me. I don’t want to be in my room. I don’t want to be in the dark. Why?” She moves her hands and glares at him. “Why did you do that? Why did you change?”
Grimory pulls his ears back. “I haven’t changed. I’ve always done my best to do everything you ask of me, Ali. And you have no idea how many other times I’d have kissed you if I wasn’t so afraid of offending you…like this.” He sighs and lets her go. “If you don’t like it, I’ll go back to never doing it again. I’m sorry.”
Alisbeth rinses herself and regains her composure before wading back over to him, a glare on her face. She slaps him. “How dare you.”
Grimory flinches and parts his lips to question her.
Still glaring, she jumps up to wrap her legs around him, then crushes her lips against his.
He flinches a second time, then after a moment of confusion he smiles against her lips and wraps his arms around her again, running fingers up the valley in her back.
Alisbeth slips her tongue between his lips, running the tip along the sharp fangs inside and giggling with excitement.
Grimory hums into the kiss and reluctantly pulls away. He laughs quietly, cheeks flushed. “Ready to steal some shit?” he says, releasing her and swimming back and away, a coy grin on his lips.
Alisbeth gives an evil smile. “I’ll just get my clothes.” She wades out of the pool, wringing out her hair. First she pulls on the modified pants, with a plate piece that wraps around her waist and goes between her thighs, and long pieces on the fronts of her thighs. She shoves her feet into the boots, which reach her knees, and pulls on the shirt, tying in below her bust line before she adjusts the uneven hem down her abdomen. She slings her pack over her shoulder and stuffs the soaps inside. “In case we get dirty.” She smiles.
Grimory does the same, buttoning the forest green tunic up his front, pulling on boiled leather breeches and boots, then finally threading his ears through the holes in the hooded cowl. “Always best to be prepared.” He offers an arm as he admires her outfit. “You’re very crafty.”
Alisbeth grins and slips her hands around his elbow. “It would look a lot better with an eyepatch, I think. But they didn’t have any. We need to kill people with eyepatches, okay?”
The demon hunter gives another chuckle. “As long as they deserve it, yeah? Then yes, we can kill people with eyepatches.”
She pulls at his clothes. “Pretty good disguise. I don’t like it.”
His eyes glow in the shadows of his cowl. “Oh? Why not? I think I look pretty mysterious.”
Alisbeth makes a face. “I can’t see your tattoos. Or your horns. Those are two of your best features!”
Grimory places his free hand over his heart. “Is that all I am to you? Horns and glowing tattoos? Ugh, you wound me.”
“And teeth!” Alisbeth adds. “You forgot the pointy teeth.” She reaches up to poke at his lips for a second, then lifts his arm over herself to rest it behind her back and around her waist. “So where first? Are we walking the whole time again? How far do you think before we find more people to kill? Can we steal things if they’re not bad?”
“In that order: wherever the path leads us, yes, not sure, and yes.” He pulls her closer to his side and shoves his free hand into a pocket. “Nice and unplanned.”
Alisbeth bounces as she steps. “I can’t wait!”
Grimory leads her through the trees until they come upon the path once again. When they don’t see anyone for a long time, he clears his throat. “Tell me your favorite things.”
Alisbeth takes a deep breath and smiles. “I like candy canes and Winter Veil and having fun with friends. What are your favorite things?”
Grimory thinks for a long moment. “I like fishing. Riding. Hard work and combat.”
Alisbeth chews on her lower lip as she listens to his list. “I’ve never been fishing. I used to love riding my charger, her name was Bloodmane. If sparring and training for combat counts as hard work, I like that, too. I never did like actual combat, though. I always thought I would, but then when Silvermoon fell, I watched too many friends die. And it only got worse after that.” She smiles brightly. “I was always good at it though! Now I just like to get to the killing part.”
Grimory gives an understanding nod. “I’ve…been to war. I know how it is. And I’d love to take you fishing with me someday.”
She chews on her lips again, her brow furrowed. “You don’t have anything with friends in there.”
He pauses. “What do you mean? In where?”
“In your favorite things. You didn’t list friends.” She casts a concerned look up at him. “You said we’re friends, but you didn’t say it’s one of your favorite things.”
Grimory pauses. “I…honestly haven’t had many friends until I met you guys and Ana. So I guess I don’t normally include it. But now that I think of it, I do enjoy it.” He sobers. “I’m glad I have you.”
Alisbeth smiles and jumps up to ride on his back. “I never had friends, either. People don’t like me. I don’t know why, they just don’t.” She goes quiet. “When you take me fishing, can I kill the fish or do they just kind of die when you take them out of the water?”
“I like you,” Grimory laughs. “We generally wait until later to kill them, but I suppose it couldn’t hurt the meat too much if you clean them immediately.”
“You and Koltira are the only people that like me.” She narrows her eyes. “I suppose as long as we’re killing them eventually…” She thinks for more things to talk about, but decides he doesn’t want to hear about her paintings and the imaginary conversations they’d had in her dark room. Instead, she leans her cheek between his shoulder blades and listens to his lungs breathe in and out.
“Ana likes you,” Grimory responds. She just likes your husband more. He sighs and readjusts her weight on his back. “It’s okay if you don’t want to answer, but…what did you do that entire time you were in your room? I’d be bored to tears.”
Alisbeth chews on the inside of her cheek. “I…I painted. But I didn’t have any paint, so I had to use my blood. I broke my vase and cut my finger open to do it. And I talked to…I talked to Koltira through the door, and… It really wasn’t very fun. What have you been up to?”
Grimory frowns. This poor girl. “I’ve been doing my best to catch up on work back at the Fel Hammer. I’m nearing Officer position.” He sighs, suddenly wishing she weren’t in a position that he can’t comfort her or stroke her hair. “Do you like to paint? I can get you some actual paint…”
Alisbeth shakes her head. “Hm-mm. I’m no good at it. I dance and I sing. But it’s too dark in my room to dance and the ghouls don’t like when I sing.” She leans forward to smile at him. “What sort of work? What officer position? Are you trying to catch up to me? Well…never mind, you can’t.” She scoffs and laughs. “Youngest Captain in the Silvermoon ranks. Ever. Nobody took me seriously. Especially…” She grits her teeth and digs her fingernails into Grimory’s shoulders without realizing she’s doing it.
Grimory winces at the nails in his flesh. “No, I’m not trying to catch up to you,” he chuckles. “I’d love to hear you sing. Maybe you can do so while we fish.” He nods to an elderly tauren couple as they pass. “And who especially? Someone’s ass I need to kick?”
Alisbeth’s nails dig harder as she growls the name though her teeth. “Sylvanas.”
Grimory winces again. “I see. She comes off as the haughty type. No surprise.”
“I’m going to kill her,” she growls. Her fingernails claw into him one last time before she hops from his back and goes to take her anger out on a tree.
Grimory pulls his ears back. “You probably shouldn’t. I don’t think I could protect you from the repercussions of assassinating the Warchief…”
Alisbeth freezes in place for a long time, her face set in a grimace of horror. “War…chief?” she demands. “Did you say Warchief?”
Grimory’s eyes widen. “You didn’t…?”
She pants as her rage fills her until she can’t contain it. She screams and takes off running into the forest. “I’ll kill her!”
He jumps. “Ali, stop!” He follows as quickly as he can. This whole chasing business is getting tiresome. “Please, Ali! It’s not safe to just run off!”
Alisbeth spins on her heel and runs back at Grimory, smacking into him like before, with her arms wrapped around him. Grimory grunts as the wind is knocked out of him.
“It’s not fair! She’s a monster! And she leads the Horde, while I rot.” She wipes her face and backs away from him. “I’m sorry. I’m…I should…Uhh…” She turns in slow circles, suddenly completely lost. Her fists raise up to press in on her temples, one pulling back and knocking against the side of her head.
“Ali, life isn’t fair. You of all people should—no, don’t do that!” He lunges forward to grab her wrists. “Calm down!”
Alisbeth stares at him, frowning. “I’m sorry.”
The Illidari pulls her into a hug. Right. Sylvanas: on the list of things not to say. “Let’s find some liquor,” he says after a long moment.
Alisbeth jumps and smiles. “Let’s get drunk and steal things!”
Grimory gives a sigh of relief and nods with a smile. “Who would pass that up?” He turns her back toward the path.
Alisbeth scoffs. “An idiot, that’s who!”
“Damn straight,” Grimory responds with a nod. He narrows his eyes down the path. “Hm. A tavern. Think you’re sneaky enough to pickpocket people in a crowded room?”
“Guess there’s only one way to find out!” She threads her fingers through his and skips beside him.
Grimory smiles to himself at their clasped hands. He stops outside the door and looks down at her. “Okay, you gotta build your character. Who are you?”
Alisbeth’s eyes go wide. “Um… I’m a, uh… Traveler. My name is A— Penelope Grey. I’m traveling across Azeroth in search of the most magnificent of treasures!” She smiles up at him. “Is that good?”
Grimory stares down at her for a long moment, then shrugs. “Yeah, probably. I’ll be your seedy travel companion…like I am anyway.” He smiles and opens the door for her. “Act aloof.”
Alisbeth enters the tavern with a bored look on her face, hips swaying lightly to the music being played by the men at the fireplace. Grimory follows, leaving his hood up to conceal his horns. He throws his hands into his pockets and keeps his lips tightly shut, watching Alisbeth closely to ensure no one gets grabby or sees through their disguises somehow. Alisbeth bites her lip and gives the demon hunter a small, sweet smile, then steps away from him. She joins a few patrons dancing to the strange undulating melody. She moves her body with them, slipping from partner to partner without missing a beat. When the song ends, she slips away to stand beside Grimory, doing her best to seem bored.
“Drinks on me.” She winks at him and pulls coins from her satchel, slapping them onto the counter.
Grimory smirks and places a hand on her shoulder. “Atta’ girl.” He glances around and lowers his voice. “After a few, I’ll put my plan into motion and we can double our earnings. As well as get some action in.” He winks at her below his hood.
Alisbeth wiggles in excitement. “I like the sound of that!” She then remembers she’s supposed to be aloof and so drops her smile and leans casually against the bar. “I’ll have a gin, please.” The bar tender gives her a lustful smile as he gets her drink.
Grimory takes a look around again. “Al—Penelope, look.” He motions to a rather unpleasant looking human woman in the back corner, drinking ale and talking quietly with her friends. Upon her face sits an eyepatch.
Alisbeth pinches his side excitedly and hops from foot to foot. “How do we get it? How do we get it?”
Grimory sips at his ordered drink and turns away so the woman doesn’t catch him looking. “If she leaves, we’ll follow, otherwise wait until my plan.”
“What’s your plan?” Her eyes go wide. “Wait, what’s your name?” she hisses as her gin is set before her. She takes a small, ladylike sip for the bartender’s benefit, then a huge swallow once he’s turned his back.
Grimory blinks and spends a moment in thought. “Dorian? Dorian Illestri. Sounds pretty neat.” He takes a drink. “So, you like to dance? What kind? Slow? Fast?”
Alisbeth straightens and smiles. “Well, Dorian, I like all of it. Fast, slow, jig, ballet, freestyle… It’s like fighting but without the weapon or the killing.”
Grimory gives a nod. “That’s very true. My parents thought it’d be a good wife-finding tactic to learn ballroom. It’s obviously not been that successful.”
“Ha!” Alisbeth pats him hard on the shoulder. “They don’t know what the right kind of woman is, then. Find yourself one who can hunt and fend for herself. You’re not going to be spending your days dancing, so why should you find a woman by doing it?” She casts her gaze around the room. “But, if you want, we can find you a good dancing wife. How about that one?” Barely containing her laughter, she points at a gnome with brown hair in pigtails.
Grimory follows her gaze, then scrunches his face and turns. “I like short women, but even I have standards.” He finishes his drink. “And a woman like you, then?”
Alisbeth snorts a laugh through her nose. “Gods, no! Get someone that’s nothing like me. I don’t know what made Koltira want to marry me, even after he died…but I can assure you I am not a good choice. I like to fight too much. And I like to wander and have fun. Wives stay home with the b-… With the house.” She clears her throat, then smiles up at him as though she hasn’t a care in the world.
Grimory resists the urge to set a hand on hers. “I think you make a good wife. He doesn’t treat you right, though. He’s so…controlling. In the wrong ways.” He narrows his eyes. “Though I’d never let my wife lie with another man.”
Alisbeth removes her hand from his shoulder and frowns. “He’s not controlling. He’s protective. I tend to get in trouble—I don’t know why, I’m not doing anything wrong—and so he helps keep me out of it. The troll was the first. When Kolty walked in it was like I didn’t know where I was or how I got there. And I cried and he said it was okay. Then he started shouting and drove the axe back into the troll’s chest, even though he was already dead. He told the guards that the troll had forced me and that he lost control.” She looks up at Grimory with sad eyes. “I would have been in big trouble if he hadn’t done that.”
Grimory sighs. “You think that, hm? And what about all the times he’s just let your superiors put you in that room? Or convinced you to go of your own volition?” He scoffs. “A real man wouldn’t let his woman suffer.”
Alisbeth frowns. “But he didn’t have a choice.” Tears come to her eyes. “Right? He didn’t have a choice…”
Grimory pulls his ears back. Fuck fuck fuck. “N-no.” He finally sets his hand on hers. “He probably didn’t.”
Alisbeth nods. “He didn’t.” She wipes her eyes. “That’s right. See? He didn’t.” Alisbeth takes her drink and scans the room. “What about eyepatch? Bet she’s fun. Steal her eyepatch, give it to me, and then marry her.”
Grimory pffts and rolls his eyes. “Too…husky. For my taste. May as well marry a Pandaren.”
Alisbeth laughs. “Oh, but they’re so squishy! You would never need Aflac’s robes for a pillow again!” She pokes at his stomach. “Fuzzy-wuzzy little bear.”
Grimory laughs and swats her hand away from his stomach. “Too close to an animal. I wouldn’t marry a tauren, either.”
Alisbeth flashes the bartender a sweet smile as he refills her gin. She takes a drink and holds the glass at her chest. “So, what would you marry? And for the record, you don’t seem like the marrying type. You seem like the forever-bachelor type.”
Grimory shrugs. “Didn’t realize I was a type. And if I were to marry, my wife would have to be strong, caring, funny. Knowing her way around a sword or bow is a big turn on.” He orders another glass while he has the bartender’s attention. “Unconditional love is a plus.” He smiles over at her.
She giggles. “How do you assure unconditional love?”
Grimory takes another drink as it’s delivered to him. “You can’t. Which is why I said it’s a plus rather than making it a requirement.”
Alisbeth nods. “Ahh. Got it. So now we just need to find a strong, caring, and funny woman and ask if she knows how to use a sword or a bow.” Alisbeth furrows her brow at him. “Wait… how would you know any of that if you search for her through dancing?”
Grimory laughs. “I obviously haven’t been looking very hard, to be honest. And if I were I wouldn’t be using dancing. I have no free time these days. This whole deal right now was kind of unexpected. Otherwise I’d be back in Mardum. Training. Taking assignments.”
She nods. “I see. So…another demon hunter. I’ll keep my eye out for you.” She gives him a toothy smile.
Grimory chuckles. “A lot of Illidari women lack the caring and unconditional love parts I’m looking for. They’re all pretty career-driven. Or just looking to fuck.”
Alisbeth tsks and shakes her head. “Can’t pair you with someone just like you, right? That would be disastrous.” She laughs and takes a drink.
Grimory bristles and narrows his eyes. “You think I’m not caring or capable of unconditional love? I never.” He broodily swigs his drink.
She laughs. “For the right girl, right?” She leans her head against his arm and smiles up at him. “You’ll find her.”
Grimory furrows his brow, smiles, and shakes his head. “You’re hilarious, Penelope,” he laughs, bringing a hand up to pet her hair.
Alisbeth jumps. “Oh, that’s right! So, Dorian, what was that plan you had?”
Grimory thinks for a moment, then downs the rest of his drink. “I suppose now’s as good a time as any.” He tosses his glass once in the air and catches it. He turns, winds up, and throws the glass at the back of an occupied man’s head.
It shatters and the man cries out in surprise and anger, then whirls around. Without thinking or asking a single question, he throws his fist into the nearest person’s face. Others follow by example until a full on tavern brawl breaks out.
Grimory gestures at all the belongings now left unattended near the walls. Alisbeth squeals in excitement. Without hesitating, she slips away to begin collecting items as she makes her way toward the woman with the eyepatch.
Before Alisbeth can get to her, Grimory slips near the woman and taps her on the shoulder. When she turns, he slips the eyepatch from her head with a finger and winks at her. “Thanks,” he says, then pushes her into the brawling crowd. He steps toward the back door after a quick look around and a grin in Alisbeth’s direction. Beat you, he mouths.
Alisbeth’s mouth drops open and she glares at him before shoving as much as she can into her bag. She stops as a man falls down in front of her, unconscious. She bites her lip, bends down, and steals a silver ring from his pinky. Acting casual, she slips out the door to find Grimory.