Book 2 – Chapter Eight

Anarchaia braces herself as books and papers fall over them, then looks up at him again. She covers her lips with a finger and shushes him as she giggles. “It’s a good thing we’re both already dead,” she whispers, eyes flicking to the door. “Also, plate armor isn’t very quiet.” She chuckles again.

“Says the person who could just as easily have caught the books and put them back just by wiggling her fingers. For shame.” He gets up and holds out a hand for her. “So, you really want my armor off, huh?”

Anarchaia accepts his hand and stands. She fixes her hair and laughs nervously. “Only if you want to, obviously. It is pretty noisy, though. Just saying.”

He begins unbuckling his armor, chuckling. “Fine, I’ll take it off. But only for the sake of being quiet. After that is up to you.”

Anarchaia turns, bending down to pick up the fallen books and return them to their shelves. “Up to me? You’re the guest, here.” She throws him a smile over her shoulder.

Koltira sets the last piece of his armor into the neat pile he’s created in a corner. He sighs, then laughs. “I give up.” He turns his attention back to the books. “So, which one is your favorite?”

Anarchaia turns back and gives a chuckle. “Oh, gosh, there’s no way I could choose just one…though the The Biology of Death is well worn. I’ve read it a lot. Heh.” A black book with a weathered spine floats down from a shelf near the ceiling. Its cover bears a purple skull with roses for eyes. “It…was a way of coping, I suppose.”

Koltira runs his fingers along the spine. “Hopefully it helped.”

“For the most part. There’s been more than one occasion where I’ve used it for…” She stops. “Did you know there’s been at least one recorded case of undead conception?”

Koltira averts his gaze and swallows. “Oh? H-how did that happen? What happened with the…child?”

She opens the book and the pages flip by themselves. She pours over the paragraphs and frowns. “It…actually doesn’t say. But there’s no information on its later years, so…my guess is it didn’t survive.” She closes the book, a somber look on her face.

Koltira remains quiet for a long time. “Oh. Well…that’s, um…disappointing.” His eyes linger on the book.

“It gives me hope, though, despite the odds being well-stacked against me. I’ve always wanted children. One of the reasons I haven’t destroyed myself, if I’m being honest.” Studying his face, the mage holds out the tome and offers a reassuring smile. “You let me borrow a book. Want to borrow mine? You might learn something about yourself.”

Koltira shakes his head, but doesn’t take his eyes from the tome. He breathes in. “I’m more interested in exactly what that says about undead children. I mean, it can’t have just…died. And there’s no information on the parents at all? There has to be more. I mean…was it even born living—I mean…you know what I mean.”

Anarchaia hugs the book to her chest and tilts her head. “It doesn’t mention the parents—only that it was Sin’dorei. The organs were intact though not functional, as expected. The dark magic keeping it ‘alive’ was very weak, however. By the lack of information I’m led to assume the child was acquired through shady means.”

The death knight folds his arms. “And, um…how old is this book?”

Anarchaia hums in curiosity and searches there inside the cover. “This edition, as well as the short chapter about the child, is five years. Master actually wrote it, so I get the first updates…and a lot of the details are about me. Heh.”

Koltira backs away from the book, his nose wrinkled in a sneer as panic rises within him. The air becomes lead in his lungs and his eyes search the walls desperately. He moves along one, setting his palms on the spines of the books as though searching. “Why are there no windows in this room?”

The book falls from Anarchaia’s arms and she rushes to his side, half terrified of alerting attention and half concerned. She places an arm across Koltira’s hunched shoulders. “What’s wrong?!” she says in a hushed yell. “Is it something I said? I-I’m sorry!”

“You want to know more about the parents?” He runs unsteady fingers through his hair. “I think I can tell you what you want to know.”

Anarchaia pauses, her eyes widening. “It was yours,” she whispers. Her face scrunches in sorrow and she throws her other arm around his chest, hugging him tightly. “Oh, Koltira, I’m so sorry.” She sniffles.

He nods unnecessarily against her shoulder as he leans into her embrace. “It was only four, maybe five months. We weren’t sure. She’d lost her talisman and we didn’t think anything of it. I mean, I’m dead, what could possibly happen?”

Anarchaia nods to show she’s listening, pushing her cheek against his shoulder. “That’s logical. But still…”

He shakes his head. “But still, what? Have you ever heard of any other instance? Is there another in one of your thousands of books?” He looks into her eyes, then sighs. “Ignore me. It’s in the past, right?” He gazes around the library, feeling guilty for having ruined a nice, quiet evening.

Anarchaia wipes away her tears with a gloved wrist. “Not that I’ve read, no. And it obviously still hurts you.” She looks up at him while he scans the room. “Is there anything I can do? I-I mean…obviously not, but…you know…”

Koltira reaches over to stroke her cheek with his thumb. Unsure what to say, he shrugs instead.

Anarchaia closes her eye on the side he strokes and sighs. She presses her lips to his shoulder and refuses to let him go, also having no words to offer.

Koltira pulls her closer to him and sighs into her hair. “I’m sorry.”

Anarchaia shakes her head and brings a hand up to cover his mouth without looking up at him. “Don’t,” she says quietly into his shoulder.

Koltira continues to stroke her hair. He runs the backs of his fingers down the periwinkle skin along the side of her neck. His fingers find the button on her collar and slip it through the hole to release her glove. A thousand things he’d like to say to her run through his mind, but he says nothing, just closes his eyes and takes in the faint smell of her perfume as he slides her glove down her arm, feeling the skin slipping across his fingertips.

Anarchaia allows the removal of her glove. When her skeletal fingers are free and he’s set the article aside, she reaches for his hand. She brings her other fingers up to cradle the back of his head and rub her thumb gently against the nape of his neck. She looks up at him with sad eyes, mouth and nose still pressed against his shoulder.

Koltira weaves his fingers through hers and stares into her eyes. He begins to say something, but stops before he starts. Instead he pulls her hand over to kiss the top, where it is still fleshy and she can feel it.

The mage blushes and lowers her head to bury the entirety of her face into the side of his arm, a smile spreading across her lips. She combs her hand through his hair, enjoying the softness when it runs over the skin on the back. I could sit like this forever.

With a finger, Koltira urges her face back up to he can stare at her. He sighs. “I must confess, I had licentious thoughts when you invited me up here.” He presses his lips to hers in a delicate kiss. “I don’t feel badly for anything we’ve done. If that makes me a bad person, then I wear the title with pride.”

Anarchaia gives a small grin and chuckles airily. “Licentious, you say? Hm. Not sure where you’d get those thoughts from.” She kisses the corner of his mouth. “Let’s share our pride, then.”

Koltira eyes her floating bed. “After the books, I think we’re safer right here.” He presses his lips to hers, slipping his fingers through the hair at the back of her head.

Anarchaia hums a laugh against his lips and crawls her hand up, beneath his shirt and over the flesh of his back. She pulls away for a moment lean over and whisper “We need to be quiet, then. I have neighbors downstairs.”

Koltira’s hands do their own searching beneath her shirt, smoothing across her abdomen. “If you can tell me how to get in that bed without killing us, then you could make all the noise you want.” He tilts his head to kiss up her neck and behind the curve of her jaw.

Anarchaia titters. “Are you intimidated by my floating crystal stairs? I can carry you if you’d like.” She unbuttons her other glove and slides it off.

Koltira eyes the stairs. “Considering everything in your room is trying to kill me… No, I got this.” He picks her up into his arms and walks across the room. “Do you trust me?”

Anarchaia blinks and wraps her arms about his neck. She laughs quietly. “There’s not much left you could do to me.” She smiles, her magical eye glowing in the dull violet firelight. “Good luck?”

Koltira smiles, gently untangling her arms from his neck. “Brace yourself.” With ease, he tosses her up onto the bed, then rushes up the steps to join her.

Anarchaia waves a hand and her fall is slowed. She gently lands on the blankets and rolls onto her stomach to watch him climb the stairs. “Be careful.”

Pfft. I got it.” He drops onto the bed beside her with a charming smile. “This is a really comfortable bed. Wow.”

Anarchaia rolls again to place her head in his lap and smile up at him. “It’s a shame it’s hardly used. A waste of money, really.”

“Mmm,” Koltira hums sympathetically. “Well, you could get rid of it… Or you can make use of it.” He directs a sly smile down to her.

The mage returns the smile and sits up to straddle his hips. She kisses him, hands on his chest. “The latter sounds more efficient.”

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