Book 2 – Chapter Nine

Grimory picks at his teeth with a pinky, leaning against a tree and swinging the eyepatch around a finger. “What took you so long?”

Alisbeth rushes over to him to grab the eyepatch. “I was getting things. All you did was start a fight and steal that! I did all the work!”

Grimory lifts his arm so that the item is out of her reach. “I stole this fair and square. You’ll have to convince me to give it up.”

Alisbeth smiles like a sprite. “Trade you for it.”

Grimory chuckles. “Make an offer.”

Alisbeth takes his free hand and slips the silver ring onto his pinky. “Now gimme!” She jumps up to grab at the eyepatch.

Grimory sends an unimpressed glance at a distant tree and hands over the eyepatch.

Alisbeth gives an excited ha! and slips the eyepatch around her head with the patch over her left eye, fluffing her hair out to cover the strap. “Everything looks so…weird. How do I look?”

Grimory brushes a few stray hairs from her eyepatch and smiles. “Pretty badass. Like a true delinquent.”

Alisbeth jumps up to hug him. “Thank you! Can we go kill something now? Or, or, can we rob some travelers?”

Grimory glances down at the numerous bags and items she swiped during the scuffle. “We need more things? Why don’t we make a fire and go through our loot?”

“Okay! But then we get more. We need a hideout where we can keep it all. Like an abandoned cabin or a dark cave.” She nods insistently. “That’s what bandits always have.”

The Illidari nods. “Let’s sift through this shit, then we can go find something similar to that.” He grabs a good amount of the items and walks off into the trees. “Please stay close, though. I’d hate to lose you.”

She stays close as requested, stumbling along behind him as she gets used to her new limited vision. “Grim?” she says, eyes on her feet, “Why would you hate to lose me? And don’t you mean you just don’t want me to get lost?”

“Can’t it be both?” he responds casually. “I care about you.”

She narrows her eyes. “Why?”

The demon hunter glances back at her. “You’re my friend. You mean a lot to me. Unless you’re looking for specific reasons…”

Alisbeth smiles at the ground. “No, that’s fine.”

Grimory turns back around, hands behind his head. “Too bad. You’re fun, pretty, funny, energetic, unpredictable… Worth protecting.”

She raises an eyebrow but doesn’t look up. “I can protect myself, you know.”

Grimory smiles. “Oh, I’m perfectly aware. Won’t stop me, though.”

“And I can stand guard at night! To protect you! Because you’re my friend and it’s what we do as friends, right?” She sighs and looks around. “Are we there yet?”

Grimory narrows his eyes but does not turn his head. “Ali we’ve been walking for three minutes. But fine.” He leaps up to a low hanging branch and tears it down. Using his claws, he shreds it to tinder, arranges, and lights it. “Better?”

She makes a face. “Feels like longer than three minutes. Wait, should we be camping so close to the inn?”

“Why? Are you scared they’ll find us?” he responds with a coy grin. The demon hunter then sits at the fireside and grabs a rucksack to rummage through.

She grins back. “If they do I guess we’ll just have to kill them.” She upturns a sack onto the ground and sits in front of the pile, then adds the contents of the others. Her eyes sparkle at the pile, even though most of it is clothes or junk.

“I guess so.” Grimory glances up at her, then shoves the pile in front of him into hers. “You a packrat?” he says, his grin unwavering. “Or just like stolen things?”

She furrows her brow as she scoops his pile to hers. “Take what we want and ditch the rest,” she shrugs. “I don’t have things. I have a vase. And candy canes. Oh and the basket they’re in. Oh, and a chair.” She begins digging through the pile, throwing things into another pile when she decides she doesn’t want them.

Grimory furrows his brow upward. “I’ll get you more things if you’d like.” He watches her intently. “You deserve to have more than that.”

“Why? I don’t need it.” She takes all of the clothing which doesn’t appeal to her and shoves it into a featureless bag, pulls the drawstring, then punches it a few times. She feels it and decides it’s satisfactory, then smiles wide and hands it to Grimory.

The Illidari gives a laugh through his nose and tosses the bag into the fire. “It’s not always about need you know. Wouldn’t you like to have nice things?” He leans back against the tree behind him. “I, personally, can’t have nice things because I share a room with other initiates but you…” He pauses, remembering hearing about her dark, isolated room and how he had urged her not to go back. “Nevermind. You’re right.”

Alisbeth frowns as her offering is consumed by the flames. “Yeah.” In an angry fit she shoves away from the pile of goods and throws her eyepatch into it, then turns her back on the loot and on Grimory.

The demon hunter blinks over at her. “What’s wrong? Did I miss something?”

Alisbeth scowls at the trees. “I thought you might like a pillow. But you burned it! Guess nothing can replace Abigail’s robes, huh?” She brings her knees to her chin and wraps her arms around them.

Grimory straightens. “O-Oh! That’s what that was for?” He gives a crooked, embarrassed smile and scratches at the side of his face, then sobers at the attempted mention of Anarchaia’s name. “And it’s not about that. I just wasn’t thinking. Sorry…”

Alisbeth says nothing as she glares at the tree. It was a stupid idea, anyway, Redblade. You’ll never be as good as the mage.

Grimory pushes his hood back and frowns. “She doesn’t mean as much to me as you do.”

She turns her head to look over her shoulder, glancing at him, then focusing on the fire. “Everyone likes her, though. Nobody tries to say she’s crazy.”

Grimory gives a small sigh, debating on whether or not she’d allow him to comfort her. “Because she’s boring. Sure she has wit, but that’s about all.” He gives in, crossing the distance between them to sit beside her. “You’re more fun.”

She smiles. “Fun is good.” She turns her body to face the fire, her head turned to look at him. “Okay,” she says brightly with a little shrug. “So, why do you like stuff?”

He gives an inward sigh of relief at how easily she abandoned the subject. “Like my favorite things? I dunno. I’m not an aesthetic man, myself.”

Alisbeth nods. “I had a lot of stuff as a child. When I went to the academy I only took a little and sold everything else, including my family home. When I went to Lordaeron I took only a little of what I had left. Then I only took a few things to Silvermoon. I didn’t think I’d like it there, so I left a lot of things behind for my return.” She snorts and laughs. “No point caring about anything. You’ll just lose it anyway.”

“Unless you have a permanent place to call home,” Grimory adds, tossing a twig into the emerald fire. “Then you’ll never lose or have to give anything up.”

“Acherus is where I’ve been for over four years. But I don’t call it home. But it’s supposed to be.” Alisbeth digs into the pile of goods and picks up a chainless bronze pendant of a raven’s foot gripping a crystal ball. It makes her laugh, and so she puts it in her own pack to keep. After some digging she finds three necklaces. Two she likes and tucks into her bag, the other she removes the pendant from and tosses the demonic symbol aside, then sets to affixing the raven foot pendant to the silver chain. “Is that one place your home?”

He watches her as she shuffles through the items. “Mardum? No. Hillsbrad will always be my home.” A frown passes over his lips and he looks into the fire instead. “Though, I was adopted, so I guess that’s not even really my home.” He shrugs. “Maybe that’s why I left.”

She smiles back at him, pausing in her sorting of. “Maybe you’ll find that home out here. Then you can search for that wife of yours.” She pokes the tip of his nose, then returns to her perusing. “Are you gonna get in on this or what?”

“Maybe.” The demon hunter leans back to lie in the cool grass just after she pokes him, as though the gentle touch was enough to push him over. “And I don’t really care about that junk, to be honest. I’m just happy to be spending time with you.”

Alisbeth makes a face then spins to straddle his hips. “That’s just silly. You can’t take loot and not want any of it! I mean, look at this stuff! It’s so shiny! I mean, I can reach into the pile and get something great, I just know it.” She slips her fingers into the small pile and withdraws them, then sneers. “Of course there’s a tooth. Why wouldn’t there be a tooth.” She tosses it behind her, then smiles eagerly at the demon hunter.

He chuckles and laces his fingers behind his head. “I grew up without many things, so I’m happy with having few possessions.” He smiles up at her. “Why don’t you find something for me that you think I’d like? Preferably not the tooth…”

She crooks her mouth to the side and turns to dig through the pile, but remains sitting on him. “Who said it had to be a possession? You think I’m keeping all of this? Pfft! I’m fencing it.” She snaps the eye patch back onto her eye and gives him a Cheshire smile. “Loot doesn’t buy gin. Gold does.”

He gives a sincere laugh. “Truer words have never been spoken. Unfortunately, we’d probably have to skip town to sell any of this. Not sure how quickly word spreads around here.” He picks a trinket out of the pile and turns it in his hand. The metal is worn, the gems faceted in it are scratched and chipped. “Maybe Dalaran. More variety of vendors there.”

The death knight looks down at herself. “I’ll need a better disguise if we’re going to Dalaran.” She sighs as the last of the items end up being uninteresting to her. With a grunt, she rolls off of him to lay on the ground and stare up at the stars through the trees.

“Why do you say that? You think you’re in trouble?” He closes his eyes, listening to the breeze through the leaves and the crackling of the flames.

Alisbeth giggles and turns to lay her head on his chest. She casts her smile to the sky and sighs. “I already told you, ever since the five guys. The guards look for me. And…Kolty and Azzinoth…do you think they went to Dalaran?” She furrows her brow, then interrupts any response he was forming. “Why did they leave? Why didn’t they wait for us? Do you think…”

Grimory’s jaw clenches and he searches for words. “I’m sure they’re just tired of waiting around and know they can’t find you as quickly as I can.”

“But what if they gave up? What if they’re bringing Mograine here to kill me?” She grabs his arm and wraps it over her shoulders like a blanket.

“They wouldn’t do that, Ali. Why would you think that? They want you safe just as much as I do.” Well, maybe not just as much… He shrugs. “I’m sure they’re just waiting somewhere for us, whether it be back at the springs or Dalaran.”

“You think so?” She rubs her palm up and down his arm.

“I…do.” The demon hunter swallows. “I’ll leave it to you whether we go or not and where. If you don’t feel safe going to Dalaran, we won’t go.”

Alisbeth thinks for a long time. “I want to do whatever you want to do. I trust you. You won’t let anything happen to me, right?”

“Of course not.” He wraps his fingers around her shoulder. “Let’s stay here a while, then. I like this. We can go in the morning.”

“So soon?” She reaches up a hand to play with his goatee.

“Or the day after. I told you you could choose, you know.” He sighs. “Though, I fear the longer we’re gone, the harder they’ll look.”

“That sounds fun!” She tips to her side to smile at him. “We could run forever, you know.”

Grimory sobers. “As much as I’d like that…I still have work to do in my career. If I just up and leave, that could be considered desertion and I’d be imprisoned.” He sighs. “Plus, you have people who worry about you.”

She shakes her head. “I don’t think so. But that’s okay. You can go back. I’m not. I’m getting me a cave, like I said. And I’ll just protect myself.” She jerks his hand away and goes back to the pile of stolen goods, then shoves it into one of the empty sacks. “Tomorrow you go back to wherever you have to go, and I’ll just…be alone.” Alisbeth kicks the sack into the fire and glares as the flames consume it.

The Illidari sits up. “You don’t want me to leave. I get it. Okay. I won’t, then.” He sighs and runs a hand through his hair. “I’ll stay.”

She shrugs at the fire. “Do what you need to. Desertion is a serious offence. I’ll be fine.” Alisbeth smiles at him. “Don’t worry about me.”

Grimory narrows an eye at her and bends a knee to rest an elbow on. “You’re seriously hard to read sometimes,” he responds. “And I don’t feel safe leaving you behind. What if I can’t find you? We might not see each other again.” He glances into the fire at the burning satchel. This unpredictability is fun until the consequences are considered… Oh gods, Ana’s wearing off on me.

“As long as you find the woman you love most, it’ll be okay. I think. Maybe. I could always send letters, right?” Alisbeth sighs into the night, crossing her eyes to see the chill of her breath in the warm air. “You should sleep.”

Grimory chews on the inside of his cheek. Maybe I already have. “You wouldn’t know where to send them. And I’ll sleep when I’m tired.” He smiles. “Unless you just want to watch me.”

Alisbeth thinks. “Wouldn’t I just write your name on the envelope and it would get sent to you?” She spreads her legs wide and drops her satchel between them to have a second look at what she’d decided to keep.

“Not all mail carriers know who I am and where to find me,” Grimory says casually. “But I’d prefer to just be with you instead of wondering where the letters are coming from. Maybe there’s a compromise here I’m not seeing.”

“Well you could ask for assignments out in the world and I’ll just hang out until you get back. Then we could go together,” she says absently. She holds up a scarf and inspects it. Alisbeth makes a face when she finds fraying in the fabric, then tosses it into the fire.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t really trust you’ll stay in one place for too long.” Grimory shrugs and leans his head away from the heat of the fire as the dry scarf goes up in a flurry of flames and threads. He shrugs and grins. “So, I guess I have no other choice than to be a fugitive.”

Alisbeth turns to him. “Hmm? You don’t trust me?” She throws another item into the fire. “You could take me with you? I don’t want you to get in trouble.”

Grimory laughs. “You did say you wanted your own set of horns, no?” he jokes. “To be honest, I don’t think Ana would let anything happen to you in Dalaran. She likes you too much.”

Alisbeth bites her bottom lip as she smiles. “So, is that a yes? I can come with you?”

Grimory gives a shrug. “Not to Mardum, but yeah. You’re welcome with me wherever I go…except there.”

The death knight throws herself to his side under his arm. “Yay! Just set me somewhere and I’ll wait right there. I promise. Do I get a treat for waiting?”

Grimory smirks and pulls her close. “Oh, absolutely.”

“What do I get? Wait! I want a surprise—no! Tell me, now.” She smiles and waits, then shakes her head rapidly. “No! Don’t tell me. I want a surprise.”

“A surprise it is, then.” The Illidari lies back down in the grass. “All right. Tomorrow, then. Just so they stop worrying about us. Then we do whatever we want.”

“Pillage and plunder,” Alisbeth whispers in his ear. “Are you going to sleep now?”

“Do you want me to?” he responds, closing his eyes.

“Only if you want to,” she says.

“Fair enough,” Grimory says and rests his head in his hands.

Alisbeth waits until nearly dawn, listening to the demon hunter’s gentle breathing. Then she scoots away and runs off into the forest.

 

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