Grimory wakes in the morning, rubbing at his face and looking around. When he doesn’t see Alisbeth there with him, he sighs and lies back down. “Of course.”
After a few minutes, Alisbeth runs into the camp with a wiggling sack and frowns at the demon hunter. “No. Go back to sleep!” She smacks the sack against a tree until it stops wiggling, then pulls a dagger from her boot. She goes to straddle Grimory, the blade at his jaw. She smiles and puts her hand over his eyes. “Back to sleep. Shh-shh-shh.” She begins to hum the little lullaby she’d hummed for him in Stormheim.
Grimory furrows his brow and pulls her hand away from his mouth. “What’re you doing?”
She smiles brightly. “Making you breakfast! But it’s a surprise.” She holds the dagger to her lips. “Shh. So, you have to go back to sleep so I can wake you up and surprise you.”
Grimory opens his mouth again to retort, then shrugs and closes it again. He closes his eyes and pretends to go back to sleep.
Alisbeth nods and gets up, then shoots a look back to double check. She pulls two rabbits from the bag, cuts them end to end, takes out the guts and then rips their skins off. In a matter of minutes she has them tied to a stick and cooking over the fire. She smiles and glances back at Grimory, who continues pretending to sleep, but has trouble containing a smile at the combination of the aroma of cooking meat and her caretaking nature.
Alisbeth makes sure the rabbits are done cooking, then crawls over to the demon hunter and taps his nose several times. “Breakfast in bed!”
Grimory opens an eye to look up at her. “This is the most uncomfortable inn I’ve stayed at.” His grin widens. “Service is five-star though.”
“What about the food?” She takes one of the rabbits and holds it out to him, a nervous smile on her lips.
Grimory takes the rabbit and eats one of the legs in one bite, then nods in approval. “Five stars,” he mutters while chewing. “You’d make quite the housewife.”
Alisbeth makes a face. “No, I wouldn’t. I’d end up burning the house down. Not because I’m incompetent—because I’m not—I’d just get too bored and light the fire to watch the flames.” Her eyes wander to the camp fire and she smiles at the cheery blaze.
Grimory swallows and shrugs. “Guess you’ll just have to live in a house made of stone, then.” He sits up. “You should really compliment yourself more.”
She makes a face again. “Housewife is not a compliment.”
“Perhaps not, but the connotations that come with it are.” He takes another bite. “Even so that’s not what I meant.”
Alisbeth folds her arms and sticks her nose in the air, her head turned away from him. “Then what did you mean?”
“In general, you need to compliment yourself more. Feel good about yourself. You deserve it.” Grimory studies the side of her face in the firelight.
“I compliment myself plenty. I’m a good fighter. I’ve been told I’m loyal. I’m good at pranks and killing things. See? Compliments.” She removes the other rabbit from over the flames as the meat darkens, threatening to burn. The death knight leans the spit against the log to keep the rodent from getting dirty.
Grimory lifts his eyebrows at the word loyal but says nothing. “You forgot pretty and fun.” He crunches up the last of the first rabbit between sharp teeth. “And clever.”
Alisbeth sneers. “Those first two aren’t very good compliments. I’ll take the last one, though.” She begins cleaning up the campsite, burning the last of the items she’d never really made her mind up on. Black smoke pours from the little fire and she frowns. “I don’t know what I just burned, but it’s not okay with it.”
“Probably something really dry,” Grimory says as he stands and stretches. “Though. it’s not doing much in the way of keeping our location a secret.”
She shoulders her pack and holds out the second rabbit for him to take. “Then I guess we’d better get a move on.”
Grimory shrugs and takes the roasted rodent, letting it hang from his teeth by a leg as he talks. “Affer you, m’lady.” He steps a boot onto the flames to snuff them out.
“Let’s go this way!” Alisbeth grabs his arm and yanks him off deeper into the trees.
Grimory smiles and laughs as he follows. “Any way is fine by me, no need to be so rough.”
Alisbeth give him a devilish grin. “I thought you liked it rough.”
“I’m wearing too much clothing for the kind of rough I like.” He tears the rabbit from his mouth to deliver an equally impish smirk. “Where are we going, though?”
Alisbeth narrows her eyes at the morning sun. “Looks like we’re going south east.”
“Anyplace in particular?” the Illidari asks, knowing full well she doesn’t have one.
Alisbeth grins at him and keeps walking.
Grimory stops as the two reach the end of the tree line to find a steep cliff; further down the face is a gushing waterfall. Birds litter the small ledges below. “Hm,” he grunts. “Pretty.”
“Wanna jump? I’m gonna jump!” She turns and flings herself from the cliff, laughing as the wind rushes through her hair.
“Whuh— Wait!” Grimory jumps in alarm and makes to spread his wings, but the tunic prevents him from doing so. He rips the garment from his torso, turning as it catches on his horns. When he’s finally able to toss it aside, he leaps after her, reaching a hand for her. “It’s too far a fall!”
“What do you think will happen?” Alisbeth asks. “I’ll die?” She laughs maniacally.
Grimory furrows his brow and wraps his fingers around her ankle, flapping his tattered wings downward as hard as he can to stop their descent. “You aren’t immortal, you know!”
Alisbeth laughs and smiles at Grimory as she dangles from his hand. “Aww, you saved me!”
“Did you not want me to?” he responds, making an effort to not show the irritation in his voice.
Alisbeth giggles. “I was just trying to have some fun. But I think you’re right. This is a tall waterfall. You would’ve had to put me back together like a puzzle. Oh! That would actually be fun!”
Grimory lowers both of them to a comfortable distance and drops her into the lake below, his lips pressed in an unamused line. “Not fun.”
Alisbeth wipes the water from her eyes to grin at him. “It would be fun! Like making your own person-puppet!”
Grimory lands on the bank and chuckles. “There’s better ways to make a person-puppet.” He glances past her to the cliffside. After a moment he points. “There’s the cave you wanted.”
Alisbeth turns and squeals upon seeing the dark cave hidden behind the water splashing against the rocks. She swims over and climbs up to slide into the black of it.
Grimory follows and stretches, happy to be shirtless again. He looks around as he enters, nearly tripping on a rock on the cave floor. “Cozy. Damp. Dark.”
Alisbeth chuckles, nodding as she removes her shirt to wring it out. “I like it. It’s like my room, but noisy and wet and there’s actually light out there!” She runs back to the entrance, dropping her shirt to the ground in her enthusiasm. The water splits as she reaches through to let the sunlight hit her fingertips, then pulls it back into the cave. She does it again and again, laughing each time.
Grimory keeps himself from looking at her chest in the glints of sunlight that periodically filter through the waterfall. He hums a laugh and joins at her side, letting the cold water hit his hand. He turns to find a comfortable place to sit against the cave wall. “So, is this where you want to stay?”
Alisbeth smiles. “Until I get bored of it…yeah. I like this.”
Grimory laces his fingers behind his head. “Is there anyplace that you wouldn’t get bored of?”
Alisbeth frowns as she thinks. She crouches down, bringing her knees to her chin and wrapping her arms around them. “I don’t know. I’d have to see the place to know, I think. Just somewhere perfect. Somewhere with friends.” She smiles and gives a soft laugh. “I’m sure it’s out there. I just have to find it.”
Grimory’s face falls in the darkness of the cave and he inhales slowly. “You don’t seem to actively look for a place like that. Are you sure that’s what you want?”
The death knight reaches a hand out to let the water hit her fingers. She swallows and turns her head away from him. “Why look for something I can’t have?”
“You can have that, though. Why do you think you can’t?” He watches her intently, glancing between her bare back and the rumpled shirt in the floor.
“Because every time I make a home or plan for one, it’s taken from me. My parents died when I was so young. My home was sold. I lived at Academy. No one wanted to bunk with me and so I was always switching rooms. Then off to Lordaeron, then Silvermoon. I was in Dalaran when it fell. I followed Kael’thas to a new home.” She scoffs. “Came back and the people I grew up with shunned me. All of us. Northrend was no different. Found places and had to leave. Then I died and I got no choice.” She shrugs, more to convince herself she’s fine with it. “No point trying anymore.”
Grimory sobers and gets up to settle beside her. He drapes an arm across her shoulders. “How old are you?” he asks after a long moment of silence.
She whispers something, then holds out a hand to start counting. “I, um… One hundred and—… One hundred and twenty… Something?” She rubs her forehead. “Something.”
Grimory shrugs. “Then you have a long, long time left to live. You’ll find someplace you can be comfortable.” He rubs her shoulder gently with a palm. “Wouldn’t it be best to try your hardest now and have a good rest of your life?”
Alisbeth sighs. “However long that is.” She grabs up her shirt and struggles to get back into it.
Grimory assists her in putting it back on. “Well you’re undead so, a long time?” he chuckles.
“Unless I get caught.” She leans her head against his shoulder.
“Well, we’ll make sure that doesn’t happen, yeah?” He presses his cheek to the top of her head.
“Promise?” She wiggles closer into his side.
Grimory nods. After a moment he narrows his eyes and straightens. “Do you hear that?”
“What?” She perks and looks around.
The Illidari reaches out a hand to part the curtain of water in front of them, then retracts it quickly, eyes widening slightly. “Ana.”
Alisbeth straightens and frowns. “They’re going to take me back! No!” She jumps up and runs to the back of the cave, following the wall by feeling when it gets too dark for her to see.
Grimory sighs and stands, then follows her. “Great. Do you want me to go talk to them or do you think it’d be a better idea to wait for them to leave?” His foot bumps against a stick; he picks it up and lights the end to restore their vision.
Alisbeth sniffs and grips his arm. “Don’t leave me. But don’t let them take me.”
Grimory wraps an arm around her shoulders again and sighs. “If they find us, I’ll talk to them, okay?” Not quite sure what I’m gonna say but gods know I’ll try.
Alisbeth yelps as Anarchaia’s voice echoes to them, then slaps a hand over her mouth and turns her wide eyes up to Grimory.
Koltira sighs, recognizing the small yelp despite the distortion. “It’s them.” He steps into the cave, heading toward the green light. “Ali!”
Grimory turns and squares his shoulders. “You guys are wasting your time. She doesn’t want to go back to that ziggurat.”
Anarchaia steps forward. “And she won’t have to,” she says, recognizing Grimory’s glowing tattoos in the darkness. “In fact, I’m…fairly certain she’s not allowed back there.”
“Ali, Mograine agreed to call off your execution.” Koltira continues forward, blindly gauging the floor of the cave as he takes each step with care.
Alisbeth hides behind the demon hunter, a palm to his shoulder blade and one gripped around his bicep. “They’re lying!”
Anarchaia conjures a large ball of flame in a hand, effectively lighting most of the cavern. “It’s true. I-In fact…” She bites her lip, finding it unexpectedly difficult to say the next part. “I’m…kind of your…guardian, now?”
Grimory blinks. “Wait, for real?”
“For real,” Koltira insists. “Ali, please.”
“They’re lying,” she hisses. “Don’t listen to them! They’re just saying that to get me to come out. Please, please don’t let them take me!” She presses her face into his back and holds him tight.
“I’m not lying!” Anarchaia cries out, clenching her free fist. “And if you don’t come with me, I’m going to be in a lot of trouble. I promise I won’t let anyone take you.”
Grimory hesitates and glances back at Alisbeth. “I don’t think she’s making it up, Ali.”
“I don’t want to go back,” Alisbeth says on a whisper.
Anarchaia growls in frustration, her vast patience wearing thin. “Ali, please. We can do whatever you want when we get back. The Darkmoon Faire has begun. I’ll take you there.”
Alisbeth mutters under her breath, arguing with no one. She clings desperately to Grimory.
Koltira forces the frustration from his voice. “Ali, please. We’re telling the absolute truth. Ana was appointed by Khadgar after Mograine surrendered your wellbeing over to him. Please stop running.”
Grimory sighs and looks back down at Alisbeth. “I’ve never known Ana to be a liar. Why don’t we go with them and see? I’ll be there the entire time. If you don’t like it, we can go.”
She grips him tight. “Promise?”
The demon hunter nods and gives a reassuring smile. “Cross my heart.”
“Then I’ll go. But only as long as you’re there.” She pulls him down to whisper in his ear. “Kolty was going to let me die… I don’t think I can trust him anymore. You saved me.” She wraps her arms over his shoulders and holds on for him to lift her. “I’m ready.”
Grimory furrows his brow at the information and swallows, then lifts her up into his arms. “All right, let’s go.” He walks over to the two and gives Anarchaia the slightest of glares. “If this is a trick…”
Anarchaia waves her hands. “No! I promise. I’d just…prefer she be somewhere that I know where she is. I’ll purchase her a room in Dalaran where she can come and go as she pleases.” She looks up at the back of Alisbeth’s head. “Does that sound acceptable to you, Ali?” Anarchaia uses her free hand to open a portal to Dalaran, the other still cradling a flame. This is exhausting. The Faire sounds pretty invigorating at this point.
Alisbeth closes her eyes and leans her forehead against Grimory. “From one prison to another,” she whispers.
“Ali, come on.” Koltira reaches out as hint for the Illidari to hand her over to him.
Grimory does nothing and instead allows Alisbeth to make her own decision while eyeing the other man warily.
Alisbeth turns her head away from the other death knight and grips Grimory tighter.
Koltira drops his arms and purses his lips at the demon hunter, but chooses not to voice his accusations. “Let’s get going, then.”
Grimory rolls his eyes. <<I’m sure you two’d like to be alone anyway,>> he mutters in Darnassian and steps through the portal.
Alisbeth’s ear twitches as she understands enough of what Grimory says to catch the meaning. She looks up at him with a furrowed brow, but says nothing.
Anarchaia gives a quiet sigh of relief as well as a small smile, pretending as though she hadn’t heard. “Well, at least that part’s over. Heh.”
Koltira glares at the floor and passes through the portal.
Grimory catches her eye and blinks down at her. “What?”
Anarchaia joins them and brushes off her robes. “Okay, so, I’m going to make arrangements at any inn you choose, Ali. You’ll have your own room to put your things in and you can go wherever you want within city limits. Is that really so bad to you?”
Alisbeth doesn’t say anything to either of them, but looks over to Koltira, whose gaze sweeps the city before settling on the back of Anarchaia’s head.
The mage sighs and rubs at her face, then waves her hands. “Fine. Okay. You aren’t keen on the idea. I get it. But—” Her jaw clenches. Patience, Ana. “Maybe…think about it? Please? It’s obviously better than a dark room or being executed, no? “
Alisbeth clenches her jaw. It’s not the room. It’s not the room. It’s not the room. It’s not— “I wanted to find where I want to stay,” she says meekly into Grimory’s chest.
Koltira brushes at her hair, ignoring for a moment that she’s being carried around like a child by another man. “We can find something later, maybe? This is just so that Ana and Khadgar know you’re safe.”
“Don’t talk to me,” she whispers; but he doesn’t hear.
Anarchaia nods. “I want you to feel like you have freedom, Ali. I’m not keeping you here because I think you’re dangerous. I’m keeping you here to make sure you’re safe. What can I do to prove it to you?”
Grimory’s eye gives a twitch at the tone the two are using. They’re like salesmen. Irritating.
Alisbeth turns her attention to Grimory and angles up to whisper to him. “Think I could get freebies in the tavern for both of us through her? I don’t know about you but I could use a drink…or twenty.”
“I’ll be bringing your things from Acherus. I’ll just grab everything and you can decide what to keep.” Koltira says. When he gets no reply he picks up his pace to walk beside the mage. “Not the Filthy Animal. The innkeeper wouldn’t trust her living there.”
“I want my candy canes,” she whispers to the demon hunter, still ignoring the other death knight.
He lifts an eyebrow, then glances up at Koltira ahead of them. “She says she wants her candy canes.”
Koltira cocks his eyebrow at them. “I’ll need a very large sack for those.” He turns back and purses his lips. He must have told her.
Anarchaia nods solemnly. “Legerdemain Lounge is the best choice. The couple that owns the place are quite hospitable.” She sighs and turns into the building in question, pushing her hood back to her shoulders.
Anarchaia negotiates with the handsome blood elf man and his wife, offering to pay whatever expense necessary for permanent booking of one of their rooms. The couple talk apprehensively between themselves for a moment before reluctantly agreeing and handing over a set of keys.
“Thank you,” the mage responds tiredly.