Grimory opens the door to Alisbeth’s room and blinks at the sight of Alisbeth on the floor, hand bloody and dripping, and Diori watching with a face of confusion and concern. He steps over, pulling his ears back. “What happened here?” he asks calmly, bending down to look at Alisbeth’s hand.
“She broke the mirror,” Diori says, tears welling in her eyes.
Alisbeth bites her bottom lip and smiles brightly at Grimory. “Hi, Grim! Don’t worry about this, I had a small accident. But I’m cleaning it up. Don’t worry.” She picks out a few large shards then scrutinizes him. “You left pretty quickly and missed some stuff.” She reaches for Diori’s hair to stroke it, then sees the blood on her fingertips and stops. “This is Diori. She’s…” Alisbeth finds that she can’t say it to him quite as easily, so she stares at her hand to distract herself with picking out shards. “She’s my daughter.”
Grimory sighs and kneels to help her remove glass from her palm. “I know she is, Ali. She’s mine, too.” He glances up at her face to see her reaction.
Diori hugs the fae dragon closer to herself with one arm and bends down to help pick up the shards, but stops when Grimory leans over to interfere. “I won’t get hurt,” she mumbles, but refrains all the same. She steps over to Taveth and reaches for his hand, fidgeting as she watches the two who would be her parents together on the floor.
Alisbeth’s brow furrows. “No. He was a farmer. And he was sweet and so kind.” She purses her lips. “And I lied to him. About my name and where I was from.” She pauses in picking out the glass and smiles at some memory. “I wanted him to visit me…but he never did. If he’d come to Southshore or Lordaeron.” She looks over at Diori. “Things would be so different.”
Her words pierce his heart and Grimory grits his teeth. “I wanted to come see you, but I didn’t know how long you’d be there. And you said you’d be busy…training for lieutenant. I asked around but nobody had heard of you.” He frowns over at her, though she’s not looking. “If you’d just given me your real name…”
Alisbeth stares at Grimory for a long time. “You’re making that up. You’re thinking of that story I told you. It wasn’t you.”
A sort of desperation crosses Grimory’s features and he doesn’t turn away. Eyes on hers, he swallows and sets a tentative palm atop her thigh, lowering his voice. “Now?”
Alisbeth’s face turns slowly into a frown, then to surprise as her eyebrows lift with revelation. Then her eyes well with tears. “You didn’t visit me. I would have heard something. Tirion knew my mother’s name, he would have told me. Why didn’t you visit me?”
“You made it sound like it’d be a waste of my time if I had,” Grimory retorts. “I figured you’d given me a false name so I asked around hoping to find your real one so I could send you a letter and have some sort of way to speak to you without…bothering you.”
Alisbeth purses her lips. “I didn’t think you wanted to. And I gave you my mother’s name because I didn’t know how far mine had traveled. Do you know what it’s like being a Redblade? The second anyone knows my name they stare at me with these great expectations and they want to chat about my father and how I have big shoes to fill. For one day, with you, I wasn’t the daughter of a Stormwind captain. I wasn’t some girl expected to be great and do great things.” She presses her bloody palms to her face scratching at the skin there with the shards of glass. “I thought you didn’t want to see me again.”
Taveth purses his lips. “That’s how you knew,” he says to Grimory. “You heard Diori’s name and were out the door.”
He nods to Taveth and quickly pulls Alisbeth’s hands away from her face. “That’s right. And I thought you didn’t want to see me again! You were this beautiful paladin woman and I was… I was just a farmboy. That’s why you didn’t even tell me, isn’t it? You didn’t think I could do it.”
The death knight wipes her nose on her sleeve and squints at nothing, again calling on the memories of the time. “I, um, I was too sick to go anywhere. Tirion wouldn’t let me. He said I couldn’t ride my horse anymore and I had to stay in bed. So I did. And everything I ate I just threw up again.” She wipes her eyes and stares up at him. “By the time I could… She was already in Stormwind and Tirion was taking me to Lordaeron.”
Grimory scowls sternly down at her. “You, however, knew my name and where I lived. You never sent me anything. Never attempted to contact me.”
Alisbeth frowns and brings her legs up to bury her face in her knees. “I wrote at least a dozen letters. I burned them all because I was afraid, and they sounded so stupid. But then I did send one. When I wasn’t so sick anymore…” She lifts her face to give him a look like a kicked puppy. “Tirion said you didn’t want anything to do with me.” She buries her face into her knees again to cry.
Grimory scowls again. “I never received anything, Ali. And if I had I certainly wouldn’t have burned it.” He places a hand on her knee. “I promise you that.”
Taveth’s stomach rumbles and he purses his lips, wanting food but wanting to stay.
Diori tugs on Taveth’s hand. “We should leave them alone,” she whispers. “We can see them more tomorrow, can’t we?”
He clears his throat. “It’s getting near Diori’s bed time and we haven’t had dinner yet—”
“Oh!” Alisbeth jumps up as though she hasn’t a care in the world. “Here. My treat.” She reaches into the top drawer of her dresser, into a leather purse, and drops a handful of gold on the top of the dresser.
Taveth chuckles. “Redblade gold. Heh. Don’t mind if I do.” He scoops the gold into his satchel, then takes Diori’s hand to leave.
“The tavern downstairs has good food…I think… At least, that’s what people say.”
Diori gives a hesitant glance between the two and smiles. “It was nice meeting you.”
Grimory stands, brushing the glass from his breeches. He gives her a gentle smile. “You, too.”
Diori looks back up at Taveth. “I want cinnamon apples.”
Alisbeth smiles and goes to hug Diori, but stops on account of the blood. “Please come see me again? Please? I’ll keep your toys safe, okay?”
Taveth sets a hand on her shoulder. “Aribbet, don’t worry. We’re definitely coming back to visit.” He smiles at Diori. “Let’s get you those apples.” He leads her from the room, and closes the door quietly behind them.
Alisbeth frowns, keeping her back to Grimory as she realizes they’re alone now.
He sighs and goes to sit on the bed, which puffs under his weight. “What a mess,” he grumbles, rubbing his hands down his face and glancing down at the army of plush dolls to his right. He chuckles and glances back up at Alisbeth’s back. “We…made a cute kid, yeah?”
She stares at her gashed palm; a few slivers of glass still sit inside her skin. She goes back to the vase and works to pull them out while mulling over everything from that day. “Why didn’t you visit me, though? I would’ve kept her…if…”
“I went to Southshore to look. Asked around and again no one knew who I was taking about.” He sighs.
She sucks in a ragged breath. “Have you known this whole time that it was me?”
“No. You…looked familiar when we were in Helheim. But it didn’t come back to me until I heard that name again.”
Alisbeth rubs her nose vigorously. “I, um, I wasn’t that kind of girl… You were the first. Ever.” She lets her hair fall down as a curtain, shielding her from judgment. “I know it was probably just some…thing to you. Meaningless. But for me…I felt like we had a connection. Something beyond the physical… I wanted to talk to you. I really did. I would have left the academy if you’d asked me to, child or not.” She forces herself to look at him. “I would have left it all,” she whispers.
Grimory’s eyes widen slightly. “None of that is true. If it didn’t mean anything I wouldn’t have even tried to find you again. Wouldn’t have asked to see you. Wouldn’t have made special trips solely for the purpose of tracking you down.” He sobers and holds out a hand for her. “I wouldn’t have asked that of you. I’m not worth giving up your dreams.”
She looks at him, her crying renewed, but for a different reason. “Y-you wanted me?”
Grimory says nothing but looks into her eyes from across the room and gives a single, slow nod. She stares at her hand, concentrating on finding more glass that isn’t there. Even her mind is quiet as she mulls over everything, trying to understand what it all means and wondering where she should go from here.
“I asked for two months,” Grimory says hesitantly, looking down at his own hands. “I regret never going to Lordaeron like I said I wanted to.” He pulls in his lower lip to chew on it for a moment. “We’d be so different of I had.”
She sniffs and rubs at her eye. “The people of Southshore didn’t spend much time around me. I don’t think they liked me. If you had asked Tirion, he knew my mother’s name. He would have told me.”
Grimory holds out his hand for her, gesturing for her to join him on the bed. “What did this Tirion guy look like?”
On her way to joining him on the bed, she reaches into her dresser and pulls out a sock to wrap around her hand. She takes a seat and smiles, remembering Tirion from so long ago. “When he was young, when I met him, he had long brown hair and a beard with a mustache. His armor was gleaming silver and gold. He had this presence about him that demanded respect. You couldn’t miss him.”
Grimory chews on the information and narrows his eyes at the floor. “I remember a man in gold and silver. Obviously he said he didn’t know a Diori, because no one I asked said they did.” He grabs at her hand to remove the sock and observe the damage.
Alisbeth shakes her head. “That can’t have been Tirion. He would have told me.” She gives him an insistent smile. “He always had my best interests at heart. Always. He would have told me.”
Grimory shrugs and tosses the sock aside. “Maybe he didn’t liked me. How I looked. Maybe he thought that was what was best for you.” He stands and goes to the attached washroom. When he returns, he unwinds a roll of medical gauze and gestures for her hand.
Alisbeth bites her lip, studying the man as he binds her hand. His determination strikes a familiar chord in her mind, and suddenly she can see the young elf who’d fixed Bloodmane’s shoe. She sets her fingertips under his chin to look at his face. “I remember you now,” she whispers. “You’re the one that time swallowed. My greatest regret in life was not seeing you again. And if it was Tirion that prevented that… Mustn’t speak ill of the dead.”
Grimory ties off the bandage and looks down into her face again. He clenches his jaw and brings his fingers up to brush against the underside of her arm. “Mine, too.” He takes up a seat beside her again, a hand on her leg. “If you’d stayed or if I’d have found you again, I’d have never gone to war.”
She frowns. “I signed up for every battle that needed to be fought. I tried to just…forget. I thought if I was too tired to think… It didn’t help. So I signed up for the Northrend voyage, hoping getting away from the area entirely would help.” She sets her hand on his and leans against him.
Grimory sighs and sets his chin atop her head. “I just wish I’d known. She probably hates us.”
“She was trying to tell me you told her, I think. But I didn’t recognize the name.” She presses the heel of her palm into the side of her head, then hits it a few times. “I just want to remember things. I don’t remember your name. You’re just Grim. I don’t think she hates you. It’s all my fault. She hates me. I wanted to take her to find your farm and she didn’t…she didn’t want to go with me.”
The Illidari quickly puts his hand between hers and her face so that she strikes his knuckles instead. “I wouldn’t expect her to. Not right away, anyway.” A smile crosses his lips. “Mother and father will be ecstatic to know they’re grandparents.” He chuckles some. “And it’s Grimory Silversong. I’ll tell you as many times as you need me to.”
Alisbeth sits up suddenly. “Would you like to meet my father?” She smiles wide, her eyes large with excitement.
Grimory’s brow furrows and he pauses. “Uh…”
The death knight jumps up and drags him to his feet. “Come on!” She leads him out the door and to the bank, where the goblin lets her inside her vault. “This vault is so much bigger, see? He was hidden in the other one. I bet you didn’t notice him in the corner.” She lets go of Grimory’s hand and walks to a stand at the center of the room. A sheet drapes over a bulky item. She smiles at it and sets her hand to the middle. “Daddy, I want you to meet Grim… Um… Grimo…” Her face scrunches in frustration.
He stops a few paces into the vault, looking at the veiled object with a slightly horrified concern. “Grimory,” he mumbles in correction, unmoving.
Alisbeth casts a shy smile on Grimory. “I’ve…never shown anyone before.” With obvious hesitation, she grips the sheet and lifts it, then throws it back. Beneath is a battered suit of Stormwind armor. A long slice cuts through the breastplate and the tabard, bowing out to indicate a sword through the back. The brown stain of blood still mars the cloth. She bites her lip and smiles. “I miss him so much.”
Grimory runs his eyes over the armor and takes a step closer to examine it further. “Ali, I’m sorry.” He places a hand on her shoulder. “It looks like he died a soldier’s death. Very honorable.”
She smiles at him. “He did. They told me that mother tried to save him. She killed the orc that stabbed him in the back like a coward. His wounds were too great.” She thinks for a long time about it, then frowns. “She was so brave. She didn’t lose her mind, just went back to the battle to keep others safe. She saved so many lives that day… Fire swept over that half of the battlefield and her body was lost to the flames. There was nothing left for me to keep.” A tear trails down her cheek and she shrugs, smiling as though it isn’t a big deal.
Grimory sobers and takes her into his arms. “They’d be proud of you.”
Alisbeth bites into her bottom lip and wraps her arms around him. “Do you really think so? Even now?”
The demon hunter nods and smiles down at her. “Even now. I’m sure they’re watching down on you from the stars, smiling and admiring what a strong, caring woman you’ve become.”
Alisbeth sighs and throws the sheet back over the armor. “Maybe.” She presses her hands to the sides of her head. “I don’t sleep, but I feel like I could for several days. Today has not been good. Well, there were good parts, but it was mostly just awful.”
Grimory gives a small laugh and places an arm around her shoulders to turn her toward the door. “It has been kind of a shit day. Let’s find a healer for that hand, yeah? Or maybe you want to do some of that vampiric stuff?”
She leans her head on his shoulder, handing the key over to the goblin as they leave the vault. “A healer is fine. No priests or paladins. They hurt. A lot.”
He leads her to the town medical building. A kind pandaren monk heals up Alisbeth’s hand and waves away the gold Grimory offers in return. “So,” he says when they’re back in the streets. “What do you want to do? About…all this, I mean.”
Alisbeth bites her lip and takes Grimory’s hand. “Just because I didn’t want it then…doesn’t mean I can’t want it now, does it?”
“Want what, exactly?” he asks, enjoying the cooling evening breeze.
She chews on her lips for a long time as she thinks. “Everything I missed out on…” She blushes a deeper shade of blue and turns away.
Grimory frowns some and turns to look straight ahead. “No, it doesn’t mean you can’t want it now. I…” he sighs, “I have a job to do, however. Perhaps when the war is over…”
She releases his hand and frowns. “Oh. Right. Okay.” She stops in the middle of the street and stares at the cobblestones. “I need to go…wash my hair…I guess.” She doesn’t wait for a response, just takes off running back to her room in the inn. She frowns at the toys on the bed, then curls up at the foot without disturbing any.
“W— Ali, hold—” Grimory blinks after her—unsure of what he’s done wrong, as usual.