Book 3 – Chapter Five

Alisbeth uncurls from her spot at the bottom of the bed as the sun streams in through the windows. With a sigh, she finishes cleaning up the broken glass and carts the vase down to the tavern to ask the innkeeper to dispose of it for her.

“Breaking things up there?” he asks.

“Only my things. Aphro usually fixes them for me. But I don’t want her to know I broke the mirror.”

He raises his eyebrows and nods as he would to a child. “Oh, right! Okay. Our little secret.”

She grins and sits on a stool to watch him go back to work.

Grimory steps into the Legerdemain Lounge, skin still glistening from his morning shower. He makes for the stairs but stops when he sees the death knight already on the ground floor. “Oh. There you are.” He steps over with a smile. “Good morning.”

Alisbeth’s smile fades the littlest bit. It turns into a strange pained smile as her excitement to see him is dulled by his rejection of her. “H-hi…Grim.”

He immediately notices the nuance in her behavior and his smile falls as well. He suddenly remembers the night before and her abrupt abandoning of him. “Oh. Right. Did I say something wrong?”

She fidgets, her eyes flicking up to glance at him before continuing to avoid actually looking at him. “You said good morning… Is it a good morning?”

Grimory sits beside her, lowering his head to look into her face. “Oh, no, I’m not letting this go. What did I do?”

Alisbeth folds her arms and shrugs. “You said you wanted me back then. Then you said you’re too busy now. So… I should just stay out of your way until the war is over. I can do that. I can stay away.” She hops off the stool and heads for her room.

Grimory quickly gets to his feet before she has a chance to escape and grabs her gently by the arm. “No no no, hold on a moment. I never said that. I—” He blinks. “Is this about last night? That’s not what I meant.”

“But that’s what you said.” She purses her lips at him.

“That’s not what I meant. I thought you were talking about going to find some place to live together, not what we were doing right now.”

Alisbeth’s gaze sweeps around the tavern, then her eyes narrow. “Talking?”

Grimory turns to look about the tavern as though following her gaze will offer some sort of clue. He looks back at her when he understands. “No, I—” He grunts in frustration then lowers his voice. “Ali, I want to be with you. That hasn’t changed.”

Alisbeth’s face scrunches in thought. She reaches up to grab Grimory by the horn and drags him back to her room. She forces him to sit on the bed, then goes back to close the door. “I don’t want a fucking farm. That’s not what I wanted. I don’t know anything about animals. I don’t eat them. I don’t eat. I like fighting alongside you and adventures and fun. You know all this. Why would you think I wanted to settle down?”

Grimory opens his mouth to respond but she’s already ranting at him from the other side of the room. “I just—”

She rushes over to straddle his lap and wrap her arms behind his head. She presses a furious kiss on his lips. “You’re so confusing.” She kisses him again. “Stop it.” She kisses him again.

His sentence is disrupted by her kisses and he sighs. He wraps his arms around her waist and pulls her closer. When their lips part, he gives a breathless chuckle. “Not even in a couple hundred years?”

She furrows her brow. “You really think you can stand me for a couple hundred years? I mean…Koltira gave up after less than one.”

Grimory pffts and rolls his eyes. “No offense to ol’ Kolt, but he has no idea how to handle someone like you.”

She straightens and stares at him. “And how do you handle someone like me?”

Grimory chuckles darkly and grabs her by the arms, throwing her onto the bed beside him, then pinning her there. “Very roughly.”

Alisbeth giggles happily, then stops. “Oh, be careful. Don’t break any of Diori’s toys.” She smiles at him. “I think she likes them.”

He cocks his head to look at the stuffed animals. Suddenly uncomfortable from their gaze, he releases her and picks up one of the dolls—a pretty little gnome with a big head of purple hair and a flowing dress to match. He scrunches his nose and sets it back. “We should get her a sparring sword. I think she’d like that.”

Alisbeth frowns as he releases her. “We could. But…do you really think she’d like that? Really? Because…I would have loved a sparring sword at her age. But by then I was already at the Academy and training with the Redblade.”

“I do think so.” Grimory winces as she pulls him back down by a horn.

“I don’t regret these…” She laughs quietly as she smooths her palms over his horns.

He lifts his brows as he looks down into her face. “Regret these what?” he asks, oblivious.

Alisbeth urges him forward with a hand on each horn until their noses are touching. “These. Your horns. I regret not seeing you again…but I like these.” She flicks her tongue out like a snake to lick his lips, then grins.

“Well, at least one of us doesn’t regret them, then.” The Illidari chuckles. After a moment, he kisses her with a restrained longing, pressing his chest against hers and bringing a hand up to cradle her jaw.

Alisbeth moans against his lips. “You regret them?” She asks after a while.

Grimory swallows and nods. “It was a very permanent decision made by a very unsure kid.” He kisses her again, then glances once more at the toys. Scowling, he sits up. “Can we, like, put those elsewhere?”

Alisbeth laughs through her nose at his discomfort. “Do they really, really bother you?” She glances at them and sneers in her own discomfort. “There’s too many eyes,” she whispers. “I didn’t look at the eyes before…” She scrambles out from under Grimory and grabs an armful of toys, careful not to smash the more delicate ones. “In here!” She tears open the doors of her armoire and drops the toys into the bin at the bottom.

Grimory turns and falls onto the bed, arms outstretched. He gives a sigh, the unease subsiding. “Thank you.”

Once all the toys are situated, Alisbeth closes the armoire door and sighs. “Better.” She goes to the bed and crawls across it on all fours to smile down at the demon hunter. “You’re welcome.”

Grimory smiles up at her, eyes scanning her face. He reaches up to touch it. “I was really your first?”

Alisbeth bites her bottom lip and blushes as she averts her gaze from his. “Yes. I don’t know what came over me. I’d never even gone past a kiss—just one, mind you—and then you…” She sits back on her heels and runs nervous fingers through her hair. “I wasn’t that kind of girl.”

Grimory gives an airy laugh and rests the back of his head in his hands. “I could tell, to be honest. You wouldn’t even look at my cock. It was so cute. You were so cute.” He sighs and looks up at her, imagining the face he’d seen fifty years ago. “You still are.”

Alisbeth makes a face. “Am not.” She takes a deep breath and curls up beside him. “Thank you…for not pointing it out. I think I would have left. It would have been embarrassing.” She swirls her fingers over his tattoos. “And thank you for being so gentle.”

“Any man who forces himself on a woman deserves to be flayed and lynched.” Grimory says pointedly, snaking his arm beneath her to pull her closer. “But you’re welcome all the same. And thank you for not saying yes.”

She snuggles into him and smiles. “I don’t mean forcing. I mean, the way you touched me. The way you held me. You could have just fucked me and been done. But it felt like you were m-making…” She turns her head away as though he can see her true feelings in her eyes if she says the word.

“You looked like you deserved that kind of feeling,” Grimory says, bringing a finger up to lift her face again. “And, believe it or not, I wasn’t really a just fuck them and be done kind of person, then.”

Alisbeth leans to set her lips near enough to feel his breath. “What if part of me misses that guy?”

Part of me misses that guy, too. Grimory gives her a sad smile and closes the short distance between their lips in place of a response.

She melts against his lips and reaches her hands to his belt. She undoes the clasp, then stops, pulling away from the kiss to smile at him and whisper, “Do you want me to stop?”

Grimory smiles, amused by her wit. “No,” he says in an equally hushed tone.

Alisbeth pulls the belt away and drops it to the floor. Her fingers set to work untying his pants as she kisses him again and again.

Grimory grabs at her wrist by his waist. He rolls over her so that he’s on his hands and knees, hands on either side of her head. He looks into her face for another moment— her cheekbones, her pointed nose, white hair splayed about her head—and pushes his lips into hers again with an uncharacteristic yearning.

Alisbeth wraps her arms around his neck and holds him close, the fingers of one hand weaving through his hair. I miss the long hair. “Mm-hmm.”

The kisses continue, long and passionate, for a long while before the Illidari’s hand travels down Alisbeth’s front and to the hem of her pants where it pulls at the ties, making easy work of the knot.

~ * ~

Koltira stares out at the forest around them as the sun rises somewhere beyond the trees. The fog concealing Anarchaia and himself begins to burn away. He props on an elbow and stares at her. “I could get used to a morning view like this.”

Anarchaia pushes her hair out of her face and turns to smile up at him. She interlaces her fingers atop her stomach and glances at the sky. “Yeah, this spot is really beautiful,” she responds, dreamy and oblivious.

“Mmm,” Koltira hums, smiling at her ignorance. He sets a kiss on her bare shoulder. “Please tell me we have a day to relax? No business of any kind?”

The mage reaches up to cradle his face in her palm, skeletal thumb brushing his cheek. “No,” she says with a content demeanor, unbothered by the cool morning air. “Not unless there’s something you need done.”

Koltira turns his head to kiss the bone of her thumb. “Nothing at all. I’m all yours…if you want.”

Anarchaia blushes and bites the side of her lip. “I do want.” She lifts the same hand to brush his hair behind a long ear.

“Why don’t we do something? Just the two of us. Lady’s choice.” He brushes away the white hair clinging to her forehead, then smiles into her eyes.

Anarchaia’s smile widens and she nods, sitting up slowly. “Yes. I would like that.” She brings a finger up to tap on her chin in thought. “The lady wants…to drink wine and watch the sunset, somewhere high up. I don’t care where.” She crawls over to kiss him. “The rest of the day we can spend here.”

Koltira moans into her kisses. “And what does the lady demand we do here all day?”

“We have to do things?” she says against his lips, continuing to press kisses into them.

He smiles against her lips and chuckles. “Well, I can get pretty boring.” He kisses her long and deep. “I mean, we could just stay out here forever. Forage for food we’re not going to eat. Hunt animals we don’t intend to kill. Run around naked like wild beasts.”

“I don’t bore easily.” Anarchaia runs a finger over the scar and through the narrow valley of his chest, over the lump in his throat, up his chin, then taps his nose. “As magical as that sounds, we both have duties to uphold.” She sighs and collapses into his lap, cheek to his chest. “Otherwise I’d do so in a heartbeat.”

Koltira groans and flops back into the grass, Anarchaia dropping down with him, and covers his face with his hands as though he can hide from what needs to be done. “Speaking of duties…”

She tilts her head to look up at him but does not lift it. “Is there something you’ve forgotten to do?”

“Ali,” he mutters behind his hands. “I can’t just…say nothing.”

Anarchaia sobers and tilts her head back down. “Oh. Well, I mean, saying nothing is an option. Heh.”

Koltira shakes his head and looks down at the mage on his chest. “And lie? And then have to deal with that face you make every time she comes anywhere near me? No, Ana. It has to be done.”

“How do you know what face I make?” she mumbles to herself. She shakes her head and rolls over to sit atop him, giving a reassuring smile. “I’ll be right beside you.”

Koltira sticks his tongue into his cheek and raises his eyebrows at her. “First, you frown. Then your shoulders hunch like you’re hiding something. And finally, you turn your back so you don’t have to look.” He pokes her on the nose, then sets his hands on her waist to drag her face up to his so he can look into her eyes better. “And, no. You shouldn’t be there with me. First, it’s my responsibility. Second, there’s no telling what she’ll do if you’re there. Don’t worry, I won’t let her try to kill me.”

Anarchaia purses her lips as she’s exposed on her behaviors, then looks away as if she doesn’t want to believe him. She looks into his face and bites her lip. Her brow furrows upward and she shakes her head after a moment. “I don’t like that. She’ll be violent and we both know you won’t hit her back. She’ll have you at her mercy. Please let me be near at least.”

“Outside the door good enough?”

Anarchaia gives a slow nod, though the concern on her face lingers.

“It’ll be fine, Ana. Stop worrying!” He gives her a little shake and kisses her forehead.

The mage gives an apprehensive groan and nods again. “Okay, okay. I trust you.” She puts her head on his and closes her eyes. “If you let her kill you again, I’ll kill you.”

Koltira chuckles and kisses her. “All right. Deal.” He sighs and sits up. “I guess the sooner the better?”

Anarchaia pouts and pushes her face into his neck, refusing to move. “I guessss…” she groans yet remains still.

He wraps his arms around her and squeezes. “We can come back here after, if you like. Or go to another place. We do need to find that high summit to watch the sunset… Though I am rather worried you intend to push me off it.”

Anarchaia pulls her had away to give him a look of confusion and offense. “I pray you’re joking. I would never.”

Koltira laughs. “Oh, you would. I know you would. And you’d laugh. And then you’d blink down to me and make me float really slow the rest of the way.” He kisses her deeply as he continues to chuckle.

Anarchaia hums into his lips. When she pulls away she takes a moment to think then nods. “Okay, yes. That’s something I’d do, but that’s not the plan. Promise.” She stands to redress herself, brushing the dew-soaked grass off herself.

Koltira stands and brushes a piece of grass from her breast. “It was grass,” he says automatically. “I swear it was just grass. Not copping a feel.” He winks and pulls on his trousers. “Or was I?”

Anarchaia jumps in surprise, but flushes and smiles. She bends down to retrieve her own linen pants and brushes her hand on the inside of his thigh as she straightens. “Just some grass,” she says nonchalantly, turning away to tie the ties of her pants.

Koltira steps behind her and reaches between her thighs, cupping his hand around the area between her thighs through her trousers so he can lift her and press his nose into her cheek. “Just a little grass,” he whispers. “Honest.” He kisses her cheek and sets her down. Then pulls an actual piece of grass from her shoulder blade and flicks it away.

The mage’s face turns a dark shade of scarlet. She gives the smallest of titters and pulls her collar over her head. “You and I both know there’s no grass down there,” she mutters, pulling her shirt over and up to button it at her chest.

The tips of Koltira’s ears turn a darker shade as he catches the euphemism. He clears his throat. “Are you calling me a liar?”

Anarchaia turns back to him, false seriousness on her face as she pokes a bony finger gently into his chest. “I’m not calling you a truth-er.”

Koltira feigns haughty insult. “Well…” He spins around and bends to grab his shirt, secretly scooping some grass into his fist. He turns back to her, eyes narrowed and face serious. “I never lie. If I say there’s grass,” he hooks a finger in her waistband and pulls to provide room, then drops the grass inside, “there’s grass.” He grins evilly.

Anarchaia blinks down at herself, mouth agape. She huffs and sets her hands on her hips and purses her lips up at him, scoffing in equally faux insult. “You’d better undo what you just did.”

Koltira cocks an eyebrow down at the mage. “Not a chance, darlin. You called me a liar. It hurt, Ana. Right here.” He sets his two index fingers on either side of the scar in the middle of his chest. “A little worse on the right, in fact.”

Anarchaia narrows her eyes and raises her shoulders, her scowl deepening. “Perhaps I’ll just turn you into a grazing animal, then. You’d make the cutest sheep, darlin’.” She lifts her hands and smirks.

Koltira’s eyes narrow to slits. “I had no idea you felt that way about barn animals. But if you insist…” He grabs her in one arm, pressing her chest to his, then reaches his other hand down her pants to retrieve every blade of grass one at a time, his smile growing slyer as he dips his hand back into her waistband.

Anarchaia bites her lip to resist the noises rising in her throat. She breathes quietly through her nose and smiles. “Thank you,” she says, attempting to sound haughty but the words come out slower and sultrier than she anticipates.

Koltira reaches deeper to grab one final blade. He pauses to kiss her. “It was my pleasure.” He withdraws his hand slowly, then discards the grass. “Or was it yours?”

The mage’s breath hitches in her throat and she gives a shy yet coy smile. “False dilemma,” she mumbles and turns away to dry off her robes and attempt to tie the back of her top.

Koltira’s fingers push Anarchaia’s aside and work to tie the shirt. He leans forward to kiss the side of her neck. “Just one quick stop and then I’m all yours.” He wraps his arms around her from behind and sighs, wondering if he’s more excited than she is. He stares at his gear. “Do you mind just sending that away? I’ll thank you for it later.” He winks and pulls on his boots, kneeling to buckle them

Anarchaia gives a small nod, smile unwavering. She lifts the items briefly into the air before they disappear in a flutter of violet sparkles. She buttons her gloves on and throws her robes over her head. Picking up her mask, her grin widens. Her heart flutters as she glances over her shoulder at the elf behind her, and she pulls the mask over her head and face. “All set?”

He tugs his shirt on and pulls his long hair from inside, running fingers through to make sure there aren’t any blades of grass clinging to the strands. Without waiting, he threads his finger through hers. “Back to Dalaran then?”

Anarchaia nods and pulls a stray piece of grass from his shirt. “Don’t let go,” she says, grasping both of his hands in hers. When the duo reappears, they’re standing at the base of the steps inside the Legerdemain Lounge.

“You know you can’t do that, Ana,” says Arille Azuregaze behind the bar, but the blood elf man merely smiles and shakes his head.

Anarchaia gives him a sheepish grin. “Sorry. No more. Promise!”

Koltira shakes his head, feigning disgust. “Ana, I’m ashamed. Truly. You’re a damned menace.” He winks and rushes up the steps, laughing, before she can respond.

Anarchaia shrugs and titters then follows him up the stairs. “Perhaps punishment is in order,” she whispers so that her voice won’t carry through the doors.

He leans close to her, a stern look on his face. “Swift and severe, Miss Starling. You’re not getting off easy.” He turns from her and takes a calming breath. “Wish me luck.” He opens the door, then stops in his tracks.

Alisbeth lies naked on the bed, her thumbs hooked through Grimory’s trousers and about to pull them down. They kiss with such passion that unwarranted jealousy flairs inside the death knight’s chest. He clears his throat as loud as possible.

Alisbeth opens her eyes to look across the room at Koltira, rolls them, then closes her eyes and returns her concentration to Grimory.

Anarchaia’s hands fly to her mouth and she reflexively takes a step back into the shadows of the hallway. “Ohmygods,” she whispers.

Grimory’s eyes flick open at the sound of the man in the doorway. He immediately straightens while quickly throwing the corner of the comforter over Alisbeth. “Honestly, don’t people knock anymore? I know you have a key and all, but—” He quickly grabs at his pants as Alisbeth attempts to pull them down as though they didn’t have an audience. “Ali,” he hisses in a whisper, stepping away and tying the laces again. He turns back to Koltira. “What is it?”

Koltira blinks away the shock and reminds himself of why he’s there and why he has no right to even think about yelling at either of them. He straightens to act unfazed. “I need to talk to Alisbeth.”

The death knight sits up, holding the blanket over herself and stretching for the demon hunter. “Busy. Come back later.”

His eyes narrow. “No. Now. It’s important.”

Grimory rolls his eyes and holds Alisbeth’s hand for a brief moment as though to say he won’t be far, then sweeps from the room without a word.

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