Grimory raps his knuckles against Alisbeth’s door, smoothing his hair back in distress. “Ali? I’m sorry, please open the door?”
The death knight sniffs and wipes her nose on her sleeve, then pulls on the armoire door to shut herself in the darkness. It pops open yet again and she buries her face in the toys she’d gathered into her lap.
Grimory sighs and turns to press his back against the door. “I didn’t mean what I said,” he says, sliding down to a sit and no longer caring who hears him. “These last two days have just been…so hard on me. I just…ugh.” He rubs his face with his palms.
Alisbeth rips the door open and glares at the demon hunter as he falls back at her feet. “You’ve been having a hard couple days? Oh, I am just so sorry! I should have taken your feelings into consideration.” She lifts her foot to jam her heel into his stomach. “How could I have been so insensitive?”
Grimory grunts in pain, then grabs her ankle so she can’t do it a second time. “You made your feelings pretty obvious by telling your cousin to just take her away, so don’t act like you’re a saint in all this.”
Alisbeth falls over. She kicks at him with her other foot. “Don’t you even start! I did that because she shouldn’t be around someone like you.” Alisbeth gets free and crawls away to kneel and resume sobbing. “Or me. She was happy and I ruined it.” She hits herself on the head a couple times before turning her very wet glare on him. “She’s not your daughter. That’s what you want to hear, right? She’s some other guy’s little girl and I just lied because I’m some kind of whore that tricked boys into sleeping with me.” She presses her hands to her face and bends over to put her forehead on the floor.
Grimory flips over to sit in his knees as well, kicking the door closed. He resists his strong urge to go and comfort her at the sound of her sobs. “That’s not what I want to hear at all!” he barks, fists clenched. “I just wanted the truth. And she does deserve parents, no matter how…dysfunctional.” He grits his teeth at his own words, then finally reaches a hand to comfort her. “I just wanted to be sure. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Alisbeth jerks up and slaps him across the face. “Don’t you ever accuse me of lying. If you’re so fucking innocent in this then why didn’t you say something? Did you know who I was this whole time?” She shrinks away from him. “Just…waited until there was a reason to say something?”
Grimory jerks some at the blow but doesn’t move. He shakes his head and scowls. “I didn’t know until I heard her name. I’m telling you the truth.”
“And somehow that makes me the liar?” She gets up from the floor, hugging her self as she curls up on the bed.
Grimory sighs and shakes his head. “It doesn’t,” he says quietly. “I was…being stupid. I’m sorry.”
Alisbeth sniffs. “I don’t forgive you.”
Grimory swallows and nods, standing. “All right. I deserve that, I suppose.” He turns to the door. “I’m not giving her up that easily, though.”
“And what are you going to do now? Stand outside Stormwind, screaming until the guards take you to the dungeons or just kill you?” Alisbeth asks. She wipes a cheek and gives a small laugh. “That actually sounds fun.”
Grimory shrugs and gives a heavy sigh, scratching at the nape of his neck. “If that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes.”
She turns to look at him. She frowns for a second after seeing how close he is to the door. She opens her mouth to say something, then changes her mind and flops back around to stare at the balcony doors. “Okay.”
Grimory inhales slowly, then turns. “I really want this to work, Ali. I won’t say anything else that’ll hurt your feelings but you have to stop running away when you’re angry.”
Alisbeth scoffs. “You will, too. No one can promise to never say things that hurt. You can promise to try…and so can I.” She curls up tighter. “I shouldn’t have sent Diori away.”
“I can try, yes.” The Illidari shakes his head. “You didn’t. I told Taveth not to send her back.”
The death knight laughs bitterly. “You think Taveth will listen to you?”
“I…kind of…threatened him,” Grimory says, grimacing at himself.
Alisbeth sits straight up. “You what? Grim, that’s how you get Taveth to do the opposite of what you want. He hates bullies. I know because I…was his bully. But when I wanted to get him to do one thing, I’d tell him to do the other and then threaten him.” She buries her face in her hands. “Oh, gods, I’m sorry. I’ve made such a mess.”
Grimory clenches his fists and growls, then inhales to calm himself. Regardless of how she’ll react, he goes to her and puts his arms around her. “No, it was my fault. Don’t blame yourself.”
Alisbeth leans into his embrace and sighs. “So, to Stormwind to scream at the gates until we’re thrown in jail or killed?”
He chuckles. “Yeah. Sounds good.”
“Come on!” She jumps up and to the door in one bound.
Grimory stumbles as she runs out from beneath him, bracing himself on the bed as the alcohol returns to him all at once. He buries his face into the comforter, knees on the floor. “Maybe in a bit…”
She kneels and wraps his arm over her shoulders. “Silly living and their weakness to alcohol. Come on.” She helps to boost him onto the bed. “Need to sleep?”
He nods and turns over to bury his face into the pillows as much as his horns will allow. “I think so.”
Alisbeth curls herself into his side. “Can I pretend to sleep beside you?”
“Always.” Grimory closes his eyes.
She smiles and drags his arm over herself, then closes her eyes to listen to him breathe.
~ * ~
Anarchaia blinks as the three rush out of the tavern, then shrugs and throws a gold piece on the bar for her wine. “So much drama with those two.”
Thassarian grunts and laughs. “Can be fun to watch, sometimes. Come, let’s buy the lady,” he jerks a thumb at Koltira, “a drink and you two can tell me about…whatever you two are.”
Anarchaia chortles into the backs of her fingers as she swallows, flushing. Not sure what we are. She orders another glass of whiskey and walks over to set it before Koltira with a grin. “Lonely over here?”
Koltira smiles warmly at her. “Not anymore.”
Thassarian drops back into his seat with a bottle of whiskey and a mug of mead. “So, from a paladin to a mage. What’s that like?”
Koltira blinks at him. “Gods, you’re nosey.”
Thassarian nods. “Yep. Now talk.”
Anarchaia sits but immediately contemplates getting up and walking back to the bar when Thassarian begins prying. Unsure what to say, she merely laughs in discomfort and sips her wine as though her mouth being busy excuses her from talking.
Koltira sighs audibly as he takes a drink. “Ana is an amazing scholar and we have many intelligent, lucid conversations. It may not be thrilling or dramatic, but I think I’m done with thrilling and dramatic.”
The mage swallows her drink but allows the cup to remain at her lips, unsure of how to take the compliment. Finally, she sets the receptacle down and clears her throat. “It’s my fault,” she says after a moment, her voice quiet.
Thassarian cocks an eyebrow at her. “What?”
“They separated because I seduced him. I tricked him into lying with me and ultimately growing feelings for me. You seem upset that they’ve parted. It’s my fault, though. So please don’t be angry with him,” the mage says, the words falling from her mouth without restraint.
Thassarian slowly lowers his mug to the table. Koltira gapes incredulously at Anarchaia.
The mage’s eyes flick between the two and she fidgets with her cup. “W-well it’s true,” she says meekly, looking down.
The two death knights let Anarchaia fidget in her minor panic for a long while before Thassarian breaks out in a loud laugh. “Not a word of that is true, and I know it.”
Anarchaia inhales to retort, but pauses when Koltira interjects.
“She didn’t trick me. She used an illusion, thinking it would make me happy… It did, but when it fell, I realized I was already desiring what was under the illusion. I just had to admit it to myself.”
She shrinks in embarrassment, only hearing this for the first time. She pulls her mask down to hide her deepening blush. “You…you did?”
“I already told you, I don’t do casual. Never have.”
Thassarian nods. “This is true. Though, I only ever knew him with Ali.”
Anarchaia covers her face as though the mask isn’t enough to hide her smile. “That’s nice to hear ‘nd all, but…can we change the subject? This is embarrassing.”
Thassarian laughs. “All right. New topic.” He stares at Koltira.
A silence passes. “I hope Malfurion is okay,” the mage says, lowering her hands. “Do you think Tyrande’s found him yet?”
Koltira lets out a long breath through partially pursed lips. “She said she’d contact us through Khadgar if she has.”
Anarchaia sobers. “He hasn’t said anything about it.” She pauses and frowns. “He hasn’t said anything to me the last two days, come to think of it. Just continue your notes.” She looks down into her cup and swirls it to coat the bottom in wine.
“Have you spoken to him about his…concerns?” Koltira asks.
Anarchaia merely shakes her head. “I…didn’t think it was something to worry about.”
He smiles endearingly. “You’re probably right. It isn’t.” He goes to take a drink but does a double take on Thassarian, who has quietly passed out, a cheek on his fist. Koltira nudges him and the other death knight slowly leans the other direction until he crashes to the floor without waking. Koltira chuckles. “He’s out of practice.”
Anarchaia gives a small laugh and stands. “Perhaps we should get him a room at the inn next door.”
“If you insist,” Koltira says, sighing.
Anarchaia smiles and cocks her head. “Are you suggesting we just leave him?”
He shrugs and smirks at the mage. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”
She chortles and shakes her head, sitting again. “If you insist.”
Koltira lifts a hand, motioning for her to go to him. Anarchaia smiles and cocks her head again in curiosity, then stands and goes to him as per his request.
He takes her hand and spins her, then drags her down into his lap. He wraps his arms around her. “How are you doing?”
Anarchaia hums a laugh and wraps her arms around his, pushing them into her. “Better than him,” she responds, tapping her boot against Thassarian’s. “You?”
Koltira nuzzles into her shoulder blade. “I’m all right.”
She smiles contentedly. “Are you happy?” she inquires after a moment.
The death knight thinks on it and sighs. “Perhaps. Are you?”
Anarchaia leans away to look at him over her shoulder. “You’re not happy,” she says in a somber tone.
Koltira looks up at her, his cheek to the back of her shoulder. “Well it depends on what you’re asking me what I’m happy about. Am I happy Thassarian is passed out on the floor? Most assuredly, because it shut him up. Am I happy there’s a beautiful woman sitting on my lap? Of course I am. Now, are you happy?”
Anarchaia shakes her head. “Don’t worry about me. Something’s bothering you. What is it? What can I do to help?”
Koltira smooths his knuckles along her jaw. “Same as this morning. Same as last night. Nothing new. Although I am concerned that we’re not next to a quiet pond or sitting atop a tall cliff right now. In fact, I think it’s just past noon and I’ve drunk so much I can’t feel the tips of my ears and my best friend is passed out on the floor.”
Anarchaia smiles again, though he’s unable to see. “My offer to put him in a room stands. We can find that high up place after of you’re still willing.”
“Yes,” Koltira smiles. “Let’s do that.”
Anarchaia stands, lifting her hands to raise the unconscious death knight into the air. She struggles with the weight of the armor, but eventually stabilizes. “Thank you!” she calls to the bar staff as though in apology and saunters out into the street.
Koltira pays the tab and jogs after the mage. “Just tell me where and I’ll make sure your path is clear. Hey, try to hit his head on every hard surface and we can convince him he lost a fist fight to you.”
Anarchaia laughs, nearly dropping the man as they near the inn. “I don’t have it in me to willingly hurt someone,” she admits. But we can put some blueberry juice on his eye to make it look like he was in a fight.” She asks the innkeeper for the nearest vacant room and walks in that direction. “The headache he’ll have tomorrow will help.”
Koltira thinks on it. “No. That wouldn’t fool him.” He opens the door to the room and stands out of Anarchaia’s way so she can deposit Thassarian on the bed.
The mage sets the human onto the feather mattress as gently as she can, then sighs in relief at the lack of weight to carry. “Hm. We could pay a troll to get in bed with him.” She chuckles.
“That. I like that one. He hates trolls. You have no idea. I’ll never hear the end of it and it will never stop being hilarious.” Koltira wraps an arm over Anarchaia’s shoulders to guide her from the room.
“Perhaps Juliember is still around,” she chuckles. “I bet she’d be all for it.”
“She did say to ask any druid and they could get her at a moment’s notice…” He gives her a sly smile. “Shall we find us a druid?”
“How the hell did you remember that?” Anarchaia mumbles to herself. “Pretty sure I saw one back at the tavern.” She brings a hand up to her shoulder to weave her fingers through his.
Koltira chuckles. “Well, I didn’t have much to do in the month we were apart, except think. Plus, it’s always good to remember how to get a hold of a healer. They tend to come in handy.”
The two turn into the tavern and she points out a night elf in nature-inspired armor.
“Excuse me,” Anarchaia greets, “are you a druid?”
“Aye,” the man says through a choppy white beard. “You need something only a druid can provide?”
Anarchaia nods. “We know one named Juliember. A troll. Could you contact her for us? We need her…assistance.” She giggles as she talks as though the deed has already been done.
The man narrows an eye at the tittering mage. “I suppose. A portal to the glade is taxing. Perhaps make it worth my while?”
Anarchaia scoffs and holds out a few gold pieces. “I thought druids were supposed to be noble.”
He pockets the money. “And I thought mages were supposed to be intelligent.” He sweeps from the tavern and a flash of light filters through the door.
“Rude,” Anarchaia mutters.
Koltira shrugs and pulls the mage onto a stool. He orders her a glass of wine and him another whiskey. “While we wait.”
Anarchaia chortles and gently shoves his shoulder. “I’d say you’re just trying to get me drunk, good sir.”
“Oh, you’re not already there?” Koltira asks. “Better catch up.”
“I didn’t drink nearly as much as the rest of you,” the mage laughs. Another flash of light comes through the door followed by the night elf.
“She’ll be here in five,” he grumbles and continues back to his seat.
Koltira nods to the druid, then smirks at Anarchaia. “As I said, time for you to catch up.”
Anarchaia furrows her brow at the man, then pushes her mask up. “Guess I have five minutes, then.” She drains her glass as quickly as she can, then sets the empty receptacle on the bar.
Koltira smiles and taps the side of his glass so it inches toward her.
Anarchaia narrows her eyes at him, then takes up the glass and downs that as well, coughing when she swallows. “I hate whiskey,” she chokes.
“Bartender, two…” he sizes Anarchaia up, “gins?”
“I don’t like gin, either, but I’ll always be the last person to pass up free alcohol.” She chuckles, already feeling the previous drinks.
“Well, then, after the gin it’s lady’s choice, I suppose.”
Anarchaia laughs and leans over the bar. “I’m going to pick the sweetest, girliest cocktail I can think of. Fruit hanging off the glass, bright color…” She sips at the gin when it’s set before her and crinkles her nose. “Ech.”
“De trick with gin be de same as man’s seed…swallow before you taste anything,” a familiar troll says behind Anarchaia.
Koltira chokes on his drink and wipes his mouth. “Gods, Juliember…”
She grins. “I heard ya be needin me?” She leans on her staff and glances between the two.
Anarchaia blushes but laughs all the same. “Perhaps if you don’t like the taste.” She sips her gin. “We have a friend that needs pranking. Would you be interested?”
Juliember’s grin turns evil. “Buy me a drink and let’s be hearing this prank of yours.”
Koltira motions for the bartender.
“Gin, because I do like the taste.” She winks down at Anarchaia.
Anarchaia blushes and throws back the rest of the gin, doing her best not to let any hit her tongue. She scrunches her face when she fails. “We put a friend at the inn down the street. He’s passed out in a bed. We want you to crawl in with him.”
Juliember drops onto a stool and drinks the gin as she thinks. “Why?”
Koltira purses his lips. “He doesn’t like trolls. He’s…human.”
Her brow furrows and she nods. After a long moment she smiles again. “You be helping me strip him. What will I be getting in return? Besides the satisfaction of terrorizing a human.”
Anarchaia shrugs and hiccups into her palm. “Anything you want?”
Juliember strokes up the mage’s spine. “You be cute. Would seeing under that skirt of yours be on the table?”
Anarchaia stiffens at the touch and chuckles nervously up at the troll. Her smile falls, however, when no one else laughs with her. She clears her throat and gives a more uncomfortable titter, looking away at anything but either of them. “U-uh, I…I don’t…heh.”
Juliember laughs. “This one be adorable when flustered.”
“Isn’t she, though?” Koltira nods in agreement.
“I will accept about anything. Drinks, payment,” she leans in so her face is right next to Anarchaia’s, “favors.” She straightens and sips her gin. “The promise of more jobs works, too. But there have to be jobs. None of this ‘We’ll do some eventually,’ and the jobs never come.”
Koltira motions at the mage. “Well, it was your idea.”
Anarchaia pouts. “Humiliating me isn’t payment enough?” she whines before ordering another glass of sweet red wine. “I’ll give you payment by means of…payment, then.” She gives a chuckle. “Is there anything in the city you’d like? Armor? Weapons? Fancy food?”
Juliember shrugs. “Flirting is humiliating?” She finishes her gin. “You know why your robes be sexy? Because we don’t know what be underneath. The mystery is…titillating. If you change your mind… Right, where be this friend of yours?”
Anarchaia gives another uncomfortable chortle. “It’s nothing special, but I’ll keep that in mind,” she mutters, then throws a coin on the table and scoops up her cup, heading for the door. “This way!”
The group heads to the inn, Koltira grinning like an idiot and Juliember echoing the expression.