Grimory quickly throws Diori across the gap between them, directly into Alisbeth’s arms. “TAVETH!” he shouts as he dashes over, silently praying for a response.
Diori clings to the death knight, tugging on her arms. “Is he okay?!”
Alisbeth catches the girl and wraps her arms around her. She runs toward the wreckage, but doesn’t go too close, afraid of what might be found.
Grimory walks through the settling dust, finding the freshly destroyed rubble. “Taveth?!” he calls, digging through the pieces of building.
Taveth comes to and squints around, realizing quickly he’s buried when all he can see is darkness with small shafts of light. He coughs. “H-here,” he says through more coughing. He shifts and realizes he’s stuck beneath a beam. “I’m pinned.” He presses his glasses up his nose and feels some sort of warm liquid. “I think I’m bleeding.”
“Shit,” Grimory breathes and picks up a particularly large chunk of wall. He groans under the weight but manages to toss it aside. “Keep talking to me,” he growls, trying to pinpoint Taveth’s location.
Taveth coughs again. “Um, I, uh, any subject in particular?” He falls into a coughing fit, his lungs slightly compressed and his face surrounded by the dirt of the ages.
“Well?” Alisbeth calls, trying to hide the panic she feels.
“Doesn’t matter,” he hisses, then jerks his head back toward Alisbeth. “He’s alive!” he calls, not wanting to give too much detail. Eventually he creates an opening large enough for him to squeeze through but still cannot see Taveth through the darkness and dust. “For fuck’s sake.”
Alisbeth sighs and hugs Diori tighter. “Oh, thank goodness.”
Taveth groans. “So, I found a broken vase in the corner,” he coughs, “I was just thinking about collecting the pieces to put it back together.” He coughs and takes a few breaths. “It was beautiful before, I think.” He goes quiet. “I just wanted a souvenir.”
Diori fidgets, wanting to do something, but knowing she’s too frail.
Grimory catches a glimpse of Taveth’s glasses as they glint in a beam of noon light. He moves the rocks to make way to him and ducks beneath the rubble to pull the beam off him. “Looks like the only souvenir you’ll be taking is a broken leg.” He takes note of the liquid on Taveth’s nose. He wipes it away with a pinky and examines it in the light. “And a broken pen. Can you move?”
A look of horror crosses his face. “My pen is broken? Where is it?” He runs his hands frantically over the dirt. He boosts himself to sitting and twists this way and that.
Alisbeth catches the look in Diori’s eyes and smirks. “Itching to help? I was always the same way. I bet when he’s out of there, Taveth would love a big hug from his sister. That would help a lot.”
Diori nods but chews on the side of her thumb all the same. “I hope he’s okay.”
Grimory furrows his brow. “You’re less worried about your broken leg?” He bends over to inspect the damage of said leg. “Tell me if this hurts,” he says, reaching down to grab Taveth’s ankle and gently bend the appendage at the knee.
Taveth screams out and lurches to push Grimory away. “Don’t do that!”
Alisbeth runs forward with Diori. “What’s going on? What happened?”
Grimory recoils, releasing him. “All right! Very broken. Got it.” He turns to the narrow opening he’d made. “His leg’s broken!” he calls through the gap, then turns back to Taveth. “It’s going to hurt but I’m going to have to carry you out of he—” He pauses at the sound of crumbling rocks, eyes scanning the remaining floors above them.
Diori groans a cry at the word broken.
Alisbeth nods. “Don’t worry, Diori, I know how to make a splint.” She settles her on a hip so both can look at the pile of rubble; one hand strokes the girl’s arm in an attempt at comforting her.
Diori again nods, then turns to bury her face in Alisbeth’s chest plate.
Taveth huffs and finally looks down at his leg and the blood spreading across his pant leg. He gingerly raises his pant leg and groans at the splinter of bone poking out of his skin. “Yeah, very broken.” He ignores it and searches for his pen again. “I’ll be ready in a moment. I just need to find my pen. Ha!” He lifts the item to show the demon hunter.
Grimory winces at the sight, then jerks his head back as the pen is thrust toward him. “Congratulations.”
He turns to move more of the rubble to make a big enough opening for the two of them to fit through. As he does this, however, the floors above crumble. The Illidari perks his ears at the sound, eyes widening, and quickly spins around to throw himself over the wounded elf, wings spread to shield them from the falling debris. He flinches as multiple heavy stones crash against his spine and the back of his head. After a long moment of rumbling, he pauses to ensure that nothing else will fall. Opening his eyes, he stares down at Taveth, only inches from his face, and winces at the pain in his skull.
Alisbeth sets Diori down and runs for the collapse. “Grim! Taveth!”
Diori groans again, tears filling her eyes. She sits where she’s put and covers her face, peeking through her fingers.
“Is your quill okay?” he grumbles.
Taveth opens his eyes, which widen at the close proximity of the Illidari. A blush creeps hot up his neck into his cheeks, warming his ears. He clears his throat, hoping the blush doesn’t show, or at the very least he can pass it off as from being winded. “Y-yes…thank you, heh.” He clears his throat again. “M-maybe we should…” He inspects Grimory’s face, then looks away as though looking for an exit. “Heh. Yeah, we should go.”
Grimory narrows his eyes in annoyance, oblivious to the elf’s flustered tone. “That’s easier said than done. There’s a lot of stone on top of us right now.” He growls as he tries to push his wings back. With shaking muscles he’s able to relieve himself of most of the debris—enough to sit up. He looks about, finding themselves in near complete darkness. “We’re fine,” he calls, hearing Alisbeth on the other side. “Just some bruises.” He rubs at the back of his head, pretending not to notice the wetness in his hair.
Alisbeth grabs at a stone and pulls, but stops as the pile begins to shift. “I’m here. I’ll get you out. I just have to…not squish you.” She whines and claws at her scalp, trying to calm down and formulate a plan.
Taveth chuckles nervously, his eyes scanning the tattoos on the demon hunter’s muscular chest. “Heh. That’s fine, Ali. Take your time.” He swallows and jumps at the way it came out. “Uh, rather sit here a while than be flat, right? Heh.”
Alisbeth purses her lips. “Okay, first things first, Grim, do you know how to splint a leg?”
Grimory sneers at the question. “Of course I do. There’s not much for means of wood in here. Or cloth.” He glances around, eyes lighting in flames to brighten the area. “Never mind. Found some.” He grabs the broken wooden beam and breaks it in two over his thigh, then summons claws to shred it to a reasonable size. “You aren’t attached to these pants, are you?” He asks, grabbing Taveth’s tattered linen pant leg.
Taveth swallows, ignoring the huge claws long enough to have thoughts he decides he shouldn’t be having. “N-no. I suppose not.”
“Taveth, bite down on something. He has to shove your bone back in.” Alisbeth circles the pile, determining where they are by their voices and deciding to burrow sideways through the debris. She grabs a few reinforcement beams and stacks them to add support to the tunnel.
“No!” Taveth shouts at Alisbeth, his blush gone and replace by a ghostly white complexion. He turns back to Grimory and can only shake his head, silently pleading with him.
The demon hunter gives a helpless shrug as he tears off a sizable piece of cloth. “I’ve gotta, yeah? You want your leg to be fucked up for the rest of your life? Because that’s what’ll happen if I don’t reset it.” He rips the cloth into three pieces and hands one to Taveth. “Up to you, ultimately.”
Taveth takes the cloth and rolls it tight. “I suppose having a limp wouldn’t be very fun. Hard to do much when you have a cane…” He sticks the fabric between his teeth and whines, then nods rapidly to show he’s ready.
“On three, yeah? You may pass out. That’s okay.” He grabs Taveth’s thigh gingerly in one hand and places his palm over the exposed bone. “One…” Without another word, Grimory shoves the bone back into place, gritting his teeth behind his lips at the thought of how awful it must feel.
Taveth jerks upright as he screams, hitting his head on a piece of stone wall, but not caring as he grabs at Grimory’s hand. He grits his teeth tight as he hugs the demon hunter’s arm and presses his forehead against the muscle. After a few whimpers and some heavy panting, he lets the cloth drop from his mouth. He tries to say something, but instead purses his lips against the vomit threatening to spew forth.
Grimory pauses, letting Taveth take his time to recover. He pats the man on the back, offering up what little comforting he can. “Sorry.” He sets the two pieces of wood on either side of Taveth’s knee and ties them at the thigh and shin. “You gonna make it, bud?”
Taveth leans back, nodding as he presses his palm to where he’d hit his head. His hand comes away wet. He decides to say nothing about it until his leg is taken care of.
Alisbeth scoots forward a little bit at a time. “I’m almost there!” she shouts to the men. “Diori, sweetie, I need you to come and hand me a beam, please.”
Diori perks at her name and nods, quickly getting to her feet and bounding over. “Like this one?” she says, handing over a beam with a weight of as much as she can carry.
“All those little ones from the pile, yes. Just slide it right in.” She reaches her hand to the opening to wiggle her fingers, indicating where the beam should go.
Grimory inspects his work, then turns to the direction of the sound of rubble. “I…think it best we wait for Ali. I can’t see much even in this light and who knows how stable this is.” He glances over at the wounded man. “But if there’s any change in how you feel, you should say.”
Taveth nods. “Yeah, got it.” He closes his eyes.
Diori nods and hands over the pieces one at a time, face twisted in determination.
Alisbeth makes her way through the debris, slow and steady. She sees a familiar green glow and smiles as she moves a piece of wall aside. “Hey in here! Oh, it’s like a little fort! Are you sure you want out?”
Taveth tilts his head to look up at her. “Ali…” He reaches his hands over his head. “Just pull me out.”
“Right!” She grabs his hands and yanks.
“SLOWLY” He jerks as his leg his jostled.
“Don’t move!” Alisbeth hisses and waits as her tunnel shifts. Sand trickles into her hair. “We have to hurry.” She pulls him again and he hisses at the pain, but says nothing.
Grimory glances at the shifting debris as well. “Ali, I’m going to lift the rock above us. Pull him out as fast as you can, okay?” He gets to his feet, crouching and placing his claws on the ceiling. “And…go!” His muscles morph and mutate as he pushes upward with all his strength. The massive piece of stone above them lifts several feet off the ground, making their opening to the tunnel larger.
Taveth screams as Alisbeth pulls him with one hand and uses the other to gain momentum. Once out of the tunnel, she sits back on her rear and pulls him the rest of the way.
“Come on, Grim, hurry!” she shouts.
Grimory groans as the weight threatens to crush him. With his final ounce of strength, he leans back to let the rubble fall behind him, then takes the opportunity to crawl through the tunnel Alisbeth had made as quickly as he can. Once out, he skids on his knees as the path behind him collapses. He breathes heavily and laughs, wiping at his forehead with a palm. “Oh, gods. That was fun.”
Diori wraps her arms around Taveth’s neck, tears flowing freely down her cheeks. “Brother!”
Taveth laughs nervously as he eyes Grimory. “Yeah…fun…” He keeps his arms wrapped tight around Diori and strokes her hair. “I’m fine, Diori. Grim saved me.” He gives the other man a nervous half smile, then turns away as he feels his blush threatening to return.
Alisbeth leaps on Grimory. “You’re okay! You saved my cousin!” She turn her head to whisper in his ear. “I’ll thank you later.” Then she sets an excited kiss on his lips.
Acting on impulse, Grimory returns the kiss, still panting through his nose. He winces when he pulls away, rubbing at the back of his head. He brings his hand back around and frowns at the blood covering his fingers. “I guess I was hit harder than I thought.”
Diori smiles at the sight of her parents kissing, but quickly frowns when she sees the bloodied splint on Taveth’s leg. “Does it hurt?”
Alisbeth frowns, forcing him to turn his head so she can look at the back. “Lucky for you, we know a little healer-in-training. Though, if she turns you into a murloc, you’re on your own.”
Grimory shakes his head. “I don’t wanna burden her with that. Just let it heal. I’ll be all right.” He stands and stretches, grimacing at the pain in his bruised back.
Taveth’s injuries catch up with him. He winces at his leg and brings his hand up to the bleeding bump on his forehead. “Yes. I’m sure the longer I wait, the more it’ll hurt.” His hands shake as the realization hits him that he’d just nearly died. “I’m—I’m fine.” He removes his spectacles, finally noticing the crack in one lens, then places them in his bag. He takes the strap from his shoulder and scoots it away. A moment later he grabs Diori in a tight hug. “I’m so sorry. I should’ve been thinking!”
Diori sniffles, tears again threatening to spill forth. “It’s okay. I forgive you.” She reaches up to place a hand on the bump. She says a few words and white, sparkling light fills the space between them. The bleeding stops and the wound closes, but the lump remains. “Sorry. That’s the best I can do…”
Taveth smiles. “It’s more than enough.”
“Okay, Taveth, time to get you to a healer. We’ll have to take you back to Dalaran. Unfortunately, the blood elves can’t heal you.” Alisbeth wraps his satchel over her shoulder and boosts him to standing. “Something about the hatred of the factions blocking the effects of healing.” She grins at him.
Taveth hops on his good foot and winces as the other moves. “Yes, it’s part of the declarations.” He whimpers as he hops again. “No aiding the enemy. A sp-hell was cast a-ND—slow down!”
Grimory rolls his eyes and scoops Taveth up over his shoulder. “Yeah, yeah, we know.” He makes his way back toward the giant wooden door.
Diori follows quickly behind, doll in hand and pin in her hair. “Can we get cinnamon apples when we get back?” she grabs Alisbeth’s hand. “Maybe they’ll help brother to heal.”
Taveth turns a dark shade of red as his face floods with heat sooner than the blood would rush to his head. “I’m q-quite all right, Grim. No need for…” He blinks several times at the new view of Grimory, then closes his eyes and shakes his head. “This is highly embarrassing…”
“Oh!” Alisbeth smiles down at Diori. “I bet cinnamon apples will heal him right up! After we stop by the first aid shop, of course, ‘cause I don’t think apples do bones.”
Grimory stops to rap on the wooden door with his knuckles. “You should be more embarrassed about getting caved-in in a decrepit building.”
Diori thinks for a moment, then holds up a finger. “And a glass of milk!”
“Yes, well, only we know of that. Pretty soon all of Silvermoon will be staring at my posterior as you carry me like a grain sack.”
Alisbeth snorts at Taveth’s complaints. “He’s good at carrying grain sacks, I’m sure. Though, I’m not so bad myself.” She laughs and returns her attention to Diori as the door raises up. “Ooo, milk is a great choice.”
“Why am I not surprised?” the sleepy guard says in regards to their wounds as they step through the gate.
“We’re alive, aren’t we?” Grimory retorts, scoffing. “And I’m sure all of Silvermoon would be pleased to see your ass,” he jokes, laughing. “All its citizens look like women.”
Taveth growls at Grimory, but decides to say nothing. He puts his palm against the demon hunter’s back to prop himself up so he can look the guards in the eyes. He waves his hand insistently. “No, no. I didn’t do this intentionally! Believe me, I’m upset about it. I would never do anything to disrespect your beautiful cit-eee!” His hand slips on Grimory’s skin and slides straight to his buttocks. Taveth removes his hand as his embarrassment deepens. “I am so sorry.” He stumbles over more apologies, then shuts his mouth and folds his arms to pout.
Alisbeth grins at the guards. “Thank you so much! We had a nice history lesson in there. I’m so happy my family could finally see our home.” She beams down at Diori. “Tell the nice men thank you!”
Grimory straightens at the touch, then snerks a laugh. “If you’re gonna get handsy you should buy me dinner, first.” He nods his gratitude to the guards and heads off back down the neatly paved street.
Diori looks up into the second guard’s face behind his helm and smiles wide. “Thank you! And thank you!” she says, turning to the tired man who, for a brief moment, shows a glimmer of emotion in his dead eyes, and nods. The small girl bounds off after Grimory and pulls Alisbeth along with her.
Taveth clears his throat. “Noted… So that, uh, really works on you? I mean… Heh. I meant, just, in general… Other people…” He casually inspects his fingernails as though anyone can even see his face to catch his slip.
Grimory furrows his brow, ears pulling back. “Are you asking me on a date?”
His eyes widen. “N-no. I’m… I, uh… I don’t get out much and I-I…was asking advice. Heh.” He purses his lips and busies himself with retying his hair as best he can while dangling upside-down.
“I’m not the person to ask about that,” Grimory says with a chuckle. “I don’t really date. Ale and a night at an inn is my idea of a relationship. But if I were to give any advice, I’d just tell you to be yourself. Anyone who doesn’t like you that way isn’t worth your time, anyway.”
Taveth deflates slightly, letting his arms dangle over his head. “Oh. Well, that’s certainly…disappointing.”
Grimory lifts his eyebrows, ears pulling back again. He then grins and pats the back of one of Taveth’s legs. “You’ll find the right guy someday, Tav.”
Diori races forward to chase an enchanted broom down the road. “Look! It moves by itself! How can we do that? I’d never have to do chores again!”
Taveth’s face heats and his eyes bug. “I beg your pardon!” He struggles to push himself up enough to see Grimory’s face, but continues to lose his grip as he stumbles over his words. “I-I will not ha-ave assumptions made ab-about—” he gives up and returns to dangling, “my character. You… You don’t know anything about me and—”
Diori races forward to chase an enchanted broom down the road. “Look! It moves by itself! How can we do that? I’d never have to do chores again!”
“Hey, Taveth, ever research how brooms go on their own?” Alisbeth asks, tugging on his hand.
He sighs in relief. “I’ve actually never seen any until today. I’ll look into it though!” He turns to give Diori and upside-down smile.
Diori smiles back after a failed attempt to catch the object. “We have a good story to tell father after today.” She stops. “He’ll probably be mad about your leg, though.”
Grimory shrugs off the man’s flustered response and continues on, eyeing the men playing dice in the shade.
Taveth’s smile turns into a frown. “N-no! We can’t tell him about the cave-in!”
Alisbeth laughs at his panic. “Uncle Falren would kill you!” She bends down to grin maniacally at him. “Hey! You should tell him! Then I’ll turn you into a death knight and we’ll live forever together. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?”
He shies away from her excitement. “Not…really. No. I’d like to stay living.”
Alisbeth’s smile falls and is replaced by a glare. “You don’t love me anymore?”
“N-no! That’s not…! I-I just want to, you know…live? Oh, gods, don’t hit me again!”
Alisbeth punches him in the ribs and stalks to lead the group, her arms folded tight over her chest.
Grimory barks a laugh. “Come on, Ali, he’s already worse for wear.”
Diori bounds forward and pouts, punching Alisbeth weakly in the cuirass. “No more punching! It’s mean!”
The guards regard them once again as they approach the bridge leading to the palace. “I see you’re no good at staying out of trouble,” grumbles the one who had reservations of letting them pass earlier.
Taveth frowns. “I-I didn’t… It wasn’t… There was a vase! Okay? I wanted to fix it! I didn’t know the building was unstable! I would never ruin ruins. They are precious and should be preserved for—”
“Don’t make me hit you again,” Alisbeth warns. She smiles innocently down at Diori, then whispers do her, “I’m not really going to, okay? Just for you.”
“Whatever,” the guard says, sneering. “Just get out of here.”
Diori grins and grabs Alisbeth’s hand again. “Thank you!” she sings to the guards and jumps through the portal.