Book 3 – Chapter Twenty

Alisbeth grins and takes the bottle from Grimory. She takes a swig, then stops and shoves it back at him. She stands on the couch to wave her arms over her head. “Kolty! Come have a drink with us!”

Koltira stops and directs a pained expression to Anarchaia.

Grimory tsks in annoyance and takes another particularly large drink.

Anarchaia gives him an unimpressed glance, glad he can’t see her face. “May as well,” she says, her voice brighter than her demeanor. “You did say you wanted a drink.”

“Oh, look! He has Arnie! HI!” She waves at the mage, then drops onto the couch beside the demon hunter. “It’s like a party again!”

Koltira sighs. “This is true. And they do seem to have wrangled the couch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that thing free.”

Anarchaia scowls, again glad she can’t be seen. She follows him over despite herself. “Hey,” she says casually, taking up a seat on the adjacent couch.

Grimory gives her a nod, bottle still to his lips. He swallows. “Enjoy your field trip?”

“I suppose,” she responds as she sits, folding her arms and crossing a leg over the other.

Alisbeth leans over and grabs Anarchaia in a hug. “I’m so glad you’re my friend. I really like you.”

Koltira cocks an eyebrow as he sits on the other side of Anarchaia.

Guilt rings through her chest and the mage grimaces. She returns the embrace. “I appreciate you, as well, Ali.”

Grimory regards Koltira with a nod. “Buy you a drink?”

“I don’t care who pays, as long as it’s stiff an there’s a lot of it,” he replies.

Grimory stands and retrieves the other man a glass half full of deep amber liquid. “Apple juice, right?” he says with a grin, offering the cup.

Koltira chuckles. “Next, I want to play with my letter blocks.” He takes a hefty swig.

“Oh! There you are.” Taveth strides over to them, a shy smile aimed at the mage, who had yet to introduce herself. “I asked Diori’s tutor to watch her for a bit. I just…wanted some of my own time with you.” He smiles at Alisbeth.

Grimory sets himself on the couch again and raises the bottle in his hand. “Taveth! Drink!”

Anarchaia grins and gives a short wave. “‘Allo again.”

The tips of Taveth’s ears turn red. “I-I’m not really a…drinker.”

Alisbeth stands and shoves her cousin onto the couch beside Grimory. “Too bad. Invitation is binding.”

“I didn’t accep—”

She shoves the bottle at him to force him to take a drink. “Shut up and drink.”

He stares at the bottle. “What is this?”

“Whiskey with cinnamon.” Grimory watches him intently, convinced he won’t partake beyond being forced.

Anarchaia gives in and retrieves a glass of wine, then sets herself back in her seat. “Don’t let them peer pressure you,” she says with a chuckle.

Taveth coughs as the whiskey burns his throat. “It’s good, but…not my kind of drink.”

“What’s your kind of drink?” Alisbeth asks. “Come on, it’s on me!”

“Uh, I actually like Kungaloosh.” He fidgets.

“One Kungaloosh coming up!” She runs to the bar, then returns with a tall glass of a creamy green liquid.

“Fruity,” Grimory muses.

Taveth narrows his eyes as the tips of his ears turn red.

“Did you guys find anything interesting in the ruins?” Anarchaia says with genuine interest, pushing her mask up to drink.

Alisbeth drops down. “I hear Nessingwary loves that stuff.” She takes a swig of the whiskey, then turns to Anarchaia. “We found a near death experience! Well, those two did. And a hair pin.”

Emboldened by his cousin’s off-handed defense of his drink, he smirks. “Well, if he likes it, it can’t be all bad.” He turns away from the others and sets his drink on an end table to be forgotten, anyway.

Anarchaia shakes her head. “What happened? Were you attacked?”

Grimory gestures to the man beside him with a thumb. “Saw something he liked in a building. It collapsed.”

Anarchaia gives Taveth a concerned glance. “My gods, were you okay? More importantly, did you get what you went in there for?”

Grimory laughs. “Nope. Broke his leg. I went in to grab him but the second story fell in shortly after.” He pulls his ears back when her face jerks toward him. “I’m fine. Ali dug us out.”

“I’m fine,” Taveth says.

Alisbeth reaches around Grimory to poke him. “Yep! Still here!”

Grimory takes the opportunity to grab the bottle from Alisbeth and takes a drink. “A game,” he demands, holding up the whiskey.

“Cards?” Anarchaia suggests, sipping her wine and glancing at the ever-silent death knight beside her.

Taveth squirms beside the demon hunter, a pained expression crossing his face.

Alisbeth smiles. “Oh! I like cards!”

“Last time we played cards, there was more gossip than actual playing,” Koltira grumbles.

The Illidari laughs. “Thassarian isn’t here. Is there more about you you’re scared we’ll find out?” He snerks. “I suggest Truth or Dare, then.”

Anarchaia smirks at Koltira, memories flooding her. “I like that idea.”

Koltira shrugs. “I’m not afraid of my past or anyone knowing it, Grim. I’ll play.”

Alisbeth squeals and claps her hands, then snatches the whiskey from Grimory. “This sounds exciting! How do you play?”

“You’re asked to choose between truth or dare. If you pick dare, you have to do the dare or you lose and forever dishonor your entire family and self,” Grimory explains.

“Same for truth. Gotta be honest,” Anarchaia finishes. “Or live in shame.”

“Okay! Who first?” Alisbeth asks.

“How about the new addition to our party?” Grimory says with a grin, gaze on Taveth. “Truth or dare, Tav?”

“Why do I have to go first?”

Alisbeth reaches around to poke him again. “Cause you’re new to our circle! And it’s easier! We can just go down the couch. You, Grim, me!, Atmos, Kolty. Now choose before I hit you again.”

He groans. After a long moment of thought he sighs. “Dare.”

“I dare you to take that guy’s drink,” Grimory says, pointing to a burly human’s glass of ale. “And drink it in front of him.”

Taveth’s eyes go wide. “I’m not doing that. No.”

Alisbeth frowns. “But you have to. That’s the game!”

He shakes his head. “No.”

Koltira eyes him from the other end of the couch. “If he hits you, we’ve got your back.”

“It’s not a matter of if, and I’d rather not need to visit the healer again. I’m not doing it.” Taveth tightens his crossed arms.

“I’ll step in before he hits you,” Grimory says, pulling the bottle from Alisbeth again and drinking. “Ana’s also pretty quick on her feet.”

Anarchaia gives a wave of her hand. “I mean I can try.”

Taveth scowls. “Comforting. I’m not doing it.”

Grimory throws up his hands and gives a noise of disappointment. “Fine. Be that way. He’s out. Can’t handle a challenge. Ali, truth or dare?”

Alisbeth slaps Grimory on the chest. “That’s not how it works! You’re next!”

Taveth stands and turns to Anarchaia. “It was nice meeting you.” He turns, shoving his hands into his pockets as he heads for the door, politely moving aside for others.

“Then I’ll take the dare,” Grimory grunts, then glances up at Taveth as he retreats. “Must not be his game.”

Anarchaia shoots Grimory an irritated glance and stands. “Or perhaps you’re abrasive and pushy” She follows Taveth out the door. “Hold on!”

Alisbeth slaps Grimory again. “She’s right, you know. That was mean.” She also runs after her cousin.

Koltira cocks an eyebrow at the drama, then takes a drink and goes back to minding his own business.

Taveth stops and turns to eye the women. “Sorry. I just…I’m not comfortable with that sort of dare. And…I don’t think Grim likes me.”

“He’s just an asshole,” Anarchaia explains, grinning awkwardly and not questioning his concern over Grimory’s approval. “Especially when he’s in the twilight stages of being drunk. I apologize on his behalf.”

Alisbeth smiles. “It’s true. I didn’t like him sometimes when we first met. This time, I mean. He was a lot nicer when he was…not a demon hunter.” She jumps in sudden excitement, her eyes wide. “Oh! Oh! Ashbringer! Can we add a thing to the game? A penalty shot!” She jumps up and down, holding the mage’s arm. “Refusing to do your dare or truth, shot of whiskey!”

Taveth purses his lips. “I’d…do that, I think.”

Anarchaia struggles to hold her footing as she’s jostled. “I don’t see why not.” She grins. “Seems too light a punishment to me, but for Taveth’s sake…”

Alisbeth grins and grabs Taveth in a hug. “Please come back! I want to spend time with you!”

He laughs and hugs her back. “Okay. Fine. I’ll come back.”

Anarchaia claps her hands once. “Settled, then!”

Grimory shrugs and drinks. “Everyone’s so sensitive.”

Koltira glances at the demon hunter. “If ‘everyone else’ seems to have a problem, the problem isn’t them.”

Grimory lifts his eyebrows at the man across the couch from him. “And here I bought you a drink.”

Koltira chuckles. “Yes, well, I also think people are over-sensitive.” He smiles as Anarchaia sits back beside him.

Alisbeth wraps an arm around Taveth and walks him back into the tavern. “Move over.” She taps Grimory’s knee to make him go to the end of the couch.

The mage returns the grin, crossing a leg over the other again and ever so slightly resting the toe of her boot against Koltira’s thigh.

Grimory narrows his eyes up at her but does as he’s told. He jabs Alisbeth when she sits. “You said it was my turn. I choose dare.”

Alisbeth sits beside Grimory and drags Taveth down between herself and Anarchaia.

He smiles shyly at the mage. “Hi. Heh.”

Alisbeth holds up her hand. “First, Taveth has to take a shot for refusing his dare. It’s a new rule. I made it up.” She grins. “We need a shot glass!”

Anarchaia turns to Taveth at her opposite side and gives a welcoming smile. “Bal’a dash.

Grimory nods, the tips of his nose and ears gaining color. “I like this rule. Ana! A shot glass!”

The mage jumps at the sudden barking of her name, then conjures a small receptacle made of young bamboo in her free hand. She hands it to Taveth. “I got this in Pandaria. Do your best not to scratch it?”

Taveth smiles kindly. “Of course.” He takes the bamboo cup and holds it out. “Okay, Ali, liquor me.”

Alisbeth pours whiskey into the cup to the rim. “Drink up!”

He swallows the shot and grits his teeth, then smirks. “I dare Grim to go take that man’s drink…and drink it in front of him.” He gives a mischievous smile, but avoids looking at him.

Grimory snerks and stands. “Yeah, sure.” He makes his way over to the man sitting alone at his table, takes his mug, and downs the contents. The human cocks an eyebrow at him and sneers.

“The fuck you think you’re doing?” he growls.

“Winning.” The demon hunter swallows and sets down a few coins before the man, wiping his mouth with the back of a hand as he returns to his seat.

The human makes a rude gesture in his wake, despite having his stolen drink paid for.

“Aww,” Alisbeth groans. “I was hoping he’d hit you!”

Taveth fidgets with the cup in his hands. “So was I,” he says, barely audible.

“You wanted me to get hurt?” Grimory responds to Alisbeth, acting offended. “I think I’ve been hurt enough today.” He takes the bottle again and drinks.

“Oh! It’s my turn! I choose tr- no d- no truth! No, wait, dare. Wait, wait, I choose truth. Wait—”

“There’s plenty of time for you to do them all,” Koltira says.

She smiles as though it hadn’t occurred to her. “Truth! I choose truth.”

Anarchaia taps her chin. “If you had the ability, and knowing what you now know, would you have more children?”

Alisbeth blinks in rapid succession. “Drink. I choose drink.” She grabs at the little cup in Taveth’s hand.

He holds it away from her, practically laying across Anarchaia’s lap. “No, no. I want to hear this one, too!”

I said I choose drink!

Koltira grabs the cup out of Taveth’s hand and holds it even farther away. “I want to hear this, too. Come on, Ali, would you have more kids?”

“I would have more drinks!” She launches across them to get at the cup.

Anarchaia leans back to give the man more space, a blush crawling up her cheeks. Eventually she’s forced to duck out of Alisbeth’s way as the woman leaps over, but ends up wedged between her and the sofa. “Just give her the drink,” she croaks, lungs crushed.

Grimory merely laughs at the sight, acting as though he doesn’t care about the answer.

Taveth reaches around the death knight and pinches just so at her hip.

She squeaks and rolls off the three. “Not fair!”

He laughs. “Good to see that hasn’t changed. Now, come on, it’s a one-word answer.”

Alisbeth climbs back into her spot and pouts as she grabs the bottle from Grimory and takes a drink. “Yes,” she hisses, barely above a whisper.

Grimory lifts his brows but says nothing, bringing an arm up to rest on the back of the couch.

Anarchaia straightens and readjusts her robes, clearing her throat. “That wasn’t so hard,” she says with a hint of sarcasm. “I suppose it’s my turn?” She pushes back her hood. “Truth.”

Alisbeth wraps an arm behind Taveth. “Hey, where’s your drink?”

“I changed my mind.” He looks at Anarchaia. “I have a qu—”

Alisbeth grabs his cheeks to turn him back to her. “You look like you need a drink. Tell me what you want.”

He narrows his eyes at her, ignoring the demon hunter he can see at the corner of the couch. “Vodka tonic. With lime.”

She makes a face. “Gross. I’ll go get your nasty drink.”

Taveth turns back to the mage as Alisbeth leaves. “Hoping I’m not…out of place, but… Did you intentionally get involved with my cousin’s husband, or did it just…happen?”

Anarchaia’s shoulders raise slightly at the question and she gives a nervous titter. “I-I just…It wasn’t planned. We just…have so much in common, I…” She glances at Koltira as if for some sort of confirmation, then back to Taveth. “Unintentional. Heh.”

Grimory scoffs and rolls his eyes, fingers drumming against the fabric beneath them.

Koltira pats the mage’s hand. “It was completely unintentional, Taveth. Trust me.”

Alisbeth trots back and hands over a glass to Taveth. “Okay, question for Ajax—”

“I already asked it,” Taveth says quickly. “I asked if she has lived in Dalaran her whole life.”

The death knight makes a face. “Eew. Waste of a question. You have to take a drink as penalty.”

He shrugs and drinks, gritting his teeth against a cough.

Koltira blinks at his willingness to lie. “I suppose that means it’s my turn. Dare.”

Anarchaia thinks for a moment, then gasps and disappears in a flash of light. When she reappears, she holds in her hand a bar of floral soap. She leans in close to Koltira, bringing the bar to his face. “Lick it.”

Grimory snorts a laugh. “No fair. He probably can’t even taste it.”

Koltira blinks at her, then sticks out his tongue to lick the soap. “Mmm, yeah. Don’t taste a thing. Maybe put it in hot sauce next time.” He winks at her. “What was that stuff you made me drink last time?”

Anarchaia blinks and curses. “You’re right, I should have. Damn.” She sends the soap away. “And if I tell you, you’ll find a way to neutralize it, so no.” She sits, folding her arms.

“Better luck next time, Ana.” Grimory takes the bottle back from Alisbeth and inspects the contents, frowning.

“Your turn!” Alisbeth shouts, throwing an arm over her cousin’s shoulders.

He frowns. “I thought we were going down the couch?”

She laughs and pats his back. “Just because you moved, doesn’t mean we’re changing the order.”

He purses his lips. “Okay. I…I’ll just go with truth. Heh.”

“You ever kissed a girl?” Grimory says abruptly and half-jokingly.

Alisbeth snorts and elbows Grimory. “He’s older than me. Of course he’s kissed a—”

“No,” Taveth interrupts, staring at his glass.

Alisbeth leans away from him, her eyes wide. “What, really?” She gasps and bounces in her seat. “Oh my gods! I dare you to—”

“That’s not how the game works,” he says, clapping a hand over her mouth. “And don’t shout in my ear, please.”

She giggles. “Sorry.”

Grimory’s grin widens at the answer as though he’s unsurprised. “My turn then? I’ll go with truth as well.” He downs the rest of the bottle. “Since you were all intent on seeing me bleed last time.”

Alisbeth taps her chin, then takes a breath to ask something, but is cut off.

“Are you enjoying being a father?” Koltira asks quietly from the other end of the couch, his eyes trained on the empty glass in his hand.

Grimory’s smile wanes. Suspicions of why he’s asking race through his head. “Immensely,” he responds, stern eyes on Koltira.

Anarchaia fidgets and chuckles at the tension, but at the same time feels the familiar jealousy she gets at the mention of Diori. “Ali?”

She squints her face. “Um, I choose—”

Koltira stands abruptly and goes to the bar.

She cocks an eyebrow at him, then shrugs. “I wanna do a dare!

Anarchaia gives her companion a longing look as he leaves. She conjures a small vial of red oil and hands it over to Alisbeth. “Drink this,” she says before standing and following Koltira to the bar. “Are you all right?”

“Just…getting a refill,” Koltira says. He sighs and closes his eyes. “I wanted her to be mine. I know you’ll hate me for saying that, but…” He scowls at the still empty glass.

Grimory knits his brow at the vial. “What is it?”

Alisbeth squints at it. “Red…stuff.” She opens the vial and sniffs. “Smells kinda like dalapeños!” In her eagerness she upends the whole vial into her mouth. She gulps part of it down, then stops. Her face turns a strange purple shade and her eyes stare desperately ahead. She spits the remaining contents out over the coffee table in front of the couch. She gives a soft cry, then tears out of the tavern, shoving people out of her way.

Taveth blinks after her and picks up the vial. He sniffs it. “Oh. That’s just rude.

Anarchaia shakes her head and rests a hand on his arm. “I’d have wanted the same—” She turns as Alisbeth rushes from the tavern, then again to the two on the couch. She rushes over and gasps at the empty vial. “She drank all of it?!

Grimory holds back a laugh. “You kind of told her to. What is that shit? Is she gonna be okay?”

“She’ll be fine,” Anarchaia sighs. “It was capsaicin. The chemical that makes things spicy. I didn’t mean for her to drink it all.” She contemplates following her but knows she has no idea where she’d gone.

Taveth holds the vial out to the mage. “Let’s hope her mouth doesn’t blister. I mean it’s rare, but…I tricked a friend… His mouth was covered in blisters for days because he refused to see a healer.” He smiles at her. “I believe it’s your turn, now.”

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