Book 3 – Chapter Twenty-One

Anarchaia straightens and glances quickly behind her at Koltira, then back. “T-Truth.”

“You ever gonna tell Koltira about you and the old man?” Grimory says without skipping a beat.

Anarchaia stiffens and purses her lips, fists balling at her sides. <<No,>> she says in Draenei.

Grimory lifts his eyebrows and shrugs. “Your choice.”

Taveth cocks an eyebrow at her. “Why aren’t you telling him about what old man?” He widens his eyes at his own boldness. “S-sorry. Heh.” He takes a gulp of his drink.

Koltira returns, a fresh drink in one hand, and the rest of the bottle in the other. He stops and eyes the mess on the table. “What happened here?”

Anarchaia opens her mouth to respond to Taveth, then flinches at the sound of Koltira’s voice. “I-I gave Ali a vial of oil. She drank it all. Heh.”

Taveth shakes his head as Koltira sits down. “She drank half. That’s the other half. Oh, and it’s your turn.” He clears his throat.

“Oh. Already? Huh. Whatever. Dare. Bring on more soap or whatever.”

Anarchaia quickly glances between Grimory and his sly smirk and Koltira and his overconfidence. She reaches down, grabbing the hem of her robes. When she pulls them up over herself, a perfect visage of Grimory stands in her place. She tosses the robes onto the couch and leans down to Koltira, hands on her hips. “Kiss me,” she says in the demon hunter’s low growl.

Grimory’s face turns a shade of pink but he covers his mouth to contain his laughter. “Oh, gods.”

Taveth chuckles quietly and takes a drink, averting his gaze from the replica of the demon hunter.

The death knight scowls. “Pass.”

Grimory can no longer contain himself and he laughs. “Aw, c’mon. That kinda hurts.”

Anarchaia purses her lips and pulls her ears back. “Didn’t take you for a passer.” She shrugs and turns to Taveth, a joking, fang-filled grin on her face. “How about you?”

Taveth returns his attention to his quickly emptying glass as his face turns a shade of scarlet. He clears his throat and tries to remain composed. “It’s not my turn.”

Koltira chuckles. “He’s right, Ana. You’re breaking the rules.”

Alisbeth comes running back into the tavern and sees the Grimory illusion standing in front of the others, but doesn’t look at the occupants of the couch. She leaps onto ‘him’ and plants a somewhat wet kiss on ‘his’ lips as her soaked hair drips down her face. “My mouth hurts!” she announces to ‘him’ with a smile.

Anarchaia leans back some in surprise, eyes wide. She blushes and places a hand over her mouth. “Ali, I’m not Grim,” she says through lips tingling with capsaicin.

Grimory barks another laugh, a tear welling in the corner of his eye. “Oh gods! No more, Ana! You’d better hurry before someone takes you to their room.”

Anarchaia scowls at him and, in a whirl of sparkles, turns back to her original form. She turns and points at Koltira. “Drink.” The couch puffs a sigh as she sits atop her robes and folds her arms.

Alisbeth remains standing as she looks between Grimory and Anarchaia. “Wait…I just kissed mage-face?”

“Yes, you did,” Koltira says, laughing. He swallows a full two fingers of whiskey, then smiles at Anarchaia. “That was worth passing. It really was.”

Alisbeth furrows her brow. “Wait…” Her eyes narrow further as though it’s not reaching her yet. Suddenly she jumps, spreading her legs in an excited half-crouch as she balls her fists and brings them to her sides. “I kissed a girl!” She jumps up in excitement, then lands in the previous position. “And I liked it! Bucket list item, checked!”

<<I would have made it worth your effort,>> the forsaken hisses in Gutterspeak, oblivious to Alisbeth’s rantings.

She runs over to the mage, sets her hands on her thighs and leans in close to the masked face. “Wanna do it again while you’re not in dude-form?” She waggles her eyebrows at her.

She jumps as the woman leans in close, cheeks turning magenta again. “I-It’s not my turn,” she says with a sheepish grin.

Alisbeth scrunches her face in a grin. “It wasn’t a dare.”

Taveth pretends to not understand the mage and takes a sip of his drink, his blush subsiding to only darken the tips of his ears from his growing intoxication.

Koltira taps Alisbeth’s shoulder. “It’s Taveth’s turn.”

“But—”

“Just sit down. Maybe someone will dare you to kiss her.”

Alisbeth’s eyes light up. “I’m only choosing dare until one of you does it!” She hops into her seat and grabs Grimory by the horns. “You’re the real Grim, right?” She plants a kiss on his lips. “My mouth hurts.”

Taveth wipes away the water dripping down from her hair onto his arm. “I choose d- t-truth. Yes, truth.”

Grimory hisses as his lips burn. “Ali, you can’t just kiss people after drinking pepper juice. Also, we need another bottle.” He smiles and kisses her again despite his words.

Anarchaia folds her robes up and places them in her lap. “What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?”

Taveth’s face turns red again. “I-I don’t really get out m-much…” He finishes his drink.

Alisbeth grabs his glass and the empty bottle, then stares at Taveth. “Yeah, you were always kind of boring. Running away for a day was the most exciting thing you ever did. And it was my idea. Although there was that whole building incident in Silvermoon.” She grins and trots to the bar for refills.

Taveth’s neck crawls with heat as his eyes flick toward the demon hunter. “I suppose ruining ruins by being lost in my own world is highly embarrassing. I’ve never done that before and I’m very ashamed.”

Grimory chuckles. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. I’m sure the lot of us have done much more embarrassing things than that.”

Anarchaia can’t help but nod and shrug. “He’s right. Who’s turn? Grim?”

Grimory nods. “Dare. Don’t get me killed.”

Koltira smirks, an idea coming to mind as his gaze spots Alisbeth waiting at the bar. “I dare you to bite down on a dalapeño and hold it in your mouth for five minutes.”

Grimory scoffs and stands, making his way to the bar to stand beside Alisbeth. He gets the tender to give him a pepper, grins at Alisbeth, and sticks it in his mouth so it pokes between his lips.

Alisbeth smiles at the barkeep, then cocks an eyebrow at Grimory. “Either you’re trying to flirt with me, or you picked dare.” She winks and leads him back to the others.

Taveth accepts his refreshed drink and smiles coolly at the mage, the alcohol catching up to him and staining his cheeks a hot pink. “So, I hear you’re quite the scholar. Do you have a main focus for your research?”

Koltira eyes the high elf, deciding to keep a close eye on him.

Alisbeth leans around Taveth. “I choose dare again!”

“I was talking to this lady,” Taveth scoffs.

“We’re playing a game,” she scoffs back in the same condescending tone. She sticks out her tongue at him and he mimics the action.

Anarchaia blinks at Taveth’s sudden interest in her, then blushes and smiles. “Oh, no. It’s mostly anything and everything. I’m studying to be an Archmage so nothing is off the table.” Her smile softens. “Though it’s been so long I worry I’ll never be promoted.”

Grimory glances at Koltira and gestures to Alisbeth then the pepper in his mouth. Sweat beads at his temples and he wipes it away.

Koltira thinks as his gaze sweeps across the room. He spots a vaguely familiar face and smirks. “See that priest over there?”

Alisbeth follows his gaze. “The…sad one with the bangs and the black hair?”

“That very one. Go have her use her most powerful heal on you.”

Alisbeth’s mouth drops open. “You hate me. You both just…hate me.” She points at Anarchaia and Koltira. She chugs a few gulps of whiskey and stands, shaking out her hands in preparation. She stomps up to the blood elf priest and smiles cheerfully. “Hi! I need you to use your biggest heal on me.”

The priest takes her time to look up from her book and at Alisbeth. “Why do you need that?” she asks, her voice monotone.

Alisbeth gives a nervous laugh. “We’re playing truth or dare. It’s a dare.”

“Oh.” She stands and marks her place in her book, then closes it. The cover is black with a red rose. “Stay here.” She sweeps from the room as though her feet don’t touch the ground.

Alisbeth turns back to the others and contorts her face in confusion, pointing after the priest. She grabs the book and goes to Koltira. “This chick is off her fucking rocker. She’s reading—what is this?—Undeath and You: How to Cope as a Corpse. What the shit is this?

Koltira laughs. “Oh, man, it is her! She wanted to come to that thing we needed a healer for.”

Alisbeth shrieks and drops the book as a bright light surrounds her body. She falls to the floor and writhes, spittle forming at the corner of her mouth. The priest steps over her to pick up her book, a staff in one hand, her face as emotionless as ever.

“It has an overtime effect. It’ll go away in a few seconds.” She turns and floats away from them, back to her seat.

Grimory jerks forward in his seat, reaching for Alisbeth’s hand and calling her name through the pepper wedged in his teeth.

Anarchaia winces and brings her knees up to her chest to avoid the flailing. “And I thought the capsaicin was mean. It’s not Ali’s night.”

Taveth takes a handkerchief from his pocket and wipes away the spittle around the death knight’s mouth once she stops moving. “You okay, Ali?”

She frowns and rubs at her nose. She doesn’t answer, but climbs onto the couch and curls into a tight ball against Grimory’s side.

“Ali, I’m sorry. She said she hated healing. I didn’t think she had that kind of power if she hated it,” Koltira says.

She doesn’t respond.

Taveth purses his lips at her. “Maybe you should stick to truth for a while.” He shoots Koltira a dirty glare.

Grimory spits out the pepper after he’s deemed it five minutes via the clock near the door, and wraps an arm about Alisbeth’s shoulders. “You gonna be okay? At least she didn’t leave any damage, yeah?” He nudges the bottle of whiskey into her hand.

Anarchaia clears her throat and chuckles quietly. “I-I suppose it’s my turn? I’ll take a dare. Heh.”

Taveth smiles and leans close to Anarchaia, wrapping an arm around to rest at her waist. He whispers against her mask, “I dare you to kiss Ali. Cheer her right up. A good one, too.”

Koltira narrows his eyes at the arm around Anarchaia, resisting slapping Taveth away as he leans in to whisper in her ear.

Anarchaia swallows, face growing hot at both the elf’s proximity and words. Her eyes quickly flick from Koltira to Alisbeth and she hesitates. “I-I…don’t…” She remembers Koltira’s refusal and his failure fills her with a determination. She stands and steps over, grabbing Alisbeth by the cheeks and pulling her lips to her own as Grimory watches with intense interest.

Alisbeth makes a noise of surprise through her nose, her eyes wide. When she realizes what’s happening, she smiles and wraps her arms behind Anarchaia’s head to pull the mage into a much deeper kiss.

Koltira stops, his glass halfway to his mouth, his eyes wide on the two and a swirl of confusion racing through him.

Taveth chuckles at what he’s done, glancing around at everyone and their stunned silence.

Anarchaia gives an equally high-pitched noise of surprise as she’s pulled in, then pushes away. “I-I didn’t agree to that!” she says, flustered with a hand over her mouth.

Grimory gives an incredulous laugh, glancing over the two at Koltira. “You should thank Tav for that one.”

Alisbeth giggles as she releases the mage. “Hey, hey, I got another bucket list item you could help me with.” She winks and bites her bottom lip.

Taveth laughs outright and drapes an arm over Alisbeth’s shoulders. “Oh, gods, I love you.”

Koltira finally blinks and grabs the bottle of whiskey to put more into his glass. He stops just before pouring and puts the bottle to his lips to swallows several gulps.

Anarchaia wraps her arms about herself and takes up her seat again, knees up. “Why does everyone want to fuck me?” she whispers.

Grimory, mouth still burning and lips curled in an uncontrollable grin, points to Koltira while the death knight downs his alcohol. “You.”

Koltira doesn’t notice Grimory’s attention, nor does he notice Taveth leaning in, an arm around the mage again.

“Don’t worry,” Taveth whispers, “I don’t want to fuck you.” He pats the side of her head.

Anarchaia gives a sheepish smile. “I don’t know if that’s comforting or offensive. Heh.”

Alisbeth giggles. “It’s only because I know you, you’re a woman, and you’re a great kisser. And you smell good! Go you!” She takes a drink of the whiskey she and Grimory are sharing, then points at Koltira. “Your turn, Kolty!”

At the sound of his name, Koltira jumps, spilling whiskey from his lips. He wipes his mouth. “Truth, so I’m not this guy’s next victim.” He jerks a thumb at Taveth, then grabs his hand and flings the high elf’s arm from around Anarchaia, replacing it with his own.

The mage notes the exchanging of arms behind her and leans into Koltira’s, giving him a smile.

“You ever have a dirty dream about a guy?” Grimory laughs above the murmur of the crowd.

“Does that include fucking him up with my fists?”

“No. But I assume you mean me.” Grimory flashes his fangs in a smile.

“Sharp as a tack, that one,” Koltira murmurs sarcastically to Anarchaia. He lifts his face from her ear and smiles. “Then, no. I haven’t. You,” he reaches over to poke Taveth, “next victim.”

Taveth smiles and leans back, abandoning the arm that had been around Anarchaia. “The dares get pretty dangerous with you guys. I’ll stick with truth… For now.” He puts his arm around Alisbeth and she giggles, then leans into him.

The mage titters into her fingertips, the alcohol so strong in Koltira’s breath that she can smell it while he’s close. “Have you ever had a dirty dream about someone of the same sex?”

Grimory’s ears perk at the question and he leans over to witness Taveth’s reaction.

Taveth’s entire face, from the tips of his ears to the base of his neck at his shirt collar flushes bright red as his eyes go wide. “I-I…n-noooo. Heh. No, I—”

Alisbeth narrows her eyes. “Are you lying?”

“N-no, I—”

“Liar, liar. Pants on fire.”

Anarchaia gasps beneath Grimory’s laughter, a hand over her mouth. “There’s no shame in it. I’m willing to bet everyone has.”

Taveth purses his lips. “Fine.”

“Shot for lying!”

“But I answered it!”

Alisbeth sticks her tongue out at him. “Shot for lying.”

Anarchaia leans over and grins. “Three shots for lying, methinks.”

Grimory hums in thought, knowing his turn is next. The alcohol swims through his head, making it heavy. “Dare,” he says loudly.

Taveth frowns. “You’re trying to kill me.”

Koltira hands him three shots-worth of whiskey in his glass. “With us, there is no trying, we just do it.”

“Comforting.” He swallows down the whiskey and blurts. “Go kiss that tauren.” He points out a hairy male tauren across the tavern.

Alisbeth’s eyes sparkle with excitement. “When did you get so diabolical?”

He grins at her.

The demon hunter sucks at his teeth, narrowing his eyes at Taveth. “You know I firmly believe in revenge, yeah?” He stands and points at him. “You’ll get yours.” He saunters to the tauren’s side and clears his throat.

The man looks tiredly up at him with hazel eyes. “What do you wan—”

Grimory grabs him by his braided beard and pulls him forward to plant a kiss on his lips. The tauren pulls away and glares in disgust, nearly falling out of his seat.

“What in gods’ names?!”

The demon hunter turns and walks back to his seat, thumbs in his belt and an unpleasant look on his face.

Anarchaia laughs behind her hand. “Oh my gods.”

Alisbeth slides to the edge of the couch before Grimory can sit, and starts drinking the abandoned Kungaloosh. She grins at Grimory. “Was it hairy?”

Taveth finishes his drink and jumps up, nearly falling on Anarchaia—who, despite her frailty, holds up a hand to catch him should he fall—as he finds his footing.

He grins at Grimory. “I really didn’t think you’d do it.” He makes his way to the bar for a refill.

Koltira smirks at Alisbeth. “I like your cousin.”

Grimory cocks an eyebrow at Taveth and sits on top of Alisbeth when she doesn’t move. “It was. And I’m never doing it again.” He sticks his tongue out in Taveth’s wake. “Your turn, Ali.”

Alisbeth shoves at the demon hunter. “I’m going to go with Taveth’s advice and choose truth.” She shoves at him again. “I’m not moving! You move!”

Grimory folds his arms and doesn’t budge. “No one takes my seat,” he says drunkenly.

Anarchaia taps her chin. “If you could go back and stop yourself from having that night with Grim, would you do it?”

Alisbeth stops shoving at Grimory and fixes her gaze on the mage. “Are you seriously asking if I would willingly erase my daughter from existence?”

Koltira coughs into his fist and purses his lips at the tension.

Taveth, oblivious to the situation as he waits for his drink, grins and waves over at the group.

Anarchaia tilts her head. “Knowing what you know about everything? How different everything would be? Yes, that’s what I’m asking.”

Grimory waves back, not in the mood for the drama unfolding behind him.

Alisbeth frowns. “No. How can you even ask that?”

“It’s only a game, Ali. It’s an innocent question,” Koltira says.

Taveth returns and cocks an eyebrow at Grimory and Alisbeth. “What’s this about?”

“Just because you’d like to change a decision you’ve made doesn’t make that decision a mistake,” Anarchaia responds coolly. “Feel free to take the penalty shot.”

Taveth returns and cocks an eyebrow at Grimory and Alisbeth. “What’s this about?”

Grimory sighs at the unease. “Passive aggressive cat fight,” he says to Taveth with a smile.

Alisbeth glares at the mage. “I’m not taking a penalty shot because I answered the question. NO! And for your information it wasn’t nighttime.”

Taveth blinks between the two women then at Grimory. “Oh, I meant this whole…stacking thing going on.”

Alisbeth turns her angry glare at Taveth. “He’s being an ass because I took his seat.”

Taveth blinks, then smiles slyly. “Well, it was my seat first…” He sets himself on the demon hunter’s lap and takes a sip of his drink. “Yeah, this is nice.”

Alisbeth groans under the added weight. “No, it’s not.”

Grimory laughs and unfolds his arms to make room. “I’m told my lap is very comfortable,” he says, giving Alisbeth a sideways glance. “Ana.”

“Dare,” the mage replies, only now finishing her first glass of wine.

Alisbeth sneers and mutters, “Go stick your head in the fountain for five minutes.” She swallows more Kungaloosh and leans her head on a fist.

Taveth barely catches what Alisbeth says and purses his lips. “You know, you’ve barely drunk anything. I’m watching you, little miss. I dare you to go to the bar, get a full bottle of the strongest stuff they—hic excuse me—they have and chug it. All of it.” He sips his drink. “And you can’t vomit.” He smirks. “Your lap is comfortable. Almost better than the couch. I swear there’s a spring in there trying to violate me.”

Koltira blinks slowly at the man. “You don’t drink much, do you?”

Taveth just chuckles in response.

Anarchaia narrows her eyes at Alisbeth, clearly irked, but decides to ignore her dare. She cocks her head at Taveth and goes swiftly to the bar. After exchanging a few words with the bartender, he hands her a black bottle with a dark green label. She turns, leans against the bar, and uncorks the bottle with magic, then proceeds to drink all of it for a lengthy amount of time.

“Ana knows how to drink,” Grimory says behind Taveth. “She never eats, though. I don’t get it. Kolt?”

Taveth makes a face. “If she knows how to drink, then why hasn’t she been drinking? She’s—hic excuse me—she’s cheating.”

“I choose dare,” Koltira says.

“How is she cheating?” he laughs, then thinks. “Get down and do pushups until it’s your turn again.”

The mage finishes her bottle, sets down coin, and returns to her seat. “Satisfied?”

Koltira rolls his eyes. “Oh, no. Pushups. Regular or double time?”

“One handed. Double.” Grimory says, then shifts in discomfort. “All right this is getting uncomfortable. My ass hurts.”

Anarchaia perks at the notion of Koltira doing pushups and looks over at him excitedly.

Koltira chuckles. “Ooo, so scary.” He drops down and throws his left fist behind his back, then starts his pushups. “By the way, it’s the bookworm’s turn,” he says with no effort.

Taveth sighs. “I don’t know, I—”

“Truth! He chooses truth.” Alisbeth grins and pokes him. She wiggles at the bottom of the pile. “Is my lap not comfortable enough for you?”

Grimory grunts and pulls his ears back as her wiggling inadvertently makes his own hips move. “Yeah, no.” He gently pushes against Taveth’s back to usher him off.

Anarchaia watches Koltira and bites her lip, then jerks back to attention. “Uhm!” She ponders for a moment. “If this building were on fire, which of us would be the last you’d rescue?”

“You,” Taveth says quickly. His eyes go wide. “I’m sorry, that didn’t seem as rude in my head and would you stop wiggling!” He glares at Alisbeth. He stands, then loses his footing and falls back against Grimory.

Anarchaia blinks and pauses, then chuckles. “I suppose that makes most sense,” she says, still watching Koltira out the corner of her eye.

“Woah,” Grimory says, grabbing Taveth below the arms and righting him again. “I think you’ve had too much.” He stands and sets himself beside Alisbeth once again. “I want truth, by the way.”

Koltira does a quick bounce, changing arms without ruining his rhythm. “What’s your biggest regret?”

Alisbeth leans up and grabs Taveth’s drink. “Let’s ease off that, okay?”

“Much stronger than Kungaloosh,” he says. He drops onto Alisbeth’s lap and stretches his legs across Grimory’s. “Wow, your lap really is bony.”

Grimory glances at Alisbeth. “Letting her give me a fake name.”

“Romantic,” Anarchaia drones, still not looking away.

Koltira purses his lips, his rhythm fathering as he realizes the implications if that one detail had been changed. He scowls at the floor and keeps going.

Alisbeth scowls at the mage. “If I choose dare will someone dare me to punch her in the face?”

Taveth shoves her. “Oh, be nice. And no, no one is going to dare that.”

“Well then I choose truth.”

“If you could change one thing about yourself—a decision you made, a personality trait, something physical—what would it be?” Anarchaia responds with a grin, ignoring the cattiness as the alcohol finally hits her.

Grimory leans back, again draping his arms over the back of the sofa, and looks at Alisbeth with genuine interest.

Alisbeth’s eyes flick to Koltira, knowing what she would change, but knowing it would hurt him. She closes her eyes and frowns. “Sending Diori away. Because everything I hate about me…wouldn’t have happened…if I’d stayed in Hillsbrad.”

Koltira continues, his glare deepening on the floor. After a minute he finally breaks and says the only thing he can think of. “I wish you hadn’t, too.”

The mage’s smile quickly fades at their answers and she holds up both hands before anything else can be said. “Uhhhh okay! Thanks. I—hic!—choose truth! Heh.”

Grimory continues to look at Alisbeth, his face softening. “You really think that?”

A tear drips from her eyes as she opens them. “I wouldn’t be dead, would I? I only died because—”

“Because you had a half undead child in you. You wish you had never met me. Admit it. It’s all my fault.” When she doesn’t immediately reply, Koltira growls. “Well, at least we can agree on that, right? You coming to Silvermoon was the worst—” The glass of vodka tonic shatters on his head. He pauses, then continues his pushups.

Taveth balls one fist and wipes the spilled drink from his fingers. “I change my vote. I wouldn’t save him.”

“And I wouldn’t want you to!”

Tears cascading down Alisbeth’s cheeks, she shoves Taveth to the floor and stands, glaring at the mage. “Truth? Are you happy now?” She doesn’t wait for a response as she runs up to her room.

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