Book 3 – Chapter Twenty-Two

Anarchaia quickly stands as the glass is thrown, but is not quick enough to stop it. She chirps an unfinished word as she’s cut off, then balls her fists and scowls at Alisbeth as she runs to the stairs. “You didn’t have to answer!” she barks after her. She bends down and reforms the glass, setting it on the table. “I’m sorry,” she says in a low tone to Koltira. “Are you all right?”

Grimory sighs and stands. “Ali, wait!” He follows her up the stairs.

Taveth drags himself onto the couch. “I think you can stop now. Does she do that a lot?”

Koltira stands, smoothing the wet hair out of his face. “I think after you threw that glass at me, that I’m not talking to you. We’re not friends. We’re no longer family. So, go to Hell.”

“I’m already there.” He makes a rude gesture but doesn’t move, knowing he’s drunk too much.

Anarchaia physically flinches at Koltira’s coldness and stands as well, again waving her hands. “G-gentlemen! Let’s be civil about this. Heh. Things were said that probably didn’t need to be. Glasses were thrown. I-it’s nothing we can’t recover from.” She gives Taveth a nervous smile. “And yes. She does.”

Koltira sighs and wraps his arms around Anarchaia. “Do you always have to be so charming when you’re being logical? Yes, by the way, I’m fine.” He kisses her forehead and pulls her to sit on the couch with him. “Look, um…Taveth, I loved Ali with everything I was. Even after I died and lost my will to the Lich King, some part of me was still with her. So, I guess I just…lost it hearing her regret literally every second she spent with me.”

Taveth nods. “That actually makes sense. I’m sorry. Choose truth.”

“What?”

“It’s your turn.”

“I..wh-…okay. Truth.”

Anarchaia gives a sigh of relief and relaxes against him, glad the men were reasonable. Her insecurity brought on by his anger gets the better of her, however, and she hesitates before turning. “Are you still in love with her?” she says in a quiet voice, looking up into his face.

Grimory comes trudging back down the stairs, bouncing a shoulder off the wall as he exits the stairwell. He grumbles and sits at the end where Alisbeth had been but says nothing.

Koltira sighs. “I will never forget what she and I had, but like I told you before, the Alisbeth I loved died in Andorhal.”

Taveth half smiles and half frowns. “That’s what I wanted to ask. Heh. She’s really just…not Ali anymore…to you, I mean.”

The death knight shakes his head. “Not anymore.”

Taveth blows out a breath. “Screw it. I choose dare.”

The mage sobers some but nods, satisfied with the answer. She turns to Taveth over her shoulder. “I dare you to go outside, hug the first guard you see and tell them you love them.” She grins.

Grimory snerks at the prospect. “Good luck with that. None of them are ever good for games.”

“How will you know I’ve done it if you can’t see me?” Taveth asks.

Anarchaia’s grin widens. “I’ll know.”

Taveth stumbles out the door and smiles at the high elf patrolling the street. He runs over and hugs him. “I love you!”

The guard laughs and wraps his arms around Taveth. “I love you, too. How drunk are you, brother?”

Taveth snerks. “Very. I have to go. Have a good first night!”

“I will, now.”

Taveth runs back in, bumping against the door. He laughs all the way back to the couch. “Did you see how hard I hit the frame? Oh, man. That’s going to bruise.”

Anarchaia scrunches her face. “All the guards in Dalaran and he gets the one queer one. Astonishing.”

Grimory snerks. “Convenient.” He sighs. “Truth seemed to get me in more trouble than dare so…dare.”

Taveth cocks his eyebrow at the mage. “Queer? Yathen? No. He’s as normal as they come. It’s his first day in Dalaran. I didn’t think he’d be patrolling so soon.”

Koltira narrows his eyes. “You just happen to know a guard?”

Taveth laughs. “I think father sent him to keep an eye on things. Meaning me. And Diori. And that…whole thing with Ali.”

Koltira blinks, then turns his gaze on Grimory. “Go hug…What was his name?”

“Yathen?”

“Go hug Yathen.”

“And tell him you love him!” Taveth adds on a laugh.

Grimory snorts and stands, making his way outside. He spots the patrolling elf and decides to wrap his large arms around him from behind. “I love you,” he whispers, struggling not to laugh.

Yathen shoves Grimory off him and holds his spear to his neck. “Hands to yourself!”

Grimory holds up his hands in surrender and smiles. “Sorry, friend. Thought you were someone else.” He whirls back around on a heel and saunters back to the bar. He comes back to find Anarchaia chuckling in her place on the couch.

“He called you a drunken idiot,” she says through her laughter.

“How the fuck do you know that?”

“The guards all use one wavelength for telepathy. I was listening in.” She grins, again stifling a hiccup.

“Sounds…illegal.”

“Oh, it is.”

Taveth laughs. “I’m sure she’s sugar-coating it. Yathen always had a mouth on him. He doesn’t allow any nonsense past him. I’ll have to ask if that’s why he’shere.”

“He was modest about it. Harsh language isn’t allowed on that wavelength. Master’s orders. Heh.”

“Your turn, Ana.” Grimory takes up his drink.

“Dare,” the mage says with confidence.

“Take off that fuckin’ mask.”

Anarchaia stops. “I’ll take the shot.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Ana. What’s so bad that you need to hide all the time?”

“I told you already!” she hisses.

Taveth leans over, draping his arm around Anarchaia. He pulls her into a gentle hug. “I bet you’re absolutely beautiful under there. Please can I see your beautiful face?”

Koltira untangles Taveth’s arm from the mage. “She doesn’t want to.”

The high elf remains unfazed. “If I tell you a secret, will you take off your mask?”

Anarchaia hesitates, flushing. “M-maybe.” She reaches for Koltira’s bottle preemptively.

Taveth smiles. “Now, you can’t ever tell anyone, right?” He asks, slowly easing her mask up to see her ear.

Anarchaia leans away slightly, hands wringing the bottle. “Promise…”

Grimory leans over to watch, ears perked with excitement.

Taveth leans in closer to whisper so only she can hear. “I would prefer the company of Grim to any woman in the world.”

Koltira’s ears twitch as the high elf’s whisper isn’t as quiet as he thinks.

“Okay. Mask off.”

The mage’s eyes widen and she can’t help but smile. “Oh, my gods, really?”

“Ana!” Grimory barks impatiently.

“All right! I just—” She looks over at the demon hunter. “Please don’t be angry.”

Grimory scoffs in annoyance. “I can’t promise anything.”

She hesitates again. “That’s not encouraging.”

Taveth points at Grimory and attempts a stern face. “You’re not allowed to get mad, because I told her a secret.”

“Better listen to the man,” Koltira says, smirking into his glass.

Grimory opens his mouth to retort, then closes it and scowls. “That has nothing to do with me, but fine.”

Anarchaia swallows, her lips thinning into a line of apprehension. She grips the hem of her mask, fingers shaking. He’s going to be angry. She pulls it off and winces, eyes cast at the floor. “There. Happy?”

The demon hunter’s eyes widen. “You’re…” He bites back a scowl and growls some, a whirlwind of emotions raging through him.

Taveth smiles. “Oh, wow. You are really pretty! Were both eyes red before?” He brushes her hair away. “Albinism or just a strange physical quirk?”

Koltira eyes the demon hunter, then holds up her mask. “You can put your mask back on, Ana.”

She blushes at the compliment but does not acknowledge it, thinking it disingenuous. “Albinism.” She takes her mask and makes to put it back on.

“Leave it off,” Grimory growls, sipping from his bottle.

Anarchaia flinches. “W-Why?”

“Nothing to hide, now, right?”

She glances around at the crowd in the tavern and swallows. Feeling obligated for her months of lying, she lowers the mask and smiles at Taveth. “Thank you,” she says, finally regarding the compliment.

“I have so many questions. For another time, of course.” Taveth smiles, his fingers feeling over a lock of her white hair.

Koltira puts a somewhat possessive arm around the mage. “Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with.”

“I won’t.” The mage flashes a glance at Grimory who looks away, then returns a smile to Taveth. “Of course.” She clears her throat at the awkward tension. “Per—…Perhaps we should just call it a night. I seem to have killed the vibe. Heh.”

Taveth laughs. “The only thing you’re killing is that haircut. My sister did it the same way for a long time. Oh! She’s a mage! You may see her around the Hall of the Guardian.” He turns and grins at Grimory. “Tell her she’s killing it.”

Grimory’s slit eyes flick from Taveth to Anarchaia to the floor. “You’re killin’ it.” He takes another drink.

Anarchaia gives a half smile, touched by his effort. “What’s her name?” she says to Taveth, hand reaching up to grab Koltira’s at her shoulder.

“Kel’ori Nightheart. She’s been working overtime at Azurewing Repose, though. I haven’t had the chance to see her since I got here.” He searches around as though he’s lost something.

Koltira cocks his eyebrow. “How many family members do you have in Dalaran?”

“Just the two. The others are in Stormwind. My two brothers help at the tavern and my one sister is getting married and the other is a guard—like Yathen was before he came here…to also guard…”

Anarchaia nods. “I do know her. We haven’t talked much, however. Though, most people at the Hall don’t really talk to me so that’s not a significant fact.” She brings her hands up to fix her messed hair.

Grimory knits his brow. “You have six siblings?”

Taveth raises his brow at the demon hunter. “My father started early, Ali’s mother started late. Is there something wrong with big families?”

Grimory leans back against the arm rest. “Nope,” he responds, a lull in his voice.

“What do you plan on doing once done with your studies?” Anarchaia chimes in.

Taveth leans back. “Done? I, um, I think this is more of what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. I just love the research. Though, I do hope to get sent out into the field more often—like this Aszuna assignment. What about you?”

“Me? Oh, ahhh…” The mage gives a nervous titter. “I’d like to perhaps be a part of the Council of Six. But that’d require one of them to either die or retire…and for more than one third of them to like me. Heh.” She takes a sip from the bottle and winces at the flavor. “But…I’ve kind of been slacking off, if I’m being honest.”

“Well,” he says leaning in again, “if you ever care for a research partner—or to borrow a rare book I can wiggle out of the Stormwind library—just ask.” He winks.

She blushes again and chuckles again into a hand. “Likewise.”

“We still playin’ or should you two see if there’s any vacancies upstairs?” the demon hunter grumbles into the neck of his bottle.

Taveth laughs and nudges Anarchaia. “Only if the lady wishes.” He snirks and winks at her again.

Koltira resists, but joins in the chuckle. “We can keep playing. My turn? I’ll go with truth.”

Anarchaia’s blush deepens and she clears her throat, turning to Koltira. “If you could kill anyone on this planet right at this moment, who would it be?”

Koltira frowns. “That’s tough. Duty leads me to want Gul’dan dead. But… There’s a warlock and priest I’d like to have a word with. The trouble would be choosing just one.” He thinks on it. “If I use just one sword stroke, does it count as one?”

Taveth shudders and helps himself to taking Anarchaia’s bottle and swigging from it. He coughs and hands it back. “What could they have possibly done to deserve a seat on the shelf hatred beside Gul’dan?”

Anarchaia purses her lips and squeezes Koltira’s hand. “It’s a sensitive topic. I’m clearly not thinking my questions through. Heh.”

“Or, as I’ve said, everyone’s too sensitive.” Grimory glances at the stairwell, curious if Alisbeth is even still upstairs.

Koltira chuckles. “Not sensitive at all. They’re the ones that murdered your cousin.”

Taveth goes quiet for a long time. “I say one sword stroke counts. Anything I can do to help?”

The death knight shakes his head. “Stay out of it and stay safe. Truth or dare, Taveth.”

“Truth, please.”

“Would you ever consider becoming a demon hunter?” Grimory says with interest, pushing his finger into the neck of his bottle and pulling it out idly.

Taveth flinches the littlest bit. “I don’t think I’m strong enough for that. I’m not like you.”

“Physically or mentally? Because both can be trained. I was…kind of like you at one point, you know.” He eyes the man’s ponytail. “A bit, actually.”

Taveth’s ears darken a little more. “I-I f-find that h-hard to believe.” He glances from the corner of his eye at Grimory, then stares at the table.

Koltira shrugs. “I think you’re stronger than you think. Keeping secrets requires a certain level of strength.”

Anarchaia smiles at him and bites her lip. “Agreed. And you seem very bright. As Master always says: knowledge is power.”

“Anyone can build muscle if that’s what you’re worried about. Cut out sugars here, run ten miles there… You could do it.” Grimory takes another drink. “Not like I’m recruiting you or anything.”

Taveth makes a face. “Heh. I, uh, I-I think I’m good just…studying history and writing it down for posterity.”

Koltira shrugs. “A noble enough venture. Grim’s turn.”

Grimory shrugs. “Not for everyone. Dare.”

“Kiss Taveth,” Anarchaia blurts.

Heat crawls up Taveth’s neck, turning his skin a dark scarlet. “T-take th-the drink.”

Grimory’s ears pull back and turn red. “Why is everyone so interested in seeing me do homosexual things?”

Koltira lowers his brow. “Are you afraid of what other people think? Or do you have some hidden secrets of your own you’d like to share?”

Grimory narrows his eyes at both men. “I’m obviously the one most comfortable with my sexuality, here. You wouldn’t even kiss an illusion of another man.” He hesitates, glancing back at Taveth. “You want me to take the drink?”

Taveth fidgets. “Yes. T-take the drink.”

“He’s clearly not comfortable, so…” He downs a shot’s worth of whiskey.

Anarchaia frowns and awws in disappointment. “No fun. Me next? I’ll do a dare.” She glances around at the dwindling crowd and wrings her mask in her hands nervously.

Taveth frowns as he realizes his missed opportunity. “Heh. G-guess you’ll have to get your kicks elsewhere. N-no way is th-this man…” He trails off as his frown deepens.

Koltira sets his hand over Anarchaia’s fiddling ones. “I dare you to put your mask back on.”

Grimory lifts a brow at the man’s muttering, mildly amused. He leans down and smirks playfully. “Change your mind?”

“Heh. W-why? Did you?” Taveth fidgets, wishing he had another drink to distract himself, but not trusting his feet to carry him to the bar.

Anarchaia looks into his eyes and her face softens. She throws the mask back over her hair and head, smiling gratefully. “That’s no fun, though…”

Koltira hugs her closer to him with an arm. “You just looked so uncomfortable. Would you rather I hadn’t?”

The demon hunter laughs and leans back. “Don’t hurt yourself, Tav. Koltira!”

“Just seems like a waste of a dare,” she chuckles, snaking an arm between his waist and the couch.

Koltira chuckles. “Then now’s your chance to get me back. I choose dare.”

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