A number of spectral students talk in the recesses of an oblong chamber, barricaded on either side by massive doors glittering with violet energy.
The corners of Grimory’s lips tighten. “This place is creepy.”
Taveth rolls his eyes, his excitement for the knowledge contained within the library paling all other things. “Hello! I am Taveth Nightheart of Stormwind. I believe you are expecting me.”
The incorporeal being blinks at him. “Yes, but I’m sorry, you cannot be permitted inside. No outsiders, headmistress’s orders.”
“Is there anything we can—”
“I will break down this door!” Alisbeth screams, grabbing for her axe and wiggling to get out of Grimory’s grasp.
The demon hunter grunts at the shifting weight and struggles to hold her tighter. “Ali, while I’m usually for the occasional bouts of destruction, I think we should not break anything here.” He pulls his ears back and furrows his brow at the ghostly mage. “Can we speak with this headmistress?”
The spirits exchange a look. “No. But you can disguise yourselves as one of us. I’m sure there are students willing to lend you something.”
Alisbeth wiggles in excitement, gripping Grimory’s horns. She hiss-whispers into his ear, “Get me the hat! Get me the hat!”
Taveth smiles kindly. “Right. We’ll get right on that.”
“Oh!” The other spirit stops him. “Your friends look like the sort that can handle a fight…could you please take care of a few of those enchanted books? They’re real pests.”
Alisbeth bounces, too excited to hold still or care about the demon hunter’s comfort. “I’m gonna kill a book!”
Grimory grunts again and grits his fangs together in pain, then finally gives in and sets Alisbeth down. He rubs at his skull. “I don’t think you can technically kill them, Ali.” He nods to the specters and turns back to the hallway. “And I’d prefer to not wear nerd robes if that’s all right.”
Taveth grins. “Oh, no. You heard the mage. Have to blend in. Nerd robes for all.”
As they pass the dueling pair, Alisbeth swoops down to scoop up the fallen hat. She giggles and stuffs it on her head. “It feels weird. Do I look great?”
Taveth turns to answer, but stops. “Curious.” The spirit mage is wearing a new hat, which is promptly knocked to the floor again. “Very curious.”
Grimory sneers at the aspect of wearing what he considers to be a dress. He smiles at Alisbeth despite his inward grumbling. “Yes, you do,” he responds, then turns back to Taveth. “If by curious you mean creepy.” With an outstretched hand he catches the hat as it again sails through the air, then stuffs the open end over Taveth’s face. “Then, yes. Curious.” He grabs one for himself and places it atop his head, but his horns deny it further wearing. He scowls.
Alisbeth reaches up and yanks down on the brim of the hat on Grimory’s head. “Just gotta make it work. Oh! That’s a good catch phrase. Make it work!” She snaps her fingers sassily. “Does it work?”
Taveth grimaces, trying to smile, but turns away and trots up the steps instead of answering.
Grimory winces as he hears the seams tear, then adjusts the hat so that he may see past the brim better. He gives a grimace similar to Taveth’s. “Nothing can make these wizard hats work, I’d say.” He pulls the edge of her hat down over her eyes and chuckles before he follows Taveth up the steps.
Alisbeth races after Grimory. She stops before running into Taveth.
“Hmm,” he muses. “Do you think that works the same way?” He points at a staff on the ground behind a mage too engrossed in her book to notice him.
“Only one way to find out, yeah?” Grimory kicks the staff over with the toe of his boot. It rolls across the floor for several feet and another appears in its previous position beside the uncaring mage. “Creepy,” the Illidari mutters, lower eyelids raising.
Taveth purses his lips. “This time I’m inclined to agree with you.”
Alisbeth grabs up the stray staff, then the one beside the mage. She waits for another to pop up, then grabs it. She waits again and gets another staff. Soon her arms are filled. “I’ve got staves for ages! I’ll be the most powerful mage ever!”
Grimory slides one of them out of her arms and taps her atop the head with it. “Better alert the old man. We’ve a new Guardian in our midst.” He flicks the hat off the sitting mage and saunters off in the direction they were heading. “Now for robes.” He scoffs. “Definitely not gonna find any that fit me.”
Alisbeth drops the bundle of staves and grabs her head. “Ow!”
Taveth stoops and takes two staves, shoving one at her. “You’ll be fine. Come on.”
She sticks out her lower lip to pout, but takes the staff and follows him.
Grimory stops at a sleeping mage on a tattered rug, his eyes covered by a tome. “Ali,” the demon hunter calls back with a grin. “Do what you do best and disrobe this guy, yeah?”
Alisbeth scowls and sticks her nose in the air. “I take offense to that.” She turns away from him and begins beating a book with her ghostly staff.
Taveth purses his lips at both of them and backs away, hoping to remain unnoticed.
Grimory lifts his eyebrows and taps his boot against the sleeping specter’s calf. “A silly thing to take offense to. How else do you suggest we acquire robes? I’m sure as shit not undressing anyone.” He swats away another book as its flapping pages flutter toward his head.
“Oh, come on, Grim. Is it because he didn’t buy you a pint, first?” Taveth laughs, then snaps his lips closed and turns away to blush at a bookshelf. “Sorry,” he mutters.
The Illidari narrows his eyes at the shorter man. “I reckon we’ll go robeless, then.” The bloodthirsty book nears again. His patience drained, he snatches the enchanted tome from the air and tears it in two then throws the pieces to the ground.
Taveth rolls his eyes and stoops to undress the sleeping man. The robes instead slip through the spirit and into his fist. The high elf shudders and steps away. “Creepy.”
Grimory furrows his brow and does the same, pulling off two copies of robes before standing upright. “Honestly,” he scoffs and takes off his hat to throw one of the sets of robes over his head. He looks down at himself and sneers. “Hideous.”
Alisbeth giggles behind the demon hunter. “You two look…so handsome.” She tugs to help adjust Taveth’s robes.
The tips of Taveth’s ears turn a shade of pink, betraying his discomfort. “You’re allowed to have your own opinions, no matter how wrong they may be.”
“Here,” Grimory holds out a third set of robes to Alisbeth. “Don’t you want to look as handsome as we?” He smirks
Alisbeth slips the robes on, then smashes her hat onto her head and grabs her staff. “You mean more handsome! Ha!” She hooks her arm in his and drags him to another book, which she begins to beat with her staff.
Grimory grins to himself. “Debatable.” He blows fire over the surly book and twirls his staff between his fingers. “These things are really considered a threat here?” He glances over his shoulder at Taveth. “I’d like to see you dispatch one.”
Taveth flinches and clutches his satchel strap. He gives a nervous laugh. “I’d really prefer not to. Personified or not, I-I really don’t like destroying books.” He spins on his heel and heads for the stairs leading back to the two mages at the doors.
Alisbeth makes a face after him. “You know, he was always kind of a dweeb, but I don’t remember him being such a pacifist…” She jolts and then grins at Grimory. “Hey! Bet I can kill more books on the way to the basement!”
Grimory’s smirk widens. “What do I win?” Without waiting for a response, he runs off, staff across his shoulders and nearly slipping on his robes. He plucks a tome from the air as it attacks, and tears it in half, then tosses the pieces over the ledge.
Alisbeth throws her staff at Grimory’s feet to trip him. “You win nothing!”
Grimory stumbles, his jaw hitting the stone below as he falls. He growls and reaches for the hem of Alisbeth’s robes as she passes to drag her down with him. “Then neither do you!”
Alisbeth falls forward, biting into her tongue as her chin hits the stone floor. “Dath no faiw!” She slaps at his hand to free herself, then stands, cradling her mouth in one palm as she jabs the staff at Grimory. “I’m tewwing Tabbef!”
“I’m not listening!” Taveth shouts over his shoulder.
The Illidari chuckles and swats the staff away as he stands. “Seems you’re outnumbered.” He sets a gentle hand on her cheek and gives a cocky smile before running off again, burning any flapping books in his path.
When Taveth reaches the two, they’re in a heated debate. He clears his throat so as not to interrupt. The woman looks at him.
“Will you help prove me right? Which school of magic would resurrection fall under?”
Taveth frowns. “That depends on the type of resurrection.”
She growls, not liking his answer. “No, there has to be something specific. Get me that book from the shelf. The one on the schools of magic.”
Having overheard, Grimory plucks a book from the shelf as he passes it in the hallway and flips nonchalantly through the pages. “This book has a chapter on schools,” he muses, rubbing at his jaw with his free hand.
Taveth’s eyelids droop. “That’s not even close to what she wants.” He goes to the shelf and takes on a pensive stance as he scans the titles.
Grimory furrows his brow and opens to the chapter in question. “Oh. This is about actual schools. Heh. My bad.” He tosses the book carelessly over his shoulder and glances around. “Where’d Ali go?”
“You were…the one…watching her,” Taveth half hums, as though speaking through a dream. His brow furrows as he inspects one spine a little closer. “How to Befriend A Demon? Why would mages—Hey! Why do you have this book?” He goes to the other two, holding the book aloft, and completely abandoning Grimory.
“What self-respecting library doesn’t have that book?” one of the mages snaps, a look of irritation on her ghastly face.
Taveth narrows his eyes skeptically at the mage. He returns the book to where he’d found it and scans the shelf for the book she’d requested. Once in her hands, she begins flipping through the pages. The high elf lets out a sigh and waits as the two return to squabbling over who’s right.
Grimory scoffs and rolls his eyes, turning back to the ramp leading into the spire-like central room. “Ali?” He pokes his head around the corner and scans the balconies with slit pupils.
Alisbeth leans around a pillar and looks up at Grimory from where she’s crouched beside the pool of water hiding the lower levels of the academy. She grins. “Oh, hi! Oof!” She lurches and goes behind the pillar again. “Just a sec—aah!—second.”
Grimory furrows his brow and steps out of the hallway. “What are you doing?” he asks with a cautious tone and places his hands on his hips. “And should I be concerned?”
Alisbeth’s face pops around again and she waves a hand, flicking water across the stone. “Concerned? No. Not at all. Why should you be concerned? When have I ever given you a reason to be concerned? I mean it’s not like I’m doing anything wrong.” She gives an innocent grin and leans back, her other hand leaving a wet print in the dust. Water splashes behind the pillar and she wobbles, then disappears again.
Taveth taps an impatient foot, then tosses his hands over his head. “Okay, just let my friends through when they come back.” He stomps to the door, which lowers to let him pass to the spiraling staircase leading down into the library.
The male mage looks at the female. “Was he talking to us?”
Grimory’s confused expression deepens. “You’re not…drowning someone, are you?” he asks after a moment and steps toward her.
Alisbeth gives an innocent smile. “Me? Drowning someone? How could you thi-i-nk such a thing?” Her entire body jerks backward. She grabs the staff at her side and begins hitting the water—along with the struggling book trapped under her feet.
Grimory finally comes forward to look at what she’s got beneath her. His face falls into one of relief and boredom. “Oh. You can’t drown them, Ali. But I’m sure you knew that, so…what are you doing?”
Alisbeth purses her lips and narrows her eyes. “I was…seeing if I could…drown them.” She releases the book and jumps to her feet as it flaps into open air, struggling with its sodden pages. The death knight lifts the staff and bats the book across the room. “Where’s Tav?”
Grimory shrugs. “Looking for a book. Come on, let’s go help him, yeah? I think we’ve taken care of enough of these tomes.” He gestures back into the hallway with the arguing and dueling mages.
Alisbeth jumps up with a smile. She presses to him and bites his chest. “Okay. Let’s go.”
Grimory winces and rubs the spot she’d bitten, then purses his lips and follows. He blinks when he doesn’t find Taveth where he’d left him. “Uh, hey,” he addresses one of the arguing mages by the door. “You know that guy I was just with? Where’d he go?”
The woman furrows her brow. “Blond fellow? Ponytail? He went down into the library.”
The death knight pokes at Grimory’s side. “Where’s the library? Did you lose my cousin? If you lost my cousin I may have to do mean things to you. Maybe. Possibly. Oh! Look! This door is shiny!” She runs over, then jumps back with a yelp as the door sinks into the floor.
Grimory gives a hearty laugh and saunters past her, down the stairs. “Careful, they bite.” He snaps at the air as he passes, a smirk on his lips. “Tav?” he calls down, then scowls when someone at the bottom immediately shushes him.