Alisbeth hums absently as she lathers her hair. She smiles and begins dancing along the wet floor. The ball of her right foot finds the bar of soap she’d left abandoned after it dropped. It slides from beneath her; she crashes to the floor with a yelp, her head hitting against the floor hard enough to make an audible crack! Her eyes close and she falls unconscious.
Hours later the death knight opens her eyes and grits her teeth at the pain in her throbbing skull. She slowly shoves herself to her feet and groans as she turns off the water. Not seeing a clean change of clothes in the small space, she wraps herself in a fluffy beige towel and exits the shower room to find a grumpy dwarf tapping an impatient foot against the floorboards.
“Sorry,” she mumbles. Her head swims as she stumbles down the hallway, using one hand on the wall to steady herself. “This isn’t…” She finds the stairs and descends carefully. She stops and squints at the tavern below, then frowns as confusion overtakes her.
“Ali,” the man behind the bar says in a warning voice, “you know better than to come down here like that.”
“Sorry,” she says on a sigh. “I can’t…find my room. This isn’t the inn I was at.”
The man chuckles and sets a glass of dalapeño smoothie with a candy cane hooked over the side in front of her. “Oh?” He feigns interest. “Where are you supposed to be?”
“Southshore.” She sneers at the glass and pushes it away from herself.
“Where’s Ana? I’ll see if I can contact her for you.”
Alisbeth blinks. “Who?”
“Alibaba, Anaconda, Ashran, whatever you want to call her today. The mage. Where is she?”
Alisbeth rubs at her head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Arille narrows a blue eye at her. “Have you hit your head or something of the sort?” he grumbles as he polishes a mug.
Alisbeth rubs a spot on the back of her head and grimaces. “I…don’t know.” She pulls the towel tighter around herself and shrinks in her seat, feeling lost and vulnerable in only a towel.
Arille sighs and sets down the mug. “Let me speculate. You don’t remember where your room is, either.” His eye suddenly catches a familiar grease-smeared face as a goblin enters. “Gildwynn!” he barks, causing the man to stop and pull back his large green ears.
“Arille…?” he replies cautiously as though surprised anyone is happy to see him.
“You always know where Anarchaia is.”
The goblin bristles. “That’s not true… But she’s in Karazhan with the Archmage and her boyfriend…s.”
“Oh. Hm. Alisbeth here seems to be a bit…confused. Perhaps you could help her out.”
Gildwynn glances up at the death knight, suddenly aware that they’d never really met. “I…suppose.”
Alisbeth reaches out a tentative hand. “I’ve never met one of your kind face to face. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Alisbeth Redblade, daughter of Malath and Diori Redblade, apprentice to Tirion Fordring.”
Gildwynn wipes his oily hand on his thick leather vest before taking hers and shaking. “Gildwynn Steamvolt. Congratulations on your promotion, I guess.” He motions for her to follow. “C’mon. My friend owns a shop next door. We’ll grab you some threads.”
Alisbeth nods and stands to follow. “Yes, please. Thank you so much, Gildwynn. I’m so embarrassed being in just this towel.”
Gildwynn leads her through an alley behind the lounge and into a neighboring shop. He raps his knuckles on a wooden shelf as he walks in the backmost part of the store. “Aub?”
“‘Ay, what lowlife don’t use the front door, eh?” A dark green goblin with deep red hair in a sideways ponytail pops her head through the curtain leading from the front of the shop to the back. Her blue lips twist upward in a gleeful smile. “Steamy! What brings you to the back of—Oh! The bombs. I been workin’ on ‘em, I swear. Doin’ em up real nice, like your schematic says, boss. Just, eh…running into a few kinks with the trigger.”
Gildwynn scowls. “I told you to stop calling me that.”
Alisbeth blinks at the cracked skin of the female goblin. She shakes it off and holds out her hand. “Hi, I’m Alisbeth Re—”
“Yeah, yeah. Hi.” She gets in Gildwynn’s face. “You can’t replace me, not over a couple bombs. You can’t do this to me! Sure, I’m a little slow, but I ain’t never let you down, have I?”
He leans away from her face and his cyan eyes widen slightly. “You’re doing a fine job! I’m not replacing you!” He sighs. “This is a friend of Ana’s. She needs some clothes…obviously.”
Aubyne smiles and leans in close to Gildwynn. She reaches up her hand, outstretching her index finger. “Boop.” She touches the tip of his long nose.
Gildwynn brings both hands up to swat away her finger and purses his lips.
The goblin giggles and observes the blood elf. “Clothes I can do.” She holds out her hand.
Alisbeth frowns. “I don’t have—”
“Course you don’t. Unless you’re hiding it somewheres I don’t wanna take it from you, anyway.” She moves her hand to Gildwynn. “Come on, doll, you know the drill.”
He narrows his eyes at her palm and digs in his pocket for a few gold pieces. “All too well,” he grunts and slaps them into her hand. “Nothing too fancy, you hear? She’s not goin’ to a ball.”
“Yeah, yeah. I’m hearin you. No balls.” Aubyne ushers them into the front of the store.
Alisbeth frowns. “I am terribly sorry, Gildwynn. I’ll be sure to pay you back, I swear.”
“With interest!” Aubyne sings from the other side of the curtain.
Gildwynn scoffs and follows, waving a hand. “Don’t worry about it.” He smiles a coy grin and brushes his nails against his vest. “Just put in a good word with Ana for me.” He stops to observe a leather harness of questionable taste on a mannequin.
“All right, doll, you stand there and put your arms out to your sides.” Aubyne points at a spot on the floor.
Alisbeth stares down at the towel being held up by her arms. “Uh…”
While collecting things from her desk, Aubyne stamps twice on the floor. A curtain rises up to surround the elf. The towel falls to the floor moments later. Aubyne sets a pink quill to a pre-written parchment form, then tosses a rolled-up measuring tape over the curtain. The tape slinks around Alisbeth, measuring every angle of her, after each measurement the quill scribbles down the numbers. Once done, the tape falls to the ground in a heap and the quill drops on its side.
“Skinny little thing, aren’t you?” The goblin takes a telescopic pointer from the desk and goes looking through all the fabrics lining the shelves up to the ceiling. “I think a nice yellow would go great with your skin tone.” She lengthens the pointer to tap the fabric—which slides from the shelf and down onto the workbench.
“I’ve been told I wear red best,” Alisbeth says from behind the curtain.
Gildwynn flushes as he notices the elf’s figure through the curtain and leans his shoulder against the desk in back, his arms folded. “I can’t stress enough that you shouldn’t put her in something ridiculous, Aub.”
“Ridiculous? What d’you mean ridiculous?” The goblin scoffs. “Nothing wrong with a pretty yellow dress. Pale yellow, like sun beams!”
“Red is really my—”
“I ain’t putting your blue behind into no red dress. Have you no fashion sense at all?” She scoffs again in irritation as she cuts the fabric to shape, then begins to sew it together. “Comin into my shop askin favors and nothing fancy, nothing ridiculous. Ugh. You people.” She sketches out some long points around the neck of the dress, then threads a needle with a darker yellow. It sets to work following the lines she’d made. She spins on Gildwynn. “You got a problem with my clothes, you go somewheres else, Steamy.”
Gildwynn scowls. “And if you got a problem with my gold, you can give it back and I will go somewheres else!”
Aubyne moves into Gildwynn’s personal space. “Aww, you’re so cute when you threaten to never stop by again. We both know you’ll be back, Steamy.” She raises her finger and slowly pokes his nose. “Boop.”
Gildwynn growls and swats at her hands again. “Stop calling me that! And cute! Stop calling me that, too!” He folds his arms again and scowls. “And of course I’ll be back. I’m always here on the days you don’t show up to my shop.”
“Ack! My skin is blue! What happened? Somebody must have put something in the water, that’s it. Someone dye-packed me!” Alisbeth licks her thumb and begins scrubbing at her arm.
Aubyne picks up the needle where it had fallen down after completing its task. “I think you just like the smell of the fabric dye…and my sister. She’s stoppin by today, you know.” She winks over her shoulder at him, then fluffs out the dress. “Nothin ridiculous, see?” It’s a simple yellow sun dress with spikes at the collar, making it look like sunbeams.
Gildwynn again flushes at the underhanded accusation but scoffs all the same. He gives Alisbeth a once over and pulls his ears back. “It’s…bright.”
“Nothin wrong with a little pastel. I’m not opposed to making another. Your choice, Gildwynn… For a price, of course.” She holds up her hand as though expecting him to pay for another dress.
“Excuse me, but, yellow isn’t really my color. Besides that, I think we should figure out why my skin is blue. I can’t get it off!” She resumes scrubbing at her arm. “Tirion is not going to be happy. How am I supposed to report for duty like this? This is a disaster!”
Gildwynn eyes Aubyne’s hand and then her face. “Yer outta yer mind.” He lifts his eyebrows at Alisbeth’s musings and clears his throat into a fist. “M-…Maybe I should get someone that can break it to her gently.”
Aubyne shrugs at Gildwynn. “Was worth a try.” She furrows her brow at the elf. “Where’d you find this one? Under a rock?” She walks over to Alisbeth and takes her hands. “Stop doin that, you’re gonna tear your skin open.” She pushes her to sit on a stool.
Alisbeth picks at the seam of the dress just above her knee. “I don’t understand what’s going on. I should be in Southshore. No one will tell me where I am.”
Gildwynn cringes. “You’re in Dalaran. In the Broken Isles.” He sighs and runs a clawed hand over his face. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but…that thick-headed asshole might be useful here.” He sets a hand on Aubyne’s shoulder as he makes for the door. “Keep her busy. I’ll be back in a flash.”
Alisbeth stares at Gildwynn, then at Aubyne. “What are the Broken Isles? Wait, Dalaran? Oh! If I can just get a steed I can ride back to Southshore—”
Aubyne yanks her back to sitting as the elf tries to stand. “You ain’t ridin anywhere off this rock, doll. Just wait for Steamy to get back. He might be a stick in the mud, but he knows what he’s doing most the time.” She slips in back and returns a second later with a pair of white slippers that tie around the ankle. “Here, busy yourself with tryin these on.”
Nearly half an hour passes before the goblin returns with the demon hunter in tow. He motions to the death knight trying on various headpieces. “Maybe you can give it to her lightly.”
Grimory tilts his head cautiously. “Ali? Is everything all right? I’m told you’re kind of…confused?”
Alisbeth turns at the sound of the new voice. She drops the floral arrangement Aubyne is forcing her to pin in her hair. Her nose crinkles and her mouth turns to a scowl. “Demon!” She runs into the back room.
Aubyne pulls a lever and the doors and windows all shut and bar themselves.
“Open this door!” Alisbeth demands.
“Nope. Come apologize.”
Alisbeth reappears in the doorway with a pair of shears. “How did you get here? Where are the rest? What are you—”
Aubyne yanks on the scissors, trying to get them away from the elf. “Thems my good shears!”
Grimory sighs as Alisbeth leaves the room. “Yeah.” He folds his arms and sets his weight on a hip as she returns. “I’m not a demon. I’m your…friend.” He clears his throat. “Let’s go back to your room, yeah? We got a lot to talk about.”
Alisbeth relinquishes the scissors as the goblin resorts to biting the back of her hand. She rubs her injury and studies him. “I think I’d remember having a friend that’s…half-demon?”
“Demon hunter,” Aubyne says casually, stowing her scissors in a drawer.
“Okay, look, whoever—whatever—you are, you just stay away from me. Someone summon Tirion to take me home, please. I don’t know what this prank is, but it’s not a fun one. This is not how you prank the new cadet!” she screams at the ceiling, as though someone from the next level is watching through the floorboards.
Gildwynn sighs. “You think we got time to orchestrate pranks around here?” His brow furrows. “Well—we do, but mostly her. And during business hours at my shop.”
Aubyne gives Gidlwynn a sly wink. “You act like you don’t laugh…after the customer leaves.”
Grimory holds out a hand. “Look, Ali. Like I said. I’m a friend. I won’t hurt you. I promise. Just come with me. I think I have an answer to all your questions.”
Alisbeth steps toward Grimory, but yanks her arm away when he tries to take her hand. “Don’t touch me.”
A knocking raps from the front door. A second later the whole shop shakes with a BOOM! BOOM! CRASH! as the door explodes inward.
“My door!” Aubyne runs forward to kick at the Sky Golem on the other side. “Why you gotta do them things, eh? Coulda waited for me to open up!”
A blue haired goblin in black leather with silver embellishments and a ruby on her belt hops down from the golem. She adjusts her diamond goggles and strides forward with a black sack on her shoulder.
“I got your tubes, Aub. You said they was urgent, and here they are.”
“Not important enough to smash my door!”
The blue haired goblin gives an impish grin. “No, not that urgent.”
Gildwynn gives a chuckle, unaffected by the chaos. “Don’t feel too good, does it?” he laughs to Aubyne.
Grimory grits his teeth and turns to lead her from the store. He braces himself as dust and debris blow in from the now open door. He grumbles something about goblins and explosives and sidesteps around the two smaller figures.
Alisbeth follows the demon hunter from the shop, stepping around the debris and ignoring the insanity.
“You come back any time, doll,” Aubyne shouts to Alisbeth. “Peeb, you owe me a door, you know.”
“I know, I know.” She sets the bag on the counter. “Heya, Steamy! How’s it shakin?”
Gildwynn gives a curt wave and smiles. “Better now. How goes business?” His wave falters some. “And please stop calling me that.”
Grimory leads Alisbeth back to the lounge and up the stairs. “That’s a nice dress,” he murmurs as they ascend. When they get to her room he gives her a once over. “You don’t happen to have the key, do you?”
Alisbeth straightens, a sheepish looks creeps into her eyes. “I woke in the showers. I only had a towel to wear. What do you think, buddy?”
Grimory lifts his eyebrows at her attitude. “I think you should go back to the showers and grab it before I get us both in a lot of trouble.”
Alisbeth turns to make a rude face where he can’t see. She stomps halfway down the hall, then stops and looks back at him. “Wait, who are you to give me orders? You’re not my superior. I’ll have you know that I’m headed to Lordaeron to become a lieutenant. What are you? Some half-demon weirdo with a disdain for shirts? You can’t order me around, bub.” By the end of her rant she’s back in front of him. She pokes her finger into his sternum, her lips pressed thin with impatience.
Grimory’s expression turns from one of irritation to one of mild interest. He grins and sets his hands on his hips then tenses the muscles in his chest as he looks down at her. “Lordaeron, you say? My, how impressive. I suppose a strong, independent woman like you wouldn’t need my help retrieving a room key, then, yeah?”
Alisbeth narrows her eyes. “Are you patronizing me? Maybe I should ask if a ‘big strong’ man such as yourself tested the knob first, huh?”
Without moving his eyes from hers, Grimory reaches down to grab the knob. It catches when he tries to turn it. His smirk widens and he lifts a brow.
Alisbeth narrows her eyes at him. “At least you tried. A shame I didn’t see the look on your face when it opened anyway.” She turns and goes to the shower door. After a single knock, someone shouts from the other side. She folds her arms over her chest and sighs impatiently as she leans back against the wall.
Grimory rolls his eyes and watches her leave. When he sees her sitting idly at the shower door, he turns toward the room and morphs a single finger. Using his claw, he digs around in the keyhole until the door pops open. “No need,” he calls, pushing it open further.
Alisbeth rolls her eyes and goes back down the hall. “So, you were lying to me? I win? Do you know how utterly lame that was to pretend it was still locked?” She enters the room and looks around. “Wow, this is a disaster. Is this your room?”
Grimory shrugs. “It technically was locked. Just…you know. If someone else has the key they can just come in, now.” He closes the door behind them and narrows an eye. “This is your room. At the Legerdemain Lounge. In Dalaran. Over the Broken Isles.”
Alisbeth narrows her eyes. “I… You’re lying, for one. This is disgusting. I could never live in a room so… Wait, what are the Broken Isles? Dalaran is in Hillsbrad, north of Southshore. If you’ll just lend me a horse so I can go back, then Tirion can clear this whole thing up.” She pokes at a pile of clothing on the floor, sneering as though it’ll give her some sort of disease.
Grimory swallows a sigh. “Why would I lie to you? What invested interest do I have in doing so?” He thinks for a moment and ushers her over after a second of realization. “Come here. Look in this mirror.” He motions toward the vanity.
Alisbeth folds her arms over her chest. “What ‘invested interest’ do you have in me, anyway? I mean, who even are you?” She rests on a hip and gives him a petulant look.
Grimory inhales sharply, then waits a moment. “I’m Grimory. You and I have a daughter, all right? I…care about you. You’ve been living here for a couple months, now.” He sits back to assess her reaction.
Alisbeth blinks and waits for him to give away the trick. She breaks down laughing. “Wow. You are so good at this, Grimory. Not even a hint at the joke. Are you the one that dyed my skin?”
Grimory simply stares with a look of utter seriousness on his features, arms folded and ears pulled back in minor irritation.
Alisbeth sobers and rolls her eyes. “Fine, I’ll look in your stupid mirror.” She stands before the reflective surface, a frown spreads across her lips. She feels her hair and smooths her fingers along her skin. “What… What sort of charm is this? What is this image supposed to be? Frost…elf?”
Grimory fidgets, unable to tell her the truth. He bites at his lip, unsure of what else to do if his original plan failed. “Y-yeah. It’s a charm. We were drinking last night. You lost a bet.” He runs a palm over his face and goes to sit on the bed. “Did anything happen between then and now? Anything you remember?”
Alisbeth’s frown deepens. “You give yourself away. No way was I drinking, especially not with you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find someone who can remove this charm.” She lifts her white hair and whimpers. She straightens, her face set with determination. “If I don’t laugh at the end of this prank, heads will roll.” She shoves past him to get to the door.
Grimory stands before she can leave and goes to her, a hand on the door but not pressing hard enough to keep her from opening it. “What do I have to do to prove it to you? Any of it?”
Alisbeth rolls her eyes. “Look, old man, I’m just done with all of this nonsense, okay? If I don’t get back to Tirion he’s going to lose his mind and I’ll probably spend the night in the stocks…again.” She pushes him out of her way and goes back into the tavern with every intention of finding the stables to rent a steed.
“Old?!” It takes a moment of rage before Grimory even notices she’s left. He follows and grabs her hand just as she leaves the door. “Here. You don’t believe me? I’ll fucking show you.” Before she can retort, he scoops her into his arms and takes off over the shops and streets. “And don’t kick me.”
Alisbeth gasps and tenses, digging her fingers into his shoulders. A blush creeps dark blue up her neck to flood her cheeks at the feeling of his bare skin against her. She squeaks in shock as her skirt flutters in the wind; she shoves the fabric between her legs. Her eyes scan over his face and her blush deepens. It’s a shame he’s half demon… He’s actually kind of attractive.