Alisbeth shifts to glance at the bay doors where evidence of morning is brightening the land. She sighs at another sleepless night, then curls back into the demon hunter’s embrace. She bites her lip and smiles, watching his face, enjoying how calm he looks when he’s dreaming.
Grimory groans in his sleep. A sharp and urgent knock rings through the room and the demon hunter jerks awake with a start. His slit pupils dilate to thin lines and he quickly throws his hands over his clenched eyes. He rubs at them before glancing over at Alisbeth, then gives a smile as though still dreaming. The second knock sends him back into reality and he groans, throws his feet over the side of the bed, and grabs a quilt from the end of the bed to tie at his waist.
“Silversong,” Arille says impatiently as the door opens. “You’re needed in the Nether. Urgent business.”
“What kind of urgent business?” Grimory grumbles while running a hand through his messy hair.
“Step outside and see for yourself,” Arille responds as he heads back down the stairs. “And put some fucking clothes on when you answer the door.”
The Illidari inhales long and loudly through his nostrils and he closes the door. “I gotta go,” he says quietly and tosses the quilt aside to rummage for his pants. “I’m sorry.”
Alisbeth frowns at the blanket over her. “Oh. Um, what does he mean by looking outside?” She sits up and wraps the blanket under her arms, dragging it with her to the bay doors. She throws them open and first notices the people looking up into the sky. Then she turns to look where they’re pointing. There, behind the citadel, is a planet—black with a green and yellow scar down the face, teal clouds sweep over it, while the whole sphere is protected by a fel green atmosphere that seems to be exploding and seeping out into the sky. The death knight gasps and runs back inside. “You need to go. Now!”
Grimory’s ears perk. “Hm? Why?” He gently pushes past her to step out onto the balcony. His verdant eyes widen at the sight above. “Argus,” he says on a breath and shakes his head. He sweeps back inside and scoops up his belt to fasten. He makes for the balcony again, but pauses halfway, turns, and comes back to Alisbeth. An arm around her waist, he pulls her to him to push a kiss into her lips. “Be safe, yeah? I’ll be back.” Without waiting for a response, he steps back outside and leaps into the air with wings spread.
~ * ~
A soft knock wakes Taveth. He mumbles and rolls out of bed and opens the door in only his pajama pants, an arm over his torso as though he can hide himself behind it. “Yeah?”
A worgen, eyes wide with fright, glances at the sky, then back at Taveth. She holds up a scroll for him, then stares up at the sky again. “Do… Do you know if the world is ending?”
Taveth raises an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“Y-you know everything, they say. Are we doomed?” She points at the sky.
Taveth steps out to see past the awning. His eyes round at the sight of the planet. Feverishly, he breaks the familiar seal and opens the scroll. “I knew it. It’s Argus.” He sets a hand on her forearm and she looks down into his eyes. “I’m sure we’ll be fine.” He goes back into the room to dress, then throws Diori’s belongings into her trunk. Gently, he wakes the sleeping figure. “Hey, wake up sleepy-head.”
Diori groans and gently pushes at his hand before rolling the other way. “Just a bit longer…”
Taveth throws the blanket from the girl and lifts her onto his shoulder. “Nope. Now. Sorry, kiddo, but there’s something happening, and I’ve got my orders.” He grabs the handle on the side of her trunk and starts dragging it, his brow furrowing with the strain of dealing with both.
Diori groans again and tiredly swings her feet as she yawns. “Where are we going? Is something wrong?” she drones, eyes still closed.
“Yes,” he says, grunting as he forces the trunk through the doorway. He falls on his rear and loses his grip on the trunk. “You have to stay with father for a while. I’m sorry, you can’t come with me this time. And don’t you dare stow away again!”
The tone in his voice causes her to straighten and get to her feet. “I-I won’t…” She summons a small shadow fiend and it picks her luggage up in its gurgling jaws. She makes to say more, but notices the multiple patrons looking into the sky. Her eyes widen. Confusion and fear force tears to her eyes and she rubs at one to ensure she isn’t still asleep. “What is that? Is it bad?” She blindly grabs for Taveth’s sleeve when he nears. “Are we gonna be okay?”
Taveth wraps her in his arms. “Of course we are. I’m going up there to make sure of it. And I’m going to take cousin Ali and maybe Grim… Anyone I can find. I’ll make sure nothing happens to Azeroth.” He kisses her forehead and pulls her up in his arms, balancing her legs around his waist as he heads for the portal to Stormwind.
~ * ~
Anarchaia trots quickly after her teacher, struggling to keep up with his pace. “I should come with!” she cries, then flinches when he turns on a heel and thrusts a stack of parchment into her arms.
“No. You stay here and oversee,” Khadgar pushes a thick tome into her grasp as well, simultaneously fastening his scaled cloak about his shoulders. “I haven’t time to explain. Everything will be fine. I’ll send a letter.” He sets a hand on her head for a brief moment before turning and disappearing in a swirl of light.
The undead girl inhales to retort but he’s already gone. She grunts in aggravation and goes to her room to stow the paperwork. Afterward, she leaves the citadel with a sigh, avoiding looking up at the menacing orb in the sky. She makes her way to the lounge where she assumes Grimory and Alisbeth to be.
Taveth rushes into the inn, stuffing last-minute items into his satchel, his orders clutched in the fist wrapped around the strap over his shoulder. He collides against a figure and falls to the floor. “I’m s-so sorry, I’m just in a bit of an— Oh, Ana. Heh. Sorry. No time to talk, I have to get Ali.”
Anarchaia also hits the floor with a quiet unf! “Hey. It’s all right. Going to Argus?” She pushes to her hands and knees. A paper with familiar handwriting catches her eye. She grabs it and cocks her head at the closing line. “Who’s your friend?” She stands and hands back the paper before it can be torn from her hands.
Taveth takes the paper and shoves it into his bag as though it had offended him. “No one. We have to hurry. Is Alisbeth awake? We need as many people up there as we can get.” He doesn’t wait for responses, just steps past her and grabs her hand, dragging her with him to the stairs.
Anarchaia nearly stumbles again as she’s pulled but rushes to fall in step with him. “She’s always awake, Tav. And I’ll assist you with finding as many as you need.”
Taveth laughs quietly. “Right. Doesn’t sleep. I knew that.” He tears up the stairs and knock on the door. “S-sorry, just…This is urgent. He doesn’t send me messages otherwise.”
Alisbeth pulls the door open, fully clothed in armor with the Redblade on her shoulder. “What are you doing here? I have to go. Something is—”
“It’s Argus,” Koltira says behind the other two. “I have orders to go there immediately.”
“Me too,” Taveth says.
Koltira gives the shorter man a look but says nothing. “I came to get you, Ali. Thassarian’s secret orders. Don’t tell Khadgar or Mograine.”
Anarchaia’s brow furrows and she steps aside to let him pass. “For what reason can I not tell Master?”
Koltira flinches. “Something about letting her out in secret before and it was always a disaster and—”
“Letting me out?” Alisbeth furrows her brow as she locks the door.
“Oh… You’re still…” Koltira clears this throat. “Too much to explain. Come on.”
The mage bristles. “Alisbeth is in my custody. If Mograine has a problem with where she is—which is none of his business—he can come find me, or suffer the consequences.”
Koltira blinks at Anarchaia, looking into where her eyes are for the first time since rushing up the stairs. “It’s for Thassarian’s protection. I know she’s your charge and you’re more than capable of making decisions regarding that, but it was just a suggestion. One I’m taking, regardless.” He swallows and runs his fingers along her arm. “Maybe you should come and…keep an eye on things?”
Taveth blinks at the two. “My orders come from much higher than any of that. Sorry. Ali is coming. So is Ana.”
The mage sobers at the suggestion and resists the urge to grasp his wandering hand in her own. “I can’t. Ali can go but I’m staying here.”
Taveth shakes his head. “No, Ana. Please. I need you.”
Koltira shifts awkwardly. “That was my line,” he mumbles.
Alisbeth rolls her eyes and shoves past. “Fine, she can stay. But we should probably get going.”
Anarchaia shrugs helplessly after watching Alisbeth trudge off. “Master’s orders.” She avoids looking either man in the eye though she knows they wouldn’t know if she did. “I can’t disobey. I’m sorry.”
Koltira presses the mage down the hall some and puts his large figure between her and the others. He frowns down at her. “Ana, please come. I’m…I’m sorry if you thought something was going on with Ali and me, but…” He brushes the backs of his fingers along her cheek. “I miss you.”
She shrinks some and bites her lip, then brings a hand up to cover his. “N-no, I’m sorry.” She sighs. “I was…rude. Immature. I…I shouldn’t have treated you that way.” She bites her lip again and groans. “I miss you, too, but I can’t. He’ll be furious…”
“Maybe we can find him once we get there and…apologize profusely for stealing the most talented mage in Dalaran to help save Azeroth?” He gives her a charming smile.
Her blush deepens and she fidgets, looking down at her hands as she toys with her fingers. “Master is already on the ship, actually. Heh.” She sobers and sighs, weighing her options. “All right…but only because you asked.” She smiles up at him without lifting her head.
Koltira forces her chin up and plants a small kiss where he’s sure her lips are. “Thank you.”
“Are you done?” Alisbeth demands.
The mage jumps at Alisbeth’s authoritative tone, nearly having forgotten they were there. “Y-yeah. Heh.” She gives Koltira’s hand a quick squeeze before heading for the stairs.
Taveth leads them down the stairs, then sighs as he remembers. “You’ll have to meet me there.”
Koltira nods. “There’s a boat in Orgrimmar to Azuremyst Isle.”
The high elf nods. “Meet me at the Exodar.”
Anarchaia scrunches her face suspiciously as Taveth leaves. “The Exodar? Is that where everyone’s headed?” A piece of parchment appears within her hands and she attempts to write a well-worded letter while walking. “To Orgrimmar, then?”
“Yes,” Koltira says simply as he urges both women forward with a palm set to the smalls of their backs.
Alisbeth squirms at his touch, but says nothing.
They take the portal to Orgrimmar and walk through the city out to the bay, where a ship of blood elf make waits in the harbor. Alisbeth narrows her eyes at Lady Liadrin; the other woman does the same to Alisbeth.
“Liadrin,” Alisbeth says.
The paladin doesn’t address her. “Let’s see your orders,” she says. Koltira holds out her paper and she inspects it. “Make yourselves comfortable. It’s a good few hours to the Isle.” She checks the orders of a few more boarding parties, then whistles to get the full ship moving.
Anarchaia gives a curt nod of gratitude to the men guarding the boarding plank and makes her way on board. “I don’t remember the last time I’ve ridden a boat. Heh. Hopefully it’s not as nauseating when you’ve not eaten anything.”
A blood elf man motions to a door near the end of the deck. “Resting quarters below decks,” he says as though he’s said the same words countless times. “For your convenience.”
Koltira nods. “I think resting quarters sounds nice. Might help with sea sickness?”
Alisbeth turns from them. “I’m staying above deck.” She sits at the edge of the ship, her feet hanging off the side as she watches the water beat against the hull like fists begging to be let in.
The mage fidgets and flicks her attention between the two. “Eh. I’ll try my hand at not being bent over the railing for now.” She chuckles, though the laugh fades into nothing. She swallows while looking at Alisbeth’s back. What did I do, now?
Koltira gives the mage a patient smile. “So, in or out?”
Anarchaia shrugs and steps over to the aforementioned bannister. “The sea air at this altitude is nice.” She pushes her hood back and smiles. “Better than Stormheim. Heh. I think I’ll enjoy it a bit.” She leans against the railing and looks down at Alisbeth a few feet away. “I take it you’ve been at sea before?”
Alisbeth smiles. “I went fishing with my father when I was ten. I tried to eat the worms. When he wouldn’t let me set the fish free I cried.” She smiles at the memory and breathes in the sea air. “You never realize how much you love the sea until you see it again, do you?” She turns her gentle smile up to the mage.
Anarchaia can’t help smiling in return. “I wasn’t allowed outside much. Especially during the day. I’ve only been this close to the sea a couple times, though I spent most of the time below decks to avoid the sun. The moon is so beautiful on the waves. I can’t say I love it, but yeah…it’s pretty great.” She chortles. “Do you still have a taste for nightcrawlers?”
Alisbeth laughs. “No, I stopped that when he actually let me eat one. It kept wiggling in my mouth and all the way down my throat.” She shakes in disgust at the memory. “That’s sad you stayed indoors. Unfair.”
Koltira stands back, saying nothing as he watches in a strange amazement at the two women getting along so well.
The mage shudders along with her and laughs. “It’s okay. I had a skin condition. I’d rather not be out in the sun than suffer the horrible burns it’d cause.” She sobers though her smile remains. “I escaped the house during the day, once. Blisters over most of my shoulders and face. Father was irate. That was enough to keep me inside from then on.”
Alisbeth gives her a sad smile. “It’s still not fair. Is that why you cover yourself now? To protect yourself from the sun?”
Anarchaia pauses and for a moment considers telling this new, level-headed Alisbeth the truth. She instead nods. “Yeah. It gets warm, but I’m used to it after forty years. Heh.” A particularly large wave crashes against the side of the ship and sprays water over the trio, the two at the edge getting the brunt of the mist.
Alisbeth wipes her face and tosses her damp hair over a shoulder. She laughs lightly. “You think she’s playing with us, or warning us?”
Koltira smirks. “I hope playing.”
The mage brings up her robes to wring them out—namely the hem. “Yeah, I changed my mind. I’m going down below lest I fall ill again.” She chuckles and turns for the large wooden doors leading to the lower decks. “Enjoy your new friend. Don’t eat any worms.”
Alisbeth laughs, then turns back to the sea, her smile fading into a frown. Alone, again, Redblade. She presses her hands to her ears and shakes her head as though refusing to believe she’s hearing the voice.