Kel’ori opens her eyes to the morning light shining in through a window. The pungent smell of oil hits her and she blinks, then turns to look beside her on the bed, where the goblin lays. “Oh!”
Gildwynn blinks awake, then sits up and rubs at an eye with a knuckle. He glances over, then pauses. “Oh,” he echoes, then smiles. “You’re here still. Usually girls as pretty as you think it best to get outta here asap.”
Kel’ori gives a shy smile and holds the sheet over herself as she sits up. “No offense, but usually I do. Not that it’s because of you, I just have a no-sleepover policy.” She laughs absently at herself. “That was…one intense nightcrawler.”
The goblin gives an award chuckle and glances at the clock on the other side of her. He stands from his low-lying bed and throws on his leather breeches. “I could tell. You had one and were on the floor. Heh.” He grabs a fresh shirt from his wardrobe. “Uhm, you drink coffee at all?”
She bites at her lip and searches the floor for her lacey underwear and brassiere. “Are you asking me out or offering me a cup?” She giggles as she pulls her robes toward her with a toe.
He avoids looking to give her privacy despite the previous night. “Well, unless you have a favorite place…” He presses a button on the wall beside his bed and pipes whir to life along the eaves, puffing steam in places. “Though, not to brag, but I import bags from Booty Bay.” He buttons his leather vest.
Violet magic swirls around the silk-covered buttons running up the back of the mage’s robes—each one slips through its designated loop and, once secured, gets almost lost against the fabric. “I love Booty Bay coffee.” She stands, looking for her boots. As she crosses the room to grab one, she trips over a device against the wall, but catches herself on the bed. She laughs and holds her head. “That can’t have been a normal nightcrawler. Ana’s trying to kill me,” she says jokingly.
Gildwynn crosses the room to grab the cup of coffee already steaming beneath the machine. After setting a couple of cubes of sugar on the plate as well, he strides over to hand it to her. “You trusted Ana with a drink?” He chuckles. “That was your first mistake.” He glances at the clock again, then quickly gets to work lacing his boots.
Kel’ori follows his gaze as she sips the coffee with the sugar in it. “Oh, is that really the time? Ugh. Do you mind if I finish this? I swear I’ll be gone after that.” She sips at the coffee, then blows an icy breath over it to cool it the smallest bit.
The goblin flushes a slight tint of purple. “You ain’t gotta rush,” he says with a slight smile. “You’re, uh…” He clears his throat as he straightens and makes his way over to the vanity to throw water in his hair. “You’re welcome anytime. Heh.”
Kel’ori smirks and sits, crossing one leg over the other. “I may have been out of my mind, but I remember last night. I might just have to stop by, again.”
Gildwynn pauses while running product through his hair, staring incredulously at her reflection in the mirror. “Are you sure you aren’t still out of your mind?” he says quietly, then straightens as a knock rings through the room from the stairwell. “Uh, excuse me. Heh.” He makes his way down and opens the door. “Oh. Ana.”
The mage smiles down at him, though he cannot see. “Good morning, Gil.” Her smile turns to a smirk. “Kel’ori wouldn’t happen to be here, would she?”
The goblin flushes and hesitates. “Y-yeah…actually.”
Anarchaia swallows a titter. “Could you tell her to meet us at the Lounge in fifteen?”
Gildwynn’s ears pull back and he gives an uncomfortable smile. “Sure.”
“Thank you,” the undead girl sings and turns to leave.
The goblin closes the door and makes his way back up the stairs. “Eh…knowing the acoustics of my apartment, I’m assuming you heard that.”
Kel’ori sets the cool backs of her fingers to her cheeks, hoping they aren’t as flushed as she feels. “I suppose I should head on over… Unless you can think of something better to do in fifteen minutes than be early to meeting up with someone.” She gives a small laugh, then swallows the last of the coffee.
Gildwynn’s ears turn a dark purple and he chuckles, embarrassed. “Not sure fifteen minutes is long enough for me…” After finishing with his hair and cologne, he slides a leather sleeve over his non-dominant arm and buckles it underneath. “Uh…maybe we could…heh.” He swallows and adjusts his collar nervously. “Do this again…? Sometime…?”
Kel’ori sets her coffee aside and pulls her blue boots just above her knees, her eyes on him as she smirks. “Are you sure I’m the mage you want stopping by?”
He knits his sandy blond brow and clears his throat, then straightens and sets a hand on a hip. “Yes. Yes I am.”
Kel’ori stands and goes to him. She bends and kisses his forehead. “Then I’m sure I’ll be hearing from you again. You know how to find me.” She winks and is gone in a flurry of lavender sparkles.
Gildwynn deflates some when she’s gone, and, with a sigh, grabs his keys and makes his way down the stairs. A calico cat leaps onto the railing of the stairs outside as the goblin nears and cries for pets. He runs his palm over the animal’s head and smiles as he rounds the banister to head toward the front of his store. “C’mon, BilgeCat. Shop ain’t gonna open itself.” The cat chirps again and leaps down to follow.
Anarchaia perks as Kel’ori appears in the lounge. “Hey,” she says with a smile. “I bet you have a headache…”
Kel’ori lowers herself gracefully to a stool and smiles amicably. “Only a little. Thanks to you.” She gives a soft laugh.
Taveth scowls his way to the stool beside his sister. “What did Ana do to you?” He asks quietly. “Tea,” he whines at Anarchaia.
Alisbeth skips to the couch in the corner, her hair dripping wet.
Not far behind her, Koltira comes down, his hair also still wet. He goes to the mage and takes his place beside her. “Oh. Wow. You two look very much worse for the wear.”
Anarchaia conjures two cups of steaming water as well as a mixture of briarthorn tea overtop them; the mixture drops inside. “I…may have given you the wrong kind of worm. Heh.” She glances at Koltira and smiles. “Have a nice shower?”
Grimory makes his way down the stairs, styling his hair with fiery hands. “Oh, good. We’re all here already.”
Taveth narrows his eyes at the mages. “What color was the worm?”
“Was lonely, but yes,” Koltira says, idly checking the buckles of his armor.
Alisbeth grins up at the demon hunter. “Yep! I went to my bank last night and got new gear!” She lifts her helmet up and barely holds back a scream of excitement. “And I found this at the auction house!” She jams the brass-colored item on her head and jumps up and down. “I have horns, now! Look at my horns! They’re black! I have horns now!”
Kel’ori and Taveth hiss and shush her at the same time.
Grimory chuckles at her enthusiasm and pats her on the shoulder. “Like a true hunter. Ready to go? Got your hearthstone?”
Alisbeth digs into the black satchel she’d grabbed to match her new jet-black armor set. “Got it.”
Anarchaia shrugs to Taveth. “It was dark in the tavern.” She then smirks to Koltira. “Oh. You all didn’t shower together?” She gestures over her shoulder to the other couple and sniggers.
Koltira smirks. “Nope. Be kind, I bet Grim was sad.”
Taveth smacks his lips. “There’s two kinds of nightcrawlers. One is your usual brown, but the other is just the littlest bit purple and glows faintly. Please tell me the worm was not glowing.”
Kel’ori purses her lips and says nothing as she turns away to sip her tea.
“Congratulations, you tried to kill my sister. A shame you weren’t successful.” He mutters the last bit at his cup.
Kel’ori hits his arm and hot tea spills onto his hand. He sets the cup down to shake his hand and cool it in the air.
The undead girl chortles to her partner. “Oh, I bet he was. Bet he’d have given anything to be in my place last night.” She gives a sheepish grin to the siblings. “Trying implies intent.”
Koltira chuckles in the mage’s ear. “He couldn’t handle being in your place.” He blinks. “That sounded pompous.”
Grimory overhears and scoffs but says nothing. “Just hold it in your hand when you’re ready and visualize where you wanna go, yeah? I assume you’ve used one before…”
“Like this?” Alisbeth grips the stone, her eyes closed in concentration. Then she disappears.
Grimory pinches the bridge of his nose. “Yeah. Just like that.” He grabs his own stone from his pack and, in the same fashion, is gone the next moment.
Taveth smiles at Anarchaia. “There are two kinds. It’s why we keep them in clear jars, but we don’t label them. The regular ones are for regular patrons. The others are strictly for the undead. They’re much more potent, because of enchantment. Otherwise we’d go through ten just for a death knight to feel the same effects as a living being. We don’t get much call for them in Stormwind, but I imagine up here or in Horde taverns, they’re requested often.
Anarchaia’s grin grows nervous as Taveth continues talking. Her eyes flit between him and his sister. “Uh…Oh! Honest mistake. Silly me. Hahaha.” She lifts her brows and sighs, turning to Koltira as though he’s a distraction. She smirks and lowers her voice, leaning in close. “Is it pompous if it’s true, though?” Through her mask she places a kiss on his lips.
Kel’ori smiles and holds back a laugh. “It was honestly insane. Extremely fun, but insane.”
Taveth raises his eyebrow at her. “You’re not planning on doing it again, are you?”
“Oh, no. Gods, no. That was too drunk too fast, for me. I will, however, demand you make my drinks for all of life.”
Koltira chuckles. “Well, it’s a good thing you can, then.” He looks around. “We’re down two members…”
Anarchaia looks in the now empty corner and jumps. “Oh! Right!” She digs in her belt for her hearthstone and shrugs to the Nighthearts. “I can’t open a portal several thousand miles away, so…”
Kel’ori frowns. “I didn’t get one of those. I could get myself there, but be completely drained for a bit.”
“There’s a portal on Krasus Landing,” Koltira says. “It’s Light magic. Hurts my kind, but you should be fine using it.”
“Oh!” She finishes her tea in one gulp and smiles, then quickly hugs the mage with one arm. “Thanks for the tea!” She disappears in a flurry of sparkles.
Taveth cocks an eyebrow at Anarchaia. “You two seem…close.” He digs for his own hearthstone.
Anarchaia blinks as she’s hugged, then gives another anxious chuckle. “I guess she kind of agrees with me…about Illidan.” She looks at the stone in her hand and sighs. “I honestly don’t want to go back,” she mutters, deflating.
Koltira hugs Anarchaia. “In this case, can I agree with you?”
Taveth purses his lips at his stone. “My job isn’t done.” He squeezes the stone and disappears.
The mage smiles up at the death knight. “I suppose. Just this once.” She frowns as Taveth leaves, then steels herself before kissing the man before her again. “See you there.” Her form swirls out of existence.
Grimory folds his arms and taps the toe of his boot as the others appear one-by-one. “That’s five,” he says when Anarchaia joins them.
Kel’ori pops in from the room to the side. “Okay, let me just get one of those stones and I’m ready to go.” She makes for the innkeeeper.
Koltira peers around the room. “Let’s talk to Turalyon; see what he’d like for us to do next.”
Anarchaia nods to the other mage, then to Koltira. “My turn to agree with you.” She smiles and heads for the stairway to the upper platform where Turalyon, Alleria, Arator, and Khadgar are conversing. She steps in, meekly toying with her fingers. “Uh, Y-your Radiance.” She avoids her teacher’s gaze as does he hers. “We’ve returned for your next orders.”
Turalyon, more somber than his usual self, looks between her and the rest of the party. “I’ve not much left for you in this region. Illidan has made his way to the Antoran Wastes to the west. I’m sure he’ll have something for you there.”
The mage nods. “Yessir. Right away.” She turns to Koltira and grits her teeth as she descends the stairs. “More Light travel…”
Koltira watches Anarchaia for a minute. When she reaches the bottom of the stairs, he smirks. “Um, Ana?” He motions at Romuul, the draenei waiting patiently by the domed map in the console. “I know you hate Light travel, but walking away won’t get you there any faster.” He gives her a sly wink.
Kel’ori lifts the skirt of her robe and runs down the curved ramp and to the other mage. “Got it. Ready to go,” she says, breathless. She turns her sights on the others. “Same place as before?”
“I’m going to get—” Anarchaia cringes as Kel’ori comes running up to her. “Never mind. No. We’re off to Antoran Wastes today. To talk with…Illidan” She sighs and turns to Koltira, looking between him and Alisbeth. <<And watch your volume, please.>>
Grimory also looks at Alisbeth. “Sorry, darlin’. More meat grinder. Think you can handle it?”
Alisbeth grins slyly at Anarchaia. “Why do you hate Light travel, Applebees?”
“Because it’s disorienting,” Taveth says before anyone can reply. “I honestly fight to get my bearings every time. It’s also very bright. I, too, would prefer not to use it.”
Alisbeth’s smile falls. “Oh. Wait, really? It’s that awful?” She shrugs and allows the draenei to transport her away.
Taveth turns to wink at Anarchaia as the death knight disappears in a flash of light and a shrill scream.
“Why did you lie to Ali?” Kel’ori asks.
The undead mage gives a sigh of relief and mouths a thank you to the scholar. She chuckles at Kel’ori as though not relieved. “You don’t find it nauseating?” She shrugs and gestures to Romuul, then dissipates into a beam of light before the elf can respond.
Kel’ori pauses. “Um, no?” she says to no one as Koltira and then Taveth disappear.
Grimory gives a glance around when he reappears. “Wow. Scenic.” He sets a hand on Alisbeth’s shoulder and gives a nervous smile. “Gonna live?” he laughs.
Alisbeth grins painfully at Grimory. “Ever felt like you’re going to puke out your innards?”
Once the blood elf mage appears beside the others, Koltira straightens and shakes off his discomfort. “Okay, I got a look at the map just before coming through. Illidan is a good walk north from here. I’d say it’s a day—” He observes the demons littering the area as far north as he can see. “It might be two days, stopping to fight almost constantly.”
Grimory purses his lips. “Only when I actually have,” he responds to Alisbeth before nodding to both Koltira and Taveth. “Sounds like a plan. When night falls, the dead can keep watch while the rest…rest.”
Taveth follows the death knight’s gaze. “Dogs. They’re small and Grim—and you two—” he motions as an afterthought at the death knights, “can pull them all tight for the ladies to use any area of effect abilities they have.”
Anarchaia nods as well. “How will we know it’s night, exactly?” She looks up at the cloudless sky and endless stars beyond the imposing body of Azeroth.
Kel’ori looks up. “When were tired, I suppose?”
Taveth pulls out a bronze fob watch and clicks it open. “It’s nearly nine in the morning. We’ve plenty of ‘daytime’ left.”
Grimory nods and turns to head up the path as though he doesn’t care who follows.
Koltira smirks at the device, then eyes Anarchaia. “I’m really surprised you don’t have one of those. And check it constantly to make sure we’re on schedule. And nag us about keeping a move on.” He grabs her in a playful hug.
Anarchaia purses her lips as her face gets squished into his cuirass. “Perhaps I just don’t care about the time when I’m with you.” She reaches up to poke him in the cheek and wiggles free from his grasp to follow the Illidari. “Though we really should keep a move on…”
Alisbeth runs after Grimory and leaps onto his back. “Wait…you…puked out your innards?! How? Why? Did it hurt? Was it cool?”
The other three fall into step, Koltira taking the undead mage by the hand and the Nightheart siblings just behind.
The day wears on slowly, the travelers growing hot from the lava and dirty from the soot, dirt, and viscera. Nearly every several yards is a demon of some twisted sort, which runs forward, eager to fight. By the time noon rolls around, Kel’ori is exhausted, though not having done much of the fighting herself. She drops to a small outcropping and wipes her forehead, leaving a grey smear across her moist skin.
“I have to sit. Please. I need water. And food. And to rest.” She conjures a glass of water and drinks gluttonously.
Taveth thinks on it for a moment, then sits with her. “I didn’t want to say anything.”
Grimory gives a curt nod as he leans up against the cliffside. He pulls a ration of dried meat from his pack and chews on it idly, skin also glittering with sweat and demon blood. “A shame there’s no water on this gods-forsaken rock.”
Anarchaia lifts a hand and a table appears, its cloth billowing as it hovers with arcane energies. The surface is lined with cups and pitchers of clean water as well as a few plates of sweets. “No need to thank me,” she says with a playful grin and a wave of a hand.
Taveth bats Kel’ori’s had away from the sweets. “Don’t. They’ll make you more thirsty.”
Kel’ori narrows her eyes at him and reaches again. He slaps her hand away again. The mage hops from the green-black jagged edge, grabs up several sweets, and blinks away to another outcropping. She sits down and overacts eating each one as Taveth purses his lips at her.
Alisbeth grumbles. “Can you just dump cold water on me? This is awful. I’m going to melt.”
“Sure.” A large orb of water manifests above Alisbeth’s head and promptly drops.
Alisbeth sighs in relief. “That’s better. Thanks.”
Grimory chuckles and grabs a cup of cold water and a strudel from the table. He sticks it between his fangs and sits where Kel’ori had been. “Guess we’ll be bathing in lava, too.”
Kel’ori sneers. “I’ll conjure my own shower, thanks.”
Taveth chuckles. “I’m pretty sure they have accommodations on the Vindicaar.”
Anarchaia sits cross-legged in the ash and dirt. “I can always grab some tents. Though in this heat I doubt you’d sleep very well…”
“I could sleep through the end of the world,” Grimory grunts and downs his water. “A little sweat is gross, but I’ve had worse.”
Taveth’s ears twitch at the sound of a fiend chattering in the distance. He shudders. “We should probably get moving again.”
Alisbeth makes a face and shoulders her axe.
Koltira holds out his hand to the mage on the ground. “All good?”
The table disappears in a flurry of sparkles. Anarchaia takes the death knight’s hand, using it to stand again, and smiles behind her mask. “Yeah. Let’s go.”
Grimory furrows his brow as the cup in his hand disappears as well, and stands. “Mage stuff,” he grumbles and holds an arm out for Alisbeth. Before he can take a step down the path, however, the ground rumbles. Taveth immediately whips out his journal to sketch the demon and its entourage.
A demon the size of a small building rounds the corner of the cliffside with a massive sword over an armored shoulder and a smattering of imps in tow.
Kel’ori jumps up in a slight panic and blinks forward, running into Koltira, who doesn’t waver. The death knight rights her with a smirk.
“Careful where you’re going. Don’t want to get impaled.” He nods to Grimory, signaling he is ready to follow the demon hunter into the fight.
Grimory nods and his arms bulge as they morph into smoky black claws. He runs forward, scraping a nail along the dirt. Golden light flows from the scratch to beneath the imps. Chains burst from the sigil and pull all the lesser demons to its center.
The larger demon swings its huge sword in a low arc, narrowly missing the demon hunter as the elf leaps over the blade.
Anarchaia steps forward and lifts a hand. A vortex swirls above; from it rains thick shards of ice and sleet. The imps shudder at the chill and others cry out as they’re buffeted.
Alisbeth leaps in, Maw swinging wildly.
Taveth looks over at his sister, nervously picking at her perfect manicure. “Well?”
“I’ll get hurt! Do you see the size of that thing? What if it turns its sword on me? I’ll crumple like paper!”
“Grim has its attention,” Anarchaia says with slight irritation and dodges a ball of fire from an angry imp. She doesn’t anticipate the second, however, and hisses as it flies so close to her face that her hood gets blown back.
The Illidari sidesteps another swing from the demon’s sword and blows fire over his back. The demon growls and decides Alisbeth is a weaker target. He ignores the heat at his thick hide and brings his sword down on her as she nears.
Alisbeth hops out of the way and growls. “You’re not supposed to be looking at me!”
Kel’ori tries to stop, but is already blinking as the demon turns on Alisbeth. She pops to the middle of the group with her hands over her head as a violet sphere radiates in quick pulses from her. The imps all shriek and burst with little sparks, then fall down, dead. Kel’ori opens one eye at the sound, then stares around, dumbfounded. “Woah.”
Koltira grabs the mage and drags her out of the near proximity of the huge demon. “Nice job. Get back.”
Anarchaia smiles at the other mage. “Well done.” She hurls a large fireball toward the monster, but he lifts his sword to shield himself.
Grimory growls. “I’m trying.” He rakes his claws over an exposed spot in the demon’s armor and is splashed with blood.
The demon releases a bestial cry and turns to swing at the demon hunter again.
Grimory, not expecting such a quick turn in attention, yelps and backpedals as the blade bites into his chest and arm. He momentarily ignores the pain to dodge another swing.
Kel’ori blushes. “Um, thanks.” With sudden confidence, she turns and sends several arcane blasts and a series of crystalline missiles at the demon.
Alisbeth leaps at the demon hunter. “Grim! No!” She places herself between him and the demon, bringing her axe down in front of her. Crimson splatters forward and a red mist swirls to those nearest the death knight.
The demon slashes at Alisbeth with reinvigorated hatred, but Grimory rushes forward to stop the sword with a hardened claw. Thorns sprout from his shoulders as his muscles struggle to hold the weapon in place. “His…head…” He growls and breathes fire into the demon’s face. Red swirls from the burns into his own wounds, stopping the bleeding and sealing the gashes.
The demon growls as his back is assaulted with arcane and ice magic and his front is washed with flames. Alisbeth scrambles up and plants her feet. She swings her axe with all her strength at the demon’s neck. The demon looks back at the death knight and reaches a hand up to grab her while still struggling with the demon hunter. Before he can grab her, however, the axe buries deep in his throat. He thrashes, throwing Alisbeth off his back. Unfortunately, the axe goes with her and arterial spray douses those nearest him.
Grimory holds fast to the blade even when the demon falls to the dirt in a rapidly growing pool of blood. He throws it aside. “Right. Good job.”
Anarchaia wipes a single rogue drop of blood from her chest and sneers. “Gross.”
Koltira shakes the blood from one hand, though he’s completely covered in it. “That wasn’t too bad, I suppose? Though, if there are many more like it, that could prove…aggravating.”
Grimory nods to Koltira. “I’m sure there’s worse lurking about as well. We need to keep on our toes.”
Alisbeth shoulders her axe and skips to her cousin. She throws her arm over the mage’s shoulders and smiles. “You did good! I didn’t think you could do anything near that cool.”
Kel’ori shudders, then screams as the bloody arm squishes and rubs against the expensive fabric of her robes. She lurches away from Alisbeth and gasps at the blood in her hair and on her sleeves. “You absolute heathen!”
Anarchaia titters at the other two women. “Pull the blood from the fabric, then burn it into vapor. You can do that, can’t you?”
Kel’ori wrinkles her nose. “There’s no need to be condescending. Of course I know how to do it. Doesn’t make this okay! Don’t touch me!” she screams as Alisbeth runs for her again, arms stretched wide for a hug.
Taveth gives a small smirk as he sidles up to Anarchaia. “Remember how I was about my journals of research? That’s how Kel is about clothing. She can fix any damage and do pretty much all of the sewing…but it’s the idea of the matter. She doesn’t want to have to.” He laughs as his sister blinks past him with a shriek and Alisbeth comes barreling by his arm.
“I wasn’t being condescending,” the undead mage mutters before smiling to Taveth. “I get it. Heh.”
Koltira also laughs at the two women. He stops as he hears a chattering on the outcropping overhead. “Ali, stop!” He shifts his eyes up in time to see two fiends leap from the ledge. Thinking quickly, he reaches out and drags Kel’ori into his arms with a purple tendril, seconds before the demon would have landed on her, but leaving Alisbeth to fend for herself.
Anarchaia grits her teeth and lifts a hand to throw a protective barrier of arcane energy around the death knight woman. The felhound claws all the way down as it slides off the barrier, then yelps as Grimory brings a swift boot to its side.
Alisbeth giggles as the demon flops to the ground. She jumps from the barrier and cuts the head clean off. “I was almost mad at you for that, Angerblarg, but it was really funny to watch.”
Kel’ori whines and shoves away from Koltira. “Why do you people keep touching me with that!” She stomps away, her body becoming encased in violet energy as the blood separates from her robes, hair, and skin. She collects it into a ball and throws it into a pool of lava, where it hisses and causes blobs of the green to hop around, until finally settling again.
Koltira frowns. “Yeah, you’re welcome.” He shakes his head and turns to continue up the path.
Alisbeth takes the head from the other fiend and holds it up at her cousin, smiling. “Want a trophy?”
Anarchaia gives Koltira a comforting pat on the arm. “I’m sure she’s grateful.” She turns to grab the head from Alisbeth using magic. “Let’s not traumatize her further, Ali. Heh.” She tosses it into the lava.
Grimory gestures for the rest to follow. “C’mon. We need to keep moving.”
The others fall into step with the two men leading the way.