Book 5 – Chapter Sixteen

Alisbeth and Kel’ori fall in with Anarchaia. The death knight sighs and stares up at the cave set into the cliff. “So, am I the only one that feels singled out?” she hisses.

Anarchaia lifts her eyebrows. “Singled out? Why do you feel that way?” She glances up at the cliffside as well and motions for three girls to take her hands.

Alisbeth ducks her head. “Nothing.” She takes Anarchaia’s hand.

Kel’ori shrugs. “Something’s up his ass, that’s for sure.” She takes Anarchaia’s other hand.

Anarchaia knits her brow as the three disappear and reappear at the mouth of the cave one the ledge. “Who? Illidan? I think it’s been established that he’s not the nicest Stormrage brother…”

Alisbeth pouts. “He makes Grim angry.” She kicks a small imp away and grins as it screams all the way down into the fel hunter pit. “I want to do that again.” She spots another imp and bats it over the side with her axe.

Kel’ori blasts the ground under an imp and sends it up into the air and over the side of the bridge. She gives a small laugh and heads for the cave entrance. “Ladies?”

“Hm. I do feel rather badly for him,” Anarchaia mumbles as she passes both women. She frowns as she freezes a lone eredari’s hooves to the ground, then assaults their unarmored face with flames; the woman cries out as she burns, unable to run away. “Perhaps we should do something to cheer him up.”

Alisbeth smiles. “I bet he’d like a party. And booze. And naked girls.” She casually cuts the eredari’s head off and continues into the cave.

Kel’ori cocks an eyebrow. “You’re going to give your boyfriend naked girls?”

Alisbeth laughs. “He’s not my boyfriend, silly. And why not? He likes naked girls.”

Kel’ori sends an inquisitive look to Anarchaia.

She gives the other mage a shrug and a nervous titter. “She’s not wrong, heh.”

A pack of imps comes hopping around the corner, then stops when the bulk of them notices the women. Anarchaia throws a ring of frost below them, turning their skin an icy blue and slowing their movements.

Kel’ori blinks to the imps and an orb of energy pulses around her, shattering the limbs of some of the imps and killing off the weaker ones. She squeaks as one grabs the skirt of her robes and blinks back to the other two. “Get it off!

Alisbeth laughs at the little demon holding on for dear life as the mage whirls around in a panic. “But he likes you!”

Anarchaia plucks the imp from Kel’ori’s robes, opens a small portal, then tosses it through. “All right, no more distractions. We need to get all the prisoners in this cave freed.” She makes her way through the first bend in the tunnel to find two cages nestled near the wall. She grabs the locks and they glow purple before springing free.

The two broken regard them with panic and gratitude before running to the exit.

“I’ll get those ones,” Kel’ori says, blinking to another set of cages.

Alisbeth runs past. “I want to free some! I’ll get—oof!” She lands on her backside and glares up at an inquisitor. “Watch it, ugly!”

Anarchaia runs to her side, palms filled with flames. A small portal opens and a green eye floats lazily out of it. The undead girl grits her teeth as her limbs freeze. A larger than usual pack of imps bounds down the bend ahead, chattering excitedly.

Alisbeth stands and smacks the inquisitor with her axe. “Let my friend go!”

“Look out!” Kel’ori screams. She blinks into the imps and pulses several times, weakening the them considerably. Before she can finish them off, another eye appears and captures the mage’s attention, who freezes in place, her eyes wide and focused on the one staring back at her.

“Let them go!” Alisbeth turns her attention on the eyes. They die in one hit and free the mages.

Kel’ori shrieks at the imps crawling up her skirt and explodes in several frantic, lavender bursts. They fall to the ground at her feet, but she continues, not convinced they’re properly dead.

Anarchaia stumbles as her muscles again agree to work. She growls and sends a blast-wave of fire from herself, finishing off the couple remaining imps and burning the inquisitor—still reeling from Alisbeth’s blow.

The demon gnashes his teeth angrily and opens another portal. More imps leap forward and hurl fireballs at anyone threatening their master.

Alisbeth throws a ring of decay beneath the imps and pulls them all into a convenient pile.

“Freeze them!” Kel’ori tells Anarchaia as she sends a huge, purple orb through the pile. The swirling vortex continues past until it hits the wall of the cave and explodes into shimmering sparkles.

The inquisitor wastes no time summoning another pack of imps, then begins to summon an eye.

Anarchaia nods and aims a slow moving orb of ice into the thick of the imps. She turns to aim a blast of fire at the inquisitor, but he’s already upon her with two demonic eyes floating silently behind. He grabs her by the throat and promptly lifts her off her feet. Green and violet swirl from the mage’s body and into his own. Anarchaia writhes for only a moment before slowly falling limp in his grasp. The eyes turn on the remaining women.

Kel’ori spins, then immediately stops in her tracks, her gaze locked on the eye. Alisbeth runs forward, tugging at her cousin, but unable to move her away. She stumbles and falls, her axe skittering across the floor of the cave. When she looks up a hug eye the size of her own head is leering down at her, and she is rendered motionless.

The inquisitor hums in satisfaction and lifts his free hand. “Sleep.” A greenish mist flutters from his sleeves and into Alisbeth and Kel’ori’s faces. The women close their blue eyes as they fall unconscious. “Fuel for the fel,” he hisses as the remaining imps scramble to lift the elves into the air with their short arms. The group makes its way down the narrow tunnel and into the nearest alcove with empty cages.

~ * ~

Alisbeth wakes to darkness, knowing her vision is foggy by the faint glow from her eyes. She reaches out a hand, searching blindly in the darkness until she finds the cold steel bars of a cage. She follows it around and around and around. When she finally realizes that she’s completely trapped, she screams and throws herself against the bars. She climbs up, tangling herself in the metal in the hopeless attempt to find an opening at the top. She finds none and releases her hands, so she can dangle by her knees and cry.

“Who’s there,” Kel’ori’s groggy voice comes through the darkness. The mage sits up, waiting for her vision to unblur in the darkness.

“Not me,” Alisbeth whispers.

“Ali? Is that you?”

The death knight covers her face. “No. I’m nothing. Nothing. I’m darkness. I’m nothing.”

Kel’ori frowns. “No, you’re not nothing. You’re talking, right? So, you’re you. And I’m me and Ana… Oh, gods, Ana?”

The undead mage does not stir in her place within her own cage, simply remains crumpled in a crescent on the floor.

“I’m nothing. I’m nothing.” Alisbeth mutters over and over.

Kel’ori growls and musters her power to create a small flame in her palm. Sweat drips into her eyes, but she is able to spot an unlit torch on a wall. She throws the flame and stumbles back. “Ugh. I hate fire magic. So hard.” She looks across the room to see Alisbeth dangling from the bars of her cage, head in her hands. “Open your eyes, doofus.”

Alisbeth opens her eyes and looks around. “I’m here!” She lifts her legs and lets herself fall to the dirt, then crawls over to where her cage nearly connects with Anarchaia’s. She reaches through the bars, trying to tap at the mage’s hand, but can’t quite reach.

Anarchaia groans and lifts her heavy head. “Ugh…” She pushes to her hands and knees. “What…what happened?”

Alisbeth frowns as her scrabbling hand goes ignored. “I looked into the eye. It was so pretty. I became stone. A pretty little statue. Do you think I’m a pretty statue?”

Kel’ori scoffs. “We got carried off by those nasty little imps.” She shudders, then her gaze lands on her manicure. “They chipped a nail! Now I’ll look ridiculous until I can get to a stylist.” She conjures an emery board and begins working to smooth the chip so it’s less conspicuous or likely to catch on something.

Anarchaia pats Alisbeth’s hand and stands shakily. She falls forward and braces herself on the bars. Memory eases its way back into her head. “Yes, Ali…very pretty.” She sighs, head swimming.

Grimory’s ears perk at the familiar voices and he finds his way to their chamber. He pulls his ears back and smirks. “Really, guys? Can’t leave y’all alone for a couple hours…”

“Spare us the patronizing.” Anarchaia groans and slides down the bars to her knees.

He chuckles and looks at the cages as he nears. “Not patronizing. Am I wrong, though?”

Alisbeth makes a face at him. “We couldn’t move. We were statues. And there were…fifty imps! More!

Kel’ori jumps and smiles. “Oh! Grimory!” Her emery board puffs away in a violet cloud. “Thank the gods you came. Be a doll and rip this cage door of with your…huge, rippling muscles, hmm?” She chews on her lower lip and bats her eyelashes at him.

Alisbeth stares across the cave, a look of disbelief sent at her cousin, who doesn’t notice.

The demon hunter raps a knuckle against one of the sturdy bars of Alisbeth’s cage and gives Kel’ori a grin. “Normally I’d have no problem slashing through these, but they look pretty new.” He looks at the lock. “And enchanted. Or I’m sure you’d just blink out, yeah?”

“Keys,” Anarchaia wheezes at knee level.

Grimory rolls his eyes. “No shit. I’ll be back.” He sets Alisbeth’s axe against the side of her cage and turns for the exit. “I’m sure there’s—”

A tall, floating figure cuts him off at the doorway. Its skull-like face, surrounded by horns, glares down. Grimory quickly reacts with hulking, black claws, but the inquisitor easily slides out of the way.

<<A hunter. You must be harboring one lost within that pathetic body,>> it hisses in Eredun. A swirling green light appears and from it flies a smoking eye, its red pupil peering about; it locks on Grimory.

The Illidari stops mid-stride and lowers his claws.

Grim, don’t look!” Anarchaia cries from the opposite side of the room.

But it’s too late.

<<Release him,>> the inquisitor growls, lifting a gnarled, clawed hand.

Grimory cries out sharply and grits his teeth. Emerald energies eke from his pores and his skin stretches as his muscles swell. Horns poke through his arms and forehead and tear through his leather breeches, while the ones curled beside his face curl further. Skeletal wings with tattered, torn flesh hanging between the spines stretch outward and up. His boots burst at the seams as clawed toes break free of them. He chuckles darkly. <<Thanks.>> He slices the floating eye as easily as a fruit and, in almost the same motion, grasps the inquisitor by the throat.

<<Kath’rozak!>> he croaks, clawing at the hardened flesh of the demon’s claw.

<<That’s General Spinewing to you, vermin.>> A crunch, followed by the tearing of flesh, rings throughout the room as Spinewing tears the inquisitor’s head from his shoulders. He tosses both pieces to the dirt.

Disgusting!” Kel’ori hisses and recoils.

Disgusting,” Alisbeth echoes as though in a dream, running her fingers down the metal bars and biting her lower lip while pressing her thighs against one another.

Spinewing turns. His slit pupils scan over the three cages until finally coming to rest on the busty blond on the end. <<A new one.>> He steps forward, smoke flickering from his nostrils. <<And this one doesn’t smell as awful as the dead mage.>>

Kel’ori shies away from the door, fiddling with her hair nervously. “I-I haven’t fully learned Eredun yet, but if you said what I think you said, thank you.”

She flinches as the demon grabs the door with a massive claw. The metal screeches as it bends and tears from the hinges. It crashes against the far wall.

“Oh gods, thanks so much, Grim!” She steps forward and rests a delicate hand on his forearm.

“That’s not Grim,” Anarchaia says quietly from her end.

“Get away!” Alisbeth shouts, waving an arm. “He’s really strong and tall and hot, but he’s a big meanie!”

Kel’ori furrows her golden brows in confusion. She looks up at the demon towering over her and is suddenly filled with fear.

Stop! Get away from her! Run, Kel’ori!

Spinewing grins, his large fangs poking at his cheeks. He grabs her by the waist as she takes a step back; the girl chirps in surprise. “I like blonds,” he growls in Thalassian, his breath smelling of brimstone and blood.

Kel’ori’s eyes widen. “L-like?” She cries out as she’s thrown to the ground. She scoots away on her backside as he advances. “S-stay away!” She hurls a small shard of ice at his face.

He merely flinches, then lowers to crawl after her on his knuckles and toes, more beast than man, and chuckles. He grabs her by the ankle and pulls her to him. She shrieks and is immediately silenced with a burning hand around her throat. A groan sounds within her chest as a hot, wet tongue swirls across her cheek.

She whimpers. “I’ll do…whatever you…want…” she chokes.

“Yes, you will.”

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