Book 5 – Chapter Twenty-Seven

Taveth gives the others a quick, tight-lipped glance, and follows through the beacon. When he finds his sister, though, she’s sitting at a table with no food, her face on her folded arms. “Y-you know Ana was joking, right?” He sets a hand on her shoulder. “I…thought you were hungry… Kel?”

“I missed breakfast,” she whimpers into her arms.

“Oh.” He purses his lips and goes to get them both something to eat, guessing at what she might want.

Anarchaia sighs and joins her across the table as she and the others catch up. “Does it have to be Argussian bacon? We could grab some from Dalaran…”

Grimory takes up a bench at another table altogether and takes up a similar posture to Kel’ori’s. Still somewhat tired, he closes his eyes and does his best not to focus on the delicious smells coming from the kitchen. “I feel like we get one thing done and then have to take a break,” he mutters in annoyance. “I just wanna get off this rock.”

Kel’ori’s shoulder rises up, then falls. “I dunno. It’s…different. But maybe?”

Alisbeth drops beside her and gives an over-exaggerated frown. “I’m gonna pout because I don’t always get my way!”

Taveth sets a tray in front of Kel’ori, then sits beside Anarchaia with his own. “Ali, don’t antagonize.”

Anarchaia conjures a sizzling slab of traditional bacon and sets it gingerly upon Kel’ori’s tray. “I think we’re all a little stressed…still…heh.” She fidgets. “I’m sure the wrinkles will iron out, though. Perhaps just some more rest and a good diet will make you feel better…” Her eyes flick past Kel’ori to the demon hunter at the far table, but her face remains trained ahead. “Hopefully there isn’t too much left for us to do.”

After letting the bacon cool enough, Kel’ori takes one and tentatively bites off the end. She sighs but keeps her face from revealing the disappointment. “Thank you, Ana. Really. It’s perfect.”

Koltira gives Anarchaia a cautious smile. “I’m sure things will get back to normal.”

Alisbeth scoffs and turns her back on all of them, folding her arms and eyeing the demon hunter. “There’s no such thing as normal.”

Familiar with disingenuous tones, Anarchaia gives a sideways smile to the other mage, then offers Koltira a slightly sadder one. “Alisbeth may be right on this one. Heh.” She frowns and looks over at Grimory again—resting with his head in his folded arms like a punished student. “Though I’m seriously thinking the sooner we get this ordeal over with, the better.”

Taveth nods as he chews. “I’m sure we all agree with that sentiment.”

“Then I guess we should hurry,” Kel’ori says, before shoving as much bacon into her mouth as she can chew in one bite.

The mage conjures their map and gives it a once over. “I suppose it’s back to Destiny Point, then. I’m sure our familiar friends…and not-so-friend…will have more for us.” She pauses and resists a sigh. “As they always do.”

Kel’ori smiles and stands as she finishes. “Well, then, we should get started! Nothing like a nice meal to kick in the energy, right?”

“I’m still eating,” Taveth objects as she pulls on him.

“Eat and walk, Tav. Let’s go.”

Koltira sets a gentle hand on Kel’ori’s gripping her brother’s shirt. “Let him finish.”

She purses her lips at him and sticks her nose in the air. “Fine. I’ll meet you all there.” She stomps upstairs to use the beacon.

Anarchaia blinks as Kel’ori leaves, then jumps and scrambles to her feet to follow. “Wait, Kel! It’s dangerous to go alone!”

Cautious of being left behind, Grimory gently shifts his head to look at how many may have followed Kel’ori, green eye shimmering through the shadows of his head and arms.

“I’ll be fine! I’m just going to Destiny Point, like you said.”

Taveth stares at his meal and sighs. “She won’t leave the rest of us.”

“Are you sure about that?” Koltira asks, standing to follow the mages.

He whines and catches Alisbeth’s eye as she also stands.

“She’s kinda lost her shit, huh? People call me crazy…” She goes to the demon hunter and tentatively sets her hand on his shoulder. “Wanna stay here a little longer? Did you eat? I can get you something. What do you want?”

Grimory lifts his head and smiles tiredly at her. “No, I’m fine. Let’s just keep a move on, yeah?” He straightens and blinks over at Taveth. “Though we should wait for Tav.”

Alisbeth’s chin wrinkles and her lower lip quivers, though she fights it to stay still. “One steak, Grim. Please. Just eat one and I won’t bother you about it again.”

Grimory’s smile fades immediately at the sight of her restraining her tears. He pulls back his ears. “O-Okay. Yeah. Just…just don’t cry, okay? Please.”

Alisbeth balls her fists. “I’m not crying. Okay? I’m not! I just want you to eat something. Anything. I don’t care what.”

“Even if Turalyon and the others are there, it still may be dangerous!” Anarchaia bounds up the stairs after her, nearly stumbling on her heels.

Kel’ori waves a dismissive hand over her shoulder. “It’s fine, it’s fine. Seriously, why are you so concerned?” She steps on the portal and immediately frowns, then teeters before her form disappears.

Anarchaia stops short of the beacon and fidgets, not wanting to leave the others to use it as well. She turns and folds her arms and taps a toe anxiously. “Foolish woman. Honestly.”

Koltira grits his teeth. “Do you want to send me down to keep an eye on her?”

Anarchaia shakes her head. “No. I’d rather she learn her lesson than send you through that blender.”

Grimory lifts his eyebrows then shrugs a shoulder. “Oh? Then I guess it ain’t that big ‘a deal, yeah?” He ignores the pain in his stomach at the mere thought of food but cannot resist cringing. “…and fine. Yeah. I don’t care what, either.”

Koltira folds his arms and leans against the railing. “Fair enough, I suppose.”

Alisbeth scowls, her chin still quivering. “It is that big of a deal. I don’t want you to starve to death, okay?” She steps around him, hiding her face as a single tear breaks free. She wipes her face and serves up a plate with meat and herbed, pan-seared tubers, then sets the plate in front of him. “Please.”

Grimory frowns up at her, though grabs the fork off the tray all the same. “It takes longer than a couple weeks to die from hunger…” he mutters and stuffs a couple of the potatoes between his fangs. “And I said okay,” he mumbles through his chewing, a humbled blush on his cheeks. “No more crying, please.”

Alisbeth’s frown deepens and she turns away to march herself to where the other two wait upstairs.

Anarchaia perks as Alisbeth rounds the corner. “Ali. What’s up? Are…you all right?”

Alisbeth turns her head away from the mage and raises her eyebrows. “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.” She rubs at her nose and stares off at something across the deck.

Anarchaia’s eyelids lower and the corners of her mouth tighten. “Right. Of course.”

Taveth sets himself in a seat a little away from the demon hunter. “I’ll wait with you, if you like. I’m in no hurry.”

Grimory sighs and casts Taveth a tired smile. “Thanks, Tav. Me, either.” He takes a large bite of meat and narrows an eye at the taste but savors it regardless. “What am I doing wrong?”

The high elf cocks an eyebrow. “Wrong? I…wasn’t aware that you were.”

Grimory sighs again at the man’s response and shoves the remainder of his steak into his mouth before standing. “Never mind,” he murmurs after swallowing and makes his way for the door.

Taveth lets out a soft breath. “Right. Okay.” He glances around and deflates seeing only unfamiliar faces in the mess hall. He stands and follows the others, his gaze on his feet.

Koltira’s brow lowers as the two men approach with similar dispositions to Alisbeth. He catches Anarchaia’s eye and sighs. “Let’s get this show on the road?” Before we all tear ourselves apart.

Anarchaia nods and opens a portal back to Destiny Point, then follows the group through. Once safely on the other side, she goes rigid before stumbling over to the unconscious woman in the dirt, ignoring the Draenei woman fussing over the elf. “Kel’ori!” She gives her a gentle shake. “Kel, are you all right?”

Taveth kneels beside his sister and pats her cheek. “Kel?”

“Dump cold water on her?” Koltira suggests.

Alisbeth, still frowning, goes and wraps her cold fingers around the mage’s forehead and breathes frosty air over the pale lavender eyeshadow.

Kel’ori gives a small shudder, then sits up quickly, smacking her forehead into Alisbeth’s. “Oh, gods,” she moans as she lays back down, “brain freeze.”

Anarchaia gives a sigh of relief and sits back up on her knees. “Thank you, Ali.” She conjures a cup of chilled water and holds it out for the other mage. “Are you okay? What happened?”

Kel’ori sits up and takes the water with a nod of thanks. “I just got really dizzy and nauseated. How do people travel by beacon? It’s sickening!”

“I bet it’s because they’re all space goats and it doesn’t bother them,” Alisbeth says, standing and giving the draenei woman a wide grin.

Taveth’s eyebrows lower. “That’s…incredibly offensive…”

“They do kinda look like goats, though,” Grimory mumbles with a shrug behind him.

“Yeah, heh,” Anarchaia responds. “That’s why I prefer my portals. No more rushing off without us, okay? I’m just glad it was the beacon that did you in and not something else.”

She accepts as Koltira helps haul her to her feet. Kel’ori nods and dusts herself off. “Fine, fine. Let’s just get going?”

“To adventure!” Alisbeth screams and hooks her arm through her cousin’s, then rushes toward Turalyon.

Taveth deflates a little. “Am I the only one completely lost, here?”

Anarchaia accepts the assistance as well and brushes her knees off, then follows the rest.

Grimory simply gives Taveth a sympathetic pat on the shoulder as he passes.

Turalyon smiles down at Kel’ori and the others. “You’re back! How did it go?”

“Well,” Anarchaia explains casually. “The demons aren’t particularly strong there. How is the warframe coming?”

“Well as well,” he chuckles and folds his arms. “We need a couple more pieces, however. From the fel elementals.”

“Felementals?” Grimory mutters as though he’d just figured out the answer to the world’s most unimpressive riddle.

Anarchaia snerks but remains composed. “You can count on us.”

“Oh! And two more things. Two particularly troublesome demons have been making it difficult for us. Take care of them for us and we’d be greatly appreciate it. I’m…sure you’ll know them when you see them.”

Alisbeth breaths in excitedly and grins wide. “Kiiilling thiiings!” She immediately shoves Kel’ori forward with one hand and grabs Grimory’s hand with the other, pushing and pulling them both.

Taveth purses his lips, shifts his eyes sideways to look at the three moving away, then smiles up at Turalyon. “Thank you, sir. We shall see this task done. Heh.”

Koltira blinks after the high elf walks away and shakes his head. “Nerd.”

Turalyon gives the scholar a scarred smile and watches him go. “Also,” he regards the remaining two, “if you happen to come across any of their ill-but-aptly-named spires of woe, do take care of them for us?”

Anarchaia gives a nod, then turns to playfully scowl at the death knight beside her as she urges him to follow the rest. “I’m sorry, what was that?”

Koltira chuckles as he gently pats the mage’s head. “Oh, I think you heard me.”

The party travels the northern road again, this time turning left where pillars send shocks of lightning toward the ground, eredari sorcerers controlling them at the base. A large green elemental paces past and heads down a hill—little elementals follow in its trail.

Anarchaia frowns at the sight as they round the bend. “Aw,” she groans. “They’re kinda cute. Do we have to kill the small ones? What if the large one is their mother? Can elementals have mothers?”

Grimory pulls his ears back at the mundane musings behind him and picks up the pace as they push forward, eventually coming to pull Alisbeth instead of being pulled. “Let’s just kill everything, how’s that sound?” He lunges forward to thrust his claws into the back of the nearest sorcerer, the tips exploding out the front of his torso and spraying blood everywhere before the others have a chance to react.

Kel’ori growls as the spire over them shoots fel beams onto the mage. Instinctively she calls upon her arcane magics to wrap her in a protective shield. The bubble sparks and undulates, shifting from blue, to red, to a dark green before is shatters into thousands of little pink sparks.

Alisbeth giggles and tries to catch the sparks, but they fizzle and disappear before she can get one. “Do it again!”

“No! Just take out the tower,” Taveth says.

Koltira stays back, uninterested in the spire and the goings on around it. He grins down at Anarchaia. “I love the way you think about things.”

The second mage gives a small, embarrassed chuckle. “I’m serious, though.” Anarchaia throws another protective barrier—this one of fire—around Kel’ori as more fel energy pummels her. From a distance, she impales an advancing sorceress through the skull as it nears Grimory. “Grim, the tower!”

The demon hunter gives a curt nod of understanding. Shaking the blood from his claws, he makes his way to the hovering orb of fel magics. The beam aimed at Kel’ori sets its sights on him instead, washing over him and the soil. He grits his teeth at the minor, irritating pain and blows fire over the sphere. It shudders, cracks, and explodes into puffs of smoke and embers and the tower’s attack subsides into nothing. He sighs and rubs at his neck. “Annoying, more than anything.”

Kel’ori purses her lips. “It stung a bit. Thank you, Ana.”

“I get to break the next one!” Alisbeth shouts and takes off running down the hill for another spire. She engages the sorcerous there, giggling in excitement.

The undead mage gives a wave of her hand and a smile. “Don’t mention it. Heh.” She follows both Alisbeth and the Illidari down the path, should anymore shielding be necessary.

Grimory throws down a silencing sigil beneath the sorceress before she’s able to finish casting; she gives him an annoyed and angry glare, then runs toward the death knight with fists raised and a primal growl.

Alisbeth ducks at the last minute to let the sorceress impale herself on the spikes of her axe. She pushes the eredari to the ground and begins hacking into the woman’s chest.

Koltira rushes forward to slam Byfrost against the crystal until it shatters.

Kel’ori whines and tries to spark some sort of spell between her palms. “Stop being so useless, Nightheart,” she mumbles.

Taveth grabs his sister and drags her forward as a cluster of fel elementals rushes to them, catching the tail of her cloak on fire. She squeaks and hops backward, tearing her cloak from her shoulders. A green pulse explodes around her, rushing into the small creatures and making their forms spark lightly, but otherwise remain unaffected.

Anarchaia’s eyes widen slightly when she turns from dealing with a small elemental and finds no useable core. “Please tell me that was nature magic,” she whispers to herself before shaking it off and extinguishing the small group chasing the other mage with an eruption of fire from the stone below.

Grimory grabs Alisbeth by the elbow to direct her toward more—alive—targets. “She’s dead,” he laughs, then turns his sights on a large elemental making its way toward them. It summons a circle of fire below his feet and he hops out of the way.

Alisbeth grins widely at the demon hunter. “But I was having fun!” She laughs and runs toward the large elemental.

Kel’ori throws her cloak on the ground and stomps out the flames. “Great. Not even I can fix burned fabric.” She assesses the damage and squeals in anger. The mage balls up the destroyed cloak and lobs it at the elemental Alisbeth is running for. “Fine! Take the whole damn thing!”

Taveth chuckles. “Temper.”

The cloak misses the elemental entirely and wraps around Alisbeth’s head. The death knight screams as she falls sideways.

Grimory catches Alisbeth just as she teeters, then rights her again while simultaneously pulling her out of the path of a ball of fel fire. He rips the fabric from her face and makes to toss it, but instead brings it up to shield them from the second hail of fireballs. A hole eats through the cloak and he suddenly realizes the mistake. Shooting an embarrassed glance over his shoulder, he gives a chuckle. “Hope you weren’t planning on taking this back…”

The sorceress cries out as her entire body bursts into raging orange flames. She runs every which way but finds her own magic cannot quell the fire. A second sorceress hisses at her to keep her distance when she nears, still screaming.

Anarchaia cringes at the sight and sound. “Eh…sorry.”

Kel’ori clenches her fists, which emit little blue sparks, and growls. “It was already destroyed!” She holds out her palms in an attempt to throw any kind of spell at the sorceress. A pale blue set of tiny missiles fly out, shattering weakly against the eredari.

Alisbeth grins up at the demon hunter. “Thank you!” She plants a small peck on his shoulder and runs forward, slashing at the sorceress that isn’t on fire. Her axe cuts across the woman’s torso, slashing her midsection open.

Koltira quickly beheads the screaming eredari as she passes him, then hops back away from the flaming corpse.

“I could have fixed it,” Anarchaia mumbles behind the other mage and sneers in disgust as the demon’s head rolls near her. “Though I’m not allowed to do the magic necessary for doing so.”

The second sorceress hisses as the projectiles spark against her robes. She grits her fangs and summons a pack of three felhounds that eagerly leap through the portal and run at Kel’ori, jaws wide. The sorceress gurgles as Alisbeth’s axe slices into her.

Grimory quickly intervenes, grabbing one felhound by the tail and hurling it into the other two, knocking them to the dirt and rocks. He blows emerald fire over them but is interrupted by a bolt of equally green fire to the side of his head. He growls and turns to see a lone imp that managed its way through the portal as well; it yipes at the glare and bounds away in the opposite direction, screeching cowardly apologies.

Kel’ori squeaks and jumps behind her brother. Taveth thinks quickly, raising a hand to bind one of the two hounds in purple chains. The hound stops for just a second before leaping onto the other. The two demons squabble in the dirt, slicing with their claws and biting with sharp fangs until finally the unbound felhound yipes then groans as it falls to the ground, dead.

Kel’ori laughs nervously at the other mage. “I guess I could have asked Kalec, huh?” She absently bends down to pet the subdued felhound, scratching behind its ear. “Think we could keep this one, like Ali’s pet over there?

Taveth purses his lips. “The second I release him he’ll turn on us. And you hate pets.”

The mage clenches her jaw as a darkness spreads over her features. “Then what good is he except as food?” She lifts the demon by the antennae and tosses it into the fel lava.

Alisbeth chases down the imp and kicks it back at Grimory. “Catch!”

The demon hunter’s arms bulge as they morph into sharp claws. He slashes the small demon in half as it nears and flinches as its blood sprays into his face. He scoffs down at its corpse and wipes his cheek on his shoulder. “Could you imagine a demon hunter eating one of those? Pathetic.”

Anarchaia blinks as the hound sizzles in the lava. “Kalec can do that, too? Is there anything he can’t restore?” She sticks her tongue out in disgust at the head once more and taps at it with her toe, giving it enough momentum to roll into the lava as well.

Taveth gags as the smell of the wailing felhound reaches his nostrils. He moves away from Kel’ori toward Anarchaia, then quickly changes direction as she kicks the head like a ball. He can’t help but feel remorse for the felhound as it finally goes quiet.

“Bet they taste good, though,” Kel’ori comments casually, gesturing at the part of the imp that had landed near her.

Following the mage’s example, Alisbeth begins kicking the corpses and body parts into the lava.

Koltira sneers. “Let’s just…keep moving.”

Anarchaia furrows her brow at the other mage and stares for a long, blank moment. “You…want to eat one…?” she asks cautiously as though still wrapping her mind around the concept.

Kel’ori forces an awkward laugh. “N-no! What? That’s weird. I was just… You know… Other people or whatever probably eat them. Right?” She raises one shoulder and smiles sweetly as she passes to follow Koltira.

“She’s not wrong,” Taveth mumbles. “Water? Please?”

Anarchaia’s brow furrows further as she watches the other mage go, then blinks and shakes her head a few times as Taveth addresses her. “Oh! Yes. Um…sorry. Heh.” She conjures a hefty waterskin and holds it out. “People really eat those? Or are you just trying to make your sister sound normal?” She chuckles.

Grimory and Alisbeth make short work of the remaining crystal and a nearby elemental. The demon hunter turns to the rest and shrugs, however, when the creature doesn’t contain the core they’re searching for.

Taveth shrugs as he takes a drink. “Every creature is prey to something.” He hooks his arm through hers and frowns as Grimory shrugs. “We’re going to be at this all day.”

Koltira holds up his fist and stands as though frozen. When he finally moves, he points behind a series of pillars and a green figure beneath the supported overhang. “I think she’s one of the two we’re looking for.”

Alisbeth grins. “Then what are we waiting for?” She charges forward, screaming a war cry. Nearby elementals stop and turn to chase after the death knight.

The Illidari follows, breathing fire over the smaller elementals as they give chase; they sputter out of existence leaving nothing behind but their metal bindings.

Lady Heretica gives a screech as the party nears, raising an arm and channeling fel energies into the ground beneath Alisbeth’s feet. The soil glows green and explodes with fel fire.

Anarchaia lags behind as she notices a glistening globe in the dirt by the bindings. She grins as she picks it up. “I think this is the core we were looking for.”

Taveth smiles. “Want me to hold it or just send it back like the others?”

Alisbeth leaps out of the way, swinging the Maw across the dirt. Lady Heretica jumps up and summons more circles under everyone’s feet.

Koltira jumps away, swinging Byfrost around to slash at the demon.

The mage looks down at it in her hands—its green, swirling aura, its seemingly infinite blackness—and sticks out her tongue before relinquishing it to the scholar. “Yeah, I don’t want this in my room. Heh.”

Grimory merely steps out of the ring beneath him, then scowls over at the mages. “Some help?” he barks, dodging a large ball of fire that’s hurled toward him. He lifts a claw to shield his face from the second, then slashes one of the shivarra’s hands off at the wrist; she screeches and swipes at him, summoning a hail of fel fire in the area surrounding her.

Anarchaia perks and gives a nervous chuckle. “Sorry!” She lifts a hand and utters a word beneath her breath. The cloud raining fire dissipates and Lady Heretica curses loudly.

Koltira smiles at the mage, the sweeps Byfrost around to slash at the sorceress. The other death knight slashes with her axe from the other side.

Taveth takes the core quickly, and hops sideways out of the swirling green circles, then continues as they chase him for another few seconds. He realizes too late that he is cut off from the others as small elementals enter the area between, shuffling along having not noticed the elf or the fight raging on the other side.

Kel’ori stands on the other side of the party, sparks of all colors jump from her palms and fingertips, refusing to take form beyond the little sparkles.

Heretica screeches as another of her hands is severed, then turns to swipe at the nearest death knight with one of her remaining four. When she turns, Grimory seizes the moment to plunge claws into her heel, slashing the tendon there. The demoness gives another cry of agony and falls to a knee to relieve the pain.

Anarchaia blinks down as the circle beneath her feet pulses with a flash of green and her face falls to an apprehensive frown. Fel fire explodes around her and she covers herself with her arms and lifts a shield of her own fire, hoping to lessen the burn.

Koltira cringes and runs to the mage. “Ana! Are you okay?”

Taveth slowly backs away from the onslaught, his eyes never straying from the elementals. His heels perch on the edge of the land, where a sheer drop is all that exists below. When he goes to put his weight on his food, his balance is compromised and the teeters. “Help!” His yelp draws the attention of the elementals as they turn and immediately begin converging on him.

Alisbeth slashes at Heretica, but the woman dodges, then slams a fist into the death knight, knocking her away.

Grimory flinches and takes a step toward Alisbeth but is met with an armored forearm. <<Not so fast, off-world scum,>> Heretica hisses and swipes at him. The Illidari ducks and aims to rake his claws along her ribs but receives a sharp elbow into the side of his head before he can connect. He stumbles and groans, palm to his temple.

When the flames subside, Anarchaia gives a quick look at herself, turning her head every which way. She makes a chirp of surprise and pats out a small flame on the hem of her new robes, then smiles sheepishly. “Yeah. I…should watch where I’m standing, I guess. Heh.”

Taveth slips backward from the cliff, holding his breath as he goes into a freefall. The only beings to notice are the little elementals, who group up on the edge to watch the elf’s descent toward a sharp edge and the swirling abyss of space.

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