Book 5 – Chapter Twenty-Nine

Grimory groans as the fuzzy grogginess of sleep lifts from his head. He sits up, then immediately sucks in a pained breath at the worsened agony in his back. He reaches beneath an arm to hold his spongy, black and yellow flesh. “It should have healed some by now,” he hisses beneath his breath. A bead of sweat finds its way down his cheek and he quickly wipes it away.

Alisbeth frowns and sets a palm over one of his bruises. “I thought I was helping… Maybe you need a healer?”

The Illidari sighs, stressed, and shakes his head. “I’ll be fine for the time being,” he says and rests a reassuring hand on her leg. “As long as I don’t need to fly anywhere, yeah?” He stands and begins to stretch then stops, having already forgotten and subsequently being reminded of the pain. “Tav’s back?”

Alisbeth nods excitedly. “They got back a couple hours ago. Just…don’t go near him.” She motions at the succubus standing over the sleeping elf, her pink arms folded as she stares down at him.

Grimory sneers at the demoness. <<Mind waking him for us, yes?>> he says in Eredun. <<We need to continue on.>> He catches sight of the two on the high ledge and motions for them.

Koltira looks over his shoulder. “And we have life. Should we wake the others and get moving?”

Anarchaia nods and stands, her knees cracking as though just waking themselves. She holds out a hand for Koltira and offers an endearing smile. “Yes. The sooner we’re off this rock, the better.”

Tryxora thinks on it, then nods and smiles slyly. She slips under the fur with the high elf. A moment later his eyes snap open and he practically flies out from under the fur.

Go home! I dismiss you! Leave!” He points a stern finger at her.

The succubus pouts as a purple portal opens and she’s forced through.

“Thank gods,” Taveth says on a sigh.

Koltira smirks. “Well, now that she’s out of our hair… Who wants to wake Kel’ori?”

Anarchaia looks expectantly at Grimory, who stiffens and turns to busy himself with rolling and securing his furs. She sighs and makes her way—now more swiftly after having a few days to master her heels—over to kneel beside the remaining sleeping elf. She shakes her gently. “Kel, it’s time to move on.”

Kel’ori sits straight upright, her eyes wide and confused. “We’re what? Hmm?” She looks around, blinking. “Oh. Right. Thank you, Ana.”

Anarchaia smiles, then quickly places her hands on Kel’ori’s shoulders to keep her from getting up. Using herself as a shield, she conjures a damp cloth and removes the smudges of blood from the elf’s lips. She pats her on the shoulder and stands to send away the sleeping furs.

The high elf’s eyes go wide and she wipes the back of her hand over her lips. “Th-thanks again.”

Alisbeth flails her hands and hops from one foot to the other. “Let me do that Grim,” she whines. “Don’t hurt yourself wooorse.”

Taveth blinks at the bruises and purses his lips. He puts his hands together and approaches the demon hunter, then holds out a green stone as offering. “Koltira told me what happened. It’s…not much but…”

Grimory furrows his brow and does his best to hide the concern in his voice. “Is it really that bad?” he responds as coolly as he can while taking the crystal and inhaling its dust after crushing it in a fist. The bruises subside, but only to small, less noticeable discolorations. He stretches his arm and gives Taveth a grateful, genuine smile. “Thanks, Tav.”

“It really is that bad… Was,” Koltira says. “Okay, lets get a move on. We got that thing, we killed the bitch.”

“There were two bitches,” Alisbeth sighs dreamily, her gaze stuck on the swirling clouds in the sky.

The death knight makes a face. “Oh. Right.”

Anarchaia gives Kel’ori an apprehensive smile then turns to Koltira and mouths the word language.

Koltira cocks an eye at the mage. “What are you going to do about it?”

Grimory swallows a groan and nods. “I’d fly up and look for more spires, but…” He gestures up the path with his chin. “Best we just continue until we see something.” He grabs the dreamy Alisbeth by the hand and pulls her along.

Kel’ori slips in beside her brother to hook her arm through his and lean her head on his cheek. “You had me so worried. Jerk.”

“Eh-heh. Wasn’t my fault. But I’m sorry?”

She shrugs and stares over at Anarchaia for a long time.

“I’m sure you’d thoroughly enjoy any punishment I’d have for you, death knight,” Anarchaia responds with a playful sneer, leaning against him as they walk. “But by all means, press your luck.” She catches Kel’ori’s gaze and gives her the slightest of head tilts before offering a conservative smile. “Sorry again, Tav. We promise to keep an eye on you. “

A purple swirl appears in front of the group. Tryxora steps out and cracks her whip, a hand planted on her hip. <<You had your chance, mage. I’ll be keeping an eye on my master.>>

Taveth groans, then whimpers as she grabs him into a tight hug. “Tryx, how did you get here? I sent you away!”

She giggles. <<Silly master, I just used my back door. You’re free to use my other backdoor any ti—>>

“Gah! No!” Taveth shoves away from her and puts himself on the other side of Kel’ori. “Stop! D-don’t say things like that, it’s…horrifying.”

Koltira grins and puts an arm over the mage’s shoulders, pulling her closer to speak low. “I may not be able to understand a word she says, but that doesn’t make this any less funny.”

From the front of the group Grimory snerks.

Anarchaia lowers a brow but smiles all the same. “Something about doors? But yes, I’m starting to agree…despite the cost to Taveth. Heh.”

The company travels onward until they reach a path littered with demons, lava, and constructs supporting tomes and tools. Felhounds bound up and down the way, followed by inquisitors and the like.

“Looks like the right way,” the undead mage says to herself more than anyone.

Tryxora sighs, eyeing Taveth, though keeping a distance from Kel’ori. <<It’s almost like you’re trying to get caught by Mistress Apostriss.>>

Taveth stops and stares at his demon. “That’s…exactly what we’re doing.”

<<But why?>>

“Just tell us where Apostriss is.”

<<But…why?>>

Kel’ori balls a fist and advances on the demoness. “I may not understand much Eredun, but I know you’re just being a difficult bitch. Just tell us where she is!”

Tryxora skitters backward, nearly tripping over her own hooves, her eyes wide. She cowers and covers her head with her arms. <<Please don’t eat me!>>

Alisbeth gives a nasally ha! and leans her head on Grimory’s shoulder. “Kel has a super power.”

The demon hunter furrows his brow at the lines spoken behind him. “She begged her not to eat her,” he responds to the woman beside him. “Maybe Kel has a reputation we don’t know about.” He chuckles reservedly.

Alisbeth scrunches her nose. “Eew.”

Anarchaia simply lifts her eyebrows at the exchange, then, visions of the night before fresh in her mind, cringes. “Eh. Perhaps Grim would have better luck convincing her…”

Kel’ori blinks, having understood just enough to make her eyes flit to the others. “Whatever.”

Taveth sighs. “Ha ha, Tryx. Please. Just take us?”

<<Okay, just keep that away from me.>> She points emphatically at Kel’ori, then pushes past Grimory—running her long, burgundy fingertips across his abdomen—to lead the way. <<She’s in this tower up here. What’s your plan?>>

Grimory ignores the gesture, then upon seeing the tower calls forth his massive claws and pushes past her at a brisk pace. <<Slay her.>>

“Grim wait!” Anarchaia calls and lifts a hand to stop him with magic. “No rushing in. You remember what happened last time, no?”

He squirms inwardly under the discomfort of being paralyzed and growls. “Yes, fine. Together, then.”

Koltira withdraws Byrfrost and nods to the demon hunter. “Let me take the hits this time, all right?”

Tryxora wrings her hands together. <<Oh. Okay. I just used to know her. Before I was bound to this adorable thing.>> She squishes the squirming Taveth into a hug.

“I’ll keep you safe, Grim!” Alisbeth runs into the tower, her axe held high.

Grimory narrows an eye at Koltira. “You think I can’t handle myself because I had one mishap?” He follows Alisbeth into the tower, then immediately ducks from a sweeping claw of the gargantuan demoness.

<<More pathetic filth to come for my head?>> Apostriss screeches. <<Come, then!>>

Koltira pinches the bridge of his nose. “Damn it.” When the death knight gets inside, he pulls the demoness to him. “No, I just don’t think it’d be wise to exacerbate the situation.”

Alisbeth scrunches her face and pulls Apostriss back to her. “Excuse me, I was hitting that.”

Anarchaia steps forward to place herself between Taveth and the tower, not permitting him farther. “I think those three can handle it. Heh.”

Taveth makes a face. “Since when do you keep me away from a fight? I’m not going to get hurt, Ana. Come on.” He takes her hand and tries to urge her to the tower.

Anarchaia purses her lips and refuses to move despite how little she weighs. She narrows her eyes, grip on his hand tightening. “You’ve been sent to the infirmary once already and fallen off a cliff.”

Apostriss, enraged by the jerking about, hisses and kicks at Alisbeth then swipes at Koltira with finely filed nails.

Grimory reacts quickly and easily severs the sweeping arm before it can make contact with the death knight. He grits his fangs, however, when a second set of claws rakes across his back.

Taveth shrugs, his eyes wide with insistent innocence. “I landed just fine! The pit lord was just a fluke.”

Tryxora giggles. <<That meteor was pretty spectacular.>> She sobers and stands beside the undead woman, her arms crossed over her chest. <<But I agree with this one. No more almost-dying. It’s scary.>>

Kel’ori rolls her eyes. “I have no idea what’s going on, but if it keeps you from being a dead jackass, I’m all for it.” She settles herself on the other side of Anarchaia, her arms folded beneath her breasts.

Alisbeth jumps in front of the demon hunter, her lips turned to a frown. “What did I say? I’m protecting you. Let me protect you!” she shrieks, hacking at the sorceress with her axe.

Koltira slices the corner of Byfrost through the sorceress’s back; blood spills out, trailing to pool beneath her.

Apostriss screeches obscenities at the new wound and turns on Koltira instead. She lifts a hand—one of many remaining—and envelopes him in swirling tendrils of shadow that slowly grip him tightly.

Grimory bites back a growl. “I’ll be fine, Ali,” he responds with restraint, then ducks beneath the casting arm to slash at her armored torso.

“Do you promise?” Alisbeth asks, bringing her axe around to try taking another arm.

Anarchaia once more tightens her grip on his hand and her jaw tenses. “You’re staying here with us. No compromises.”

Taveth purses his lips. “You’re willing to keep yourself out of the fight just to keep me out of it? What if they need you?”

Anarchaia nods sternly though hides her concern behind her mask. “Correct.”

Taveth folds his arms over his chest to mimic the stance of the females in front of him.

“Yes!” Grimory barks, his irritation finally making itself known. He cringes as he’s showered with demon blood, then, annoyance reaching a culmination, buries his claws into Apostriss’ unarmored gut. She cries out and swipes at him but staggers when he dodges and steps away, flooding the floor with red.

Alisbeth glares at the demon hunter. “There’s no—” she hacks off another limb, “—need—” she buries her axe in the demon’s sternum, “—to yell at me!” She brings her axe around on the stumbling Apostriss and cuts halfway through her neck. The death knight yanks the Maw free and stomps out of the tower.

Anarchaia’s lips tighten as she restrains herself from laughing, then turns at the sound of Alisbeth’s yelling and the now familiar noises of a dying demon. She blinks, opens her mouth to inquire once the death knight is near enough, then recalls the events near the lava pool and closes it again.

Grimory growls and kicks at Apostriss’ lifeless head while muttering obscenities in Eredun. When satisfied he turns and follows back to the group.

Taveth sighs at the others’ approach. “Back to Destiny Point, then?”

Alisbeth makes a U-turn and stomps off toward the main path, not waiting for the confirmation of their return plans.

Anarchaia blinks at Alisbeth, then Grimory and Koltira in turn. “What happened?”

The Illidari scoffs and glances away. “Nothing,” he mumbles as the mage bustles past him.

“Ali, wait!” Anarchaia calls, pettiness over nearly being murdered set aside for the moment. “I’m going to teleport us!”

Alisbeth returns, her arms folded over her chest and her nose in the air as she refuses to look at anyone.

Koltira purses his lips. “Let’s just get out of here.”

Anarchaia inhales sharply, then decides to keep her words to herself. She turns and opens a portal back to Destiny Point.

Grimory steps through and immediately recognizes, and makes his way toward, Illidan.

Alisbeth sits on a rock and occupies herself by pretending her axe is the most interesting thing in the world. Koltira and Taveth go to Turalyon to update him on the situation.

Anarchaia stops Kel’ori when the others have safely ventured through. “Kel, hold on. We need to talk.”

Kel’ori stops and gives a confused smile. “Um…sure? What’s up?”

“You mean to tell me you haven’t noticed?” Anarchaia gestures to the straining, dress-like robes the other girl is wearing. “Kel, the weird cravings, the sporadic spells, and now this? You don’t think it’s strange?”

The high elf folds her arms, not looking where Anarchaia gestured, and scoffs. “I’m stressed, okay? If you haven’t noticed, we’re on an alien planet. And… You know…”

Anarchaia bristles, patience wearing thin. “Kel’ori, you need to see someone! I’m afraid that…what happened…may have a-affected you…”

“PTSD. Yeah. You stopped me for that? I mean, maybe, but I’ll be fine.” She waves a dismissive hand at the other mage. “Come on, your portal is about to close, and I want food.”

Anarchaia grabs said hand by the wrist, lips a stern line. “Kel. I mean it.”

Kel’ori growls and jerks her hand away. “You mean what, Ana? Maybe you’re the one imagining things? I’m fine.”

The portal beside them closes with a quiet hum and Anarchaia grits her teeth. “I think you’re…ill. I think you should see someone.” She sighs and taps all her fingertips together. “I don’t think this is PTSD. I think it’s just…P.”

Kel’ori’s nostrils flair. “You’re keeping me here because you think I need to go to the bathroom?” She shifts uncomfortably. “I mean, I do, but I don’t see how this is helping. Just open the portal and let us get back to the others. Right?”

“Pregnant!” Anarchaia suddenly barks. “I think you’re pregnant!” She pauses then squares her shoulders. “You need to see someone. I’m not gonna let you live in disillusion.”

Kel’ori sneers and turns away, then suddenly spins on the other mage. Green fire envelopes her fists. “Don’t say that word!” She advances on Anarchaia, angry tears pooling along the lower lids of her eyes. “Open the fucking portal, Ana. I won’t ask again.”

The younger mage shrinks away in fear. She lifts a shaking hand and the portal reappears. “A-after you…”

Kel’ori stomps through and past Taveth as he tries to ask what’s going on. She takes the Lightforged Beacon and fights the urge to pass out; instead vomiting to the side. She runs away, embarrassed, and practically hurls herself through the portal to Dalaran. Once there she runs to the nearest tavern and orders herself a glass of expensive whiskey.

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