Grimory’s brow furrows. “I’ll do?” He groans apprehensively in his throat when he’s pulled past the woman and into her house. “What are we doing here?” he hisses into Anarchaia’s ear but is seemingly ignored.
“Is she here?” the mage asks after rubbing her ankle lovingly back against the cat.
Docra closes the door. “Bathroom. He knows about the enchantment? I only work with fully consenting parties.” She motions at the couch for them to sit.
“Oh! Uh…” Anarchaia looks at the man beside her, who scowls.
“I actually brought him here for something else. Heh.”
Docra blinks at the mage, then the demon hunter. “Oh. That’s a shame. He’d sire attractive children.” She goes to the bathroom door and opens it. “You’ve been in here a rather unorthodox amount of time.”
“What the hell are these?” Kel’ori motions at the empire waist and high neckline of the robes.
“I’m sorry your breasts are covered. Come on, your friend is here.” Docra drags the mage out by a hand.
Anarchaia gives a helpless shrug and a nervous laugh.
Grimory then stiffens at the sight of Kel’ori and the air turns thick. “What did you bring me here for?” he growls beneath his breath.
Kel’ori’s eyes go wide and she rips free from the priestess. She slams the bathroom door and locks herself inside.
Docra blinks. “It’s a shame it’s too late to terminate. You’re still a child, yourself.” She turns to the others. “I take it she doesn’t like him.”
The mage rips the door back open. “Too late? It’s been three weeks, Docra.” She slams the door and continues to shout about timelines and impossibilities.
Grimory straightens. “Terminate? Terminate what?” he practically shouts.
Anarchaia fidgets, unable to bring herself to say it.
The blood elf shrugs and collects her tea set. “Please don’t shout too loud, my upstairs neighbors can be fussy. Tea?” She doesn’t wait for a response and puts a kettle of water on to boil. “I’ll get my cakes if you’ll come out, Kel.”
She rips the bathroom door open. “They make me puke!” She slams the door again, then rips it back open. “And maybe I didn’t want to terminate, anyway!”
Once the door is slammed closed again, Docra sighs. “So, what’s he doing here?” She tilts her head to look at them. “Do you like cakes?”
The demon hunter gives the mage beside him a pleading look.
“I-I wanted you to…keep your word. About talking with her. And now she’s…u-uhm—”
“No,” he hisses, demeanor instantly changing at the implication. “Don’t even finish that sentence.” He turns on Docra. “What are you so nonchalant for? Surely this isn’t what I think it is. Please tell me it’s not!”
“No cakes?” She pulls a plate of small cakes out of the cupboard and drops them into a small trash bin under the sink. When the water is boiled, she resets her tea tray, plopping a large sachet of herbs into the pot, and sets it on the coffee table, then takes her seat. Her gaze locks onto his. “And what do you think it is?”
Grimory brings his lower lip in to chew on it, then growls and turns, running a hand through his hair. “I’m leaving.”
“No!” Anarchaia grabs him by the horn and he glares. “You aren’t. You two are going to talk. Everyone’s sick of the tension you two are causing.”
“Two?! What have I done that is so insufferable?!”
“What did you do?” Kel’ori bursts from the bathroom. “What did you do? You’re really going to—”
Docra reaches over her shoulder and the mage’s voice goes silent. The priestess leans forward to scoop the sachet out with a spoon and pour four cups of tea. “I asked you to keep it down. Sit.”
Kel’ori flops onto the other end of the couch, her head turned away from the others. Her blue eyes slide down to look at the cup Docra slides down the table at her.
Grimory stops, allowing her words to pummel him in the back. His jaw works as he seemingly chooses what to say next. “Look,” he finally manages and turns. “I know that I was reckless and shouldn’t have let that inquisitor get his gaze into me, but…” His fists tremble at his sides. “I’m sorry. Okay? I’m sorry I was too weak to stop anything. I’m sorry I’m not a good enough demon hunter to control him.” His face softens. “And I’m sorry for what you had to go through.”
Kel’ori opens her mouth to respond and Docra snaps her fingers, then points at the tea; Kel’ori grabs it and quietly drinks. The blood elf reaches up and a white tendril grasps the demon hunter and drags him away from the door, then deposits him on the couch across from her. She hints for him to drink his own tea, then takes a long sip of her own.
“Will someone explain what’s happening before I start making assumptions?” Docra says calmly.
Grimory folds his arms and huffs, turning away from the tea and women.
“Pregnant,” Anarchaia says quietly. “She’s pregnant. W-with…”
“Bullshit.” Grimory sneers but does not turn.
Docra blinks at them. “Yes. I wasn’t aware it was such a big deal. Or that it required the attention of an Illidari.” She absently pulls a piece of lint from the knee of her dress.
“It was him!” Kel’ori bursts, pointing an accusing finger at Grimory.
The priestess blinks and sips her tea. “You’re saying this demon hunter impregnated you? That’s…absurd. Virtually impossible, actually. Unless my enchantment is successful, then at least the men have a small glimmer of hope.”
Grimory turns at the word absurd, a small glimmer of hope noticeable in his own eyes. “It wasn’t me. How many times do I have to go over this? What do I have to do to prove it to you?”
Standing over him, beside the couch, Anarchaia sets her hand on his shoulder. “If everyone tells you you’re wrong, what’s more likely, Kel? That you’re wrong, or that everyone else is?”
Kel’ori sniffles weakly. “But Gildwynn says it can’t be his. And I know I wasn’t pregnant before any of this.”
Docra sits quietly for a moment before setting her apathetic gaze on the demon hunter. “You’re all still leaving out an important detail, and I know it. I know I’m not part of this, but, for whatever reason Kel’ori has decided I’m her friend. So, if she says you raped her, but everyone else says you didn’t, how could she have gotten mixed up?”
The high elf looks away, her shoulders shaking as she sobs quietly at the mere thought of Spinewing.
Grimory opens his mouth to respond, then grits his teeth in anger and turns away.
“Grim…can’t control his demon. He got loose. Did…that.” Anarchaia gestures to Kel’ori with her head. “Kel doesn’t understand how the Illidari function and can’t comprehend that Grim has two beings inside him.”
Docra quietly gets up from her spot and goes to a bookshelf. She grabs a jar with a heart in it and pulls the lid off, then holds it near Kel’ori. After a moment, the mage turns her head, sniffing eagerly toward the jar.
“There was a scholar that had a theory that the more powerful demons—the ones hard to control—might be cannibals. I’m guessing yours is one of those. Therefore so is the child.” She replaces the lid and exchanges the jar for the book behind it.
Kel’ori frowns. “I haven’t eaten today. It has nothing to do with wanting an elf heart!”
“That was a demon heart.” She sits down and opens her book. “Unfortunately, that’s about as much as I know. There’s a rare book that was in Stormwind, but since then it seems to have gone missing. It’s only one of three copies. I have no idea where the other two are. That would be the book to consult, unless you know someone who knows extensively about demons.” She stares at Grimory again. “I doubt you do.”
Grimory scowls at the priest. “I’m a demon hunter. We learned everything we needed about demons during our training. But…th-that?! That’s…” He sneers and turns away again. “There’s no way.”
“Oh, so then you know all about their mating habits and reproduction.” She closes the book and returns it to the shelf.
“So…” Kel’ori hints toward Grimory without looking at him.
“I don’t care what your stupid tome says. It’s not possible.” Grimory’s fists clench against his biceps.
Anarchaia’s fingers tighten around his shoulder. “Grim, just hear her out. Please. It’ll be good for you both.”
Docra stands and collects the tea cups. She takes it to the counter then grabs a brown paper package tied with twine from the shelves. She sets it in Anarchaia’s hand. “Good luck.”
Anarchaia flushes and sends the item away before any questions can be asked.
Kel’ori scoffs. “Gods, you are all brawn and no brains. I’ll just ask my brother. He probably read the book, instead of failing to control something he doesn’t understand.”
Now unrestrained by Anarchaia’s gentle hand, Grimory growls and stands, turning on Kel’ori. “Are you serious?! I apologize, ask what I can do to make it up to you, offer my heart on my fucking sleeve and this is all you can—” He jerks and growls as he’s pulled back by his belt.
“That’s enough. Both of you be civil.”
Docra runs a finger under Ivory’s chin, her nail scratching through the soft fur. “The…expert says it’s impossible.” She turns her back on the others to clean out her tea set.
Kel’ori growls and forces herself to her feet. “See what you did,” she hisses at the demon hunter without looking at him. “I’ll just ask Kalec… I can’t get to the Hall. Great.”
“M-maybe we shouldn’t bring the Archmage into this. Heh.” Anarchaia swallows. No telling what he’d do to Grim.
Grimory turns for the door once again. “Fine. I’m done trying to apologize. Trying to be nice. Good luck.”
Kel’ori purses her lips. “You never once tried to be nice about this! You’re just denying all of it. And you’re playing the victim like you were the one who was…who was…”
“Technically he was, but that’s none of my business,” Docra says to the kettle in her hand as she runs clean water through the spout.
“Another being forced him into a situation he couldn’t control.” She shrugs.
“That’s not the same, Do!”
Kel’ori splutters and looks to the other mage for support.
Anarchaia flinches as the door closes behind her. Her lips purse in another apprehensive line. “I…I tried to tell you.”
Kel’ori swallows her sobs. “So…is there a demon…”
“Half,” Docra clarifies.
“What do I do?” she whispers helplessly.
“Do…you want to keep it?” Anarchaia responds, half curious yet half concerned.
The high elf frowns. “Should I? I mean…is it…evil?”
“I wonder if there’s someone we could ask at least that basic question,” Docra says absently.
“You’re supposed to be my friend! Why are you on his side?”
She sighs and shakes her head. “I don’t pick sides. I just want you people to stop screaming in my house before they try to take it from me again.”
Anarchaia sighs as well. “What would I have to do to convince you? If you two could get along, he could ask one of his comrades or superiors.” She pauses. “Or I could see what Master knows…”
“I don’t want to have an evil baby,” Kel’ori cries.
Docra blinks at the mages. “Well, someone has to speak to someone. I have a dagger to find.” She shoos them to the door. “Oh, and your new frumpy robes will grow with you. You’re welcome.” She regards Anarchaia. “Your enchanted things are pretty straight forward, but make sure you leave them on under your clothes for twenty-four hours prior and twenty-four hours after.”
Anarchaia nods as the two are pushed toward the exit, then jumps and flushes as she’s spoken to. “O-oh! Heheh will do! Thankssomuchpleasedon’tevermentionitagainbye!” She sighs in relief when the door closes, then straightens at the impatient Illidari waiting on the other side.
“Done?” he scoffs, arms folded.
Kel’ori frowns and turns her head away from Grimory. Her eyes suddenly widen. “Oh, my gods, I know where it is!” She takes off toward the Nightheart tavern.
“It?” Anarchaia questions, but the girl is already gone. She sighs and holds a hand out to Grimory. “I’m sorry. I…saw that going better.”
“Whatever.” He takes her hand and the two reappear back at the tavern, then silently take their respective seats beside their partners.
Alisbeth shoves herself sideways into the demon hunter and grins up at him. “I missed you. Did you have fun?”
Koltira drops his arm behind the mage, silently pulling her—and the chair—closer.
Kel’ori enters a few minutes later, winded. She pounds her hands on the table and lowers her head to catch her breath. Once her composure is regained, she goes to Taveth and starts rummaging through his bag. “Hey, brat, remember that book you used to read to Diori?”
Taveth jumps and fights to get her out of his satchel. “I’ve read her many books many times. What of it?”
“The demon one. Ah-ha!” She pulls out a black and grey dagger with a curved blade.
“Oh. That one. It’s in the Stormwind royal library. Restricted section.”
Kel’ori deflates and turns for the door, making a rude face behind the demon hunter’s back.
“So!” Anarchaia says abruptly with a grin. “What are we talking about? What are we drinking? Heh.”
Ervaen smooths his hair back when a yellow tress falls into his eyes. “Nothing in particular. And nothing in particular.” He gives her a patient smile.
Grimory forces a smile to Alisbeth. “Oh yeah. The most I’ve had in years, actually.”
Alisbeth furrows her brow. “Am I not fun enough for you?”
Grimory hugs her shoulder against himself and gives her a little shake. “I’m only joking, yeah?”
Taveth double checks that the other dagger is the only thing missing from his bag. “So, what happened? Where did you guys all go? And…why was Kel wearing…that?”
“Uh. A friend’s house. And you know Kel. She changes outfits often. Heh.” Anarchaia waves a hand and orders a glass of wine to occupy herself with.
Taveth shrugs. “Maybe she just hasn’t looked in the mirror, yet.” He laughs and sets his gaze on his older brother. “Can you even remember the last time she wore something that boring?”
Ervaen gives Taveth a grin and chuckles. “Now, now. I thought it looked rather nice on her.” He sips at his brandy. “Boring. But nice.”
Koltira maintains a casual-looking smile as he leans closer to the mage. <<Are you maintaining the lie for everyone?>> he asks in Gutterspeak. <<Or are you going to let me in on it?>> He eyes Taveth a few feet away, making sure the scholar hasn’t overheard.
Alisbeth grins. “As long as it’s just a joke!” She pokes his nose and holds her whiskey up for him. “Want some?”
Grimory’s smile softens from pained to tired and he takes the glass to have a small sip. “Thanks, darlin’.” He hands it back, but instead of relinquishing the glass, he holds tightly and smirks down at her.
Anarchaia follows his gaze, then leans her face into the crook of his neck to push her lips to Koltira’s ear, hoping to only come off as a simple show of affection. <<Promise not to tell a soul? Living or dead?>>
<<Only because you asked nicely,>> Koltira says through a smile.
Taveth chuckles. “Maybe she’s finally growing up.”
Ervaen lifts his fair eyebrows at his youngest sibling. “I’d sooner turn into a hippogryph at this very moment.”
“Oh, is that how it is?” Alisbeth makes a face at him and pulls on the glass.
Grimory tilts his head, grin widening. “It is. What are you gonna do about it, girlie?”
Alisbeth’s face pinches with devious thought. “What am I not gonna do about it?” She pushes her foot against the table, causing her to shove into the demon hunter. The chair tips and they crash to the floor, Alisbeth still clinging to the glass and trying not to let any spill.
Grimory braces himself as the two tumble down. When he opens his eyes, he’s amazed to find the glass still half full and their fingers clamped about it. He narrows his eyes at her. “Nice try but you’ll have to do better than that.”
Anarchaia hesitates, the word jumping to her lips but not waiting to come forth. <<We think she’s…with child. Heh.>>
Koltira’s smile falls and he abandons trying to look casual. <<Kalec’s? That’s…scandalous. I can’t say I’m all that surprised.>>
The younger Nightheart laughs into his own glass. He sobers, his eyebrows coming together in thought. “I wonder why she was asking about Reece Adlam’s Demon Compendium.”
“Perhaps she’s decided on the ways of the warlock instead,” Ervaen muses as he swirls the contents of his glass.
Anarchaia immediately flattens her palm over his face to hide his expression from the others. <<Not Kalec’s…or Gil’s.>>
Koltira grits his teeth and sneers. <<If you tell me that that asshole… I’m not sure if I should leave or just kill him.>>
The tips of Taveth’s ears turn pink and he blinks. “I-I don’t think she’d…be very adept at… Do you really think she’d turn to something so…dark?” He frowns at his own phrasing.
Alisbeth sits up and straddles Grimory’s chest, gripping the glass in both hands. “It was mine to begin with, horn-head. Gimme!”
A dagger flies across the tavern and shatters the glass. Whiskey and clear shards rain down on the Illidari’s chest. Alisbeth sits in shock for a minute before leaping toward the figure waving her fingers tauntingly at Grimory, before she vanishes in a puff of smoke.
Grimory flinches as he’s covered in shards of glass and sticky whiskey. He sits up and glares in the woman’s direction, or at least where she had been. “Honestly, fuck that rogue.”
Ervaen gives a thoughtless shrug. “I wouldn’t call it dark. A profession’s a profession I presume. Thought her mage studies were going well, though. Guess not?” He jerks at the noise and scowls, standing. “You’re paying for that!”
Alisbeth puts her hands up innocently. “Okay! I’ll pay! I’m so sorry!”
Anarchaia pulls away to stare, concerned, into his eyes from behind her mask. “Don’t start anything.”
Koltira scowls. “Don’t start anything? Really?” He stands and drops gold onto the table. “Leave. That’s the better idea.”
Ervaen looks at Alisbeth, then slowly lowers back into his seat. “Not…you, Ali.”
Grimory stands to wipe himself off as well as help Alisbeth back to her feet. “Welp. This has been a good trip so far.” He blinks as Koltira stands. “Oh. Heading out already?”
Anarchaia quickly grabs Koltira by the crook of his elbow and gives him a pleading look. “U-uh. Yeah. More…renovating. Heh.” She finishes her wine and stands as well.
Alisbeth looks around, confused. “I’ll…pay anyway?”
Taveth eyes Koltira, then leans around to mouth What did I miss? at the mage.
The death knight purses his lips down at Anarchaia. <<I know it wasn’t his fault, but this is…>> He glances at the Illidari. <<I’m sorry, Ana.>> He strides from the tavern, his lips pursed in thought.
“N-nothing! Just. Drama. You know. Heheh…heh. Kolt, wait!” She stands and follows the elf out into the streets. “Please!” she pleads once she catches up. “If you know it’s not his fault, why feel this way toward him?”
Grimory can’t help but pick up on the tension and clenches his fists. “I’m…” He turns toward the exit once the mage and death knight have had time to distance themselves from the tavern. “Shower.”
Ervaen sighs and pushes his cheek into his knuckles. “Exciting friends you have, Tav.”
Taveth sighs out a long breath. “I miss the excitement of the library.”
Alisbeth runs after the demon hunter. “Wait! I’ll join you!” She hooks her elbow in his and grins happily.
Grimory gives her an exhausted smile. “Wouldn’t be a shower if you didn’t.” He leads her up the stairs of the Legerdemain Lounge in search of a vacant washroom.
Koltira stops and stares at the ground as the mage catches up to him. “I’m not mad at him. I’m just…angry.” He lets out a long breath. “And wondering if we should take bets on a third unwanted child of his popping up…”
Anarchaia’s lips twitch as she does her best to stave off a scowl. “He wanted Diori. And…if Kel has any sense in her she’ll…g-get rid of it…”
Koltira blinks rapidly down at the mage. “That’s an astonishing option coming from you, of all people. Why…would you say something like that?”
Anarchaia tilts her head away to avoid his gaze. “Docra says it’s…demonic. I’m worried what could happen. She could die at the very worst.” She sighs, then pushes the heels of her palms into her eyes. “Grim…wasn’t receptive to the idea—er—theory either. And imagine Kalec finding out. Or Gil.”
Koltira’s jaw works beneath his skin. “Oh.” After a moment he pulls her to him. “I mean…we could adopt it.” He lowers his brow at himself. “Sorry. That was… So, are we headed back tomorrow? Room at the inn, then?”
She wraps her arms around him. “Well we have hearthstones. We can go ‘home’, now, because I won’t have to teleport us back.” She casts him a soft smile. “That is if you don’t mind sleeping on the hardwood until the bed is re-stuffed.”
He sighs in defeat. “All right, you win. Let’s go.”
Her grin widens and she pulls him toward the center of town. “Always do.”