Book 5 – Chapter Forty-Six

Anarchaia pauses halfway down the cobblestone street, wrenching her hand from Taveth’s. “Uh, they’re at the café. I’m going to wait…not there.”

Taveth blinks and approaches slowly. “Grim…” Rather than saying anything, he just leans forward to hug the man.

Grimory blinks, then chuckles and returns the hug with an arm. ::Hey, Tav. What’s going on? You look like you’ve…seen…:: He pauses, his eyes widening some. ::I was only out for a day…?::

Taveth straightens and furrows his brow. “Something wrong with your— Oh.”

“He asked what’s up and something about seeing a he didn’t say, then asked if he was only out for a day.” Alisbeth grins at her cousin. “Gotta watch his lips cause he’s too quiet.”

The high elf blinks back at her, noting her behavior and lack of rhyming. “No, it wasn’t a day… You w—”

Koltira slaps a hand over his mouth to silence him. “Don’t. Not here. Not in front of Alisbeth.”

Taveth nods and the death knight releases him. He straightens his clothing nervously. “Y-yeah. I’m just… So, today is the height of the Pilgrim’s Bounty feast. W-would you two like to join us? We could see if we can find some agreeable guards in one of the major cities? Or m-maybe we can get Ana to bri—”

Koltira clears his throat as Alisbeth stabs the fork into the center of the whipped cream so hard she splits the plate in half.

Before he can respond to the suspicious behavior, Grimory jumps at the noise and again sets his hand on her thigh beneath the table. ::Uh. M-maybe next year, yeah? Heh.:: He gives the other three a pleading look as though he’s not sure how to handle the situation.

Eophen shifts uncomfortably at the back. “I am told today is a day for, how do you say, getting along?” He gives a sheepish grin.

Taveth forces an uneasy smile at the tensions. “He’s right. It is. I-I could go get Diori!” He casts his glance at the others, waiting for an okay. He purses his lips when his sights land on Anarchaia.

Alisbeth jumps and smiles. “Diori! I miss her so much! Grim, can we please go? Please?”

Grimory’s gaze becomes more desperate as it focuses on Alisbeth, then Anarchaia some ways down the road, then Taveth, then back to Alisbeth. He slowly nods. ::If Diori comes.::

Alisbeth jumps out of her seat and claps. “Where are we going? When can I see her?”

“Do you promise to play nice?” Koltira asks, tilting his head toward the mage to make sure Alisbeth catches his meaning.

She grits her teeth and forces herself to smile, though it looks more like a grimace. “Yeeessss?” she hisses through her teeth.

Grimory nods and sets a hand on Alisbeth’s back. ::If not for us, then for Diori.::

The death knight forces a nod as her body remains rigid. “Yes. For her. Yes.”

Taveth slowly backs to Anarchaia. “What don’t I know?”

Anarchaia fidgets, feeling the tension from where she is despite the distance. “Sh-she knows. She tried to kill me.” She frowns. “It was an accident. I-I was showing Jorick, and…”

Taveth cringes. “I’m sure it’ll be fine… Just stay in public and don’t sit by each other? Heh.”

Anarchaia folds her arms and chews on the inside of a cheek. “Public won’t stop her, but I can do my best to keep my distance.” She sighs. “Do you know where we’re going?”

Taveth purses his lips and looks at each person in turn. “No? I mean, the choices are Stormwind and—” he glances at his cousin again, “Undercity… Or we can make our own with your help?”

Anarchaia blinks and tilts her head, then smiles. “Does your tavern here have a banquet room for parties? Otherwise I know an inn that does. Hopefully none of them are booked. Heh. It is rather last minute.”

The high elf purses his lips. “I’m actually not sure. I’m supposed to be working there. That doesn’t mean I have been. Why don’t you ask and I can go get Di—my sister…cousin. Whatever.” He smiles up at the draenei beside them. “And you can have a chance to see Stormwind.”

Koltira cocks an eyebrow. “What about your actual sister? Does she want to come? Where did she even go?”

The elf shrugs.

Anarchaia nods. “Sure.” She disappears in a flutter of sparkles as though in a rush to rid herself of the anxiety.

Eophen smiles once again. “I would also like to meet this other sister of yours. As well as see this city you keep speaking so highly of.”

~ * ~

Alisbeth leans to the demon hunter’s ear. “Don’t let me do anything to scare Diori, okay? I don’t want her to be scared of me.”

Grimory wraps an arm around her waist and takes another bite. He shakes his head. “I know you can control yourself. I’ve seen it,” he whispers into her ear after swallowing.

Alisbeth smiles and hugs her arms around his torso, her fingertips running curiously along the new rough scar on his body. “You really think so?”

Grimory nods. ::Yeah. I do.:: He looks at his nearly depleted lunch. ::Wish I’d known it was the holidays…::

“Still got room for desert!” Alisbeth says, poking at what remains of his steak.

Grimory smirks at her, knowing the others are poor at reading his lips. ::Are you making it? There’s always one dessert I can go for.::

“I didn’t have time to make anything,” Alisbeth says with a frown. “I suppose cookies don’t take too long. Do you want some cookies? Ice cream? I can freeze it myself.” She winks and turns a blast of cold sleet at the broken plate; the whipped cream melting across the table freezes over.

Grimory blinks then gives a silent laugh. ::Whatever you like. I’m sure I’ll like it.::

~ * ~

Taveth leads Eophen back to Greyfang Enclave and through the Stormwind portal. Once on the other side, they make haste across the city to an area near the castle looming over the houses. He smiles up at the man’s eager gaze around the new city. “Told you it was grand.” He takes the man to a large two-story home, which is nicer than most of the houses, but still humble compared to the surrounding mansions. He enters slowly, knowing the whole of his family, save Ervaen, Kel’ori, and Yathen, could be inside due to the holiday.

Eophen lets his wide golden eyes wander over every window frame, brick, and lamp post as they pass. He starts at the sound of Taveth’s voice as though jostled from a daydream, then smiles. “It most certainly is. Perhaps I shall save enough of your currency to purchase a small home here.” He quiets when lead inside, not wanting to impose.

“Taveth!” a female elf with dark cobalt blue eyes jumps up from one of the two long couches. She drops a book to the cushion and runs over to hug him. “Why didn’t you write?” she steps back and gives his chest a playful pinch.

“I was on Argus,” he explains, turning away from her fingers. He blinks at the asymmetrical crop of her hair. “Your hair…you cut it…and it’s pink…”

“Magenta! I just needed something different. Almost went green. I’m thinking of adding tiger stripes, though. You need a trim. I’ll get you later.” She gently pushes a clump of hair behind his ear, then turns her bright smile up at the draenei. “You’re one of those Lightforged! I’ve met a few of you in the shop. Are you a friend of my brothers?” She grabs his hand to shake it, regardless if he’d wanted to or not.

At the top of the stairs, Falren silently watches, a feeling of relief washing over him, knowing at least one of his children is still safe.

Eophen nods and returns the hand shake after a second of being taken off guard. “I am. We met on the ship I reside on.” He chuckles. “I am Eophen. And what can I call you?”

“I’m Tyndra,” she says. “Are you joining us for Pilgrim’s Bounty?”

Taveth twists his fingers nervously.. “Oh, uhm. We came to get Diori for a small gathering.”

Falren clears his throat. “She’s studying. Why don’t you join us, instead? Be nice to have everyone home.”

The man jumps lightly. “Oh, eh, well, you see, I, uh, her parents—”

“Didn’t her dad die?” Tyndra whispers.

Taveth laughs uneasily. “Funny thing about some demon hunters. Heh. They, uh, return. I guess.” He squirms under his father’s scrutiny.

“Where’s Kel’ori?” Falren asks.

The man fidgets. “I-I’m…not sure. With Docra, maybe?”

Eophen blinks at the conversation happening before him, then perks when he hears the pitter patter of smaller feet coming down the stairs.

“Tav!” Diori hops over the last step to run and hug her brother. “You’re okay.” She turns her big, blue eyes on the draenei. “Wow, you’re HUGE. How did you get in the door?”

Eophen cannot help laughing. “I ducked.”

Taveth laughs and ruffles Diori’s hair. “This is Eophen. He’s been helping us on Argus.” He kneels, grinning wide at the little girl. “Hey, I have a surprise for you. Would you like to come to Dalaran for a special Pilgrim’s Bounty feast?

“Nice to meet you!” Diori’s eyes then light up and she throws her arms around Taveth’s neck. “Yes!” She pulls away to look at him curiously. “What kind of surprise?”

Tyndra’s eyes do the same and she tightens with excitement. “You’re having a PB feast? Can I come? I’ll buy a pie!”

Taveth widens his eyes at his sisters in turn. “It’s a you have to wait, kind of surprise,” he says to Diori. “And you should probably ask—”

“I suppose less mouths this year isn’t a disaster. But all of you will be home for Winter Veil. Understood?” Falren casts his stern gaze on the three elves. “Say hello to Ervaen for me,” he says to Tyndra.

Diori pouts at the aspect of having to wait. “Okay, fine. Will Ali be there? Is she better yet?”

Tyndra nods and waves to her father. “I will!” She turns to tug at both Taveth’s and Eophen’s shirts. “Let’s go already! I gotta get a pie before the shop closes!”

Eophen chuckles, unmoving. “I like this family more and more.”

Taveth can’t help but grin to himself at the draenei’s words. His gaze fixes on Diori. “She will be there. I promise. And she’s feeling much better.” He takes her hand and leads the group from the house. “To the pie shop, then. Lead the way.”

~ * ~

Anarchaia blinks back into existence, then stops when she does not see Taveth or Eophen. “Oh. Uh. Ervaen is the only tavern or inn or…anything with room for a party. Apparently there’s a basement. Heh.”

Koltira pushes away from the wall he was leaning against. “Let’s go set up.” He leans close to mutter to her, “Don’t leave me alone like that. It was uncomfortable.”

Anarchaia gives a nervous chuckle. “I didn’t think they’d leave you here right away.” She slides her hand into his. “We don’t need much. Just to supply our own food. Can you cook?”

“I’ll make you any dessert,” Alisbeth says as she stands. “Just ask!” She pulls on the demon hunter’s hand to follow the others.

Grimory follows as well after throwing coin on the table, being sure to keep Alisbeth at a considerable distance.

Koltira makes a face. “I can cook, yes. I do know the traditional Pilgrim’s Bounty dishes from when I actually participated—all but the desserts, sadly. But I’ll need help from the living on anything requiring smell or taste.” He smiles charmingly down at her. “So it’s your fault if anything burns.”

Anarchaia smiles up at him. “Well it’s a good thing desserts are my specialty.” She leans a shoulder on him and puts on an airy, playful tone. “I keep finding reasons to think we were made to find one another.”

Koltira smirks and kisses the top of her head. “I don’t need reasons, I just need how you make me feel.”

Alisbeth stops in her tracks and tugs at Grimory’s hand, her eyes wide and fixed on the mage ahead of them. “Tell me again that you believe in me. That I can do it.”

The mage blushes and smiles up at him from the corner of her eye. “I need that, too. C’mon.” She pulls him toward the staircase once they enter the tavern.

Grimory watches the two ahead of them go and pauses to turn Alisbeth to face him, hands on her cheeks. ::You can do this. She’s your friend, remember? She’s had so many chances to hurt you and she hasn’t, yeah? Do it for Diori.::

Alisbeth closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. “For Diori. I can do this.”

Grimory nods and waves to Ervaen as they pass. ::Why don’t you…help Ana with the desserts? For practice. I’ll help Kolt make some food that actually tastes good.::

Alisbeth grips his hand as he leads her into the kitchen. She stops and stares at Anarchaia as though petrified. “D-desserts,” she sputters after a while.

Koltira eyes the mage and death knight in turn. “If you think you can…handle it. Wash your hands.”

She does as she’s told, reaching the sink by giving the mage a wide birth.

He painstakingly washes his hands, then searches for all the cookware he needs. “Did he say if this place is stocked, or am I making a food run? Or are you stealing some from somewhere else?”

Anarchaia looks over after conjuring a mass of ingredients that slam into the table in a heavy heap. “Hm? Oh, uh…the latter.” She dusts her hands off on one another and grabs the flour, sugar, eggs and butter, then stops when she sees Alisbeth at the sink. “O-oh. Are you, uh…are you helping? …me?”

Grimory cringes at the dialogue behind him as he washes his hand in a separate basin, then reaches for a knife and whetstone.

~ * ~

Once that group have procured a couple of pies from the shop near town square, they are led by an excited Diori back to the Dalaran portal. She drags Taveth by his sleeve toward their family’s tavern. “Come on! They’re probably already eating!”

Tyndra blinks over at her brother. “Is Kel’ori coming? She is here, isn’t she?”

Taveth chuckles. “I doubt it. Ana was finding a location when I left.” Inside the tavern, he leans over to speak with his brother. “Can Diori wait here while I go find my friends?”

Ervaen gives Diori a rare smile and leans over the bar to pinch the tip of her nose. “They’re downstairs, as it were. I said they could use the banquet room today.”

Diori bounces excitedly. “Ali too?”

He nods. “Ali, too.”

“Thanks,” he says to Ervaen. He takes Diori’s hand again and leads her downstairs, making sure the others are still following. “Stand here. No peeking.”

Diori grunts and covers her eyes with her hands. “Okay, but hurry.”

Taveth leans around the side of the doorway and clears his throat. “Drop your sharp implements, please.” He stares pointedly at Grimory.

Alisbeth grins widely. “Is she here?”

Koltira moves out of the path the girl will have to take and starts preparing foods with the ingredients provided.

Anarchaia’s jaw tightens and she turns to busy herself near the ovens, instead.

Grimory blinks and lowers the knife slowly back onto the table.

“Okay, you can go in,” Taveth says.

Diori steps through the doorway into the kitchen, then lights up at the sight of Alisbeth. She takes a cautious step forward. “Ali! How are…” Her eyes widen at the demon hunter in the corner, then well with tears. “I-is it really you?” she squeaks, then runs forward to throw herself into his arms, sobbing. “You’re alive! And you aren’t a big, scary monster!”

Grimory blinks, brow furrowing as he returns the embrace. He looks up at the others with irritation in his eyes, then presses her head into the crook of his neck and smiles, nodding.

Alisbeth frowns at being passed for a hug. The furrow between her brows deepens at the girl’s comments. “Did you have a nightmare about Grim? Was it scary? He’s perfectly fine, though, see?” She smiles eagerly at her daughter while nodding insistently.

Koltira’s eyes widen at the girl, then at Taveth.

“U-uh, Ali! Come with me a minute to see if Kel wants to join us?” He grits his teeth on a strained smile. “Tyndra, why don’t you meet everyone? Eophen, you can stay or come with, if you like.” His smile softens at the draenei.

Eophen returns the gentle smile. “I think I should stay and assist with preparations. Perhaps cook something my family enjoys. …or something close.” He eyes the raw turkey on the table curiously.

Alisbeth clenches her fists and stomps to Taveth. “Fine. I’ll just spend time with Diori when we get back, then.” She follows Taveth as he heads back up the stairs.

Koltira purses his lips. “Ana, would you like to explain it, or should I?”

Diori looks between each person as they speak, confusion apparent in her eyes. “Did I say something wrong?”

“No, sweetie,” Anarchaia says quietly, bending at the waist to smile down at her. “Hey, why don’t you help me bake the cake, okay?” She takes the girl by the hand and she reluctantly follows. Anarchaia looks at Koltira. “Perhaps you should…”

Grimory tilts his hips and folds his arms expectantly as Anarchaia and Diori make their way back toward the sink in the opposite corner of the room.

Koltira purses his lips, not having actually expected being the one to tell the demon hunter. He eyes the elf with the magenta hair, then steps closer to the demon hunter. “Short version, you died. On Argus. In Kel’ori’s arms. You saved her life and she’s been a mess ever since. So, fair warning, she might lose her shit when she gets here. And the, uh, monster thing. I got drunk and found Diori hiding at the range. I, uh, promised her I’d try to make it better.” He steps back slightly to prepare for being struck. “I raised you…but Spinewing came. He tore apart the city trying to get to Kel’ori, and I had to…kill you again.” He slides his thumb across his own throat and grimaces. “Sorry.” He makes to turn away, then turns back. “Oh, and Alisbeth lost her mind entirely. So, there was that. Scared the hell out of Diori and Ana. She kept singing and wouldn’t respond to her own name. So,” he makes his voice loud enough for the girl to hear, too, “I think we should avoid telling Ali what happened so that she doesn’t start screaming and dangling from chandeliers like a monkey, again. Agreed?” He smirks kindly at Diori.

Grimory’s verdant eyes widen at the word raised and his slit pupils thin to slivers. He hears very little beyond that, his fists tightening against his biceps.

Diori nods understandingly, then jumps and cries out when the Illidari, as expected, punches Koltira full force into the face while he’s distracted.

Anarchaia echoes the noise and quickly covers the girls eyes. “Grim!” she cries angrily before setting Diori aside and going to Koltira.

The demon hunter scowls furiously, ignoring the girls and Tyndra when she gasps and spins into the other room as though she hadn’t seen. ::What the fuck is wrong with you?!::Koltira straightens. “Yeah. I deserved that. But I only did it because she wanted her father back, and it didn’t look like that was going to happen. And, believe it or not, I missed you, too.” He turns away and gets back to the food he’s preparing, only somewhat acknowledging the mage’s presence.

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