Book 5 – Chapter Forty-Eight

Docra sweeps into the dining room and finds the last two open seats. “I was waiting for Kel’ori, but I think I may have caused drama with her brother. She started it, though.”

Diori looks up at Docra. “What happened? Is it about the baby?”

Grimory does his best not to let the word faze him and merely washes his bite of salad down with his drink, throat suddenly dry.

Tyndra smirks over at her brother. <<Oh. I think I see what’s going on,>> she titters in Common.

Taveth blushes more furiously. <<Eophen is a friend. Who has no real home. I’m just trying to be helpful.>>

Tyndra lifts a brow, smirk growing. “Mmhm. Whatever you say.”

Taveth makes a subtle face at her across the table.

Docra blinks at the small girl. “Hello, young Nightheart. Yes. It is about the baby. And about how she’s not telling anyone when she can’t even hide it anymore. Pass me some rabbit.”

Taveth’s ears pull back. “Did you tell Ervaen?”

“Not directly, no. She embarrassed him, so I embarrassed her. Balance has been maintained.”

Diori nods as though she understands. “If Krory has a baby will it be my nephew or my cousin?”

::Cousin,:: Grimory mouths down to her. ::Second cousin.::

Docra samples some of the food she’s been passed, nodding at some, but otherwise giving no praise or indication if she enjoys anything in particular. “I believe she’s choosing to keep it. If she was going to change her mind, she should have done it a lot sooner.”

Grimory’s grip on his knife tightens and his eyes sizzle. He stands abruptly. ::Air,:: he mouths and makes his way toward the stairs.

Diori watches him go and looks up at Alisbeth. “He gets mad quickly. I can tell ‘cause his eyes do the thing when he is.”

Alisbeth frowns, her eyes wide. “Stay here.” She pats Diori’s head and runs after the demon hunter.

Diori nods, then frowns after she’s left alone.

Anarchaia sighs when Grimory and Alisbeth walk off. “We’re never going to get a chance to go around and say what we’re all thankful for if we’re all not ever here.”

“I can say it without other people around. I’m thankful for you. Every day. Every second.” Koltira slips his arm around her and pulls her and the chair closer.

The undead woman turns a deep shade of scarlet and cannot help smiling. “Awe, Kolt,” she whines, tears in an eye. She wraps her arms around him in return and rests her cheek on his shoulder. “I’m thankful for you, too. Not sure where I’d be without you. I love you.”

Eophen smiles over at the two, then down at Taveth. “Cute.” He gnaws off a small bite of rabbit. “I am thankful for meeting you. A-all of you.” He flushes. “And for what is left of my family.”

Diori hums. “I’m thankful for cake,” she says between bites.

Grimory stops in the stairwell as he nearly walks into Kel’ori. He pauses awkwardly and mutters a silent excuse me, then skirts around her to make for the door outside.

“Grim! Where are you going?” Kel’ori asks, then frowns as he runs past. “What’s going on?” she asks Alisbeth as she runs after the man.

“I don’t know. Your weird friend is downstairs. Bye.” She races after Grimory and catches him as he exits the tavern.

Kel’ori gets to the table and sits beside Docra, where the priest has already made a generous plate for the woman. “Do you have any idea what you started?”

The priestess shrugs. “Maybe you should have been a little nicer to him.”

Kel’ori’s mouth drops open in shock. “Do you like my brother?”

“I don’t like people, but I appreciate his prompt service. Eat a rabbit.”

“Well, I was going to, anyway. It smells delicious,” she says with a lot more sass than the subject warrants. “I’m thankful for…Taveth,” Kel’ori says. “I owe you more than you know.” She looks expectantly at the priestess.

Docra blinks. “Oh, I have to? Um. I’m thankful for doors that lock.”

Taveth shrinks in his seat as the attention falls to him. “I’m thankful for all of you.”

<<And I’m thankful for my handsomest master in the universe, Tavy-wavy!>> Tryxora shouts from the doorway to the kitchen. <<Sorry. I wasn’t going to chime in. Just watch. But it was too special and I wanted to tell you I love you and you’re amazing, master.>> She rushes in and grasps him in a hug that presses her chest against his neck.

“What are you doing here?” he grunts.

<<I figured out the hole! It was not easy to get here, like it was Argus. Now I can always be at your side.>>

“Kill me.”

Anarchaia titters into her fingertips at the two men, but her smile immediately falls at the sight if the succubus. “Ugh, poor Tav.”

Diori stares at the demoness, her chewing stopped. “Who’s that?”

Tryxora flits to the little girl and smiles. <<Hi again, little elf. I’m Tryxora. Call me Tryx.>> She goes around re-greeting every one, then giggles at the other Nightheart girl’s hair. She pats the top and moves on to the priestess.

Docra grabs the demon’s wrist as she reaches for her. Her fist lights up and Tryxora falls to the floor, screaming. “It has an over-time effect.”

Diori resumes chewing when the demoness falls to the floor, then shrugs and finishes her cake.

Eophen cringes. “Your minions are rather…erratic?”

Taveth pinches the bridge of his nose. “It’s only her. She says hi to everyone. Tyndra, she likes your hair. Her name is Tryxora, but she likes to be called Tryx.”

Tryxora stands, cringing as she recovers from the use of Light on her. Kel’ori leans forward and pulls Tryxora down to whisper in her ear. The succubus thinks on it, then nods.

The mage smiles to herself, then looks to her sister. “Tyndra, what are you thankful for?”

Tyndra perks and swallows a mouthful of rabbit. “Uhhhhh, not being pregnant.” She grins at the glare she receives. “And my wonderful family, of course.”

“Makes one of us,” Anarchaia grumbles into the neck of the wine bottle.

Diori narrows her eyes over juice. “What did purple lady say to you?”

Kel’ori sneers in Tyndra’s direction. “Aren’t you clever.” She focuses on her food, her lips pursed. “Nothing that concerns you, Diori. Just eat your food.”

Diori makes a face, offended, and eats the rest of Grimory’s cake as well.

~ * ~

“Grim, what’s wrong?”

Grimory sighs and turns to look down at Alisbeth. ::I don’t want that child born. It’ll be a reminder of what happened. What…he…did. What happened to me.:: He pinches the bridge of his nose. ::I don’t even want to hear about it.::

She huffs. “Okay. Here’s the plan. We get her back to my place and we cut it out of her. Then you don’t have to hurt anymore. Problem solved.”

Grimory blinks and straightens. ::N-no! No. I just…:: He leans against the building and folds his arms. ::Wish she’d have considered how I’d feel.::

Alisbeth frowns and leans against him. “Did you ever talk to her about it? Maybe we can talk her out of it. If not, we’ll just tie her down and cut it out of her!”

Grimory gives her an unimpressed stare. ::We’re not cutting anyone open.:: His brow furrows and he scratches at the nape of his neck. ::I guess…we could try to convince her.::

Alisbeth nods. “I bet we could. Come on, let’s do it now.” She pulls him back toward the door. “You can finish eating, too.”

Grimory jumps and grabs Alisbeth before she can walk away. ::N-not right now! It would ruin the dinner. After, maybe. When the others are gone.::

Alisbeth pulls on him again. “Okay. After dinner. Let’s go eat and spend time with Diori!”

The demon hunter nods and follows her back to their seats downstairs. He clears his throat and downs the rest of the champagne in his glass.

“We went around and said what we are thankful for,” Anarchaia says from the opposite end of the table.

Grimory directs a smile down to Diori and ruffles her blond hair. ::I’m thankful for you.::

The little elf returns the smile and giggles, unsure of what he’s said but enjoying the attention.

Alisbeth frowns and studies the table.

Tryxora grabs the flailing Taveth in a hug, then makes her way upstairs. A few shouts echo back down to them. Ervaen furrows his brow at the demoness harassing his patrons and merely continues to polish the stein in his hands.

“You know what?” Taveth says, “I’m just gonna let her do that. As if she’d listen to me anyway.”

Kel’ori sets a hand on her belly and smiles down at it, then returns her attention to the others. “What is everyone planning after this?”

“Probably back to Ana’s place,” Koltira says.

“I’m going home and locking my door with you on the outside,” Docra says casually.

Grimory watches the elf mage smile endearingly down at herself, then sighs through his nose and leans back in his seat. He shrugs.

Anarchaia blinks. “O-oh. We’re not calling it home, anymore? Heh.”

Koltira blinks. “I was just making sure everyone knew which home I was talking about.”

Eophen thinks on it for a moment. “Taveth promised tours.”

Tyndra snerks. “I bet he did.”

Taveth blushes. “I’m being hospitable. He’s a guest on our planet.”

Mmhmmmm,” Tyndra hums and reaches for a cake.

Diori thinks. “I have a class tonight. A special one. Then sleep.”

“What class do you have?” Alisbeth asks. She reaches around the demon hunter to push some hair behind the little girl’s ear.

Diori blushes and smiles. “We’re learning about power words tonight.”

~ * ~

Not long after dinner, the group works together to clean the dishes—made easier with the help of the mages. Taveth leads Tyndra, Eophen, and Diori back up the stairs, followed by Anarchaia and Koltira, mumbling more conversation until they part ways just outside.

Grimory sits back as the numbers dwindle. He waits until he receives his chance to place a gentle hand on Kel’ori’s shoulder, but not after ensuring Alisbeth is with him for support and translation. ::Can we talk?::

Kel’ori jumps at the touch, then laughs. “Hey, Grim! Are you…feeling okay? You left so fast earlier.”

“We need to talk to you,” Alisbeth blurts. “Grim wants to talk to you.”

Docra stops at the bottom of the stairs and eyes the mage.

“Oh! Sure. Of course. Go ahead, Docra. I’ll meet you up there.”

Grimory inhales, then releases it all slowly through his lips when the priest leaves. ::Please don’t keep this baby,:: he mouths, eyes pleading.

Kel’ori raises her eyebrows and looks to the death knight for help.

Alisbeth mimics Grimory’s breath and movements. “Please don’t keep this baby,” she says, the same look on her face as the man.

The mage narrows her eyes and waits as though it’s a joke. “N-no. No. First of all, you are the last person who can try to tell me what to do. Second, Docra says it would be cruel to do it now.” She squeaks and sets a palm to the side of her belly. “And third—” she grabs the demon hunter’s hand and yanks him closer, setting his fingertips to the little kicks inside. “It’s so strong. And it’s mine.”

Grimory’s brow knits in a mixture of fascination and disgust and he pulls his hand away. He shakes his head. ::No. I’m the first person to tell you what to do. That child is mine, too, yeah? And it shouldn’t exist. It’s…:: His fists clench. ::A reminder. Of what happened. To me. To us.::

Kel’ori freezes as she listens to Alisbeth’s repeat of the message. After a moment to process, she reaches up and slaps the Illidari across the face. “All of you spent weeks telling me it wasn’t you. So guess what? It’s not yours. And yes, it reminds me of the actual worst day of my entire life. But it also reminds me that I don’t have to be the monster. My baby is innocent.” A tear rolls down her cheek.

“You might not think you’re not the monster, but that thing is,” Alisbeth insists. “Can’t you see what you’re doing to Grim?”

Grimory jerks, then stares at her as she speaks, hurt apparent in his eyes more than his features. ::I know it wasn’t me. But it’s my blood. And an embodiment of the second worst day of my life.:: His face softens. ::Why would you want to remember that every day for the rest of your life?::

“It’s not about remembering,” Kel’ori says on a soft whine. “It’s about—”

“We can fix it for you” Alisbeth says. She grabs a huge chef’s knife from the knife block.

Kel’ori screams and backs into the corner, crying harder.

Grimory quickly steps between the two. ::A-Ali, no! No cutting. No violence, yeah?:: He sighs and looks over his shoulder at Kel’ori. Before he can articulate a thought, Ervaen skids to a halt as he rushes into the kitchen.

“What’s happened? Kel—” He narrows his eyes at the knife. “Ali…?”

Alisbeth smiles and waves with the knife. “Hi Ervaen! Everything’s fine. We’re just helping to get rid of the little monster.”

“It’s not, it’s not. You’re not touching me, or my baby.” A sphere of both fire and frost suddenly pops up and swirls around her as protection. Her face betrays her shock at the shield and she sets her hands over her belly.

Grimory takes a step away as though the barrier will no doubt hurt him. A look of disappointment seeps into his features and he shakes his head. ::Fine. Do whatever you want.:: He turns and grabs Alisbeth by the hand. He takes the knife from her before leading her back toward the stairs.

She runs alongside him, frowning. “I thought we were going to convince her.”

Grimory shakes his head and glares forward as they make their way back toward the lounge. ::I don’t care anymore. She’ll see the mistake she’s made when it’s born, yeah?::

Ervaen watches them go, then turns back to the bubble that Kel’ori is standing within. “What was that about?”

“That was about me being completely alone. Just another person telling me that keeping this child is a mistake. Just like you. And you wonder why I don’t tell anyone.” She straightens and wipes her face. “Docra urged me to keep it. Of all people.” She shakes her head and sighs.

Ervaen pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs. “Kel, I’m sure Docra’s reasoning for you keeping it isn’t what you think it is.” He frowns at her. “You’re really being selfish about this.”

Kel’ori frowns and shakes her head in disbelief. “You know what? I think I did make a mistake. I don’t want you coming back to Stormwind with me. I don’t think I want you anywhere near my baby. Ever.” She stomps around him to the doorway, then spins to yell at him. “And stay the hell away from Docra. You obviously have no idea what kind of person she is. She is the only person not trying to remind me of what happened. Maybe she really doesn’t care about me, but at least she’s trying to make my situation suck a little less.”

Docra stands on the final step and stairs at the mage. “I’m leaving now. I’m locking the door behind me, so you might want to hurry up.” She fixes her gaze on Ervaen. “I was eaves dropping. I don’t care about anyone. And I told her the child is a scientific curiosity, and as the first of its kind we don’t know what it’s capable of, or even what it’ll look like. Am I the only one who finds that prospect intriguing?” She doesn’t wait for an answer but turns to head back up the stairs.

Ervaen slowly scowls up at her. “If you think you have any right telling me what to do, you have another thing coming little sister.” He watches Docra go, his scowl fading to a look of determination. “I guess I’ll be sending word to Father, then.”

Kel’ori shakes her head and clenches her fists. “If you do that, then you can tell him I’m not coming home.”

Docra gives Ervaen one last look. “I was wrong about you.”

“Consider it done.” The high elf man gives Docra a small shrug. “Whether that’s good or bad is rather irrelevant. I just care about my sister not dying.” He pulls a piece of paper from behind the counter along with a quill. His hand scribbles away with a ferocity no longer shown in his face. “Though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious what you were wrong about.”

“That you were a good man,” she says. She strides from the tavern with Kel’ori in tow.

Ervaen’s brow knits slightly. “I guess we were both wrong, then.” He seals the scroll with a melted wax cube and sets it side with the rest of the mail to be sent. “If my sister dies,” he says to no one, “you’ll be responsible.”

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