Book 6 – Chapter Two

The dragon blinks at Taveth and Kel’ori. “Whoops. Looks like I grabbed everyone. No matter.”

Kel’ori blinks at the area, her hand still stuffing the last of the clothes into her bag. Her eyes go wide. “Whoops,” she hisses at Vendormu. “Whoops?” She stomps over to grab him by the shirt. “This isn’t a ‘whoops’, this is a disaster! Do you realize that I am due any day! And Docra isn’t even here! This isn’t a simple whoops, you inept little—” She goes quiet and just breathes in deeply through her nose, her teeth grit and her knuckles white as she clenches her fist. After a moment she breathes out and glares at him. “You have to take me back!”

Taveth frowns and sinks to the floor. “Oh, no. This is bad. I’m not supposed to be here. What if something happens to me? Wh-what am I supposed to do?”

Koltira leans against the wall, his eyelids lowered in irritation. “Oh, no, I didn’t want to pack a bag or bring an extra weapon. No, no. Just Byfrost is fine.” He scoffs. “You’re lucky I had it on me, pal.”

Alisbeth frowns at the empty floor where her box of candy canes had been. “Ah wan mah cany cans beck!” she shouts over the peppermint mush in her mouth.

Jorick simply gestures to the festive sweater he’s wearing.

Anarchaia looks around, then scowls. “Master must have a warding spell on himself.” Her scowl deepens as she realizes. “He has my book! He’s gonna take it!”

Vendormu gives a small smile at the chaos, not fully conveying if he feels guilty or amused. He tries to remove Kel’ori’s hands from his robes, but they hold fast. “I’m afraid there’s a twenty-four-hour limit on non-draconic entities between travels.”

Grimory sets a hand on Alisbeth’s back. ::I’m sure there’s something we can get you here, yeah?:: His face travels just past her and to the floor near the dragon and mage—a pool of darkness grows on the stone beneath them. His eyes widen slightly. ::Uh…::

The mage shakes her head. “No. No. You have to take me ba-ACK!” She whimpers and grabs at the aspect’s shoulder to keep herself upright, her fingers digging into the man’s skin. “Nonono. You have to take me back. Now.” She hisses and presses one palm to the side of her large belly. “Oh, gods, what did you do?

Taveth stands and goes to his sister. “Oh…cripes. Um…so…anyone here secretly a midwife?”

Alisbeth raises her hand but doesn’t move. “I once helped deliver a colt.”

I’m not a fucking horse!

Vendormu gives a sort of disgusted sigh and holds the woman up with an arm. He eases her onto the floor after plucking a pillow from one of the hammocks. “You hairy beasts are always so messy. No matter what you do.” He sneers at the hems of his robes.

Grimory cringes. ::I never liked helping with this sort of thing. Was one of the things I didn’t miss when I left.:: He inches toward the door along with Jorick.

“Yeah, seeing my baby sister being born was pretty traumatizing,” the man chuckles nervously.

Alisbeth helps shove the demon hunter out the door. “I’ll take care of it, Grim,” she whispers, nodding emphatically.

Grimory grabs Alisbeth by the upper arm and pulls her out with him. ::No.::

Koltira’s lower eyelids raise and he simply says, “Pass.” He, too, joins the queue for the door.

Alisbeth pouts as she’s shut out of the room. “It’s like you don’t trust me. Why don’t you trust me?”

Anarchaia meekly raises a hand. “I-I’ve done some research.” She clears her throat. “A lot of research…” She holds up a hand, palm upturned, then frowns when nothing happens. “I can’t conjure.”

Taveth purses his lips at Anarchaia. “I can help. Maybe.”

“If an inept dragon hadn’t teleported me into the middle of nowhere, I’d have Docra’s help!” Kel’ori slaps at Vendormu with one hand while gripping his robes with the other.

The dragon rolls his cyan eyes. “Your body is built for doing literally this. You’ll be fine, you Drama Queen.”

Anarchaia fidgets before nodding at Taveth. “We need hot water—or just water. And cloth. A-and something sharp. Can you find those things?” She pulls out a potion of briarthorn extract from her small side satchel and kneels beside Kel’ori. “Just breathe, okay? I’m right here. You can hold my hand.”

Koltira makes a face as the mage in the other room cries out. Taveth runs from the room, pale but determined to carry out the orders. The death knight grabs an abandoned bottle and smashes it, leaving the neck intact.

“That hardly seems sanitary,” the scholar objects.

“Not many options here.” He shoves the sharp object into Taveth’s hands and finds another door to walk through, which leads outside. “Come find me when she’s done shrieking like a banshee.”

Anarchaia thanks Taveth as he brings her the items she’d requested, then scowls over at the dragon lounging on a hammock as she heats the water and soaks the cloth in it. “Are you going to help?!” She holds out the small tincture to Kel’ori.

Vendormu gives a one-sided shrug. “I’m sure you can handle this.”

The undead woman scoffs. “Okay, Kel. Just drink that for the pain, don’t stop breathing, and push.”

When all is said and done, Anarchaia stares down at the wailing infant in her bloodied lap—its mouth already filled with sharp teeth and tiny dull horns adorning its head. She shakily cuts the cord with a heated shard of glass but cannot break her eyes away. “I-…It’s a boy.”

Kel’ori uses a shaky hand to wipe sweat from her forehead. “Oh,” she says deliriously.

“Congratulations,” drones Vendormu over the cries, then sits up when he sees. “Did you mate with a dragon?

Taveth purses his lips at the aspect. “No.” He tentatively goes to Anarchaia. His lavender eyes settle on the oddities of the newborn, then flick to his sister. “I think she needs to rest,” he mutters.

“No,” she objects, “gimme. Mine.” She weakly holds out her arms for the baby.

Anarchaia hesitates before holding out the child, placing him cautiously into his mother’s arms.

Kel’ori’s brow pulls together as she looks at the horns and the teeth. “Wh-what do I call him?” she asks no one.

Anarchaia gives Taveth a quick glance before clearing her throat and busying herself with ridding her clothes of the blood and other fluids. “U-uhm. Is there a name that means something to you? Preferably…not demonic. Heh.”

A swirling purple vortex grows in the center of the room. Tryxora steps through, her lips pressed in a line as she looks at the baby. <<I felt you coming, little one.>> She crouches down and touches a fingertip to one of his horns. <<What did you name him?>> she asks, her eyes trained on Kel’ori as Taveth translates.

“I…um…Bel…theas.” She pulls the baby away from the demoness. “He won’t be like you. I won’t let him be evil.”

<<I’m not evil. But good, protect this precious little thing.>> She pokes his nose, then goes to Taveth to squish him in a hug. <<You thought you could hide from me, didn’t you?>>

He grunts. “You can go now, Tryx.”

“That’s a nice name,” Anarchaia says with a tired smile. She goes to retrieve the others.

~ * ~

Grimory follows Koltira outside, pulling Alisbeth with him. ::You mean to tell me that if I left you in there you wouldn’t have tried to kill that bab—:: He stops short as the heat of the atmosphere hits him. He looks up at the cloudless sky above a vast expanse of red sand. ::Outlands.::

“No,” Alisbeth scoffs, her nose in the air, “I would’ve taken care of a demon. Hey, I remember this place!”

Koltira strides away from the others and finds somewhere to stand and keep watch, his frosty gaze sweeping across the lifeless plane.

Grimory swallows. ::Twenty-three he said? I…:: He shakes his head, ridding it temporarily of the memories, and smiles at Alisbeth. ::You have? When?::

“I was a knight under Kael’thas. We once flew over this area on dragonhawks… There were ten of us.” She rubs her forehead. “I can’t remember why.” Alisbeth smiles up at him. “You were there, right?”

Grimory simply nods, a pensive look on his face.

“What’s wrong?” She asks.

The Illidari suddenly looks down at her, then forces a smile after a moment and shakes his head. ::Nothing.:: He messes her hair.

“How the hell are you so good at reading lips?” Jorick blurts from behind them, arms folded and leaning against the warm stone building.

Alisbeth blinks at the human. “Umm…” She scrunches her face, thinking hard. “I can’t remember. But I’ll let you know when it comes back to me!”

“It’s done,” Anarchaia calls to her group of bored friends.

Grimory doesn’t move, however. He purses his lips and watches Jorick join the mage at the door.

Koltira goes to her, but unenthusiastically.

Alisbeth watches the others, then looks back at Grimory. “I’ll stay with you, if you want.”

He sighs and shakes his head. He takes her by the wrist and leads her to the others.

Taveth exits the room, the aspect in tow. “She’s uhm… Just leave her alone for a bit. Heh.”

Vendormu clears his throat into a fist. “Yes, I know the whole monster baby thing is enchanting, but there are slightly more pressing matters. Like saving your timeline.” He scans their faces. “First matters first. I’ll need to restore you all to your appearance appropriate for the time. If any of you were not alive twenty-three years ago, or if you desire to remain this way to dodge an old lover or something—I won’t ask—your form will not change.” He raises an eyebrow at them. “Anyone not willing to give up their current form for a younger, better one?”

Jorick immediately raises his hand.

Anarchaia blinks around at the faces beside her, excitement building in her chest. “We get to be alive again?”

Grimory thinks, brow knit and scratching his goatee. ::But I’ll miss my beard.:: But you’ll get to see her again. He lowers his arm to cross both over his chest and shakes his head.

Taveth blinks and looks himself over. “I’m pretty sure that I haven’t changed much in two decades.”

Koltira snorts. “I was already dead at this point. Unless I’ve decayed and not noticed, I’m in the same shape. Just…with my own will.”

Alisbeth chews on her lower lip and stares at the dirty floor. “Will… Will I actually be alive? … Or will I just look alive?”

Vendormu gives Alisbeth a bored look. “You’ll just look alive. I can’t change how your brain works or give or take memories.”

She grabs a broken axe handle and lobs it at the aspect. “Then what good are you?” She runs back outside, crying.

Vendormu gives a slight flinch as the object strikes him in the shoulder. He clears his throat. “Right, just you two, then?”

Grimory and Anarchaia give one another hesitant glances before turning back and nodding.

“Great. The rest of you don’t go messing things up, then.” He lifts a hand adorned in golden armor and gems and the two are shrouded in a bright golden light. When it fades, they look down at themselves then at each other.

Anarchaia snerks. “You had a ponytail?”

Grimory scowls. “Yeah, what of it?” He blinks, startled by the sound of his own voice.

Taveth makes a noise of insult. “What’s wrong with a ponytail?” He grabs defensively at his own.

Koltira hesitates a second before going to the mage. He pulls her mask slowly up to look at her face. His fingertips settle for a moment on her cheek and he purses his lips at just how blue his skin is compared to hers.

Grimory chuckles at Taveth’s attitude and scratches at a spot on his head where once there were horns. “I think she just thinks I look bad with one.” He turns to look for Alisbeth.

Pulling her mask completely off, Anarchaia grins sheepishly and brings a hand up to press his fingers to her face. “Am I warm?”

Vendormu rolls his eyes. “Again, you just look like you did twenty-three years ago. You aren’t actually alive.”

The mage deflates, frowning. “At least let me dream.”

The dragon sighs. “My brother has been seen in this area aiding the Burning Legion in an attempt to help Sargeras in the future. Do whatever you deem necessary to rid us of him.”

Koltira blinks as though woken by the dragon’s words. “You’re always warmer to me, anyway,” he says. He glances back to the man. “Any idea where he is and what he’s trying to do? Or are we just running around without a plan outside of ‘stop him’?”

Vendormu scratches at the short hairs on the back of his neck. “Mmmmnope. You can check at Falcon Watch. I honestly have no idea what form he’ll be taking, either.”

Anarchaia gives a faint scoff and stores her mask in the bag at her hip. “You’re lucky we’re resourceful enough on our own.”

Taveth gently clears his throat. “While I’m all for an adventure in the past, the least you could have done is given us time to pack. And let my sister leave.”

“Or just be competent enough to not take everyone in the first place. I need armor,” Koltira growls, not bothering to hide his anger.

“According to historical record, honor hold should exist at this time. I can go and get you—”

The death knight holds up his hand. “Just because your eyes aren’t green, doesn’t mean they’ll trust you. Out here, you’re just as bad as Kael’thas’s followers. We can send Ana.” He casts his icy gaze on the dragon aspect. “Let me guess, you don’t have gold, either.” He storms from the building, muttering about the man’s incompetence before slamming the door behind him.

The dragon cannot hold back a small snerk as he brings his fingertips to his lips. “No, I do not have need for such means,” he says as the death knight stomps past. “My, so—” he flinches when the door slams, “—moody.”

Anarchaia purses her lips at the man and follows Koltira.

Jorick leans back against the wall, arms folded as she leaves. “Welp. Someone let me know when we’ve got a coherent plan. Or when the death knights stop being so whiny.”

Taveth lets out a huff of indignation at the aspect and the human. “Is this just an amusing game to you? You really think their annoyance is unfounded? Try a little compassion toward their woes, and maybe they’d treat you a little kinder.” He goes into the other room where his sister is still laying on the floor, looking exhausted.

“The floor hurts,” she says. “Do you think the hammocks are safe to lie in?”

“I’m not sure. I can have someone come in and help you? I just…need to borrow your cloak.”

Kel’ori blinks at him. “Oh. Sure. Take Bel for a moment?”

Taveth freezes.

In the corner, Tryxora giggles. <<I can—>>

“You’re not touching him,” the elf growls, recognizing that much demonic.

The demoness holds up her hands. <<Just trying to help.>>

Taveth whimpers and gently takes the infant, holding it slightly away from himself as though at any moment it may sink its teeth into his neck. Bel’theas blinks his completely black eyes and gives a small whimper.

“Hurry,” the elf says.

Kel’ori finishes removing the cloak and tosses it aside, then holds out her hands. “He doesn’t bite, Tav.”

<<Yet,>> Tryxora insists.

“Take your demon with you,” Kel’ori shouts as he leaves the room.

<<Nope. Not going,>> the succubus says. She folds her arms and leans back. <<Someone has to keep an eye out when you sleep.>>

“I bet she’s just waiting to take him to the Nether!”

Taveth closes the door on the squabbling women. “Those three need a babysitter,” he says to the two men. “Any takers?”

Jorick and the aspect give one another a glance. The former shrugs his shoulders. “I have some experience with the niece and nephews. Just let me know when the others need me.” He pauses in the doorway when Vendormu doesn’t follow, then grabs him roughly by the arm and drags him in with him.

The high elf throws the cloak over his shoulders and lifts the hood, doing his best to hide his ears. He exits the hut and turns away from the others to make his way to the road leading to Honor Hold.

Jorick rubs his hands together nervously as he approaches the elf on the floor. “Need some help, I hear?” He eyes the succubus in the shadows.

Tryxora folds her arms under her bust and huffs. <<I am perfectly capable of handling a demon child. Really, you act like I’ve never—>>

“You’re not going to make my baby evil!” Kel’ori shouts, still not fully understanding what the demoness is saying.

<<I’m not trying to!>>

“Stop screaming at me in demonic!” She fixes her haughty gaze on the men. “Get me off this disgusting floor… Please.”

Jorick and the aspect again look at one another. The human runs a hand over his hair and gives a smile to the elf. “Yeah, sure.” He kneels to take the baby from Kel’ori and gingerly hands it to Vendormu.

The dragon and infant glare at one another before the latter begins crying.

Jorick purses his lips and again kneels to take Kel’ori into his arms. Muttering a string of apologies as she cries in pain, he sets her in one of the hammocks and pulls a blanket from another to drape over her. “How’s that?” he says over the crying.

The mage nods and holds out her arms. “What did you do? He doesn’t like it.”

Vendormu gives her a bemused look. “Nothing. It’s a baby. And a demon. They don’t like anything.”

Jorick rolls his verdant eyes and pulls off his sweater. “Here.” He folds the excess around the infant and ties the sleeves around his front as a makeshift diaper. “Wasn’t gonna use it after today, anyway.”

Kel’ori makes a face at the aspect. “I think he just doesn’t like you.”

<<I don’t like him, either,>> Tryxora mutters from the corner.

The mage smiles up at the human, ignoring the succubus. “Thank you. You’re so kind. Um, who are you, again?”

Jorick blinks before chuckling quietly. “Oh, right. The name’s Jorick. I’m a friend of Ana and Thass.” He holds out a hand. “I’ve picked up that you’re lanky boy’s sister, but haven’t gotten your name either.”

Vendormu gives the women both a mild glare before setting himself in a chair and folding his arms. He cocks an eyebrow at the other man. “Did you lose a fight with a lumber mill?” he says in monotone, addressing the menagerie of scars.

Jorick turns his head, brow knit but smile remaining. “If I’d lost I wouldn’t be here, now would I?”

The high elf smiles as she shakes his hand. “I’m Kel’ori.” Her eyes flick momentarily to the man’s scars, before she averts her gaze and adjusts the sleeping baby in her arms. She closes her eyes and gives a soft moan. “I’m going to sleep while he does, if you all don’t mind. I learned that lesson with Diori.”

Tryxora hops to her feet and goes to wave shoeing hands at the men. <<I’ve got this under control, you can leave now.>>

Jorick folds folds his arms. “The lady says she’s not interested in your help.” His arms, however, fall back to his sides as his eyes glow pink. He turns and exits without another word.

Vendormu sneers when she turns toward him next. “That horseshit don’t work on me, harlot.”

Tryxora humphs and goes back to sit on the crate in the dark corner.

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