The demon hunter groans and opens his eyes.
“It’s time to go,” Anarchaia says quietly, not wanting to wake the other two men. “Ali. Are you ready?”
Grimory sits up and redresses in his leg armor. “Sunrise?”
She gives a tentative shrug. “I think? It’s starting to lighten.”
Alisbeth hops from foot to foot, her excitement barely contained behind her pursed lips.
Grimory nods to her, amused by her pacing. “Leave your weapons, yeah?”
Koltira takes the mage by the waist. “Be careful in there. Please.”
Anarchaia flushes and opens her mouth. A flash of the burning toy slips back into her mind’s eye and she purses her lips. “I will. Even if I’m discovered, I doubt they’d kill me.” She steps away and her form morphs into that of a succubus. “Take care of these two, please. They aren’t as strong as you.”
He goes to her as the three exit the cave. “Ana…” He pauses, seeming to reconsider what he was going to say. “Yeah. I will.”
The mage lets her gaze linger on him for a moment longer before turning away and following the elves. If he really cares, he can tell me.
Alisbeth squeals as they move away. “This is so exciting! I wonder how much of the temple I’ll get to see this time? Oh! Oh! Can we visit the grumpy recruiter guy and just spit at him? Can we?”
Grimory’s ears perk and he grabs Alisbeth gently by the upper arm. “No. You have to pretend to be a good recruit, yeah? Or they’ll kick you out. Don’t even talk to Lord Illidan.”
She pouts. “Aww. No fun!”
The trio arrives at the temple after a short walk. The death knight stops to gape at it.
“It looks…different from this angle. So, how do we get inside?”
Grimory strides past her to gesture to the structure and the steps leading up and around. “The stairs.”
Anarchaia gives a quiet chuckle and nudges Alisbeth to follow. “Remember. We’re here to find Grim, get him out, then back to the barracks. Okay?”
“And Grim can’t touch Grim. I’m gonna rough you up!” she says. She punches his shoulder. “Then I’ll carry ‘you’ out and we leave but you stay here and do…things. I forgot the rest. Why are we here?”
“I need to gather intel, maybe even stop the assassination.” He rubs at the place she’d punched him.
“Stop.” An Illidari guard, brow furrowed behind a blindfold, holds out his glaive. “Oh. It’s Silversong. Don’t recall you going on a trip outside the temple.”
“Were you on duty last night?”
“I’d left last night. I have a new recruit I picked up in Shattrath. And a succubus I’ve convinced to come back with me.”
The man seemingly scrutinizes the women, then steps aside. “Right. Training starts in a couple hours. Best get to your quarters. Show these two to theirs first.”
Alisbeth grins wide at the guard. “I get to have horns! Won’t I look so cool with horns? Grim says I don’t really get to, but I want them and I don’t think he can stop me.” She nods emphatically. “I like yours.” She reaches up to touch his horn with a single finger.
The guard jerks his head away. “Get moving.”
“Kay!” She runs ahead of the other two. “Move it or lose it! Hey, I wonder if that one nice demon hunter is here. She was nice. I should go find her. Do you remember her name, Grim?” She waves a dismissive hand then continues running up the stairs.
Grimory nods at the familiar faces, then perks and follows. “What? Who?”
Anarchaia scans the crowd nervously, unsure of what will happen if the two Grimorys happen to be seen together. “Let’s move quickly.”
Alisbeth skips ahead, enjoying the sights and waving to the people. She waits at a cross-hall as the other two catch up. “So. Remember where you were today? What should I do to get you out of the temple? Would carrying an unconscious person raise suspicions? I mean, if you were anything like you are now I could just lift my shirt and you’d follow me anywhere.” She scrunches her face in a silly grin up at him.
Grimory knits his brow, mildly offended. “I wasn’t.” He blinks. “Wait, that’s it. Ali, you have to go to the mezzanine on the lower floor. I should be training there, still. Spar with me and knock me out, yeah? Then offer to take me to the infirmary.” He looks at Anarchaia. “It’ll be hard to get me past the guards out front so you’ll have to disguise me.”
She purses her lips. “As what?”
“I don’t know. Can you cast illusions as inanimate objects?”
She shakes her head. “Not that I know of.”
Alisbeth runs off, then stops. Her eyes dart left to right and she spins around. “The what in the where? Y’know what, I’ll find it.” She bolts off again, running through the temple until she crashes into a young Illidari.
The woman holds the crate of potion bottles above her head and yipes as she stumbles back. Alisbeth grabs the collar of her shirt, fingers jammed into the deep cleavage, and keeps her from falling. The woman straightens and huffs as she brushes back her pearlescent ivory hair.
“Sorry! Sorry. Probably my fault, please don’t—” She looks Alisbeth up and down and grins. “New recruit?”
“Yes. Very new. The newest.” Alisbeth scrunches her eyes. “Something kinda familiar about you.”
“Well, I don’t think we’ve met bef—”
“Oh! The sparring area. I need to get there. I have to fight a guy.”
The woman laughs. “All right, all right. Take the staircase on the left, then take your third right and go down those steps. And good luck. I hope to see you around. I’d hate for another pretty face to end up dying.”
Alisbeth points emphatically at her. “I have no intention of dying again. Good to meet you. I’m Alisbeth!” She shakes the woman’s hand.
She laughs, a small blush touching her cheekbones. “Asheeda.”
“Kay, bye!” Alisbeth rushes past her, then stops, her eyes narrowed as she looks over her shoulder at the woman.
“Good luck!” Asheeda waves, picks up her crate of vials, and continues down the hall.
“Waitaminute.” She jolts back to her task. “The mezzanine!” She manages to follow the instructions given and ends up in the training room. It takes her a moment to find Grimory’s blond hair, where he’s locking in combat with another elf. She weaves through the paired off Illidari and shoves the other blood elf hard enough to throw her a good few feet.
“Hi Grim! I’m gonna beat you up, now, okay?” She leaps at him, ready to wrap her arms around his neck.
Grimory’s eyes widen as his sparring partner is pushed aside. He backpedals quickly away from Alisbeth, then brings a hand up to clamp tightly around one of her wrists before she can throw a punch. He stops, looking into her face intently. His fingers loosen and he steps back. “…Diori?”
She purses her lips. “Balls.” She covers her face. “Nope. No. Wrong face. I just have…a face. Don’t look at me!” She jumps forward to punch at him.
He nimbly dodges the punch, leaning to the side. He furrows his brow further. “Why are you acting so strangely? How did you find me?” He dodges her second strike, then brings up his arms to block himself, not wanting to fight back. “I have so many questions—stop hitting me!”
Alisbeth continues her assault, despite his thwarting of every blow. “You have zero questions. Stop asking. Stop talking.” She notices that slowly the two are spinning, putting the Illidari’s back to a stone column. She growls in frustration as he pushes her fist away yet again. “Grim, you’re supposed to let me knock you out. Stop fighting back!”
Grimory grunts and grabs her fist as it nears his shoulder. “Why do y—” The wind is knocked out of him as her boot hits him hard in his gut. He stumbles back. His head hits the pillar and the man falls to the stone floor like a sack of potatoes.
“She knocked out Silversong,” someone mutters from the crowd that’s collected.
“Grim!” An elf with chocolate hair tied back with a ribbon runs forward. “What is your problem?!” Kneeling at his side, she scowls up at Alisbeth.
The death knight scowls down at the woman. “Excuse me. You’re in the— I know you? No. Yes-no.” She notices the attention on her, then remembers her assignment. She shoots her shoulders up to her ears and smiles innocently. “Guess I don’t know my own strength? Lemme take him to the medic.” Without waiting for permission, she kneels down, then slings the man across her shoulders like a foal. “Don’t worry, I know the way. No need to follow me. Totally going to the medic that I know the way to.”
Illith’ra stands. “Oh no you don’t!” She takes a step forward.
“Calmwind,” Varedis growls. “Training ends in forty minutes.”
She turns. “B-but she—!”
“Fall in line. You’ll receive a new partner.”
Illith’ra looks quickly between the retreating Alisbeth and her trainer, then deflates and does as she’s commanded.
Alisbeth rushes through the temple. “You’re heavier than two sacks of grain. Wanna know how I know that?” She snorts and giggles to herself. “You weren’t supposed to see me again. I should have covered my face. Let’s just hope I hit you hard enough that you’ll forget. You… You wouldn’t like me this way, anyway.”
Anarchaia perks as she sees Alisbeth rush past the corridor she’s traversing. She runs after her, hooves tapping. “Ali!” she hisses. “Wait!” She grabs her by the arm and pulls her into the nearest empty hallway. “Tell me that’s the right Grim.”
She blinks at the succubus in front of her, then narrows her eyes. “Tell me you’re the right succubus, first.”
She gives the woman an unimpressed look. “Would the wrong succubus know who you are?”
Alisbeth narrows her eyes. “You make a valid point. I got the Grim. Now what?”
Anarchaia purses her lips at the blood dripping from the man’s blond ponytail. “If he’s still alive, we take him back out the way we came.” She taps her chin with a claw. “But we need to disguise him.” She looks around the vacant hallway, then steps into a storage closet. “Aha.” She dumps out a large burlap sack filled with battered helmets and other bits of worn armor. “Here, put him in here. We’ll have to move quickly. Burlap doesn’t breathe well.”
Alisbeth shoves the man in, then hoists him over her shoulders again. “Let’s go!” She rushes out of the temple with Anarchaia on her heels. Any questions directed at the two, she answers with a hasty “Can’t talk right now!” then continues on. Outside and around a corner, Alisbeth sets him down and opens the bag.
“Pretty sure I did not kill him. Ready?”
Anarchaia nods and takes the bag, using magic to hold it up. Her illusion falls from herself like cold smoke. “Can you find your way back okay?”
“To the cave? Yeah!”Alisbeth grins as the mage disappears, then her smile falls. “I forgot. Oh! Grim knows.” She rushes back into the temple to search for the demon hunter.
Anarchaia appears in the center of the sleeping quarters of the barracks and stumbles. She catches herself on a table, then panics and catches the bag just before it hits the stone floor. She groans, tired. “Kel’ori…”
Baemalen jerks awake at the commotion. He immediately puts a hand on his head. “Urg. She’s…in the other room.” He eyes the suspicious sack tiredly. “You need help with that?”
She shakes her head. “Just Kel. Heh. Sorry.” She practically drags herself and the unconscious Illidari into the next room. “Kel.”
Kel’ori pushes up from the rug. She goes to the hallway and gasps, then takes the huge sack into her own magic. “Can you stay with Bel?” She doesn’t wait for an answer as she takes the bundle outside and down into the cellar. She uses her magic to shackle his wrists and ankles, then rushes from the darkness, stopping to catch her breath before going inside. “Ana, you should eat something. You don’t look well.”
Anarchaia shakes her head weakly and hands the baby back. “No. Taveth is going to call for me at any moment. I need to get back to the temple.” She smiles up at her. “Make sure you keep him fed and watered. He’s your pet, now.”
Kel’ori deflates some. “I’ll try. I just… Grim…in the dark…” She swallows, then undoes her dress for the pouting infant. “How has the mission been going?”
“Just keep reminding yourself that he can’t hurt you.” She sighs and sets herself in the large armchair. “You’re actually more powerful than he in this state…” She glances at the new clock above the fireplace. “It’s going well. Just need to scout the temple.” She closes her eyes. “How are you?”
She giggles. “I don’t feel any sort of strong right now. I may have lost my cool and expended too much energy. I don’t feel like I’m recharging even a little.” She conjures two apples and gives one to Anarchaia. “This helps…a little.”
The human girl smiles and accepts the snack. “Yeah. This place is awful. At least on Argus I felt something to tap into. Here…nothing.” She sighs and takes a bite, then relishes the sweetness. “I hope Ali makes it back to the cave all right.”
“How are you supposed to get back?” Kel’ori asks. She sets Bel’theas to her shoulder to burp him. “Please don’t puke on me.”
Anarchaia leans her head back and groans. “Taveth is supposed to summon me with his…thing.” She scrunches her face. “Warlock thing.”
Kel’ori spits a bit of apple down her chin as she laughs. “Adding ‘warlock’ doesn’t make that statement any better.”
Anarchaia pinches the bridge of her nose. “He’s not into me like that,” she says on a laugh. She smiles and opens her eyes to give the other girl a sideways glance. “Though, if I’m being honest, if he were…”
The high elf widens her eyes and drops her mouth open dramatically. “You like my brother? What about you and Koltira? You do know he’s crushing on that sweet draenei he dragged to Stormwind, right? Eophen?” Kel’ori takes another bite and smiles as though the fruit seems sweeter alongside the gossip.
Anarchaia flushes and gives a sheepish smile. “N-no. I just think he’s cute, and just my type. A-and I love Koltira! Really, I do. With all my heart. But lately…” She frowns at the charm bracelet dangling from her wrist and takes it off to spin one of the little trinkets between her fingers. She smiles again. “Eophen though? Really? I figured there was something between them but didn’t realize it was mutual.”
“Lately what?” She makes a funny face down at Bel’theas as he gurgles up at her; he gives a scream of amusement in reply.
Anarchaia smiles tiredly over at the two and swallows another bite of her apple. “Mm. Nothing. I won’t bother you with my burdens.”
Kel’ori rolls her eyes. “Please. Please. I’m surrounded by men and their drama. Plus…Yesterday was bad, and I could use something else to talk about.”
Anarchaia chews on her lip as she scrutinizes the apple in her hand. “Jorick–the older man with all the scars–and I have known each other since we were little. We dated for a while before I d—er—became a mage.” She slips the bracelet back on and looks up at the ceiling. “Koltira is…a very…possessive man.”
Kel’ori chews her bite as she contemplates this. “I mean…can you blame him? Look what happened with Ali. Maybe he’s afraid of losing you, too. I had a boyfriend once who pulled away when he started to think I was going to break up with him.”
Anarchaia shrugs. “Perhaps. He did the same to her, though. And it’s not just that. He’s just been…so short with me.” She sobers. “Maybe he’s getting bored of me,” she says softly. “How long before he does to me what he did to Ali?”
“Do you really think he will?” Kel’ori asks on almost a whisper.
Anarchaia purses her lips. “I don’t know,” she says after a moment. “When Ali regained her sanity for that short while before Argus… And the way I’ve caught him looking at her now.” She shakes her head. “Forget I said anything. How is…what was his name?” She glances at the clock.
“Ana…I don’t think he’ll…” She bites her lower lip in uncertainty. “Which ‘he’ are you talking about? This little booger? Who is already holding up his own head.” She holds Bel’theas up and kisses his nose.
The infant screams in excitement.
“Do you mean Ven? Cause he’s an asshole. Or Baemalen? He’s nice. Ven says he’s too nice. Maybe he is. He keeps…taking Bel and just… Helping. When I don’t ask. And it’s nice and I want to take advantage, but at the same time… He just reminds me of my youngest sister. She’s so giving. Never asks for help or tells you she’s overwhelmed. Just lets herself drown.”
The human watches the two and frowns, yearning and jealousy stinging her heart. She takes another bite to take her mind off it. “Baemalen. Yeah. And that’s good! Isn’t it? It’s just what you need and the timing is perfect.”
“Bel seems to like him, too. I just… I’m strong. I can do it alone.” The mage nods once, though she still appears apprehensive.
Anarchaia smiles. “Maybe. But you know what’s better than having cake? More cake.”
She sighs. “It’d be easier without Ven. Pretty sure he can hear me say this—because somehow he hears everything, even though he’s nowhere to be found—but, he just seems to want to make me miserable. Make me feel guilty. And the shitty thing is that it works. Last night I should have been resting, like you.” She lets out a long breath. “It’s okay. I’m okay.”
The younger mage gives a sympathetic smile. “I’m sure he’s just trying to ruffle you. I wouldn’t let it get to you.” She finishes her apple and tosses the core into the fire, then stands. “I-…” She clears her throat and taps her fingertips together. “I could help you. I-if you’d like.”
“Help me? With what?” Kel’ori asks.
Bel’theas leans forward and wraps his mouth around the apple, sinking his fangs into the flesh of it.
“Ack, no! You’re too small for that!” She carefully retrieves the little bits he’d bitten free.
He pouts and leans to the apple again, but his mother moves it. He screams out and then begins to cry in frustration. Kel’ori flinches at the shrill sound, but otherwise just lets him cry.
Anarchaia stands and goes to them. “Help with him.”
The baby quiets some in curiosity as the girl nears, then scrunches his face and cries harder and grabs at his mother when she holds out her finger for him to take.
She retracts her hand, her heart breaking just the tiniest bit. “Or not. Heh. I-I guess I’m kind of scary looking.”
Kel’ori does her best to soothe the child. “That’s just Ana. She’s a friend.” She frowns. “It might be your hair, actually. I’m just guessing, of course, but, Ven terrorized him the other day with a ball of bright white light.”
Anarchaia shakes her head. “It’s all right. Babies and animals don’t seem to like me much…anymore.” She straightens and folds her arms. “What happened yesterday?”
She purses her lips. “We went to Shattrath. Let’s just say they didn’t take his appearance too well.” She looks at the clock and at the fading day outside. “Shouldn’t you have gone back by now?” She glances down the hall. “I hope Bae is okay…”
The human glances at the clock before nodding. “Yes.” She blinks. “Oh. Want me to check on him?”
Kel’ori waves her hand. “I’m sure he doesn’t want me worrying after him. It’s okay.”
Anarchaia gives a small shrug. “If you say so. Have you two been getting along at least? Despite the being too nice?” She gives another nervous glance at the clock.
“We do. We get along great, actually. I like spending time with him. We made a great team in the market.” A small smile tweaks her lips as she thinks on it.
She gives the two a sympathetic smile. “I’ll be honest. While I, myself, am not fond of what he is, I must admit that he’s as fascinating as he is adorable.” She sighs and collects herself. “Guess I’m sending myself back. You guys be safe.” She waves and in the next second is gone.