Book 6 – Chapter Seventeen

Grimory chuckles as he’s pulled back down the corridor. He lifts a finger to his lips and stops Illith’ra when she tugs. “I’m…not really feeling it tonight, yeah?”

Illith’ra blinks back at him. “Oh, your head. Right. Another time.” She smiles. “When you feel better.”

He nods. “I’ve had a long day. Just need some rest. I’m going to grab a drink, first. You go back to our room and I’ll be right there.”

She smiles and pulls him to her to kiss his cheek. “Don’t get lost.” She waves and saunters back toward their chamber hall.

The Illidari makes his way back toward the empty mess hall, keeping his head up and alert for Alisbeth. He curses when she’s not there, then climbs the stairs into the sparsely populated upper floors.

Asheeda freezes in the doorway off the side of the Den of Mortal Delights, her eyes wide on Grimory. She quickly moves her hands, and the bottle clasped within them, behind her back. “Uh. Hi. Uh… I’m just going back to my lab. Late work, heh heh.”

Grimory stops, equally alarmed. He loosens up some. “Oh, you’re that weird alchemist.” He pauses and narrows his eyes, giving her a once over. “Wait a minute…”

“It’s not what it— People call me weird? That’s…rude.” She visibly deflates. “I thought people just didn’t like my potions. But I’m weird?” She moves closer to get to the door behind him. “I’m just gonna…drown my sorrows with the new recruit.” She holds up a stolen bottle of whiskey. “Give me a head start before reporting the weird girl. Please. I think this new recruit might like me. And she’s pretty.” She looks up at Grimory. “I bet you get all the pretty ones. Don’t even look at you funny when you try to kiss them… I may have already had a little to drink.” Asheeda sighs and makes to pass him.

Grimory watches her, turning with her as she sidles around him. He blinks, ears pricking. “Wait, which new recruit? Where? Take me.”

Asheeda narrows her eyes. “Just a recruit. What do you care? Don’t you and Illie have your hands full with each other? Pretty sure she doesn’t want to share you. And I’m also pretty sure what’s-her-face might let me kiss her. And I fully intend to. After I get her name and calm her down. So… No. Back off. If I was a dude, you’d let me have this one.” She makes for the door, turning only to shoot him a look.

Grimory grabs her by the wrist before she can get too far. “No. Don’t.” A sudden whirlwind of emotions strikes him, but he swallows it. He grins. “Tell you what. You take me to the new girl, and I don’t tell Sunfury where all the booze has been disappearing to, yeah?”

“Really not cool. It’s not me. Tonight it is, yes, but I figured no one would notice cause that redhead of yours is always taking it, anyway.” Realization hits her face. “I’m invisible, anyway, apparently. Do you even know my name? Does anybody? Cause I don’t know…anybody.” She pouts at the whiskey. “Swear to gods… Fine. She’s in my lab. Which I stay in late at night.” She stares pointedly at him. “Very late at night.” She guides him to a door across from the mezzanine. “You wouldn’t believe the things I see this late.” She pushes open the door and goes inside without waiting for him. “Will this do?” she asks the woman with her back to Grimory.

Alisbeth nods. “Thanks. Hey, I was thinking, anyone ever tell you you’d make a very handsome man?”

Grimory rolls his eyes through the woman’s ramblings. Once inside the laboratory, however, he drops the act and steps forward. “Ali!” he says in a sort of hushed yell. “You were meant to go back to the cave. What are you still doing here?”

Alisbeth shoots to her feet and Asheeda pouts.

“Of course you already know her. But not me! Nobody knows Asheeda, do they? Nobody thanks me for the potions in the infirmary. Bet you don’t even think about where they come from, huh?”

Alisbeth backs up into the other woman, a frown set on her face. “I don’t know him,” she says softly.

Asheeda grips her around the shoulders. “Who needs men anyway, right?”

“Right,” Alisbeth says, somewhat unsteadily.

Asheeda makes a shooing motion at him.

Irritation sparks in Grimory’s eyes and he gives an incredulous scoff. He again ignores the white-haired woman. “Ali, this is serious. You could compromise everything! Did you even see if Ana made it back safely?”

Alisbeth shrinks further into Asheeda’s grasp. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Can you stop yelling at me?”

The Illidari woman’s eyes flare. “You are out of line.”

Grimory stops, his hands falling to his sides. Frustrated, he gives a growl. “Fine. But if everything falls through and someone gets hurt—or worse—it’s gonna fall on you.” With a scowl he turns for the door.

Alisbeth picks up the nearest bottle—one with a purple liquid inside—and hurls it at the back of the demon hunter’s head.

“Not that one!” Asheeda shrieks, lurching after it.

A cloud of smoke envelopes the Illidari and when it dissipates, an olive-skinned woman stands before them, glaring over her shoulder and not bothering to cover her large, bare breasts. “Oh, so you do know me,” she hisses.

Alisbeth picks herself up from the floor where the other woman had knocked her. She blinks at Grimory, then snerks into her fingertips.

Asheeda’s hands fly to her mouth as her eyes round. “It works,” she whispers. “It works!” She throws her hands in the air. “Crap. I didn’t write that one down.” She grabs a small vial and goes to Grimory. “Don’t move.” She painstakingly begins collecting every drop she sees still clinging to his skin.

Alisbeth points at her, the wide grin still on her face. “Doesn’t she remind you of someone?”

Grimory steps away from the fussing woman and scoffs. “Yeah,” he grunts, again turning for the door despite his state. “Ash.” He pauses in the doorway. “Just remember what I said, Ali,” he says before throwing his long blond hair over his shoulder and taking his leave.

Alisbeth’s smile falls. She takes a deep breath. “Well it’s all your fault, cause I couldn’t find you! I was lost!” she screams at the top of her lungs.

Asheeda’s eyes go wide and she rips the door closed, a finger to her lips. “Are you insane? If the night guard comes in here and—” She reaches for the whiskey bottle, but Alisbeth stops her.

“What did you call me?” the death knight hisses.

“W-what? Nothing! You just can’t go shouting—”

Alisbeth pulls the bottle from the table and grips the neck in her fist. “I’m not crazy,” she whispers.

Asheeda’s scream rips through the hallway before abruptly cutting off.

Grimory sighs, runs a palm down his face, then returns back to the lab. He throws the doors open to see an unconscious Asheeda on the floor and the single tattered curtain blowing in the open window. With a growl of frustration, he bends and throws the woman over a shoulder, then heads for the infirmary. “She better be going back to the cave.”

~ * ~

Jorick slowly opens his eyes, the discomfort causing him to wake. He finds that he’s drenched in a chilled sweat and the throbbing in his arms and leg has intensified to where he’s certain sleep is impossible. He sucks in a breath as he sits up, then releases it all when the action is finished. “Great,” he grumbles to himself as he looks at the bandage around his knee, completely bled through. As if that weren’t enough, the fire providing them with warmth is slowly fading. He glances back at the still sleeping mage and sighs.

“How long is she usually out for? It’s been a while,” he calls to the front of the cave, keeping the worry from his voice.

“Three days,” Koltira replies. “You look like shit. You need to heal.”

Jorick gives an audible groan, clearly not happy with the answer. He pulls his shirt off and throws it near the fire to dry. “Thanks for the tip. We need a fire more than I need to heal. Bookworms need heat, too.” He gestures to Taveth with a thumb.

Koltira nods. “I’ll go figure out something for wood. If you get desperate, feel free to cuddle him. I’m sure he’d enjoy it.” He laughs and trudges into the night.

“Or maybe Ana,” he mutters spitefully when the death knight is out of earshot. He sighs and unwraps the gauze from his knee, then bites a knuckle as it peels away from the wound. He throws it into the fire to give it some fuel and to destroy the evidence. He turns for his bag, then realizes he’d put it under Anarchaia’s head for a pillow. A groan escapes him and he mouths Why? to the ceiling.

Koltira returns some time later and drops chopped up fence posts by the fire. “Best I can do.” He furrows his brow at the wound.

Jorick gives the elf a weary grin. “Much obliged all the same. You wouldn’t have happened to have found any vodka out there, eh?” he says jokingly.

Koltira shakes his head. “Sadly, no.”

Jorick sighs, disappointed. “Worth a shot.” He lies back down and rests an arm over his eyes. “Wasn’t Alisbeth supposed to be back by now?”

Taveth grumbles and sits up, rubbing an eye. “What time is it?”

“It’s only been a few hours. Go back to sleep,” Koltira says from the doorway.

Taveth furrows his brow at the human, studying his injuries. With determination set on his face he sits up and stretches. “I can’t lay here and watch you die from stubbornness, but I also can’t force you to accept the help of a…warlock.” He says the last word forcefully, as though admitting what he is is painful to him. “I’ll help you. No—” he wiggles his fingers, “—involved.” He pushes to his feet and shoulders his bag. <<Tryxora, I need you.>>

A purple portal opens and the succubus steps out, her whip in hand and a very satisfied look on her face. <<That new guy is really fun.>>

Taveth yawns. <<Good. Come with me.>> He steps over Koltira. “Don’t worry. I will actually come back. I promise.”

“Where are you going?” Koltira demands.

“Temple. They have to have something not offensive to heal with, right? I’ll be safe. I have a succubus with me.”

Tryxora smirks and grabs his arm. <<Is our cover a demon hunter initiate and a succubus went out for a midnight romp?>>

He doesn’t bother shaking her off or leaning away. <<Yeah, sure. Whatever you want it to be.>>

“One hour,” Koltira calls after the two. “And then I’m coming in and dragging all four of you back out by your damn hair.”

Taveth raises a tired thumb in the air but doesn’t turn around or say anything.

Jorick growls and tilts his head back to call out the mouth of the cave, too. “It’s not really a matter of offense, more a matter of I don’t want to end up like the last Guardian we had!” He scowls up at the ceiling. “Light forbid I say no to anything ever.”

Koltira purses his lips. “I don’t think using a healthstone once is going to corrupt your soul with fel. But to each his own. I just prefer not to deal with inhaling strange dust.”

Jorick shrugs. “I’m sure that’s the same mentality Medivh had, too. And his mother.” His brow knits at the pain but he chuckles. “And there are some powders you should try. Had a fair share back in the day.”

Koltira shrugs. “As long as there is an enemy to fight, I can heal.”

Jorick shakes his head and again chuckles quietly. “Not what I meant, but by all means, remain humorless.”

Koltira’s lower lids raise. “Then what did you mean?”

“Herbs. Spice. Drugs,” Jorick explains. “Popular amongst roving gangs of bandits. Don’t heal you but sure take the edge off. And no fel.”

~ * ~

At the gate, the guard narrows his eyes at Taveth and Tryxora. “Next time find an empty room or something. No one actually cares what you do with the succubi.”

“Right. Yeah.” Taveth nods as Tryxora giggles.

<<He’s just a screamer,>> she says.

<<Could you not say things like that?>>

Tryxora bursts out laughing and drags him up the steps. <<What are we looking for?>>

He shrugs. <<Infirmary?>>

Grimory looks up after setting down the unconscious alchemist. He straightens, again not bothering to cover himself. “Taveth,” he says calmly, though is mildly surprised. “Did Ali make it back to the cave like I told her?” He scoffs. “Obviously not if you’re here.”

Taveth jumps and blinks blearily at the female demon hunter. “I need healing supplies. I don’t know where Ali is. You are the one in here with her, and the only one who can ever get her to do anything. If anyone should know where she is, I’d think it’d be you.” He lets out a heavy sigh. “That was rude. I’m so sorry. I’m very tired. Jorick is bleeding out and has severe burns, but refuses my help, so I came in hopes of something less offensive to him than a stone. Ana is unconscious, again, because we never got the signal for me to pull her through the nether. Oh, and some renegade blood knight with a chip on her shoulder came to kill us all. Yaaay.” He raises a fist as a sarcastic celebration, his eyes remaining tired. “I have no idea how I’m getting past the guards again. So. Healing supplies?”

Grimory scowls. “I’m not her babysitter,” he hisses, disregarding the apology. He shakes his head and mutters stupid human beneath his breath. He glances at the door to ensure the nurse is not on her way back just yet, then grabs a couple potions, gauze, and ointments from the shelf above the cots. He shoves them into a pillowcase and hands them over. “There’s a west exit you can take. The stairs are broken so it’s not guarded. You’ll have to jump a few feet to get to the ground.”

Taveth shoves the pillowcase into his satchel. “I guess you’re right. She’s a perfectly capable adult. I’m sure she knows what she’s doing and what’s important.” He shoves out the door. “No way is she off doing something foolish that could get her killed, or someone else killed.” He continues his half-awake blithering as he shuffles down the hall. “She’ll be back. No need to get riled up. It’s fine. This is fine. Everything is fine.”

Grimory leans against the doorframe and watches him go as a puff of grey smoke billows around him, turning him back into himself. “Be safe, Tav.”

Taveth makes it back to the cave with the succubus practically holding him up. He pulls out the pillowcase, sets it beside Jorick, then lays back down.

<<May I return to Irtho’zyn?>> Tryxora asks, her eyes sparkling.

The high elf just waves her off and she disappears in a purple portal.

Koltira blinks at the man. “That was actually very fast.”

Jorick smiles and pulls the bag toward him as though his life depends on it. “It was.” He pulls out the ointment and a wave of relief washes over him. “I really owe you one, kid.” He grits his teeth as he puts the ointment over the slice and quickly wraps the gauze over it. He pulls out the bottles filled with queer colored liquids and narrows an eye before putting them back.

“Not going to use a potion?” Koltira asks. “I think you’re kind of in need of one.”

“It’s unlabeled,” he mutters. “Last time I drank from an unlabeled bottle, I woke up in a field with a crow trying to pick out my eyes.”

~ * ~

Asheeda enters her lab and goes to the mirror. She hisses as she peels away the bandage over her left eye. A throat clears behind her and she jumps, then backs into the counter.

“Please don’t scream,” Alisbeth says. She removes her veil so the other woman can see her frowning. “I wanted to say I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. You just shouldn’t have said those things about me.”

“I-I didn’t mean it that way.” She scoots away as Alisbeth steps forward and holds out a bottle.

“I stole this for you.”

“Why?”

The death knight frowns. “Nobody else wants to be my friend.”

“And you think I do? After you tried to smash my skull in?”

Tears drip from Alisbeth’s cheeks. “Why doesn’t anyone want to be my friend? Why doesn’t anybody want to love me?”

Asheeda relaxes some as she listens to the girl crying softly into her palms. “I don’t know about the love thing, but…how about we drink that and see where we can get on the friends thing?”

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