Koltira unties his cloak, revealing the gaping wound in Anarchaia’s torso to the other mage. “That bitch nailed her to a tree with her spear.”
“Wait, that blood knight?” Kel’ori shrieks. “She’s alive?”
“Unfortunately, yes. And it gets much fucking worse. But right now, we need to stabilize Ana.”
Kel’ori nods. “The medicine kit in the bedroom,” she says to Baemalen. “We might need a healer. Where’s Ven? He can take Bae to get one. I…don’t want to go back to Shattrath.”
Baemalen nods and quickly retreats into the other room to retrieve the kit. “The potions aren’t strong enough for a wound that deep,” he says with a sympathetic smile as he hands it over. “I’ll…see if I can’t find Vendormu.”
Anarchaia groans as though just hearing the words causes her pain. “I’m sorry, Kel,” she says weakly.
Taveth stumbles through, followed by Keeshokin with Alisbeth in hand; the portal pops closed behind them.
Koltira sneers as he hears the death knight’s shrieking. He turns around and rips her out of the demon’s hand. She falls to the floor and skitters away.
“You did this,” he booms. “Look!” He lifts her by the hair and shoves her to look at the hole in the mage’s abdomen. “You selfish bitch!” He slams her against the wall as she beats on him. “Ven! Ven!”
“What are you doing?” Taveth asks.
“Her damned illusion caused this. He needs to take it off her.”
Alisbeth’s eyes go wide. “Wh-wh— No! Don’t take it! Don’t take it away! I’m pretty. Let me stay beautiful, please! Please!”
The human mage cringes and sits up despite the pain. “Kolt, stop!”
A quiet chuckle sounds through the room and Vendormu’s disembodied voice flows through the air. “My gods, look at this band of heroes. Broken and disheveled. Maybe I was wrong to trust that recommendation.”
Koltira snarls, ignoring the mage. “Show yourself. Or don’t, I don’t care. Just take away her illusion.”
Kel’ori tries to ease Anarchaia back down. “Stay down! Why is he so angry? What happened?”
“The blood knight,” Taveth says quietly from a corner. “It’s another version of Alisbeth. One who didn’t come back to Azeroth.” He grits his teeth at his cousin. “Excuse me.” He goes outside and around the house to the wood pile, where he sinks down and lets his tears flow freely for Tryxora. “S-stupid demon.”
“But the fact that she has it is making you so angry.” Vendormu materializes, leaning in the doorway and folding his arms. “And it’s just so entertaining. Besides, can’t have more death knights running around. You’ll alert my brother more easily.”
Koltira’s nose wrinkles in his anger. “She won’t be running around. Trust me. There’s two of her out there already. And now she wants to touch the others. You want her to potentially blow up the universe? Or will you be agreeable just this once and take her illusion?”
Kel’ori frowns. “Take it away. Then we can tell them apart? Please?” She casts her sad eyes to Baemalen as he returns to the room. “Bae ask him. You’re his friend.”
Baemalen blinks and looks at the man beside him in the doorway. When they make eye contact, he tilts his head and pouts.
Vendormu rolls his eyes and Alisbeth’s illusion falls from her in a curtain of golden smoke. “Any other mundane requests?”
Koltira drags Alisbeth out the door by her neck. She flails and escapes him several times, but he pulls her back and drags her around the side of the building. By the time he gets the cellar door open, his temper is at its height. He grabs her by the hair and throws her down the stairs. She tumbles down into the dirt, then gets up screaming as she launches back up the stairs. He kicks her in the stomach to get her back down, then jumps over the last stairs to grab her by the hair once more and drag her across the basement to a pair of shackles in the far corner. To get her to hold still, he wraps a shadowy scarf around her neck, which lifts her into the air and silences her shrieking. He grabs one flailing foot at a time and claps shackles around them.
“No! Don’t make me stay here!” she screams as she falls to her feet.
Koltira stomps away, shooting a threatening glare at Grimory. Then the door closes and the room is left in darkness, save what is flickering from the wood stove in the corner. Alisbeth sinks down, clawing her fingers through her hair as a panic rises in her chest. She slowly wails into her thighs like a ghost in mourning. Grimory, eyes wide, resumes chewing in his piece of bread once the doors close again. He pulls his ears back at the crying and swallows, opting not to say anything as the girl cries.
Kel’ori jumps as Koltira returns.
He looks around. “A healer. We need a healer.”
Vendormu shrugs and looks at Kel’ori. “If a mage with a hole through her gut can make a portal, I’d think a perfectly healthy one could as well…”
Kel’ori’s lips purse tight. “You really are the most useless dragon I’ve ever met.” She goes into the other room to find her cloak, planning out what to do with Bel’theas.
“If I could do everything myself without being discovered, I would. Not sure if you know how dragons work—despite me having said it so many times now—but within a certain range we can sense one another.” He shrugs. “Honestly I shouldn’t have gone to Shattrath the first time.”
Kel’ori sighs and returns to the living room. “Bel is due for playtime, anyway. She sets him on his stomach on the fur carpet and puts little wooden toys in front of him. “Don’t chew on them.” She kisses the top of his head. “Koltira, if he chews on them, just take them away. Please.”
Koltira nods. “I’ll do my best.” He looks down at the infant, noticing some have already been gnawed upon.
She casts her eyes to Baemalen and holds out her hand. “Please come with me?”
Baemalen blinks and his ears perk. “Oh! Sure!” He hesitantly takes her hand and the two are gone in an instant.
Vendormu gives a sigh and is again gone.
Kel’ori doesn’t let go of his hand, rushing through the crowd as an excuse to hold on. “We have to hurry. It’s a miracle she’s not completely unconscious. Uh…do you know where a healer would be?” She stops, turning to the man with her.
Baemalen nods. He leads her to the central structure where several alcoves line the inside. They come upon one filled with a few students listening to a priest read from a book. The elderly draenei man regards them with a tired, wrinkled smile.
“Our friend is gravely wounded,” Baemalen says, unaware that his fingers are still wrapped around Kel’ori’s. “Can you return with us to help her? We can pay you.”
He scratches at his beard and nods. “I will. Payment is not necessary.”
Kel’ori holds out her hand. “Thank you so much.”
He takes it and they disappear, then reappear in the hut.
Koltira’s eyes widen. “Does he use Light?”
“I…what?” Kel’ori stammers.
He wraps his hand through Anarchaia’s. “She’ll scream…a lot. But don’t stop healing,” he says to the draenei.
The priest lifts his eyebrows, then gives a small shrug. He sets a hand over the wound; the sensation causes the half-conscious mage to open her eyes, which turn to saucers. Her hand grips Koltira’s as tightly as possible.
“Kel, I think now’s a good time to tell you I’m—” She’s cut off by the sound of her own screams. Her body curls around the holy light as though trying to get away but having nowhere to go. When it’s finally finished after what feels to her like minutes, she collapses back onto the table with a dull thunk.
The draenei, clearly unsettled, turns to Kel’ori and regains his composure before clearing his throat. “Her spine has sustained some injury that will heal with time. She may not be able to walk for a day or two, but she will live.”
Baemalen shakes his head to relieve the ringing, his fingers sore from clinging to Kel’ori’s hand. “R-right. Thank you so much.”
Kel’ori, eyes wide on Anarchaia, ushers the priest back to her. “I’ll, uh, take you home.” When she returns, her eyes are just as wide. “You’re what, Ana? Undead?” She huffs over to ease a toy out of Bel’theas’s teeth. “A little warning would have been nice before we brought a priest back!”
Koltira straightens. “We’ll be sure to remember that next time.”
Anarchaia groans and sits up, bones still vibrating. “Sorry. Wait—that doesn’t bother you?”
Baemalen blinks. “Undead?” He cringes. “Like death knight undead, or…?”
Koltira narrows one eye at the man. “Death knights can’t be mages. Do you have a problem with death knights?” His eyes dart to one side and then the other as he thinks about the time period they happen to be in. “Don’t answer that. You’ve every right to hate us.”
Baemalen holds up his hands. “Just trying to get my head around it. Not trying to offend.”
Koltira chuckles. “You’re fine. I was just gonna say if you have a problem with me…you know where the door is. We’re not the same as we were when Silvermoon fell. Trust me, I regret killing my comrades, but I had no control over it.”
Baemalen gives the man a sympathetic smile. “I can’t really relate, but I can sympathize. I’m sure it wasn’t fun. Having things…out of your control.”
“Meryl is forsaken. Why would it bother me? At least you don’t smell like it.” Kel’ori sits at the table with the infant on her lap. “How much of you is…there,” she asks awkwardly.
“Meryl isn’t actually undead,” Anarchaia says, then hesitates. “Uhm…well, technically most of me is still…mine. And I’m not sure if my eye is still in my stomach after twenty years so I’m counting that as well? Heh.”
“Is that why you wear gloves?” the mage asks.
Anarchaia nods. “And the mask.” She sighs. “I guess people aren’t as judgmental as they used to be. But I also guess that old habits die hard. Sorry.”
Kel’ori laughs uneasily. “I, uh, am glad you wear it?” She coughs awkwardly. “Forsaken make me queasy.” She glances at the conversing men. “Are we just leaving her here like yesterday’s dinner? Or can we…move her to the chair?”
Koltira nods to the man, then blinks at Kel’ori. “Is there something wrong with the table?”
“Well, we’re not experimenting on her, or eating her—”
“I can fix that.”
“Ew. So…I’d like my dinner table back. You heathen.”
“Oh. Uh. I guess that’s understandable. Heh.” Anarchaia flushes a dark scarlet and clears her throat. “A-a chair would…be nice.”
Baemalen laughs. “I like this guy even more. He’s got jokes.” He pats Koltira on the shoulder before turning back into the other room to pick up the gnawed toys.
Koltira lifts the mage and sets her in the large chair beside the tiger skin rug. He runs the cold backs of his fingers along her cheek. “I know I…kept my composure back there, but I really don’t know what I would’ve done if you weren’t okay. Besides kill that bitch.”
“Do it anyway. I’d love to help, actually.” Kel’ori sits herself on the carpet and sets Bel’theas in a sitting position beside her, on arm over him to keep him upright.
Anarchaia smiles up at him. “You know I’m harder to kill than that.” She turns to Kel’ori and frowns. “Oh. Uhm…it was…Alisbeth.”
Kel’ori nods. “I know. Taveth said that right before he left.”
“You’re okay with killing your cousin?” Koltira asks.
“She stole my son and broke my ribs. I’m pretty sure I don’t care at this point.” She smiles down at the infant blowing raspberries beside her.
Anarchaia watches the two with a silent longing, then sighs. “I don’t know. I think Grim may have had a point. We don’t know what could happen if we do.”
Baemalen hums and taps his chin. “Could throw her in the cellar with Grim…aaand now the other one?”
Koltira shakes his head. “He knows her face. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about our Ali being down there to begin with. Once Grim is gone it’s not a bad idea. Ana isn’t taking him anywhere anytime soon, though.”
“Do you think she’ll…tell him? Like, everything?” Kel’ori asks.
Anarchaia shrugs. “Even if she does, is he likely to believe her? She’s kind of…unstable at the moment.” She blinks. “Wait, why aren’t I taking him anywhere?”
Koltira gives her an unamused stare. “Oh, it might have something to do with your damaged spine? You’re not moving from this spot for the duration of your recovery.”
She frowns down at her boots, then bends to slide one off. Her brow knits and she bites her lip as she focuses on her toes. Two of them weakly flex and she smiles. “There. All better. I don’t have to sit around doing nothing, now, right?”
Kel’ori giggles at the other mage. “Not even. Just ask Bae how much he yelled at me for trying to do anything this week.” She looks up at the elf, a small smile on her lips.
Baemalen looks up at the sound of his name and returns the smile. “Oh. Yeah. I did. Nicely, of course.” He pats the younger mage on the head and smiles. “Don’t worry, there’s plenty of reading material. And you can watch Bel if we go for supplies.”
Anarchaia groans and sinks into the chair. “I hate being useless.”
“Me, too,” Kel’ori says with a giggle. “How’s your magic? It’s how I coped. Oh! You can help me with dinner tonight! And then we can kick out the boys and just have some girl time?” She leans closer to whisper, “I really need some girl time. Paint our nails, do our hair, makeup…”
Koltira makes a face. “Yeah, count me out. Only time I’ve let someone mess with my hair was truth or dare. Ana braided it. It was the worst.”
The high elf giggles. “Well, then you and Bae can go outside or into the bedroom and do super manly things.” Kel’ori then looks at the two and purses her lips. “You need baths and clean clothes. And…new ones. Don’t worry! I still have plenty of fabric.” She waves her hand and a bucket appears and fills with water, which slowly steams. Soap flakes sprinkle in from a box in the corner. Then a brush dips in and sets to cleaning off the table. From the other room, some bolts of fabric fly in and hold themselves up to each person while a tape measure takes their measurements.
Anarchaia smiles. “That’d actually be sorta refreshing. I haven’t had my nails done since…” She shakes her head. “Oh! Could you make Jorick something, too? I’m not sure where he’s went but I’m sure he could use them.”
“I’ll go find him,” Koltira says. He kisses the top of Anarchaia’s head and goes outside.
“I’ve got a lot of fabric, don’t worry. The price was very reasonable.” A towel dries off the table and the silkier, lavender fabric lays itself out for chalk to make an outline for Anarchaia’s new robes. “What do you wear under your robes? You’ll need a new shirt or bra or…whatever.”
Anarchaia flushes and clears her throat. “I don’t, ah…wear anything.”
Baemalen gives another laugh. “I like her more, now.”
Kel’ori’s brow furrows. “Oh, I thought you wore a shirt. Okay. Easy enough, I suppose.” She smiles at the Illidari, then sends the measuring tape after him, even though she’d already made him a new shirt.
Anarchaia blinks. “Oh, I do. But it’s always the same shirt and pants.”
Baemalen swats at the measuring tape like a fly.
Jorick looks up with a jolt as a figure appears beside him. “Is she all right?”
Koltira nods. “Yeah. Just had to deal with the Light and her spine is damaged, but it will heal over time. Come on, Ana wants Kel to make you a new shirt. She has to violate you with her measuring tape.”
The man nods. “Good. Good.” He stands and gives an uneasy grin. “As much as I don’t mind being violated by a pretty elf, can’t say I’m much up for it…” He saunters inside.
Koltira chuckles. “She won’t be doing the violating.”
“Oh. Even better.”
Kel’ori perks as the man walks in. “Oh, good!” With a flick of her wrist, the tape zips away from Baemalen and goes to take measurements of Jorick. She returns her attention to Anarchaia and purses her lips. “That…counts as under your robes. And I really don’t think it survived…” She looks pointedly at the hole in Anarchaia’s clothing, exposing a small amount of her stomach.
The human stiffens as he’s assaulted nearly a second after stepping over the threshold. “Uh…should I take the armor off for this?”
Anarchaia looks down at herself and frowns. “Oh, right.” She pinches the hole together and when her fingers come away the tears are sealed. “Good as new. Heh.”
“Yes,” Kel’ori says to Jorick. The tape measure stops and waits patiently in front of him. She then deflates at the other mage. “Oh. I guess I shouldn’t have wasted my fabric if you can just mend it.”
Koltira shrugs. “I still won’t say no to a new shirt.”
Jorick hesitantly removes his armor, eyeing the tape as he does so.
“Sorry. I guess I’m just sort of…out of it.” Anarchaia gives an uncomfortable chuckle, then frowns down at the bloody mess still soaked into her robes. “I’ll need a bath, though. Is there one here?”
Baemalen nods. “We repurposed an old trough we found out back and put it in the annex.”
“Would you like Bae to light the fire, or can I heat it for you?” Her eyes flit to Koltira. “It’s big enough for two, if you wanted to…help her wash.”
The death knight chuckles. “I don’t know. She gets mean when I take my clothes off.”
The smaller mage’s face turns red again. “Is it some sort of sport now to embarrass me? And how am I mean? Because I pull your hair?”
He narrows his eyes. “When there are others around and I can’t get you back for it.”
Kel’ori blushes and snickers. “I’ll get the bath water warming.”
Bel’theas accepts as she leans him onto his belly to wiggle his limbs around, learning how to use them.
Anarchaia purses her lips at him. “You didn’t get me back at the inn?”
“Not nearly enough, no.”
Baemalen pretends he isn’t listening and lies down on the carpet in front of Bel’theas to watch him wiggle about. The baby squeals and blows spit bubbles at Baemalen while reaching for his hair. Baemalen pulls his hair away and instead offers his thumb for the infant to wrap his nubby fingers around.
“It’ll be ready in a…” Kel’ori smiles down at the scene on the tiger skin. “…a few minutes. Ana.”
Anarchaia crooks her mouth to the side and narrows her eyes at him. “Thank you, Kel’ori.”