“Out,” Kel’ori demands again.
Taveth makes a face. “But they don’t need me for—”
“Out! We’re having girl time.” She grins at the other mage.
“I’m always invited to girl time,” he complains.
“Bae, drag my brother by the ponytail, if you have to?”
Baemalen chuckles as he steers Taveth toward the door. “I think Kel could definitely use the girl time.”
Anarchaia chuckles nervously. “Get along, please!” she calls after the men.
Jorick gives a tired eye roll. “Never.”
Koltira claps Taveth on the back as they turn for Falcon Watch. “Sorry, buddy, this time it’s anatomy and not personality. Besides, we’re taking you to a tavern.”
Taveth makes a face. “But. Without Ana?”
“I’m offended that I’m simply not enough friend for you.”
Baemalen perks. “Oh yes. Tavern. Then firewood. Then maybe the tavern again.”
Jorick lifts his eyebrows. “Something tells me you have a thing for alcohol.”
“Yes. I find it’s an excellent coping mechanism.”
“I won’t ask.” Jorick shrugs. “But you aren’t wrong.”
Koltira nods. “I find it really helps get past the images of my kin being ripped to shreds or cut down by my own hands.” He smirks at the high elf as though he’d said a joke.
Taveth frowns. “I don’t need a coping mechanism.”
Both Baemalen and Jorick audibly scoff. “It doesn’t have to be life changing to require coping,” the latter says.
“Could have just been a bad day,” the Illidari adds.
“Really, you don’t need an excuse to drink,” Koltira says.
The elf squirms. “Just…don’t let me go overboard, like you usually do.”
The death knight holds up two fingers. “On my honor.”
“I’m making no such promise,” Baemalen says with a wink and a nudge. “Maybe they’ll have a few ladies for you to peruse, eh?”
Koltira glances sideways at Taveth. “Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves…”
~ * ~
The high elf grins at the woman across from her and motions for her new collection of makeups and nail polishes. “Take off your gloves. We’re starting with nails!” Her eyes sparkle with excitement.
The smaller mage undoes the buttons at her shoulders and slides her gloves off. “Where did you get all this?”
Kel’ori shrugs absently. “Oh, you know, trading and whatnot in Shattrath. Pick a color!”
Anarchaia narrows her eyes. “…Blue, please.”
Kel’ori picks an icy blue. “For Kolt’s eyes? Hmm? Or…” She lifts an intense lavender with a metallic hue. “Hnnh?” She bites her lower lip mischievously.
“Oh, uh, yeah. Heh.” Anarchaia hums in thought. “That is very pretty. Do you think it’ll go with my eyes?”
Kel’ori lets out a long snerk from her nose. “I was…trying to tease you. But, I mean, if you actually like the color and aren’t choosing it to match someone else’s eyes.” She shakes the bottle of purple and gives her a wicked smile.
Anarchaia’s brow knits the smallest bit. “Who would…? What are you trying to imply?” She stiffens and flushes. “You think I like your brother?!”
Kel’ori’s eyes widen. “I— Y-you said you did! Did you just mean as a friend? I thought that’s what you were saying, was that you like him. Like, like-like him.” Flustered, she quickly puts back the lavender and grabs up the blue. “Sorry. I’ll be more careful about believing what you tell me.”
The human fumbles over words, equally flustered. “N-no! Well yes, but no!” She groans. “I-I mean he is really cute and definitely my type, but there’s, like, a list of other criteria that would have to be met for he and I to…t-to…”
Kel’ori, playfully angry, throws the bottle at the other mage’s chest. “Fine. Whatever. No need to get so defensive! But for the record, you said you like him.” She picks through the colors, deciding which one to use for herself. “So, what criteria doesn’t he meet?” she asks casually.
Anarchaia sets the bottle aside and uncorks the top. “Uhm. Well. I’m with Koltira, for one. And he’s not into…” She glances up, unsure how much Kel’ori knows. “…me. A-and he doesn’t seem too interested in the kind of relationships I am.” She sets to work on her nails.
The high elf rolls her eyes and sighs dramatically. “Oh my gods, Ana, just say it. My brother likes Eophen and would rather read a book than bone. He’s…quirky like that, I guess. You and Koltira, though… You’re lucky you’re not living because you’d just never stop being pregnant.” She giggles and selects a green for herself, insisting in her mind that there’s no underlying meaning for the choice.
Anarchaia flushes furiously and fixes her gaze on her work. “Maybe that’s what I’d like,” she says quietly, inspecting a nail. She clears her throat. “What about you? If you could be with anyone you wanted, who would you choose?”
Kel’ori pauses, then chooses to focus on the comment rather than the question. “You…want children?”
She blinks. “Yeah. I always kinda have.” She smirks and looks up. “And I thought we were having girl night. You’re not gonna answer my question?”
“I’m sorry… About the kids thing.”
The other mage shrugs a shoulder. “It’s all right,” she lies.
She bites her lower lip and shakes her head. “I’m a mess since… You know. So it’s not really something I think about. For now, I think just being there for Bel is best.” She gives a small smile and her cheeks turn a shade of pink when she thinks about the way Baemalen cares for the infant.
She frowns at what Kel’ori says next. “Right. How could I forget. Sorry.” She lifts her finished hand to look for mistakes and smiles. “Never thought I’d miss having fingernails so much.”
“You don’t have fingernails?” She asks, slightly taken aback.
Anarchaia quickly retracts her hand back to herself. “Oh. U-uhm. No. Not usually…”
Kel’ori waves her hands. “I didn’t mean it like that!” She finishes her left hand and waves it in the air to dry the polish. “So, how are you and Koltira doing now, anyway?”
She blinks up at her as she starts on the other hand. “Fine, I suppose. He was a little moody when we first arrived here…and he’s been pretty jealous of Jorick, but still very happy. Why?”
“Just wondering! Just making conversation. Do you really think I, of all people, have an ulterior motive?” She giggles dismissively and starts in painting the other hand.
Anarchaia narrows her eyes again. “Yes, I do.” She smirks. “So how are you and Bae? Getting along well I assume?”
The mage unintentionally perks and smiles at the mention of the Illidari. “Really well. He’s so good with Bel. And not because he has to or anything. He genuinely likes spending time with him. Bel adores him. It’s so nice not being alone here.”
The smaller mage smiles at the genuine happiness in her voice, then sobers as a thought hits her. “Have you told Archmage Kalec, yet?” she says quietly after a moment.
Kel’ori swallows and frowns as she pauses, the brush hovering over her nail. “I…wasn’t able to get to the Hall.” She purses her lips and closes her eyes for a moment. “He never came looking for me. I assume he would have found me if he had.”
Anarchaia frowns. “He’s busy a lot. I’m sure he just trusts you enough to be out and about without checking in. If you don’t tell him, though…”
Kel’ori frowns deeper. “I…will tell him. When we get back.”
Anarchaia nods. “Good. I’m sure he’s worried about you.” She finishes her second hand and again inspects her work. “I have a random, personal question.”
Kel’ori laughs off the pressure of the subject of her mentor and re-wets her brush to finish her hand. “Well, I just may have a personal answer for you. What’s your question?”
She inhales in preparation. “Who. Is. The biggest man you’ve been with?” She pauses. “Emphasis on man.”
“Oh. Uh…” She thinks on it. “There was a human in Stormwind. Good size, but low, eh, stamina.” She giggles and puts the polish away. “You?”
Anarchaia also giggles, then taps her chin. “Definitely Grim.” She pauses while replacing the cap to her polish. “But Taveth would be a close second. I-if I’d ever been with him.”
Kel’ori chokes on her water and fumbles, spilling the liquid everywhere. She spits out what’s in her mouth and falls into a coughing fit. She takes a deep breath and wipes her eyes. “Wh-what?” she gasps out.
Anarchaia stiffens, face red. “N-nothing! I promised I wouldn’t look so please forget I said anything!”
“Oh, no no no. You are spilling everything. Now.” She summons a towel over to dry herself off.
The human fidgets and sets the polish aside. “U-uhm. You have to swear to me you won’t tell him I told you.” She scowls over at her, then looks down at her fingers when Kel’ori nods. “I…helped the guys bathe when we were staying in the cave.” She clears her throat. “He’s, uh…impressive.”
“Like he’s secretly got muscles?” Kel’ori flinches, completely appalled by her own attempt at skirting around the subject. “Gods. I can’t believe I’m… What do you mean by impressive?” She squints her eyes closed and shakes her head slowly. “Augh, do I even want to know…?”
Anarchaia hums in thought. “Well. If Grim is about ten, Tav has to be at least…eight? Maybe nine?”
Kel’ori laugh outright. “Now I know you’re just messing with me. There’s, like, no possible way.”
The smaller mage’s eyes flick away for a second and she blushes. “I mean…I’ve seen quite a few…weapons. I know what big is.”
“Gods. Don’t make me… Was he actually… You know what? I don’t want to know. So, eyeshadow?” She holds up two of her palettes and does her best to smile, though it’s painfully fake.
Her red pupils flick between the palettes and Kel’ori’s face. “No. He wasn’t. Purple?”
The high elf cringes. “Man, why did I even start the question. Gods. Take the damn purple. Ew. Oh, gods, why my brother.”
She giggles, now only amused by the other’s embarrassment. “We can talk about someone else if you’d like? Your choice.” She holds up the makeup. “I may need help…”
“I can do that, of course!” Kel’ori says, grasping at the distraction. After a long time working obsessively on the shadowing of the mage, the elf bites her lip and gives a shy smile. “You know…I’m actually really good with charms.”
Anarchaia, eyes still closed, lifts her eyebrows and smiles. “Oh yeah? That’s good.”
She presses her lips together. “Particularly, uh, love charms?”
Anarchaia’s eyes suddenly light with interest. “Oh. That’s impressive. I can’t do those. Uhm. Why are you telling me this?”
Kel’ori smirks at her own idea. “Well…I could do one for you.”
She blinks, doing her best to hide her curiosity. “Anybody?” She cringes at herself then shakes her head. “N-never mind. I-I have Koltira. I don’t need anyone else.”
Kel’ori giggles. “Yeah, but, a little variety never hurt anyone.” She dips a small brush into a liquid grey make up. “And yes…anyone. At all.” She gives Anarchaia a meaningful look. “Close your eyes.”
Anarchaia thinks about it for a long moment, a look of turmoil in her features. She closes her eyes. “That’s illegal, anyway,” she says almost as an afterthought.
Kel’ori gasps melodramatically and sets a hand to her bosom. “Oh, no, I forgot that it was illegal to charm people on Azeroth and that we could get into huge trouble if we get caught!” She shakes her head and begins lining the undead’s eyes. “Thank you for reminding me that there’s no way I could possibly do it.” She finishes the grey line and caps the liquid. “You’d do Taveth, wouldn’t you?”
Anarchaia’s eyes shoot back open. “T—” She pauses, then clears her throat. “Yeeeah, Taveth. Heh.” She shakes her head again and gives the other mage a reserved smile. “I’m not an unfaithful person, Kel. I appreciate the thought, but I wouldn’t feel right.”
Kel’ori shrugs. “You don’t seem to be consistently happy, though. But have it your way.”
She bristles. “No relationship is consistently happy,” she responds. “That doesn’t mean you just have an open ticket to cheat.”
“I said have it your way,” Kel’ori says on a shrug. “And I never said cheating, either. It’s like you’ve never heard of a threesome.”
Anarchaia’s eyes widen the smallest bit at the thought and she flushes. “K-Kolt would never agree to that.” She pauses. “I don’t think.”
“You’ll never know if you don’t ask,” she says.
The image of Koltira’s cold yet angry face enters her mind’s eye and she frowns and fidgets. “I guess I’ll never know. Do you have any white mascara?”
Kel’ori purses her lips as though wanting to say more. “I don’t, actually. Kind of an odd choice. Not sure I saw any in the shop in Shattrath.”
“Well I think I’d look odd with black lashes.” She pokes at her leg to test the feeling. “Why don’t you use your charms on Bae?”
Kel’ori finds her medium grey mascara and takes the brush from the tin. She swirls the bristles through the packed, gel pigment and furrows her brow. “I don’t…” She sighs and brushes the color over the white lashes of the other mage. “I don’t think there’s one strong enough to make him like me like that.”
Anarchaia looks up at her curiously. “Why not? He already seems to like you. You guys were clinging pretty tightly to each other at the Botanica…”
“Ana…who else would I have been able to turn to? I was scared. He was just nice enough to let me use him for comfort.”
Anarchaia shrugs a shoulder. “I don’t know. He seems pretty into you. Why else would he help raise someone else’s baby?” She purses her lips at the thought. “Speaking of which, Bel seems to have grown on Grim, too.”
“Bae likes Bel. It shouldn’t matter how he feels about me. If that was the only reason he takes care of Bel, he’d never have started… And I’ll break a bottle of polish over his head for toying with Bel’s emotions.” She gives a heavy sigh and shakes her head. “As for Grim… I don’t want him around Bel. I think we all know the real reason for the sudden connection.”
“Guess I can’t reason with you over Baemalen, but Grim…I don’t know if that’s a good idea. Bel seemed to love him, too. Maybe you could keep him away for a while but ultimately that should be Bel’theas’s decision.” She furrows her brow slightly. “What reason do you think Grim has?”
“Ana…he didn’t want anything to do with Bel and then in one instant he suddenly cares? You don’t think it might be a more…demonic reason?”
Anarchaia blinks, then lifts her eyebrows. “You think Spinewing cares about the baby?” She brings a finger to her lips to think. “That certainly is…unexpected. But I know Grim. I’m sure he cares. Even if it’s just a little.”
“I’m trying to limit any…bad influences in Bel’s life. That includes demons. No Tryx, no Spinewing. It’s all I can do to not snatch him away when Bae sings those songs…” Kel’ori starts in on her own makeup. “How long do you think they’ll be gone?”
Anarchaia sighs in defeat. “I suppose that’s fair. And I’m…unsure. A few hours? Sick of my company already? Heh.”
Kel’ori pauses to purse her lips at the other woman. “It’s already been over an hour. That’s why I was wondering. Speaking of Grim…where is he?”
Anarchaia pauses, only now just realizing. “Oh. Uh…he didn’t come back with us? I must have been too preoccupied to notice. He must be still distracting Ali.”
“He should be killing her, not distracting her. She’s not even supposed to exist.” Kel’ori finishes her makeup and goes to the mage to add color to her cheeks. “You make up nicely. I know you usually wear a mask, but you could still rock some lipstick.” She selects a soft pink lipstick to apply to Anarchaia’s lips.
“We don’t know what’ll happen if she d—” She stops talking and flushes the smallest bit as the other applies the color to her lips. “N-not much goes with blue skin. Heh. I couldn’t pull it off as well as you.”
“Plenty goes with blue. Darker blue, lighter blue, purple, green, grey, black, white… Seriously, you could do so much. I think white would look best with the robes I made you before. Just gotta experiment.”
Anarchaia places a hand on her cheek and chuckles embarrassedly. “Maybe. I’m not as knowledgeable as you, either. But I could try.” She looks down at her painted fingers, then sobers. “Thanks, by the way. I think I needed this. After…everything that’s happened in the last year.”
Kel’ori sighs and smiles brightly. “Trust me, so did I. Wearing makeup after not feeling well for the past few months… It just makes me feel like me again. Oh! And…” She waves her hand and the newly finished robes float into the mage’s lap. “I’ll make you a matching mask later, when you need it.” She holds out the lavender, silky item to Anarchaia.
The smaller mage’s eyes light up as she lifts the garment up to look at it. “They’re beautiful! Ugh, if only I could get up to put them on,” she laments, admiring the laced bodice and satin-like layers. “Thank you,” she says, hugging it to her chest.
She waves her hands. “It’s fine! You’ll be able to put it on in no time. Right?”
Anarchaia smiles and sets it on the table beside her, neatly folded. “Yeah. If that priest was right, anyway. I really ought to repay you somehow.”
Kel’ori shrugs and waves her off.
~ * ~
Koltira grunts and drops the two large firewood bundles beside the pile outside, being careful not to drop Baemalen from his other shoulder. “Don’t worry. I can handle my liquor. Oh, no, this isn’t too much,” he complains, yet again. He jerks his chin to Jorick, who is carrying a third large bundle as well as Taveth. “We really should have stol—borrowed that wagon.”
Jorick nods and awkwardly stretches his back after dropping his own load of tinder. “Would’ve made the trip a lot easier. Honestly surprised the bookworm handled as much as he did. The kid weighs less than the firewood.” He chuckles and makes his way inside.
“Oh my gods.” Kel’ori’s eyes shoot to the door as Koltira enters with the Illidari and Jorick with her brother. “What happened?”
Koltira chuckles. “They had way too much.”
Jorick nods and sets Taveth down in one of the spare hammocks as Koltira puts Baemalen in another. “All talk and no liver,” he says as he turns, then stops as his eyes fall on Anarchaia.
“What?” she says, brow knit.
“I’ve…never seen you wear makeup. You look nice.”
She flushes and turns away. “Oh yeah. Guess I forgot I was wearing it. Thanks.”
Koltira lifts the mage into his arms and sits in the chair with her on his lap. “Mine,” he says, nuzzling into her.
Kel’ori waves a hand in front of her face. “I can smell you guys from here.”
Anarchaia gives a sheepish, crooked smile and wraps her arms about his neck. “Yes, yours. How was your trip?”
He stares at her as though hypnotized, then blinks. “You look beautiful.”
Anarchaia smiles, cheeks darkening. “Thank you.” She chortles. “How much did you guys drink? Are those two even alive?”
Jorick cannot help rolling his eyes at the two. “You expect four guys to be in the same vicinity as a tavern and not go inside?” he says to Kel’ori, unbuckling his armor.
The high elf rolls her eyes. “It’s actually quite easy. But that’s not the point. It’s the amount you all had.”
“Enough to not feel feelings,” Jorick says as he sits in the vacant hammock at the end. “Though the red head had enough to not feel anything.”
Kel’ori purses her lips, but nods. “Yeah. Bae does that.”
Koltira chuckles. “Bae insisted. Then he tried to keep up with me…while encouraging Tav to keep drinking. Taveth threw up and complained, then passed out. Bae followed about half an hour later—without the vomiting.” He sets the pad of his thumb just below her bottom lip. “I want to kiss you, but pink isn’t really my shade.”
Anarchaia chuckles at the story, then smiles and tilts her head the smallest bit. “How would you know if you’ve never tried putting it on?”
He makes a face. “I’m pretty confident it won’t look good. Looks amazing on you, though.”
Anarchaia places a kiss on his cheek, then looks and chuckles. “Yeah, you’re right. It’s not your color.”
Koltira laughs and kisses her. “Guess there’s no turning back, anyway.”
Jorick leans back against the wall and rests his head in his interlaced fingers. “That demon hunter drinks like he’s trying to meet the devil.” He gives Kel’ori a slightly intoxicated smile. “What would a guy have to do to get some hot water in that basin in the next room?”
The high elf smiles back at him. “Ask nicely and promise not to drown?”
“I can’t make any promises about the downing part. Not much of a strong swimmer. But if you’d be so kind…”
Kel’ori stands and goes to heat up the water. “Okay, but, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”