Book 6 – Chapter Thirty-Four

“What did he say?” the blood knight asks the man. She ignores the food but picks up the water and turns away from him to unbuckle her mask and lift it high enough to drink.

Grimory shakes his head slightly. “Something about everything being worth it. And being a hero.”

Alisbeth nods, her frosty eyes sad. “He’s right.”

He turns to her next. “Let me guess. You’re not allowed to fill me in. Did you all come from the future or something?”

Alisbeth purses her lips and looks away.

“Yes,” the blood knight says plainly.

“It’s a secret!” the other screams across the room.

“I have to ask… What the hell is wrong with you? Like, in the head.”

The other shrinks away, then leans forward and just screams in response.

Grimory’s ears pull back at the screaming and he lifts his hands. “O-okay! Let’s back up, yeah? Uhh…time traveling? Can we talk about that?”

Alisbeth grits her teeth and growls at the other woman. “I’m not crazy!”

“Now I see why you tried to change everything.”

The death knight makes a face, then turns her back to the others. “No, we can’t talk about it. They said don’t talk about it. I’m supposed to keep it secret. And if you start talking about it, I’ll scream louder until Koltira comes back.”

“Koltira turned out to be a real prick,” the blood knight says. She scoots her food to Grimory, only keeping the water with her.

“I deserve it, though. I’m very bad.”

The other woman shakes her head and looks at the Illidari. “If you could go back in time and change something—anything from something small in your life to changing the entire course of history… Would you do it?”

Grimory purses his lips between the two, then sets his glowing green gaze on the blood knight. “I mean…I suppose,” he responds thoughtfully.

“What would you change?” she presses.

Grimory shrugs a shoulder. “Not much. Just…wish I’d gotten to know someone a little better.”

The blood knight nods. “What if I could help with that?”

“Don’t!” Alisbeth yells.

He gives her a curious glance. “How?”

“Don’t do it!” Alisbeth shouts again.

The woman leans around to look at her. “Are you really going to tell me no after everything you did to bring me here?”

Alisbeth curls up and hmphs but says nothing.

“I can change everything,” she continues to Grimory. “If you want me to. What’s something I could say to your past self that would make you trust me?”

Grimory looks between the two as though considering other options, then shrugs. “Uhm. I’m not sure. You could say you knew my parents.”

“That’s an easy bluff to call,” she says. “Worth a try, though.” They go silent for a long time. The blood knight cocks her head, an ear to the ceiling. “Awfully quiet up there.” She swiftly begins working to free her key ring tucked within her trousers.

Grimory furrows his brow as his eyes widen. “You have keys? Like… Universal keys?”

She chuckles idly as she undoes her shackles. “What did you do with the one I gave you, anyway?” She stands and goes to the door.

“I don’t know, I must have— Wait, where are you going?”

She whistles through the crack of the door and turns to Grimory as she waits. “I already told you where I’m going.”

On the other side of the door the wooden tool handle snaps. The woman pushes hard against the door.

“Can you at least free us, too?” Grimory pleads.

She forces the door open finally and is greeted by Stormbreaker, who trumpets urgently.

Alisbeth blinks from the corner. “You’re just leaving him here?”

The blood knight stops, her foot on the top step. She turns and breaks another key from the ring, then throws it into the dirt between the two.

“Don’t lose it. You won’t get another.”

“Take him home!” the death knight insists.

She scoffs. “He’s lucky I’m giving him a key. And I won’t even close the door on you.” She turns and leaves, gritting her teeth in anger as she takes it out on the wrong Grimory. In moments she’s on her dragonhawk and in the air.

Grimory kicks the key over to the death knight. “Guess I can’t complain. It’s just a few days walk back.”

Alisbeth stares at the key for several minutes, then picks it up. She unlocks herself, then him. She sets the key in the dirt, then goes back to her corner. “I’m sorry she didn’t take you. Be careful, Grim. They won’t come after you.”

He stands and dusts himself off. “Wait, you’re staying down here? Why?”

She frowns up at him. “Because I don’t want to get in trouble. I want to help you, but…”

Grimory frowns down at her. “But it sounds like those guys are gone. You won’t get in trouble if they aren’t around, yeah?”

She stays quiet for a long time. “You…want me to go with you?”

“Or at the very least just out of this cellar, yeah? Maybe you can get back at those guys when they come back.”

“They’re my friends,” Alisbeth insists. She pushes to her feet and goes to him. “I’ll walk you home, kay? Let me just get a weapon.” In the upper area of the house she finds the Redblade alone in the corner it had been sharing with the polearm. Alisbeth takes her sword and skips out the door. “I won’t let anything near you, Mr. Grim. I promise.”

Grimory gives the woman a small smile. “I could make it back alone, but I suppose having an armed escort is more ideal.” He chuckles and gestures for her to follow him down the path.

She follows eagerly, grinning up at him. “I don’t like walking. Neither of us do, huh? Don’t worry, I won’t ride you. I think. I’ll try to remember not to. So, you have a girlfriend waiting back at the Black Temple for you?”

He knits his brow slightly but otherwise does not address the first part. He instead flushes at the question and scratches at an arm. “Uh. Well. Not sure girlfriend is the right word, but…we’re involved.” He clears his throat. “Do you have someone?”

Alisbeth frowns deep and stares at the ground. “I don’t think so. No.” She clenches her jaw. “What makes her so special?”

He shrugs a shoulder. “I don’t know. There’s just something about her. We’ve been through a lot together.” He scrutinizes her. “So…a death knight? Joining the Illidari?”

She smiles wide and balls up her fists in excitement. “I want to! I want horns. Do you think they’ll let me have horns? I don’t care about anything else. I want to be horny, like Illidan and you and…other demon hunters.” She bounces in excitement. “Do you think they’ll let me join? Even though I’m…a monster?”

Grimory’s eyes give her a quick once over. “I’m not a fan of death knights, but you don’t seem…monstrous. They might? I’m not even sure of the rules. And I’ve been here for a year and a half.”

The death knight forces her grin to remain, though it’s less enthusiastic. “I am a monster. But it’s okay. I’m okay with it. I enjoy killing things, even if I didn’t actually decide to do it but I find myself doing it anyway.” She pats his shoulder. “I don’t like death knights, either. Wanna play a game?”

The Illidari smiles uncomfortably but otherwise nods. “Sure. What kind of game?”

“You like I Spy, right? I spy something…” She absently hooks her arm through his and hugs it to her as she looks around. “Gold! Something gold.” She grins up at him.

Grimory hums, then smiles, feeling an obligation to hold her to him as well. “Is it my hair?”

“Nope! Guess again.”

He hums again. “The buckles on your boots?”

She shakes her head and giggles. “Wrong again! You’re looking too close.” She leans her head on his shoulder and looks in the distance at the golden roof of the tall tower at Falcon Watch.

Grimory flushes, mildly uncomfortable but not so much as to move away. He follows her gaze, then makes a noise of realization. “The Falcon Watch tower?”

Alisbeth jumps and claps in excitement. “Yes! Your turn, your turn!”

The Illidari glances around. “I spy something…black.”

Alisbeth taps her chin as she thinks. “The sky?”

He chuckles. “You’re really good at this. Are you coming all the way back to the temple? Otherwise I can grab a flight at Falcon Watch.”

She fidgets and purses her lips. “I… I, um… Do you not want me to go?”

“Hm? Oh, well, I mean…that’s really up to you. Wasn’t sure if you were out here on a mission or something.”

The death knight frowns and squeezes his bicep tighter to her chest. “There is one. But my part of it is done. You were my mission, Grim. I’ll let you go, though. You have to get back to the pretty girl with the brown hair.”

He knits his brow down at her. “I was your mission? What does that mean?”

Alisbeth says nothing for several minutes, then points excitedly at Falcon Watch. “We’re almost there! So, did you want to go without me or…”

Grimory sighs, half having expected that answer. “Like I said, it’s up to you,” he responds tiredly. “If you have stuff to do here, still…”

She purses her lips, thoroughly grumpy. “That’s not how this works. I ask you and you tell me. I’m a prisoner, too, you know. Do you think I have any reason to go back? I’m already gonna be in trouble for being out.”

“Well I don’t really know you well enough to say I want you around, yeah? But the company wouldn’t hurt.” He shrugs.

The death knight throws her arms around him and squeezes tight in her excitement. “Yay! I love spending time with you! And maybe I can kill some things and keep you safe and— This is so exciting!” she shouts, shaking him.

Grimory gives an uneasy chuckle as he’s jostled, but nods all the same. “Y-yeah. Fun. Let’s do our best not to run into any trouble, though, yeah?” He pats her on the shoulder with more gentility than she’d shown him.

“I’ll do my best.” She grins and leans up to kiss his cheek. “But if trouble finds us…”

He reflexively jerks away from the kiss, flushed and taken aback. He clears his throat. “U-uh. I suppose out here that’s not too uncommon. I have some training and am near the top of my peers in unarmed combat, yeah? We should be fine.”

Alisbeth flinches at his reaction and clasps her hands in front of her. “Sorry. I forgot about her for a moment.”

The man again knits his brow in confusion. “How do you even know about Illie and me? In fact, how do you know so much about me in general? Are you a time traveler, too?”

She shrugs. “I saw you two…at the temple. I didn’t tell anyone, though.” She frowns and looks away, suddenly re-experiencing the hurt from seeing him with the other woman.

“I mean, I suppose it’s not particularly a secret, but it’s not particularly approved of, either. Thanks for not saying anything.” He scratches nervously at the nape of his neck.

She shakes her head and doesn’t look at him. “Can’t change it.”

The Illidari sighs. “So, what I’m piecing together here is you know me in the future—and we’re together or something—but you came back to…” He pauses. “Actually, that’s all I’ve got.”

She shakes her head instantly. “No. Wrong. All wrong.” She sniffs and wipes her nose. As they near the base of the hill where Falcon Watch is situated, she turns to him, tears rolling down her cheeks, but a huge smile on her face. “Look! We’re here! I’m gonna pet the wyvern!” She grabs his hand and pulls him along as fast as she can.

Grimory can’t help but frown at the tears but shakes off the questions he wants to ask. “Yeah, sounds fun.” He follows her up to the flight master and smiles as the death knight accosts the lazy beast with head pats.

“We need a ride to Shadowmoon,” Alisbeth says, smiling at the flight master.

“That’s three gold per wyvern.”

She frowns and looks around, then slips off her boots. “Will these cover the cost?”

“Uh, I can pay,” the Illidari says and hands over six gold. He mounts one of the wyverns. “I’ll see you back at the temple, yeah?”

Alisbeth scrambles to mount the other beast, hugging her boots to her chest as it takes off. She puts the boots back on then frowns ahead at the Illidari’s back. He doesn’t care about you. He never cared. Pathetic little Alisbeth. They’ll all be so relieved to see you’re gone.

When the two finally land near the draenei altar after a couple hours’ time, Grimory stops to wait for her. He smiles and offers a hand to help her down. “Have a nice flight?”

“No,” she says shortly, ignoring his hand. “Let’s get you back so you never have to see me again.” She stomps off in the direction she thinks the temple is, though she’s not entirely sure.

Grimory bristles as she stomps away. He jogs to catch up. “Hold on! What is your problem?! If it’s something you can’t tell me, then don’t take it out on me, yeah?”

“Nothing!” Alisbeth shouts, throwing her hands in the air. “Nothing is wrong at all. Nothing is suddenly occurring to me. Nothing has made me realize I’m nothing to anyone.” She forces an unconvincing smile. “So let’s just go. While I’m still perfectly fine.”

Grimory’s lips tighten into a pensive frown. “I may not know you, but I can’t let someone just be in complete distress like you are, yeah? If you want to talk without actually revealing anything, I’m all ears.”

The death knight shakes her head. “I deserve it. It’s fine. I deserve it for lying. All of it. I spy something green!”

He sighs. “Fel,” he mutters, then walks on past her toward the temple.

“You didn’t spy anything,” Alisbeth says quietly. She falls in line behind him and follows him in silence.

“Something gray,” he responds.

She fidgets with her fingers and looks around at everything. “Smoke?”

“No,” he says despondently.

She slowly gets closer to him. “Dirt?”

“Close.”

She tentatively slips her hand into his and frowns up at him. “Your mood?”

The Illidari tenses uncomfortably but otherwise obliges. “Also close.” He gestures to one of the large boulders on the cliff side.

Alisbeth giggles. “Oh! Rocks! Silly me. Um. I spy something…um…” She looks around, seeing only the green and the grey of the dead landscape. “Uh…blue?”

He gives the landscape a long, thoughtful look, then shrugs. “I honestly have no idea.”

“It’s my skin,” Alisbeth says with a sad smile as she stares at her hands.

Grimory sobers, then looks ahead again. “How did you die?”

Alisbeth takes a deep breath, calming herself down. “I was captured after a battle. They were members of the Horde, but… They said I had evil inside me. An abomination.” Her chin quivers, but she reminds herself that she’s already told him the story, so there’s nothing to fear. “I don’t think they meant to kill us. But I’m…not okay. They took everything from me. And instead of letting me burn, my friend brought me back to live in this torture.” She smiles past the tears running over her lips. “You make my days good, though. It’s not so bad when I have you.”

He frowns down at her. “I’m…so sorry. That’s terrible. Is that why you’re here? To get revenge and keep it from happening?”

She shakes her head. “I’m not allowed to change the past. I mean, I already did, but… I’m still here, so I guess I didn’t actually change anything.” She leans her head on his shoulder as they walk. “So I guess in a few years I’ll still die.” She says nothing for a minute. “Would you save yourself if it was you? Even if you were told not to?”

He thinks it over for only a brief moment, then shrugs a shoulder. “Yeah, probably. Who wants to be miserable forever?”

As they reach the temple Alisbeth stops beyond the reach of the guards. She straightens and turns to face the Illidari. “Grim. I tried to change everything. I really did. That’s why she’s here. I’m a monster in every possible future. I’m sorry. I don’t deserve you. I never did.”

He stops and gives her a sympathetic look. “While I don’t believe that, I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m not quite sure what happens in the future where we end up together, but I’m sure it was for a reason. You aren’t a monster—neither of you. So don’t be so hard on yourself, yeah?”

Alisbeth takes each of his hands in one of hers and stares at them. “The Diori you knew? …She’ll die. Don’t waste your time looking for her. I want you to be happy. Maybe knowing will let you move on faster.”

An odd look washes over Grimory’s face and he quickly pulls his hands away. He studies her features for a long moment. “You…you’re her.”

She shakes her head. “No. I…” She purses her lips, then suddenly presses to him, kissing him passionately before he can tear away.

He blinks, emerald eyes widening. He allows the kiss for a second, too confused to act, then steps away, face a dark scarlet. “Y-…wh-…?”

“I’m sorry,” she whispers. “Don’t worry, I’ll make it better.” She takes his head in her hands and sends a blast of cold into his mind. She kisses the top of his head as he bends in pain. “I’m sorry, Grim. I’m sorry I lied. I’m sorry I’m not her. I’m not good enough.” She sends in another blast of cold. “Just forget I ever existed, okay?”

He tries to cry out, but the chill through his mind draws his voice from his throat. He sinks to his knees, his fingers tight around her arms as his eyes glaze over; when it’s done, he blinks the frost from them and looks up, head still throbbing. “Who-…who are you?”

She turns quickly from him and grabs his hand, then practically drags him to the guards. “I found one of yours! Come get him!” Once she’s close enough she releases him, then takes off running the other direction. You really think that’ll change things? Silly girl.

The guards catch the stumbling elf, then stare in confusion after the death knight. After a moment, they shrug at one another and help the delirious Grimory up the temple stairs.

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