Book 6 – Chapter Thirty-Seven

In the morning, Kel’ori wakes and shoots a look at the two undead in the bed as she passes, then goes to get breakfast. Grimory and Jorick are already downstairs—the former mostly there to keep an eye on the latter. The two look up as Kel’ori enters.

“Good morning,” the demon hunter says as he stabs a small sausage. “Bae is still asleep I assume.”

The high elf nods lightly. “Yeah. Slept right through the talking dead. Taveth?”

“Yeah. He could sleep through anything.” He points up to the floorboards with his sausage. “Still asleep after his late- night excursion.”

Jorick makes a face beside him but says nothing.

She tilts her head as she swallows a sip of orange juice. “Where did he go?”

“Walked Ana home. Old Ana.”

Kel’ori gives a little smirk then thanks the waiter as he brings her food. “So, uh, anything happen or just…walking her home?”

Grimory looks up at her as he chews, suspicion in his eyes. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, you were gone so long. Either she lives far away or something happened. Right?”

Taveth drops onto the bench beside his sister, his eyes narrow, sunken slits surrounded by dark circles and his hair unbrushed and loose about his face. “Anyone else sleep like hell?”

Kel’ori stops a barmaid to get him a cup of black coffee and a plate of food, then giggles at him. “I slept mostly fine, thanks. Bel is too big to share the bed, so he was in the armchair. Ahh, it was nice not having him kicking me in the stomach.”

Grimory’s eyes linger on Kel’ori for another second before he looks down at his eggs. “He’s growing pretty quickly, don’t you think?”

She purses her lips tightly. “Don’t ta—”

“He is,” Taveth interrupts loudly. He gives his sister a look. “Must be a demon thing, right?”

“Taveth,” she warns.

“Can you just stop being horrible for one day? I’m absolutely begging you. I really don’t even understand how we’re related.”

“No, it’s fine. I’ll just never mention him again, yeah? Like he doesn’t even exist. Have all the closure you want. In fact, have mine, too.” Grimory stands, throws coins on the table, then exits through the front door.

The high elf casts a disgusted look at Kel’ori, then stands and follows the Illidari outside.

Kel’ori sticks her nose in the air, not particularly caring what their opinions are on the matter.

Jorick huffs a laugh through his nose and swallows a swig of ale. “You sure are harsh on him. Mind if I ask why?”

Her eyes flash at the human. “His demon is the reason I have a half demon baby and Grim spent the entire pregnancy trying to convince me to get rid of him. He sent Alisbeth to try stabbing me in my sleep. And suddenly he’s interested? No. I don’t believe it for a second.”

Jorick’s marred eyebrows raise. “That’s…a lot to unpack. So…you and him…but he didn’t want to. He really sent Alisbeth to kill you?”

She sneers. “He lost control. Neither of us wanted to. So, no, I don’t want him anywhere near my son, but only because of the monster inside him.” She thanks the barmaid sweetly as Taveth’s food is set on the table.

Jorick nods and hums in thought. “So he himself deserves to be punished because of what’s inside him. Got it.” He shoves the last bit of ham in his mouth.

The mage glares at the human. “It’s like you’re only hearing part of the conversation at a time. He didn’t want anything to do with Bel. At all. He wanted him dead. What happens if I let him close and he just…” She drops her silverware onto the plate and leaves as tears well in her eyes, heading back to her room.

Jorick lifts his eyebrows again as he stares after her. He blinks slowly, then stabs his fork into the bacon on her abandoned plate. “Light above,” he mumbles softly.

~ * ~

“You okay?” Taveth asks, coming up beside the demon hunter.

“Yeah,” the other lies. “Just…I don’t know.” He runs a hand over his blond hair. “I’m conflicted.”

“About?” Taveth presses. “I won’t tell anyone.”

“About Bel. I…really don’t want to care, but I do. I don’t know if it’s him or me, yeah?” He shakes his head. “Forget I said anything.”

“Do you think you care because, in a way, he’s a part of you, too? Or are you afraid of him getting out again just to…do something to Bel?” Taveth asks, choosing his words carefully.

The demon hunter shakes his head. “Kath…seems to like Bel. He’s the one who told me to save him from Alisbeth.” He pauses. “And…I don’t know. Maybe I do care. It is technically half me. Half? A quarter?”

Taveth nods in thought. “Quarter, I suppose? I mean, did you ever apologize to Kel? For trying to force her to get rid of him, of course.” He takes a deep breath, preparing to be diplomatic, and hoping the other man sees it that way. “Remember how both Alisbeth and I reacted when you tried to insinuate Diori wasn’t yours? We both were pretty set on you not seeing her again, since it seemed you didn’t want anything to do with her. You didn’t want anything to do with Bel, and now you do, but you never apologized or even spoke to my sister about it. When have you had the time, though?”

“I have apologized! Twice! Even so, I don’t know if I do! My head says no, but a part of me feels the same way I do about Diori and I don’t know if that part is being controlled by him or not, yeah?” He sighs.

 He shrugs and sighs. “Maybe just wait it out. It’s only been a month. Not like you have to decide immediately, right?”

“She had to,” Grimory says despondently, then shakes his head and pats Taveth on the shoulder. “We’ll see how it plays out. Thanks, Tav.”

“She had to what?” Taveth asks, not sure what to think of the situation.

“Had to make a decision.” He sighs.

“Grim, if you really think you’re partly the father of Bel’theas…then I think you should say something to her. If you want some sort of involvement. Otherwise just…keep him away from the baby. Right?”

“ I like to think I’ve done a well enough job of keeping him away from everyone…” A flash of the incident strikes through his mind and he growls. “Y’know what? Never mind. I don’t care. No one’s ever thought I’d make a good father so maybe I won’t even bother.” He turns to Taveth and nods before heading down the path. “Thanks. I’m headed back to the barracks.”

 He frowns and stomps after him. “I think you’re a great father. Kel’ori is just a brat. But if you insist on going off right this minute…then let me get my bag and I’ll join you.”

Grimory stops at the last statement and sighs before turning. “Yeah, all right. Make it quick, yeah?”

Without telling anyone else, Taveth goes back to the room and gets his bag. He stops at the counter and sets his King’s token down. “Will you accept this for the rooms and the food?” he asks the goblin as he pulls his hair back to tie it in place.

The goblin stops counting her coins and looks up at him from behind a furrowed brow. “We don’t care what idiots you choose to serve here.” She sighs as Taveth takes the token back. “That being said, business is still business. We’ll send the tab to Stormwind.”

Taveth purses his lips. “I…um… Okay. Thank you.” He exits and rushes to catch up to Grimory, ignoring the hunger pains in his stomach and the headache ringing in his ears. “Ready.”

“Great. Hold tight.” Grimory sweeps him up into his arms, outstretches his wings, then shields them from the branches with his bowed head until they’re safely in the sky.

Taveth jerks for only a second, then pulls his limbs tight. “D-don’t drop me.”

 He blinks slowly. “Are you sure? I thought it’d be fun.”

“Only if you want to leave a large crater and draw attention,” Taveth chuckles. “But really, I’m not fond of heights.”

“Crater? You’d be lucky to leave a dust cloud with as little as you weigh. And don’t look down and you’ll be fine.”

“I weigh more in the meteor.” He chuckles. “All the same, I’d rather not be dropped.”

“Well I haven’t dropped anyone yet,” Grimory responds. “You’re in good hands.”

“Heh. I trust you,” Taveth says, then looks over his shoulder at the world below.

~ * ~

Koltira sighs heavily, his gaze on the high elf holding her baby and the man still passed out on the other bed. “So. This is fun.”

Anarchaia snickers into a hand. “He sure does sleep soundly. Maybe we should just throw him through the portal back?”

Kel’ori glances at the Illidari, then casts the two a look. “Or you could just not be horrible and let him sleep.”

Koltira blinks at her. <<Did she just…care about someone that isn’t her or the…child?>> He says the last word forcefully, as though not wanting to admit it’s not a monster.

Anarchaia’s eyelids lower and she rolls her eyes. <<Must be a sign of a second cataclysm.>> She shakily gets to her feet, supporting herself with a hand on the bedpost. “Could you just, maybe, like…gently nudge him?”

Kel’ori narrows her eyes, then leans forward to set Bel’theas on the bed beside the man. Before she can do anything, the infant squeals with glee and grabs Baemalen’s hair in both fists and yanks hard on the crimson tresses.

The Illidari jerks awake and hisses in pain, then realizes the culprit and gives a tired, forced chuckle. “Hey, little man. Light, the wake- up service in this inn is awful.” He tries to ease his locks from the baby’s hands.

Anarchaia lifts her eyebrows. <<Right, we’re the horrible ones.>>

Kel’ori frowns and tries not to giggle. “I didn’t mean for him to do that. I’m so sorry. Are you okay?” She helps to untangle the man’s hair.

Baemalen nods. “Yeah. It’s all right. I guess it’s time to get up anyway.” He stretches.

Koltira rolls his eyes. <<They should just fuck and get it over with.>>

 Anarchaia titters and ushers Koltira toward the door. <<So she can have more illegitimate children then push him away?>>

The high elf smiles despite struggling against the flailing child trying to get back to Baemalen. “It’s not that late in the day. These guys are just impatient.”

Koltira snorts, entertained. <<I mean, if she wants them to be illegitimate, that’s her call, I guess? Doesn’t even have to have more, if she doesn’t want to.>> He follows the undead girl from the room. “Back through the portal? So soon?”

Anarchaia nods. “Yes. I really want to get more information on this dragon out of Alisbeth, and we can’t do that here. And now that I can walk again—” she trips on a step and quickly grabs the banister before falling, “—sort of, I want to exact some sort of revenge.”

Koltira wraps an arm around her waist to help keep her steady. “You? Harm someone? This I’ll need to see.” He catches sight of the human at the table surrounded by plates of food, one untouched. “Hey Jorick. Where’d everyone go?”

He shrugs in response. “Kel’ori and Grim got into it and then they stormed off. I think Grim left and took Taveth with him.” He sips his ale as though unfazed by the drama.

Anarchaia rolls her eyes. “It’ll be a cold day on Argus before those two get along. Even despite what happened.” She sighs. “Are you set to go?”

Jorick hoists his small satchel of belongings onto the table. “Always.”

Koltira’s eyelids lower. “It’d be nice if we could all stick together. I’ll go tell those two it’s time to head out, I guess.” He leaves the mage there and goes back to the room.

Jorick watches him go, then turns his green eyes on the mage as she shakily settles before him. “Got your land legs back?”

She chuckles. “As opposed to my Outlands legs? Yeah, for the most part.” She sighs and sets a cheek on her knuckles. “I’ve got a few choice words for alternate Ali.”

“Words, eh? Not spells?”

“Let’s make it both,” she responds darkly and takes a drink from his stein.

“Get your shit, it’s time to go,” Koltira says to the high elf mage.

Kel’ori scoffs indignantly. “You don’t have to be an ass about it. And I thought we were staying longer! I was going to go to Stormwind!”

 He glares at her. “I will tie you up if you even try. Ali fucked up history enough for all of us. No one else is allowed to step out of line.”

 She sticks her nose in the air. “You’re an asshole. Now go tend to your wounded animal.”

 The death knight returns, pausing behind to watch the two interacting. He purses his lips after a moment, then goes to the table. “If they’re not out in a minute, I’ll need some rope. Kel was planning a trip to Stormwind.”

Anarchaia scoffs and rolls her eyes. “Is she stupid? Does she not think of the repercussions?”

Jorick glances at Koltira, then clears his throat. “Right. Silly.”

The death knight narrows warning eyes at the human. “Obviously she doesn’t, does she?” He looks behind him as he hears footsteps coming down the stairs. “Let’s get going.”

Kel’ori sighs and adjusts the blanket on Bel’theas’s head, atte mpting to keep it on him as he fidgets, trying to get to the Illidari, still. “Immediately? Really? Gods, why are you so impatient?”

“Because we have people in the basement who need to eat?” he hisses through his teeth.

Baemalen gives Kel’ori a sympathetic smile and rests a hand on her shoulder. “It’s all right. Maybe you can come back another time and show me.” He chuckles at his own joke.

Anarchaia stands. “Perhaps.” She lifts a hand and a portal instantly swirls to life, a wobbling image of the Dark Portal in its center. “All aboard.”

Kel’ori gives the man a wry smile as the others go through the portal. “Are you saying you’re coming back with us?”

“Back to the Outlands? Yeah. I’ve…honestly been thinking about…” He sighs. “Going back to the temple. Maybe asking for another chance.”

On the other side, Koltira waits patiently for the others, eyeing the hostile, but disinterested demons circling the crater and perching at the lip. “Are we sure Grim and Taveth came here? And didn’t go off to do…gods know what.”

 Anarchaia gives a small giggle into a hand. “You think they ran off together?”

Jorick snerks. “They headed this direction. And Grimory isn’t one to mess with the past, so it’s the most likely case.”

Kel’ori’s smile falls. “Oh. Okay. I guess…” She shakes her head, clearing away the thoughts she was planning on saying aloud. “Let’s go.” She steps through the portal and sighs at the dead land on the other side.

Koltira smirks. “Yeah I don’t think he’d do anything stupid. What could he do in that area, besides go to Stormwind?”

“Visit Diori twenty years early using Taveth to get into the house?” Kel’ori suggests.

The death knight blinks. “Uh. Would he…?”

“I’m sure he’d like to, but Grim is probably the only reliable one of all of us,” Anarchaia says, then opens a second portal back to the barracks. “Even Taveth wanted to kill the other Ali without knowing the consequences…”

“And you don’t?” Jorick asks casually as he steps through.

“No!” she calls after him, then pouts. “I just wanna talk.”

“Didn’t you say something about torture? Or am I thinking about me?” Koltira asks.

“I’d like to help with the torture,” Kel’ori says, raising her hand.

Anarchaia points to him. “Perhaps after the mission.” Her finger wanders to Kel’ori. “No.” She steps in after Jorick, followed by Baemalen.

Koltira and Kel’ori both narrow their eyes after the mage, then at each other.

“I meant torturing Ali,” Kel’ori says.

“So did I.” Koltira steps through the portal and she follows.

Alisbeth saunters around the side of the barracks with a bundle of wood in her arms as she hums a gentle tune. She stops, eyes wide as the others appear in front of her. She looks around, then at the wood as she twitches. After a moment she drops the wood and takes off running.

Koltira grits his teeth but doesn’t give chase.

“Wait. If she’s out, then…” Kel’ori casts her wide, blue eyes on the others.

“Yeah,” Jorick says as he comes back around the side of the building. “They’re gone.”

Anarchaia’s fists clench. “I knew we should have left someone here to watch them,” she hisses. “What are we meant to do, now? We have zero leads on who this dragon even is and even less information on where he is!”

Kel’ori purses her lips at the retreating death knight. “Anyone going to stop her?”

Koltira growls and strides inside. “Too fast for me.”

The elf mage sighs dramatically. “Well, I certainly can’t. Guess this is goodbye. Good riddance.” She follows the man inside.

Anarchaia sighs as well and follows the others in. “I have a feeling she’ll be back.” She sets herself in the oversized armchair and rubs at a tired leg. “We can always send Grim.”

“Send me where? And why is Ali out?” Grimory sets Taveth gingerly back on his feet. “Also you all got back quickly.”

“They’re gone,” Koltira says. “All of them.” He cocks his head at the corner where Byfrost stands alone without the polearm. “Any weird new memories yet?”

Taveth’s sights rest on Anarchaia. He clears his throat and grips his bag, then leaves the room, a blush crawling up his neck. His sister cocks an eyebrow with interest.

The mage in the chair catches the odd behavior, then furrows her brow and removes her mask as a new image fades into her head. A blush hits her as well and she swallows. “Yeah,” she replies quietly to the question, though it wasn’t meant for her.

Grimory closes his eyes for a moment, then shakes his head. “No, actually. I don’t even…” A pain strikes through his head and he rests a hand against a temple. “I don’t remember anything.”

Koltira furrows his brow. “What do you mean? Anything at all or just nothing from yesterday?”

Kel’ori eyes the blushing mage. She smirks and sets Bel’theas on the carpet, then goes after Taveth. “Everything all right?” she asks.

He clears his throat as he pulls on a clean shirt. “I’m fine.”

“If you have something to say to someone, maybe you should just do it,” she says, shrugging. She leans back casually to hide any ulterior motives she may have for questioning him.

He shakes his head and looks away. “Nope. If I ignore it long enough it’ll go away. Just like you.” He sits in a hammock and retrieves his private journal to begin writing his thoughts on the previous night.

She scoffs and opens the door. “We’ll see about that,” she mutters, then sends a third charm his way. She goes and sits on the floor where the infant is wriggling around, grabbing at his toys. “He’s sure wound up about something. Anybody know what?”

Grimory continues rubbing at the side of his head. “Nothing after…” He shakes his head and groans. “I’m going to lie down.” He retreats into the next room with Taveth to do so.

Anarchaia looks up at Kel’ori and shrugs innocently. “Maybe he’s just as frustrated as the rest of us.”

Kel’ori smirks at the other woman. “Yeah. Some kind of frustrated.”

Anarchaia eyes the other mage in return and frowns.

Koltira breathes out a long sigh through his nostrils. “I need a drink.”

 Baemalen gestures to the broken down wooden cabinet in the corner. “Help yourself. Kinda stocked it last time we went out.”

“Thanks.” Koltira takes a bottle for himself, not bothering to offer some to anyone else.

Jorick sinks to sit against a wall and shrugs off his pauldrons. “So, what now? We scour the lands looking for this illusive dragon who could be anybody? Where’s the other asshole when you need him?”

 “Can we leave this damned time period already?” Koltira laments.

Kel’ori casts her gaze to the Illidari, then looks away. “We still have a lot to do, though. No need to be in such a hurry.”

Koltira narrows his eyes at her and takes a drink. “Gods,” he scoffs, and takes a hefty swig.

Anarchaia lifts her hands at the tension in the room. “I know it doesn’t look good for us right now but maybe something will fall into our laps?”

Jorick scoffs next. “I’m usually pretty optimistic myself, but we’re without a paddle here.”

“Well, my plan is to get drunk until we do find something,” Koltira says. “You’re all welcome to join me.”

Anarchaia gives him an endearing and patient smile. “I think I’ll—”

“Offer accepted!” Baemalen, already at the cabinet, pops off a cork to another bottle.

Koltira raises his in cheers, then settles in, fully prepared to not move for at least a day.

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