Anarchaia enters the Violet Citadel, her attention caught on a scroll as she heads for the door to the chamber above, where Khadgar is meeting with the Council of Six.
The mage stumbles forward as she bumps into a young high elf, her eyes a lavender to match her dress. She stows the scroll and holds out her hands to the elf.
“I am so sorry, I really wasn’t looking where I was going.”
The woman brushes back her black hair and smiles. “That’s okay. What were you reading? Was it exciting?” Her eyes brighten expectantly.
“O-oh, heh. No. It’s just a report for Archmage Khadgar.”
The woman’s eyes widen. “You know Khadgar?”
“I’m his apprentice,” Anarchaia says, lifting her mask to her nose, so she can smile at the woman. “Anarchaia.” She holds out her hand.
The woman grins and takes her hand to shake it. “What’s he like? Is he handsome? I hear he’s handsome. And so smart. And I hear his power is without rival. Did you know that he—of course you know! He’s your mentor! What’s that like? Does he treat you well? Do you get to help him research—”
“Woah, woah!” Anarchaia pulls her hand away and gives her arm a quick flex. “One question at a time!”
“Hey, Ana, who’s your new friend?”
“Eek!” The woman hops behind the mage, crouching to peek over the somewhat shorter girl’s shoulder.
Grimory laughs. “Skittish? Don’t worry, I don’t bite.” He flashes a fangy smile at the woman. “I’m Grimory.”
She stares at his hand for a long minute, then at his face. “I know who you are,” she says on a squeaky whisper as she sets her hand in his and lets him do the shaking.
Anarchaia side-steps, removing herself from between the two. “Grim, good. I was just taking this to Khadgar, then we can go.”
“Is that the thing from, uh…” He snaps his fingers, trying to remember the name. “The blue-haired guy.”
“KALEC??” The woman slaps her hands over her mouth, her eyes wide. She drops her hands and gives an apologetic grin. “Sorry.”
“You know Kalec?” Grimory asks, not seeing the mage waving her palms at him and shaking her head as though to stop him.
“Not personally, but I’ve heard that he—”
“Okay, well, we really must be going,” Anarchaia interrupts. “Don’t want to leave Koltira waiting.” She flinches, preparing for a new torrent of words.
“Oh. That’s nice.”
The mage waits, then blinks in quick succession. “Have you…heard of him?” she asks, almost hating herself for trying to goad the woman into blithering again.
“Like you wouldn’t believe. I work at Thassarian’s favorite tavern. He talks a lot when he’s drunk, and always about his best friend, Koltira.” She sighs and stares at the floor. “Doesn’t even stop to see me…existing…listening to every word…every week.”
Grimory cocks an eyebrow at her. “Have you ever bothered trying to change the subject? Or invite him back to your place?”
Anarchaia elbows the demon hunter. “What Grim means is, if you like Thassarian, maybe you should say something?”
The woman shrinks as though Anarchaia had screamed at her. “N-no! I couldn’t! He would never…”
Grimory rolls his eyes. “Just talk to him. It’s not like he’s the prince, or something.”
“Anduin?” Her face turns the brightest shade of red. “N-no, Thassarian is nothing like him.”
“We wouldn’t know.” Grimory gives a bored look.
Anarchaia’s smile turns sly. “Tell me, what have you heard about Prince Anduin?”
“I’m sure you’ve heard what they say?” she asks, her eyes wide with wonder.
The two shake their heads.
“It’s all true,” she whispers as though it’s a secret.
“So…you’ve met him?” Anarchaia asks.
She nods emphatically. “In the royal library. I dropped my book and he picked it up for me. And he didn’t look right through me, like you’d expect. He smiled right at me.”
Grimory’s eyelids lower and he deflates some. “So…you like underaged book worms more than strapping adventurers?”
“Nothing wrong with a book worm,” she replies quietly. “We had a nice conversation about the book, too. Turns out he was after that exact one.”
“Which book?” Anarchaia asked with genuine interest.
“Advanced Light for New Practitioners. I’d already read it, but I was borrowing it for my little sister.”
Koltira stomps into the room and crosses his arms over his chest. “Ten minutes. I’ve been waiting for ten minutes.”
Anarchaia jumps and the woman stares at her feet.
Grimory gives a sly grin. “Hey, this chick knows Thassarian. Serves him drinks every week at his favorite tavern. Right?”
The woman shrinks and cringes. “Excuse me!” She runs from the chamber and down the steps.
Koltira watches her go, an eyebrow raised. He turns to Grimory, his eyes narrowed. “There’s no barmaid at Thassarian’s favorite tavern.”