Tension and Release, Part 3

Back out on the Cathedral steps, concurrent with Part 2

Mehe sighed as his mate hastened into the Cathedral. “He won’t come to harm in there?” he asked quietly.

Tindomiel offered him a gentle smile. “No. He will be perfectly safe.  And I really do apologize for what happened. Eliân…has almost no trace of compassion. She is difficult at times, but exceptionally skilled.”

“It’s one thing if she attacked just me. But never Anas.” He glared at Sutrakarre. “If he hadn’t gotten in the way, I’d have killed her for that.”

“From what Anas just said, it sounds like the two of you were pushing each other in that direction.” She lowered her head into her shaking hands.

“Well, how am I supposed to take the word of a woman who could’ve bloody kidnapped Niqi from the shop for all I knew? Or trust her damn friend over there.”

“You shouldn’t. She handled it badly,” she said quietly. “But that man there? You don’t find more genuine people around than him. If not for Sutrakarre, my niece would be dead.”

“Hmm.” Mehe shook his head stubbornly. “I still don’t think we should linger in Stormwind.”

The pale Kaldorei raised her head slowly. “No. You probably shouldn’t.” She reached into her pouch and withdrew a key. “But you could do something for me and get away from the city at the same time if you like.”

“What do you mean?” He eyed the key.

“I purchased a small cottage out in Elwynn. My hope was to fix it up and offer it to Niqi and Ælithil. It’s nothing big, and it needs work. But it seems that I cannot focus on that right now.” She offered a small smile. “You and Anas can stay there if you will work on the repairs needed.” She looked up at Sutrakarre. “Thank you for saving their lives.”

Sutrakarre nodded gravely, then pointed at Mehe, saying, “Eli saved his life. He shows no gratitude.”

Mehe arched an eyebrow at the Draenei man. “Oh, really? Between her dragging Niqi away and throwing bloody daggers at my mate, I see no reason for gratitude.”

“Tiny purple man understand nothing.” Turning to Tindomiel, Sutrakarre explained, “This one going to infirmary.  To sneak in. Eli warn him away, keep him from getting self killed.” Whirling back on the void elf, he went on, angrily, “Tiny man go in there, tiny man die. Nothing he can do prevent it, but pride blinds.”

Mehe’s eyes narrowed in irritation. “Tell me, if someone ran in and dragged Tindo here off somewhere without so much as a damn ‘by your leave’, are you immediately going to take said person’s word not to go after her?”

“Nee-kee in danger. Eli acting on orders. Doing job.” Sutrakarre jabbed a finger towards the void elf, adding, “Tiny man pretends baseless suspicion is concern for friend. Tiny man lies.”

“Baseless suspicion?” Mehe appeared genuinely puzzled at this accusation. “If you’d trust a kidnapper, then you’re a bloody fool. Besides, I wasn’t even doing it for her.” He glanced towards the Cathedral, where Anas had disappeared within.

Sutrakarre just stared at the void elf for a moment, before turning to Tindomiel and saying, “Strange choices in friends you make.” With a final glare at Mehe, he turned and stomped away.

Mehe shook his head, bemused. “Trust the kidnapper. What’s next? Hand out flowers to Sargeras?” Sutrakarre continued to the infirmary, ignoring the void elf entirely. Mehe shrugged before turning back to Tindo. “I’ll have to discuss your offer with Anas.”

Tindomiel nodded. “Please do. It would allow him to work as needed, but provide a measure of peace.” She frowned deeply, “Mehe, we do need to discuss what happened today.”

He arched an eyebrow at her. “What about it?”

She sighed heavily. “I know you aren’t used to working this way. But when it comes to our House, you can’t just charge in. You have to work with us. Even when it seems dire. There’s a lot in play right now.”

“How am I supposed to know that bloody woman was with your House?” he demanded. “You can’t expect me to believe anyone who says that without proof.”

Tindo held up a hand. “Not her. Niqi.” She patted the step next to her. “Will you sit? I can try to explain what is going on and how to make sense of all of this.” He hesitated before taking a seat beside her. She took a breath. “Let’s start with what happened. Kalimè was assaulted yesterday on the cliffs overlooking the harbor. From what she said and what clues we have, someone from our past has come back to cause us harm. Three Kaldorei men beat her and threw her off the cliff. They knew her routines.”

Mehe’s brow furrowed. “They must’ve been observing her for some time then,” he said.

Tindomiel nodded. “That’s what we suspect. She had a note tied to her broken hand. It indicated she is only the first target. So we went and gathered Ælithil and brought him back.”

He nodded. It makes sense. I would’ve done the same.

“He went to his sister, but we had to put her back into a healing sleep because she is in so much pain. So he went to the Chapel to pray. Eli and Este realized they might be watching the Chapel. So Eli came to gather him to the infirmary for safety. That’s when he noticed Niqi wasn’t here with the family. That no one had gotten her.” She shook her head, angry with herself for that.

“So he sent that woman.” Mehe grimaced, his countenance darkening.

“He tried to go himself, but his kit wasn’t with him. She tried to stop him from leaving. He told her that if she didn’t return with Niqi immediately, he would go himself.” She shook her head. “He made a poor choice, but there is a good chance they could have harmed Niqi to draw him out.”

“Well, for someone who thinks she’s so damn skilled, she did a bad job of bringing her quietly. Unless it was her intention to make it look like she was bloody kidnapping her and alert half of Stormwind in the process.”

Tindomiel nodded, conceding the point. “She’s an assassin. That is her job. Killing people and getting out. She is not suited to something like this. She lacks the ability to feel most emotions, so it never occurred to her to consider them. As she saw it, her job was ‘get the girl and get her here’ and that was it.” She sounded almost exasperated with it.

“Hmm.” Mehe shook his head, wearing a stony expression.

“Talk to me, Mehe.”

“What more is there to say? I don’t give a damn if she attacked me to prove a point, but not Anas. Never Anas.” His tendrils twitched jerkily, responding to his anger.

Tindo winced hard. “What exactly did she do? What prompted it?”

“She seems to think she could kill me. She, who can’t even carry out a damn escort mission properly. I would’ve told her that, but Anas interrupted me.” He shook his head again, his tone growing icy. “Anas wanted no quarrel with her or her Draenei friend. He just wanted us to leave. But she bloody attacked him.”

“She just attacked him? Completely unprovoked?” Tindomiel scowled. “That doesn’t sound like something she would do.” She rubbed her temples, her hands still visibly shaking. “I do not know what your skills are like, beyond the Void. But I can assure you, she is very deadly when given free rein to do so.”

Mehe glanced away. “I might have called her incompetent,” he muttered, the realisation making him angry with himself as well now.

Tindo picked her head up, surprised. “Mehe…why would you say such a thing in a volatile situation?”

“I didn’t think she’d attack him,” he said, his tendrils twisting.

“So she attacked him? What did she do?”

“Threw a dagger at him. Cut some of his hair off.” He touched his severed lock of hair. “Did the same to me, but that’s not the point.”

“So she precision cut hair. From both of you,” she replied pointedly.

“I’m not impressed,” he said mulishly though his thoughts were regretful. Anas was right. I should’ve just listened to him.

“Hmm,” was all she said, a little smile on her lips.

He glanced at her. “What are you smiling at?”

“Because you know you made a mistake. And even if you aren’t speaking it, it still means something.” She gingerly placed a hand on his shoulder. “You aren’t alone Mehe. You just need to remember that in the moment.”

“Will Anas still be in danger from her?” he asked quietly.

“Eliân? No. He never was. She has very specific orders that she is not to harm anyone unless she has direct instructions. Or if someone in the House would die if she didn’t act.” Tindomiel shook her head. “Eliân will say and behave as needed to accomplish her task. But she would not actually hurt an innocent person. Her threats are usually to get people to back off. She has an odd sense of justice. Woe betide someone who is actively cruel. Those she will not hesitate on. Her misjudging someone to be kind and letting them live is why we are in this mess.”

He sighed. “As long as he comes to no harm, that’s good enough for me.”

“He will not come to harm by anyone in this House.”  She offered him a gentle smile, a single tear escaping and rolling down her cheek. She wiped it away quickly to avoid causing him discomfort. “I will ask you, in the future, if you or Anas witness something happening to someone in our House, that you contact us. Please, do not put yourselves in danger.”

“Why are you crying?” he asked, taken aback.

“It has been a very difficult couple of days. Please, forgive me. I know you do not care for this.” She turned away from him a moment, taking a couple of deep breaths to pull herself back in.  “I was worried I was losing friends because of Eliân’s recklessness.”

“Hmm.” Mehe glanced up at the sound of footsteps to see Anas emerging from the Cathedral wearing a smile.

Tindo looked up and released a sigh of relief. “See? He is well,” she indicated to Anas as she turned to face Mehe. “I do hope my word is worth at least a little.”

Mehe nodded. “I’ll remember,” he said.

Anas’s spotted them and came over. “We can’t leave Stormwind, Mehe,” he said immediately. “This has all just been a big misunderstanding.” Tindo looked between the two men, waiting to see how this played out.

Mehe sighed before nodding again. “You were right. As usual. I’m sorry.”

Anas blinked, surprised. He glanced at Tindo. “You explained it to him?”

“I did. Some of it. And we talked about some other things too.” She nodded towards Mehe before turning her gaze to the tall Kaldorei. “Did you get to speak with Niquisse?”

Anas nodded. “She’s really upset, poor girl. I hope I managed to cheer her up a little.”

“Hmm. I’ll see if I can help. She doesn’t know how things can be with us. It takes some adjustment.” Tindo started to stand, shaking a bit.

Mehe rose as well. “Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked, noticing her trembling.

“Is something wrong?” Anas stepped closer, concern written all over his face.

Tindo reached out a hand, trying to steady herself. “Two days of intense healing…no, I think I’ll sit,” she dropped back down onto the step. “Sutrakarre took the brunt of the work, trying to keep Kalimè alive. I did as much as I could on my turns.” She held the edge of the step and closed her eyes. “I need to find some food for everyone. And get back in there. I have to take a turn again soon.”

“Let’s get you something,” Anas offered.

“You need to get back to work,” Mehe said firmly. “I’ll do it.”

“It’s fine. I’ll manage. You two need to talk.” She waved them off. “We have caused enough trouble for you today.”

Anas frowned. “Are you sure?”

“It won’t be any trouble.” Mehe glanced at Anas. “Go on. Don’t want Wynne to start yelling again.”

“Mehe, it’s fine. I just need to rest a moment.” She looked at Anas. “Go, before you get in trouble.” She bowed her head to him. “Elune be with you, Anas. Thank you for talking with Niquisse. Mehe, thank you for listening.”

Anas returned the bow. “Elune be with you, Tindo.” He glanced at Mehe. “I’ll see you later,” he said before walking briskly towards the Mage Quarter.

Mehe nodded before looking at Tindo. “Sure you don’t want even a cup of tea?”

“I would love one. After I have made sure everyone else has eaten. And Kali is safe. I cannot take the time…” she shook her head.

“If you don’t take the time and fall ill, there won’t be anyone to look after everyone else,” he pointed out.

She looked up at him. “It’s what I do. I have to.” She braced herself on the wall and rose to her feet. Pitching forward a moment, she gripped her nails into the stone. “Maybe one cup of tea…”

Mehe reached out automatically to steady her. “Come. I’ll help you,” he said.

She tipped her head to the side, surprised, but grateful. “Thank you, Mehe. I think…” she rubbed her face with her other hand. “I think the closest place is the Recluse. For food and tea. I don’t know if they have tea in the Dwarven District.” She reached for his hand to descend the steps.

He took her hand, peering up at her in concern. His tendrils reached out reflexively, coiling around her arm. “The Recluse it is then,” he said before carefully leading her down the steps.