She wandered around the streets, looking in the shop windows, poking at some of the jewelry in the stalls. Æl said he would return in a few days, so she busied herself with looking at locations for the shop. She looked down at the list in her hand again, finding the third building on Anas’s list. Niqi stepped inside and looked around. It was the smallest she’d seen so far. She counted her paces from the window to the back room. Poking her head in that space, she smiled faintly. Well, I know why Anas likes this one. The store room was set up with a tall table and a small stove and sink. We could make tea and meals here and not have to leave the shop unattended for lunch.
Spotting a set of stairs, she climbed them to see what there was to offer. It seemed the previous owner lived up there and had left their furniture behind. She made a note of things they could sell off to recoup supply costs. Æl would like this one. It’s close to the road to the Dwarven District.
Making her way back down the steps, Niqi chuckled lightly. The location is good, and the little kitchen is nice. But it’s tiny! I think I’ll keep looking. She was so lost in her thoughts that she hadn’t noticed that a man had entered the main room. She walked right into him, causing her to yelp in surprise.
“Well now…who do we have here? One o’ them creepy little elf girls,” he sneered at her. “Looking for something to steal? Or a place to squat? You don’t belong in here…” The man was barrel chested, but not like Æl. He seemed to be naturally built that way, not particularly muscular. And he stank of old beer. Her eyes darkened, her senses warning her away from him. She started to step around when his hand snapped out and caught her arm. “I asked you questions girly.”
“I’m…I’m just….looking at places to set…set up…” she pulled hard against his grip, to no avail. Her eyes shifted fully purple as the voices came crashing into her ears. Her long tendrils writhed in her panic.
“What’s that? Set up what now?”
“Please, you’re hurting me…” she whimpered.
The human flashed her a creepy grin, the right side of his mouth curling up ahead of the left. “You filthy little Horde spies don’t belong here. I don’t pay no mind to what anyone say about you being good. Only one thing you’re good for,” he growled.
Grabbing the front of her dress he tore it free to the waist and she screamed. Her hands launched forward, terror fully taking control of her actions. As she did so, she felt an odd, almost cold sensation form around her fingers.
“No! Get away from me!” She cried out, but the man’s face had shifted in confusion. His skin start to bubble slightly, dark spots appearing all over his hands and arms.
“The fel did you do to me, you little whore!” He grabbed both of her arms and pushed her back, slamming her into the wall. He helped himself to a rough handful before grasping more of her dress to tear away.
The voices in her head grew louder and louder, urging her to give in. Niqi’s breath was forced from her as she hit the wood panels hard. His fingers on her skin pushed her to the edge. “No!” She shrieked as a thick bolt of swirling black and purple flew out from her hands.
The large man froze, his eyes bulging in pain. He released her from his grip, dropping her down to the floor. He gasped and writhed in agony. His mouth opened up to a soundless scream as he fell to the ground. He started to crawl away from her, managing a few feeble feet before collapsing on the steps.
Niqi covered herself the best she was able and ran. Niqi ran through the streets, heedless of the people staring. She held the tatters of her gown to her chest, tears running down her cheeks. She stumbled into the Mage Quarter and crawled into one of the little grassy areas under the raised walkways. She frantically dug around her bag for the rune stone. Finding it, she jammed her thumb against it and cried out “Anas! Anas…help me..” Her words faded out as she devolved into openly sobbing.
Mehe was carefully pruning the bloodthistle when Goldeneyes stepped out, wearing a confused look. “What’s this?” he asked, holding up a glowing runestone. “I heard a voice from it asking for Anas.”
Sounding all the more frantic, her voice came through again. “Anas…please…please help me…” she choked out between her sobs.
Dropping the pruning shears, Mehe leapt to his feet. “It’s Niqi,” he said, holding a hand out. “Quick, give it here.” The Sin’dorei handed it over, still looking bewildered. Mehe raced past him into the house, heading for the room he shared with Anas. His mate was still asleep, his face exhausted. Picking up Anas’s hand, Mehe pressed the Kaldorei’s thumb to the rune before saying urgently, “Niqi, it’s Mehe. What’s wrong?” Anas shifted slightly but did not wake.
“Mehe? Mehe … a man… he tried to…tried to… “ she gasped for air. “I think…Mehe, I think I killed him. And Æl’s gone…I don’t…”
“What’s going on?” Goldeneyes asked from the doorway.
“She’s in trouble.” Mehe glanced at his taloned finger. “Where are you now? I’ll come and get you.”
Niqi looked around a moment, trying to get her bearings. “In the Mage Quarter. Near the…the Slaughtered Lamb. Under…under the…” She fought back a few sobs, “under the path to…the shops here.”
He nodded. “I’ll be there in a moment. Don’t go anywhere.”
“Who’s this Niqi?” Goldeneyes asked, frowning. “Is it safe to have her near Anas while he’s like this?”
“It’s safe, she’s his sister.” Mehe placed the runestone on the bed before raising his taloned finger. He drew it down in a straight line, tearing a rift into the Void. “I’ll be back in a minute,” he said to a bemused Goldeneyes before stepping through.
“Mehe? Who’s there? Who are you…where’s Anas?” She curled into a tight ball, her tendrils flailing and twisting desperately.
A dark line split the air before her, pulling open to reveal a Void rift. Mehe emerged a moment later, looking around sharply. Spotting Niqi, he ran to her side and knelt by her. “Are you hurt?” he asked at once.
She looked up at him, purple eyes wide in terror. “I…I don’t think…” she started to move towards him a little, the ruined dress falling forward. She yanked it back up, flushing deep purple.
Mehe’s eyes darkened with anger. “Come,” he said. “I’ll take you back to the cottage. We’ll see to you there.” He scooped Niqi up carefully into his arms. She clung to him, shaking at the contact. She nodded and buried her face into his neck. Holding her close, Mehe stepped through the rift back into the cottage.