“Get one of my spare shirts,” he said to Goldeneyes, who was peering at Niqi through narrowed eyes. The Sin’dorei nodded and stepped back, allowing Mehe to carry Niqi to the guest room. He left the room without a word. Niqi gasped as the air shifted between the two spaces. She tried to look up a little, her messy hair falling into her face.
“Anas is asleep,” Mehe said, carefully setting Niqi on the bed. “I’ll tell him you’re here once he wakes.”
Niqi nodded, not fully comprehending. She curled in, making herself as small as possible. “Oh Light….”
There was a soft rap at the door. Goldeneyes stood there with a neatly folded shirt and a pair of pants. “Figured she’d need those too,” he said. He held them out to Mehe, his eyes slightly narrowed on the girl.
Mehe accepted them with a nod of thanks. He turned back to Niqi. “My clothes are probably going to be a bit loose, but it’s all we have right now that’s close enough to your size. I’ll step outside so that you can change.” Placing the shirt and pants beside her, he stepped back a bit.
Goldeneyes watched from the door, his expression carefully guarded. Niqi looked up at Mehe and then over to the door. Her eyes went fully round. She pointed at Goldeneyes then Mehe, her mouth working for a moment before she managed to speak. “He’s…you…but…” She swallowed hard. “Mehe? What is happening?” She pulled away crawling backwards towards the headboard.
“It’s a long story.” Mehe grimaced. “I’ll explain after you’re dressed, but he means no harm.”
“I’ll see if Anas needs anything,” Goldeneyes said, stepping away.
She kept staring at the now empty doorway. She nodded very slowly, her shaking hands starting to pull on the lacing of her dress. Mehe watched her for a moment before sighing. “Do you need help?” he offered. “Or would you prefer that I wait outside?”
“I can…I can get it,” she sobbed. She flushed. Her face had started to get puffy from crying, she turned her back to him, letting the ruined top of her dress fall to the bed, revealing a growing patch of dark purple bruises.
Mehe frowned at the injury. He turned to the nearby cupboard, picking out a jar of ointment. “Here. For your back. I’ll help you put it on if you want.”
“For..my back?” She peered over her shoulder at first sounding confused, but wincing in alarm as the attempt pinched at the damage.
“Hold still.” He removed the lid of the jar. Stepping closer, he smeared the ointment carefully over the mottled skin. “There,” he said, replacing the lid. “It’ll help with the pain and the bruising.”
“Thank you,” she whispered.
He nodded. “I’ll let you change,” he said, replacing the jar in the cupboard before stepping out and closing the door behind him.
She slowly managed to change her clothes, softly sobbing through the process. Once she finished, Niqi looked around the room. She found a small wash bowl and rinsed off her face. She had to hold his pants up to stop them from falling as she walked.
Mehe knocked the door softly. “Everything okay in there?”
“Come in,” she whispered. She had settled down onto the edge of the bed, her arms wrapped tight around herself.
Mehe pushed the door open, a mug of steaming tea in his hands as he glanced her over. “Could you get her a belt?” he called to Goldeneyes before stepping inside and sitting down beside her. “Here,” he said, offering her the mug.
She looked down at it a moment before reaching out to accept it. “Thank you,” she said dully. Taking a sip, she swallowed with effort. After a few more, her mouth and throat no longer felt like sand.
“What happened?” he asked. “Were you attacked?”
Niqi nodded slowly. “Yes…a man…he…came in…” she shook her head to focus. “I was looking at one of the shop options.”
“The ones Anas suggested?” Mehe frowned.
“Yes,” she whispered. “The one along the canal. Near Old Town”
He nodded. “Go on.”
“I..I came down the stairs and he…was there. He…called me a spy…” her eyes started to darken again, whispers ringing in her ears. Setting the mug down, she curled back in on herself. Her tendrils writhed around each other, twisting into tight balls.
“Niqi?” Anas’s voice called weakly from the other room.
“Anas?” She cried out his name, standing quickly. She tripped a little on the pants and started to stumble to the door.
Mehe stood at once, taking her arm. “Easy,” he murmured, steering her to the other bedroom.
Anas was awake, his tired silver eyes fixed on Niqi. “Little one,” he whispered, extending a hand towards her. Goldeneyes, who had been seated beside him, stood up and moved back to make room.
“Oh Anas! What happened?” She moved to him, her purple eyes searching his face. She clasped his hand.
“Trouble sleeping,” he said, slowly sitting up in bed. “But nevermind that. What’s wrong, Niqi? Will you tell me about it?” She crawled up on the bed, curling into him and wept. Anas wrapped his arms around her gently, stroking her hair. “What happened?” he asked, glancing at Mehe.
“She was attacked,” Mehe said grimIy.
“I…I think….I think I killed him, Anas…I think I killed somebody!”
“Killed?” Anas tipped her chin up, peering at her in concern. “Was it the person who attacked you?”
“Yes…he tried to…he said I was only good for one…one thing…” She started crying harder, pulling at the front of her shirt.
Anas’s expression grew thunderous. “Where is he now?” he asked softly. The shadows in the room seemed to darken, stretching towards him. Goldeneyes took a step back, his brow creased with worry.
“I…I left him…” she choked out. “On the steps.”
Mehe nodded. “I’ll go check,” he said before ripping open a portal and stepping through.
“Did he hurt you?” Anas asked quietly. The shadows did not retreat. Even the late afternoon sunlight streaming in from the window appeared muffled.
She gingerly touched her arm. “He grabbed me…tore my dress from…. I felt my fingers grow cold…” she shivered. “And he pushed me against the wall and then he….he…”
Anas bared his fangs. “He’d better be dead,” he growled. “Else, he’d wish he were once I get my hands on him.”
“Anas…I…something came out of me. It was so cold…,” she shivered. And shivered again, her whole body shaking. Her voice fell away, as she gasped for air.
Anas took a deep breath, reining in his anger. The room brightened once more as he stroked Niqi’s hair reassuringly. “It’s okay, little one. Breathe. Mehe and I will keep you safe.”
She swallow air hard, trying to calm herself. Her eyes flicked to Goldeneyes, suddenly remembering his presence. “Wait…you…” She looked to Anas. “Is he…the one you saw?”
Anas glanced over at Goldeneyes. “Yes,” he said. “This is Meheaaris from… another time and place.”
“Do I know you?” the Sin’dorei asked, peering at Niqi. “You look somewhat familiar.”
Niqi pulled away from Anas very slightly. “I don’t think so… my name is Niquisse Greythorn. I only just met Mehe recently.” Her tendrils twisted and curled upward as she studied the Sin’dorei’s face. “So this…this is what Mehe looked like before?”
Goldeneyes snorted, gesturing at the grey in his hair. “If he was five centuries older and hadn’t turned into a Ren’dorei, then maybe.” He frowned. “Another Greythorn eh? Bloody hell, seems I can’t escape you people even in this time.”
Niqi looked thoroughly confused. “What do you mean? There’s only two of us….”
He raised an eyebrow. “Really? There are lots of you over where I’m from. Who doesn’t know the Greythorns? They’re the most powerful family in all of Quel’thalas.” He scowled.
Niqi’s eyes dimmed. “That must be nice.”
“Nice? Hah!” he scoffed. “I’ve never known a more arrogant, unpleasant bunch. Always looking to bloody profit off the suffering of others.” Niqi burst into tears, curling in beside Anas.
Anas cuddled her close. “That’s enough, Meheaaris,” he said firmly. “Can’t you see she’s already upset? Most of her family is gone.”
“Good bloody riddance,” the Sin’dorei spat.
“But…we…I…” Niqi pulled away, trying to flee the room, only to be gently stopped by Anas’s hand on her shoulder.
Anas glared at the Sin’dorei. “Leave. You’re only making this worse.” Goldeneyes’s lips thinned. He stepped out of the room without another word, closing the door behind him.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she whispered.
He stroked her hair gently, kissing her forehead. “It’s okay, little one. I’m here.” He sighed, glancing at the door. “Meheaaris Goldeneyes is… familiar, yet so different from the Mehe I know.”
She choked back her tears, trying to understand. “We aren’t like that…”
“I know, little one.” Anas’s gaze seemed to turn inward. “His world is not exactly like ours. The events didn’t necessarily happen the same way as we know. For instance, it seems I died in the Burning after saving Sheronda.”
“Oh Anas….” She hugged him tightly. “Was he with that version of you?” She looked at the door. “I shouldn’t have bothered you all. I’m sorry. I should….I should go.” Anas opened his mouth to respond, only for a rift portal to materialize before them.
A very grim looking Mehe appeared from it, his shadowy dagger vanishing from his hand. “I checked the whole place up and down.” He waved a hand and the portal snapped shut. “The man who attacked Niqi. He’s gone.”