Niqi’s eyes flashed a moment before going nearly black. She climbed off the bed without a word. You aren’t safe, useless girl. The sinister voices hissed at her. He’s going to find you and finish what he started. Her whole body began to shake as she scrambled backwards, wedging herself into the corner. Her breath came faster and faster, terror ripping through her.
“What are the chances they’d find her here?” Anas slipped off the bed, stepping towards Niqi.
Mehe shook his head. “Slim. Trying to trace void rift portals is almost impossible. They’d have to deal with infinite possibilities where the portal could be headed.”
Anas knelt by Niqi, placing a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay, little one. We’ll keep you safe here.”
Mehe frowned before stepping towards the wardrobe and pulling out a belt. “Here,” he said, holding it out to Niqi. “Goldeneyes must’ve forgot.”
Niqi reached out, not really looking. “He…he’s gonna…” she gasped in air faster and faster. Her eyes flared again before dimming as she fell limp to her side, crumpling on the floor.
“Niqi? Niqi!” Anas cried, shaking her shoulder.
Mehe peered at her, lowering the belt. “I think she’s fainted, dear one.” Anas sighed deeply. He carefully gathered Niqi into his arms before straightening. He wobbled slightly until Mehe placed a steadying hand against his back. “I’ll get her fiancé a message,” the Ren’dorei man said. “You need to rest and Goldeneyes will be too conspicuous.”
“Yes, my love. Thank you.” Anas carried Niqi to the bed before laying her down gently. “My poor little sister,” he murmured sadly, stroking her hair.
Niqi shifted slowly, her eyes fluttering open. “Anas?” She cried out softly.
“I’m here.” He took her hands gently. “Are you okay, little one?”
“I don’t feel well,” she whispered.
“Do you want a glass of water?” Anas peered at her in concern.
She looked up at his exhausted face. “I…just…will you stay with me? Please?” What little color was normally present in her face had drained away. “I’m scared…”
He nodded, sitting on the bed beside her before hugging her close. “Mehe will tell Ælithil about what’s happened.”
“Where can I find him?” Mehe asked.
She clung to Anas, shivering. “He said he would be gone a couple of days. He was looking for one of the family members. But..” she took a few choking breaths. “They’re on Kul Tiras. He said he would be back tomorrow.” She looked around. “I-I’m in the way. I’ll go home. I’m sorry…”
Anas shook his head, his expression pained. “Please, Niqi. Stay until Ælithil or anyone from the House arrives. If you were out there alone and something happened to you…” He trailed off, squeezing his eyes shut.
Mehe stepped closer, his tendrils curling gently over Anas’s shoulder. “I’ll find him tomorrow then. Will he be in Stormwind?”
“Are…are you…” she tried to sit up, nearly falling from the bed as her head started to spin. Mehe’s hand came out and caught her, easing her back. “I’m sorry! I’ll…I will try not…to be trouble.” She looked at her rescuer and nodded. “He always comes to the shop at closing time.”
“You’re no trouble at all,” Mehe said. “I’ll meet him there tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Mehe,” she whispered. “Am I? Oh Light, I’m in…this is your bed!” She started to push herself up again. “I’m sorry!”
“You’ve done nothing wrong, little one.” Anas smiled at her tiredly. “I couldn’t leave you on the floor.”
She studied his face. “You need rest…” she shivered hard. She hugged him hard and pushed herself towards the edge of the bed. “I’m ok on the floor.” Sliding down, she set her feet on the floor and stood carefully.
Anas threw Mehe an unhappy glance. “I’d rather she didn’t sleep on the floor.”
Mehe sighed. “We don’t have enough room here, dear one.”
Niqi held the pants to her. “I’ll…I’ll be ok. I can sleep in the other room. I don’t want to disturb anyone.” She started to cross to the door, trembling.
“Niqi, wait.” Anas rose, gently unwrapping Mehe’s tendrils from around his shoulder. Stepping to the cupboard, he pulled out a thick blanket and a pillow. He made to hand it over, but stumbled, almost falling.
She turned, her eyes going wide. “Anas!!” She ran to him, tripping over the pants. “Anas, what’s wrong? Mehe?” Her eyes were wide, scared for her brother.
Anas righted himself, taking a deep breath. “It’s okay, little one. I’m just tired.”
“And you need to rest.” Mehe took the blanket and pillow from him. “Go on. I’ll see to Niqi.”
“What’s going on?” Niqi hugged Anas tightly. “You need to lay down,” she instructed. She nudged him to to bed, trying not to fall herself. “Anas, are you going to be ok?” Her eyes filled with tears.
Anas chuckled, sitting on the mattress. “I’ll be okay,” he said reassuringly. “Just had a bad run in with a few tidesages.”
“Bad run in? Did they hurt you?” Fat tears rolled down her cheeks. “You’re taking care of me and you…”
“Don’t cry, little one,” Anas murmured, gently brushing her tears away. “They didn’t hurt me in any lasting way.”
Niqi choked it back, trying hard to put on a brave face for him, though she didn’t quite manage it. She reached up and pushed a lock of his hair back from his face. “I’ll let you rest. I…I will…” she swallowed hard. “Be right out there…if you…” she nodded and turned to the door.
“Niqi?” Anas extended his arms towards her, offering a hug. “I’m glad you’re safe now, little one.”
She turned to him, moving into his open arms. She wrapped her arms about his shoulders and took a few catching breaths. “I’m so sorry…I didn’t know. Rest big brother.” She kissed his forehead and stepped back. She turned away, not wanting him to see the fear behind her eyes. “Rest.” She wobbled out of the room.
Mehe followed her out, still carrying the pillow and blanket. “We don’t have another bed right now, but the blanket should be thick enough that you’ll be more comfortable.”
“It’s more than I deserve,” came her quiet voice, echoing the whispers in her mind.
He shook his head. “That’s not true. You deserve the best things, Niqi.” He sighed. “I know how loud the whispers can be. But trust me. I will keep you safe as long as you’re here.”
“Thank you,” she murmured. “Where…where will I be out of…” She sniffled, hugging her arms around herself uncomfortably. “Out of the way?”
Before Mehe could respond, the door to the guest room opened. Goldeneyes stepped out. He glanced over Niqi without expression before addressing Mehe. “Send me back.”
Mehe frowned. He stepped between Niqi and Goldeneyes. “You know how damn risky it is. You could end up somewhere or sometime else entirely.”
The Sin’dorei shook his head stubbornly. “I don’t belong here.”
Niqi looked back and forth between the two men. She swallowed hard before squeaking out. “You don’t have to leave because of me.”
The Sin’dorei turned his gaze on her. “Don’t flatter yourself,” he said flatly before returning his attention to Mehe. “My home is left unattended to. My garden.”
“I’m sorry,” Niqi whimpered and wandered to the back door. She stepped outside and sat on the steps, staring at the bloodthistles as they swayed in the evening breeze. Listening quietly, she tugged on her long ears, trying to ignore the whispers.
Mehe glanced after Niqi, his brow creasing with worry. “I’ll do it, but you need to be patient. Let me figure out how to send you back to your own world instead of accidentally sending you elsewhere.”
“How long must I be bloody patient?!” Goldeneyes hissed. “I’m not young like you. I don’t have much time left. I’ll be damned if I have to live out the rest of my days like this!” Niqi flinched, turning to watch them, her eyes wide, purple.
Mehe took a deep breath before letting it out slowly. “All in good time,” he said firmly.
Goldeneyes shook his head angrily. “I’m going to the garden,” he growled before stalking out past Niqi.
Niqi cried out a little in fear as he stormed past her. She went a little blank in the face before bending over and emptying her stomach onto the ground. “Oh gods… I’m so sorry…”
Mehe set the pillow, blanket and belt down in a nearby chair. He was beside her in two long strides, hesitantly brushing her hair back from her face. “Never mind that. Are you okay?”
She nodded jerkily. Sniffling, she straightened a bit. “I think so.” Her voice quivered. “I think I should lay down.” She started shivering as she stepped back inside the house before casting a glance toward Goldeneyes. “This can’t be easy. For any of you.”
“It isn’t,” Mehe agreed. He touched her arm gently. “I’ll get you a glass of water to rinse your mouth out if you want.”
“Please,” she covered her mouth, embarrassed. “I’m so sorry, Mehe.”
“It’s okay.” He steered her to the kitchen sink before filling a glass and holding it out to her. “I’ll be right back. Let me get your blanket and pillow in order.”
She reached out and took it, nodding her thanks. “You don’t have to do that. Just…just show me where I will be out of everyone’s way.”
“No,” he said firmly. “I’d be damned if I let Anas’s sister and my future sister-in-law sleep in discomfort in my own home. If I can make it better for you, I will.”
Niqi shrunk back a little. “I…I’m sorry…Thank you.”
He sighed. “No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I’ll go see to your sleeping arrangements.” He turned to leave. She nodded and took a sip of the water, swishing it around and spitting it into the sink. She repeated this a couple of time before drinking some water properly. She found her way to the table and sat down to wait. Mehe appeared at the door a few minutes later. “It’s not much, but it should be a little more comfortable.” He pointed at where he had folded the blanket into something that resembled a sleeping bag.
Not thinking, Niqi slid from the chair and hugged him. Mehe tensed in surprise. He relaxed slightly before awkwardly patting her back. “I’m sorry we couldn’t offer you another bed.”
“Oh…I…I forgot,” she winced as she released him. “It’s all right. Thank you. For the, ummm, blanket pad thing.”
“You’re welcome.” Mehe nodded. “If you need anything, just call for me.”
“Good night, Mehe,” she whispered. “Will you, will you give Anas a hug from me?”
A small smile touched his lips. “Of course I will.”
She curtsied to him awkwardly and made her way over to the sleeping space he had created. She slipped off her shoes and set them aside. Lifting the upper section of blanket, she wiggled in and curled into a ball, her tendrils wrapping around her as well. Mehe knelt beside her, tucking her in. He left the belt coiled up beside her before straightening and heading away to check on Anas. Niqi waited until she heard his footsteps move away before releasing the breath she had been holding and cried herself to sleep.