Niviene walked around the tiny flat, checking the doors and windows to be certain they were locked, fortifying the wards she’d placed around the apartment to insure that they were all safe inside.
She stepped into the bedroom the children shared, leaning over to brush a lock of golden hair from Korissa’s face then pull the blanket down to cover Banny’s feet. She smiled softly, realizing that the boy would be as tall as his father before long.
As she headed back to the living room she froze, her fingers curling into fists as she listened to footsteps coming up the stairs. She moved silently, reaching for the staff that was propped against a wall and waited, only breathing again as the person passed their door and continued down the hall.
She went to the window, peeking through the curtains to the road below, just as she had done every day since they’d arrived in Dalaran. The street was empty at this time of night, and she sighed as she let the curtain drop.
She sent fervent prayers to the Light for Bragh. She knew that something horrible had to have happened to him. It had to have. Otherwise he would have come for her himself. Wouldn’t he?
Braghaman and Erik turned onto the street with cloaks pulled tight against them. Quietly they made their way to the doorway of a building and then Erik stopped. Nodding to the paladin, he pointed to the hallway beyond and whispered something. Braghaman nodded.
“Thanks again, Erik,” Bragh said, shaking the rogue’s hand.
“I’ll stay down here and keep watch. I’ll head home tomorrow and arrange for more security afterwards.”
Braghaman ducked into the hallway and climbed the stairs. Finally he came to the door that Erik had told him. Leaning close, Bragh listened for movement inside and then knocked quietly.
Niviene woke with a start. She sat in the chair, not daring to move as she tried to determine what had woken her. Not that she had intended to sleep. You couldn’t very well keep watch if you slept.
She glanced around the apartment, her eyes settling on the door. She rose, drawn toward it, her heart racing but not with fear. He was there. She knew he was. But then she paused. These past months had made her see things that weren’t real. Revendreth was not an easy place, there were phantoms everywhere.
Cautiously Niviene stood at the door, her palms pressed against the cool wood as she leaned close and listened. Someone was there, she could hear movement, but there was no way to know who it was. Shaking her head the priestess grasped the handle and snatched the door open then stood, frozen in place, her eyes wide and hands trembling.
Braghaman slowly reached up and pulled the hood back off of his head.
“Hi, Angel. Sorry I’m late.”
Niviene blinked then smiled, the smile turning into giggles as she shook her head and stood aside, “Welcome home commander.”
Braghaman stepped through the door, closing it behind him, and then scooping Niviene up in a tight hug. The paladin spun around slowly with the priestess in the air and ignored the rest of the world for a few moments before saying anything else. Finally, he lifted his face out of her hair and spoke.
“Are you okay? Are the kids?”
Niviene nodded, half turning as she answered, “They’re sleeping, I can wake them for…”
Her words were cut off by an excited shriek as Korissa flew into the room, and straight to her father, “Daddy! Daddy you’re home!”
Braghaman stumbled slightly as the young girl latched onto his side. Catching his balance, he let go of Niviene with one arm and reached down to pat Korissa’s shoulder when he heard, “Dad!” Bragh looked up to see Banagan running out of the room and soon the four were caught up in a family hug.
“Sorry I left you guys alone for so long. Everyone alright?” Braghaman looked from one to the next to the next, trying to gauge how everyone was doing.
Niviene nodded, her eyes shining with unshed tears, “We are now.” she answered.
She stood on her toes and placed a quick kiss on Bragh’s cheek then pulled away from the group hug to look at her husband more fully. “Are you okay? You look thin. Well… thinner. Are you hungry?” She stepped back nervously, “I bet you’re hungry. I’ll just fix you something to eat.”
“I’m okay,” Bragh said, shaking his head with a smile. “I can get something in a little bit. How long have you three been here?”
Niviene frowned as she looked around the cramped apartment, made even smaller now that Bragh was here. Her husband was not a small man after all. “Only a few days, a week maybe. Veni found it for us and Erik made sure it was safe. Even so, we try to stay as quiet as possible and haven’t left since we got here.”
She turned toward a heavily curtained window and sighed, “I know the bishop is dead but… it’s not safe. I can feel it. Our troubles aren’t over yet.”
“We’ll be okay,” Braghaman replied with a reassuring smile. “We’ll figure out some other place that’s safe. We could always ask Drogar and the Meddlers for some help.” Braghaman reached down and ruffled Banagan’s hair. “Erik will bring some supplies in the morning. Hopefully he’ll have some information about what’s going on as well.”
Bragh gave Niv another hug and then looked down at the kids for a moment.
Niviene’s head came up sharply, “No!” she exhaled heavily and shook her head, “I don’t want to get anyone else involved. These are dangerous people and I would hate for anything to happen to the Meddlers or Drogar. No, it’s bad enough that Erik and Veni are involved.”
She looked down at the children, “Okay kiddos give your dad a good night kiss and get back to bed.”
Korissa looked up at Bragh, her eyes filled with fear, “Will you be here when we get up? You’re not going to go away again are you?”
Bragh smiled at Korissa. “I’ll still be here, don’t worry. In fact, I think I’m so tired that I may sleep in tomorrow. I’ll need you to make sure I wake up in time for breakfast. Okay?”
Korissa nodded enthusiastically, kissed Bragh’s cheek then kissed Niviene’s as she headed off to bed. Banny gave his father another hug and followed quickly behind his sister.
Once the kids were out of the room Niviene led Bragh to the sofa and snuggled up against him when he sat, basking in the feel of his arms around her once again. After a few moments she glanced up, her voice hushed so the children couldn’t hear, “Where were you? What happened?”
Braghaman closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the couch. He took a moment to just sit next to Niviene for a bit, feeling her eyes on him. Then finally, he nodded slightly.
“Erik had finally found you and came back to tell me. But before we could do anything, they had you moved. I tried to get the Cathedral to release you, but he didn’t care. Eventually, it all came out and they had to agree to let you leave.” Braghaman paused and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “We came through the portal to escort you home and we were attacked. There was an explosion and then I was falling. When I woke up, I was in that Maw place. I was caught and they held me prisoner. I still don’t know why or what they wanted,” he added quietly. “Erik said I was down there a few weeks, but I don’t know. Banagan found me and brought me back to Azeroth.” Braghaman leaned his head against Niviene’s and stopped talking.
She sat quietly for a moment, absorbing the enormity of his statement. Trapped in the Maw. She had heard talk of that place, it chilled her to the bone to think that he had been there, chained and unable to escape. Finally she curled her fingers around his, bringing his hand to her mouth as she kissed his knuckles, her voice catching slightly, “I am sorry that I brought you to that horrible fate. I… I don’t know what I did to get the bishop’s attention… I am sorry that you suffered so. And that the children were endangered because of me.”
She let go of his hand, folding her own neatly in her lap as she looked off into a distance that only she could see, “I knew that something horrible had to have happened to you when you didn’t come for me yourself. But… I never expected it to be… that.”
Braghaman opened his eyes a little and leaned over to kiss Niviene on the top of her head and then wrapped an arm around her and pulled the priestess in for a hug.
“Nothing for you to apologize for, Angel. That’s all on the bishop and no one else. You didn’t do anything. I’m just sorry that I couldn’t get you out of there quicker. I should have been more prepared, caused more trouble.” Braghaman paused and closed his eyes again. “We’re back together now and that’s all that matters.”
“Thank the Light for that. Being away from you… from the kids… it was torture.” she pulled away from his embrace, raising up to look into his eyes, “I want to go home Bragh. We have to make it safe to go back home.”
“We will. Once Erik comes by tomorrow, we can start to figure out where things stand. Then we can start making plans to secure the house. We can also ask Drogar if we need to. He might have something that we can use to make things safer.” Bragh stopped for a moment and reached over to take Niv’s hand and give it a squeeze. “Was there anything you were thinking of doing?”
Niviene shook her head, “Not yet. I haven’t been able to think about it. I was too worried about you. But now that you’re here and we’re all together again we have to figure it out. I’d rather not involve anyone new but if you think Drogar can help I trust your judgement.”
She straightened her shoulders and lifted her chin in defiance, “I will not let them separate us again.”