Mathias entered the small flat in Old Town, the one with the door marked number seven and without a bell, his arms laden with warm packages from the Oink and Squeak. He was feeling a bit weary after a long day in his office, finalizing instructions and missives to be carried out in his absence, briefing Shiv on what needed immediate attention and pouring over their itinerary. The inspection trip was going to take several weeks, and he wanted it to go as smoothly as possible.
“I brought back dinner,” he said softly, placing the packages on the table before stretching, a loud pop cracking from his shoulder joint. As he began to unbuckle his pauldrons, he regarded the other man sitting at his small kitchen table, nose in a book, face screwed up in confusion and cradling a glass of what he could assume was whiskey against his temple. “Flynn?”
The captain startled, looking up at him and blinking owlishly. “What time is it?” Fairwind asked blearily, closing the book and draining his glass. Mathias couldn’t help but notice the grey pallor to his skin as the captain refilled his drink.
“It’s half past the seventh bell,” the spymaster replied cautiously, his eyes flicking down to the book. “Are you still reading that book I gave you?” he asked as he crossed to the sink and pulled down plates from the cabinet above, setting about dividing up beer-braised sausages and fried potatoes.
“Oh, mate,” Flynn groaned, “I’ve read it. And I read it last night. And the night before that, and the night before that.”
Mathias’ eyebrows rose in surprise. “Is it that good?”
The captain grew quiet, staring at the bronze leaf on the cover, clearly lost in thought. “I have to ask, mate,” he began, “why exactly did you think I’d like this book?”
“I’ve only ever seen you read those Steamy Romance novels, to be honest, and this one came recommended by my bookdealer.”
“So…” Flynn clicked his jaw. “You have no idea what this book is about.”
“Not really, no,” Mathias admitted. “My tastes tend to run towards mysteries and high fantasy.”
“Yeah, I’ve seen your bookshelf, mate,” Flynn retorted, popping a piece of fried potato into his mouth. “I’m not necessarily surprised.”
Shaw blew out a breath. “I apologize if I miscalcu--”
Flynn cut him off by grabbing his hand and squeezing. “No, mate. I’m not offended,” he amended. “I just didn’t think you had this in you.” He held the book up and gave it a little wave. “This shit is positively filthy.”
Mathias furrowed his brow. “Dare I ask?”
The captain raised an eyebrow and curled his lips. He moved his plate to the side and placed the book in front of him, opening it to a random page towards the beginning. He made a show of clearing his throat.
“The spy,” he began, “that’s you, by the by--”
“Why does it have to be me?” Shaw protested, taking a bite of sausage. “Why can’t you just read the characters written in the book?”
“Because where’s the fun in that?” Flynn groused. “And you spent your pretty coin on… whatever the fuck this is, so you’re going to suffer through it the way I read it.”
The spymaster rolled his eyes and heaved a deep, exasperated sigh. “Fine, do what you will.”
“As I was saying, the spy, again, that’s you, mate, crept along the shadows of the moor, looking for signs of the inner portal. The damp ceiling dripped with slick, falling into his rather gorgeous ginger hair."
"By the Light, why are you like this," Mathias muttered, rubbing his forehead. Flynn shushed him.
“‘Who’s there?’ came a voice in the distance. He shielded his eyes from more slick weeping from above, making out only a small dim light ahead of him.
“‘I won’t hurt you,’ Mathias called out. The figure stepped forward, but remained in shadow. ‘What’s your name?’
“Of course it is,” Shaw muttered, raising himself from his seat to fetch a glass from the cupboard, filling it with the dark whiskey and taking a swig before situating himself back in his chair. He waved a hand indicating for Flynn to continue.
“The man that Mathias encountered took another tentative step forward, basking himself in the light. His hair was damp and limp across his shoulders, and his skin was bare. The spy’s eyes travelled down his physique, landing on Flynn’s erection.”
“He’s just standing there, aroused, for no apparent reason?” Shaw asked incredulously, taking another sip of his drink.
“They’re in the mid-realm. Everyone’s fucking aroused there,” Flynn explained before continuing. “Mathias approached him to take a closer inspection. He could smell the musk of his sex mingled with the Dread Pirate’s scent of sea foam and rum.
“‘How did you get here?’ Flynn asked softly, reaching out to touch Mathias. His hand was warm and glided over his own turgid length like velvet.”
“So the spy is also naked and aroused.”
“Did I not just say that everyone’s fucking aroused in the mid-realm?”
“‘I was looking for the portal to the Chasm of Shadows.’ Mathias hitched a shaky breath as the other man worked him, both now covered in slick. ‘I came upon the Dread Pirate and was seduced into taking him, and was swallowed into this place.’”
Mathias furrowed his brow, feeling heat tinge his cheeks.
“You alright there, mate?” Flynn paused in his narration, a hint of a grin threatening to spread on his face.
“Fine,” Mathias lied. “It’s just the whiskey.” He drained his glass.
“‘Are you spent?’ Flynn whispered, pressing their chests together, the feel of their skin sliding against each other only serving to make him harder.
“Mathias’ mouth watered. ‘Strangely, no. I feel… rejuvenated,’ he rasped.
“Flynn twisted around and bent in front of him, showing his stretched and quivering hole. He looked over his shoulder. ‘Then let us be joined, so that your seed can unlock the way to the inner realm’--”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Mathias waved his hand, cutting Flynn off. “Why are they covered in slick?”
“Did I not mention?” Flynn flicked his glance up from the text. “They’re inside the Dread Pirate’s arsehole,” he replied nonchalantly, as if it were the most obvious and logical answer to Shaw’s inquiry.
Mathias opened and closed his mouth several times. “They’re in…”
“The Dread Pirate’s arsehole,” Fairwind nodded.
"The portal to the Chasm of Shadows... it's literally inside--"
"The. Dread. Pirate's. Arsehole." Flynn repeated slowly. “Look, mate. You bought this.”
“And I’m regretting it more and more with every passing second,” Shaw muttered absently.
“I haven’t even gotten to the part with the Draenei wearing the cock ring,” Flynn whinged.
“Please, just stop talking.”
“Again, you traded your coin for this absolute disaster of… can I even call this literature?”
“I’m going to have to have a word with Marcus about this.”
“He writes all of these… books, if you can call them that,” said Mathias as he poured himself another drink.
Flynn frowned. “I thought some bloke named Craft wrote the Steamy Romance series.”
“Same person,” Shaw clarified, the glass brought to his lips to take a swig. “This is just… foul.”
The captain flicked the pages back to the title page of the novel, running his finger down the print and settling on a set of initials. “This one’s not written by Craft.”
“Why wouldn’t it be written by him?” Mathias asked inquisitively.
“Well, this one’s not,” retorted Flynn. “This one’s by someone named A.J.C.”
The spymaster narrowed his eyes and pulled the book away from the pirate, looking over the inscription. Sure enough, there right under the title: By A.J.C.
Mathias growled, lifting from his seat and throwing his cloak back over his shoulders. “Get your coat,” he ordered as he rooted around the pouches strapped to his discarded pauldrons, retrieving his toolkit. “And grab that,” he pointed to the book, refusing to touch it, like it was covered in ooze residue.
“Where we goin’?” Flynn asked as he did as he was told, swinging his leather duster across his shoulders.
Mathias stalked to the door of the little shop in the Mystic Ward, pulling out his toolkit, Flynn trying to keep up in his wake. He crouched before the keyhole and set to work, the captain leaning against the jamb next to him.
“Mind telling me why we’re breaking into a bookshop, mate?” the pirate asked. “Not that I’m opposed, mind.”
“Fell keeps irregular hours on a good day,” Shaw muttered, the tumblers falling into place and the lock giving way. They entered quietly, the only light spilling from the cracked backroom door. He took the book from Flynn’s hands and called towards the back. “Fell!”
There were a few mutters from the back, the priest poking his head out to see who was in the shop, Mathias and Flynn cloaked in the darkness of the room.
“I apologize, but I’m afraid that the shop is rather closed at the moment,” Fell said genially. “Is that you, Master Shaw?” The priest waived his hand, softly lighting the lamps in the space.
Mathias held up the book and schooled a rather impressive scowl across his lips. “Where is he, Fell?”
The priest’s eyes flicked to the thin sea green cover and widened. “Now, Master Shaw, I had no idea of the contents of that particular volume until after you had left that afternoon,” he stammered in explanation. “I assure you, it will never happen again. Please allow me to exchange it for whatever other text, as a courtesy of course.”
“Where is the ‘lock, Fell,” Mathias repeated. “Please, do not make me ask again.”
Fell swallowed hard. “Last I checked, he was in the Dreadscar Rift.”
Shaw inhaled sharply, flicking a glance at Flynn. “While I don’t necessarily take issue with spending my coin on Marcus’ volumes, I can’t even begin to describe the vile drivel I’ve endured this evening,” he said evenly, dropping the book onto the counter. He glanced over to his companion, “Go pick something,” he commanded smoothly.
Flynn stood rooted, his mouth hanging open as he looked about the space for a moment before his eyes landed on a dark evergreen novel. He picked up the thick tome, the lettering glistening in gold leaf, and a smile spread across his face as he took it over to Mathias. “This one,” he announced.
“Are you sure?” Shaw asked skeptically.
“Yeah, I’ve read this one. Hilarious, but pretty much harmless,” the captain remarked with a smirk. “I don't have a copy of my very own, though. It’ll look good on our bookshelf.” That earned a raised eyebrow from the spymaster.
Fell stepped forward, craning his neck to examine the book that Flynn had picked out, his eyes widening quizzically. “An interesting choice, my dear.” He tilted his head. “Shall I wrap that up for you?”
“That won’t be necessary,” Shaw replied with a dismissive flick of his hand. He gave a quick nod of his head towards the door. “And tell him to stop adhering coins to the pavement in Stormwind.” The spymaster turned to follow the captain out. He paused. “And Boralus,” he added as they passed through the doorway towards the tram.
Fell blew out the breath he was holding, startling as a hand touched his shoulder.
“So, what did he pick out?” his compatriot asked with a smirk, his eyes hidden behind his ever present shadow-goggles.
“Proper Harbingers,” Fell answered evenly. “First edition.”
“Impressive,” the warlock nodded. “Tell me, which one am I again?”
Fell rolled his eyes. “Niall Goodwin,” he replied in annoyance.
“Niall,” the warlock groused, flicking his forked tongue a few times in disgust. “That name always tasted a bit foul. Why couldn’t I be Telford, again?”
“Because I did most of the writing,” muttered Fell. His companion clapped him on the back and started moving towards the door. “And where, my dear boy, do you think you’re off to?”
“He didn’t say I couldn’t glue coins to the pavement in Dalaran,” the warlock mused. “It has been quite some time since my last visit, after all, and I do believe that the North Bank could use a bit of a sparkle.” He threw up a little wave as he opened the door. “See you around, Angel.”
Fell crossed his arms over his chest and huffed. “Light help us all,” he mumbled as he flicked his hand to lock the door behind him and dim the lights.