The master strategists

21. Siege of Orgrimmar, Ringo's Tale | September 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »

Inside the Stoutlager Inn

“Khaz Modan will never be safe until the Horde is put down — once and for all!”

“Aye, by the Light, that’s the truth!”

“What I don’t understand is why, when the Alliance had Gary dead to rights, they didn’t,” a mug was slammed down on the bar of the Stoutlager Inn, “smash his pointy head in.”

“I reckon it’s bein’ a bit too deferential to Varian Wrynn.”

“He’s not my king.”

“Nor mine, neither.”

“He just wanted Gary for his little show trial — we saw how well that worked out.”

“It’s a damned shame there weren’t more of us with this kind of sense there during the Siege of Orgrimmar.”

Lowering his mug from his lips, Ringo turned toward the bar, his chair squeaking on the stone floor.

“Ah reckon it’s a good thing fer Garrosh Hellscream that yer flat feet kept ye out o’ th’ Ironforge Brigade, Morhan.”

The smith blinked, turning back around toward Ringo from the bar.

“Ah, Mountaineer Flinthammer. I did not see you there …”

“And ye, Ghak,” Ringo said, gesturing with his mug, “ye got a deferment durin’ the Third War, aye?”

“Well, yes,” the other dwarf said, pulling nervously at his whiskers. “I was working on my dissertation on variants of the Philosopher’s Stone …”

Ringo nodded seriously, feeling a twinge in his back, bruises he tried to keep from Beli, to keep his wife from asking any questions he didn’t know how to answer.

“O’ course, critical ta th’ defense o’ oor people, Ah’m sure.”

There was silence in the bar, broken only by the sound of Frostmaw, the great white bear, snoring beneath Ringo’s table.

“Fer the record, Ah thought about squeezin’ off a shot when Garrosh was on his knees.”

“Ha! I knew you had it in you!” Drac Roughcut barked.

“… but it would have meant shootin’ under Varian’s arm and no’ hittin’ Thrall or the Shado-Pan leader, Taran Zhu. And there was a room full o’ Alliance and Horde leaders there, all with Kor’kron blood still on them. Anyone starts shootin’ at that point, Jaina Proudmoore’s likely to blow us all ta bits, assumin’ Gallywix didn’t drop a dead-man trigger and do it first.”

Silence again.

“Well, uh, thank you for your service, Mountaineer,” Drac said after a moment, a sentiment mumbled into several other mugs.

Ringo toed Frostmaw in the ribs, waking the bear.

“C’mon, boy, let’s gae home. Ah need some fresh air …”

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Peace at last

21. Siege of Orgrimmar, Ringo's Tale | September 16th, 2014 | No Comments »

Nine months later …

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Why do we fight?

21. Siege of Orgrimmar, Ringo's Tale | December 25th, 2013 | No Comments »

Loch Modan

Beli Flinthammer leaned in the doorway, looking out over Loch Modan. The smell of cooking feasts carried across the valley from Thelsamar, the Explorers League camps across what remained of the lake and probably even from hunters’ campfires. Everywhere but here.

Bael and Lucky ran through the mud, playing Polymorph Tag — players who get tagged had to act like a sheep for one minute, which admittedly the great black cat had problems doing as well as the boy. Her son refused to open the gifts Greatfather Winter had left beneath the tree or touch the stockings or let her begin cooking the Feast of Winters Veil: His father was coming home, he insisted, and they would would be waiting for him.

Beli sighed, scanning the horizon. There was a screech and she spotted the ungainly figure of a Northrend proto-drake lifting off from a distant pasture, a sheep in each of its hind claws. With Ringo gone, Rusty had gone a little wild, and what remained of the Flinthammers’ fortune, accumulated from the dungeons of four continents, was quickly flowing into the coffers of local shepherds instead.

Her family had invited her and Bael to visit them in Stormwind for the holidays — they had been hard at work repairing the damage Deathwing did to the Valley of Heroes — but Bael would have none of it. She’d explained how far away Orgrimmar was, and that the Alliance mages were busy moving the wounded soldiers to safety and didn’t have time to help soldiers get home for the holidays.

Beli’s stomach was starting to growl and the boar wouldn’t stay good forever; she was going to have to start cooking soon and just deal with Bael.

She quietly began to sing Ringo’s favorite carol:

I’ll march home for the feast.
You can count on me.
Please have ale and roasted boar,
A new gun ‘neath the tree.

Winter’s Veil will find me
Where the oak keg gleams.
I’ll march home for the feast,
If only in my dreams.

She dabbed at the corner of her eyes with her sleeve — some smoke from a nearby feast must have gotten into her eyes, and opened her mouth to sing again:

I’ll march home for the feast.
You can count on me.
Please have ale and roasted boar,
A new gun ‘neath the tree.

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The war has many fronts

21. Siege of Orgrimmar, Ringo's Tale | December 18th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Holiday time in Thelsamar

Some days he was a paladin, bringing the power of the Titans to rampaging murlocs and kobolds surrounding town.

Other days, he was a mage, flinging frostbolts and accompanied by his trusty water elemental, mastering secrets far beyond those understood by his family or classmates.

But today, Bael Flinthammer was a dwarven rifleman, a mighty mountaineer like his father, Ringo, accompanied by the great black lion, Lucky, brought to Loch Modan as a cub from the Barrens of Kalimdor.

Bael crouched behind a bush, his rifle in one and and reaching the other back to Lucky, commanding him to hide in the shadow of a nearby tree, as he looked for the tracks of the enemy: Thelsamar was surrounded by them, including troggs and ogres.

No tracks here. Bael crept forward, pushing the bushes aside, like a real hunter would … probably. His father hadn’t had much of a chance to teach him this stuff before he’d left to find a cure for the king — the real king, not the Council of the Three Hammers. But he’d be back soon, and then he and Bael would be best buddies, and he’d teach his son all about tracking animals and stalking the enemies of Khaz Modan in the hills surrounding Loch Modan.

But for now …

Bael stalked onward, using his other senses: murlocs stunk, as did ogres, and both troggs and kobolds tended toward noisiness. There were voices ahead.

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Etched rune

20. Escalation, Ringo's Tale | September 10th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Blood in the Snow

“Dearest Beli and Bael,

“I reckon you just about gave up expecting to hear from me ever again, and I apologize. I have been busy every second since Widge and I stepped through the portal from the Isle of Thunder to Ironforge, but that’s no excuse: If I couldn’t get away to see you (I couldn’t, although Khaz knows I tried), I should have at least written you.

“Widge and I captured a Mogu, creations of the Titans, like us, but they know all about the Curse of the Flesh — and how to recreate it. Widge and I wrestled one through, although we lost Kazmo. I’m hoping he found someone to take care of him.

“No sooner had we arrived in the Hall of Mysteries than the damned Mogu got loose. I don’t reckon he could have gotten far, but they’re an evil and crafty bunch, and Widge and I were taking no chances on the kind of mischief he could get into, and tore after him.

“The commotion drew the attention of the guards, but not Bronzebeard or even Wildhammer, but Moira’s own personal bodyguard, on their way to a council about a troll incursion into Dun Morogh. You probably know more about that than I do; they took our Mogu prisoner and told Widge something about Dalaran being on the move from Northrend, and he dashed off. I haven’t seen him since, although he did make sure word got to Ulbrek Firehand to reunite me with Frostmaw. The bear’s just starting to forgive me for my long absence.

“As for me, there was some nonsense about my ‘talents are best needed at the front,’ and I found myself portaled off to Durotar, a place I never wanted to see again after the war in Ahn’Qiraj. But this time, it’s not another damned bug hunt: This time, we’re going after the Warchief himself.

“It seems almost impossible to believe. Our world has been devoted to war, ever since the orcs came through the Dark Portal when I was a boy. Our son knows no world without the Horde. But once we kill Garrosh Hellscream, who knows what will happen?

“The marines on the Alliance ships say that the trolls are in open revolt against Hellscream. When he falls, it’s hard to imagine the orcs, trolls and tauren staying united. Whether there’s a Horde civil war or the three nations drift apart, it seems like the Alliance-Horde war will be over, once and for all. Sure, there’s still the Forsaken to worry about, but without the might of the Horde behind them, we should be able to bottle them up north of the Thandol Span or, if Khaz smiles upon us, west of Thoradin’s Wall.

“In any case, there’s one last battle to fight, and I’ll be home soon, once and for all. Peace for Khaz Modan is at hand.

“I’ll see you both soon — Ringo.”

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