“Victory in the Nighthold!” Widge Gearloose cheered, raising his mug high.
“For the Alliance!” Baelan Grimaxe roared, his voice echoing off the walls of the Dalaran beer garden.
“For Azeroth!” Pika and Piko called out in unison.
“May Gul’dan’s death nae be ‘merely a setback,’” Ringo Flinthammer said, making motions in the air with his fingers, although not proper air quotes as Widge had tried to explain to him several times now. “Killing a bastard twice should be enough for anyone.”
“Here, here,” Archmage Ikeya said. “I hate having to kill someone a second or third time.
“I’m not sure I like the way you’re looking at me,” muttered Vamen D’barr, sliding away from the mage.
Ringo turned, as did Frostmaw, finding a tear-streaked Beli Flinthammer standing on the rear steps of A Hero’s Welcome, holding out a crumpled letter in her hand. The Kirin Tor could make a city fly, but what they were really proud of was their mail system, which had come a very long way since the days that ravens carried all their letters.
“My parents!” Beli said, thrusting the letter at Ringo. “Their house. BAEL!”
Ringo jerked it away and yanked it open. He was hit immediately with the scent of smoke.
“What?” He pushed Frostmaw away, the bear curious about what had his mistress so upset. “They were attacked?”
“The Legion attacked their house in the District!” Beli said. As far as dwarves were concerned, the Dwarven District of Stormwind was the real heart of the city, and everything else was just its suburbs. “They burnt it to the ground!”
“That donnae make any sense — mebbe it was an industrial accident?”
“It was green fire, Ringo! They barely got out with their lives!”
“But why would … They build bridges and walls, they’re no’ any threat …”
“You dragged us out here, away from our family …”
“Ah ‘dragged us out here’ to protect our people and our world!”
“We should be with them, not helping some stupid elves who were too cowardly to fight the Legion thousands of years ago!”
“Well, Ah admit that’s no’ my favorite part of this war effort …”
“I’m going home, to protect our family from the Burning Legion!”
“Beli, th’ best way tae protect them is here …”
“Your son’s bed is nothing but ashes, Ringo! How many of your family does the Legion get to kill? They’ve already killed your father and mother. Durkon seems determined to die at their hand. Are you going to sacrifice the rest of your brothers, too? Do they get to kill me? Do they get to kill your son?”
Ringo’s voice shriveled under his wife’s glare.
“The only acceptable answer was ‘no, they do not.’ I’m leaving, Ringo, right now. I’m packing up, going back to Stormwind and taking my family somewhere safe. You can come with me, or burn with the rest of the anvil-headed Flinthammers.”
Beli spun about and marched into the inn.
Ringo stood silent, watching her go, and hung his head.
In a corner of the beer garden, one of the others leaned his head down to the one standing next to him.
“If they’d wanted to keep him safe from us, they shouldn’t have left him so close to a mage portal location, now should they?”
“No, no, they should not have,” his compatriot said, clinking their beer mugs together in a toast.