Under siege

22. The Iron Tide, Ringo's Tale | October 31st, 2014 | No Comments »

When Ringo Flinthammer regained consciousness, he was underwater, surrounded by icy black water in all directions.

There were vague shapes in the darkness — masts and prows of older shipwrecks, with glowing debris dropping past them in the gloom. He’d heard that this coast was a dangerous one, where some ill-fated Gilnean expedition had sunk in the days following the Cataclysm, but no one aboard had been clear on the details.

He saw no sign of Frostmaw, or any of the crew members. But he couldn’t worry about that just yet: already his lungs were beginning to burn and he felt the powerful urge to take a breath — a fatal urge if he gave into it.

Fighting to stay calm to make the most of what air he had left, Ringo did slow and measured frog-kicks toward the surface, sculling with his large hands as he rose.

Ringo felt his ankle grow numb. Looking down, he saw thick translucent fingers closing around it and felt himself being jerked back downward.

Grol will kill you!” a voice reverberated up through the inky blackness. Despite being underwater, Ringo suddenly smelled blood and smoke and heard distant hopeless screams.

Ringo kicked at the hand, which was now definitely pulling him further from the surface and the air above. He felt around — he had his gun, but it was wrapped in oilcloth. And he had gotten lazy in recent years, no longer carrying an axe as he once had.

Ringo’s chest felt like it was full of flames now and had to bite his lips together to keep from opening his mouth and gulping in the Forbidding Sea.

The dimming light from above — still flashing with explosions as Iron Stars hit their marks — flickered and grew dimmer. But it wasn’t him drowning, at least, not yet, but shadowy figures streaming down from above their claws and silvery teeth flashing as they tore at the hand. There was a roar of outrage from whatever in the darkness was pulling Ringo down and suddenly he was free, propelled upward like a cork toward the air above.

Once at the surface, Ringo gasped, sucking in the smoke-filled air, letting the waves carry him to shore.

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Attack of the Iron Horde

22. The Iron Tide, Ringo's Tale | October 24th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

The Shattered Landing

Ringo Flinthammer leaned on the railing, looking down from the poop deck with a smile, listening to the troops sing a navy song that dated back to the Second War, called the “Tides of Darkness.” It was a song of grim determination, about pushing the orcs back through the Dark Portal, and seemed appropriate.

Archmage Khadgar himself was supposedly on one of the other ships in the Alliance fleet, heading round the Cape of Stranglethorn, and now heading for the Blasted Lands. They were bypassing the Gilnean outpost of Surwich, which was both too far from the Dark Portal and not fortified enough to withstand an Iron Horde counterattack if they landed there en masse.

A sound of a young gnome getting sick over the side brought Ringo’s attention back to the upper deck.

“Ye doin’ all right there, Pazerp?”

“Sure, sure,” the young SI:7 agent said, wiping her mouth with the gloved back of her hand before lowering her goggles back over her eyes. “I’m pretty much out of things to throw up at this point.”

“Ah reckon we’re gettin’ pretty close,” Ringo said, turning to point, then stopping. “By Magni’s stony balls! Do ye have yer spyglass on ye?”

“Always!” Pazerp chirped, pulling it out and peering. “Those shapes — Horde zeppelins, over the bay where we’re supposed to be docking. They’re landing ships there, too.”

“If they’re part o’ Garrosh’s new army …”

A boom from up ahead silenced the singing soldiers. It was followed by a whirring, buzzing noise that Ringo knew from somewhere, although he couldn’t immediately replace it.

Then one of the zeppelins exploded into flame and a large iron orb plunged steaming into the ocean waters.

Iron stars!” Ringo roared as more booming explosions echoed down the red cliffs and more buzzing whines filled the air. “Man the lifeboats! If he turns those on us, the ship will …”

Ringo found himself rising up in the air, spinning over the ship, looking back down on it as it burst apart before he ever heard the explosion. He plunged back toward the burning wreckage below him, and everything went black.

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Made for war

21. Siege of Orgrimmar, Ringo's Tale | October 14th, 2014 | No Comments »

Each step back up the metal ramp was a struggle; Ringo Flinthammer’s legs were gloriously, wonderfully exhausted. He’d wash up, have a drink at the Golden Keg and buy some fish down at the harbor before heading home. He wasn’t convinced that Beli was convinced that he was going fishing, but he wasn’t ready to talk to her about Brawlpub — not yet, anyway.

Ringo reached ground level and his mouth fell open.

The Stormwind station of the Deeprun Tram was jammed with soldiers of Ironforge in full armor, weapons at the ready. More dwarves, along with Gnomeregan’s finest, were stepping off the tram just as Ringo climbed up onto the platform.

“Knight-Captain Flinthammer!” a voice called out.

Ringo turned around. It was a dwarf he knew from somewhere — Ahn’Qiraj, he thought.

The dwarf, dressed in plate armor that fit him less well today than it probably did a few years ago, snapped off a sharp salute.

“Sir, you’re not in uniform?”

Ringo glanced at Frostmaw, as though the bear would know what was going on, or could explain it to him.

“Ah’m afraid Ah donnae what’s goin’ on, soldier.”

The dwarf straightened up, thrilled to be able to tell a superior officer something important, something he didn’t yet know:

“It’s the Dark Portal, sir. The Mag’har — they’re pouring through, armed with goblin weaponry.”

“Ah reckon we know where Garrosh got to, then.”

“Yessir,” the solder nodded. “It’s a new Horde invasion. Someone said they’re calling themselves the Iron Horde.”

Ringo stroked his mustache with one sweaty, grimy hand, trying to conceal his grin.

“Aye, well, Ah reckon Ah better hit the armory up in the District and get some armor and weaponry out of storage. Me country, me Alliance, needs me.”

“That it does, sir. We’ll see you on the front lines.”

“Ye bet yer arse, ye will,” Ringo said, heading for the tunnel up to Stormwind at a sprint, his bear at his heels, both of them as eager as children at the Feast of Winters Veil.

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The broken front

21. Siege of Orgrimmar, Ringo's Tale | October 7th, 2014 | No Comments »

Brawlpub

Ringo Flinthammer nursed his drink and considered whether he might be broken.

Not his shoulder — although that clicking noise it made when he rotated his arm suggested that he shouldn’t let shadow priests heal him in future — but something deeper.

Ringo had grown up during the First and Second Wars. He’d been a small boy when the orcs first invaded Dun Morogh and had seen war early: It was something forced upon you, something you did to protect your loved ones and your home.

He hadn’t fought in the Third War: He had been laid up with an injury following being part of a dragon hunting party in the days before the war broke out, but his brothers and parents had been. He’d lost his parents at the Battle of Mount Hyjal. They had gone, knowing what might happen, because they had to, to protect Khaz Modan and their as-yet-unborn grandchildren.

He and his wife had fought before the Scarab Gate and then in Quel’Danas for the safety of their kingdom. Ringo himself had marched into Icecrown Citadel with the Ashen Verdict, fully prepared to die for his wife and, especially, his young son.

After Northrend, Ringo had retired and taken up the life of a mountaineer in Loch Modan. It took Deathwing’s attack on Khaz Modan and the direct danger posed to his family to draw him back into the life of a soldier.

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Family secrets

21. Siege of Orgrimmar, Ringo's Tale | October 2nd, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Iceflow Lake

Some dwarves cheated with drink. Truthfully, a lot of dwarves cheated with drink.

Others cheated with gold. It was an unkind stereotype because it was true: Ironforge was filled with dwarves who spent their days buying and trading commodities, interested in nothing so much as cramming their portion of the Vault of Ironforge with every coin that could be fit inside it.

Still others cheated with the anvil, crafting axes or helmets or complex machinery with hammer, tongs and arclight spanners. Ringo Flinthammer dabbled there, but that wasn’t it, either.

Ringo cheated on Beli in another way.

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