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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The conquest of stone

19. The Thunder King, Ringo's Tale | May 21st, 2013 | No Comments »

The Isle of Thunder

Widge Gearloose carefully re-rolled the ancient scroll, taking care to do so slowly, as though it was merely the Isle of Thunder’s winds doing so, and not an invisible mage. The Mogu might be violent sociopaths — well, no, they definitely were violent sociopaths — but they at least appreciated the value of the written word.

“Khaz’goroth on a cracker!” A ball of whiskers and pointy armor came hurtling over the wall, landing beside him. A moment later, a dinosaur came crashing to a halt behind him.

Widge opened his mouth to greet Ringo Flinthammer, but the latter couldn’t see him and, more importantly, appeared busy with his own matters. Ringo pulled out his rifle, braced it on the low gray stone wall and squeezed off several thundering shots, causing Widge to inaudibly squeal with pain and plug his fingers in his ears. Ringo patted the dinosaur with one hand, murmuring something to the beast. He checked the terrain through his rifle’s sight again and, seemingly satisfied, picked his rifle back up and slouched down against the wall, clearly exhausted.

“Fancy meeting you here!” Widge grinned, dropping his spell’s effect. “ACK!”

The dinosaur had instantly whipped its massive horns around, pinning the gnome against the wall.

“Nice dinosaur! Good dinosaur!”

Ringo snickered.

“’s all right, Kazmo; Widge is one o’ the good ones, if a wee bit foolish around direhorns he has nae met before.”

“What are you doing here? How did you escape the Horde?”

“They made a pit stop on th’ Isle o’ Giants …”

“Their second mistake!”

That’s what Ah said to Kazmo! Anyway, Ah got free in th’ chaos there, stole a Zandalari boat and saw they were headed fer th’ Isle o’ Thunder and we’ve been making the Zandalari, Mogu and Horde sorry they did nae kill me e’er since. What’re ye doin’ here?”

“Assisting the Kirin Tor, of course, although I think I just realized a way we can both help King Magni.”

“What? Here?”

Widge patted the scroll behind him.

“Tell me, what do you know about the Mogu’s origins?”

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On Her Magic-ey Secret Service

19. The Thunder King, Ringo's Tale | May 8th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Violet Rise

It wasn’t that Widge Gearloose minded the daily missions on behalf of the Kirin Tor Offensive on the Isle of Thunder: He was a loyal — more than loyal, really — member of the Kirin Tor.

Some complained about the repetitive nature of the daily grind. Not Widge: The repetitious was soothing, in a way; a constant reminder that the Kirin Tor, and its leader, Lady Jaina Proudmoore, needed him.

The mogu, saurok and Zandalari were horrible, of course, but so had been the Forsaken and Malygos’ forces and the Scourge, all of which Widge had aided the Kirin Tor against in the past.

No, it was the others helping the Kirin Tor Offensive at Violet Rise that were the most exasperating to him.

“Cor!” a Gilnean behind Widge hissed under his breath, elbowing the Kaldorei beside him. “Get a load of Jaina there. That’s one bird I’d like to sink my teeth into, if you know what I mean.”

Widge seethed quietly and strained to listen to Captain Elleane Wavecrest, who was giving the day’s briefing to the assembled members of the Offensive and their Alliance allies.

“The Shan’ze are animating an army from the statues in the center of the isle, an army that batters our defenses day and night,” Wavecrest was saying.

“I’m not sure how I feel about her silvery mane,” the night elf murmured, too quiet for Wavecrest, or Proudmoore beyond her, to hear, but loud enough to make it difficult for Widge to hear Wavecrest. “It makes her look older.”

The Gilean snorted.

“I wouldn’t mind bunking up with that skirt,” he drawled. “She’s a right MILF.”

“A what?”

“A ’skirt?’ ’s like a girl, you know.”

“No, the other one.”

“A ‘MILF?’ It means a ‘Mage I’d Like Ta …’”

“WOULD YOU TWO IDIOTS SHUT UP?” Widge erupted, panting with rage, sparks of arcane power arcing off his hair and whiskers.

“All right, all right,” the Gilean said soothingly, “keep yer wig on, propeller head.”

“Hmph.”

Widge turned back toward Wavecrest, shrugging sheepishly.

“Destroy any of the walking statues you see,” she said. “Our defenders will greatly appreciate it.”

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