The Trial of Faith

25. The Tomb of Sargeras, Ringo's Tale | May 16th, 2017 | No Comments »

Ringo and Mimiron

High up in the peaks of Highmountain, Trueshot Lodge was a rustic hunting hall, the hidden base of the Unseen Path. The hall was surrounding by target ranges and animal pens and, inside, featured trophies and an armory of bows, guns and crossbows. Huntmasters of the order bellied up to the bar and shared stories of hunts and discussed gear.

Alliance and Horde allegiances were supposed to be left outside of the grounds of Trueshot Hall, but Ringo Flinthammer regularly caught Forsaken Huntmasters elbowing each other and muttering what sounded suspiciously like “Dun Garok” when they passed him. Fights were forbidden at Trueshot Lodge, but Ringo did his best to memorize the decayed faces in case they ran into each other out in the wilds after all of this was over.

But there was also something out of place in one corner of the hall, a disc of cobalt and titanium, forged within Ulduar itself.

Ignoring nearby troll and blood elf huntmasters, Ringo carefully approached the disc and cleared his throat.

“Are ye there, Mimiron? It’s me, Ringo Flinthammer.”

Above the disc, a translucent blue image of the Keeper flickered to life.

Champion of Ulduar,” Mimiron’s voice crackled from a continent away. “Is there an issue with the Boarshot Cannon Mark 2?”

“Eh?” Ringo glanced back at the blunderbuss slung over his shoulder. “Nae, nae. It’s about the same as the Mark One.”

“Yes, the even-numbered releases are mostly refinements of the odd-numbered models. Slightly faster processor, a little better at keeping a charge. The Mark Three will be ready soon and you should see some more dramatic improvements.”

“Thank ye, Keeper Mimiron. That’s nae why Ah asked to speak with ye today.”

“This isn’t really a good time,” the keeper said, flickering in and out. “But tell me what the issue is.”

“There’s this naaru, ye see, or chunk of a naaru. It’s made certain claims about the Titans. Ah told me wife that it does nae matter whether or not the bloody windchime was telling the truth, but, well, she’s gone now and Ah’d be lyin’ if Ah said it did nae bother me when Ah’m tryin’ ta sleep at night.”

Widge and Vamen had tried to cheer Ringo up the other day. They said it was “aerial surveillance,” but there was no serious reason to closely monitor Stormheim this way, now that Helya had been slain. And the Armies of Legionfall seemed unlikely to conduct surveillance by hot air balloon. Still, it had almost worked, but Vamen had mentioned Beli by accident, and that had sent Ringo spiraling back down into the gloom he was in now.

“Hey!” Mimiron said sharply, looking back over his left shoulder at something. “Don’t you see the sign that says ‘DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON?’ Have you forgotten what happened last time?”

“Keeper?”

“I’m sorry, herald, I have to go …”

“But, Keeper, Ah just wanted to know …”

Mimiron’s image abruptly vanished.

Ringo bowed his head and sighed.

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Aid for the Wounded

25. The Tomb of Sargeras, Ringo's Tale | May 2nd, 2017 | No Comments »

Beer Run in Thelsamar

“Flinthammer! Mail call!”

Ringo looked up. He had just arrived in Deliverance Point — he hadn’t even dropped his backpack in the tent city that overlooked the Broken Shore.

“Kirin Tor take their mail seriously,” shrugged the Legionfall soldier thrusting the letter at him, seeing Ringo’s baffled expression.

“Hello, little brother. I trust you’re not getting yourself into any trouble you can’t get yourself back out of.

Beer Run is back on his feet again, although he’s not ready to be ridden into battle again any time soon. He’s getting up there in age, which is part of it, but he appears to have also eaten some plants that have been poisoning him. The ones I’ve recovered from his droppings look like they came from Outland, not the Broken Isles, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Lina Hearthstove is looking after him and nursing him back to health, since I guessed you’d head back to to Thelsamar once the Armies of Legionfall –”

Several paragraphs were then blacked out by the censors. Ringo could never figure out whether Bragh didn’t understand that he couldn’t write certain things in letters sent in a war zone, or whether he just did it to irritate the censors.

“While you’re stationed at the Broken Shore, Bethaine and I have been ordered to head to (redacted), as (redacted) prepares to (redacted), so we may see each other soon enough.

“Got a letter from Beli. She’s doing well, but forbade me from saying where she and the family are, or what they’re doing. Still, I thought you’d want to know.

“Anyway, just wanted to give you an update on Beer Run. He’s a good old ram, and hopefully he’ll be around a few more years. In the meantime, you’ll need to find another mount for the time being.

“Be safe.

“Your big brother (the nicer one), Bragh.”

Ringo on a Bloodgazer

Ringo didn’t have much use for the night elves’ Ancients. To the extent he thought about them at all, he’d always admired Malorne’s bravery fighting the Burning Legion and the Twilight’s Hammer.

The cult of Aviana, on the other hand, had always seemed more than a little off to him. It turned out that he was right in thinking that.

“After we managed to rescue a few of these falcosaurs from the Wardens in Azsuna, squawk, we’re trying to find new homes for them,” the Druid of the Talon said, twitching as she spoke, eyes nervously scanning the horizon.

“Aye, Ah get that,” Ringo said nervously, keeping his fingers behind his back. “But this one’s no cute wee pet. This thing looks like it could rip mah head clean off if it got a mind to.”

The blood-red raptor threw its head and screeched, a cry halfway between the cry of a hunting falcon and a scream of pain.

“Of course, squawk, of course!” the druid nodded. “We’re not offering it to you as a pet. We’re offering it to you as a mount. Climb on up in the saddle, squawk, and see what you think.”

“Ah’m nae sure about this …”

Ringo on a Prestigious War Steed

“Vengeance moves with the Gilneas Brigade!”

The grinning Gilnean stablehand looked at Ringo expectantly.

“And … this horse is ‘Vengeance,’ is it?” Ringo asked after a moment.

“That ‘e is, governor! And now he’s all yours,” the stablehand said, tipping his top hat.

Ringo dubiously mounted the black warhorse. Although its barding depicted the lion of Stormwind, the armor was all done in black and dark blue and lined with spikes. Vengeance seethed at Ringo with burning red eyes.

“Ah appreciate the offer, but Ah reckon Ah’ll keep looking …”

Ringo on a Prestigious Bronze Courser

“Huh, Ah did nae reckon them unicorns were tamable.”

“The equines of the Broken Isles aren’t actually unicorns,” Lt. Karter said, sounding a little offended.

“It’s a horse with a horn.”

“Technically, it’s an antler.”

“Fine, it’s nae a unicorn. Why are ye trying tae push it off on me?”

“Well,” Karter said, relaxing a bit. “Veil Shadowrunners are not really tamable, as you said, but they’re very brave and do not fear conflict. If anything, they seem to thrive on it.”

“Ah know the type. So why is this one available as a mount?”

“Yes, well, they make the decisions about who they allow to be their rider. They’ll throw off anyone whom they don’t accept — and sometimes even some of the ones they do — and then kick them to death.”

“Sounds cuddly. And this one has nae accepted anyone yet?”

“No.”

“Sure, Ah’ll give it a shot for ye,” Ringo sighed, and silently stared into the beast’s eyes for a long moment.

Finally, he gave a whole body shudder.

“This bastard’s a surly one, all right.”

“I could have told you that,” Karter sighed. “Well, I’ll see if the next …”

“Nae need,” Ringo said, taking the reins and vaulting up into the saddle. “Bastard and Ah will get along well enough, Ah reckon.”

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The Tomb of Sargeras

25. The Tomb of Sargeras | March 28th, 2017 | No Comments »

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Protect the Home Front

24. Legion, Ringo's Tale | March 21st, 2017 | 2 Comments »

“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!”

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?”

The Dwarven District in flames

“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?”

“Beli …”

Ringo’s voice shriveled under his wife’s glare.

Beli storms out

“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.

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The Campaign Begins

24. Legion, Ringo's Tale | February 21st, 2017 | No Comments »

The Tomb of Sargeras

Alliance warlocks tried to say that fel energy was just another source of magical power.

Everyone posted to the Broken Shore knew better. When they woke after hours of nightmare-ridden sleep, they would cough up vivid green and black globs of something in the morning, increasingly laced with blood and pieces of things that looked like they were things the soldiers would one day miss.

Even looking at the Black City, or worse, the Tomb of Sargeras, hurt. A green outline of either building burned itself into the retinas, and would remain there, sometimes for several eye-watering hours.

The 7th Legion had never shirked in their duty, not even after the disastrous defeat at Theramore Isle, but this deployment, in some ways, was even harder than Northrend.

“Mail call!”

Boots were set down mid-polish and bowls of chow were put down half-eaten.

“Icebeard! Urik! Quarterflash! Windstryke! Hallard! Flinthammer!”

Durkon Flinthammer took the proffered letter and sat down on a rock to read it, his back to the Temple of Sargeras.

“Hello, big brother. I hope this letter finds you well and intact.

“Beli and I are alive and well, and I reckon eating better than you are. The battle against the Burning Legion …”

Several paragraphs were then blacked out by the censors. Durkon could never figure out whether Ringo didn’t understand that he couldn’t write certain things in letters sent in a war zone, or whether he just did it to irritate the censors.

“Frostmaw and Beer Run actually seem to enjoy the Broken Isles. At this point, they’re both pretty used to getting shot at and if it wasn’t for the Legion, (redacted), elf ghosts and (redacted), this would be a pleasant place to live. Maybe after this is all over.

“The in-laws tell me that the 7th Legion helmet you sent to Bael in Stormwind was a big hit with your nephew. The split where I reckon a Legion blade shattered it just makes it better, I’m told. I won’t ask if you survived, since I know your head is harder than any helmet.

“But it does all of us, both back home and here in the isles, to know you’re at the tip of the spear. I keep up a brave face for Beli and Bael, but the end of the world feels closer than it ever has. One of the few things that gives me comfort is that I know one of the bravest, strongest and smartest soldiers I’ve ever known — my big brother — is standing between the Legion and all we hold dear. (Save this letter, because I’ll never admit to having said any of it.)

“I don’t know how long this campaign will last — has there ever been a war we weren’t told would be over by the Feast of Winter Veil? — but I have faith that your bravery, that of our other brothers, and whatever the blessings the Titans can bestow on us (redacted), we will get through this.

“Keep your head down and your powder dry.

“Your brother, Ringo.”

Durkon smiled, and folded the letter up, carefully tucking into a pocket in his tunic, alongside all the others.

“All right, ladies,” he called out, standing and turning back to the camp. “Let’s go kick some Legion ass.”

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