Randis crouched down in the reeds surrounding Loch Modan. Ringo had to give him credit: The orphan from Stormwind had never seen a swamp before, much less been in one up to his waist, but even after the stern warning about leeches and loch frenzies, the boy hadn’t hesitated to wade into the makeshift blind Ringo had chosen. He was determined to throw himself into experiencing life beyond the orphanage walls this Children’s Week.
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone about this back at the orphanage,” the boy said.
“Ach, don’t worry about it, lad,” Ringo said, beard spreading out in the loch water around him like a white lily pad. “A boy who’s been through what you went through in the last war can handle the grisly facts of life.”
They waited in silence for a while, the air growing quiet except for the sound of cicadas and bullfrogs and the occasional leap of a fish on the loch.
And then they heard it.
One of crocolisks on a nearby flat mud island slid into the lake almost silently. It slid through the water, its six legs folded flat against its sides, wriggling like a huge snake. As it angled towards shore, Randis saw that what looked like a muddy log was actually another crocolisk, dozing in the sun.
The swimming crocolisk pulled itself out of the water and raced at the other one, legs slapping up a spray of mud as it came. It leapt atop the other, turning its head sideways to bite the other at the base of its head.
Randis’ eyes grew huge as he watched, slowly turning pale, then a little greenish. But Ringo was proud: The boy never lost his lunch (crocolisk gumbo from the Stoutlager Inn, coincidentally), even at the “big finish.”
Finally, he and Ringo climbed up on the shore, and the dwarf offered the young boy a drink of clean water from a wineskin.
“Yeah, I do,” Randis said, shuddering a little. “Wait until I tell everyone at the orphanage where babies come from!”