“Hoist the mainsail! All hands on deck, by thunder!” Ringo Flinthammer roared, one hand on the rigging, a foot on a spar yard and the rest of him dangling 20 feet above the pitching deck. “We sail for Undermine and plunder!”
His crew of dwarves, men, gnomes and even an elf or two roared with delight.
“Arrrr! Arrr! Arrr!”
This was the life: Kul Tiras was behind them and the green mountains of the Great Sea were before them. Ringo was captain of the Sea Harpy, a privateer with a letter of marque from the King of Ironforge. Nominally, they were to take on the goblin Venture Company and “rogue” elements of the Horde, but in reality, anyone not flying a flag of the Alliance was fair game as far as Ringo and his shipmates were concerned.
Below him, the crew began to sing: “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me! We pillage, we plunder, we rifle and loot!”
Slapping his leathery palms against the mast and gripping it with his feet, Ringo shimmied his way up until he reached a rope line tied off above. Switching from mast to line, he clambered his way across, swaying back and forth as he did, until he reached the crow’s nest. The entire way across, he could feel the glare of his first mate Beli on his back, loathing, as always, him showing off.
“Drink up me hearties, yo ho! We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot!”
“No scurvy goblins here, cap’n!” The gnome in the crow’s nest piped, collapsing a spyglass as long as he was tall as he shifted to make room for Ringo in the small compartment. The gnome was missing a hand, which he had replaced with the adjustable wrench that now held the spyglass. “They might be using giant turtles, damn their eyes. They know we’re coming!”
“Aye, Mister Gearloose, aye.” Ringo reached under his eye patch and scratched at his empty eye socket. He’d long ago lost the eye in a fight with one of the Bloodsail Buccaneers.
“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me! We extort, we pilfer, we filch and we sack! Drink up me hearties, yo ho! Maraud and embezzle and even high-jack!”
“I’ll take o’er the watch lookout, bosun. You go below and tell them to roll out the depth charges. We’ll blast them to the surface or else feed them to the murlocs.”
“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me! We kindle and char, inflame and ignite! Drink up me hearties, yo ho! We burn up the city, we’re really a fright!”
Ringo gripped the edge of the cup-shaped crow’s nest and leaned forward, squinting with his one good eye.
“Belay that last order. Tell them to run out the guns: There they be, surfacin’ two points on the starboard bow, bold as brass!”
Murmuring a spell, the gnome dropped over the side, falling to the deck as light as a feather, shouting as he fell:
“Sail ho! Green-skinned scallywags to starboard! Run out the guns or the cap’n’ll flog the hide off ya, ya landlubbers!”
As Ringo leaned forward, his eye as sharp as an eagle’s â€“ or perhaps a gull’s â€“ it was clear to him that the goblins knew the Sea Harpy was coming. The platform atop the giant sea turtle began sprouting cannons. There was a puff of smoke and Ringo saw and heard a black cannonball hurtling toward him …
The whooshing sound was followed by something cold and wet being jabbed forcefully into Ringo’s crotch. He reached down and realized it was a bear’s nose.
“Frostmaw, get off, I’m … sleeping?” He opened one eye cautiously and shut it quickly, hiding both from the dazzling sunlight and the silhouetted form of Beli standing over him, hands on her hips, clearly seething with anger.
“Get up, you! You’ve been asleep a day and a half, you rotten old drunk!”
Ringo rolled over, feeling wet sand beneath his palms, and smelling the salt crusted into his whiskers.
“Stranglethorn? Was there … a party?”
“A dinner party, yes. Voca and Gnooki have a timeshare in Booty Bay and we were having a great evening until you found the rum …”
“Oh, rum,” Ringo closed his eyes again, wincing in pain, Frostmaw snuffling wetly at his face. “I’ll never touch the stuff again …”