“What are ye eating?” Ringo Flinthammer said, peering at Widge Gearloose, whose lips were filmed with a green slime and whose cheeks bulged as he chewed.
“Gumdrops,” Widge mumbled, wiping his lip. “It wouldn’t be Hallow’s End without them!”
“Are ye sure ye dinnae want to stay?” Mordun Flinthammer asked, tugging sadly on his beard. “McSorf is paying good money for dig site guards.”
“Nay,” Ringo said, digging his heel into Frostmaw’s side, pointing the bear he was riding toward the stream that marked one border of Valgarde. “We were in that damned ship it seemed like forever. We need to get out, into the fresh air, and go kick Durkon and Bragh in the arse.”
“B’sides,” Belsun rumbled, “Them ruins is empty. Zedd, Glorenfeld and all them don’t need us breathin’ down their necks while they look at rusty old axes and dragon carvings.”
Mordun shrugged, raising his eyebrows at Ringo.
“Easy money, brother.”
“A bit too easy,” Ringo said. “Besides, we’re all packed.”
Ringo shot off a salute to his older brother and guided Frostmaw through the stream into the pine woods on the far side. Wyrmskull Village, empty and dark, rose up all around them.
“I know these ruins are uninhabited, but …” Voca Lodestone said, before a sharp look from Beli silenced her. She felt it, too: The ancient village didn’t feel as uninhabited as it ought to.
The others didn’t feel it, though: Belsun, Widge, Ely and Ringo had begun singing a round, with seemingly innocuous lyrics that turned out to be wildly obscene when sung by four or more voices, spaced a few seconds apart. It was a favorite at Bruuk’s Corner, back home in Ironforge.
The expedition wove its way past dark wood and stone ruins, finding the ramp cut into the cliff that Mordun had told them about. The group ascended, and soon was afforded a view of Daggercap Bay, Wyrmskull Village and the sleepy little settlement of Valgarde.
“It’s so peaceful here,” Ringo said. “Northrend, who knew?”
The top of the path led onto an ancient stone dam, one massive enough to put Stonewrought Dam to shame.
“The Explorer’s League thinks there’s structures inside the dam,” Ely said, pointing to the tower-like structures at either end. “Pulroy said once they get through with their survey of Wyrmskull,Â they’re moving on to the dam.”
“There’s no troggs, no stone guardians, no raptors, not even a dig rat. They don’t need us at this dig site,” Ringo said, digging in his heels, spurring Frostmaw across the dam, into the green fields beyond.
Below the dam, a mournful horn sounded, low and long.
Voca glanced at Beli.
“That’s probably just Mordun and the Explorer’s League, moving into the village, right?”
“Sure,” Beli said, glancing across the dam to see how far Ringo and the others had gotten. “What else could it be? Come on, we’re falling behind.”
With a shudder, Voca nodded and followed, not wanting to look back at the black woods below.
“Someone should come up with a spell to conjure gumdrops,” Widge said, sighing as he discovered he had emptied another bag of candy. “I bet everyone is having fun back home, safe and snug and not having to worry about the undead eating their face.”