“Khaz’goroth on a cracker,” breathed Ringo, surveying the crowd through the fog and mist. “Ah didn’t expect all this.”
On the southernmost ledge of Ulduar, the great construction of the Titans, an army had gathered. Two, in fact: The Alliance and the Horde each in their own tent cities, a forest of banners bounded by suspicious sentries eyeing the foes that – for the moment – they were no longer fighting.
Ringo’s wife slapped him on the back of the head, partially for his blasphemy, and partially for something else.
“Ye great arrogant trogg,” Beli snapped, “Ye don’t think ye did all this, did ye? More than just ye were working to recruit soldiers to come to Ulduar at the Argent Tournament. Ah finally agreed to come with ye so Ah’d stop bein’ pestered every bloody minute. Ye were all worse than beggars in Stormwind.”
“Er, no, Ah knew that,” Ringo said, flushing red. “Ah didn’t even try to recruit all them Argent Crusaders who showed; didn’t figure it would do no good to come at Joss or Dazhbog or none of them.”
“Still,” Andurg Slatechest rumbled, putting a stony hand on Ringo’s shoulder, “Your aid is appreciated. Many of these dwarves and gnomes say you personally bullied them into coming here.”
“Aye,” Ringo nodded. “‘s what Ah’m good at.”
“Aye, if you want someone irritated until their head is about to explode like an o’erheated keg, Ringo’s yer man,” agreed Belsun Grimaxe, nodding furiously, Coquine Sneakpants snickering beside him.
“Don’t help,” Ringo growled.
“In any case,” Andurg continued, “Our numbers are much greater than they were. Perhaps they will be enough to break the hold Loken’s army has on Ulduar.”
Something was half-shouted at the knot of dwarves, Earthen and gnomes in Orcish.
A group of Horde were marching through the snow toward them. Beli groaned, recognizing them as the same ones from the Legerdemain Lounge weeks before.
The big orc warrior pointed his axe at Ringo and said something to his fellows, who roared with laughter.
“Listen, ye green-skinned bastard,” Ringo said, charging toward the orc until Belsun and Beli hauled him back.
“We’re not fighting the Horde right now, remember?” Beli hissed in his ear.
“Aye, Ah remember,” Ringo said, jerking his arms free. “Think this lot knows that?”
The orc pointed his axe at Ulduar.
“Ulduar,” it sounded like he said, and he drew a thumb across his throat.
The orc pointed his axe at a point in the distance over Ringo’s right shoulder.
“Arthas,” the orc said, repeating the motion with his thumb.
Then he pointed the axe at Ringo and said something that sounded like “cha,” and repeated the metaphorical throat slitting.
“It looks like he understands, all right,” Beli said, slapping Ringo on the back.
The orc and his comrades roared with laughter once more, turned and stalked off back to their tents.
“Do you know who that was?” Coquine said quietly.
“That was Otheuym, one of the High Warlords of the Horde.”
“Oh, good,” Ringo sighed. “Somethin’ to look forward to, then.”
“Come on,” Beli said, steering the group back towards the Alliance encampment. “Let us eat and drink; tomorrow ye can die.”