“The boy will be fine,” Mountaineer Ringo Flinthammer snapped at his wife, urging her away from the stern of the ship. Menethil Harbor had retreated into a mere speck on the eastern horizon and Bael Flinthammer was now long out of sight. “Bethaine has enough animals to play with fer 30 children. Worry more about them animals in her stable than about Bael.”
“Can we see the new island yet?” Beli Flinthammer sighed, turning around, facing out into the Great Sea. “Reckon we bend the right ear in the Earthen Ring and we’re back home in a day or so.”
“There’s a smudge thataway that might be the island,” Ringo said, not wanting to throw cold water on his wife’s optimistic vision of their chances of enlisting the shamans’ help in restoring King Magni Bronzebeard to flesh and bone. “Ah ain’t no sailor, but Ah expect that’s it.”
“Not much of an island.”
“Nay, but apparently close enough to Stormwind to be o’ strategic importance if Garrosh’s orcs take it.”
There was a rumor that Garrosh Hellscream had assassinated Cairne Bloodhoof and Thrall and had taken command of the Horde for himself. Ringo was taking it all with a grain of salt — it seemed much more likely to him that Garrosh, the bastard child of a demigod-slaying, demon’s blood-drinking orc warlord, had simply done what Rend Blackhand had done years ago, and formed his own rival incarnation of the Horde.
“Mmmm,” Beli grunted, patting her bags, trying to find her spyglass. “No Horde or Alliance sails that I can see, though.”
“Well, that don’t make no sense. Mebbe that’s just a reef, and no’ the real island at all.”
Neither of the Flinthammers saw what happened next. They didn’t see nor hear the massive tentacles breaking the surface of the water, reaching out toward the merchant ship that they’d hired to drop them at the new island that had surfaced off the coast of Stormwind, before heading on to Ratchet. The first thing they knew about the attack was a thrown trident thunking into the wood beside them, followed a moment later by a tentacle the size of a tree trunk crashing onto the deck, cracking it open and knocking them off their feet.
“What in Golganneth‘s name?”
The air filled with sailors’ screams and the hissing war cries of naga, and the furious sound of splintering wood. Ringo and Beli never got their feet under them again, but went hurtling into the waters of the Great Sea, where strong hands grabbed them by their ankles and yanked them deeper, away from light, away from air. There was a flash of white as Frostmaw swam past them, attacking something that Ringo couldn’t see, especially after the water began to cloud with blood.
He held his breath as long as he could, his eyes and nose and lungs burning, but then something hard struck him in the stomach, expelling all the air in his body in one burst. He had been released by whatever was pulling him down, but he could no longer tell which way was up, where there was air, and knew he’d never make it that far anyway.
In the last moments, before Ringo stopped struggling, his lungs now full of icy salt water and inky blackness all around him, he could swear he felt warm hands grabbing him, pulling him somewhere …