Ringo and Beli Flinthammer landed with heavy thumps and blinked at the seemingly bright sunlight as the Schnotzzis jerked the hoods off their heads.
“Ye again,” Ringo spat, glaring up at Commander Schnottz. “This is yer last chance, greenie: Cut us loose and we will nae feed yer naughty bits to the bear.”
“You are in a position unzuitable to give orders,” Schnottz drawled, tapping the ash off his cigarette. “And bezides, I vould not vant to miss zis touching reunion.”
He clapped his hands together suddenly.
“BRING HIM IN!”
A door somewhere behind the Flinthammers was flung open and a pair of goblins dragged in a struggling Brann Bronzebeard, who looked at the Flinthammers and seemed to sag a little in the guards’ arms.
“I vill take ze book now,” Schnottz said, grinning at Bronzebeard’s expression.
“W-what b-book?” Ringo stammered.
“You have ze journal in your pocket.”
“Ye idjit! You think a mountaineer would be that stupid? That he would bring me journal all the way back here?”
“Ye didnae, did ye?”
There was a long silence.
“Ye didnae bring it, did ye?”
“Well, uh …”
“Look, can we discuss this later?”
“I should have mailed it to a leper gnome!”
“Will ye take it easy?”
“Take it easy? Why do ye think I sent it to a mountaineer in the first place? So it wouldn’t fall into their hands!”
“Ah came here to SAVE ye!”
“Oh, yeah? And who’s gonna come to save ye, MOUNTAINEER?”
There was a roar and suddenly a very sweaty and dusty polar bear burst into the room, snarling. Frostmaw was a blur of claws and teeth and black-clad goblins went flying.
Ringo grinned, and was about to call over his bear to bite through his bonds when he heard Commander Schnottz clear his throat. Ringo and Brann turned to find Schnottz with a goblin rocket launcher pointed at Beli’s head.
“Good try, Herr Flinthammer.”
“Damn it, Ringo …”
The worst part, Ringo thought later, was having to endure Brann’s lecture as the three of them, along with the bear, were bound and placed into stone vaults.
“The quest fer the Coffer of Promise is nae archeology,” Brann continued. “It’s a race against evil. If it is captured by Deathwing, the armies of darkness will march all over the face of Azeroth. Do ye understand me?”
“Ah understood ye the first three times!”
“And in this sort of race, there’s nae silver medal for finishing second,” Brann finished, then struggled violently against his bonds. “This is intolerable!”
Commander Schnottz looked up from Brann’s journal. He closed it on one finger, saving his place, and picked up a soapstone statue of a cat with decorative green stone eyes.
“Look at zis. It’s vorthless – 90 silver piecez vrom a vendor in ze street. But I take it, I bury it in ze sand for a zousand years, it becomes priceless. Like ze coffer.”
He gestured to his guards, who carried in stone lids and began to slide them onto Brann’s and the Flinthammers’ vaults.
“Vat a fitting end to your life’s purzuits. You’re about to become a permanent addition to zis archaeological find. Who knows? In a zousand years, even you may be worth something,” Schnottz grinned. “LOWER ZE LIDS!”
“Ha ha ha ha,” Ringo chuckled, ignoring the dirty looks from Brann. “Son of a bitch.”
And everything went black.