Beli Flinthammer stared out at the hills of Loch Modan, not quite ready to put the backpack on and depart Thelsamar.
“I’m getting too old fer this–”
Beli let out a breath, deflated, and turned to find her young son — not so young now, though; he was in school, learning his runes and minecraft — Bael, standing at the top of the stairs, her mother, Dorae, standing behind him, her lips pursed together with concern.
“He’s worried and wanted to hear it all from ye.”
“C’mere, baby. I’ll be coming back, just as soon as yer Uncle Widge and I find yer Daddy.”
Bael shuffled forward, then pulled an earthenware boar from behind his back.
“If ye need treasure, ye can have mine.” He rattled it, producing the jingling of coins: He was an enthusiastic saver, but also an enthusiastic spender, and had only a few silver pieces to his name.
“Nay, baby, we need more treasure than that. With yer father gone, we cannae afford Flinthammer Hall. So, we’ll get a bunch of treasure and come back. Uncle Widge will bring us back to Stormwind where ye’ll be having a grand adventure with yer grandparents, and we’ll all get back together and come back home to Loch Modan.”
“Is Daddy dead?”
Ever since Deathwing’s attack, the boy — normally a sweet and optimistic child — had possessed a morbid streak that stuck its head out when it was least welcome.
“Nay. Yer Uncle Widge went to Theramore after we found the letter and the Alliance troops there said yer dad was furious with the Horde and shipped out for Pandaria. Widge then went there and …”
“He found him?”
“Nay, but he asked if anyone’d seen a Khaz Modan mountaineer with a polar bear, and everyone remembered the dwarf with the white beard going on about Theramore and Dun Garok. Don’t worry: Frostmaw is taking care of Daddy and we’ll find them both, soon enough.”
“And get treasure?”
“Aye, we’ll get treasure and some toys and a big funny hat Widge says everyone there wears and we’ll come right. Back. Home. To. You.” She punctuated these last words with light taps of her fingertip on the tip of his nose.
Bael looked at her solmenly.
“I won’t. I have ye to come home to, wee little monkey.”
“I’m Mommy’s baby and Daddy’s monkey.”
“Aye, ye are.”
“And promise ye won’t die.”
Bael threw his arms around his mother, hugged her so hard she swore she could feel her ribs creak. It was only when she heard the hum of an arcane portal opening behind her that her son released her.
“Go on, Bael. This is Mommy and Widge’s adventure. Ye go with yer grandparents, and we’ll be home soon. I promise.”
Wiping her tears on her sleeve, Beli stepped through the portal, fading away in mid-wave to her son.
“Don’t die,” he repeated. “Ye promised.”