By the time Beli Flinthammer and Widge Gearloose arrived in the Krasarang Wilds, it was easy to find Lion’s Landing. The Alliance outpost was now a full-fledged fortress city, complete with two full keeps, a flight master and a community of merchants and support staff, in addition to the soldiers, sailors and marines stationed there.
“Me rifle is dwarven, even as I, because it is me life,” the riflemen recited in Dwarven, working in unison to clean and reassemble their weapons. Beli and Widge waiting in silence a respectful distance away. “Thus, I will learn it as me brother. I will learn its weakness, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep me rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will.”
“How’s it hangin’?” Beli announced, sauntering over. “Ah’m lookin’ fer me husband.”
“Sorry, lass; I’m married.”
“Nae, Ah’m … Ah’m married, too!”
“Well, ye should know, I’m not that kind of dwarf. More traditional-like, not a modern thinker, like yourself.”
“What? Nae, Ah’m … argh!”
“Allow me,” Widge said, lowering Beli’s staff before she could smack some sense into the rifleman. “Sir, her husband is here, or he was. Big guy, big blonde whiskers, yells ‘KHAZ’GOROTH ON A CRACKER’ a lot. No? Friends with a big white bear?”
“Oh, aye — I remember the bear!”
“Good,” Widge smiled, nodding back at Beli, who was clearly working out what the rifleman’s “modern thinker” suggestion meant about what kind a dwarf she was supposed to be. “And where’s the bear now?”
“Oh, he’s at the pen just north of town, with Huntsman Blake.”
Widge pulled Beli onto his carpet and flew them up above Lion’s Landing — getting a flyby inspection by the guards circling overhead — and then north to the circular wooden arena near a military graveyard with too many fresh graves for either of their tastes.
“Gilnean, or I’m a leper gnome,” Widge muttered, nodding at the man in the brown suit and top hat. “Anyone else would have the common sense to dress for the weather instead of for a night at the opera.”
The huntsman doffed his hat as they landed and greeted them, his accent immediately confirming Widge’s hunch.
“Welcome mage and priestess,” Blake said. “How may I be of service to the Alliance today?”
“We’re looking for a big white polar bear. Should be memorable: A polar bear on a tropical island would have to be pretty darned lost normally.”
“Ah, yes,” Blake nodded, gesturing with his hat and walking the pair toward a cage in the back. “It might have taken just one night elf to capture this beast, but it will take many more to put it down. Gather up some friends, then come and speak with me again. We’ll pit the strength of the bear against the glory of the Alliance!”
“What?” Beli snapped, running forward. “Ye even think about tryin’ it, and Ah’ll feed yer plums to him. Now, give me the key and let Frostmaw out.”
Behind her, the bear gave a low rumbly greeting, pushing his black nose through the bamboo bars.
“Begging your pardon, madam; I had no idea he was tame. He was raiding the keeps’ garbage dump for food and would not be chased off with warning shots.”
He let Frostmaw out and Beli stroked the bear, examining for injuries and looking into his big dark eyes.
“Where is Ringo, Frostmaw? He would nae leave ye behind if he had any choice.”
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