Ringo Flinthammer and Frostmaw crept down the slope, the snows of Highmountain giving way to muddy hills with the sting of salt water blowing in the breeze.
“You think I cannot find you, little dwarf?” the rumbling voice called from above them on the ridge. “My people traversed these mountains before the Unseen Path arrived on these shores.”
“And me with nae traps ta lead ye into,” Ringo muttered. “If’n we get out o’ this, bear, remind me ta start preparin’ some o’ those again.”
A chunk of rock near Frostmaw’s head exploded, causing the bear to roar with displeasure.
“The next shot will not miss!” the voice roared from above. “Surrender and tell us what you know of the resistance to the Burning Legion!”
Ringo threw a glance over his shoulder, but saw the sniper nowhere. Laying one hand on Frostmaw’s meaty neck, he hustled the bear down the slope and behind cover.
“What, this is nae the way ye want to spend the Feast of Winter’s Veil, bear?” Ringo grinned, digging through a belt pouch.
It was quiet a moment, and Ringo peeked out repeatedly, waiting for hostilities to begin anew.
“Our victory is assured, little dwarf!” the voice called out finally. Ringo thought he saw movement in some scrub just to the side of the path he’d used to descend. “You and your people should return home to your mountains and resume mining, or whatever it is you weaklings do.”
“Aye, that’s about it,” Ringo called, glancing at the trees and sky overhead. “In between rescuin’ princesses from evil stepmothers.”
Ringo ducked just before the shot caused rock chips to explode from the boulder he and Frostmaw were hiding behind.
“I tire of this game! Surrender and let me take you as my prisoner to Feltotem, or …”
“I heard the bells on Winters Veil,” Ringo began, pointing for Ringo and the crackling bear spirit bound to his rifle to sidle off behind another rock, while Ringo circled the opposite direction. “Their old familiar carols play/And wild and sweet the words repeat/Of peace on earth, good will to dwarves.”
“You bellow like a wounded basilisk!”
“I thought how, as the day had come/The belfries of all Dwarvendom/Had rolled along the unbroken song/Of peace on earth, good will to dwarves.”
“Is this the great trailcraft of the Unseen Hand? Singing ridiculous songs when you should be stealthy?”
“And in despair I bowed my head/’There is no peace on earth,’ I said/’For hate is strong and mocks the song/Of peace on earth, good will to dwarves.‘”
“Well, I agree with that part,” the Feltotem hunter said, stalking out into the muddy expanse between where Ringo had left the treeline and the cover he’d moved to. “Your Alliance of weaklings was never going to survive against the Burning Legion. It is good you have come to this knowledge, even at the end of your life.”
“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep/’Khaz is not dead, nor doth he sleep/The wrong shall fail, the right prevail/With peace on earth, good will to dwarves.”
The tauren snorted and started to say something, then the brush around him on three sides exploded, as Frostmaw, the bear spirit and Ringo all popped up in different spots and charged at him. Ringo threw a fistful of bird seed at the tauren’s face while giving a keening cry, and a black cloud of crows descended on the screaming Feltotem’s face, clawing and pecking at him. Frostmaw knocked him onto his back and finished him off with a bite and a violent tearing motion.
“Till, ringing singing, on its way/The world revolved from night to day,” Ringo sang more quietly now. “A voice, a chime, a chant sublime/Of peace on earth, good will to dwarves.“