“Flinthammer! Mail call!”
“Kirin Tor take their mail seriously,” shrugged the Legionfall soldier thrusting the letter at him, seeing Ringo’s baffled expression.
“Hello, little brother. I trust you’re not getting yourself into any trouble you can’t get yourself back out of.
“Beer Run is back on his feet again, although he’s not ready to be ridden into battle again any time soon. He’s getting up there in age, which is part of it, but he appears to have also eaten some plants that have been poisoning him. The ones I’ve recovered from his droppings look like they came from Outland, not the Broken Isles, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
“Lina Hearthstove is looking after him and nursing him back to health, since I guessed you’d head back to to Thelsamar once the Armies of Legionfall –”
Several paragraphs were then blacked out by the censors. Ringo could never figure out whether Bragh didn’t understand that he couldn’t write certain things in letters sent in a war zone, or whether he just did it to irritate the censors.
“While you’re stationed at the Broken Shore, Bethaine and I have been ordered to head to (redacted), as (redacted) prepares to (redacted), so we may see each other soon enough.
“Got a letter from Beli. She’s doing well, but forbade me from saying where she and the family are, or what they’re doing. Still, I thought you’d want to know.
“Anyway, just wanted to give you an update on Beer Run. He’s a good old ram, and hopefully he’ll be around a few more years. In the meantime, you’ll need to find another mount for the time being.
“Your big brother (the nicer one), Bragh.”
The cult of Aviana, on the other hand, had always seemed more than a little off to him. It turned out that he was right in thinking that.
“After we managed to rescue a few of these falcosaurs from the Wardens in Azsuna, squawk, we’re trying to find new homes for them,” the Druid of the Talon said, twitching as she spoke, eyes nervously scanning the horizon.
“Aye, Ah get that,” Ringo said nervously, keeping his fingers behind his back. “But this one’s no cute wee pet. This thing looks like it could rip mah head clean off if it got a mind to.”
The blood-red raptor threw its head and screeched, a cry halfway between the cry of a hunting falcon and a scream of pain.
“Of course, squawk, of course!” the druid nodded. “We’re not offering it to you as a pet. We’re offering it to you as a mount. Climb on up in the saddle, squawk, and see what you think.”
“Ah’m nae sure about this …”
“Vengeance moves with the Gilneas Brigade!”
The grinning Gilnean stablehand looked at Ringo expectantly.
“And … this horse is ‘Vengeance,’ is it?” Ringo asked after a moment.
“That ‘e is, governor! And now he’s all yours,” the stablehand said, tipping his top hat.
Ringo dubiously mounted the black warhorse. Although its barding depicted the lion of Stormwind, the armor was all done in black and dark blue and lined with spikes. Vengeance seethed at Ringo with burning red eyes.
“Ah appreciate the offer, but Ah reckon Ah’ll keep looking …”
“Huh, Ah did nae reckon them unicorns were tamable.”
“The equines of the Broken Isles aren’t actually unicorns,” Lt. Karter said, sounding a little offended.
“It’s a horse with a horn.”
“Technically, it’s an antler.”
“Fine, it’s nae a unicorn. Why are ye trying tae push it off on me?”
“Well,” Karter said, relaxing a bit. “Veil Shadowrunners are not really tamable, as you said, but they’re very brave and do not fear conflict. If anything, they seem to thrive on it.”
“Ah know the type. So why is this one available as a mount?”
“Yes, well, they make the decisions about who they allow to be their rider. They’ll throw off anyone whom they don’t accept — and sometimes even some of the ones they do — and then kick them to death.”
“Sounds cuddly. And this one has nae accepted anyone yet?”
“Sure, Ah’ll give it a shot for ye,” Ringo sighed, and silently stared into the beast’s eyes for a long moment.
Finally, he gave a whole body shudder.
“This bastard’s a surly one, all right.”
“I could have told you that,” Karter sighed. “Well, I’ll see if the next …”
“Nae need,” Ringo said, taking the reins and vaulting up into the saddle. “Bastard and Ah will get along well enough, Ah reckon.”