“I could just light something on fire,” Archmage Ikeya said. “There’s some dry leaves over there, and then that whole tree would go up pretty quickly.”
“For the last time, we’re not lighting any trees on fire,” Baelan Grimaxe grumbled. “Especially given your history with these fellers.”
“OK, sure,” Ikeya shrugged, closing his fist and extinguishing the flame that had been floating above his palm. “It’s just that every time we take a step further into the Dreamgrove, we all fall asleep and wake up back here on the trail.”
Ringo unslung his Boarshot Cannon and fired three shots into the air, sending birds wheeling away in panic, squawking in outrage.
“Lesaris! Show yerself!”
Something dropped through the canopy, perhaps an enormous raven or maybe an owl. But when it rose up before Ringo a moment later, it was a towering night elf with burning golden eyes.
“Flinthammer,” Lesaris rumbled. “Last time we saw each other, you made it clear that you were uninterested in honoring the debt between your family and myself.”
“Aye,” Ringo shrugged. “It turns out Ah’m not interested in killin’ helpless elves, no matter what they might say about me back in Quel’Danas.”
“I have little patience for you, oathbreaker. Tell me why you disturb the peace of this forest.”
“It’s Frostmaw,” Ringo said, stepping aside to reveal the great white bear, unconscious and hovering on Ikeya’s flying carpet. “He’s dying. Some sort of poison from Pandaria, they say. He’s been dosed with it for months, and Ah had nae idea.”
Lesaris’ face softened.
“I see. Surely the huntmasters of the Unseen Path could save him, if anyone could.”
“Nae. They say he’s beyond hope.”
“So why bring him here?”
“Ye spent hundreds of years sleeping below Mount Hyjal with the other druids, aye?”
“The Druids of the Claw slept for roughly 7,000 years in the Barrow Deeps, yes.”
“Or, more properly, ye hibernated, did ye not?”
“In bear form, yes,” Lesaris said, nodding with sudden understanding. “Your hope is that the Druids of the Claw might have some way to bring your bear companion back from the brink of death that we learned in our centuries in bear form.”
“It’s th’ only hope Ah have left. Ah’ve raised him since he was a cub.”
Lesaris reached down and lifted up the unconscious Frostmaw, giving only the slightest grunt of exertion.
“There’s no telling how long a cure, if there is a cure, will take. It could be months or even years. And whether this works or not, Ringo Flinthammer, you now owe me a considerable debt. One that I will collect when the time comes.”
Ringo watched Lesaris carry his best friend into the woods, wondering if he’d even see him again.