Hidden in plain sight

The new apartment

The great black lion rolled over onto his back and, without opening his eyes, released a blast of flatulence that made Beli Flinthammer’s eyes water.

“Eonar protect us, even without that bear around, it still smells like farts in here all the time!”

Bael Flinthammer snickered, and rubbed the great cat’s belly.

“It reminds me of Dad.”

Beli put down a bag, thought about this, and nodded.

“Aye. Now, somehow, even though we were barely able to bring anything when we left Stormwind, it’s turned into way too much stuff now that we’ve finally got our own place, just you and me.”

The dwarf and gnome refugees had spent the last few weeks busy, carving out more homes in the base of the Arathi cliffs, all the while being careful to attract no notice from the ships they occasionally saw sailing past on the Forbidding Sea — purple-sailed ships flying the flag of the Banshee Queen, black-sailed pirates or other, more mysterious ships. The refugees were craftspeople, merchants and farmers. There weren’t any who had ever seen much combat besides Beli.

“Careful with that, Bael!”

She reached out, grabbing the pale wooden shaft.

“That’s my Alterac Valley staff; it’s not a toy.”

“Sorry, Mommy — Mom,” Bael said, handing the staff back to her.

Beli propped it in the corner, next to the little apartment’s fireplace.

“What this?”

“That,” Beli said, carefully plucking the gizmo from her son’s hand, “is also not a toy.”

“It looks complicated,” Bael said, trying to see where his mother hid the device.

“Good. Because if you figured it out, you’d rip a hole through space and find yourself in Winterspring, surrounded by armed goblins.”

“That doesn’t sound good,” said Bael, his voice muffled. “This hood is ridiculous.”

Beli looked over and laughed.

“You look like the world’s smallest warlock. Well, except for the goblin and gnome warlocks, I guess. I got that in Netherlight Temple from the windchime — from a Naaru.”

“What’s that blob?” Bael said, gesturing toward the front door of their tiny apartment.

“What?”

Bael took the horned hood off and put it back on again.

“I see a blob on that wall when I wear the hood.”

Beli stuck her face outside a moment, then pulled it back in.

“Give me that,” she said. “Now!”

Bael handed it over, eyes wide. Beli slipped it on her head, and looked where he had been gesturing. Then she ripped it off her head again, hid it behind her back, and stuck her head back outside again.

A moment later, she came back inside and hid the hood in a small chest, locking it. She pointed at the chest, then at Bael, then at the chest again.

“You can’t tell anyone we’ve got that, or what we saw.”

“Why not?”

“Because someone out there is a demon. And we need to figure out who it is and what we’re going to do about it before they find out that we know about them.”


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