It was dark on the farm. The dwarf and gnome refugees were mostly down for the night, nestled in their snug homes under the ground. A few watchmen rode their rams on patrol, but it was mostly an excuse for them to smoke their pipes and think. The only sound was of the waves of the Forbidding Sea lapping the lonely shore. The refugees’ settlement was an almost unnoticed strip of land at the base of the cliffs east of the Arathi Highlands. There was no route up the cliffs, and no sign that the residents of the highlands had any idea anyone was hiding down here. The hope was the Burning Legion would be equally likely to overlook them here.
Bael Flinthammer waited until his family was asleep before waking up. Once Grandfather Rockbottom and Uncle Omar began snoring, no one would — no one could — hear the creak of his bed or his feet hitting the floor.
He slipped outside, watching for the glow of the watchmen’s pipes to see where they had stopped to have a think.
Bael ducked behind some of the crates of junk outside the entrance to the below-ground shelter. The crates were full of things that had seemed like treasures during the hasty evacuation from Stormwind. But once they had settled in this refuge, the refugees had discovered that, say, three dozen finely beaded ballgowns weren’t much use in their new life, hiding from the Legion. So until someone could figure out what to do with them — Bael was very worried someone would decide they should be turned into tunics and trousers for growing dwarf boys — they were piled up outside, where they provided a good place for him to sit and get some privacy.
Reaching into his tunic, he pulled out a letter, sealed with the Flinthammer crest, a pair of beer mugs canted toward one another, as though his parents were toasting something happy, rather than a world apart and not speaking to one another. Under the ominous green light of the world hanging in the sky, Bael opened it, and read.