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Category: Ringo’s Tale

Wake of destruction

Wake of destruction

Stormwind in flames

“Commander Flinthammer! Commander Flinthammer, wake up!”

Slapping, not particularly gentle.

“Wake up!”

Durkon Flinthammer caught the hand before it could slap him again. He opened his eyes and tried to sit up, only to find the whole world tilting crazily around him and a pain in his head that felt like an axe blade lodged there. He hadn’t touched alcohol in years — he always believed in maximum combat readiness — but this felt like the worst hangover he could remember.

“What happened?”

The Horde attacked …”

“I was on guard,” Durkon began to recall. “In the Stockades. Wait, did they free the prisoner?”

“No,” the soldier said. It was dark, and hard to see, but she appeared to be dressed in a 7th Legion uniform. “He stayed in his cell, even though they opened it during the escape. They helped the Zandalari prisoners escape instead.”

“Strange,” Durkon said, putting a hand on the soldier’s shoulder and pulling himself to his feet. He wanted to vomit.

“Careful, sir. You were gravely injured during the battle, but we’ve got to move. It’s not safe for us to remain here.”

“Why not?” Spots danced in front of his eyes as Durkon turned his head to survey the scene. They were outside, under an archway along one of Stormwind’s canals. “And what’s that smell?”

“Stormwind, sir.” The soldier helped Durkon turn to face the city. “The Horde set fire to the city to cover their escape. Jaina Proudmoore and other mages are working to put out the fires. I’ll explain more on the ship.”

“Ship?” Durkon groaned. “Are we going somewhere?”

“We’ve got immediate orders to ship out, Commander Flinthammer. We’re going to take the fight to the Horde in Zandalar.”

Hour of reckoning

Hour of reckoning

Ringo and Beli fly over the ruins of Southshore

“Everything OK back there, Lt. Commander Flinthammer?”

“Aye,” Beli called out the engines as she checked their course on a compass. “How’s the Skychaser handling, Knight-Captain Flinthammer?”

“All right, Ah reckon,” Ringo said, scanning the skies over the Arathi Highlands. “We sure have come from oor Alterac Valley days. Lt. Commanders travel in style now.”

“Tack south a bit,” Beli said. “We want to avoid Galen’s Fall; there’s likely to be Forsaken spotters there.”

Ringo nodded.

“Ah wanted tae pass o’er Dun Garok anyway,” he said as they flew over the ruins of Thoradin’s Wall.

“Even in death, the Dun Garok brigade holds the base,” Beli said as Ringo slowed the Skychaser and put it into hover mode over the mountain fort. “The Forsaken have never claimed it.”

“Nae wan should be surprised that Sylvanas attacked attacked th’ World Tree,” Ringo said after a moment of staring over the side at the base below. “When everyone else were tryin’ tae reco’er from th’ Cataclysm, she chose to attack an’ slaughter Southshore an’ Dun Garok.”

He sighed, and then gunned the Skychaser’s engines, steering the flying ship to the northwest. The smell of the lakes of Blight in the ruins of Southshore to the west made him scowl.

“After we’re done with Lordaeron, the Alliance should do something about Hillsbrad. The dead deserve no less.”

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A short-lived peace

A short-lived peace

The Flinthammer family in shock

“And that’s why it’s called the ‘marginal tax rate,'” a beaming Ely Flinthammer explained. “Boop!”

Bael Flinthammer stood there, dazed, not even objecting to his uncle booping him.

“Um, I have to take Lucky for a walk. You don’t want a lion peeing inside the house.”

“Sure, sure,” Ely said, sitting back. He craned his head over one shoulder, calling to deeper within the Thelsamar home of his brother Ringo and his wife, Beli. “Are you two planning on having any other children?”

Bael and Lucky great the visitorSunlight from the open door filled the living room.

“Oh, hello,” Bael said to the figure in the doorway as Lucky inspected the human with several mighty sniffs.

“Hello,” said the man wearing the blue uniform of a Stormwind soldier. “Is Lt. Commander Flinthammer, er, your mother home?”

When Beli returned from the door after about five minutes, she was carrying two letters, one sealed, one unsealed.

“What’s goin’ on?” Ringo said, having emerged from a deeper chamber of the house in search for some tools to work on one of his rifles. “What’s goin’ on with yer face?”

“It’s Darnassus. The Horde burned Teldrassil. It’s … gone.”

There was a moment of stunned silence, broken only by Lucky deciding he really did have to go outside. A flabbergasted Bael followed after the black lion with a questioning look, no more sure than the adults about how to feel about all of this.

“So, what are those?” Ringo nodded his chin at the papers in Beli’s hand.

“Orders. The Alliance is marching on Lordaeron.”

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Priority mail

Priority mail

The mailroom beneath Dalaran

“Postmaster Flinthammer,” Katy Stampwhistle said, holding out her hand. “It’s been a pleasure.”

“It’s just ‘Ely’ now,” the youngest of the Flinthammer Boys said, shaking her hand. “I was only assigned to monitor Alliance mail during Operation Legionfall.”

He glanced ruefully around the mailroom, hidden below the streets of Dalaran. Mail zipped overhead under its own power, while mailementals sorted more mundane correspondence.

“Where will you go now?” Katy asked. “Will you be monitoring mail to and from the front lines still?”

“I’m going to visit family in Thelsamar while I figure that all out,” Ely said, with a shrug. “Not sure where those ‘front lines’ would be. Still, it was fun messing with my brothers with the censoring quill.”

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Sargeras attacks

Nothing really ends. Especially not wars.

Ringo Flinthammer had known nothing but war since he was a boy, when orcs first invaded Azeroth. And in every war since, leaders had told soldiers marching off to war, or fighting to drive the orcs from their homelands, it would all be over by the Feast of Winter Veil. Ringo guessed night elf leaders a millennium ago probably told their soldiers they would all be home from the War of the Shifting Sands in time for the Lunar Festival.

Sargeras’ defeat was not a secret. There were lights in sky over Argus and a vision of Sargeras — or maybe the titan himself — appeared above Azeroth for a moment before a new red star appeared in the sky.

Moments later, Legion ships vanished from the skies over both worlds, winking out in a flash of green, one by one.

But that left members of the Burning Legion trapped on both worlds. Many of them dug in, determined to defeat the Armies of the Legionfall and the Army of Light. Or to take as many of their opponents with them as they could.

Mop-up operations had gone on for weeks. The Legion had controlled Argus for millennia. Rooting them out might take decades.

Ringo on Argus

As happened in Quel’Danas and Northrend and Pandaria and Draenor, the occupation lasted longer than the war itself. The war zone became home. Slop splashed into dented metal plates became home meals. Bedrolls, slowly rotting from nightly contact with the corrosive soil, became the feather beds waiting at the end of the day.

At times, Ringo half-convinced himself the Stoutlager Inn, with its comforting fire and the smell of beer and roasting sausages, which had soaked into the stone walls and floor over centuries, was just a pleasant dream. As was his elderly ram, now only suitable for giving rides to children in Thelsamar and cropping the grass in front of his home. As was the son who forgot his father’s face more each day. And the wife who …

An explosion. Then blackness. And silence.

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