Ringo led the rams down the plank, onto the creaking dock. It was full of people unloading the ships, carrying supplies or loading them directly onto wagons to be delivered to the front. It was alive with men and dwarves and gnomes and night elves. No Horde, though: Theramore was still a secure installation, and the undead and trolls couldn’t be trusted inside its walls, Qiraji or no Qiraji. And Thrall, according to intelligence reports, still hadn’t solved his issues with the Shadow Council agents in his midst.
Despite the heat and the sticky salt air, Ringo was glad to be off the ship. Beli had sulked the entire way, the murloc kept trying to leap overboard, both bears, the owl and both rams had gotten seasick. After that, even the rotting fish smell of a port town like Theramore smelled like fresh air.
“Thane!” Came a gruff voice, its owner lost among the chests and shoulders of much taller dock workers. “Honor above glory!”
Clou forced his way out of the mob with some gentle applications of his dagger’s point. The scraggly bearded dwarf perpetually looked red-eyed and overwhelmed whenever he found himself outdoors in broad daylight. Dark dungeon tunnels or back alleys were more his speed.
“Honor above glory, councilor.” They gripped each others’ wrists and slapped each other on the back loudly. A few men and elves turned; the sound of dwarven men greeting other sounded a lot like other races fistfighting. Seeing Clou’s searching gaze, Ringo hooked a thumb over his shoulder at the ship. “She’s coming. She’s still got a piece of coal up her butt about this whole thing.”
“Can’t blame her, thane,” Clou said, helping lead the loaded rams and procession of sickly animals down the dock, his daggers gently prodding the crowd apart as needed. “Bleeding bugs.”
“Don’t you start,” Ringo growled. “After hearing ‘bugs this’ and ‘bugs that’ the whole voyage, I can’t take a pint more. Just put on yer bug-squishin’ boots and shut yer yap.”
Clou sighed and jerked the rams forward.
They broke into a larger open space, a parade ground of grass transplanted from the Elwynn Forest and maintained, despite some grumbling, by the local druids. Jaina Proudmoore was directing the loading of the war supplies onto carts for the long caravan west and south, to Silithus.
Ringo studied her a moment. The last time he’d seen her, when she’d been in the flagship leaving Menethil Harbor taking the Alliance fleet to Kalimdor to battle the Burning Legion during the darkest days of the Third War, she’d still been a stork of a girl, all arms and legs and hair like brittle straw. He had worried she would be snapped in two by the struggles to come.
But she hadn’t. Today, she was strong and tall — and surprisingly curvy — a woman and a leader of the Alliance. She was hated in some quarters back east: There were rumblings in the bars of Stormwind and Ironforge that she was too close to Thrall and had forgotten what had happened to Dalaran and Lordaeron. But there was none of that here. If there were more who felt like Beli and Clou, they weren’t showing it; everyone was throwing their hearts and backs into the effort. No one wanted to see Silithid hives where Ironforge and Stormwind stood today.
“Well,” Clou said after a moment. Ringo could tell instantly that he’d continued to brood after Ringo’s rebuke. This was a dwarven characteristic and the non-dwarven members of the militia gave them all a wide berth when the “rock chewing” began. “It’s not our problem just yet, anyway. We’re not going to Silithus.”
“No? Why not?”
Clou had led the rams right up to where a tall night elf stood, noting off supplies in a ledger, his back to the dwarves. He turned and smoothly bowed to Ringo.
“Honor above glory, Thane,” Guumbah intoned. “We have business in Moonglade that must be attended to first.”