The Bottle Imp

The Bottle Imp

“Come on, already. I know it’s not really the woods, but it’ll have to do.”

While Ringo Flinthammer waited on Frostmaw, he turned away, toward the Thondroril River to give his companion some privacy and to try and figure out how he was going to crack open the bag of walnuts Beli had picked up for him in Southshore.

That’s when he heard it: the rustling paper sound of undead speech.

He dropped to the ground and belly-crawled forward, peeking through a hedge.

There was an undead sailor standing on the shores of the river, shaking an imp in a globe, quietly asking it something and pointing downstream, toward Dun Garok.

Ringo’s eyes narrowed and he carefully picked up his rifle, sighting through the scope of dark iron and volcanic glass. Let others fool about with scopes made of materials from Outland: This was a dwarf scope on a dwarf’s gun.

He chambered a round as quietly as he could and put the undead’s head in his cross-hairs. It didn’t matter to Ringo whether the sailor was Scourge or Forsaken: They were both just demons walking around in the bodies of the innocent dead of Lordaeron as far as he was concerned, just the minions of two different traitors. This one wasn’t going to attack Dun Garok.

Ringo squeezed the trigger and there was a splash as the imp in the globe dropped into the water. The now-headless sailor stood erect a moment, then fell to his knees and then dropped into the water, the bloodless body floating downstream.

Standing up, Ringo slung his sniper rifle back over his shoulder and hustled down the muddy bank to the river’s edge. The green glass globe didn’t float, and was stuck in the mud, half-covered in icy water pouring down from the Alterac Mountains. The imp inside banged angrily on the inside of the glass. The small demon was jammed into the globe, limbs twisted around inside the sphere.

Ringo grabbed the imp by one of its ears, which protruded from the globe, and wiped off the mud with his tabard.

“So, what’s yer story then, eh?”

“This ball isn’t cracked, is it?” The imp’s voice was muffled, and he sounded nasal, apparently due to having his face being shoved up against the glass.

Ringo turned the ball over and over, and then shrugged.

“Nope, don’t reckon it is.”

“Figures … stupid unbreakable … Achor she-ki!” The imp began to mutter to himself in Demonic.

“Hey!” Ringo barked, knocking on the glass. “What was that undead asking ye?”

“Oh, the bosun?” the imp sighed. “He wanted to know if Captain Ironhill was inside Dun Garok.”

Ringo growled, holding the ball up to his face, goggle-to-eye with the trapped demon.

“And how do ye know about that, eh?”

“I know everything,” the imp sighed. “Well, anything someone asks me. The Burning Legion raised some of my people up, and then trapped them in these balls, to serve as advisors for Legion officers. We will never die, we’re trapped in these unbreakable glass balls, but we can answer any question asked of us.”

“Well, that’s handy.”

“Says the dwarf who doesn’t have his nose jammed up against glass for the rest of time.”

Ringo held the ball up with one hand and stroked his beard with the other.

“How many walnuts are in the bag Beli bought me?”

The imp said nothing.

“Answer, imp, or I’ll drop ye down a well and ye can look at that for the rest of time.”

“You have to shake the ball for me to answer. The Burning Legion is very big on physical abuse of underlings.”

Ringo grabbed the ball in both hands and began shaking it vigorously.

“How many walnuts are in the bag?”

“Y-y-you d-d-don’t have t-t-to k-k-keep shaking!”

Ringo stopped. The ball left his hand and floated in the air of its own accord as its resident answered.

“Twelve,” the imp gasped. “Ugh, I think I’m going to be sick, and that won’t be pretty in here.”

“Well, I expect ye should be useful, then,” Ringo said, turning and carrying the imp in the ball back up the hill.

“Lots of questions to ask?” the imp piped. “Mysteries of the universe to unravel?”

“Lots of walnuts to crack,” Ringo said, raising the ball, placing a walnut down on a flat rock below it, and bringing the ball down with loud cracking of nut shell. “Twelve of them, I’m told.”

“I hate my life …”

4 thoughts on “The Bottle Imp

  1. That is probably the most elegant story that I have ever read about a magic “8” ball trinket…

  2. Wise use of infernal power, I agree with Matthias. Yer occasionally need yer nuts cracked to keep some humility and the demons are the ones to do it.

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