Key of the Three Moons

Key of the Three Moons

Ringo Flinthammer walked in the footsteps of Arthas Menethil. It was an uncomfortable feeling.

He straightened up and tipped over the pot of goblin gumbo, spilling it onto the blighted soil. The Ghostlands smelled so bad, no one would notice the added stench of the gumbo. In any case, it was time to break camp and keep moving.

The Outer Elfgate had been shattered six years before by Arthas as he rode at the head of the Scourge invasion of High Elf lands. Ringo had felt anger and shame when he had ridden through the Thalassian Pass, Scourge banners drifting in an unseen breeze where once elven rangers had guarded Quel’Thalas from intruders like Ringo.

It had taken a great number of shakes of the imp to get a useful answer out of him. It seemed that the Dead Scar — the road of Blight leading straight through the Ghostlands and Eversong Woods, right up and through Silvermoon itself — would be Ringo’s safest means of travel for now. The Scourge wasn’t watching for anyone using it to travel north, and the Horde and Amani trolls both patrolled the areas less afflicted with Blight.

But “safest” didn’t mean “safe.” According to Hawkspear, mindless Scourge undead drifted along the Dead Scar, just waiting for undead lips to blow the horns that would summon them to battle and to march on Silvermoon once more. And intelligent undead sometimes rode along the Dead Scar, visiting the Necropoli that flanked it.

So, “safest,” but not “safe.”

* * *

Something about the obelisk with the glowing blue runes bothered Ringo, and he wondered if Beli, despite her irritation, had packed any herbs that would be good for a headache.

The Eversong Woods seemed almost unblighted at this point, save for the Dead Scar, and this runestone likely had something to do with it. During the Third War, Arthas had to assemble something called the Key of Three Moons to penetrate the Inner Elfgate and reach Silvermoon. Ringo had no idea if this stone was part of it, and he knew it was unlikely either the Scourge or Blood Elves would be willing to fill in the details.

There were at least two other runestones around. Both of them had seemed to be deactivated, no doubt thanks to Arthas, and Ringo had been able to pass them without the headache. Or he would have, if the area around them hadn’t been crawling with Blood Elves.

So, ironically, his route deeper into Quel’Thalas required going past the area where the border was strongest. He must still travel, it seemed, in the footsteps of Arthas Menethil.

Ringo had brothers, once. They had sailed with Muradin Bronzebeard as part of an Alliance force brought to Northrend to explore that frozen continent. And then they had met up with Arthas. None knew then that the prince of Lordaeron’s goal had been to claim the runeblade Frostmourne. According to the mages of Stormwind, Arthas’ men had begged him to turn back, and sail for Lordaeron. But Arthas burned their ships, stranding them and Muradin Bronzebeard’s expedition there.

He returned to Lordaeron under his own power, a death knight of the Scourge.

This close to Silvermoon, the Blood Elf patrols made no effort to conceal their presence, and Ringo and his entourage of animals didn’t find it difficult to avoid them while following the Dead Scar north.

He should have expected that the elves would have sealed off the Dead Scar as it plowed through their capital city, but he hadn’t. Avoiding the patrols while circling the capital had been harder, and there were several times they came close to discovering him hiding a stone’s throw away.

In the end, he found himself on a tiny green barrier island, just northeast of town. A tree grew here, and some bushes, and a strange sort of elf lamp that looked like a mass of fireflies circling a single point.

He stared out across the water. The Dead Scar continued under the waters of the forbidding sea, but every ship, every boat that Ringo had seen in Quel’Thalas had been in the hands of the Horde, the Scourge or twisted things that looked like they had once been elves.

“And even if I could find a ship headed north, how am I going to sneak a bear, an owl and a ram on board?” he snarled, tossing a bit of dried ravager dog toward the water. A soon to be disappointed fish leapt from the water and snatched it up, vanishing beneath the waves. “I’ll figure it out in the morning.”

* * *

“Ringo Flinthammer!” a familiar voice hissed. “What are you doing napping at Shala’Diel?”

“Wha?” Ringo said, blinking in the predawn grayness and fumbling for his gun. “Where? Who?”

“Forgotten me already?” Matthias grinned, hoping down off the prow of a small elven sailboat. A draenei and blood elf were with him, although they ignored Ringo and hurriedly began moving aside shrubbery and grabbing the crates below that they had concealed. “Come to enlist? The Shattered Sun Offensive can use another gun.”

“Khaz’goroth on a cracker!” Ringo hissed angrily, wanting to yell at being disturbed by this riddling human, but painfully aware of how close they were to Silvermoon. “What are ye on about?”

“I’ll explain on the way to Sun’s Reach.”

3 thoughts on “Key of the Three Moons

  1. I’m heartened that my character is resembling Liberace less and less as time goes by.

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