“All me life,” said Ringo Flinthammer, gently scratching the jawline of the cat of living stone that rumbled its approval beside him, “All me life, Ah’ve felt like a tool that didn’t know what he was for.”
Ringo’s feet dangled off the edge of the ledge, above a gulf with the clouds almost a mile below his boots.
“Ah mean,” he explained, pantomiming with one hand, “Am Ah a pick? A hammer? One of them Gnomish Army Knives with all the fiddly little bits? Ah always knew Ah had a purpose, but no one could tell me what it was.
“Me mam, and later me wife, they was nuts for the Holy Light. They dragged me to church, made me sit there, pretend that it made sense, instead of bein’ fuzzy-headed nonsense.”
Ringo threw up a hand to ward off an imagined objection.
“Oh, aye, the paladins and the priests and them, they do miracles. Heal the lame, raise the dead. But the Holy Light? It’s all ‘do good and the universe will do good to you’ and ‘it’s nice to be nice’ and all that. Pffft. Hard to believe even the bloody Naaru take it seriously.
“Most of all, the Holy Light never told me what Ah was for. And then, one day, me people uncovered Uldaman and we suddenly found out who made us and that we was tools all along. Turns out lots o’ dwarves felt the same as me: They walked out of the churches and the Hall of Mysteries and into the Hall of Explorers, grabbed up picks and shovels and got to diggin’, seein’ if they could find out what kind of tools we’re supposed to be.”
Ringo paused, scratching both sides of Blackmaw’s jawline at once.
“There any more like him, in Ulduar?”
“There were,” rumbled Andurg Slatechest, the Earthen’s face unreadable. “Now … I do not know.”
“Ye lot, ye’ve always know what sort of tools ye was, aye?”
“We are untouched by the Curse of the Flesh,” Andurg nodded.
“Aye, the curse,” Ringo nodded. “The Discs of Norgannon that was found in Uldaman, they says dwarves are a … oh, whatsit … an ‘acceptable variant’ by the Titans. But does that mean we’re still the same sorts of tools as the Earthen? What do the Titans want me … us to do?”
“I do not know, Ringo Flinthammer,” Andurg said, “But you have fought beside stone against iron before. Only help from flesh will help us retake Ulduar and prevent the one whose whispers have driven flesh and iron mad from succeeding in whatever mad plans he has.”
“Flesh is too busy joustin’ and whatnot back in Icecrown,” Ringo snorted, “When the Horde and Alliance ain’t ready to rip each other’s heads off, instead ripping bloody Arthas’ head off his damned shoulders.”
“Then tell them. You are not the only one who recognizes the madness. It turns your people away from the danger that lurks within Ulduar. Any who will come to our side may help us turn the tide and retake Ulduar.”
“Aye,” Ringo said, patting Blackmaw on the shoulder and climbing to his feet. “That’ll do for a purpose for now, Ah reckon.”