The shadow of death

The shadow of death


“Drink it all down, Marisi, that’s my good girl. Lie back; don’t be scared.”


“No, no, don’t cry. You’re doing a great thing. You will open the way for the true master of this world to enter Shadowforge and bring Azeroth to glory.”


“Get away from Marisi, Duerthic, you son of a bitch! Get away from my daughter!”

“Our daughter, Kildris! She’s not going to be the weak and worthless little girl that you –“

“Drop th’ knife an’ get away from her, ye mad bastard, or Ah’ll blow yer — Kildris, stop!”




“Eonar! Grant me your blessing! Eonar! Damn you, Eonar! Help her!”


Marisi Blackfire opened her eyes, unable to sleep any longer.

Her mother was dead, killed by her father. Her father was dead, killed by her mothers’ two friends, Beli and Ringo Flinthammer and by their great white bear, Frostmaw.

She sighed, and got out of bed, her feet just barely reaching the floor.

Even months later, the air here felt weird, like a cool wet cloth on her skin. She missed Blackrock Mountain, but her mother’s will had been clear — she wasn’t to go back to the dwarfanage, where her father’s family might eventually find her and fill her head with the gods only know what sort of poison.

Marisi walked down the hall in her nightdress — actually an old patched tunic that had belonged to her mother.

The house was dark. Clan Bronzebeard dwarves relied on natural light during the day, unlike the Dark Iron, whose homes were lit by volcanic light all hours of the day. Sunlight streamed into through the vertical window slits and she could hear the sounds of waterfowl outside.

She passed a room where Bael Flinthammer was methodically sharpening one of his father’s axes. He looked up and smiled and then turned back to his task.

Marisi had hated being an only child. As awful as everything had been, suddenly getting a big brother had been wonderful. Bael didn’t ask much of her and never pried about her parents’ deaths or the events that led up to them. Instead, they had explored Loch Modan together, playing in the hills and marshes. When she had wanted quiet time, Bael had even shooed away his parents, giving her the space she needed. And when his great black lion had died over the summer, she had cuddled with Bael and they cried together wordlessly, united in grief.

She pushed open the front door and walked barefoot out of Flinthammer Hall, blinking in the bright afternoon light.

Marisi could hear Ringo half-humming, half-singing a song while he worked. She wandered down the path and stopped: He was using a scrub brush to rub the scales of an enormous blue dragon, which shivered and cooed as he did.

“Marisi!” Ringo called out when he spotted her — it was almost impossible to sneak up on him, no matter how many times she and Bael had tried. “Come say hello tah Rusty!”

She picked her way down the hill. The dragon was enormous. Ringo towered over her and the dragon towered over him — its head alone was bigger than the mountaineer.

Ringo smiled and gestured for her to reach out with one hand to touch the dragon’s hide. She gasped in surprise.

“He’s warm.

“Aye, he’s from Northrend. If he didn’t have a furnace inside o’ him, he’d freeze to death.”

Marisi stroked the dragon’s nose and then said goodbye to it, heading further down the hill.

Beli was sitting on the old dock, far above the waterline since the Destroyer — no, “Deathwing;” “the Destroyer” was what her father and his friends has called him — had destroyed the Stonewrought Dam back when Bael was a baby. It was where Marisi found Beli nearly every day, staring at the bright red star visible even during the daytime. Beli would never let on that she cried here, even as she had encouraged Marisi to do so, but many days she had found Beli with streaks on her cheeks.

Beli patted the dock beside her.

“Hello, Marisi. You seemed like you could use the sleep.”

Marisi swing her feet back and forth, looking at the muddy marshland far below her wiggling toes.

“Does Ringo think rust is blue?”

Beli barked with laughter.

“Nay, he doesn’t. When Ringo first met Rusty, some bad people had fused iron plates bolted onto him. Since he returned from Boralus, Ringo has been working on a way to safely remove the metal from his body and finally did it. Ringo and I are about to go on a long trip; one of Ringo’s brothers will stay with you and Bael while we’re gone.”

Marisi felt her heart begin to pound and snuggled close to Beli, who wrapped an arm around her.

“What? Where are you going? Why? Are you coming back?”

“We’ll be back. But my magic should have been able to bring your mother back. Ringo and I are going to find out why it couldn’t.”

“… and bring my mother back?”

“Aye. We’re going to try.”

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