Three years later.
“Thank you, Marisi. Could you take the letter to your father? And don’t forget his reading glasses.”
“He says he doesn’t need them.”
“You and I both know he’s wrong. Thank you!”
Marisi Blackfire-Flinthammer grabbed the half-moon spectacles from the stone shelf where her adoptive father had been steadfastly ignoring them, folded the letter back up, and climbed up out of Flinthammer Hall.
The sun would soon be setting over Loch Modan and the frogs and crickets were loudly noting the occasion. But neither could drown out the sounds coming from the muddy lake below.
“Ach, ye’re the biggest baby aboot a bath of any child Ah’ve known!” Ringo Flinthammer’s voice echoed over the green hills.
Ringo had never been quite the same after returning from the Shadowlands. There were mornings where Beli and Marisi had known he’d had one of those dreams again, where he’d been a big blue bear, roaming the forests of the afterlife. He had pulled away from people a little bit since returning. There was no malice in it, but more than ever, he preferred the company of his bear, Frostmaw, and his dragon, Rusty.
“I still think it’s the most ridiculous thing to call a big blue dragon,” Marisi muttered, as she watched Ringo attempt to scrub the big beast’s scales in the shallows of Loch Modan.
She waved the letter over her head as carefully made her way down the damp hill.
“Is that from Bael? Read it to me.”
“I brought your reading glasses,” Marisi said, as she drew up next to him.
“Ah’m a dwarven rifleman; Ah donnae need any glasses. Ah just need ye to read it to me.”
Marisi sighed and unfolded the letter.
“Dear Mom, Dad and Marisi,
“Things are going well with the Silver Hand. Master Halvar says I have the making of a fine knight.
“We have been dispatched to Tirisfal Glades to deal with an invasion of elementals, which we were quickly able to bring under control — you would almost not have known anything had happened here at all.
“There have been no major incidents between the Forsaken and Silver Hand, even among members who are from the Alliance. I know how you feel about them, Dad, but it looks like they really have changed.
“I will write again, soon. I am told there is a possibility we will be sent on a follow-up mission to investigate the cause of the elemental outbreak. Looking forward to seeing more of the world!”
“Love always, Bael.
“P.S., thanks for the painting, Marisi. I have it hung up next to my bunk.”
Marisi folded the letter back up with a satisfied smile.
“Good to hear he’s doing well,” Ringo said, scrubbing a dripping Rusty with a long-handled brush. “Ah wondered how he’d get along with those Light-worshippin’ … Here, what’s getting into you, Rusty? Settle down.”
Marisi covered her eyes as Rusty unexpectedly beat his wings and pushed off from the ground with his massive hind legs, sending up a spray of mud.
“Khaz’goroth on a cracker!” Ringo yelled, holding on to the dragon’s tail. “Where are ye goin’, ye daft beastie?”
“Oh boy,” Marisi inhaled. “MOOOOOOOOOOM!”