The Maiden’s Virtue thudded dully against the Auberdine dock. The water was dark and Ringo Flinthammer knew it would be cold if he or is wife ended up in the drink. As a result, he kept a careful eye on the bear, the bear cub and the murloc as they pulled their gear off one ship and carried it down the dock to the nimble elf caravel preparing to make way.
“I think they’re arguing about you,” Beli said, returning to the Maiden’s Virtue for another load of their gear. Behind her, a knot of night elves were bickering in Darnassian, glaring at the dwarves as they piled their gear up for the voyage west to the empty isle of Azuremyst.
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“Ah, winter,” Ringo Flinthammer sighed contentedly. “Yes, winter.”
“It’s too cold out here!” Beli snapped, stamping her feet and burying her hands in her armpits. She was the only dwarf Ringo knew who had absolutely no tolerance for winter weather.
“All right, all right, we’re going in,” he said, his breath turning to clouds of mist in the cold Hinterlands air. He clicked his tongue and the Pandaren bear cub jogged to his side from the steaming puddle at the base of a bush he had just been visiting. The cub was still full of energy, even with winter coming on, while Frostmaw — who by all rights should have been enjoying the icy weather — was sprawled out asleep in front of the fireplace in the basement of Aerie Peak. “I was just enjoying the winter stars.”
It was true: Ringo, long before he’d taken to the life of a rifleman, had always felt a sort of affinity for the stars of the winter sky, particularly for the constellation called The Hunter. It was the sort of thing that made Beli roll her eyes in exasperation, so Ringo kept it to himself. His wife was a child of warmer climes and daylight hours. Getting her to come north and fight the Witherbark and Vilebranch Trolls on behalf of the Wildhammer Clan had taken more than a little work on his part.
Beli had opened her mouth to reply when the world exploded.
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