Hit the books

Hit the books

The Professor, an abomination, looks at the viewer while standing next to some bookshelves.

“Anything yet, Professor? It feels like it’s been a month! Well, maybe,” Beli Flinthammer mused. “Time is weird here in the Shadowlands. Is it still the Year of the Phoenix?”

“We do not have time as you know it here in the Shadowlands, Butcher,” the Professor rumbled, precise, crisp enunciation coming from a massive body, stitched together from corpses and weapons from around Maldraxxus. “We measure time in ‘cycles,’ but it doesn’t move in the ways you are used to. Do you have something to draw with? When drawn, it looks like the word ‘Jeremy –‘”

“Not important!” Beli snapped. “Back to what we were doing. How about that book?”

The Professor took the tome in his massive hands, carefully turning the pages.

“This is the last one. It’s ‘On Bone and Stone,’ Butcher, a history book recently added to the library here in Butchers Block.”

“And does it have names of the dead?”

The Professor sighed.

“Yes, thousands of them, but nothing recent. These battles took place tens of thousands of cycles ago, long before Azeroth was born.”

Beli fumed.

“Are you telling me there’s no book in Maldraxxus that tells the fate of more recent souls?”

“This library is completely insufficient, as I have said many times,” the Professor said mournfully. “But there are libraries elsewhere, including towers once maintained by the House of Eyes to the north, where secrets known only to them are kept.”

“All right, then, let’s ride.”

Spare parts

Spare parts

“What are you doing, Clyde, you fool?”

“Just dropping off flesh; same as always.”

“Imbecile!” Rathan snapped, looking up from his stitching. “Check the Butcher’s list. They want certain parts put aside for a project they’re working on.”

“We always do it this way: Flesh for the Undying Army, so that we might rise once more and wage war upon our enemies.”

Atticus said the same thing last cycle. Do you know what the Butcher did?”


“They ripped off Atticus’ ears and sewed on sousaphant ears instead so that he could ‘listen better.'”

Clyde whimpered and clapped his hands to the side of his head.

“What sort of monster is the Butcher?”

“They come from a world that knows nothing but war,” Rathan said, snipping off a thread. “Realm-shaking events happen on a regular basis, armies clashing, invasions arriving, even the very landscape being transformed. In times of alleged peace, many from the Butcher’s world still want nothing more than to slaughter each other. Some say … uh, let’s speak of this another time.”

Metal-soled boots clanked up the ramp. There was a wet sound as body parts were emptied from a leather bag.

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Far from home

Far from home

“‘Your light will guide us home,'” Bael Flinthammer read. “’We’ll be back. Not even –‘”

He covered his voice choking off with a cough, folding up the letter to hand Marisi, sitting on his lap, a small Feast of Winter Veil gift that had been delivered alongside the letter.

She tore off the purple and gold wrapping and pulled out a small white figurine free.

“It’s a walrus person!” she squealed. “Made of … bone?”

“Ivory,” Bael said, squinting at the note included with the letter. “The tuskarr carve their discarded tusks into art, Mom says. Neat.”

Marisi marched the squat figure up and down the chair and the boy sitting in it.

“Are they coming home?” she said quietly, not meeting Bael’s eyes. “Are they going to die, too?”

Bael lifted up the folded-up letter, letting his Uncle Ely, returning to the room with mugs of mornbrew, take it from him.

“Nay, they’ll be fine,” Bael said, hoping he sounded more confident than he felt. “They’ve been in all sorts of danger before.

“As long as they’re together, there’s nothing to worry about.”

Scattered to the wind

Scattered to the wind

A strange blue two-headed creature standing by a portal in the wilds of Revendreth.

“What is that thing?”

“Ah donnae, but the venthyr are scared of it, too — run!”

The blue creature made a noise that sounded like a roar, although neither of its heads appeared to have a mouth, even as two more gleaming portals appeared in the area nearby.

“Whoa, whoa, there’s one here, too, back the other way!”

“There is nae other way!”


“Oh, now there’s three of them. Ah really wish we’d brought Rusty with us.”

“Let’s go through one of those portals.”

“Tae where those things are coming from? Ye think that’s an improvement, do ye?”

“We don’t know what’s on the other side, but we know that on this side, we’re about to get ripped to pieces.”

“This is a terrible idea.”

“No time to argue, go!”

“Khaz’goroth on a cracker — her portal closed right behind her. Turn around, Frostmaw, ye great galloot, there’s nae way out here — head for that one instead. This is a terrible idea …”

Another letter from the front

Another letter from the front

Ringo and Beli help the Ebon Blade penetrate the veil to the Shadowlands.

“Dearest Bael,

“Years ago, when you were still a baby, I wrote you another letter from the shadow of Icecrown Citadel. I don’t know if your mother ever shared it with you, since I and at least some of Ashen Verdict made it back alive.

“Your mother and I are there now. We came seeking a priest your mother knows, Scott the Psycho, who we thought might be able to tell us what’s wrong with your mother’s magic. But before we could, the Banshee Queen ripped open the sky. The veil between the world of the living and the land of the dead got torn to pieces.

“The crew of Skybreaker said the Alliance was sending an expedition across to find out whatever the Banshee was up to and to put a stop to it. They asked Lt. Commander Flinthammer — your ma — to be part of that mission. I’m going along to be her aide-de-camp (her assistant).

“When I wrote you that letter from Northrend, I knew I was walking into certain death, or something close to it.

Beli and Ringo ride anima wyrms through the Shadowlands, with the city of Oribos in the background behind them.

“No living person knows what’s waiting for us on the far side of the veil, not even Scott the Psycho.

“But whatever’s happening up here is as bad as anything Azeroth’s faced during your life or mine.

“And somewhere on the other side is Kildris. We’re going to find out why your mother’s magic isn’t working, and we’re going to do everything we can to bring Marisi’s mom back home with us.

“Be kind to Marisi. Be a friend to her, a brother if you can.

“I don’t need to tell you to listen to your Uncle Ely while we’re gone. You’re a good boy — a good man — and already a better one than I’ve ever been. You more than make me proud: You give me an ideal to live up to, even though I know I never will fully measure up. Your light will guide us home.

“We’ll be back. Not even death can keep us from you.

“Love, your father,
Ringo Flinthammer”