The Guns of Khaz Modan

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The Guns of Khaz Modan

Post by Ringo Flinthammer » 11 Nov 2004 12:45 pm

It is difficult to know when things begin.

In a tale or a song, there is a beginning, a middle and an end. But as my father always said, "life ain't no song, lad."

Did it begin the day, two decades ago, when the Dark Portal opened in the Black Morass, letting the first orcs into the world? Did it begin the day my mother strapped my baby brother to her back, stuck a gun in my hands, and told us to keep quiet as we ran through the snow and trees so the Dragonmaw orcs wouldn't spot us as we fled our home? Or did it begin the day I shot my first Dragonmaw, rifle shaking in my hand so badly, I almost shot my brother's ear off?

Did it begin the day Muradin Bronzebeard hired my older brothers to accompany him on an adventure to Northrend? Or did it begin when Prince Arthas of Lordaeron, Arthas Menethil, Arthas the Betrayer burned their ships, abandoning them to the cold and the spiders and the undead in his quest for vengeance, to die in the frozen north?

Did it begin the day I joined Feanor Steeltoe's expedition to Lordaeron to help him stalk the black dragon Searinox? Or when one of Searinox's whelps fell on me, dead, breaking my leg in two places, laying me up, keeping me from going to war when the great horns of Ironforge Mountain sounded once more?

Did it begin when the undead Scourge swept through Lordaeron, and the Alliance was too slow, too comfortable to rise to the challenge? Did it begin when I stood on crutches in Menethil Harbor, waving farewell to my father and mother as they boarded the ships, sailing west to some land called Kalimdor, following Jaina Proudmoore of the Kirin Tor, while Lordaeron burned in the north? Did it begin when my parents died, side by side, my mother singing a battle hymn as she stood over my father as he bled out into the Mount Hyjal snow, watching the approach of the Burning Legion, a warhammer clutched before her? Or did it begin that day when I received the letter from Theramore, telling me what had happened?

Enough.

I am Ringo Flinthammer of Clan Bronzebeard.

My story begins here.
Last edited by Ringo Flinthammer on 07 Jan 2006 08:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Ringo Flinthammer » 11 Nov 2004 01:41 pm

The pounding sounded like drums, like war drums, beaten by an orc astride a great beast, beating furiously, the sound and the vibration rattling teeth and raising hair on the scalp. But it wasn't war drums, although the sound was punctuated by screams and flashes of sickly green light and the roar of huge predators.

Ringo awoke with a soft cry, sitting up in bed, sweat cooling on his skin where the furs had slid off his chest. He blinked, shaking his head of the sight and sounds. Quietly, he slipped out of bed, walking over to the slit window that looked down into the Coldridge Valley from his home in one of the cliff towers built into the mountainside.

There was a soft noise from the bed.

"What is it? Is it the bear?" Beli asked from bed, voice soft and groggy with sleep.

Ringo glanced at the black and white bear cub in his basket, twitching with baby bear dreams. The cub had arrived a week ago, with a note saying "In memory of your mother and father." Even the Explorer's Guild had never seen such a bear, nor could they identify the strange symbol that had signed the note.

"Nay, the bear is fine. I just had a bad dream." He pressed himself against the thick glass of the window, cold on his skin, sweat making warm streaks against the cool glass.

Beli grunted, concerned but too sleepy to stay awake, sinking back into the mounds of furs in the dim light peeping through the slit.

Ringo searched the snowfield beyond the window. The snow was clear, only a few swirls of ice crystals blown off a nearby bluff moving in the stillness of the hour. He closed his eyes and could see the field again, lit by green streaks of fire raining down from the sky, trees shaking free of ice and snow from the impacts, birds and animals racing away in fear from the roar of the infernals climbing from the craters. It was the same dream he'd been having for weeks now.

He opened his eyes again in the dark, mouth dry, voice a whisper.

"The Burning Legion is coming back."
Last edited by Ringo Flinthammer on 03 Dec 2004 09:37 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Ringo Flinthammer » 15 Nov 2004 04:40 pm

Ringo loaded the shot into his blunderbuss, keeping an eye on the bear cub. It had seemed dangerously interested in the targets a little while ago, but now was rolling on its back in the snow, playing with a large pinecone, flinging it up in the air with all four paws, then catching it, growling and biting it, rolling and tumbling through the snow in mock combat with the defiant toy.

"A dream?" Beli stood behind him, her hands wrapped around a mug of scalding morningbrew. "Like a vision?"

"I told you, I don't know," Ringo lifted the gun, bracing the stock firmly against the meat of his shoulder, sighting carefully. The metal disks atop the split logs had once been Dragonmaw helmets, but after countless target practices, they had been torn to ragged metal shreds by shot. Periodically, Ringo had one of the Anvilmar smiths heat up the helmets and bang them back into more or less circular shapes, but at this point, no one would know without being told they had once been helms worn by the orcs who had conquered Khaz Modan during the darkest days of the Second War. "I just had a dream."

"Did any ravens talk to you? Or turn into magicians?"

He lowered the gun and looked back at her over his shoulder. He couldn't tell from the eyes peeping over the rim of the mug whether or not she was teasing him.

"Nay, missus," he sighted the targets once more, then squeezed the trigger. The shot went wide, spraying the snow with pellets, and he lowered the gun to adjust the sight. The bear cub had squealed at the thunderous noise, and had burrowed under Beli's dress. "I'm not Thrall."

She grunted, squatting down, pulling her dress back, exposing the bear's face, cooing softly to calm him.

"You never can tell." She glanced up at Ringo. "Dun Morogh has a lot more problems than just your bad dreams."

"Aye, I know." He returned the gun to his shoulder, sighting again. "Frostmanes, Rockjaws, Dark Irons." The shot rang off the helmet, spinning it off the log. "I'm thinking we need to restart the militia."

There was a silence behind him, and his shoulders stiffened. He had meant to have a few beers in her when he brought this up. He turned, hands spread in the helpless supplication all husbands learn as a survival instinct soon enough.

Beli was stalking off through the crunching snow, the bear jumping happily along after her, misreading her return home as a sign of dinner. He could see her fists clenched in anger.

"Maybe I better camp out tonight," he murmured, pulling on his mustache.
Last edited by Ringo Flinthammer on 03 Dec 2004 09:37 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Ringo Flinthammer » 17 Nov 2004 02:30 pm

"What are you going to name the bear?" Grelin Whitebeard had cleared a spot on the Anvilmar bar, and dipped his quill into the bronze inkwell by his hand, continuing to write.

Ringo looked at the cub, who was currently trying to chew on a chair leg.

"I dunno. Beli said something about naming it after the black and white colors, but ... what's black and white?"

Grelin looked up.

"Snow at the mouth of a mine shaft?"

"Aye," Ringo nodded, wiping flecks of Thunderbrew from his lips with the back of his hand. "Not a good name for a bear, though."

"Nay," Grelin conceded, returning to the note.

"Where's your pointy hat? I was telling Beli I wanted a hat like that for me birthday."

"Ah," Grelin colored a bit behind his beard. "My brother wouldn't shut up about it. Said it made me look like a gnome warlock."

"Your brother needs to get that stick removed from his hairy butt, Grelin."

"Won't be arguing with that." Coming to a blank line, Grelin looked up. "So, what are you going to call this militia, then?"

Ringo tried to read the note upside down on the bar. It was the first time that he could recall that someone was writing a note to him that would be read before the High Seat, and this made him more nervous than anything else about this whole decision.

"Was thinking the 'Dun Morogh Irregulars.'"

Grelin shook his head.

"Nay. They registered a few weeks ago, once the king made his proclamation about reinstating the militias. Their leader actually got beaten by some senators' canes, they were so mad at the king going against their wishes."

"Oh. Hmm." Ringo considered. "I don't know, then."

"Don't worry yourself over it." Grelin folded the letter, then poured hot wax on the fold, sealing it, then marking it with his signet ring. "I'll have them leave this in the king's office in Ironforge. Pick it up when you get there. They'll approve all the rest, and will just finalize it when you have a name and the members you need."

"Well, good. That'll give me some time to calm Beli down. I brought home a brace of rabbits this morning, and a boar, and she threw a keg at me. Called me a 'sawed-off son of a bitch.'" He tugged at his mustache, eyes shadowed by furry eyebrows.

Grelin glanced up as he corked his inkwell, grinning.
Last edited by Ringo Flinthammer on 03 Dec 2004 09:37 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Ringo Flinthammer » 20 Nov 2004 10:01 pm

Once the gunshots stopped echoing, the bear cub bounded out of the tunnel, into the snow, the violence of a moment before already forgotten.

Ringo checked the bloody bodies of the troggs, turning up only a few shiny rocks and a half-eaten piece of some sort of rotten meat. He squinted as the bear leaped through snowdrifts, the glare bright this morning. Ringo slipped his goggles up from around his neck, fitting them over his eyes. Hefting his pack, he followed the bear.

"Come on, you. You can play when we get to Kharanos."

Slinging his blunderbuss over his shoulder, he stumped down the hill, heading down the pass, chewing a cold sausage.

The troggs in the tunnel were new, and they disturbed him. He'd known security in Dun Morogh wasn't what it used to be, what with the trolls pushing their way back into the Coldridge Valley, but he hadn't expected the one pass through to the rest of the kingdom to be held by invaders. Things were worse than he'd imagined.

"About time you got here." Beli hopped off the tree stump, brushing snow from her rear and slinging her backpack back onto her shoulders. "My arse was about to freeze right off."

The bear squeaked with delight, and fumbled towards her through the snow. Ringo just gaped.

"What are you doing here?"

She rolled her eyes as she reached down to scratch the bear under his chin.

"You'll just end up shooting yourself in the foot or doing yourself an injury with that bloody axe you've got strapped to your waist, as though it hasn't been years since you fought anything more dangerous than firewood with it. If you're committed to this damn fool militia idea of yours, I might as well go along and keep you out of trouble instead of just patching you up later." She pointed a finger at him warningly. "But judging how damn slow you got through those troggs, I'm warning ye right now to keep up or you'll find me 10 miles down the road, with my feet up in front of the fire at the Thunderbrew's inn, aye?"

"Oh, aye." Ringo chewed, grinning as he followed her down the hill. "Fancy a bit of sausage, by any chance?"

"Don't push your luck," she said, "I'm still mad at you, Ringo Flinthammer."

Ringo cackled to himself, and stomped after her through the snow.
Last edited by Ringo Flinthammer on 03 Dec 2004 09:37 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Post by Ringo Flinthammer » 21 Nov 2004 01:34 am

The gnome pressed her nose to the bear's black one. The bear seemed a little perplexed by this, but highly entertained.

"And what's your name?" She batted her big blue eyes at the bear, laying prone on the distillery's floor, feet kicking in the air.

"Crapper." Ringo growled, quaffing a rhapsody malt before spitting foam across the bar as Beli's hand retracted from a location only wives normally freely grab in public. "OR! We don't have a name picked out yet! Muradin's beard, woman, you're gong to leave me a eunuch! And I need another malt!"

The gnome leaned forward, and began whispering into the bear's ear. Turning his delicate parts away from Beli, Ringo sipped his new drink, watching the bear and gnome on the floor.

"What's her story, then?"

Jarven Thunderbrew glanced up from wiping the bar clean of beer spit.

"Dolly? Gnome's not right in the head, I'm afraid."

Beli wiped her mouth and pushed the trencher of roasted boar meat away from her.

"She doesn't look like a leper gnome."

"Nay, it's not that." Jarven put the mug down, sighing. "The stress of what happened in Gnomeregan caused her to ..." He made a vague gesture with his hand, indicating Dolly was somehow unstable.

Dolly was muttering strange noises on the floor now, eliciting growls of excitement from the bear, who was sure this was some interesting new game.

"What's she doing now?" Ringo gestured with his mug. Dolly was moving stiffly around the room, trailed by the bear.

Jarven scratched at his whiskers.

"Dolly was one of the Techbot technicians. When it went crazy, she snapped. Thinks she's a robot herself now."

Ringo shook his head, gesturing with his empty mug for another.

Jarven poured him another, looking abashed as he did so.

"The Gnomeregan Benevolent Association paid me a deposit to watch her here, but it's run out and she has a habit of wandering into guests' rooms at night and starting conversations. I'm losing business because of her. Next time I head to Ironforge, I was going to turn her over to High Tinker Mekkatorque. Let him deal with her."

Beli poked Ringo in the back.

"Light blast you, woman, I didn't say ANYTHING!"

"Take her with us." Beli said.

"Eh? You're against the entire idea of a militia, so now you want to take along an insane gnome?"

"She doesn't have to fight. If she used to be an engineer in Gnomeregan, she's probably organized. She could be our quartermaster."

"Since when are you worried about barmy gnomes? You hate people."

"She needs someone to watch over her. The gnome king just cares about vengeance. Anyway, don't argue with me, it's settled."

Beli wandered over to the gnome to introduce herself, who snapped out of her rigid gait to twirl around, modeling her red dress for the dwarf.

Ringo sighed, downing his drink.

"This is what I get for marrying a Rockbottom girl, eh?"
Last edited by Ringo Flinthammer on 03 Dec 2004 09:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Ringo Flinthammer » 23 Nov 2004 08:33 am

The guard glared down at them, beard bristling.

Ringo tugged at Dolly's sleeve.

"Kneel, girlie!" Then, to Beli, kneeling on the other side of him, "I told you we shouldn't have brought her."

"Shhh!" Beli scowled, "The king!"

He raised his eyes, peeping up through bushy eyebrows as King Magni Bronzebeard stepped out onto the dias, lit by pools of lava to either side of the High Seat itself.

"ALL HAIL, KING MAGNI BRONZEBEARD, THANE OF CLAN BRONZEBEARD, RULER OF IRONFORGE, LORD OF ALL KHAZ MODAN. LONG LIVE THE KING!"

"Long live the king!" echoed Ringo and Beli, along with the rest of the assembled court. Dolly was quietly muttering something about her dress, but at least she was kneeling. Ringo had begged the cousin they were staying with in town to keep the bear, but Dolly had managed to make a mess in the tailoring shop, and Mangorn had refused to take her.

Court business was tedious, mostly the king adjudicating over mining claims, and hearing reports about the problems in Bael Modan. Ringo was curious about the famous archeological dig in Kalimdor, but most of the discussion had to do with troop numbers in the fortress the dwarves had built to guard it, and supply lines and tariffs in Ratchet. Finally, it was their turn.

"And finally, two from House Flinthammer, of Your Majesty's clan," the courtier said, reading off the scroll. King Magni's eyes flickered briefly to the Flinthammers, with no spark of recognition. Clan Bronzebeard was the largest clan in Khaz Modan since the War of the Three Hammers, and Ringo would have been surprised had the king known either of them.

The courtier fumbled a moment, glancing up at the senators clustered around the edge of the dias. He edged away from them, towards the steps down, in case he needed to run. Senator Barin Redstone surveyed him coolly, hand gripping on his knobby walking stick.

"They're here to form a militia. Eep!" The courtier flinched as Redstone took a quick step forward, before stepping back, eyes boring into the king.

The king's eyes lifted slowly to the Flinthammers.

"Oh ho? So Khaz Modan has in it a few more dwarves who remember their courage?" The king fingered his long braided beard, the silver rings woven into it gleaming in the lava light. The chamber was quiet, the sounds of industry in the Great Forge echoing through the passageways.

The courtier coughed.

"Er, yes, Your Majesty." Ringo blushed furiously, and was aware of Redstone studying his face, making it very clear he would remember Ringo's face and name. "There's them trolls in Coldridge and the troggs. And them Dark Iron buggers."

Beli's hand found his, and gave it a squeeze.

"And we're concerned about the possibility of the Burning Legion returning, so please Your Majesty," she said.

The king grunted loudly, idly picking a piece of his lunch from his beard.

"You are wise to be concerned." He popped the morsel in his mouth, chewing. "And will you be consorting with pirates again, Master Flinthammer?"

Beli clapped her free hand to her face in horror, covering her eyes. Her hand squeezed Ringo's painfully, warningly.

"Er, no, Your Majesty. Well, we don't expect to. Last we heard, that Riverdane privateer fella is chasing another bunch of pirates around the Maelstrom." Beli squeezed his hand again anyway. "NOT that we'd spend time with a person of his repute anyway, sir. Your Majesty."

The king grunted again, considering.

"No, of course not. We have a few names we might suggest for your militia, Master Flinthammer. Subject to your approval, of course." The king's tone suggested that very few dwarves had ever dared to fail to approve one of his decisions. A sidelong glance towards Redstone said they were all senators.

"I'm, I'm sure they will all make wonderful additions to the militia, Your Majesty, sir."

"Yes, well, I will have them get in touch with you through your cousin's shop here in Ironforge, or through your cousin's stable in Menethil Harbor."

"Excellent, sir, er, Your Majesty. Thank you."

"Now then," the king held out an expectant hand to his courtier, who dropped the charter into the king's waiting hand, then hustled over to him with a granite tablet with a built in inkwell and a gold fountain pen. The king scanned the charter. "There's no name here. I'll write it in for you. What do you call your militia?"

Ringo glanced over at Beli and winked.

"Sawed Off, Your Majesty."
Last edited by Ringo Flinthammer on 03 Dec 2004 09:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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