A hum, like a deep vibration, stirring the dust on the ground.
No, a hum like a solo hymn being sung in a chapel far, far away thru the rain.
Moving closer then, like the sound of the Deeprun Tram coming down the tunnel.
The stir of the air.
Fast. Too fast. Louder, deeper, higher, a crescendo to a shrill note.
Faster and faster, then suddenly, “whump”, hard ground, packed with pine needles, smashed into Gimmlette’s cheek and all was still.
“What in the name of Bronzebeard…,” she said as she opened her eyes.
Then she stopped short as she saw, mere inches from her face, a pair of lightly-worn, deep purple silken slippers. This however, wasn’t what stopped her. It was more that said slippers were floating about a foot above the forest floor to which her cheek had been recently introduced. Before she could look up to determine the source of said footwear, she let her eyes focus to a stone’s throw away where a paladin was sitting cross-legged, holding a flask to his lips with one hand and rubbing his temples with the other.
“Junas! By your blessed, shiny, armor-plated butt…what happened?”
The reply came from above, though, peppered with a light chuckle. “Don’t mind him, boss, that’s just some of the old ginnintonix to help restore that new-Paladin shine! I hear the trip back from the great beyond can, er, take it right out of ya. By the way, what the heck used you for punching bags?”
Before Gimmlette could reply, Superkind joined them, sailing thru the air in a beam of light to Junas’ feet.
“Would you mind getting Skippy, too, Mr. My-Gear-Is-Slightly-Better?” snarked the voice from above. Junas made a gesture that translated quite well from common into Dwarvish and just about every other language on Azeroth and beyond.
Suddenly nosed over onto her back by a reluctant but affectionate truckload of bear, Gimmlette looked up at an extended hand, attached to a not-especially ascetic-looking young lady dressed in the yet unmistakable garb and comforting aura of a priest.
“What day is it? Where the hell are we? Where have you BEEN?” the dwarf boiled over, regaining her air of leadership.
With a mock half-bow, the priest replied, ticking off the answers on her fingers, “Sunday, Elwynn and missing all the fun, apparently!”
Zelde lazily tossed a few bolts of swirling light at the cloud of dust and sparkling light that hopefully contained a confused but no longer dead Skipperdo. The gnome looked about him, blinking in the bright noon-time sunlight. “Oh, I see how it is. First to die, last to get rezzed,” he said morosely.
“Yeah, pretty much,” Zelde laughed. “So want to tell me what decided to rearrange your atoms on this fine day?”
The group looked at each other.
“Hogger,” Gimmlette said flatly. “The rumors are true.”
Zelde took a deep breath and then looked back over her shoulder with that inextinguishable grin. “Wanna go hunt some gnoll? It’ll be fun.”
Skipperdo looked down at the crumpled hat in his hands. He massaged the brim but the deep creases would not go away.
“Fun. Yes,” he said ruefully. “You have a very sick sense of fun, Zel.”
Junas chuckled, “She’s always been like that.”
“Hey guys?” Gimmlette called as she rummaged through the grass at the base of the tree. “Ursa, you’re no help,” and she pushed the devoted bear aside. “How many gems got knocked off my stuff and do I have them all?”
Zelde dropped to the ground and began scrounging with Gimmlette through the flattened grass. Superkind came over to help after tossing his raptor a chunk of meat. Xlii roared happily and began chewing on the feast.
“Well, stand up and let’s count. What has gems in it?” he asked, looking down kindly at the dwarf. He massaged his own chest. He was one-shotted, by a gnoll. The numbers didn’t add up. He had more health than Gimmlette, yet she lasted through 2 swipes. He had been one-shotted.
But then he remembered the look. Those eyes. Something about those eye right before…He shuddered involuntarily.
“Okay shorty. Either Super’s going to have to get on his knees to see your armor or we’re going to have to give you a lift,” said Zelde with a laugh. She spoke some words, made some gestures and Gimmlette was levitated a foot off the ground. Superkind laughed.
“I still have to kneel down,” he laughed. “Dwarves are too, well, dwarven.”
He knelt down and patted Gimmlette on the head. The look on her face said it all. There would be snowballs later when he least expected it.
“I should have gems in my helm, my chest and my belt,” Gimmlette said, running her hands over the dented chest piece. “Oh Super, you have a gash.”
She pointed to the opening across the chest that started just below his right shoulder and ran diagonally about 10 inches. Junas came over to look.
“Cripes. How the hell is Hogger strong enough to do that or this?” He held up his shield which was in 2 pieces. “We’re going to have to repair for sure.”
“I concur,” said a grouchy voice down by everyone’s knees. Zelde levitated Skipperdo. “I simply cannot get the brim of my hat to lie flat anymore. Portal to Stormwind folks?” Skipperdo began to chant the magic that bent space.
“Wait!” Gimmlette wailed. “My gems! I only have 2!” She opened her hands where she held the topaz for the belt buckle and the King’s Amber for her chest.
Superkind touched her helm. “Gimm, the other two stayed put. You’re good. Let’s get repaired and stock up on some liquids. We have a gnoll to seek and destroy.”
“The Skipperdo Space Warp is open and ready for business,” Skipperdo announced.
“Hey, let’s meet at the Boar and Flower…” began Junas.
“You mean Pig and Whistle,” interjected Gimmlette, who had removed her helm and was looking it over carefully.
“Yeah, whatever the name is. You dwarves know the bars better than me. Anyway, let’s meet there after we repair. Maybe spend some time asking around. See if anyone else has fought this guy and what they did. In a couple hours? Will that work? Great. See you then. This repair bill is gonna hurt.” And Junas jumped through the portal to Stormwind.