Chapter 3 Continued
Gimmlette cradled her tankard in her hands and looked at the floor. “I got my armor regemmed. Craghelm wanted to know why I thought I could stop Gauss and a For the Horde group by myself because he’s only had one other person come into his shop with this much damage to their armor and they stood next to the mailbox at the tram and shouted, ‘You shall not pass!’ as Gauss and friends trampled him underfoot. I just said it was funny until the gems fell out. He removed some hairs from Hogger’s forearm that were lodged in the gem sockets and tossed them on the floor. The damned things started moving. I swear. He stomped on them and that didn’t stop them so we picked them up and tossed them into the fire. There was a pop, like a single firework going off and I know I heard someone laughing in my head. Craghelm heard it, too. It was just arm hair. Granted, Hogger’s arm hair is longer than any of ours but they just seemed to warp the space around them. You could clearly see them on the floor. Of course, Craghelm wants to know what the hell that was. I just told him I lost my pet and had to revive him. Man, as soon as I could get out of there, I left. It’s got to be all over Ironforge now, that something got me that no one has seen before.”
Superkind leaned forward. “Did you talk to Magni?”
“Not at first. I heard that laugh in my head and it was like my heart went cold. I went to the bar in the Military Ward and drank about 4 beers, one after another. I can still hear it in my head, like a faint echo, when my mind isn’t thinking of something else. I realized that maybe Magni should know. So I sauntered in his direction, pretending not to be on a mission to talk to him. I got to the door of the throne room and saw Craghelm talking to him. When they saw me, Magni motioned for me to come forward.”
Gimmlette took another swig of beer. “Did Tyrande tell you what the fear is?”
“Yes,” Superkind said. “It’s not Hogger. It’s some demon they don’t know. Hogger is merely a convenient form for it. She also said the cork I had in the mouth of the vial wasn’t going to contain the contents. The alchemist nodded, wrote down a bunch of items and had her assistant go get them. She was gone 20 minutes and then the alchemist made this seal. It’s a gold infused plug covered with an enchanted strip of Borean leather and then sealed again with titanium. If we need to get at the contents of this, we have to take it to her. Oh and one other thing, only those of us who have been ‘touched’ can hold this. It will burn anyone else. Wanna try holding it Rin?”
Rineva gave Superkind a look that would curdle seal whey.
“Didn’t think so,” Superkind laughed and he tucked the vial inside his armor. “Tyrande told me not to put it in my bag because, eventually, it will eat a hole in the bag. Nor could I put it in the bank because bankers routinely snoop through your stuff and, if they found it, it could wind up in the wrong hands. So, she made this pocket and I carry it. At some point, we have to move the contents to a new vial as this tuff eats the vial from the inside out. She wouldn’t tell me what would happen if the vial broke and the contents spilled. I’m guessing it’s not good.”
Skipperdo looked at Gimmlette. “Can I tell them?”
Gimmlette sighed, “Yeah. Go ahead. We all need to hear it.”
“I don’t know about breaking the vial, but I do know we are on limited time. TdK was summoned, physically, to Bronzebeard’s chambers, arriving shortly after Gimm got there. He was followed by Muninn Magellas who was carrying a very old book. We went around the back of Bronzebeard’s throne where there was a hidden button. A door opened to stairs leading down. Two guards grabbed torches and we walked down these stairs to a circular room with an ancient map inlay on the floor. It was no place that I’d ever seen.
“Muninn set the book down in the center of the floor. TdK pulled out a silver rod with a hand on the end. We were told to stand back. He extended the rod and gingerly clasped the cover with that hand and opened the book. There was a flash and a puff of greenish smoke. The book began to quiver and started turning circles on the floor. They all just stood there and watched like it was something they saw every day. Then it stopped. There was a growl and the pages turned from yellow to tan. Muninn walked over to the book and motioned for us to come look.
“It was a book about the Titans. It’s written in a language they haven’t fully deciphered. There are lots of drawings. The best they can tell is that it’s a book about the war that sundered the world; that created the dwarves; created all the continents and the maelstrom. It might even be stories about creating the Titans themselves but they don’t know.
“Muninn turned the pages to a picture of a demon. He said it’s one of the old gods, maybe older than an old god. It was awakened during the war. It chose the side against everyone. It was shoved into the earth, deep into the earth, entombed where the Titans felt it would never awaken again. Someone found references to it and has started to call it forth. If they succeed in a full call, the sky will be obliterated by a blackness we can’t imagine and this battle against Arthas will seem like a mosquito bite on the arm of history.”
Junas sat back in his chair. “Yeah so? What does this have to do with Hogger? It’s a nice story, full of stuff you scare kids at night so they brush their teeth or go to bed at a decent hour. It doesn’t explain what that is.” He pointed to Superkind’s vial. “Nor does it explain what happened to us.”
“There is more,” Skipperdo said. “Someone somewhere in the world is calling this old demon forth or is letting them back into the world. Someone is making the potions that allow the demon to take over the Hogger we all laugh at. Those potions allow that demon a body to run around Azeroth with. Technically, Hogger shouldn’t have attacked us, shouldn’t be attacking soldiers. Technically, Hogger should be pacing around a campfire. Instead, he's waiting on the next batch of potions from whomever is giving them to him, waiting and watching. At a certain point, the demon will be strong enough to fully consume Hogger and then the demon will be let loose on the world.
“The problem is," Skipperdo continued. "Hogger is still inside this thing and Hogger likes to take down people. Plus, they think whomever is giving Hogger the potions doesn’t have the mix quite right. So, Hogger occasionally surfaces, realizes he’s got all this power and attacks the Brigade. We just happened to be there when he ran through.”
Superkind sat back in his chair. “That explains his eyes. I was looking at two people in those eyes. One seemed aware of me but just wanted to kill me. The other was a blackness, a gaze of complete contempt for my existence. I was seeing the demon and Hogger.”
“Yes,” replied Gimmlette. “The problem is that because we were attacked and killed by this Hogger thing, we have been exposed to whatever is being introduced into him. Zelde, you, too, have been exposed because you happened to rez us within an hour of our dying. We have, maybe, 4 weeks before we will turn green, collapse and then dissolve into a green smoke. They have seen this in all the guards killed by Hogger.
“Once rezzed, they start showing, at 4 weeks, uncharacteristic behavior and then staying up all night and claiming they don’t need sleep. They attack other guards and people in an attempt to kill them. When locked away, they foam at the mouth and talk in a strange language no one knows. Eventually, they are wracked with pain before dying. The smoke is ‘alive’ because it looks for a way out of the prison. Bronzebeard said they haven’t been able to track where the smoke goes, but they think it goes back to Hogger and the demon in him needs it to continue his metamorphosis.”
The party was silent as they contemplated this news.
“So,” said Junas, after a few minutes. “Are we doomed?”
Gimmlette looked at Superkind. “Magni said you would have you have an answer for that.”
Superkind smiled and removed a palm-sized orb from his backpack. “I don’t know if I can answer the ‘Are we doomed’ question, but Tyrande gave me this and said I should use it when we were all together. It would take us to the one person who could answer our questions. It’s a one-way trip and it’s only once, but whoever is at the end of this portal can tell us what we’re supposed to do next.”
The orb glowed with a silvery white light. Gimmlette knocked back the rest of her ale. She tossed a few gold coins on the table.
“I’m not interested in being demon food. Let’s go.” She said and stood up in front of Superkind.
The rest of the party stood up, finished their drinks and pushed their chairs away.
“Junas, grab one arm. Zel, grab the other. The rest of you, hang onto one of them. I gotta use both hands to rub this, Tyrande said.” Superkind instructed.
The group stood in a small circle, hanging onto one another. Superkind began to rub the orb. There was a soft whooshing sound that seemed to come from all around them. The silvery light grew in brightness until that was all they could see. There was a pop. The only things left in the Pig and Whistle were the tankards, coins on the table and an errant potion that Superkind forgot to put back in his bag.