Two goblins clad in armour far too large for them swaggered forward from the bottom of the steps.
“Your kind knows not to come into Azshara. You’ll pay for this.”
As they prepared to attack Zipzil jumped off the hippogryph and rushed to my defence.
“Hold it there! She’s with me!”
The two goblins stumbled.
“You – what?”
“We need to get in, now. Something bad’s happened in Ashenvale. We need to alert Bilgewater.”
“You ain’t gettin’ past us with that spiel, traitor-”
“We don’t have time for this!” With that I leapt off the hippogryph and barrelled past the two guards. Their yells brought light to my eyes as the door flung open and I nearly ran straight into an orc.
“What in Hellscream’s name is going on here? Why is there an elf in the middle of Horde territory?” I launched into full explanation before he could try to attack.
“Bomb gone off in Silverwind Refuge, massive forest fire, Silverwind wiped off the map, the detonator’s supposed to be here. Right here. And that detonator is the only way the bomb could have gone off and we need to see it, now!”
Silence fell in the dim light until a goblin joined the stunned orcish commander at the door.
“Krogg? What’s goin’ on?”
“Molotov, this elf says that a detonator here for a bomb in Ashenvale went off today. Do you know anything about this?”
The goblin went as pale as his compatriots.
“That’s impossible. No one’s been in that vault today.”
“Well a bomb went off, and your happy-go-lucky engineers assured the warchief himself that that detonator was the only way the bomb would go off! We need to check the vault!”
‘Molotov’ stuttered. The guards seemed to have stopped their desire to attack out of plain shock.
“But Mida’s the only one with the key. She’s in Orgrimmar. It couldn’t have been-
“GET MIDA! NOW!”
Without any disagreement the goblin raced off, rather athletically, down into the main body of the town. The orc was silent for about a minute, looking Zipzil, Kalandrios and I up and down before finding his capacity to speak again.
“How do you know this? We haven’t heard anything from our scouts out of the ordinary all night.”
“I was there when it happened. Silverwind and everything in a mile-wide radius is completely burnt out. No survivors but Zipzil here. He explained that it was a bomb. As for our speed, we got a lift.” The hippogryph wandered off slightly, not acknowledging my company, simply digging around the ground for something edible.
“You – goblin. Is this true?”
Zipzil frowned. “Every word of it, Warlord, as much as I hate that it is. Oriet saved my life.”
To say the wizened orc was taken aback would be an understatement.
“W-well then. I suppose I am… thankful. But why come all the way here to drop off a goblin?”
“To warn you. And, if possible, to find out who is responsible. Better to know who is to blame and target them than start a terrible circle of retaliation. Especially given the nature of the world we live in.”
Footfalls behind me signalled someone’s arrival. I spun to see the commander from earlier, with a young goblin woman still in her nightclothes, and behind her a rather tall goblin in some semblance of rushed dress, concern etched across her face.
“Krogg, what’s this about a bomb? I haven’t authorised any bombing.”
“No, and no bombing has been ordered. But this elf says – and the engineer beside her confirms – that a very large bomb went off in Ashenvale earlier tonight.”
The eyes of the women widened in what looked like utter terror.
“Gods no, Krogg. Not that one. That wasn’t ready yet, and it wasn’t meant to be used. How’d it go off?”
“That’s why we called you. You’re the only one who can get into the detonator’s vault.”
“It can’t have been that. That’s impossible.” The tall goblin woman turned to me. “I hear you saved one of my engineers. Thank you. I won’t forget it. Name’s Mida, second-in-command of Bilgewater Cartel. I’m afraid Gallywix is away on business, but you won’t regret not having his pleasure.” Mida ushered us all inside and locked the door shut. “Precautions, I’m afraid. This bomb was our most top-secret weapon, only to be used for the most dire emergencies. Never, I assure you, for thoughtless annihilation of life.” Mida opened an inconspicuous part of the wall, revealing a technology rich panel. She typed in a code and the section of wall began to lift up.
“Normally, members of the Alliance and low-ranking members of the Horde would never see this. But desperate times.” Mida pulled a long chain of keys out of her pocket and grabbed a torch from the wall, leading us down into a passage moving directly underneath Bilgewater. As Mida led us through a labyrinth of tunnels like a tour guide, she reeled off bits of information about what each room was for and what each piece of technology did, never once slowing down.
Eventually, we reached a large dead-end room filled with square vault doors and several inactive elevators. Rather than move to a specific vault, Mida began inserting the keys into a large control panel filled with keyslots. Her voice was partially obscured by the noise as the vaults all began to open.
“This is the most technologically-protected position outside of Kezan – maybe even including it, after the Shattering. The vaults in here contain some of the plans of all the Horde’s most important military operations. We goblins do not take our security lightly. These vaults are the most protected in all of Azeroth. No one should have gotten past-”
Mida cut herself short as an deafening silence fell. Every vault in the room was empty. There was no new technology here. No military directives or plans or objectives. There was nothing here, and most importantly, no detonator.
Someone had stolen the detonator. Someone had bypassed all the technology of the Bilgewater Cartel and set off the bomb.