He took the cloth and hefted it in his hand. He stroked the fabric between his fingers and held it up to the dangling lights to look at the weave. Suddenly, he snapped the curtains to the porthole of the room shut and looked at us with a serious gaze, “Where did you find this?”
“is that-“, Ras started to say before Tizzo cut him off.
“No, WHERE did you find THIS!”, Tizzo’s voice hissed, trying not to shout, “Because THIS can’t be here, Grim.”
“I’ll take that as a y-“, I answered smugly.
“You’ll take this right outta here and, if you’re smart, throw it overboard – now. You bring me…”, Tizzo stopped himself from raising his voice. He tried to start again but just puffed his cheeks then clenched his jaw hard; you know, like when you see that little muscle wiggle under your skin? He leaned in and barely whispered,” you bring me pyrosilk as if I dont know what it is?”
Ras looked at Uncle T and asked in a most uncomfortable and normal volume, “What’s pyrosilk?”
Both Uncle T and I looked at Ras, “Sssh!”
Uncle T continued, “Lower your voice; you want to wind up hanging from an anchor as turtle bait?”
Ras shrugged his shoulders as he looked back at me. Uncle Tizzo looked at Ras and sank into a pineapple embroidered lounge chair, clearly exhausted, “This…this isn’t silk. It’s a special kind of volcanic glass.”
“Glass? Why doesn’t it-“, Ras asked, knowing a thing or two about engineering and glass.
“Snap? Because its made – organically; naturally woven.”, Tizzo said trying to keep from hyperventilating. “It’s from a volcanic spider near Kezan. They live in the glass tunnels around…”
“The Undermine?”, I barely mouthed the whisper with wonder in my eyes. Tizzo didn’t share my childhood wonder of the place. He looked almost guilty acknowledging it. The Undermine was where the most brilliant, and frightening, ingenious creations, gizmos, and ideas came from in all of goblindom. Countless bedtime stories were spun from it’s halls to inspire and frighten. Nothing ever small came from the Undermine.
“So? It’s a glass from home. How come I’ve never heard of it?”, Ras asked rather unimpressed. He squinted trying the see the intricate pattern twisting and sliding that kept it flexible.
Tizzo exhaled, “The spiders are farmed for the pyrosilk. It’s reserved for special purpose use by the… by the Underhand; special uses as in engineering, armor, and covert operations.”
Uncle T ran his fingers over the edges and a splinter tinkled to the floor, “Where’s the rest of it?”, he asked.
Ras looked at me, then down at the floor while I smiled sheepishly, “It was covering a statue, amazing craftsmanship; it was almost like it was staring back at me. I had to burn it as a distraction. The only way was to immolate it with felfire at point blank range. Once part of it caught it unravelled. I was able to keep this part safe tucked in my hand.”
Tizzo didn’t share my optimism, “You got lucky! It could’ve reflected back onto you and incinerated both of you.”
The conversation was interrupted by the gurgle of the espresso pot finishing with a throaty whisper. Tizzo grabbed a few mugs on plates and asked, “A statue huh? What kind of statue? Naga? Murloc?”
“Why would you assume it was something aquatic?”, Ras asked, his mechanical mind piqued at Uncle Tizzo’s guess.
Tizzo began to pour the rich brown syrup and looked over at us, “I been around”, clearly not answering his question. “Well, what’s the Underhand?”, Ras asked clearly getting more interested in the conversation.
Tizzo dropped a mug with a clatter and walked toward us ignoring the mess, steaming pot in hand.
“Grim, I assume that he being with you means you trust him. The fact that you had a huge amount of blood on your clothes yet are still alive tells me you’ve seen trouble together. So unless I’m wrong – and stop me if I am – I will say this one time.”
There was a pregnant pause answered only by Ras and my expectant stares.
Tizzo turned and got another mug and served the espresso. As he sat down, he took a long sip, inhaled deeply and said – clearly inspired by the espresso, “The Underhand are the five most powerful goblin families of engineers artisans and mages. Together they form the most powerful and richest goblin families and manipulate every aspect of business…and more.”
He took another sip, “They work below the waves in the volcanic glass caverns. It’s where they learned and mastered the art of farming glass pyrosilk. It became a trademark of their authority, their favor, or their only warning; any of which is a sign of trouble.
“But”, asked Ras, “they’re gone now. All Kezan is gone. When the Mount Kajaro exploded, it destroyed everything. Couldn’t someone have simply taken it from someone else and used it?”
Tizzo stared back at him almost sympathetically, “No…they’re not gone. You don’t understand. They were so powerful they ran the war… they made the inventions… they controlled the military… they controlled Gallywix. Everything.”
“Uncle T, where can I find out who made this or what this was for? You used to tell all sorts of stories of when you worked for-“, I said feeling like a little kid back home again.
Tizzo set his mug down, “Denberg”, he blurted out before becoming agitated, “You’re already in dangerous waters Grim! Don’t make me sorry – you’re family but don’t push it. This is already too much. That volcano did a lot of us a favor. Gave us a chance to walk away, start a new life and erase the past. Some things are better left buried beneath the waves.”
“I think he’s in charge at Orgrimmar of the zepplin operation. I helped work on the project for the second tower they built years ago.”, Ras said.
“Enough,” Uncle T shouted, slamming down the pot spilling hot espresso over his hand, “I know you can be stubborn but now you’re just being thick. I told you forget about it. Get rid of THIS and move on. I don’t want to talk about pyrosilk or the Underhand. As a matter fact I’m done with this! You- you’re going to have to go. I’m sorry but I can’t afford to have any more trouble from the past or the present.” Tizzo began shoving us out to the door, espresso pot still bubbling in his hand.
“Okay! Okay, Uncle T! Please, oh you’re right. Just let me ask you something else?! Does the name Vynnie mean anything to you?”, I asked pleading at the door.
Uncle Tizzo stopped. “Vynnie? Vynnie…”, and then as if remembering a nightmare said “No, no. No. No! NO!”, visibly shaking. “Do not say anything more! You are not talking to me. I do not hear you! You have to go you and your friend don’t come back or I’ll make sure that I hang you on an anchor myself for turtle bait; you hear me?! GET OUT!
And with that shoved both of us out the door. Before you close the door he took one last look at me stared me straight me eyes and in a low voice breaking with emotion, said, “You be gone by tonight, understand? I don’t want to see you on this barge or I’ll throw you off myself.” The hatch slammed closed, the cool breeze puffing in our faces. I could barely hear a sound…it sounded like my uncle…crying.