14 December 2012

A Fortuitous Meeting

Weipon sank down onto the only chair in her small lodging. She was exhausted, but within minutes she was up and moving again, attempting to unpack the few belongings she had brought with her to Kalimdor. Fu snored quietly by the door, curled up in a prime spot to watch out for his master's safety.

Weipon could hardly remember the rapid turn of events that had led her from a simple martial arts tournament to leaving her homeland via hot air balloon in order to join one side in a long and bitter war. Travel by hot air balloon seemed like a great idea at first, until seasickness, the need for privacy, and general boredom set in. Ji had made sure that Weipon slept at least a few hours during the trip, but she didn't feel rested by a long shot.

They had finally reached Kalimdor and been escorted into the Horde capital city of Orgrimmar. The current Warchief, leader of both the orcs and the other races of the Horde, had given them a very long and rather menacing speech. Weipon had only understood about half, but she couldn't miss the barely-restrained violence in Garrosh Hellscream's demeanor.

Warchief Hellscream had ordered some of the pandaren to fight against some creatures being held captive in the city. Ji had made Weipon sit out, which seemed like a good idea as soon as she got a look at the monsters. Even the exposure to such a small host of different creatures had thrown her for a loop. Her textbooks seemed woefully lacking, now!

Satisfied with their martial prowess, the Warchief had accepted the pandaren into his Horde and had found some dormitories for the newcomers. They were cramped, but they were clean and quiet, and for the first time since the tournament, Weipon felt herself relaxing. Now that the constant stream of adrenaline was fading, and there wasn't anyone around needing her attention her mind could finally calm down...

And there it was. The jumble of painful and agonizing feelings she had been ignoring for the sake of practicality. It was overwhelming - Master Shang's death, while she watched, while she couldn't do anything; killing real, living and breathing creatures with the skill she had practiced since she was young that was supposed to be fun but now it was murderous; leaving her parents, the only home she had ever known, the only culture she had ever experienced, on a half-formed whim, and now she was alone in a strange room in a strange city on a strange continent and everyone was speaking too loudly and in too many languages and she was just so exhausted...!

The nervous energy dissipated. Weipon sat down and began to cry.

She woke to a firm knocking on the door and Fu nudging urgently at her cheek. Groggily, she stumbled to the door. It felt like she had swallowed sand, and her face felt puffy and unfamiliar...oh, right. The inevitable crash after too much excitement. She opened the door.

Ji was waiting, poised to knock again. He shifted this gesture smoothly into a jaunty wave. "Morning, Ms. Silkbrush. Thought you might not have had a chance to get any grub, so I brought over a little something. As a housewarming gift, you could say." He held up something wrapped in paper. It was currently oozing grease, turning the paper clear, and smelled strongly of garlic.

She accepted the curious offering, and had to start again to make her voice come out clearly. "Thanks, Ji. Would you like to come in? I'm afraid I haven't done much to the place yet."

He followed her inside, glancing around and confirming that it was identical to the other pandaren quarters. Fu came over to investigate, so he patted the animal gently while Weipon bustled around, looking for something to serve followed by something to serve it with. Eventually, Ji was presented with tea, hastily brewed and served in a cup Weipon sometimes used to wash her brushes in.

Weipon sat on a stool and unwrapped the greasy food Ji had brought. She found what appeared to be a massive bird's leg, although she did not know what animal it could have come from. It had been fried to a crispy black. Hesitantly, she took a crunchy bite and found it to be palatable.

Ji watched her eat approvingly for a moment, then began to speak. "Listen, Weipon... There's going to be a lot going on in the next few weeks as we figure out how we fit into the "Horde war machine." He said this with some distaste. "I'll be doing a lot of administrative work since I've somehow become the official representative for the Horde pandaren. But I'm setting up some activities: martial arts training, meditation, even some culture classes for the other Horde races. You're welcome to teach, or just attend as a student if you'd prefer. I just don't want you to be too out of sorts. It's important to have some friendly faces when you go to a new place."

Weipon was silent for a moment. She hadn't expected Ji to notice, or even care if she had trouble adjusting to their new home, and now felt overcome with affection for his gesture. "I really appreciate that you stopped by. I think I will try to visit your classes, and if you need instructors, I'd love to help. Once this place is livable, I'll need to get out and get my bearings, I guess."

He nodded, looking slightly relieved that she didn't want to talk about anything too deeply. "Well, I look forward to seeing you in our little slice of Orgrimmar. If you don't see me, I'm sure you'll recognize one of the other students and they can give you whatever you need." He stood, returned his half-drunk tea with a smile, and showed himself out. "Take care of yourself, Weipon," he said seriously, just before closing the door.

Alone again, Weipon decided to make use of the morning she was now awake to appreciate. After arranging her belongings in the chest at the end of the bed, she set about arranging the various mementos she had brought from home. Recipes went onto the small shelf above her tiny hearth fire. The sanxian was placed opposite from the fire, as far away as it could go. She laid out her calligraphy materials on a low table in the same corner. Then, with great reverence, she hung the notes she had gotten from each of her parents on the wall. It was comforting to have a piece of each of their writing. She could see her mother's straightforwardness and affection in the bold strokes of the character she had written. In her father's piece, she clearly read his lightheartedness in the flourishes of each character. Thinking about them brought her back to the sad memories she had made before leaving the Wandering Isle, but it was easier to recall them that it had been the day before.

Eventually, she pulled her confidence together enough to venture out in search of groceries. The nearest food market was a loud, bustling mess of loud customers and even louder vendors, each trying to bark their wares over the din. The sudden presence of a pandaren trying to unobtrusively buy vegetables turned heads and started hushed conversations all around her. Weipon tried not to hunch her shoulders, instead asking shopkeeper directly, in Orcish, which cut of pork she recommended for soups. The troll replied, made the transaction, and complimented Weipon on her accent while wrapping her purchase. Bemused, Weipon moved on to search for fruit.

At home again, she stored her groceries and prepared a small meal for herself. She hadn't forgotten Fu, either, and delighted him with an entire fish cooked in a wonderful-smelling sauce. With hours to go until bedtime and feeling restless, she decided to go out again.

This time, her aimless wandering took her into what was labeled on her map as "The Drag". This shady thoroughfare connected several of Orgrimmar's districts together, and as such was busy at any time of day or night. Now, Weipon followed the more sedate evening crowd through the wide street, turning her head this way and that to catch all of the different sights. She herself was one of them, as she caught people doing double- and triple-takes at the pandaren in their midst.

Finally, a sign above a tavern caught her eye. A smiling male pandaren was holding an overflowing stein underneath the words "Brewmaster's Barrel." With a wry grin, Weipon stepped inside and was immediately assaulted with a blast of warm air and boisterous laughter. Several patrons looked up in surprise at her entrance. She made her way to the bar and had a seat next to two trolls engaged in a very deep discussion.

The bartender appeared shortly, grinning widely at Weipon. "Well! I had heard that we had pandaren in our city now, but you're the first to grace us with a visit. What'll you have? The first one's on me."

"Oh, um, thank you!" Weipon replied, sitting up a little straighter. "What do you recommend?"

The plump tauren winked and held up a finger, which Weipon recalled could mean "wait" or sometimes "number one." She returned with a stein filled to the brim. "This is a personal favorite, the Long Stride Brew from Drohn's Distillery. Locally brewed, well-known, and very popular."

Weipon took a sip. "Oh, it's very good! Thank you."

The bartender smiled and moved away to attend to other customers. Having heard her speak Orcish, a willowy blood elf sitting nearby leaned over. "So when did you guys get here, anyway?"

"Just a few days ago," Weipon replied. "We are in the Valley of Honor, if you'd like to go and learn about our culture."

"Is it true that all pandaren can kill a man with just two fingers?"

Weipon blinked. "Uh, no. I don't think so."

The blood elf arched one thin brow, then abruptly turned back to his drinking partner to report this factoid.

"What just happened," Weipon muttered to herself in Pandaren. She sipped at her drink, surreptitiously looking around at the other patrons in the bar. In doing so, she noticed many of them doing the same thing back at her.

A large hand landed soundly on the bar next to her, making Weipon jump. She looked at the newcomer, a reddish-brown furred tauren who was now leaning half over the bar to shout, "Another round for Cow's Night, if you please!" The bartender's good-natured response floated back from across the room, and the tauren straightened with a satisfied smile. She belched, surprising herself, and patted delicately at her chest while muttering, "think I got something on myself there." Then, she noticed Weipon. "Woah! A pandaren! What are you doing here?"

Weipon frowned in consternation. "I'm...having a drink. At a tavern. What are you doing here?"

The tauren mirrored her expression. "I'm also having a drink at a tavern. With my friends, see?" She gestured to two gray-furred tauren sitting at a nearby table, waving at them as she did so. One, who was wearing a dark brown tabard depicting a rock circle, looked pleasantly confused but waved back. The other, in an eclectic but imposing amalgamation of leather gear, began to laugh hysterically. Turning back to the bar, the tauren leaned over to peer at Weipon's drink. "Watcha got there? Don't suppose you brewed it yourself?"

"I bought it here at the tavern," Weipon replied, mouth quirking into a sour expression.

"Yanno," the tauren continued conversationally, "you're pretty good at Orcish. I didn't know pandaren could speak Orcish."

Without thinking, Weipon snapped, "I learned it in school. I also learned that most tauren learn Orcish for many years and can't even hold a conversation. How did you get to be so good?"

The tauren blinked, taken aback. Then, she began to chuckle. "I've been very rude, haven't I. So sorry about that." She placed a hand to her chest. "I'm Akabeko."

Weipon mimicked the action. "My name is Weipon."

"Nice to meet you...Weapon?" Akabeko attempted the unfamiliar name.

"More like 'way-pone,'" Weipon corrected.

"Wei-pawn?" Akabeko tried again.

"You know, you can just call me Wei," Weipon suggested.

The bartender brought Akabeko's drinks. "Look sharp," she murmured quietly, "Just saw a few Cadence higherups come in."

Akabeko followed her gaze to the door. "Curses! Of all people, Katza?" she muttered. "Gotta run!" She gathered her drinks. "Nice meeting you, Wei!"

With that, Weipon's first international acquaintance disappeared back into the sea of faces.


  1. Ah, Ji! I love the way you write him.

    My Horde Pandaren was also overcome with homesickness after she reached Orgrimmar, though I didn't articulate all the reasons why to myself nearly as clearly as you've done here. She, too, met a friendly Tauren (perhaps one of Akabeko's drinking companions, even -- probably the one who is having the sarsparilla sinker) and soon moved to Thunder Bluff, where the countryside, at least, is a little more like home.

    1. Thunder Bluff! What is she gonna get up to there? :D

  2. Liwu my Pandaren is following Weipon's story closely curious about how life would be had she chosen a different side. Oh, and me too!

    1. I do often wonder what it would be like to have gone Alliance all those years ago...I would be writing a very different story now! You'll just have to tell me how it goes ;)

  3. Are those tauren meant to be people we know...?

    1. Well...I dunno! How do you feel about going drinking with Akabeko and Kamalia? 8D

    2. OMG Kam was right... I am so DUMB
      Kam: I can see what Aka means by eclectic leather in her last story
      Navi: What are you talking about, I wasn't in her last story
      Kam: I think those two tauren are supposed to be us - I'm the one with the Earthen ring tabard
      Navi: What? Are you serious? Let me go read that again
      Navi: Are you SURE?
      Kam: I'm pretty sure.
      Navi: I'm gonna ask her.

      So OMG sorry for not recognising myself :P

    3. Nah, it's my fault for not being clear enough XD I honestly haven't even looked at your gear recently :X I was hoping the boisterous laughter would be the clincher ;)