26 February 2013

a herd of cows

I'm loath to break up Dah's upcoming series of fiction posts, but since the next installment isn't quite ready for publication, I'm here to bring you pictures of COWWWWWWS!

pet me
Kitano Tenmangu is a big shrine near-ish my house that is popular with students looking for academic success. The grounds are covered in plum trees, which should be in bloom now but are taking their sweet flowery time. There are also cow statues and figures everywhere, which you can rub for some extra study luck. They just had a very cool event with geiko and maiko serving tea and looking fabulous, but instead of going and taking pictures I lost my phone in the surrounding festival stalls and spent the afternoon panicking until I went to the police station and discovered someone had turned it in to lost and found. OPPORTUNITY: LOST. Still, faith in humanity: somewhat restored.

Anyway the last time I went, having not lost my phone I was able to devote some time to photos. This was followed by ~shopping~ and I found some great new red cow paraphernalia! MY COWS LET ME SHOW YOU THEM.

take your time why don't ya it's not like i'm WAITING or anything

lonely plums
the cutest moo

Aka and her big sis Kurobeko
chillaxing on my bookcase with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
I also got the red keychain in the bottom right,  but that's for year of the bull TECHNICALLY

22 February 2013

A New Land (guest post!!)

Previously: The Unexpected Concert

With a grunt of effort, powerful feline jaws clamped firmly around the unconcious woman's upper arm, Hadakha dragged the pandaren translator further back into the forest undergrowth. His hasty rejuvenation spell had been just enough to keep her alive while he wrangled her away from the chaos and devastation that engulfed Twinspire Keep, but her substantial wounds had reopened on the way up here, and he renewed his spell to seal them again.

Stealthing back to the ledge overlooking Garrosh'ar Point, he surveyed the wreckage the Alliance had created on the shores of this new land, Pandaria. His voyage had started so well......

He'd been disappointed when they put Akabeko and her new Pandaren friend in a different squadron of the expeditionary fleet, but he was unable to protest too much for fear of drawing unwanted attention. Being known as a troublemaker would not make his missions any easier. And he'd be able to reestablish contact with Akabeko once they landed, so it wasn't anything major. He'd managed to send a brief, coded message to his agency head in Moonglade before he was bundled onto the ship carrying the battalion he was assigned to, letting them know that he might be out of touch for a while.

But then, a week into their journey, they'd started sailing into some thick, obviously magical mists that defied weather and made their navigation methods useless. A few days later they realised they'd lost contact with Akabeko's squadron – and then they ran across an Alliance squadron. Fighting broke out, naturally, and although Hadakha made a show of his hatred of the Alliance, it was an act – he aimed to subdue rather than kill, injure rather than cripple. It was an act he was good at, and he made sure to leave highly visible claw marks on as many Alliance bodies as possible. Not that it mattered in the end, as injured and unconcious went down alongside the dead with the sunken ships. Although he never talked about the battle, he noted a new respect in the demeanor of the remaining forces on his ship.

Finally the mists lifted, they sighted land, and the navigators were pleased to report that they'd not strayed very far from their intended course. Anticipation thrummed through the fleet, and they wasted no time in setting up fortifications and scouting the area. For Hadakha, the first few days were the most exciting. And dangerous. As one of the few druids present, he volunteered to do some aerial scouting of the area. He particularly wanted to investigate the strange structures that could be seen atop rocky spires, with no visible means of ascent.

The first time, he'd done a lazy circle of the area the ground scouts had explored, to check they'd missed nothing of importance. Then, satisfied, he flew up to the nearest building-spire. To his amazement and bafflement, it was occupied by a skeleton, apparently mid-meal judging by the dishware set out. There was nothing unusual about the room, other than it being somehow located at the top of an inaccessible peak. Shaking his head, Hadakha shifted into stormcrow form and started back towards Garrosh'ar Point.

Some instinct made him bank left just as a shadow fell over him. A huge mouth, filled with razor-sharp teeth, snapped shut beside him. With a squawk, Hadakha frantically strained for altitude, trying to see what was attacking him. A cloud serpent! He'd seen pictures of them on items carried by the pandaren translators, and had collected as much information as he could, though to these Huojin they were mostly mythological creatures. Great, he'd always wanted to be hunted by a myth.

With shocking speed the cloud serpent turned and pursued him. The agility of these things was incredible! There was only one option left to him – he would never be able to outfly it. He dove straight at the serpent's eyes, barely avoiding the snarling mouth as he swiped ineffectually at the scales around it's eyes. The serpent flinched, and he was past. Diving as fast as he could towards the forest canopy, jinking randomly, he dared not look behind him.

Recklessly plunging through the canopy, he prayed that there were no dense tangles ahead of him. It took all of his skill to level out before he hit the ground, and weave through the trees without slowing. He heard the crack of branches being smashed behind him, somehow getting closer by the second. Abruptly he broke through into a small clearing, and with a split-second decision, shifted into dire bear form. Gravity took over, and he ploughed a long line in the (mercifully) soft ground before crashing into the brush on the other side of the clearing. Slightly dazed, he ambled back to the edge of the clearing, where the cloud serpent was hesitantly casting about in confusion. Seeing Hadakha emerge, it started towards him, but stopped again when he reared up and spread his paws wide. When it still hesitated, obviously considering its chances, he roared and, lunging forward, batted it on the nose with one great swipe. That was the last straw, and the cloud serpent rose into the air and flew off.

After that encounter, Hadakha thought it best to not risk aerial travel anymore. He made his way back to base, delivered his report, and went to rest. The next few days were spent accompanying parties to the nearby pandaren town, Paw'don Village. He'd been getting intensive lessons from the Huojin translators during the voyage, so he could understand some of the negotiations, but much was still beyond him. Mostly he was there as a large, intimidating, silent threat. He found himself advocating on behalf of the locals, passing on the concerns of both the Paw'don elders and the Huojin to Ga'trul. But the warlock commander of the Horde forces refused to listen, behaving more and more erratically – bouts of rage and aggression followed by periods of doubt and fear. It was a potent mix. When Hadakha returned from a final scouting mission into the abandoned ruins of the massive fortress the locals called Twinspire Keep to find that Ga'trul had authorised both the wholesale destruction of the Paw'don orchards for food and wood, and the kidnapping of the local children to ensure cooperation, he was appalled.

The Huojin were increasingly upset and fearful, often returning to barracks with wounds caused by the officers they reported to after each failed diplomatic effort. One Huojin pandaren tried to seek refuge with the Paw'don, but was turned away. When a patrol discovered his unauthorised presence and returned him to Twinspire Keep, Ga'trul had him executed. Hadakha did some private scouting on his own, and found a well-hidden cave that offered some prospect of safety. He smuggled some supplies there over a few nights, and instructed the Huojin on how to find it should there be a chance to escape. As Ga'trul and his warlocks continued to summon more and more demonic soldiers, Hadakha began preparing his own exit strategy. Then the Alliance gunship appeared.

The carnage that ensued was immense. Hadakha didn't bother to even appear to be fighting the Alliance. He found that as long as he marched purposefully, nobody stopped to question him. The soldiers around him seemed possessed, almost like the demonic bloodlust that the orcs had suffered through in the past. Some of them looked strange, leeched of colour even as they raged or cowered. As more and more Alliance ground troops landed, he took to stalking from cover to cover in cat form, slowly making his way through the chaos to the forest near where his cave was.

At the base of the ridge he needed to climb, he discovered one of the Huojin translators, lying unconcious with long slashes covering her back and a dagger sticking out of her thigh. He'd thought she was dead, but a nearby explosion elicited a groan before she lapsed back into oblivion. Hadahka quickly pulled out the dagger, cast a rejuvenate spell on her to stem the blood flow, and dragged her away. He thought he'd got out unobserved, but a group of Alliance soldiers spotted him as he disappeared behind a tent. Rushing forward, they forced him to defend himself, and now he fought in earnest. Leaving their mangled bodies, he took the Huojin's arm in his jaws and began the ascent. At this point, speed mattered more than care, and he'd made it to cover without further encounters. Now.....now he watched the Alliance butcher the remaining Horde forces.

He was about to return to his charge when he suddenly spotted a large cloud serpent swoop down to the Twinspire Keep courtyard. A figure jumped from the back of the serpent, and appeared to be confronting the Alliance commander. Then a....shape....emerged from the commander, dark and pulsing with energy. The figure (a Pandaren? it was hard to tell) did something, and the dark shape dissipated. But Hadakha saw many more dark shapes emerging from both the Horde and the Alliance soldiers still fighting. Even from a distance he could feel the mixture of rage and fear, doubt and hatred emanating from these beings. They slaughtered indiscriminately. The figure led a small group to combat the new threat, but clearly it would not be safe around here for a very long time.

Hadakha studied the shapes for a little while, then turned and padded back to the Huojin he'd rescued. They'd lie low for a few days, hope that some of the other Huojin had made it out alive. He felt a stirring of excitement. This was his element. This is what he was trained for. Despite the horror behind him, it felt good to be operating independently once more.

Next: An Unexpected Ally

20 February 2013

I went to Karazhan...

...and all I got were these lousy screenshots -- actually I take that back.

*beevis laugh*
That's some nice...artwork...you got there
My favorite :) And I won the Ruby Slippers!! *pterodactyl screech*
"Try not to die" "Sure thing"
"Do you think I'll be safe out here?"
Spoiler alert: I was not
I got a ton of stuff, and it's all thanks to my friend Sizzle who VERY GENEROUSLY decided to take me to hit up some BC heroics, followed by nearly all of Kara.

And now, a reenactment of Wei's journey through her 60s as told by gifs:

I started my journey in HFP at the tender low level of 60 and ACTUALLY did some quests before skipping off to Zangarmarsh, which I greatly prefer.
I'm always really excited to get to Zangar, just for the relief on my eyes!
Even though I do love it, somewhere around the 100th naga kill I wanna move on
But then it's between Nagrand or going to investigate Shattrath and...sigh...just not feeling either of them.
I get through it somehow, and then Sizzle is all "get in loser we're going heroicing"

15 February 2013

The Unexpected Concert

Previously: The Ambassador to Honeydew

The day was already half over when Akabeko's headache began to subside, and she reluctantly admitted that pandaren ale was much stronger than the drink she was accustomed to. That, and since hearing about the new continent she had been drinking much less. Keeping busy was always preferable to alcohol-saturated brooding.

Weipon had politely ignored her all morning, after realizing that her tauren friend was in no shape to do more than follow simple directions. The monk had gotten them both safely out of Honeydew, back to make a report to Nazgrim, and now on their way to another settlement for recruiting purposes.

Akabeko took a long swig from her waterskin, exhaling noisily as she finally began to feel somewhat like herself. "So where are we off to now?" she asked sheepishly, having dozed off during their earlier briefing.

"I'm not sure how to translate this one," Weipon admitted. "It's something like smallest bamboo but I can't really think of a name that sounds nice." She flicked her map open once again, revealing a crude approximation of the Jade Forest with pandaren settlements circled in red. "We have a few stops to make, and I'm afraid that we will be eating and drinking as much as we did at every town we visit."

"I can cut back," Akabeko declared confidently. "I don't have to get sloppy at every single party."

Weipon shook her head. "The custom is that if someone offers to drink with you, you don't just say no. Not unless you have a really good reason. Maybe if you were going to die if you drank more. But even then, people would joke." She shrugged apologetically at Akabeko's expression. "My suggestion is to keep your drink close, and only sip enough that someone can refill it if they want to. Don't finish your glass unless you have to."

"That doesn't sound like it will keep me from getting drunk," Akabeko replied contemplatively.

"As drunk," Weipon corrected. "Custom says you have to drink at least a little. To be sociable." She rolled her neck and shoulders, shifting uncomfortably after another long day of riding. "I was thinking you might like to learn some words in Pandaren. Maybe it will be more fun for you."

At this, Akabeko perked up. "Yeah, watching you talk to people stops being entertaining after a while. Only so many pandaren expressions I can figure out."

Weipon frowned, unsure if the tauren was jesting. "I should warn you, though, that my language is a little different to that of Pandaria."

"How so?"

"Well, the pandaren of the Wandering Isle have been away from Pandaria for a very long time. It's amazing that we can still understand each other at all, really. The pandaren in Honeydew said that I sound old-fashioned and speak slowly. To me, they sound very strange. Everything is too fast, and some words are different. They even," she sniffed, "use incorrect grammar."

Akabeko let this sink in. She had plenty of experience with different languages, or even dialects of her own Taurahe and Orcish. Still, it had never occurred to her that the two groups of pandaren would have trouble understanding each other. If the many flavors of trolls on Azeroth were any indication, being the same race didn't guarantee any agreements of language or culture. How would the ostensibly peaceful pandaren react to the island pandaren bringing war from outside?

"Let's start with the simple greetings," Weipon suggested. "There are the casual ways to say hello, and then there are the formal ones I use with strangers. On Shen Zin Su, we say it one way, but I've noticed that they have some other set phrases here in Pandaria..."

A week or more passed, and the pair moved from village to village, campaigning for the Horde. Some villages were quick to join them, although their eagerness was driven more by fear of conflict than any real desire to serve the unfamiliar invading forces. Others firmly sent them away, at once polite and menacing. Still others attacked at the sight of Akabeko, knowing that it was a Horde envoy approaching a converted Alliance settlement.

Akabeko continued to memorize Pandaren phrases. At one village, she hailed a villager tending a vegetable garden with a friendly, "It's raining!" The villager smiled in confusion, until Weipon nudged her companion and elicited the proper, "Jade Serpent watch over you!" ("They sound similar to me," the tauren hissed in what Weipon could now identify as her embarrassed voice.)

Fortunately, Akabeko's fumbling with the difficult-to-master tonality of Pandaren was charming enough that villagers were more inclined to listen to Weipon's requests. The more successful the negotiations, the more likely they were to be feasted. In one farming village, after what even Akabeko could tell was one ale too many for her pandaren companion, Weipon, was convinced to break out her san xian. Although Akabeko often heard Weipon humming or singing to herself, the long-necked instrument had remained in its case, quiet and safe from the elements while they traveled.

Now, though, eyes swimming with drink, Weipon laughed, said something that made the pandaren closest to her gesticulate encouragingly, and plucked a string experimentally. The room quieted as she carefully tuned the instrument. From the bar, a voice called out something that had other pandaren nodding in what Akabeko assumed was agreement.

"They are requesting songs," Weipon said suddenly, looking at Akabeko. The sudden burst of Orcish made the druid jump, sloshing ale over her fingers. "Some of the titles sound familiar. Others may be songs I know by a different name." She grinned, looking like a very different pandaren than the one that had shied away from an angry General Nazgrim, and began to play.

Gorgeous illustration courtesy of Kamalia!!
The gathered audience was mostly silent for the first verse. The pandaren nodded their heads, clapped, or turned to each other to whisper excitedly. Akabeko listened with interest, appreciating the sincerity and huskiness of Weipon's voice. By the second verse, the older pandaren in the inn were singing along, ribbing each other when they forgot the words or differed from what Weipon was singing. The song continued, picking up speed, and those who couldn't sing along made up for it by clapping, pounding the tables, and stomping their feet. Even Akabeko found herself humming along by the end.

Before the last note had died away, Weipon was slipping into another song, this one eliciting more cheers of recognition. Akabeko drained her glass, absently thanking the person next to her as they topped it off again. It seemed that the night was just picking up.

The following morning, Weipon still managed to look only slightly rumpled compared to Akabeko, who was more or less wrecked. She rubbed irritably at her temples, trying to pay attention to the new map the innkeeper was explaining to Weipon. The impromptu concert the night before had gained them not only a clean, locally-drawn map of the area, but a handwritten introduction from the village leader to the mayor of Dawn's Blossom, which appeared to be a major nearby city.

Readying their mounts, Akabeko tried not to scowl at the too-bright sunlight and the too-cheerful villagers as they gathered to see their strange guests off. She forced herself to say the formal farewells, earning her smiles and even a patronizing pat on the hand. Weipon nodded in approval, then directed them out of the small village.

When they had cleared the last of the fields, Weipon turned to Akabeko and said conversationally, "How about I teach you the word for 'hungover'?" When Akabeko's scowl only deepened, she continued, "Actually, in Pandaren, a more literal translation would be 'two days drunk'." She grinned wickedly when Akabeko snorted in response.

Next: A New Land

12 February 2013

a love letter to guildies

The most recent couple of times I've logged into WoW and people have been on, the guild has gotten up to some fun activities. After having peaced out for so long, I was honestly worried that I would get a chilly reception. After all, I had said I would raid in Pandaria and ended up hardly logging in after I hit 90. Generally, I tend to stress over my own assumed punishment when in reality there's nothing to worry about.

My first night back, I decided on a little low-stress leveling. Writing Weipon's story makes it all the more apparent that she needs to get her ass to Pandaria post-haste. Of course, when I say low-stress, I mean I spent several minutes cursing at the shit quest chain in that stupid mine in Blasted Lands, but still. My guildies were online, we shot the shit, and everyone was friendly and chatty and nice. I reluctantly logged off only because I was exhausted, because I wanted to stay up late and keep talking.

A few nights later, there were enough of us online to attempt Firelands and finish the remaining quest to get our mage his legendary. I freely admit that I was mostly in it for the pet. I had a great time, despite the fact that I think I'm more or less the lovable screwup in our band of merry men. At least the raid was low pressure, so no one got too angry when I forgot some of the mechanics and wiped the group >_> Afterwards, we zapped to Org for the completion of the quest, only to discover that despite being a quest that requires a RAID, one cannot be in a raid group to complete it. Frustrating! We did start a nice tirade in Trade chat when someone was innocent enough to ask what all the blue dragons were doing in the city (answer: announcing the next xpac).

the majestyyyy
getting some celeb pics
more majesty
that gorgeous mount
and my just reward!
Then, a few nights ago I decided to improve my pandaren leveling + Supernatural watching with a solo drinking game. Which, well, undertake at your own risk. One of the criteria was "the bros have a serious talk" ffs. I was drunk after one episode. Anyway, we decided to smash ICC for some reason or another, so I put my TV on hold (but not my sweet, sweet Amaretto) and was pleasantly reintroduced to what it's like being tipsy on vent. Push to lol; I hope you like my Rotface impression. In case you were wondering, if there aren't enough people on the LK fight for the valkyr to pick up, they will actually queue up and grab you one after another before throwing you to your death. I rarely get nerd rage when raiding because stuff like that happens, and that's just hilarious.

There's little point in recounting the things we said and did, because it was just the things friends say and do when they are enjoying each others' company, and that's the important part. I may have taken some time away from the game and the people in it, but being able to jump right back into that warm fuzzy atmosphere was huge for me. Thank you, guildies old and new. I love you! <3

And now we gif:
I'll figure it out eventually

08 February 2013

The Ambassador to Honeydew

Previously: The Sha Manifests

Weipon collapsed beside Akabeko, letting out a sigh of exhaustion. Silently, Akabeko passed her half a loaf of bread and a hunk of cheese and waited for her to eat.

Finally, after taking a long drink, Weipon belched noisily and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. "The pandaren that came with us are going to travel around Pandaria with each of the garrisons."

Akabeko nodded. "And what about us? I've been sitting here, waiting for an assignment, and Nazgrim's walked by without a word more than once."

"We are going to the nearest town as ambassadors. The orders are to recruit the town into the Horde or...else. I'm to do the talking and you...are my bodyguard." She smiled wryly.

"Huh." Akabeko blinked. "So I guess you know where we're headed?"

After a night of much-needed rest, both pandaren and tauren were woken by Fu hopping eagerly on and off their stomachs.

"Bad...bad dog..." Akabeko murmured sleepily, swatting at the animal as he danced away playfully.

Still yawning, Akabeko peered over Weipon's shoulder as the newly-appointed pandaren ambassador inspected the roughly sketched map she had been given.

"It looks like the largest village should be nearby. It should be about half a day's ride, if we go in the right direction."

They set out, Akabeko on her trusty war kodo, and Weipon on a dragon turtle, hastily-acquired from the pandaren quartermaster before leaving Orgrimmar. Weipon lead hesitantly, frequently tutting over the map. Akabeko was content to follow, instead focusing on stretching her senses out in search of nearby forest creatures.

"There are a lot of angry critters out here," Akabeko muttered, almost to herself, as they once again fled from an enraged panther, cloaked in an unnatural shadow. After the first close call, Fu had consented to ride in the basket at the back of Weipon's saddle, and now served as a barking sentry when more angry animals stalked the pair.

Weipon's mouth firmed into a concerned frown. "Do you think it's the same thing that took over General Nazgrim?"

"Sure seems like it. What did that pandaren say? We should be careful what emotions we bring with us? Does that mean we are somehow making the animals like this?"

Instead of answering, Weipon abruptly called a halt, pointing off to the right. "Over there; I think I saw a pandaren." She waved and called out a long greeting that Akabeko couldn't understand. From the bushes came a hesitant reply.

A wide-eyed pandaren woman stepped out of the trees. If she had been surprised at Weipon's appearance, she was completely shocked by Akabeko's. Her jaw dropped as she took in their unusual mounts and the weapons slung across their backs.

Slowly, Weipon dismounted, speaking in gentle tones. Akabeko followed suit, watching as Weipon exchanged a few words with the other woman, then bowed. She gestured to Akabeko, and Akabeko mimicked her bow politely.

"She says that the village is near. I think in Orcish it would be called something like "Honeydew". She says that they had heard stories of foreign people coming to the forest, but no one she knows has seen any. Maybe she's leading us into a trap, but if we can get to the head of the village maybe we can talk to him."

Akabeko nodded, then followed obediently behind the two pandaren as they continued their unintelligible conversation. Soon, the carefully tended patches of farmland and animal pens signifying a large settlement came into view, and they were led to the gates in a low stone wall surrounding Honeydew Village. The pandaren woman stepped back, looking apologetic as two muscular pandaren wielding staves stepped forward to hem the pair in.

"It's all right," Weipon said quietly, noticing Akabeko's hands clench into fists in preparation for a quick transformation. "They are just security. We are going to meet the mayor."

They were paraded into town, and the villagers gathered from all corners to see the strange pair as they wound their way through the streets, presumably heading for wherever the mayor would meet with them. "Wei, I can't fight my way through all of these people," Akabeko said, eyes darting from the expertly-handled staves at her back to the sheer number of villagers gaping at them.

"It's fine," Weipon lied unconvincingly. "They won't attack us."

They were brought upstairs in what appeared to be a spacious residence and seated at a small table. Finally, an enormous pandaren waddled up the stairs, puffing out what could only be complaints. He regarded them seriously for a few moments before sitting across from them. Three cups of tea were brought and left on the table. The pandaren bodyguards stood nearby, quietly menacing.

"Don't drink until he invites us to," Weipon instructed.

The mayor spoke, gesturing to the tea, and reached for his own cup.

"Is this safe?" Akabeko whispered, slowly raising her own cup in a half-hearted toast.

"It's unlucky to poison someone at the first meeting," Weipon replied shortly, bringing her cup to her lips and drinking. "Better to die on the battlefield."

Then, Akabeko was once again shut out as Weipon began to converse with the mayor. Unable to follow the words, she focused on the mayor's expressions, guessing her way through Weipon's descriptions of their arrival in Pandaria, the content of their forces, the details of their battle with the Alliance. She could hear the guards shifting behind them, evidently reacting as the mayor was to the incredible tale. She could see from the mayor's expression that although he believed them, he wanted little to do with a foreign bloodbath, even if it was on local soil. Weipon pressed on, voice urgent, until finally the mayor held up a hand, silencing her. He stood, soon followed  by Weipon who dragged Akabeko up with her, and they bowed farewell.

The mayor exited, and when he was out of sight the guards escorted the ambassadors back downstairs and left them.

"What...just happened?" Akabeko said, trying to ignore the eyes she could feel boring into her from all directions.

"That was Mayor Honeydew, and I think I just failed my job," Weipon sighed. "He believes the story, mostly because of you, but also because even I'm strange to them. And he feels bad about our troubles, but he won't put his village in our fight."

Akabeko hummed, tapping her chin. "What specifically did he say about our troubles?"

"Well, he said that he would be willing to help our hurt. But he won't send his people into battle."

"That's more than enough to report back to Nazgrim. You know he will use that as the excuse he needs to get in the door. Once he gets into the village, it won't be long before he's got the strongest villagers in armor."

Weipon looked shocked. "That's...terrible! That's exactly what the mayor doesn't want!"

"Yeah, well," Akabeko shrugged. "Nazgrim is a shrewd general. If he brings enough smooth-talking pandaren into the village, all he needs is time before he gets his way. And honestly, if he doesn't get his way by talking..."

The answering expression on Weipon's face spoke volumes about her opinion of the Horde general. "I see."

Not knowing how to respond, Akabeko tried to change the subject. "So...the guards just left us here on the street. Does that mean we're free to move about the town?"

Weipon nodded, finally relaxing enough to glance around at the sea of curious faces. "Yes. And after how long we traveled, we are going to stay here tonight. We should find the inn." She grinned shyly at the villagers, then said something in Pandaren. After a few stunned moments, one pandaren spoke up, followed by a few others, and finally they were surrounded by pandaren, each clamoring to introduce themselves and lead them to the nearest establishment.

Bemused, Akabeko allowed herself to be swept along as face after unfamiliar face approached Weipon, who dutifully made their introductions. In short order, they were seated at an enormous round table in the inn, soon populated by a crowd of villagers and several generous mugs of ale. Voices pressed in around them, peppering Weipon with questions that she tried her best to answer. Akabeko smiled politely at the pandaren seated next to her. He clinked their glasses together and said something that made Weipon snort into her drink.

Still smiling, Akabeko asked, "Should I be worried about what he just said?"

"I don't think you will like it," Weipon hedged. When Akabeko's smile froze into a glare, she relented. "He, um, said that you're different from any foreign race he imagined. But..." she hesitated, "he said that even though you're skinny, your, um, chest is still big enough," she finished in a rush, then hastily downed her drink.

Akabeko turned back to the still-grinning pandaren. She clinked their glasses together and pasted a smile on her face. "I'm going to kill you in your sleep," she told him cheerfully.

"I will tell him you said thank you," Weipon said apologetically.

Next: The Unexpected Concert

05 February 2013

I accidentally a whole podcast

Once again, the lovely ladies of Girls Gone WoW have generously invited me to share their airwaves! If you like listening to podcasts, I invite you to check out the episode "Girls Gone Cooking" here. GGW is one of my favorite podcasts based on attitude alone, so I highly recommend you follow them!

01 February 2013

The Sha Manifests

Previously: The Crash

Weipon helped Akabeko to her feet, and they jogged to where they could hear ground troops assembling, directed by General Nazgrim's incessant shouting.

"Take them out!" he roared after a trio of grunts, watching them hustle up the stairs to the Alliance base. "Leave none alive!" Nazgrim noticed Akabeko's approach and summoned her with a quick flick of his wrist. She and Weipon hurried to his side. "The Alliance captain has barricaded himself in on the top floor of this stronghold. I've got troops clearing the path, so you get in there and get yourself to that captain. I'm taking a small team up the walls for a surprise attack from the rear." He nodded matter-of-factly, waited for Akabeko's salute, followed by Weipon's belated one, then turned away to another group of soldiers.

Still slightly disoriented, Akabeko followed the stream of Horde soldiers fighting their way into the heart of the Alliance base, Weipon dutifully tagging along behind. At their heels ran Fu, snapping at any ankles that came to close to his master. Their path was briefly blocked by a crowd of humans backing a wide-shouldered tauren down the stairs. Weipon moved to assist, but Akabeko stopped her. In the next moment, the tauren stomped ferociously, stunning the humans and using the brief respite to dispatch them one at a time. Akabeko led Weipon around the growing pile of dead, tossing a heal to the tauren as they passed.

They passed unharried all the way to the central structure of the base. Around them, Horde soldiers were dutifully slaughtering Alliance and burning or salvaging their supplies. Weipon gaped openly at the gore, but Akabeko tugged her along, trying to avoid the more grisly details.

Inside the temple-like structure, they ducked around the last remaining skirmishes and chased down two humans attempting to flee up the stairs. Without a thought, Akabeko flowed into her lion form and pounced, taking most of one human's face off with a swipe of her paw and finishing the second with her jaws around an unprotected neck. She shifted back, stepped delicately around the bloody mess, and continued up the stairs. Weipon stumbled after her, eyes haunted.

The top of the building had a covered pavilion surrounded by open platforms. They could clearly see the human captain across from them, although he appeared to be looking out into the forest. The unpleasant sounds of steel clashing and soldiers dying drifted up from below.

"Stay behind me," Akabeko cautioned Weipon, worried about the expression on the pandaren's face. "I'll take care of him." Without waiting for a response, she shifted and charged, claws out and fangs bared for slaughter.

The human nimbly jumped onto the wall surrounding the platform, turned, and smirked at the druid as her pounce landed short. Then, calmly, he stepped backwards off the ledge. An arrow whistled by Akabeko's cheek, and she whirled to see Nazgrim and his soldiers arriving on the platform as well.

"Damn him! Did he just--!" Nazgrim bellowed, swinging his fists in fury as he ran to peer over the ledge.

A gyrocopter rose up over the wall, and the Alliance captain saluted them sarcastically. "You and your filthy Horde will not destroy this land as you destroyed Kalimdor," he said solemnly.

Nazgrim's team were already firing arrows at the gyrocopter as it turned away. The air was suddenly filled with a loud drone as more gyrocopters took to the sky.

"Impossible!" Nazgrim cried, watching the thickening trails of smoke as the gyrocopters converged around Hellscream's Fist, undermanned and defenseless in the treetops. "They had an airbase, a hidden airbase," he gasped. The small team atop what remained of the Alliance base watched as the remaining Alliance airfleet opened fire on the Horde vessel. After a very long, loud moment, the airship caught fire and slipped out of the trees, weeping burning timbers and smoldering chunks as it crashed to the forest floor.

The Alliance copters pulled away, leaving behind silence.

"My ship..." Nazgrim gripped the edge of the wall, eyes unfocused. "Hellscream will have my head." He tucked his chin down low, shoulders trembling visibly with rage. Then he let out a sigh, a tiny hiss similar to air escaping slowly from a tire. His chin rose and fists relaxed, and when he turned to face his soldiers they could see that his face had taken on an ashen hue. "They all must die," General Nazgrim said calmly.

Wisely, Weipon began to back up, plucking at Akabeko's sleeve as she slowly edged away from the orc.

General Nazgrim rolled his head slowly, cracking his neck audibly. His eyes flashed, irises covered by an unsettling silvery sheen. He took several great, wheezing breaths, noisy in the stunned silence. One of his soldiers reached out to him, perhaps to take him by the elbow. Nazgrim caught the approaching wrist calmly, squeezing until the soldier cried out in fear.

An unfamiliar voice shouted, stopping the escalating scene. A thick figure, moving too fast to discern any features, landed on the platform and made short work of General Nazgrim. A flick of a staff released the captive soldier, then sent Nazgrim to his knees. The figure laid a great hand on Nazgrim's forehead and began to chant. Now, the assembled group could see that it was a pandaren, but clearly not one of those that had come over with either Horde or Alliance assault forces.

His chant finished, the pandaren stepped away just as a crackling black shadow erupted from General Nazgrim's mouth. The pandaren shouted something, then attacked with his staff. Too late, the other soldiers moved to help, but the creature was already writhing, screeching in its death throes.

General Nazgrim clambered unsteadily to his feet, looking much more like his old self. He frowned at the pandaren suspiciously. "Who are you?" he challenged.

The pandaren responded, unintelligible to the Horde members but evidently angry. Only Weipon reacted.

Nazgrim pointed at her. "You there, pandaren. Make yourself useful and translate for us."

The pandaren followed the General's gaze, looking with obvious curiosity at Weipon. Then, he began to speak again, gesturing urgently at her.

"He--he says that the creature was your own doubt, made corporeal. He says that this place is different from where you come from. He says that you must be careful with what energy you bring."

Nazgrim sniffed indignantly. "We bring only our honor and the desire to crush our enemies. Has he been aiding the Alliance?"

The pandaren looked askance at Nazgrim's aggressive posture as Weipon relayed the message. He responded shortly, then took a running leap over the wall. Nazgrim rushed to the edge, shouting obscenities as they watched the pandaren disappear into the forest. He rounded on Weipon, looking murderous.

"He doesn't understand what you mean by Alliance," Weipon gasped, backing away. "He said he wants no part in our battles!"

Akabeko stepped forward, subtly blocking Nazgrim from getting any closer to her friend. "It seems we have met our first local, General," she said in what she hoped was a nonthreatening tone. "He may want no part in our battles now, but we may be able to convince him to join us." She held up a hand to placate him. "It does no good to hurt the messenger. We need a translator."

His rage left him as suddenly as it had come. "You're right," he allowed, sighing in annoyance. "Very well." He waved his team to him to dispense orders. "We will find the nearest pandaren settlements and bring them into the Horde. From there, we will be able to expand our foothold in this continent and commandeer supplies." He pointed at Weipon again, making her jump. "You will assign the pandaren troops as is necessary to act as translators in the war effort."

"Yes, yes sir," she stammered faintly.

Rolling his eyes, Nazgrim jerked his thumb at Akabeko. "Go with her and oversee the groups," he ordered.

Akabeko saluted promptly before dragging Weipon away, eager to escape from the general's bad mood.

Next: The Ambassador to Honeydew