28 June 2013

Heading Out

Previously: Stowaway

Once the Sha of Doubt was confirmed sealed away, things rushed by in a blur. Akabeko was only partially aware of being swept along in a sea of celebration towards the temple doors, only to encounter the gory carnage in the courtyard. Weipon excused herself to help clean up that unpleasant mess, and Akabeko was left to the mercy of the monk healers that were now pouring in through the gates. An elderly pandaren clucked over the pulpy mess that was the tauren's face, tugging at his beard in consternation when none of his spells seemed to have any effect. Finally, he settled on a traditional hands-on approach, and prepared an array of poultices and salves, which she bore with patience until Weipon came to collect her.

The monk took in the sight, raising her eyebrows inquisitively at the unhealed wounds and bruising still decorating Akabeko's face. Wisely, rather than pry she opted merely to help the druid to her feet and see them safely back to their room at the inn. Secretly, Akabeko was glad that she would have to let the wounds heal naturally. She had deserved every one of them.


After a well-earned rest, they found themselves heading to the temple out of habit. Akabeko suspected that pandaren had been working throughout the night to set the temple to rights, and she was curious to see if they had discovered anything more about the sha. The bruises on her face throbbed, a strangely reassuring reminder.

As predicted, the temple was a frantic bustle of activity. Weipon pointed out various undertakings of religious significance - purification rituals around the temple grounds, the somber procession of bodies towards the mass funeral pyre, and the unpleasant business of cleansing the stains from sha corpses from the tiles. Many of the same pandaren they had worked with the previous day were already hard at work - Akabeko wondered if some of them had even gone to sleep.

They wandered through the clusters of pandaren into the courtyard, which was blessedly clean and free of the horror they had seen the day before. Yu'lon was hovering near the entrance to the main temple, looking alert but far less lustrous than she had originally been. As they approached, her eyes picked them out of the crowd, and she regarded them with a solemn, clear gaze.

Well met, she said. Monks hovering around her ushered the pair into the temple, and someone was sent to fetch refreshments for the Jade Serpent's honored guests. I hope your rest was pleasant. It was well-deserved after your heroics earlier.

Weipon practically swelled with pride, shooting a tiny grin at Akabeko, who quirked her lips in what she hoped mimicked the expression.

"We were more than glad to help," Weipon gushed. "And we hope that you'll allow us to continue to help!"

Yu'lon's expression sobered. I am glad to hear that. For the moment, the threat to my temple is gone, and its repair can be left to the loyal pandaren who serve me. For you travelers, however, I have another task. 

Weipon's eyebrows shot up in eagerness, and Akabeko tried to keep her sudden apprehension from her face.

I am not the only Celestial to be besieged by the malevolent influence of the Sha. The Temple of Chi-Ji, in the Krasarang Wilds, is also rumored to be under attack. I will be sending my own people there to bring aid, but since you both are already well-accustomed to travel and unattached to this place, I would like you to go as soon as possible. 

Although Yu'lon spoke as if it were a suggestion, Akabeko knew that this was an order. She bristled at the idea of being told what to do by yet another authority, especially one she wasn't necessarily subject to.

As if sensing her reluctance, Yu'lon added, as if having just remembered, I know that you were seeking the other foreigner who aided in the defense of the temple. He has also agreed to travel to the Temple of Chi-Ji. If you want to meet him, you may find him there.

Akabeko pressed her lips together. Clearly Yu'lon knew that finding Hadakha again would serve as an impetus for the druid to obey the Celestial's orders. Still... She glanced at Weipon, who looked positively ecstatic to be asked directly to serve the Jade Serpent. And she couldn't forget the horrors she had seen the Sha commit at the temple. She wouldn't allow her childish pettiness to prevent her from doing what was right.

"Very well. If you are agreeable, Weipon?" she asked unnecessarily.

Weipon practically vibrated with her excitement to be off. "Of course! We can fight more sha, and maybe see Hadakha again!"

The Jade Serpent's features curved into a pleased expression. Excellent. I will see that you are outfitted with information and supplies to aid in your journey. Her eyes slid to Akabeko briefly. A small village in Zhu Province, on the road towards the Temple, is also rumored to be beset by sha. I ask that you do what you can to defeat them.


In short order, Akabeko found herself back in the inn, belongings in one hand and a scroll of maps and notes in another. Weipon was getting the final tips from a group of traders seated in the common room. Akabeko had given up on following their conversation shortly after it had begun. Eventually, Weipon bid them farewell and the pair stepped outside.

They made their way to the gate that would connect to the route that would lead them to the Krasarang Wilds. Akabeko could feel a tension to their silence, and her suspicions were confirmed when, mounted and five minutes out of the temple grounds, Weipon hesitantly turned in her saddle.

"So...I see that you still have wounds from the fight. The healers didn't help you?"

Akabeko unconsciously hunched her shoulders. "They tried. It just didn't work."

Weipon considered this, mouth pulling into a frown. "Well, what about your own healing powers? Wouldn't they work?"

"No," Akabeko replied shortly.

They fell into an awkward silence. Weipon tried unsuccessfully to strike up some kind of interaction with Fu. However, his long confinement in the Temple inn had put him in an impressive sulk, and he was now pointedly looking at everything but his pandaren master.

The path through the Jade Forest was beautiful, now that they had left the desecrated land around the Temple behind. There was less random wildlife to be seen, although Akabeko didn't know if it was due to the change in location or the aftereffects of the sha's attack. The comfortable almost-silence of the forest settled around Akabeko's shoulders like a mossy cloak, and she began to drift.

"I'm not gonna kill you. I'm just gonna talk to you. And then you can decide your punishment for yourself," the apparition said, spreading her hands placatingly. 

That seemed reasonable. It was the same conversation Akabeko had been having with herself every day since she had lost her friend.

The apparition began to list her faults, her flaws, every mistake that had led to the tragedy and continued to influence her bad decisions now. Sometimes, the apparition's voice wavered, sinking down into a lower, more masculine register. 

Akabeko nodded along to the litany. Weak-willed, check. Cowardly, check. Easily led, check. Selfish, check. It went on an on.

After what could have been hours, the voice stopped. Paused. Continued, "Well, you see the evidence against you. What do you have to say to that?"

"It's all true," Akabeko said dully. She watched resignedly as the apparition came towards her.

"It sure is."

She didn't flinch away from the first blow.

"Hey, Aka! Are you falling asleep? We still have a ways to go before we reach the Valley of the Four Winds."

Startled, Akabeko jerked herself from her stupor, blinking comically at Weipon. "I'm just zoning out," she muttered. "What's in Valley of the Four Winds, anyway?"

Weipon shuffled the maps around, peering at her notes. "Well, the biggest city seems to be a main meeting place for the farmers in the area. The travelers in the inn said we should visit. But if we follow this route to Zhu Province, we won't be able to."

"We can earmark that for later. Maybe after we deal with the sha at the temple in Krasarang."

"Well, first we have to get rid of the ones in Zhu Province," Weipon corrected, folding up her maps. Fu made a show of sitting on them. "I'm kind of worried about the sha," the pandaren continued hesitantly, resolutely avoiding looking at her friend. When she received no reply, she pressed on. "It seemed like...you didn't have an easy time fighting them. What if they get the better of you again?"

Finally, Weipon turned to look her in the eyes, and Akabeko could see everything from the pandaren's excitement to be helping the Jade Serpent, to her concern for her increasingly troubled friend, to her resolve to see this task through no matter what. Akabeko was abruptly reminded that although she was supposed to be the experienced teacher in this strange working relationship, she had been setting a colossally poor example for the budding soldier.

She plastered a cocky grin on her face. "Wei, we fought an entire battlefield of sha, and then took the fight straight into the Temple without so much as a break. I think we can handle a couple nasties at this village in Zhu. Plus, Yu'lon told us she was sending troops to the Temple of Chi-Ji, so we won't be going in alone!"

Weipon scrutinized her, evidently aware of the forced cheerfulness. "I'm sure we'll be fine," she allowed slowly, before boldly adding, "But the sha prey on negative emotions to get their power. So if you want to talk about anything, I can listen." She gritted her teeth nervously.

"I, um." Akabeko took a breath. "I appreciate the offer. But... What I really need to talk about is how bad my Pandaren is! I need way more practice if I'm going to be of any use out here!"

It was a painfully obvious cop-out, but Weipon simply studied her face quietly for a moment before pointing at the tauren. "All right, tell me everything you can say about yourself in Pandaren."

Next: Investigations

13 June 2013

The Leatherworkers [Tier 8]

“You really don’t need to do that,” the tauren insisted, hovering helplessly while the orc changed and re-fluffed his sleeping pallet.

“Nonsense,” she told him matter-of-factly, giving the pallet a satisfied pat. “Whenever you go to a new place, if you do nothing else you should at least set up a place to sleep.”

Rolling his eyes in defeat, he watched her bustle around the room, giving it a final once-over for anything useful she could do. Finally, she came to stand before him, grinning cheekily at his long-suffering expression.

“I’m not an invalid anymore, you know. Besides, it’s not like this is the first time I’ve been injured on the job,” he joked. When the orc’s expression became pinched, he immediately regretted his words.

Lips pulled in tightly, she lifted her chin, managing to look down her nose at him despite the height difference. “Just because it’s happened before doesn’t mean it gets any easier.”

“Er,” he muttered apologetically, ears fluttering against his skull. “Sorry. I know that. It’s not exactly a party for me, either.”

Satisfied at his contrite pout, she headed for the door. “I gotta get to work. It’s not like I have any excuse to be missing time.” She gently punched his shoulder. “Looking forward to seeing you back in your usual spot tomorrow,” she said.

He smiled. “Me, too. Try not to kill anyone at work today.”

With a smirk, she closed the door behind her, leaving the tauren to his dusty quarters. Although the druids who had cared for him had determined him fit to go back to living unassisted a week ago, the orc had insisted he stay with her until he was ready to go back to work. Finally, she had agreed to escort him back to his long-neglected apartment.

He poked at the few possessions he had kept with him throughout the ordeal, intending to put his things back in order. From the bundle the orc had brought with them (she had refused to let him carry it, to his amused embarrassment), he began to remove the efficiently-packed contents. First was the gear he had been wearing when injured, now cleaned and repaired to the orc’s exacting standards. Following that were the handful of shirts and trousers she had fetched for his stay in her quarters. And finally, earning a surprised laugh from him, was the collection of tauren children’s stories that the orc had picked up Earthmother-knows-where.

Smiling to himself, the tauren began to slowly put his quarters back to rights. While he worked, he mulled over the weeks to come. After intensive rehabilitation, he was much closer to his original strength and speed, although it would still take more training and drills to get back to his best fighting ability. Hopefully he would be declared ready sooner rather than later; as much as he appreciated the orc’s attentiveness, he was eager to return to the easy banter they had when on the job.


“I’ve gotta say, this is one of the more relaxing gigs we’ve done in a while.” The orc stood casually, surveying the grassy plateau stretching out from the rocky overhang where they took shelter.

Thunder rolled overhead, providing a percussive background to the constant hum of rain. Despite the location, they were warm enough in the wet. Once again, the tauren gave silent thanks for the unusual climate of Sholazar Basin.

The pair watched as a streak of lightning arced through the air, charring the earth and leaving behind a tiny, glinting shard.

The orc strode out into the rain, habitually adjusting her gloves in preparation to collect the sizzling shard. The tauren followed close behind, eyes roving constantly over the quiet field for signs of any stray elementals on the plateau. Although the elementals were erratic in their movement, they sometimes made their way up to this secluded field where most of the star shards fell.

With a practiced ease, the orc scooped the glimmering, hissing shard into a padded rubber bag, where it fizzled harmlessly, awaiting shaping in their workshop. The metal would remain white-hot until the final quenching, after which it would be affixed to a delicate circlet. The orc had expressed her displeasure at the final design, arguing that the druids diving into the thick of battle would need something more durable for headgear, but the tauren remained a staunch advocate of the dainty crown. He had even tried the finished product on once or twice – when the orc wasn’t around, of course.

They retreated to the overhang to await another lightning strike. “This is almost like a vacation,” the orc mused. “Not that I’ll turn down the hazard pay, of course.”

“We’ve still got a few days to go before we meet our quota,” the tauren responded. “We might see some interesting action before the end!”

The orc sighed wistfully. “Yeah…at least the potential for that beats sitting around in the workshop for another month. I was beginning to think we had fallen out of favor with the druids for a while there.”

Another bolt of lightning lanced down into the earth nearby. Grinning triumphantly at the tauren, the orc once again stepped into the rain, making her way towards the pitted earth where another star shard waited, smoldering.

This time, the tauren noticed a crackling aura making its way up to the edge of the plateau. The elemental  hadn’t noticed them yet, but he knew it would likely be very cranky when it did. “Heads up,” he called to the orc, hefting his mace and putting himself between her and their foe.

“Yep,” the orc replied, tying the bag to her belt and raising her axe in preparation.

By now the elemental had taken notice of the strange fleshy creatures invading its territory. It gave a gusty shriek and unleashed a tiny whirlwind that zipped across the space between them, driving rain into their eyes and whipping mud into a clinging sludge around their feet.

It followed its attack by charging at them. The tauren went to meet it, ensuring that he would be the first to engage.

As its body was made primarily of mist, the tauren would have to be very precise in his strikes to hit the energized rock fragments that made up the only substantial part of its torso. He swung his mace, hoping that even with his relatively slow swings he could make the one powerful hit necessary to take out the revenant. His first swing missed, and he ducked down to follow the mace as the elemental slashed at where his head had been.

Against protocol, the orc circled around behind the revenant to add her own attacks. Not only was she supposed to leave the main defense to him, but she was also potentially in the way of his mace as well.

“Move!” the tauren shouted, not waiting before he swung his mace again, this time catching a chunk of the revenant’s body. It let out a shriek reminiscent of wind whistling through a small crevice and darted away, disappearing over the lip of the plateau.

The orc pushed back her hood and rubbed her gloved hand vigorously against the smooth skin of her head. “Hate those little pests!” she commented.

“Hate them all you want, but just remember that it’s my job to deal with them,” the tauren chastised sternly. When she opened her mouth to argue, he cut her off with, “I know your job is boring this time around, but you have to at least let me have priority when it comes to these guys. Otherwise I’m getting paid for nothing!”

They glared stubbornly at each other until the moment as disturbed by a low-pitched roar carried on a violent gust of wind. This was closely followed by the appearance of an enormous elemental making its way onto the plateau. It dwarfed the other revenants they had seen so far by two or three times, and appeared to be equally as incensed. When it noticed them, it let out another piercing cry and began to lumber towards them.

“Time to go,” the tauren remarked, scouting behind them for an escape route.

“It doesn’t look so bad,” the orc replied, stubbornly planting her feet and motioning as if to challenge it.

The tauren grabbed her bicep and propelled her in front of him. “You obviously didn’t read the dossier on the Terrace. Even if we could take that thing, the Oracles would be pretty upset if we killed one of their revered spirits.”

Sighing in resignation, the orc began to lope along beside the tauren. The revenant, upon seeing its quarry running away, responded by whipping up the storm. The swirling wind and pelting rain lowered visibility and turned the ground into a slippery swamp, slowing their progress. The orc stumbled, falling to one knee in the thickening mud. As he ran past, the tauren grabbed her elbow, using his height advantage to pull her to her feet. The bag of shards, stuck in the mud, gave a weak squelch and ripped from where it was tied to the orc’s belt.

Cursing, the orc turned to retrieve it, but the tauren shoved her ahead of him. “I’ve got it! You head for the path into the Maker’s Perch!”

She spared a glance at the revenant gaining on them before turning to obey. Sighing in relief, the tauren wrenched their precious cargo from the sticky clutches of the mud gathering around his ankles and took off after her.

The walls of the Maker’s Perch jumped up suddenly from within the curtain of rain. The orc immediately put her hands to the stone, searching for the tiny path they had found that led into the titan-engineered stronghold.

“Left, left,” the tauren instructed, glancing over his shoulder at the revenant. It vented its frustration by flicking a whip-like tendril of wind at him, snapping dangerously just short of his cheek.

“I got it!” the orc’s disembodied voice floated to him from within the jagged crack amidst the stones.

 “Don’t just stand there; get inside!” He made to follow, only to discover that the width of his shoulders was at odds with the parameters of the crevice.

“Come on!” the orc shouted from within, not yet realizing the problem. From without came another vicious crack of wind, this one catching him above the elbow and slicing neatly through armor and skin. The tauren grunted.

Having noticed the tauren’s halted progress, the orc rushed back to him, grabbing his wrist and tugging. He felt the stone scraping across his chest and back as his partner slowly but surely tugged him into the safety of the cave. Tucking his head to protect his horns, he dug in with his hooves, running in place and kicking up a spray of mud behind him.

The whirlwind outside was a roaring frenzy now, and he could feel rain and debris pattering against his still-exposed side. With a final panicked groan, the orc pulled with her entire bodyweight, bringing the tauren through the diminutive hole in the wall and into the wider cave beyond. He toppled forward, taking her down in the process. As they fell he twisted, so as to keep himself ready for any attack from the elemental outside.

Shrieking in frustration, the elemental predictably sent a final assault as its foe escaped, this time in the form of a crackling bolt of lightning. It struck the tauren square in the chest, knocking the breath out of him with an uncomfortable whoosh.

Still trapped beneath him, the orc began to shout in alarm, frantically struggling to free herself so she could assess the damage. Roaring in frustration, she finally managed to disentangle herself and reach for the tauren, cradling his head between her hands and scrutinizing his face.

“Are you all right?” she practically screamed, pulling on an eyelid to check his pupil.

He wheezed out a laugh, then hissed as something hot brushed against his finger. “I’m fine. It didn’t hit me.” He glanced down. “Well, not directly.”

Together they looked at the bag of star shards he had unwittingly held against his chest. The center was blackened where it had absorbed the full force of the lightning strike, and on top of that lay a perfect, glimmering star shard.

10 June 2013

For the Horde? [guest post!!]

Mengxi's letter caused a stir in the village. Having left to join the Horde only a few months ago, they hadn't heard from him since his arrival in Orgrimmar. Now everyone gathered to hear all about his adventures. In a loud, clear voice, the village Elder read from the tattered scroll...

As you know, I joined the Huojin when they declared their allegiance to the Horde. While I have met many brave, loyal and friendly people here, I am sorry to say that being a part of the Horde is not anything like I thought it would be. I am alive, where many are not, and that is the best of my situation, I fear.

The ceremony with the Horde leader, Garrosh Hellscream, was my first clue that what was ahead of me would not be pleasant. It is telling that the title for the Horde's leader is Warchief. He cared nothing for our culture, our history. The first, last, and only thing he wanted from us was our ability to serve the military aims of the Horde.

We Huojin were split up and assigned to various fronts in Horde territory. I was sent to the Eastern Kingdoms, to serve under the leadership of the Forsaken and their Banshee Queen, Sylvanas Windrunner. The Forsaken, they...I...they are corpses, infused with the souls of the dead! From what I understand, they were killed by a monstrous army of reanimated corpses controlled by a figure they call the Lich King. Then they were similarly raised and enslaved to his will, forced to kill their friends and loved ones in turn. At some point Lady Sylvanas broke free of her enslavement and managed to free these Forsaken as well. Such horror they have witnessed!

It seems that this Lich King was defeated a few years ago, so the Forsaken have had their revenge. But their hate remains. It is hard to tell where that hate is directed now, but I have been around them long enough to know, it is strong and it is their driving force. I am not familiar enough with the politics of the outside world to understand why exactly the Forsaken are willing to be a part of the Horde, nor why the Horde is willing to accept them. Many times I have had the impression that the other peoples of the Horde view Forsaken with distrust, wariness, and maybe even fear. And now, after months of service with them, I think I understand why. But I get ahead of myself.

I will send you more details of my journey when I next find time to write. Until then, please, I beg of you to not follow me into this hell that is the Horde...

Please give my love to everyone.
  • Mengxi

The Elder looked at the silent, worried faces, and shrugged slightly. "I guess we can only wait." Moving to Mengxi's parents, who were clutching each other in fear, he placed a comforting hand on their shoulder. "He is alive. He can still come back to us. Our thoughts are with him, too."

05 June 2013

It's not filler if you like reading it

Nah I take that back, it's still filler. But I hate to see my blog get dusty and boring - by which I mean I have no intention of closing up shop, I'm just getting my butt kicked by real life! It actually sucks; after the podcast and feeling really fired up to write, suddenly I found myself knee-deep in professional Japanese resume-writing. Which, I needn't remind you, is not my forte.

Hire me to do professional business for your company I have many useful skills
Working on those moon-rune documents kept me out of WoW for quite a while, but I've popped in here and there to tend my farm and try to push through the Dominance Offensive dailies so I can finally catch up with whatever it is that Dah wants me to see. (no spoilers please >_>) All I know is that the quest to go into the mine and kill those spirit traps underground was designed by a cruel and unfeeling dev.

Aside from that, I've been battling pets, although I'm WAY behind knowing what to do. Similar to pokemon, I just pick the cutest guys and use them to kill all the other guys. I have gotten some GREAT advice from twitter, however, so I hope to one day be someone who gives reputable advice instead of making suggestions like "have you considered using the fluffy kitty?"

I do not want to battle the other fluffy kitties
I was really enjoying leveling Weipon, and recently hit 88, but I realized that if I got too ahead in my leveling I would end up with a bunch of half-finished quest notes and no recollection of actually doing any of the quests, which would squash later writing! Instead I decided to hit up the Darkmoon Faire and aggressively watch Dubenko from the sidelines.

Let's see how long you dodge those rings after I get at you
So to reiterate, I'm not  going anywhere. A new LW chapter and the continuation of the main Pandaria story are forthcoming! Posts might be much more irregular in their scheduling, but the spark of creativity lives on! Frankly, I'm just glad that I have so many opportunities to share my new gifs with you! It may have nothing to do with WoW, but collecting and sharing humorous gifs is one of my hobbies, so I hope you know that I'm not just trying to fill post space, but rather bring you the latest and greatest of internet hilarity!

And now, the most recent search terms:

"a totally sweet blog"
"adventure time birthday party ideas"
    I'm thinking Lady Rainicorn/long-Jake streamers, snacks shaped like residents of the Candy Kingdom, LSP balloons, and everyone has to imitate Tree Trunks' voice
"aysa cloudsinger porn"
"im soo full of butt toots spongebob"
    Me too, Spongebob, me too
"sloth whisper song meme"
    I have no idea but if you find it will you let me know? I'm a diehard member of the sloth fandom :B
"cow of the wild fanfiction"
    Shit yeah, get on over to the Series page
"dragon which is red but big"
    I don't know that being red precludes being big, so you have lots of options
"indicator raptor explosion"
    :|a this sounds like a goblin experiment gone wrong
    YES! Look at those majestic bastards!
"what is red cow with high heels facebook logo"
    I'm curious about this red cow "with high heels" (I didn't publish that picture anywhere...) but currently my fb picture is a velociraptor statue wearing a knitted cap
"janeway muscles"
    Mmm yes I have just the reaction gif for Cpt Janeway's muscles:
"i had a dream about red cow i taking a it to home"
    I don't know if I should feel flattered or deeply concerned
"jessha reach"
    !! Minor character love <3
"did the girl jump from the bridge at the red cow"
    I couldn't find anything about a bridge at the red cow but I certainly hope not!!

And just because it's been making me laugh for a million years:
Is it the scarf? The expression? It's the scarf, I think.