[Story] Character of the Week – Lomaha

[[ Lomaha is my Tauren monk. She has no RP or background really, but I enjoy writing monk stuff so maybe someday! ]]

Lomaha breathed deeply of the cool, misty air that clung to the mountain’s flanks. Though blossoms were starting to bloom down in the valley below, the mountain would remain cold for a few more weeks yet. Within the Crane shrine, she was sheltered from the springtime rains that often came with little warning, blowing up from the dark clouds in a matter of minutes. She sat with her legs crossed beneath her, regarding the carved statue of Chi-Ji. It was worked of a translucent stone, in shades of white banded with red, just like the real crane spirit. Though it was stone, the carving was so lifelike and graceful that at times, Lomaha really believed that it was watching her.

She hoped that he wasn’t doing so today. Frustrated, she pushed her practice book away, and her quill fell with a plop into the meditating pool. “I’ll never get this,” she muttered, accidentally smudging her page of writing. Learning the different stances and moves was one thing, but Lomaha had never been very good with books and writing. Those were simple, if you practiced them enough, you’d eventually get the hang of it. Ji Su said the same was true of writing, but Lomaha hadn’t found it any easier yet. She wasn’t even sure what the point of the lesson was; she already knew the song of Chi-Ji, why did she have to copy it down? Her letters at first were neat and careful, but the longer she wrote, the more impatient she got and the more her hand grew cramped and sore. By the page she was on now, the letters were a smudgy mess. Lomaha sighed and fished her quill out of the water. Ink was now spreading in the meditating pool, and someone was sure to notice it. Not that she’d be able to do any more writing until the pen dried out, either.

Through the wide doorway of the temple, Lomaha could see the craggy mountain peaks, still blanketed with snow. There, the temple of the tiger stood, where the students were no doubt practicing exciting things like kicks and jabs, not writing in books. Had she made the wrong choice? Ji Su said that it was important to learn lessons from all of the spirits, but it was important to master one fully. At the time, it had made sense, but now Lomaha wondered if that was really true. She felt a little guilty having such thoughts while the crane statue watched her. “I’m just not good at — being patient,” Lomaha sighed.

Does a Tiger not need patience? Lomaha’s ears perked forward as the crane statue seemed to speak. But that was impossible, wasn’t it? She glanced around the temple, but she saw and heard no one else. Maybe someone was playing a trick. She reached a hand cautiously toward the stone statue, and its surface felt warm, alive.

“Well–” Lomaha hesitated. She felt silly speaking to no one, yet the crane’s presence felt as real as anyone else’s. And had his head moved, just a little, or was that only her imagination?

He needs patience to catch his prey, to wait for the right moment to strike. So too does the Serpent, to find the perfect breeze to ride upon. And the Ox, who endures for centuries if he must.

“So it doesn’t matter, I’ll just be bad at whatever I do?” Lomaha looked at her smudged and soggy page and frowned.

Of course not. But one does not become a master all at once. It takes work, and yes, patience.

“You sound like Ji Su,” muttered Lomaha. Maybe it was she making the statue talk, but it didn’t sound like her. It sounded — well, as she’d always imagined Chi-Ji would sound: wise, comforting, and gentle.

The crane statue seemed amused by that, if a statue could be said to be amused. I have faith in you, Lomaha. Now you must have it in yourself.

She blinked, staring. How did it know her name? Was it really Chi-Ji? Her hand shaking slightly, she turned to a fresh page and began again.


[Story] Character of the Week – Nimrathis

[[ Nimrathis is my night elf monk. I didn’t like the lore for them, so I made up my own. Nimrathis is a self-taught hermit whose beliefs clash with those of most kaldorei. He also lives in a cave in the forest, because he’s odd. ]]

Everything was in place. The night before, Nimrathis had gone into Darnassus with a handful of coins to buy what he needed. He didn’t like Darnassus, it was far too big and everything was much too expensive, but it was the only place that he could get things like candles, and soap, and pillows. Bear had said he’d need those things, and Bear was clearly more educated on such matters than he was. Nimrathis used candles to light the cave sometimes in the dark of winter, so he could read or work on his leatherwork. He bought an entire box, a supply that would ordinarily last him for years. As for the soap, he wasn’t sure Zhyra needed any. She already smelled nice, and he didn’t want to hint that she didn’t, but Bear assured him that girls liked soap. The one that Nimrathis chose was made with berries and had herbs poured inside of it, he could see the little leaves embedded within. And it did smell nice when the shopkeeper offered it to him. He got a little book with blank pages inside, the kind you might sketch or write a journal inside. That one had been his idea, he thought to make a cover for it with some of the soft fawn leather he had back at the cave. Armor would surely be more practical, or a quiver, but those took more time and he wasn’t sure of Zhyra’s measurements. He could finish the book cover in only a few hours, even press some designs into the front.  Lastly, he bought pillows. Nimrathis wasn’t sure exactly what kind he was supposed to get, but he bought two that were stuffed full of feathers.

Back at his cave, Nimrathis swept out the dust and pine needles that littered the floor. He arranged his belongings into neat piles and threw out anything he didn’t need anymore. From the forest, he cut some fresh pine boughs and replaced his bed, putting his best blanket and the new pillows on top. Then all he could do was light the candles and wait. He tried to remember everything Bear had told him, but there was so much. Bear made it sound so simple, in fact it sounded like she was the one who had suggested everything. Nimrathis could take no such risk, he had to make everything as nice as possible and hope that Zhyra would like it.

She came up the path not long after dusk, carrying a basket that he hoped was full of dumplings. “What is all this?” she asked, puzzled, as she looked at the candles.

“It’s for you,” Nimrathis explained, and she saw her expression shift briefly to a small smile. That was good, wasn’t it? He hoped so. Bear wasn’t here to ask.

“For me? Why?”

Nimrathis blinked blankly. What was he supposed to say? The dumplings, tell her you like the dumplings. “Because… you bring me dumplings.”

Zhyra laughed quietly, setting the basket down on the rock that Nimrathis often used for a table. “I did. Also some bread, and jam.” Nimrathis’s ears perked, dumplings and jam? This was going better than he’d expected.

“I got you something too,” he said, gesturing toward the cave. “A gift.”

Zhyra looked puzzled again, but she followed him toward the entrance. He took out the little book and the soap, both of which he’d wrapped in thin paper and tied with string. It didn’t look very nice, because he hadn’t had to wrap a gift before, but Zhyra didn’t say anything about it. “What’s the occasion?”

His ears darkened. Nimrathis had rehearsed what he’d say the entire way back from Darnassus, but now he’d forgotten all of it. “I just wanted to get you something, because — you bring me dumplings.”

“That’s all?” asked Zhyra, that little smile back on her face.

“And–” Nimrathis hesitated. “I like talking to you.” The words stumbled over themselves as they left his mouth.

“I like talking to you, too.” They both stood there in silence, and Nimrathis wished he knew what he was supposed to say next. Thankfully, Zhyra said something. “Do you want to share these?” She gestured to the basket. Normally, Nimrathis didn’t like to share any of his dumplings, but he could make an exception in this case.

“I’d like that.” Nimrathis was hardly surprised that Bear had been right after all.

[Story] Story a Week 34 – Crane

[[ Little backstory for my new cow monk, it worked out well because she’s a Mistweaver! ]]

Lomaha stared glumly into the depths of the pool.

“Try again,” Ji Su said gently.

“It’s no use,” sighed Lomaha. “I can’t.” The pools at the peak were crisp and clear, reflecting the bright blue of the sky. She could see the rocks resting at the bottom, even a small insect paddling its way across the surface — but nothing else.

The pandaren nodded thoughtfully. “Let’s take a break, then. Perhaps things will seem more clear later.” She gave the tauren’s arm a little pat before descending the path back toward the buildings. Of course, she was probably right. Lomaha was trying so hard to move ahead in her studies that it got in the way of everything else. Her own worries about being good enough were the one thing keeping her back. So Ji Su had told her before, and Lomaha knew in her heart that it was true. It wasn’t easy, learning all of these things. Before she’d come to the peak, Lomaha hadn’t known anything at all about monks. She knew about spirits, of course, and even seen one herself once. They were similar, Ji Su said, but not exactly the same. And to see one intentionally, the way shamans did, that took a great deal of effort and concentration, sometimes even a special ceremony. So it wasn’t too unexpected that the spirits of Pandaria were just as fickle sometimes.

She felt lucky that Ji Su was so patient. It wasn’t easy being here, in this strange place. Almost everyone here was a pandaren, but not all. Lomaha had seen just about every race she could think of here — familiar ones like orcs and trolls and kaldorei, but unusual ones like gnomes and draenei too. It was exciting and interesting to talk to them, they were usually friendly, feeling a bit isolated as she was and eager to learn. It was encouraging to her that there didn’t seem to be any limit to who could learn, either. Your past or your size didn’t matter at all. But there were very few other tauren, and sometimes Lomaha felt a bit homesick. Making food from home helped a little, but it never turned out exactly right because she couldn’t get all the same ingredients and spices. They were on top of a snowy mountain, not in the warm, sunny plains. She wrote to her mother and father back home, and they dutifully replied, telling her the news of what was happening back in the village. Usually, it wasn’t much at all, but it was nice to hear from them all the same, see her mother’s careful writing and picture her reading the letters aloud to her father. It had to be difficult for them, too, though it was expected for a young tauren of her age to leave home. Usually it wasn’t so far away, though.

Ji Su had passed through their village looking to trade. Lomaha had thought at first that she must have been lost, but now she doubted that was the case. Ji Su never did anything by accident, always seemed to have planned three steps ahead for any outcome. She gave them some beautiful jade beads, which Lomaha’s mother tried not to accept, but Ji Su insisted that she keep them as a gift. They all ate around the fire, and of course the tauren were curious about this strange traveller. Ji Su told them of Pandaria, and the place that she trained — which of course drew more questions until she set down her plate and showed them. Lomaha was incredulous at how the little pandaren could easily best even the biggest tauren in their village, with agility and speed and the way she darted on her feet like a cougar. Lomaha asked if she could learn too, and Ji Su studied her thoughtfully and said that yes, she thought that she could. It wouldn’t be easy, and Lomaha would have to go stay for a time until her training was completed. Her parents were hesitant, but Ji Su insisted that they could send letters and the monastery was safe from danger.

She had been here all of the summer, and Ji Su said the snows would begin before too long. There was still snow left over from last winter on some of the higher peaks. It really was beautiful here, and peaceful. It was easy to center your mind, as the pandaren said. In the large building they met in the mornings to meditate. Lomaha found it difficult to sit the right way at first — her hooves were too big and she wasn’t sure her legs could bend the right way, but once she managed she got accustomed to it quickly. She felt as though she could actually sense the mountain breathing sometimes, feel the energy that flowed through it. But she hadn’t yet seen a glimpse of the crane spirit, despite all her efforts. It would happen, Ji Su insisted. She was certain that Lomaha had the right temperament for studying with him, it was just a matter of being patient and allowing him to show himself. Sometimes it took years for a student to choose a spirit to train with.

Chi-Ji the crane, was a spirit of soothing water and healing. With his techniques, Lomaha could ease troubled minds and heal wounds of the body. It sounded very much like something she would be interested in; she’d always found the water calming. There weren’t any cranes in Mulgore, but she’d seen a drawing of him in one of the books they had here. He was impossibly slender and graceful, like a squiggle on a page come to life. Lomaha had some doubts that she could emulate him, but Ji Su did not. She insisted that anyone — even a tauren — could follow the way of the crane.

She exhaled a long breath, turning to mist in the cool air. Lomaha sat beside the pool, her legs crossed, and tried to clear her mind. She pictured the crane in her mind, his neck and legs outstretched, as he flew across a misty lake. His broad wings left trails across the glassy surface of the water. She imagined his cry echoing in the hills. When he appeared, she would be ready to learn.

[Story] Ashenvale – Nimrathis’s Visit

Nimrathis was thankful he had the dumplings in his pouch for the long walk back to his own camp. Bear had offered, and hadn’t seemed very interested in eating them himself, rather he had been roasting a fish over the fire when Nimrathis arrived that night. Maybe Bear was tired of them? Nimrathis couldn’t imagine getting tired of dumplings, perfect little savory bites surrounded by soft dough. But if that sentinel brought them to Bear every night, maybe he was. Nimrathis was certain he’d never get tired of them, no matter how many the sentinels brought him. And Zhyra did, sometimes, but her visits were rare. He was always glad to see her, because it meant she had brought supplies he wouldn’t need to go and get for himself — and of course, dumplings. Some nights he thought it might almost worth going back to the town if it meant he got them every night. It was something to consider, at least. But having so many people around made him nervous, even if they weren’t paying him any mind, their presence was there, like an insistent insect in his ear. It was much easier to keep focused here, away from everyone else. Short visits were fine, and Zhyra and Bear never stayed long anyway.

But Bear had said something that worried Nimrathis. He wanted nails and a stove, to make his shelter better, he said. Nimrathis thought Bear’s shelter was good enough — not as good as a cave, of course, but one couldn’t always find a suitable cave. It had walls and a roof, and didn’t fall over in the wind. Why did he need anything else? Because of the sentinel, Zhyra’s friend, the one who brought dumplings for Bear all the time. He wanted her to stay with him, and he thought she would like a nicer shelter. Nimrathis didn’t much like the idea, for one she would be there when he went to Bear’s camp. He might interrupt something he’d rather not see. And it meant that Bear would be staying in this one place, sending down roots. He would be far less likely to go to new places if he had  a real home and someone waiting there. What Bear had said was true: Nimrathis himself had stayed in the same cave for several years now. It was a good cave. But Nimrathis could leave anytime he wanted to, nothing kept him there. He was free to go where he wished. Now he was worried that the same wouldn’t be true of Bear.

In spite of himself, Nimrathis found himself curious about the sentinel. Of course he’d wondered what it might be like, having someone there all the time, to help him hunt and cook. He was more curious about the other things, but Bear didn’t talk about that despite Nimrathis’s asking. He was quite certain Zhyra wouldn’t ever want to do any of those things, at least not with him. Hearing about it was the only way Nimrathis would know what it was like. He supposed he could just ask her, but he wasn’t certain what her answer would be — or if he’d like it either way. Yes, part of him wanted company, but only sometimes. He valued his solitude and his meditations just as well, he doubted she’d understand that. He crested the hill leading to his camp, just as the morning sun began to filter through the trees. It would be hot today, and Nimrathis was eager to retreat to the coolness of his cave. And thankfully he had a few dumplings left, should he get hungry.

[Screenshots] Class Mounts

I’ve been keeping up with my weekly chores on the alts, so I was able to start working on getting class mounts Tuesday. I haven’t finished them all yet (more about that in a second), but I thought I’d post the ones I have so far. I do like the little cut-scenes you get at the end where you actually get the mount, some of them are pretty cool.

Like the class campaigns, though, they vary widely in difficulty. Most of my alts are around 850 ilevel, so they’re not especially well geared. Monk was really easy, and didn’t even have an elite to kill. The only one that’s really given me trouble so far is Warrior, even at 862 in Prot spec I’ve been unable to kill even the first challenger. I need to wait for a nerf or for him to get more gear, I guess. Warlock had to get an item from a Legion invasion, so I had to wait 7 hours for that. He also had to buy expensive crafted things from the Auction House. But hands down the worst is Rogue. They have to assassinate a target in each of the enemy faction cities. Which would be okay if they were scenarios, but nope, they’re on live. From what I’ve read, the Silvermoon target (the first one for Alliance rogues) also has a super long respawn time. I’m hoping for a nerf, otherwise it’s going to be a very long time before I get the rogue mount, which is disappointing because it’s one of the ones I actually liked.

Druid is very underwhelming, too. Not only do I find it incredibly ugly, it’s not actually a proper mount, it’s just a change to flight form. If you bought the very expensive Glyph of the Sentinel, you have to pay to switch back and forth between them. It also lacks an idle pose, a perch pose, a walking/ground pose, uses the old form sounds, and cannot be used in no-fly areas.

All the mounts (that are proper mounts, not druid form) can be used by other alts of the same class, however. I’ve read that druids can use the new owl if they have flying learned, in Moonglade. I haven’t gone to test it though, because in all honesty I don’t want to use it.

Visually, I think I like the Death Knight one best so far. Their movie was really cool too. (Though the actual quest I didn’t like! You’ll see why if you do it. I corpse ran rather than follow orders.) I also really like the Monk cat because he talks to you!

[Story] Nimrathis’s Journal

The demons make the forest feel strange and un-natural, little eyes watching from places they shouldn’t be. I didn’t see any on the trip over to the lake, but I know they are still there. The woods are ill, feverish, and the infection has to be removed before it causes more harm. It’s more difficult when they hide. I’ve killed a few, ones that have wandered too close to my camp. I had to use the stick, because I didn’t dare touch them myself. I’ve seen what can happen to things that get too close to demons. I know the sentinels hunt them too, they make regular patrols and I see them often. Sometimes the one brings me food, but I know Bear gets dumplings nearly every night. I wanted some. I haven’t had dumplings in ages, especially fresh warm ones.

When I got there, he didn’t have any dumplings. I guess the sentinel hadn’t come by yet. He did have some fish though, which he generously shared. It wasn’t nearly as good as dumplings, but still good. Bear was concerned that the water might be tainted by the demons, I know in some places it runs slow and stagnant, a place like that would be easy for the sickness to settle in. But he says the druids in the town were able to cleanse it. I’m glad for that, because I don’t want the water to be tainted. All of us, and all of the animals would suffer for it. But I don’t really like druids very much. I just know they’re in town right now, eating all of the hot, fresh dumplings. They probably aren’t even wearing any shirts. All of the sentinels are looking at them and trying to talk to them. Bear said that’s probably why his sentinel was late. He might be right, I don’t know.

He wanted to get her a gift, for bringing dumplings. I thought it was just part of their duty to make sure that we didn’t starve. If they are making us stay here, after all, they should be responsible for our care. I suggested flowers, though it’s too early for most kinds to be blooming yet. Bear didn’t like that idea, he said she could look at flowers by herself, but perhaps if he put them into a pot. He also thought about getting her fish, to put into a small pond. I know there’s a large one out behind the sentinels’ quarters, but it’s quite large and I’m certain there are already fish there. I guess a few more wouldn’t hurt. But then the gift wouldn’t really be for her, so much as all the sentinels. Most of them aren’t very friendly and I know I wouldn’t want to give them a gift.

Mine is all right. She comes by to check on me now and then. When it was raining she brought a new blanket, and took my old one to be repaired. It hasn’t been brought back yet which might mean that it’s too damaged. I liked that blanket, but the new one is good too, so I can’t really complain. I guess I would like more dumplings. If Bear gets them every night I should come by his camp more often. But he probably doesn’t want to share them every night, I know I wouldn’t.

She did show up eventually. Bear thought she was probably eating with the druids, and maybe she was, because it took a long time for her to get there. But she had a basket of warm dumplings, so neither of us said anything. She seemed really surprised to see me. She said she thought the demons had got me, or maybe the orcs. I am not sure if it was a joke or not.

[Story] Soloridan

Soloridan scattered soil over the remains of the fire, watching until the last wisps of smoke finally faded from sight. He doubted that the rangers would come looking for him, but it was always best to be safe. Scourge would avoid fires, but living people would not.

You were always too stubborn for your own good, Solo.

Soloridan could hear Tanris’s voice as if it had been yesterday. He could even hear the feigned exasperation, the way he’d shake his head when he said it. And he’d always hated that nickname, especially now when it seemed more prophetic than cute. He had been on his own since the Scourge attacked, moving to various sheltered places in the forest. Some were ruins, which were the most comfortable, but in the last few years people had begun to return to them again. There were fewer ruins to camp in now. Going back to his own house was out of the question; even if there was any of it standing other than charred beams and crumbling walls, there were too many memories. He didn’t want to take the risk of seeing anyone he’d once known. Most of the time, Scourge were too far decayed to recognize — but not always.

He’d taken note of the rangers before, they always patrolled the same routes, though there were different ones at different times of day. It was simple enough to hide from view when the patrol was due. He hadn’t know about the late-night one though, with Scourge — correction, not Scourge. They looked and smelled like Scourge, but they still had their minds — or so the rangers claimed. They made Soloridan nervous, because he knew it was only a matter of time before their minds would break down. It wasn’t well documented what happened to sentient undead when that happened, but he imagined that it wasn’t good. They had them in the village too, in the same shops and buildings that he’d shopped in his old life. It was repulsive to see them there.

He had finally talked himself into approaching them, to offer his services and expertise. After years of stalking and killing them, he considered himself skilled in the subject, though of course there was much he didn’t know. He suspected there must be some magical way to dispatch them, but he had no magical training at all. Ordinary fire was very effective, but posed the risk of setting the rest of the forest ablaze — something Soloridan wanted to avoid, having witnessed the Scorched Grove himself. The captain had seemed intrigued, and directed him to the trainer, but things seemed all wrong from there. The man was a fellow veteran, had even lost a leg in the attacks, but had outlandish ideas about how to combat the Scourge menace. And he spoke more about killing spiders and bats. Soloridan had no desire to destroy the living things that belonged here in the woods, distasteful as they may be. Perhaps the rabid bats, so they didn’t spread their disease further, but that didn’t seem like a ranger’s job.

Frowning, he fastened the straps on his heavy pack and hefted it onto his back. It carried his bedroll and his little cup and pot for cooking, his carving knife, as well as all of his weapons. Most had been scavenged from the ruined estates; some farm tools and building tools, whatever had enough weight and heft to break bone. The head had to be removed from the rest of the body to effectively stop one, even better if it could be crushed entirely. Soloridan had been surprised to learn just how difficult it could be to crush a skull, especially when the rest of the body was still clawing at you.

You could go back. You’d have someone to talk to, at least.

Soloridan’s ears twitched faintly. Someone alive, Tanris meant. Talking to the dead wasn’t something healthy, especially for someone who hunted undead. But living people were much more difficult, he’d learned that lesson well enough yesterday. Oddly, the person he had talked to the most was the death knight, after the others had gone back to their cabins for the night. It was an unsettling feeling, half of him wanted to stay and talk while the other felt his hunter’s instincts urging him to take advantage of the opportunity. In the end he did neither, instead studying the death knight and trying to discover what made him different from the other Scourge. Maybe that’s why they had him there too, to better learn and understand the enemy. That would make sense. Little else of what they said had, though.