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The Flower that Blooms in the Snow

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:55 pm
by Loreli
Lorelli wasn't a soldier. Never had been. She wasn't made for infantry work, front line-charges and pitched battles. Her mind had been carefully honed from the youngest age for shadow work, deals it the dark, daggers in the back. Her combat skills were best when surprise was the order of the day. Her own personal score board gave higher marks based on how fast it was finished. And all ego and back-patting aside, she was fast. It wasn't a point of pride, it was a point of survival. You’re not faster and smarter? You’re dead.

In her younger years, she’d been cast as a weapon, performing acts not of her own choosing. Violent, vile, things no one had a right participating in, let alone someone little more than a child. There had been plenty of blood on her hands long before she’d joined the Riders. She’d had to find a place inside herself to tuck away the bit that felt, the part that cared. For many years, she saw others only in the form of primary targets or obstacles. There had been no room in between. The exposed portion had grown hard, dark and cold.

Even with her departure from the Lowborne, the pieces did not begin to mend. It would be many years and the company of folks who cared and wanted her and not just what she could do. Mend, she had, and learned to balance the two piece of herself that had for so long conflicted with each other.

Now, after what they’d witnessed and all the reports she was getting from official and unofficial channels, she felt a tug. Staring out from behind the mask she wore when work was to be done, her mind would not stop shuffling through all it, over and over.

The tug became a rip, drawing her back into that black space she’d created for herself. The one she didn't think existed anymore. The darkness and cold swirled together, driving back any other feelings aside from anger and the need to bury her blades in something up to the hilt. It was an ugly place, where peace was no longer sought nor cared about, her heart would no longer stay her hand and shades of grey could not be distinguished.


She had every intention of trying to sleep. Every intention of trying to let her body rest and recover from the bruises and the aches. Regal, seeming to sense her master's foul mood, kept mostly to the counter and the window.

After an hour of cold bed, cold room, Lore rose and went to the easel with the long ignored canvas. But her muse was silenced under the cacophony of thoughts tumbling through her head. Giving up, she dressed, grabbed her daggers and left the tiny studio to the dark.


There were probably plenty of portals to be had from the mages around the city. Under normal circumstances, Lore would have had no trouble paying them for their services. However, she wanted no one in Stormwind to reliably be able to say they saw her leave. Hiring a gryphon to Booty Bay would have created the same problem. She did, however, know one soul who would help her and then not even bother to hang around to rat her out.

Netherdrakes were an odd lot, but Calenaku seemed stranger than most. Instead of staying in Outland he’d taken to traveling between the Alliance capitols and as luck would have it was in Stormwind. Albeit a little grouchy at the early hour, he agreed to drop her in Booty Bay.

Late afternoon there was a line of folks trying to board the boat to Ratchet and from what she could hear they were charging exorbitant prices. Money wasn't an issue, but the orc guarding the gangplank and taking names was. She’d managed more difficult tasks than sneaking onto a ship and she’d hidden in smaller spaces. Disembarking in Ratchet proved a little more harrowing but she succeeded without incident.

Landside, there were mercenaries offering to escort people to the likes of Darnassus, the Exodar, Gadgetzan. She ignored them. Alliance territory was not her goal.


The land was beautiful, of that there was no doubt. It almost made her long for Teldrassil, but Teldrassil had never really been home. And Teldrassil did not harbor the shadows underneath its shiny multi-colored exterior that this place did.

The shad worried her on a personal level. If what the pandaren said about them were true they was something for worse to worry about here than Horde. Check your emotions, the Lorewalker had said. Find your balance and stay centered. Far easier said than done.

It was late and the rain hadn't let up since mid afternoon. She was soaked and this close to miserable. Se hadn't come across a town yet and was in desperate need of sleep, even if it was for just an hour or two. She pulled her hood up, slid back against the rocky outcropping and closed her eyes.

It was awfully lonely out here. But hadn't she always said she worked better alone?


Something had been nagging at the back of her mind and it was frustrating and angering, whatever it was. She had felt it first shortly after the destruction of Theramore and had, as of yet, been able to pin down exactly what was troubling her.

The serenity of the Jade Forest had done some to help her ignore it but here on Kun-Lai summit it was back and it was stronger. Like grasping at straws, nothing brought her any closer to identify it.

And the rip continued to grow...


She'd found a bit of peace with the Shado-Pan. They understood her and to a lesser extent she understood them. Working with them came easy, easy as breathing. It wasn't easy work, but it was work well done.

She'd found a bit of peace, but it couldn't last.


Lorelli returned to the Monastery in the earliest of morning hours. The wind raced among the mountain peaks, biting through cloak, leather and leeching all the warmth from extremities. Taeima’s breath burst forth in large whuffing clouds, mingling with Lore’s own as it rose into the clear dark night. No snow would fall, but it was colder for it on Kun-Lai summit. Lorelli could tell the great cat was miserable and both of them were eager to be out of it.

Taoshi happened to be speaking to a group of Shado-Pan by the entrance way when the rogue finally made her way in. She turned to look at Lorelli, studied her a moment and held up a finger, indicating she should wait. Lore sighed, wanting nothing more than to find a fire to rest by. She was sore from that horrible failure of a sparring match with Bricu earlier and the trip back hadn't helped.

Lorelli was still trying to figure out what exactly had gone wrong. It should have been no contest really. It was not that she didn't believe Bricu to be a capable fighter, she knew for a fact that he was. But as he, himself had stated, she had at least a seven-hundred year head start on him and close quarters combat had been her life. From the first day Lyas judged her ready, she had been trained hand-to-hand first and once she was proficient in that he had gifted her with the first set of daggers she had ever owned. While she’d never match Illi’s skill with axes, or Kyraine’s skill with sword and shield she knew what she was about.

Yet, Bricu had dropped her as easily as a if she were a child. He words bit deep, implying that she had no idea how to control herself. She’d spent almost half her life, certainly the entirety of her time with the Lowborne, keeping her emotions in check. Lyas did not allow things like fear and doubt. You did the job, didn't matter one whit what you felt about it.

Something was troubling her though. It was like remnants of a dream almost forgotten. She seemed to recall a haze clouding her vision, Bricu coming out to blindside her. But was it true? She couldn't remember. It made her head swim trying to catch it as it flitted just outside her reach. She swayed slightly on her feet and looked to Taoshi hoping her pandaren host had forgotten about her. She had not. Taoshi had dismissed her companions and was making her way toward Lorelli.

The pandaren paused, still studying her and Lorelli found herself a bit unnerved. When she finally spoke her tone was soft and even. “You wear your anger like a cloak.”

Lorelli shook her head, raising an eyebrow, “I’m not angry.”

“You are. You take all of the emotions that won't serve you in combat; fear, doubt, hatred... shame, and channel it into anger. That may have served you well where you come from. It will not serve you here. It will be a danger. To you and everyone around you.”

“I’m sorry, Taoshi. I am merely cold and tired from the trip. I apologize if I have offended you. I wish only to rest.”
Taoshi fixed her with the same unnerving gaze again. The pandaren pursed her lips in a slight frown. Finally she waved a hand for Lorelli to follow. The rogue squared her shoulders and trailed along after her host.

The halls of the Shado-Pan Monastery were never completely empty but this time of night only a few roamed the halls. They tried to hide their curiosity but Lorelli caught some of the looks as she and Taoshi passed. The halls were cold and Lore gripped her hands into fists trying to work some warmth back into her fingers. She refused to blow on them in front of her guide.

Finally Taoshi paused in front of a door. “I have someone I would like you to meet. “She turned away and knocked once. The door opened and a female pandaren stuck her head out. Her fur was shades of auburn and white, her hair the same except for streaks of jade. It was disheveled as if she’d been sleeping but her green eyes looked at them alert and quizzical.

“I’m sorry to wake you, Diao Zhi.” Taoshi said, taking a step closer.

The new pandaren shook her head and combed at her hair a little with her fingers. “No apologies necessary, Taoshi. I was just getting up anyway. To what do I owe the honor?”

Taoshi turned and gesture to Lorelli, “Diao Zhi, this is Lorelli. She is a night elf and a member of the Alliance that recently arrived in the Jade Forest. “ Diao offered the rogue a smile as Taoshi continued on. “Lorelli, Diao Zhi is a Shado-Pan initiate. I thought you two should meet, I feel you could learn much from each other.”

Diao stepped forward, bowing deeply. “A pleasure to meet you.”

“Lorelli, Diao Zhi is going for her morning meditation in the Grove of Falling Blossoms. I would like it very much if you were to accompany her.”

The rogue opened her mouth, an objection already formed in her head, but it never made it past her lips. The look both pandaren were giving her said that to refuse would greatly jeopardize the state of her welcome her. She bowed, trying her best to follow as she had seen Diao Zhi do earlier. She held out a hand, gesturing for the other woman to precede her.

“Lead the way.”

Rest would come eventually.

Re: The Flower that Blooms in the Snow

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:02 pm
by Loreli
She'd messed up. Oh boy, had she messed up. Lying now, in the snow, she really hoped she lived to regret it. Diao would never let her hear the end of this.

There had been reports of sha activity on one of the mountain peaks about an hour's ride from the monastery. Diao had urged Lorelli not to go alone but there had been no one else.

Taeima had been left about a mile back so the rogue could continue more stealthily on foot. Upon reaching her destination she had spotted five of the minor sha-lings teeming around a corpse. She'd checked her blades and moved in to take them out. She'd just dispatched the last one when the inky puddles formed on the ground and a dozen more erupted to take their place.

"That's how it's going to be, is it?"

But as she'd watched they'd merged together to form a larger sha and the haze had clouded her vision. She'd fought her hardest but when the thing finally fell she'd gone down with.

She tried to rise, but nothing would move. And the snow began to fall...


At first her eyes wouldn't open. Slowly she became aware of her limbs and they weren't responding either. Her moment of panic was interrupted by voices and still she couldn't make out what they were saying. She’d never had this much trouble waking up before, had something happened? One thing at a time. If she could just open her eyes she could go from there. Her skin felt stiff, dry, and suddenly there was pain. Perhaps waking up wasn't such a good idea after all. There was sound humming in her ears. Slowly she realized it was her.

“Oh look, she’s waking up.”

Who’s voice was that? It was accented in a manner she didn't immediately recognize. A shadow fell over her and slowly she focused on a face covered with fur. Something was definitely amiss. Her mind suddenly kicked in and everything fell into place like a kick in the gut.

She groaned again trying to raise a hand to her head. “Wha... t... happen...ed..?”

“You’re very lucky, my friend.” The hovering face said.

“Sha?” Her voice was weak, raspy, barely intelligible.

Diao Zhi nodded a little. “Quite impressive what you did. Stupid. Exceptionally stupid... but impressive.”

“How...?” She couldn't finish, but Diao seemed to be able to read the question on her face.

“That cat is very loyal to you. She was waiting around when I arrived and lead me straight to you. She managed to get you back here before she collapsed.”

Lorelli felt her eyes go wide, “Okay..?”

“It was close. The both of you. But you’ll both be fine.” Diao turned and nodded to another pandaren who was standing in the doorway. They bowed to her and left. “Xien will return with something light for you to eat. Until then, you should probably rest some more. Do not worry, your voice will get better with time.”

Lorelli managed a nod before relaxing back against the pillow. Diao smiled and moved towards the door. “I’m going to be away for a few days. Xien will check in on you.”

“Where...” Regardless of what Diao had said, Lore couldn't help but be frustrated that her voice wasn't responding the way she was used to.

“Dawn’s Blossom. There’s a trader who only comes through once a month, has a few items I need.”

“Do... favor.. for me?”

Diao raised an auburn eyebrow that blended in with the rest of the fur on her face. “Yes?”

“Stop by.. Drunken Hozen.. tomorrow night? Look for.. banners... like... “ She raised her hand as far as she could indicating the black and red tabard hanging out of her bag. “Let them know... I’m... okay.”

Diao Zhi nodded. “I shall do my best.”

Re: The Flower that Blooms in the Snow

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:03 pm
by Loreli
((This thread has become a collection of facebook posts and I'll continue to add here as I add there.))