Travails of Autumn

It has been months and only recently has anything interesting occurred.

First a quick summary. Aldonza and Kallixta have spent enough time on the Timeless Isle to accumulate some nice purples. My characters have also been keeping up their profession daily cool downs, which often mean they have discovered some helpful recipes for even nicer gear. At least, I consider having everything over ilevel 450 nice.

Second, my guild shrank. The most active raiders moved, leaving mostly those with low activity. I lost a crutch!

Third, Hallow's End allowed me to easily test how well I could do in a low pressure queue. The practice made the final step much much easier.

Yesterday, I queued in the Throne of Thunder LFR!? OMG.OMG. OMG. Where's the notice about Average Wait Time? I was more than a little nervous. I'm afraid I bugged Matty, asking a few questions.I'd have asked more as the Average Wait Time would occasionally show up, saying 1 hour! then disappear and then surprising me with a pop!

I joined the raid after the first boss. We fought trash while more new members were brought in to fill those that had their fill after one boss? I knew what to do for Horridon and before long we had a dead dino.

Again there was a flush of folks leaving and arriving. It gave me time to remind myself about the next boss battle and in what seemed like no time at all, another boss battle was over!

1 Horridon kill
1 Council of Elders kill

That's 2/3rds of Last Stand of the Zandalari

And loot!

Necklace of the Terra-Cotta Mender

Well, that gets Kallixta up to ilevel 494.

The experience was far more pleasant than feared and soon I'll be joining LFR again.


Guild as Social Relief

Tome and I share a bunch of traits in common, but there is one I'll talk about now. We both share an anxiety that makes in hard for us to join in on some things. I remember the dread I felt in gathering a group for dungeons back before LFD. It was a simple change that greatly helped in some ways, but isn't perfect.

When I say "LFD isn't perfect", I bet my meaning is different than others. I care much less about group loot or folks going AFK. I feel a performance anxiety and can be very relieved when there's an obvious jerk because less attention will be focused on me!

I have a love/hate relationship with the queues. Late during the Lich King expansion, when we could face-roll dungeons without healers or cc's, I ran lots of dungeons, especially with one guild friend. We were both mages, but I was cajoled into running back-to-back dungeons with few fears. Knowing I had this friend greatly lessened my anxiety. If I screwed up, I had one reliable voice that I trusted to explain what I'd done wrong.

Just before Cataclysm launched, I changed servers to be with my daughter and her boyfriend. After some time, I found a new guild. There are a whole bunch of activities in WoW I couldn't participate in if it were not for my guild. Just like that friend in LFD during WotLK, I can trust them to shepherd me through just about anything. I trust them to let me know if I'm not ready or prepared enough. I know they might be carrying me on occasion, but I also know I won't be a dead burden for long.

I recently explained my anxiety as being unable to enter a classroom late and interrupting the teacher and students. My guild makes me fell like I'm just entering a room of friends.

Of course, even with the wonderful support, I dislike taking advantage of their friendship. I was horrified by my recent showing. They were laughing at themselves, saying "Oh yeah. I guess we forgot to warn you about THAT!" Yet I want to be sufficiently prepared that they shouldn't NEED to warn me. I'm the one responsible for ensuring I'm prepared. However, when there were four of them ready to go and the option was unprepared me or someone random from the queue... I let them carry my lame ... backside.

But I knew I'd be prepared the next time. Sure enough, when they gathered to run heroics the next night:

Two more Heroic Dungeons. No deaths! And my DPS was about the same as the other Mage. Actually, it was better on fights without much movement, so I know one place I need to work.

There are so many parts of the World of Warcraft that would be inaccessible to me without the support of my guild. I've tried to show my appreciation, but they just don't get it. They know I've a blog, but I don't think any have ever visited, but if you do, let me know!

Meanwhile, I finally got Kallixta to level 90! The surprise factor was when I hit, I got Terrific Trio, because I forgot my son hit 90 on his Death Knight. My daughter, the achievement seeker in the house, is miffed. She'll have two only when my Martuska hits 90. Heh.

A Horse of a Different Color

A desire to develop an improved Pet Battle Team for my daughter was the primary instigation for my return to WoW. Pet Battling with Martuska reminded me of the fun I had with my little Gnome, but I wasn't yet doing anything different with her than I was with Aldonza.

In one week, Martuska earned:
So this was the reason I was playing Warcraft? Pet Battles? That was my only competency?

It didn't used to be. I once ran dungeons. I ran dungeons after dungeon in Northrend. I had run one Pandarian dungeon, Stormstout Brewery with Kallixta, and hated it. This was mostly because I was still learning the Retribution spec, but also the Brewery had some boss battles with fiddly mouse clicking required to hop on soap bubbles or whatever. My eyesight and a different mouse have made this troublesome and I need to get back on the horse.

Well, a mount of some kind. I have non-horse choices.

Martuska reminded me that I enjoyed my zippy little Gnome. She was fearless. Aldonza was supposed to have left her fears behind, but hadn't, really. Aldonza already had level 90 and was fully equipped. So one night when my guildies were asking who wanted to run some heroic dungeons... I squeaked.

(I imagine an adolescent boy's voice cracking here.)

Of course, I had read the Dungeons Guides.

(I had read them back when Mists first come out.)

I ran two dungeons.

(I was the only one to die and I died twice, once in each.)

So, I'm back on a mount of some sort.

(It's not like any I've been on before. I'm looking at changing it.)

Who are you, little Gnome?

The family was back from Gencon and I was busy with new books and games and organizing them into the older books and games. There were new autographed books and nearby were all those Mercedes Lackey books still sitting on a shelf that I didn't take to Indianapolis because I didn't know she was going to be there!

The time came that I once would get online and play WoW and it occurred to me that I didn't mind being offline. For certain I missed the people, but not necessarily the game. I decided I might try turning off one subscription, but didn't get around to it yet. Still, there had been a tentative decision made.

Then my daughter proudly showed me her pet team she had leveled to 25. It was apparent she'd paid some attention to my suggestions months earlier, but it also was more revealing about what she liked when playing Pokémon! She and her brothers and, well the whole family really, started playing on a pre-color Gameboy. Her team consisted of:

Do you remember how hard it was to level up your first team to 25? She wasn't discouraged, exactly, but certainly wasn't enjoying it like I had. As I tried to explain how it would get better and what her next pets should be... She challenged me to use Martuska, my character on her account, and we would share the team.

Now I still felt guilty about abandoning Martuska for Kallixta and Aldonza. She was my first to level 85, but she was still sitting at 85! When I played Warcraft with my son, Kallixta and Aldonza were on the same account as his favorite character, so he could play with his sister. He would prefer if I could brush the dust off Marty so we'd have a better match.

Martuska and Aldonza are both Mages. Aldonza had overcome much of her cowardice, but I was the one avoiding Marty. Hm.

I concluded that before I stopped entirely, I owed Martuska some attention. With that miniscule commitment, I decided to send Martuska to Pandaria. Someone had mentioned levelling a low level in Pandaria, battling those wild pets. I could at least do that for Syylia's team. Martuska ran like a little child, or more accurately a small gnome, all the way to Half-Hill, set her hearthstone and started battling.

And I've been playing World of Warcraft ever since. I remembered the fun I had with my little gnome!

Marty needed to discard those Cataclysm blues and purples and her shiny new Zen Tailoring gave her a set of Windwool greens. That led to visits of the Silk Fields and confirming that playing a level 85 Gnome Mage really isn't that different from a level 90 Human Mage, provided you bother to set up the GUI! And the Macros! Oh, and choose your talents and glyphs. Good grief!
Marty's first new level since a month after Cataclysm came out!

Martuska is already level 87, almost all from Pet Battles, but she's reminded me of things that should have been apparent on Aldonza. Can you guess what I learned?

How often do you apply lessons learned on one character to another? Apparently I haven't been liberal enough in that reapplication!

How Syylia spent her Summer Vacation, 2013

I accused Navimie of being subtle. She disagreed. This just proved my sarcasm failed me.

Earlier this summer, my daughter and younger son devoted newly freed spare time to WoW. The pair found plenty to do, earning a variety of achievements. They also found ways to spend Aldonza's carefully earned gold! Who knew 200,000 gold could disappear so quickly?

When I explained to Syylia how 5.4 would make some achievements Feats of Strength, she quickly built her Golden Lotus reputation and accomplished Eternally in the Vale before it became unavailable. She got into a rhythm of working dailies and finished Tillers, Anglers, Cloud Serpent and even Friends on the Farm! This inspired her to return to Northrend and Outland and soon hit 40 Exalted Reputations!

All these reputations meant she also earned herself a Mountain o' Mounts, which pleased her to no end. These are the sorts of things Syylia enjoys in WoW. I'll help her, but it isn't as important to me. In fact, seeing all that she was accomplishing wasn't drawing me back.

What did bring me back? Oops! Not there yet.

One thing I knew about Aldonza and Kallixta was that they were poorer and I resented the pressure to return just so my kids could spend more gold. It wasn't the earning of that gold that I enjoyed. Instead it was a sign that I was good at something in Wow. I might not know my class, but I knew the Auction House! I knew how to relieve others of gold that they wanted to spend. Is that all I do in Azeroth?

Of course not!

I also had a better Transmog than Syylia!

Oh dear. What competence are you proud of in Azeroth?

The factions that put Syylia over 40, earned on the same day

There are edits in this graphic

Syylia wasn't only working on Reputations

How I spent my Summer Vacation, 2013

August was not a calm month in the Kallixta household.

My older son returned from Korea for a break in his year of teaching English.  The family took our third trip from Detroit to Fargo this summer and we did it without stopping overnight since theoretically we had four drivers. Practically, I drove more than half of the sixteen hours or so. Funny how that works.

We also packed into the month a trip to Gencon in Indianapolis, squeezing two more friends in the car and the motel room. Having done this once before, we made better management of our time and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Among the lessons learned, however, are that we'll split the seven of us into two rooms and two vehicles next year. Syylia had made costumes for herself and her boyfriend. Wil Wheaton spotted them, took their photo and posted it on twitter!

It rocked her Little Big Planet.

One Monkey flew back to Korea and things got much quieter. I had the chance to return to the World of Warcraft, but I was surprisingly ambivalent. It wasn't a habit anymore. The kids still played, but I had plenty to keep me busy. Maybe it was time to stay off?

The short answer is "No". I'll detail just what's happened next time, but just posting this much should break the logjam!

Unearned Credits

My time spent with Aldonza and Kallixta is to explore. The plan had been that Martuska, being on my daughter's account, would continue to pursue Achievements, but the second account wouldn't drive for them in any special manner. I've been pretty good about ignoring the pursuit of Achievements just for a higher Achievement score.

The closest thing to an exception has been that Kallixta worked hard on the Molten Front, earning the Hippogryph, while Syylia didn't. She is still spending time catching up on a bunch of Cataclysm stuff.

With summer, my son has been spending much time using the account, playing with his sister. They're having a good time, but it does mean that many of Ellyiia's achievements show up on Aldonza or Kallixta's Activity log.

Luckily Equipment rewards don't show up. That would be even more confusing.

About my only activity in the past couple weeks has been Aldonza doing Tiller and Angler dailies. Just so you know what I was really doing Last Night:

The Need For Three Accounts

The family has had three accounts for years. During the school year, use of the second account has been minimal, but the summer vacation has started. And on Friday, I arrived home to find my son and daughter running around Pandaria together. My son has characters on both accounts (and so do I) so we can play in different combinations of two of us. But we can't all three play at the same time.

One time of conflict doesn't justify a third account, but it got me considering it.

Contributing to this thought experiment when I brushed off Martuska, my original main. She is a level 85, like Aldonza, but gnome instead of human. She'd also been Frost spec for a long time. By the time I'd finish spec'ing, fixing glyphs and macros, I was not ready to play with her. I wanted back on Aldonza! I didn't want to bounce between them.

The account with Martuska was the original Achievement junkie and my daughter is happy to carry on. I've tried to resist repeating and bunch of things, just to improve an achievement score on Aldonza, but...

Aldonza comes in fourth on search. They appear to be ranked by Achievement Points. If that is true, Aldonza only needs a few more to push up to third! Second is probably out of reach as both of those are way ahead.

Saturday night my kids went to what they called a LAN party. Technically, I think it was a Wi-Fi party, but nobody likes those pedantic complaints. My daughter was content to play WoW there while my younger played other games, including Starcraft with my older boy who is in South Korea. They also chatted with him on Skype and had a good time. The point was that I got to play on Aldonza, including a little time with my daughter. We finished Lorewalkers together and got our flying clouds. I did LBRS and UBRS to complete all the Classic Dungeons and attune for Blackwing Lair.

So I guess I am interested in Aldonza's Achievement Points

Pet Genders

Do you know your pet's gender? Blizzard gives all pets a gender, even if there is nothing that uses it yet. In fact, while I knew it was there, it wasn't until working with Warla's Pet Search  that I noticed the disconnect between my pet's genders and their names.

I wanted to sort my accumulated pets by things like Breed, so I downloaded my pets and start noticing how many of my pets had female names yet blue, not pink, breed ids. I hate renaming pets because my mind doesn't remember the new names.
Somethings are just hard to remember, like the name of instrumental songs.

Well, I've still got plenty of work to do, renaming pets instead of something important. It's not like I don't have plenty of items on my to do list. At least I've a few things checked off recently.

Ultimate Pets
My "Go To" pets change far more frequently than their names. These aren't the pets I use for capturing new pets or battling easy trainers. These are for the tougher battles. When fighting an Undead pet, I've an Aquatic pet, that means all their undead attacks do weak damage, and it is one that has a good critter attack, that does strong damage against them.

It's only how it goes that all three ultimates have incorrect gender names, so I'll want to do that before they'll be ready to rumble

Poor Esmi is male?
Who else remembers the name of the Sea Lion in Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? Probably showing my age.

Saint Damien was my first level 25 when I discovered that fun of webbing before leeching life. This trick is especially powerful on Humanoids. This was one of the few pets I gave a male name, and still I got the gender wrong. She's from Duskwood and I wanted to evoke something dark and threatening. The "Saint" was intended to be ironic.

Juanita was one of my most recently elevated pets, for my entry in my Guild's "Best Theme" pet team. I had three spiders, but each was from a different Pet Family. (The third member is an Undead Giant Bone Spider). It'll be no trouble renaming him to Juan. Most Elementals would have an advantage against Mechanicals, but some Mechs have powerful attacks and between Stoneskin and H/H, we'll see how Juan fares.

Do you have any Themed Pet Teams?

New Haircut

Even while showing my old Dalaran Transmog yesterday, I had been working on a new outfit. I had tried out different outfits, but nothing attracted me as much as the simple wizard robes style. And then my Guild Mistress asked for help doing some Classic Dungeons for Guild Achievements.

That's how I rediscovered Robe of the Moccasin and Anacondra's Robe, both found in Wailing Caverns and both simple recolors of my purple Lesser Wizard's Robe. That led me to the various Apothecary's Regalia  and its recolors. The Black and Purple is much too Warlocky for my tastes, but I like the teals in the blue outfit. I haven't bothered with a different belt. My current cloak works while my weapon is a fine match.

Head: Royal Headband
Chest: Anacondra's Rober
Shoulders: Twilight Mantle
Hands: Royal Gloves
Weapon: Staff of the Skymagi

The headband underscored how little I cared for long blone hair. I'm sorry, but I've never liked blonde. I have no idea how Aldonza ended up blond anyway, but I wasn't about to have a radical change. Simple greying works fine for me and a shorter style just looked better to me.

Vial of Sands

I pay for two accounts. The original account has been taken over by my kids while I got the new one. Of course, my younger son has a character or two on the new account so he and his sister can play simultaneously.

My daughter can fit many female wow-player stereotypes, delighting in pets and mounts, preferring healing, avoiding PvP and Dungeons. She has a good time, but hasn't been as active as she's wrapping up her degree and her boyfriend isn't raiding anymore.

Meanwhile my youngest has matured and has his own preferences. He will probably spend more time in Azeroth over the summer, but as he eases back in, he had some leftover goals on his old bucket list. He accomplished one last night and he gets full credit even though Aldonza and Kallixta benefit.

Aldonza is not prepared for Level 90

There are times it is hard for me to write because there's just too much to write about. After a while, it becomes embarassing because some bits are important.

Aldonza hit Level 90... before Memorial Day. Of course I was excited, but I had no chance to celebrate before we hurried off to the In Laws and the long drive from Detroit to Fargo and back, which we've since repeated, this time towing a trailer. We've finally got them settled into a new apartment, and most of the furniture and other accumulated goods of a lifetime living in a much larger space, now all sorted to one family or another.

The fact is, reaching level 90 this late in an expansion means there's a wealth of options and little guide in where to start. On recommendation of my guildmistress, I managed the Arena of Annihilation  scenario for the weapon.

I need to explain something. Aldonza went from leveling via Cooking and Fishing quests up to level 85 where upon she entered Pandaria. She then leveled mostly via Pet Battles. This is my screenshot of hitting Level 90

For whatever reason, the WoW Messaging System decided my Terrible Turnip hitting level 22 was more important than my character hitting level 90. You can see it is Aldonza that's glowing, not the turnip.

Can you guess how well equipped Aldonza was for the Arena of Annihilation? Do you know how many green and blue items you earn while doing Pet Battles?

Right, none.

Aldonneeded a trip to the Auction House. Her fiscal frugality came in handy, purchasing decent items that where mostly Disenchant fodder, but allowing her to upgrade her item level to something that wasn't too embarassing. She survived the Arena.

Her Auction House skills over the next week allowed her to find more and better gearing upgrades and she decided she was ready for the next Guild Event. Perhaps a nice Dungeon? Of course not! Aldonza jumped straight into the fire. Well, the Firelands actually!

The Guild was working on Glory of the Firelands Raider and Aldonza has now helped. We didn't manage Barrel Roll that night.

It was after these events that Aldonza realized her new gear needed mogging. I've returned to my Kirin Tor outfit. It isn't original, but you can see how much fun Aldonza has with her friends back in Dalaran.

That Arcanist Ginberg is such a jokester!

Having got this out, maybe I can write about less important things, like our Guild's weekly Pet Battles!

I was trying to write down all the things I wanted to write about, but I discovered my List Making Mojo has gone the same way as Mataoka's. We suspect Sunspots are to blame. She convinced me to put something down. If she can write three excellent posts in one weekend, I should be able to manage something.

Ti'un the Wanderer

Aldonza hurried to find a good spot on the floor, as near to Old Whitewhiskers as the crowd of young pandaren children would allow. Kallixta didn't bother with proximity. Instead she knelt in dignity at the first convenient opening. Her paladin training left her inured to discomfort from a such short time like a storytelling.

Old Whitewhiskers had taken a long swallow from his flask before looking over the collection of listeners. His gaze on the adult human mage in the middle of all those children reflected befuddlement. "Where was I?"

A chorus of voices, Aldonza's included, shouted out the answer, "More about Tiamin and Xi'a!"

"More?" The middle-aged pandaren reflected, "Have I not already told their story?"

A particularly young voice worried, "That's the end?"

A firm response came from her neighbor, in a superior know-it-all tone, "Of course not. But he is old. He may have forgotten something."

With a harrumph and indignant glare, Old Whitewhiskers turned away from this distraction and started, his deep and pleasant voice rolled with conviction and gravitas.
Hear now of a lesson Tiamin gave in the middle of the journey of Tiamin and Xi'a the Skitterer when Tiamin served the village of Longying and teacher. Hear now of how the children of Longying showed respect for elders. And Hear now of how satisfied those children where when a story reached its conclusion.
It was in the time after Tiamin had allowed the Hozen Knight to believe the monk had been tricked into service and while the knight went off to discover the burden of homelessness. But that isn't our story tonight. Instead we shall hear of the village children's favorite lesson when the Shortest Monk told the tale of Ti'un the Wanderer.
The monk's students on Longying would gather in silence and sit in patience and never deride their peers while the youngest tried to learn silence and patience. They were eager for their lesson that would start after Tiamin and Xi'a the Skitterer would have completed their circuit of walking the village border and gathered firewood, as a teacher's first duty of the day. They rejoiced in hearing his voice sing out.
Hear now of the story of how Ti'un the Wanderer would start each day. Hear now of what Ti'un would say as he started his morning. It would often be the case that when the mighty turtle awoke, other creatures would shelter near his shell, much like we might sleep near a campfire. Lesser beasts would gather respectfully at his feet, hoping to learn from his wisdom and learn from the oldest living descendent of Shen-zin Su and one that inherited his ancestor's wanderlust.

Each morning, as the sun warmed Ti'un shell, he would awaken. His words as heard by those gathered around him have been passed on. His first words would be said even before he moved, echoing their way out of his shell. These words have inspired many who have learned of them as I tell you.

As the sun warmed the earth and warmed the air and warmed the shell of Ti'un, he could be heard to say,
"Hear we go. Here we go. The day has dawned. It's always so. I may have wandered far, but I learned this well. I cannot take a step on my journey without leaving my shell."

Now children, learn your lessons. Some are short and you reach the end quick. If you are not paying attention, you might miss something important. Other lessons only come with a long journey or a long story. It may seem like you are in the middle, but you can learn something even before you reach the end as Ti'un still has not completed his journey, nor I mine, nor you yours.

And thus ends today's story of Tiamin, still in the middle of his journey and the middle of his story. Beginning, middle or end, there can be things to be learned at any time. It matters not whether you are as slow as a turtle or a quick as a water strider, listen and learn what you can, when you can.

Aldonza and several of the children sitting next to her looked at each other, uncertain if Old Whitewhiskers was done. Maybe he was just taking a break. After exchanging glances, unspoken they turned to the storytelling, faces expectant and hoping for more.

And for more great storytelling, please check out new fables from Mataoka and Navimie

Queen Aldonza

Aldonza took a deep breath as she dropped the gray outfit back into the clothes chest. She shifted uncomfortably and twitched the colorful robe about her hips again. She needed another breath before resolutely striding out into public, wearing her new outfit. It was more colorful than anything she'd worn before, but after her excitement with unearthing the scrap of cloth and the subsequent efforts to craft her new robes. The robe wasn't the only recent change. Her new cowl and shoulders were provided by her tailoring friends. Between those three items, the rest of her clothes wouldn't be noticed.

Now it was time to start a new adventure and maybe the wardrobe change would boost her confidence.

Not transmogged, but should be! Open to suggestions.
Back, awkward cloak showing

The End of Cowardice

Cowardice happens to be something I'm deeply familiar with. It was a topic among my friends when I was in the service. I once knew how to surrender in 5 languages. I still remember "Nye Streelya!" and "Nicht Schiessen!" We figured that was more important than "Which way to the bathroom?" Pantomime would typically get the answer for that, but knowing the other might keep bullets from flying.

So as Aldonza explored her experiment, it was easy to understand her preference for staying out of trouble. As of last week, she'd already hit level 86 and I spend more time with her than any other character. And I enjoy my time with her more than any other character. However, should she be my "Main"?

For the years before Cataclysm, Martuska, a Gnome Frost Mage, was my Main. I didn't need another Mage, so Aldonza was idle and put to work dealing with the Auction House. The DPS wait times for the LFD went a long way towards convincing me to start Kallixta. She never tried the Retribution Spec until last year. If I was going to be DPS, I could be a Mage.

A complication is that Martuska is actually on a different account. This is solvable with the application of dollars, but I've become very happy with Aldonza. She's got much more personality and character than Martuska. She also has more height and weight, but that's because she's human. -rimshot!-

I'm a hindsight role-player. I don't plan much ahead, but discover a character's past as I play. When looking at Aldonza's avoidance of violence, I concluded "She's a Coward". If I decide I want Aldonza to become my main, it'll happen and I'll come up with the justification after. "She's working through her fears by confronting them." It really is that simple.

What isn't so simple is she has a big personal guild-bank full of glyphs and herbs, inks and enchantments, et cetera, et cetera. If she were to become my main, she'd need to give that up and join my "Real Guild" with Kallixta. I like my guildies and time spent on Aldonza is lonely. She's on a chat channel with them, but when it becomes filled with gratz over an achievement, I don't see that Achievement Spam. When they decided on an Amani Bear Run last night, it was inconvenient to swap over to Kallixta.

As I write this, it's clear to me that by the time Aldonza is level 90, she'll be my main. The only question is "Why Delay?" Why continue only levelling by Pet Battles and non-violent dailies. The experiment has been proven, right? Shouldn't I just push the button?

The Fable of the Skitterer Xi'a

[All links are to music on youtube and merely supplemental to the story]

Aldonza crossed her legs to sit at the feet of Old Man Whitewhiskers. She wasn't yet comfortable in this position, but her smile revealed some of her eagerness to hear the tale. She whispers to Kallixta next to her, who was looking for more relaxed in a kneeling pose, "It's like being a kid again."

Kallixta just returns a short quelling stare and said nothing.

"There is a long story of Zheng Tiamin and his Sunwise Journey with his faithful Skitterer Xi'a, but that is too long, too involved, to make a single evening's entertainment. All you need to know is that when the evil Chen Hui was defeated and cursed to serve the blessed Tiamin as his mount, Xi'a was rewarded and free to travel on his own."

Old Man Whitewhiskers had settled himself comfortably on his seat and stroked his chin, which surprisingly had few white whiskers, yet no one dared ask him about that. It appeared to be just one of those things that Pandaren accepted and understood and the other races seemed too embarrassed to ask.

"Tonight hear the tale of Tiamin's visit with the Gossiping Washerwomen. This took place in the quiet part of the Journey, when the monk and his mount followed a river through the wilds. It was not a difficult path to follow with but few waterfalls to negotiate and few creatures to give trouble. There was plenty of shade to make the day cool. There were some nice eddy pools that appealed to blessed Tiamin and he stopped to fish. As usual, he released Xi'a to explore.

The Skitterer never left the river on these small explorations. We would glide up small creeks or check the path ahead. So it was that while exploring thus, noble Xi'a  overheard a pair of washerwomen performing their work. The pair, both young for this task which an observer as smart as Xi'a concluded meant they were unmarried, talked of people in the village. While not intending to eavesdrop, the chat could be followed easily enough before Xi'a decided he'd been away long enough and returned to Tiamin, just finishing his lunch.

During the cleanup that followed, Xi'a shared his observations, which included that the river's speed picked up a bit, the better to quickly carry soapy water away. Xi'a also shared the jealousy the washerwomen felt for the newly married wife that had been their friend, their surprise of the skill of the youngest hunter in the village that brought down two plainshawks this morning, and their annoyance over the increasing deafness of the village headwoman.

Immediately after continuing their journey, our hero was passing the small village and requested to stop and visit. There being no immediacy to pass by, Tiamin agreed with a smile. Many soon gathered near the center of the village and the blessed monk was introduced to many in the village, including the respected headwoman. Forewarned, Tiamin stood close and spoke clearly and respectfully. Not only was the headwoman pleased with his polite respect, but other elders who had no way of warning their visitor. Conversation quickly became enthusiastic and an invitation to an impromptu feast was made.

The dishes served were many, but a place of honor was given to a pair of large, glistening plainshawks with crispy golden crust. Timain worded his appreciation to praise the village for not only their hunting skill, but their teaching skill for passing knowledge to young hunters. The youngest hunter was glad the praise had not singled him out again for he had already felt some discord over his greater skill than many elders. The older hunters received the words and recognized that they could claim a measure of credit for they did in fact teach the youngster.

As the feasting concluded, different groups broke up to converse in smaller clusters, all of which wanted the visitor to join them. Tiamin's words to the village was, "Too much time spent with one group will mean neglect for old friends. Tonight I will spend time with each of you. Tomorrow I will spend time with my friend the Skitterer for we still have far to go together." These words struck the various groups as wise and each fell to talk among themselves of its wisdom. This included a pair of newlyweds who decided they had each neglected their old friends. Tonight they could visit apart for a while even as they returned to their shared bed later. Their friends were happy to renew their old friendships even as they recognized times must change.

Before Tiamin and Xi'a left in the morning, they were beseeched to impart words of wisdom. "Don't wash clothes in public. You are letting others see your dirty laundry."

Aldonza slowly returned from absorbsion in the story. Her first thoughts were her surprise at discovering that Kallixta and she weren't the only listeners. She looked to her side and found Kallixta was still distracted, wearing a puzzled expression. Old Whitewhiskers was chatting with two very young pandaren, shaking his head in refusal to tell more tonight. He looked at the final pair who had not climbed to their feet yet. "Was that what you wanted, young ladies?"

The dwarf paladin stood up first, responding politely, "That was what I asked for." The older pandaren chuckled at the correction. Kallixta offered her hand to the human in aid for getting up. "I didn't think the Skitterer Xi'a was a mount."

"Ah!" Old Whitewhiskers had the knack of sounded wise and understanding, perhaps using techniques such as Tiamin, "But he isn't any more. That's another story and I did mention it."

"You did," affirmed Kallixta, "but how big is the Skitterer and can he still walk on water while carrying a friend?"

The pandaren storyteller looked down at the youthful dwarf visitor to his village and answered, "Maybe because Tiamin was smaller than yourself. That was another story not told tonight. Ask sometime to hear the Tale of the Shortest Monk. And as the ancient Pandaren proverb says, 'There's plenty of water to walk on yet'. That's another proverb from the story of Tiamin and Xi'a!"

A Meeting in Halfhill

Kallixta took her attention away from her mail when she sensed someone standing next to her in some way that was different. She wasn't checking her own mail, but looking at Kallixta. When the dwarf paladin looked up, her astonishment was obvious. "What are you doing here?"

"Nice to see you again." Aldonza chuckled. The surprised look was worth all the trouble and worry. "Have time for a drink?" The human mage headed into the Lazy Turnip. There was a long delay before Kallixta could get her thoughts together and follow.

Aldonza hadn't answered the question, but knew the dwarf was stubborn enough to outwait her. "I've been made to feel quite welcome in Pandaria and Half-Hill, in particular. My hearthstone is set here now. It's easy enough to pop back to get business done and return." Stubborn but without guile, Kallixta's thoughts on such ease of travel where apparent. "I dare say you've other advatages, so don't dwell on my one."

"Right. So you could sleep here, but probably don't. Instead explain how you got here!" The dwarf's features were stern, almost disapproving.

With a shrug, Aldonza answered a touch too blythly, "I've always been good at running away. This was more of a Retreat Forward. Between a fast mount and a Panda's Step, I would be past most dangers in a blink! It was an Epic Dash of Every Woman for Herself. I'm afraid I outdistanced the flight path as the points don't yet line up."

The sternness slowly melted, merging into a happy smile. "Well, I guess congratulations are in order. I'm sure there's money to be made?" She paused just long enough to match the words she knew Aldonza would respond with, "Not that you're greedy, jinks!"

It was Aldonza's turn to wear a face of astonishment. Kallixta broke into laughter, "You pay this round!"

Brightly Gray

Honestly, I was writing this before Kamalia posted about making a Brightly Coloured Transmog for Noblegarden. I was even writing this before Navimie was trying to find an outfit to match her Direhorn.

Aldonza dinged level 82 a while back and was shopping for deals with Brassbolt Mechawrench and the Auction House in Dalaran when she happened to notice a Sodden Cloth Hat posted for less than the vendor price. Aldonza has long enjoyed grabbing these items and quickly selling to an adjacent vendor for the quick profit. However, this item had Aldonza delaying before selling. She could realize the profit whenever she wanted, so there was no hurry. And something about a gray item that required level 82 was intriguing.

Then she had the idea of building an outfit to match. She couldn't transmog her helm with it, but not being an adventuring, she's worn gray items before. So Aldonza has spent a little time glancing at various gray outfits before making a decision.
By the Power of Gray(skull)

  That's the important gray bit. She didn't mind the look of the black hands and forearms
The hat has an interesting band and she checked her inventory for something suitable.

Most people wouldn't notice that last item, but think about Aldonza's history as a coward...

Her experience with torturing critters has allowed her to discover her contempt for things that can't hurt her. So a few weeks ago Aldonza followed in Kallixta's footsteps (and carefully drawn map and detailed instructions) into the Depths of Blackrock Mountain. Her primary goal was actually to craft a Smoking Heart of the Mountain to celebrate her completion of Enchanting and Working for a Living. Aldonza also has More Skills to Pay the Bills. Archeaology provided her with the means to accelerate her leveling without risk, earning level 84 last week!

So now she can wear her colourless outfit to match any Direhorn or World Event! One more level and Aldonza can visit Pandaria!

No Green Thumb

I'm casual. That's never been a secret. I only have a few hours a week to escape to Azeroth, which is not enough to be a raider. With Mists, my time has gotten even tighter and when I get an hour to play, I'd rather do a Pet Battle than level. All this is just a reminder why Kallixta is still level 87.

When I play, Kallixta often gets a few minutes to tend her farm at Half Hill, but without being level 90, she can't improve her standing with the Tillers and thus she's still stuck with 4 plots. She's worked those 4 spots hard enough that she recently picked up Till the Break of Dawn, which tells me Kallixta did her farming 25 times. Or did I get my math wrong?

I'm sure most folks have forgotten what a farm looks like when you're stuck at 4 plots. Here is a reminder:

Dwarves are short!

An old friend came back to the game. Part of their enjoyment includes rerunning old content. This weekend they were off to solo Sarth 3D again when I sent Kallixta to join in the fun and she picked up her Black Drake! I'd forgotten but back when we were running Sarth, Martuska was still my main and that was a different account.

The next day, we were in guild chat, recalling life back in 2009. I said, "Gee. It seems like just yesterday we were running Sarth." I don't think others thought that was as funny as I did!

Profitable Debris

Aldonza has started exploring Azeroth without fear. Well, without fear from the roaming creatures that had grey numbers in their name plate. I've already talked about Aldonza dinging level 80, and needing a new goal. She has still been leveling, but with Inscription max'ed, it wasn't the priority it had been. However, nothing new had popped up to replace it. Also, the XP was coming quicker, too!

Her leveling experience was gathering momentum. Then Pet Battles brought Aldonza out of the capitals and spending serious time elsewhere. Pet Battles brougth some surprising amounts of XP via quests as did Archeology in low level zones. The whole effect meant Aldonza hit 82 much quicker than expected.

And then I've spent a month away, so that acceleration was not taken advantage of.

Still, somehow when I returned, I discovered Aldonza had TWO Motes of Harmony in her bags. I have no idea where they came from. I suspect the rewards from witnessing the death of the Greench. Twice Aldonza watched from a safe distance and swooped in like a greedy ..., uh witch, for credit. That's the only thing I can guess. Just because they weren't reported as a reward on wowhead doesn't mean it didn't happen. Where else did they come from?

Aldonza would love more. A single Spirit of Hamony would allow her to craft an Inscribed Fan and subsequently a  Red or Jade fan. She can get the other materials. Those motes are the limiting factor to profit! -much gnashing muted-

With a bit of research, I discovered one alternate method for accumulating motes without visiting Pandaria, fishing on Darkmoon Island! It seems some of the pools have Sealed Crates  with an 8% chance of containing more motes. This is certainly in keeping with Aldonza's ideals of making a profit without danger.

Cowardly is as cowardly does

Just how cowardly is Aldonza?

What started as an explanation for staying in the capital cities influenced the personality that emerged as Aldonza invariable would role play with others. She was sadly reconciled to her cowardice as she watched people head out on adventures and she didn't.

Remember, Aldonza wasn't supposed to be very active. I was supposed to be logged on other alts adventuring!

Kallixta was taught by her guild to Destroy All Critters! They were a plague on Azeroth and probably in league with Deathwing or something. Habits were shared by these friends and soon the Sages of Tabasco were dedicated to being a Critter Kill Squad themselves. Er, herself. And at her pace, it would take a few years to earn the Armadillo Pup.

How many years to go?
 There needn't be a valid reason for Aldonza to seek out critters and destroy, but it means Aldonza appears to be a bully. She's not afraid of dealing death and destruction when there is no danger to herself?
Five in one blow in Darnassus

She even has a favorite spot in Ironforge before getting on the Tram
The bodies pile up!

This slaughter continued and eventually she became aware that there were larger creatures (with gray numbers) that were ripe for death without endangering the coward. Might she be able to do some low-level Archealogy sites, perhaps? Maybe she could visit locations beyond the cities without fear of earning XP from dealing death. She was still only earning it by means that didn't risk her hide.
As a final impetous, Pet Battles drove Aldonza into the world. It's a fact that mages travel around Azeroth must quicker and easier than the Paladin. She could temporarily set her hearthstone in some zone's Inn and quickly pop back for a visit to a stable master, yet when done she could teleport to whichever capital she desired.
Portal Services has earned Aldonza a few gold
This really caught up with her when Green Paws from underneath Dalaran enticed her to fly down to the Crystalsong Forest. The wolves weren't gray and her aggro radius wasn't as small as she thought. Luckily blink allowed her to run away and escape intact. She had gotten too complacent.

So, just how Cowardly is Aldonza?

Aldonza needs a new goal

You can lose the habit of writing on your blog. As time grows, it can become increasingly difficult to write that next post. There's too many things to mention and they get all tangled. To break the jumble, where do you start? Even if you want to focus on one small piece, it can be hard to pull it apart from other things you want to mention.

Where to start?

I also lost the habit of questing and running dungeons. All I've really been doing for the past few months has been playing with Aldonza The Coward. All she has been doing has been crafting and selling on the Auction House and a few dailies. While this is all she's ever really done, there has been a big difference because of recent progress.

Somewhere along the way, Aldonza leveled high enough to start the Dalaran fishing and cooking dailies. There were a few fishing dailies that scared the coward off, especially fishing in Wintergrasp! Still, having a third and sometimes fourth daily quest meant her progress was accelerating.

A side effect of her leveling progress was access to higher level, and more profitable, crafts. Although my total time spent in Azeroth has decreased, the new items brought in greater profits. Aldonza was thrilled.

And then last week, she reached her goal. She dinged level 80!

 There may have been two expansions since this was the top level, but it was key to unlocking the final tier in her professions. It only took another day or so to hit 600 in Inscription! This has always been the end goal for my experiment. There isn't much else she can do that will improve her profit-making. Her next opportunity comes from earning motes of harmony via farming in Half-Hill or fishing in Pandarian pools, neither of which will happen with Aldonza until she hits level 90. Actually, if you have suggestions, feel free to let me know.

Allow me to back up and provide some history. Years ago, and also a different server ago, I learned about Bank Mules. I created Rocinante to receive various goods for listing on the Auction House. I thought I was being original in my naming my mule after Don Quijote's horse, but I merely got lucky as there are 152 other servers with a character named "Rocinante"! When I moved to my current server, another RP server, I wanted a name less animal and more personal, thus choosing a different character from that inspiring novel. With my interest in role-play, Aldonza was never just a simple bank mule, but started to acquire a personality. Don Quijote saw her as Dulcinea and imagines her to be beautiful and noble while Sancho Panza explains that the real woman, Aldonza, is far more mundane. Unlike the novel, this character actually appears in the musical Man of La Mancha and Quijote inspires her to change.

My character reflects on her possible greediness. Her whole purpose is to make money, but she wants to be something more noble and heroic than just a copper-pinching merchant. I was used to Mages so I could level her up a few levels quickly, but anything more was tedious, so she was supposed to be stuck around level 10. Yet that limit also meant there was a limit to her crafting. She could earn money disenchanting and supplying the Auction House with low level dusts, but most other crafting professions wouldn't earn gold at the lower levels. Except, as she discovered, for Inscription!

What happened was that Cataclysm came out with a daily fishing and cooking quest in the capital cities. I was logging onto Aldonza frequently at the start and close of playing on my main for the purpose of posting, cancelling undercut items and reposting. It was a simple matter to also run the two dailies. It earned enough gold and XP to be worth the experiment. Thus I conceived the goal of seeing how fast and high she might level with only this method. Her In-Character justification for this activity was fear, thus "The Coward" was born.

The experiment didn't have rules as strict as Iron Man, rather it was character driven. Aldonza wasn't about to risk her neck when there were perfectly good profits to be made. As a Mage, Aldonza had the advantage of teleporting herself to any city, including Shattrath and Dalaran when she reached certain levelling milestones. She discovered true advantage of this arrangement are Pilgrim's Bounty. These holiday quests weren't dangerous and were still quick to perform, allowing me to spend maximum time with my main yet seeing progress on the coward.

I think I've managed to write enough to break whatever mental barrier was preventing me from posting. I have more to say, but maybe it's best if I keep that as incentive for writing more!