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!