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.