* Zhi-Zhi has made reference to the “visions” shown to him by Elder Cloudfall ever since his earliest appearances in the blog, dating back the the alternate-timeline version of Zhi-Zhi whom Garrosh met all the way back here. Elder Cloudfall, for his part, eventually elaborated that these visions — which both he and Zhi-Zhi had seen — took place in one of a number of mysterious “vision caves.”
* Zhi-Zhi and Cloudfall’s description of the vision cave bears a striking resemblance to an experience Gurtash had deep underground in Krasarang Wilds, while he was briefly separated from Garrosh and the other DPS trainees.
* While Cloudfall never spelled out the details of his vision, he described Garrosh’s role as “the one who brings the peoples of the Horde together under a common cause” and “sets in motion the events that bring about the emergence of a new Horde.”
[While Shayari, Spazzle, and Mokvar have been busy keeping the blog active with their own activities, Garrosh has been occupied with the start of a fairly important undertaking of his own. As you might recall, when we last left the Warchief…
For long-time readers (like really, really long-time!), this is a moment you’ve been anticipating for a while, but for newer arrivals to the blog, a quick recap might be in order. (I know, I know, I try to link back to relevant posts as much as possible, but at some point I should probably stop expecting people to just go back and read years’ worth of my nonsense…)
Not long before the events of Tides of War, Garrosh traveled to the Caverns of Time and, accompanied by Mokvar, Liadrin, Faranell, and (spirits help us) Utvoch, went on a mission that took him to Southshore some ten years in the past — the same time period we players visit during the Escape from Durnholde instance. The adventure in old Southshore had several pieces of fallout (more on that in a moment!), but the most immediately relevant one was the recovery of a shard from a dark crystal that the Knights of the Silver Hand had infused with the Light — a small piece of the same light crystal from which the Ashbringer would eventually be forged.
Garrosh entrusted the recovered crystal to Lady Liadrin, who rightly deduced that it was part of the remains of a dying naaru. Liadrin persuaded Garrosh to let her return the shard to A’dal in Shattrath; the Warchief accompanied her on the trip. While there, just before leaving, Garrosh received an ominous telepathic message from A’dal: “If you go to Kypari Zar, you will die.”
Garrosh didn’t know what to make of the message, but he soon found himself far too busy to worry about it. In the days leading up to the attack on Theramore, the Warchief discovered another unexpected consequence of his journey to old Hillsbrad: Faranell had accidentally altered the past, creating an alternate timeline that Garrosh found himself being pulled into. While in the other universe, Garrosh encountered the hozen Zhi-Zhi, who addressed him as “the One” and told him — vaguely and, let’s face it, unhelpfully — that he had a “destiny.” Any chance of learning more from Zhi-Zhi was seemingly lost, though, when that timeline’s version of the hozen was killed in the fall of Orgrimmar. (“The what?!” Well see, now I am going to force you to go back and read. Here.)
That all changed after Garrosh traveled to Tian Monastery, where he encountered this timeline’s version of Zhi-Zhi — who, like his alternate-universe counterpart, also recognized Garrosh as “the One.” Zhi-Zhi and Elder Cloudfall explained that they had both seen Garrosh in visions and that he did indeed have an important destiny. They declined to elaborate further, though, until Garrosh returned to the monastery seeking counsel and Elder Cloudfall offered to take the Warchief to a place where his questions might be answered…
A string of interruptions prevented Garrosh from taking the elder up on his offer right away, though. And then he was back in Orgrimmar, and all of a sudden he was a father, and then that whole thing with Mokvar, so, you know, who has time for pandas?
Well, guess what — Garrosh has time for pandas, now that he’s made the time, dammit! And that’s where we last left him, flying across the Dread Wastes, chasing down destiny.
And so, on that note, here we go. The end begins tomorrow morning. Stay tuned.]
You know, I realize that Garrosh has mentioned this about the pandaren more than a few times, but they really do love to drink. I’m no tea-totaler myself by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t even approach these folks. I’m not sure how I never noticed it with Ji. I suppose I got distracted by the food. Maybe that was a sort of smokescreen. Only with gravy.
Maybe I should back up.
After my mixed results with the sha yesterday, I traveled over to the Jade Serpent Temple grounds. The Shado-pan are working there to clean up some more of the aftermath of the Serpent’s Heart outbreak. Even though the Sha of Doubt was defeated some time ago, there are still lingering lesser sha that it had spawned still infesting the area. I’m still not exactly sure how that works — whether the defeat of the prime sha means that no new lesser sha can spawn, or if they can spawn but at a slower rate, or for that matter whether the prime sha’s destruction means that the lesser sha will simply die off on their own, like vines withering after the root is dead, so that all the Shado-pan need to do, ultimately, is keep them contained until the inevitable end comes.
I ended up spending a fair bit of time with Elder Sage Tai-Feng. He’s managed to shed some light on the nature of the sha creatures. He’s not certain — nobody appears to be, ultimately — where the sha manifest from, but their essence seems to exist in non-corporeal form before they spawn physically. Strong negative emotions — fear, anger, hatred — can catalyze that emergence. In some cases, the sha takes physical form in a body of its own; in other cases, the sha energy seizes the person who’s giving off the emotions as a host and infests their body.
The sha are drawn to powerful emotions like fear and anger, but they also have a strange symbiotic relationship with them, particularly when the sha are occupying a host. They draw on those emotions to become stronger, but they can also feed them back to others, their host bodies especially. From what Tai-Feng tells me, the sha don’t control people exactly, and they can’t make them do anything against their will. But they can intensify emotions like fear and despair that people are already feeling, so they’re more prone to act on them — even in ways that they might not normally be inclined to. I guess that amounts to pushing you harder into your worst impulses? Not really controlling you, but in a way doing something even worse.
So I think I have a better idea of why things went down the drain as much as they did yesterday. I mean, I’m far from immune to questioning myself, but I don’t usually dive that deep into the self-doubt pool. It’s kind of creepy how it sneaks up on you, though. I’d heard about sha influence before, but I’d always imagined it felt more like something that was forced on you, kind of like a priest’s mind control (not that I’ve had any first-hand experience with that, mind you). This wasn’t at all like that, though; it just slides into your head and feels like something that was already there naturally. And in a way, it was, which makes it that much more disturbing.
Still, it serves me right for not putting two and two together earlier. I mean, the prime sha around here was the Sha of Doubt, after all. I’m kind of embarrassed that I somehow managed to miss something that obvious. Sometimes I think I’ve been hanging around Garrosh too long. (Do not tell him I said that.)
At any rate, that brings us back to the drinking. I had my whole discussion with Tai-Feng over a few drinks… okay, several (it was his idea, I swear!)… then he suggested that I give my experiments another try now that I had a little liquid courage in me. And maybe it was the 15% blood alcohol level, but it seemed like a good idea, especially when the elder sage offered to have a couple of his Shado-pan guards come along to help watch my back, just in case.
I stayed pretty close to the Shado-pan base and tried channeling the powers of the Nether Prism on a few of the sha that were lurking nearby. I can’t say the second round went off without a hitch, but it was definitely an improvement over yesterday. The smallest, weakest sha fell in line fairly easily; the one larger one that I tried my luck on put up more of a fight, but after a little wrangling I was able to control it, too. For a short while, at least. Getting everything to click took a little longer than I would have expected, and the whole process felt shakier, but that probably had something to do with all the booze I still had in my system. (Seriously, have you even tried harnessing fel energies on a full gallon of beer? Stay clear of that Seed of Corruption is all I’m going to tell you.) Still, no breakdown on my end of things like last time, and, maybe more importantly, no smaller sha dinging their way to larger sha. So at least I managed to sidestep some of those problems, even if my head was a little too groggy to be working as crisply as I might like.
So, the overall verdict is that they definitely are susceptible to Nether Prism influence, though I’m pretty sure they’re not demons. Not exactly. There’s some overlap there, and I’m not sure where they do come from if not the Twisting Nether, but then, voidwalkers aren’t demons either, strictly speaking, and the Prism — and fel influence — works on them. As a matter of fact, I noticed that the adjustments I had to make while working on the sha bore a few similarities to the differences in handling the ol’ blueberry.
That is, a voidwalker. That wasn’t supposed to be some kind of weird draenei euphemism for… you know, never mind. I think that might still be the beer talking.
Either way, though, the academic questions about exactly what the sha are can wait for whoever studies that sort of thing. For my purposes, the important thing is that the Nether Prism seems to be working. Not seamlessly, and not easily; it’ll take more practice, and I may need to find some way to augment even the Prism’s influence in order to make it work reliably. But, we’re getting there. If nothing else, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to bring a progress report back to Garrosh that won’t end with me being punched.
I may want to put some more work in tomorrow just in case, though. You never know when the boss will wake up a little tastier than usual.
Testier! TESTIER! Testier than usual! That was the beer again, I swear! Ugh. Spirits help me, now I think I need to go drink some more just to wash that out of my head.
[Periodically, a post will profile one of the blog’s many supporting players. (See the first profile for more details.) Feel free to chime in with recommendations for other characters you’d like to see more about!]
Occupation: Monk trainee, meditation student, part-time errand runner
Group affiliations: Forest Hozen (member), Tian Monastery (student), Horde (de facto ally)
Known relatives: Zho-Zho (father); nine brothers, all named “Zhi”/“Zhi-Zhi,” with slight differences in pronunciation to distinguish them. (Zhi-Zhi was always the quiet one in the family.)
Key posts and plot points:
- Garrosh’s relationship with Zhi-Zhi has been…complex. The matter of when the two first met depends, in a way, on whom you ask – mainly because their first encounter, from Garrosh’s perspective, never happened. Well, it did, originally. Only now it didn’t. Sort of. (See? Do you SEE why Garrosh is so prone to yelling “FUCKING TIME TRAVEL!”?)
- So. From Garrosh’s point of view, he first met Zhi-Zhi while temporally displaced into an alternate universe, during the Timequake story arc. In the alternate reality, Zhi-Zhi had been found washed ashore by a scouting expedition led by Legionnaire Nazgrim; when Garrosh first met Zhi-Zhi in “Lines of inquiry,” he was being brought to Grommash Hold to be questioned by that timeline’s Warchief, Dranosh Saurfang. Zhi-Zhi, however, was much more interested in Garrosh, recognizing him at first sight, then evidently correcting himself that Garrosh was “not the one.” When pressed, Zhi-Zhi indicated that he had seen Garrosh in a vision of some kind; later, in the midst of the fall of that timeline’s Orgrimmar in “This is the way the world ends,” Zhi-Zhi told Garrosh that he was “not the one – yet.” This was the last Garrosh saw of Zhi-Zhi in that reality, as the hozen was presumably killed in the invasion of the city.
- The Zhi-Zhi native to this timeline had a different first encounter with the Warchief. Garrosh encountered Zhi-Zhi while visiting Tian Monastery in “I think I can remember your name,” in which he and Zhi-Zhi immediately recognized each other: Garrosh from his experiences in the other timeline, and Zhi-Zhi from the visions which has had seen in this timeline (just as his alternate-universe counterpart did). Zhi-Zhi and Elder Cloudfall confirmed that they had both seen Garrosh in visions, and that he had a destiny of some significance, though they declined to elaborate much further. Because people who know such things about the future tend to be cryptic that way.
- Since then, Zhi-Zhi’s appearances have generally coincided with those of Elder Cloudfall, though the hozen did part company with the elder for some weeks to remain at Domination Point while Garrosh was back in Orgrimmar.
- Here’s a behind-the-scenes detail that many of you already know: Zhi-Zhi’s blog characterization is a blatant, overt, completely unambiguous reference to the Babylon-5 character Zathras. Several of Zhi-Zhi’s lines of dialogue are adapted or outright copied from Zathras, and a number of details in his comic portrayal were designed to draw in some way on Zathras’ appearance. RIP Tim Choate.
In his own words:
Describe your relationship with your mother or your father. Was it good? Bad? Were you spoiled rotten, ignored? Do you still get along now, or no?
Zhi-Zhi never knew mother. She died long ago in Valley of the Four Winds, in freak garden hoe accident. Zhi-Zhi’s father say mother died before Zhi-Zhi was born. Zhi-Zhi not sure that sounds right. Something about it doesn’t seem to add up, but then, mathematics not Zhi-Zhi’s skill.
Zhi-Zhi’s father, Zho-Zho, raised Zhi-Zhi and Zhi-Zhi’s nine brothers. Also named Zhi-Zhi. Or Zhi. Depending on whether passed test of strength and proven worth to tribe. Most of us have passed trial and earned name, but Zhi and Zhi haven’t yet. Oh, neither has Zhi.
Father named all his sons Zhi. Father…not very creative. But, he distinguished between brothers by pronouncing name slightly differently for each one. Very subtle differences. Usually very hard to notice. Even for us. Often took many months for us to figure out which pronunciations were different at all. Sometimes, brothers wouldn’t know until Zho-Zho called for one of us, and wrong brother would come. Then, much of time, Zho-Zho would throw sticks at us. Once, Zho-Zho throw sticks at Zhi-Zhi eleven times in one day for getting names wrong. That was right before Zhi-Zhi left to go live at Tian Monastery. Anyway, relationship with father was fine, Zhi-Zhi supposes.
Name one scar you have, and tell us where it came from. If you don’t have any, is there a reason?
Ah, Zhi-Zhi has many scars. Many sparring sessions at monastery. Those were fine, mostly. With other students. Fine. For some reason, though, when newcomers start… um… coming new to Tian, they all want to fight Zhi-Zhi. Many weaponses. Much sharp. Luckily, monks at Tian are very knowledge for the healings, so Zhi-Zhi recover. Still, got very used to being target dummy. For some reason. Many beatings. Many scars. Afraid Zhi-Zhi cannot remember any one of them, individually. Newcomers also often hit Zhi-Zhi in head, you see. Very sad life.
Describe your happiest memory.
Ah! AH! Zhi-Zhi has very fine favorite memory! Wonderful memory. Much happiness. For however, memory has not actually happened yet, so Zhi-Zhi thinkses he perhaps should not talk about it much. Would not want to jinx. Zhi-Zhi very much lookings forward to when memory happens, though!
Who do you trust?
Zhi-Zhi trusts the One.
Can you define a turning point in your life? Multiples are acceptable.
Easy answer for Zhi-Zhi is the comings to Tian Monastery. Monks there, Elder Cloudfall leadings, they taking Zhi-Zhi in, for giving Zhi-Zhi chance to earn place for trainings. Much fightings, but no killings. Make Zhi-Zhi great grooker, without grookin’!
Real answer, howevers, a little later in comings. Zhi-Zhi successful in many fightings, and Elder Cloudfall take interest in training Zhi-Zhi. Teach Zhi-Zhi more than just grookings. Teach about the meditations, and calmings, teach Zhi-Zhi to control energy, teach Zhi-Zhi… what is word? Erm… Ah! Disciplines! Yes! Elder teach disciplines to Zhi-Zhi! Mostly. Zhi-Zhi still work on that some of times. But, Elder show Zhi-Zhi much. Teach Zhi-Zhi much. Give Zhi-Zhi knowledge. Give him focus. Give him vision. Zhi-Zhi grateful.
Is there an animal you equate to yourself?
Zhi-Zhi not thinking of any animals being close for the lookings. Zhi-Zhi being hozen, not animal, silly wikket! This is strange question, Zhi-Zhi thinks.
Zhi-Zhi not knowings what position Zhi-Zhi sleep in. Zhi-Zhi asleep at time. Also Zhi-Zhi never watched Zhi-Zhi sleep, since Zhi-Zhi not outside of Zhi-Zhi, so much difficultings for the watchings. Except for one time when Zhi-Zhi drank whole pitcher of Gaoquan’s I Know My Redeemer Liveth. Then Zhi-Zhi see self from outside. Outside self, and outside Pandaria. See Azeroth from space, Zhi-Zhi dids. Wikket know there is whole other side of Azeroth no one ever see what for not drinkings the pitcher of I Know My Redeemer Liveth? Zhi-Zhi see! On far side of world, is actually whole other… why you look funny at Zhi-Zhi? Is true! Ah well. Is what Zhi-Zhi saw after drinkings of the pitcher. Also knows what yellow smells like.
How do you react to temperature changes such as extreme heat and cold?
Zhi-Zhi not mind the cold. Come from long line of mountain climbers. Climb mountains up, up, up. Until slip on snow and fall, fall, fall. Sometimes hit head. Then the blurry times. So, do not mind cold, but not so crazy about snow. Is what Elder Cloudfall calls a conundrum.
Are you an early morning bird or a night owl?
Before Zhi-Zhi comes to monastery, Zhi-Zhi always stay up late, then sleep all afternoon. Normal way for doings in the forest. After joinings at Tian, Zhi-Zhi make needs for the early risings. Up the sun comes, so up the monks come. Very sad. Very unnatural. But, must be part of…ascetic monastic life. Thinking those were Elder Cloudfall’s smart words. Much the better to Elder Cloudfall’s angry words. Which Zhi-Zhi heard oftens when Elder catchings to Zhi-Zhi for nappings. Mostly angry words for the end to nappings, but also partly for the not meanings actually to bite the elder. Much apologizings. Still.
What does your desk/workspace look like? Are you neat or messy?
Ehh, organizations not Zhi-Zhi’s skill.
Do you have any irrational fears?
Zhi-Zhi doesn’t like standing around near tall structures. At least, ones that were built. Not trees. Zhi-Zhi likes trees. Would be hard life for Zhi-Zhi if Zhi-Zhi didn’t like trees, since Zhi-Zhi grew up in forest! Trees are good, natural tall things good, but things that were built to be tall, those make Zhi-Zhi nervous. Always feel like they might fall on Zhi-Zhi.
What would your cutie mark be?
Not sure of meanings. Question mark, maybe?
Ah, question is not where Zhi-Zhi would go, but when! For the where, Zhi-Zhi would go where Zhi-Zhi has always gone, and always will go. All of us are havings a path. All our lives, follow the path. Sometimes we are not thinkings of our follows, but we follows it always. Even when we think not. Try to stray from path, sometimes, silly wikket. Think we veerings off it, think that we are with the outsmartings because our brains so big. No, no. Path only turn under our feet, stay with us. Path always there. Follows to us even when we think not to be followings to it. Is chicken and egg type thing, Zhi-Zhi thinkses. Maybe. Zhi-Zhi maybe not so good for the deep thinkings.
Zhi-Zhi not sure about the when for him goings. Maybe not matter. The if for your question not sensical, Zhi-Zhi thinkses. No if for time travel. We all travel in time. Just one direction. Slow. Except when we wish for slower. Then fast. Very sad. Still, we travel. It is the path. Always there. Just not seen. Like part of road, on other side of hill. Not for the seeing, but still there. Always there.
Sometimes, once in a many, maybe get to stand on hill and look to other side. But only a peek. Is fortunate, likelies.
Are you superstitious?
No, no, not super. Just regular stitious, Zhi-Zhi thinkses.
What might your ideal romantic partner be?
Wantses to fix Zhi-Zhi up? Much thanksings! Zhi-Zhi never have much luck with hozen women. Will take all the help Zhi-Zhi can get! Zhi-Zhi not picky. Just want nice, simple hozen girl who be nice to Zhi-Zhi. Not yell at Zhi-Zhi. Or hit Zhi-Zhi. Or run around behind Zhi-Zhi back with one of Zhi-Zhi’s brothers. That not happen to Zhi-Zhi before, but Zhi, hoooo, hook the dook ook, not for getting Zhi-Zhi started about Zhi. Whole dooken can of dook that was, believe Zhi-Zhi.
How do you smell? Do you wear perfume or cologne?
All rights, all rights. Zhi-Zhi gets hint. Will go to river now, take for the bathings. Much apologizings, Zhi-Zhi loses track of time sometimes. Forgets when come the Tuesdays.
- Spazzle Fizzletrinket
- Ben-Lin Cloudstrider
- Dontrag and Utvoch
- Tirion Fordring
- Lady Liadrin
- Elder Cloudfall
[Time to mix things up! Or at least give you all the chance to chime in on who our next profile subject will be. So… vote in the poll below and chime in! The supporting character who comes out on top will feature in the next character profile Soon™…]
After my stopover with Garrosh and Gurtash at the Tavern in the Mists, I made my way to the Terrace of Eternal Spring, which was the location of a pretty major sha infestation not too long ago. As it turns out, it was still long enough ago; there wasn’t much sign left of the outbreak, and the guardians of the terrace already had the place pretty well under control. They weren’t exactly unwelcoming toward me — I doubt they saw much distinction between me and the “newcomers” who’d helped defeat the Sha of Fear — but they also didn’t seem to know what to make of me just showing up. I figured it was probably better for everyone involved if I didn’t have to ask questions.
By this point, I’d parted ways with Garrosh and Gurtash. They had something of their own that they had to tend to with that pandaren elder and his hozen friend, while I had my investigations to conduct in the field. I flew by myself up to the Jade Forest, to an area called Serpent’s Heart near the Temple of the Jade Serpent. From what I’ve heard, there was a major sha outbreak there not long after General Nazgrim and his forces arrived in Pandaria. Evidently, there was a battle at Serpent’s Heart between Horde and Alliance forces that freed one of the major sha, the Sha of Doubt, which had been contained or buried underground. That sha took refuge within the temple but was defeated not too long afterward. Still, all the lesser sha creatures that it had unleashed were still around the area making a mess of the place. The Shado-pan were making steady progress clearing them out from the temple grounds, but their work wasn’t done yet. I was content to leave them to their work for now, and try to do my research around Serpent’s Heart where — hopefully — I could keep out of the way and avoid attention.
I’d been hearing about these sha ever since the first reports started trickling back from Pandaria, but this was my first chance to see them up close. I’m not sure what to make of them. There are definitely greater and lesser sha, but I’m not sure what kind of hierarchy they have, if any. The greater ones seem to be able to create — or summon? or… splinter into? — additional lesser sha, but the lessers aren’t dependent on the greaters for their existence. So these lesser sha at the temple are still up and kicking even after the “main” Sha of Doubt’s been killed.
Or was it? Are they killed? Can they be? Or do they just return to some prior state, where they can be called into being again?
So do they have their own Twisting Nether that way? Are they connected to the Twisting Nether, for that matter?
I suppose that last question takes us back to the bigger question for our purposes: are they demons?
I spent some time around Serpent’s Heart trying to test out the Nether Prism on the sha. With ordinary demons — even fairly powerful ones — the Prism would enable me to control them, much moreso than a warlock’s usual powers would allow. Even for a demon that would normally be beyond my power, the Prism would give me enough of a boost that I could exert some influence over them, even if I couldn’t seize outright control. With these sha, though, it’s not quite so clear-cut. They don’t respond to the Nether Prism the way most demons do, but something about it definitely reaches them; it just takes a lot more focus and effort on my part, sort of like trying to force two puzzle pieces together that almost fit but not quite.
I was able to manage brief control over the weakest of the sha — those little crawlers — but it took a lot of doing. And even that much didn’t last long. I was already uncertain if the experiment was going to work, and once I started feeling my hold slipping, things unraveled quickly. I tried to repeat the process on a few others, but those unraveled faster than the first one. I can’t say it was much of a surprise; after the first attempt went sour, I had a bad feeling about the subsequent ones, and it seemed like they only got stronger the harder I struggled to get a grip on them. Magically speaking, that is.
The weird thing is that when I lost my hold on the third attempt (and believe me, by that point, losing my hold didn’t take long at all) the little sha crawler lashed around for a few seconds, then swelled up into a larger sha. I’m not sure if that’s just part of the gestation of a sha — maybe the smaller ones are just a type of larva stage? — or if something else triggered the transformation. Either way, though, at that point there wasn’t much else to be done. The larger ones were definitely beyond me. I’m not sure yet if it’s because I’m going about it wrong, if my own abilities are too limited, or if these sha are just operating on a completely different wavelength altogether.
The whole time working on them, I couldn’t help feeling like the attempt was doomed to blow up on me. Still, I was able to reach some of them, so there’s something there. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something familiar about the energy they have about them. I just wish I could put my finger on how.
I’d arrived here planning to try to fly under the radar and conduct my research without drawing any unnecessary attention from the Shado-pan, since that would probably have led to at least a few questions that I’d just as soon avoid answering. I’m starting to think, though, that unnecessary Shado-pan attention might be necessary after all if I’m going to salvage this project. When I offered to help Garrosh control the sha, I really believed that the Nether Prism would give me my means to do it, but now I’m far from sure and getting further by the minute. I think I’m going to have to head to the temple and see what I can learn from the Shado-pan. Maybe there’s some missing piece they can fill in that will pull it all together, but based on the early returns, I have serious doubts.
Okay, maybe that’s just force of habit. I should probably know better than to ask what’s up — there’s probably way too much up nowadays. I guess that’s what I get for knowing more about what’s going on than most people, and trying to… you know… keep a lid on everything. Not letting these people over here know what those people over there are doing, and vice versa, and… and… yeesh, believe me, it’s a headache.
I haven’t seen Vol’jin on Earth Online or heard anything from him for a few days, so I guess he’s probably busy with whatever he has going on in Pandaria, and maybe ready to finally leave the monastery where he’s been staying. That’s good for him, for sure, but it’s maybe not so great for me. I mean, once he’s back on the grid, I have to figure he and Thrall will stop operating in secret, and once word starts getting around about what’s really going on… well… it’s not going to be a whole lot of fun for me.
And that’s even assuming Vol’jin doesn’t manage to reappear with something more dramatic and… well… dangerous than even I’m thinking. I almost wish he were still turning up online and telling me more than I even really want to know about what’s up. At least then I’d have some idea and could brace myself. This whole being left in the dark thing is just nervewracking.
Still, I’d like to avoid the real disaster outcomes if I can. I’ve been thinking maybe if Garrosh could still smooth things over with people, we could still avoid something really ugly. Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m talking about Garrosh, but the thing is, you guys aren’t around him all the time like me and Mokvar. I mean, sure, he’s kind of rough around the edges. Well… maybe not rough so much as jagged. Or serrated. With barbed wire and totally unnecessary spikes. I get it. I do. But underneath it all I still think he means well. I mean, unless you’re human. Or maybe draenei, what with the whole lead-the-Legion-to-Outland thing. And I guess he’s not too crazy about trolls, either, but… Well you get what I mean! I never said he was an angel or anything.
I thought maybe if Garrosh could work a little on his public image, he might have a chance to keep things here at home from bubbling over. So I had a talk with Boss Mida about maybe helping him a little with his PR. She’s a real pro at polishing people’s public perception — it’s no coincidence that she rose from being a generic mid-level assistant to where she is now incredibly quickly, and believe it or not, she’s the biggest reason why most people view Gallywix as just generally kind of shifty, as opposed to the full-on reptile he really is. (Does he read the blog, actually? I hope not.) There’s a lot of Mida-directed spin control there, believe me. So I’m going to see what Mida can come up with to help Garrosh with his image or at least maybe coach him a little on how to, you know, have a conversation without antagonizing people. As much. I figure throwing fewer punches in professional settings might be a good start. Maybe he’ll listen if that’s coming from a pro like Mida. He sure as shoot didn’t listen when I tried to. I still have the bruises to prove it.
Mida says she’ll need to talk to the big guy himself before she can work up a full game plan, but I tried to at least get things started. She had a bunch of questions about Garrosh and how he tends to operate — she only really had dealings with him right before he left for Pandaria, with the whole construction deal, and even that was most done through go-betweens — so I tried to answer as many of her questions and fill in as much as I could.
That’s when she tripled her preliminary price estimate. Hoo boy.
What? You didn’t think this was going to be a free service, did you?
Hi again, everyone. It’s yours truly, Shayari, filling in for Pops for one of his mailbag thingies. I’m not sure how he talked me into doing this again, to be honest. I think he caught me while I was paying attention to something else, then got a “yeah, uh huh” from me before I realized what he was asking. To be fair, I got him for a couple shopping trips the same way. Before he got wise, anyway. Oh well.
So ol’ Garry wanted me to mind the fort letter-answering-wise, since apparently he’s going to be pretty busy in Pandaria, and I guess so many people write in for this that he didn’t feel like it could just wait. Which I totally don’t get. Do that many people actually read this thing? I can’t imagine it could be more than, like, a dozen. Two dozen tops.
But, hey, a promise is a promise, so here we go.
My goodness, it’s been rather a long time since I had the luxury of being able to converse with you! Certainly not without the eager interruptions of friends and family. Not that I can complain, of course. I love conversation! And if anything, I have Korrina to thank for letting me know that YOU were taking over the next mailbag. I’d completely forgotten to go through your dad’s last mailbag. All this travelling has left me too exhausted to even read! Then again, it’s often worth it when you visit all these fabulous ethnic places and meet all kinds of bizarre new people. I wonder if you’ve ever heard of this gnome called Brazie Getz? His entire marketing campaign is on Deathbringer’s Rise in Icecrown. He’s a weird, weird guy. Don’t ever talk to him.
Anywho, I think I’d better rush to the point. I’m still travelling, of course – matter of fact, the only place I haven’t been to visit yet is Pandaria, so that’s likely next on my list! – and I found myself growing more and more curious with regards to the mailboxes of Azeroth. That is, every time I dropped a letter into a mailbox, it simply vanished! And would you believe it or not, but half the time, the correspondent’s response would appear before me a mere five minutes later.
I’m only assuming that this is a rather common stretch of magic, but as I’m not a mage, I don’t know how it works. So I ask you, Shayari, do you know what school of magic is responsible for this faster-than-Light-itself speed of delivery of mail in these boxes?
Take care, and be well!
–Sarlinia-Grace Starstriker, Argent Crusade
Oh… uh, hey, Sarlin. Nice to… hear from you again. So… Korrina told you I was fielding letters for this mailbag? I’ll, uh… I’ll have to… thank her for that. Maybe thank her repeatedly. Over a span of several slow,
torturous thankful days.
Or, well, I would, if I knew which one she was. She’s one of Pip’s friends, right? The ones who are always running around in the garish hand-me-down gear? She’s not the one that’s always putting her foot in her mouth, is she?
Either way… well… here you are. At least you toned it down a little this time around, though. Or… well, wait, you did tone it down, right? I’m not just missing a few pages? Because if I am, I mean, don’t feel like you need to correct that and send me a new copy or anything. You know, I’m already answering the letter now, so it’s not like there’s anything to gain at this point. Water under the bridge. That I should probably burn before it’s too late.
But, hey, speaking of sending things through the mail, that’s a question I can actually answer! You’re totally right, Sarlin — those mailboxes do use magic to make their insta-deliveries. Well, most of them do. There are still places that use old-timey mailboxes, where somebody has to go around and physically pick up the letters and stuff, but there are only a few of those left. So the magic they use for those things is arcane. The way it works — this is actually pretty weird but cool — is that all those mailboxes are sort of permanent mini-portals. You drop something in the mailbox, and poof! it goes through the portal and pops into the sorting room at the central post office. Which… well, I don’t exactly know where that is, or who runs it, although whoever it is they must have a massively fun life considering how they seem like they’re constantly on the job. But then they sort through the letters, or packages, or whatever, and send them back through another mini-portal, and double poof! they pop back out to whatever other mailbox you need to use to pick the delivery up. Pretty neat, huh?
I meant that last question rhetorically, by the way. No need to write back again, Sarlin. I mean, I figure you’re already busy enough doing whatever it is that you do. (Spirits help me, why am I talking about this like I’m going to be getting these again? Focus, Shay, focus!)
Are you still taking mage lessons from our dear Mr Faranell? I am curious, what is he like as a teacher? Have you smoothed things over with him after, well, you know?
–Tandeleina, Silvermoon City
Well for one thing, let me tell you, you won’t win any points with Eddie by calling him “Mr. Faranell.” He likes that even less than he likes me calling him Eddie. I’ve seen it. One of those Kor’kron guys called him that and he got all pissy about it, “I didn’t spend a zillion years in mad scientist school or whatever so you could call me ‘mister,’ ” blah blah. Then he turned the Kor’kron guy into a sewer rat. Granted, it was just a polymorph variation. Fun fact, by the way: it turns out that being swallowed whole by a giant spider doesn’t break the polymorph. Who knew?
But yeah, I’m still working on my magic with Eddie. Pops had me stay in Orgrimmar while he’s in Pandaria so I can keep up with my apprenticeship. I’d like to see Pandaria at some point, though. I’ve heard it’s beautiful there. Pops promised I’ll get to see it eventually, so I guess we’ll see.
Anyhow, Eddie’s fine as a teacher, I guess. He’s definitely really smart. He’s just very… dry. I mean personality dry. It makes him hard to read sometimes. Like for instance, I’ll cast a spell, and he’ll say it went well, only because it’s him I’m never sure if I really did a good job or if I screwed it up and he’s being ironic. So, I don’t know, it’s been okay?
Hello Shayari! My name is Clarise! I mean, my full name is Ceresella-Sareyn Sunbow but that’s like way long, and kind of a tongue twister, so I’ve shortened it to Clarise, although my sister thinks that’s a little common. Whatever. I think it’s totes adorbs. Anyways. HEY! I’m a mage apprentice too! Would you look at that, we have mutual interests! YAY! But you’re probably like waaaaay better at the kapowing than I am. I’m fourteen so I’m pretty amateur-ish at this whole pew-pew business. I can’t even polymorph properly yet! Like, I tried it once (on some idiot that was yammering on about how fire was the superior style of magic and arcane would rightfully bow at its feet one day and I just got so annoyed so POOF! Sheep he was) and it sort of lasted for about three hours. OOPS!
Anyway, so, I heard you study in the Undercity. I heard this really cool story from my sister once about there being somebody who does facials and haircuts there. Have you ever got one there? I bet they do AWESOME facials. I bet they use really frothy soap and stuff and warm water that almost feels like you’re being bathed in the physical form of perfection. Do the Forsaken have a nice sense of fashion? I like bright colours best. I specially like bright red and gold. Although leather’s pretty hip, too. Leather jackets with pink-dyed fur hoods? I would literally sell my little soul for one of those.
Coffee! Is there coffee in the Undercity!? Please tell me there’s coffee! There has to be! I would literally DIE in a place where there was no coffee. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine waking up for three hours of study in a boring room that’s way hot so it only makes you sleepier without a cup of coffee? I would just die. How many cups of coffee do you have a day? I don’t count but I think this is my twelfth. Now, that IS the physical form of perfection. In a cup!
Anyways, big fan! Can’t believe your dad responded to my first letter! MEGA FLAIL!
–Clarise Sunbow, Kirin Tor
So first of all, what the hell is a “ciao”? It had better not be some cool new expression that I’m behind the curve on, because you know how that goes. You start losing track of new and current expressions, then you start walking around wearing last season’s clothes, and then the next thing you know you’re thirty and it’s a quick downhill slide into sadness. Obviously, I can’t let that happen.
Oh, who am I kidding? We all know I’m not going to be out of the loop on anything cool. I am the loop on anything cool. This Clarise girl’s just talking the crazy talk.
So anyway, hi Clarise. You seem kind of weird, but you say you’re a fan of mine, so I guess you have that going for you. Wait, I have fans? Score! Eh, what am I saying? It figures I would have fans if Pops has been talking about me here on his blog. Wait, has he been talking about me here? What’s he been saying? Do I need to start working damage control?
So, um, yeah… hi, Clarise! It’s nice to hear from another mage, at least one who’s alive and not decomposing or anything. Or mordantly derisive toward everything in sight for no apparent reason. I haven’t had the chance to meet too many since the whole Jaina-schizo-Dalaran-be-gone thing. Used to hang out with nothing but mages, though. Not so much now. Seems like half the people I know are warriors. Or shamans. And I can hardly take three steps without tripping over a rogue. Which is weird considering you would think their whole deal is not being tripped over what with the sneaky. Anyway, Clarise, it’s nice to hear from another non-corpse magic user, and I’ll even let your whole arcane/fire thing slide, even though I’m a fire mage myself. You’ll come to your senses eventually. You’re right, though, polymorph is way cool.
The Undercity is… different. Not even… well, I was going to say not bad different, but… I mean, kind of yeah. I get the definite sense you’ve never actually been there. You’d probably find it, um, surprising. Probably not your cup of tea if you like bright colors. They don’t really have any. Well, other than the bright green glowing slime that’s… well… pretty much everywhere. So there’s that, at least. Otherwise, though, you’re pretty much looking at drab lifeless gray and drab lifeless purple and loads and loads of black. You wouldn’t think there could be different shades of black, right? Well you would be wrong! Don’t ask me how, but the Forsaken manage to have more shades of black than they have primary colors. Like you look around their stores and wonder “How much more black could there be?” and the answer is “None, none more black.” So I’m not sure the Undercity would really be your style.
And… I’m not even going to go near the thing about the facials. I’m pretty sure your sister was just trolling you. I mean, I suppose it’s possible that the Forsaken have salons there (would they need to get their hair cut, though? does your hair actually grow when you’re a dead person?), but I can’t imagine they’d be worried about cleansing pores nearly as much as necrosis and maggots. And if, you know, ew, I agree with you.
I got a question for ya! If da Lich King’s horse be Invincible, how come I be seein’ it, mon?
–Bob, Shado-pan Monastery
I don’t know, Bobby, I guess lack of sex causes enhanced eyesight? So, you know, keep up the good work with the total physical and personal unattractiveness — you’ll be rocking the full-on x-ray vision in no time!
Here’s an #EpicVerse prompt for you.
“There was a Draenei named Shayari,”
Go, go, go!
–Valinora Lightshorn, Stormwind City
So… I’m really not sure what to make of this. I mean, I get that the “epic verse” thing is a reference to the weird poetry Pops likes to write, and how he can’t just call it “poetry” like a normal person, but has to play it up with the whole “epic verse!” thing. Which, by the way, he literally yells out loud when he finishes writing one. He’ll be sitting there working on something, and I’m not even paying attention to what he’s doing because whatever, and then all of a sudden he slams his quill down on the desk and yells “epic verse!” at like nine thousand decibels. Which is pretty startling, really. Also kind of weird, since he does it every time he thinks he’s finished. And he’ll go back and revise one line, and slam his quill down again, and yell “epic verse!” again… and then he’ll look back at it and change one word again and go through the whole slammy yelly thing again. He’s so weird, I can’t even.
So I get what the #EpicVerse part of your letter is talking about, but… I’m not sure what you’re looking for. Is this some kind of running thing in Pops’ blog? Actually, hang on, I’m going to check with greeny goblin nerd guy about this.
Oh, okay. So the gob-geek guy, Spackle or whatever, says that apparently you have this ongoing thing in Pops’ mailbags, where you send him an opening line for one of his poems and then he writes the rest? Is that a thing? Does he do that? So wait, does that mean you’ve been partly responsible for all the yelling at his desk and the startling and stuff? It really scares my bird when he does that, I’ll have you know.
Only, see, here’s the thing. Garrosh is really the poet in the family. And boy, I bet there are tons of people who never thought they’d read that sentence, huh? But the point is that I’ve never been much of a writer, so maybe you should just stick to hitting Pops with these poetry requests, since I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything all that good, mostly probably because the whole thing seems kind of weird.
Except I guess Pops will end up seeing this when he gets back from Pandaria (I mean he DOES read this stuff that me and Spackle and whoever else writes on here, right? and by the way, Pops, nice job outsourcing your own hobby, I mean could you be any more lazy? come on), and I guess if he sees me admitting I wouldn’t be good at doing something he thinks he’s good at, there’ll be no living with him. I mean have you seen him? There’s almost no living with him now. I don’t even want to think about how out of control his ego will be in a couple weeks if I go ahead and feed it. So okay, let me try this, but I’m not making any promises.
There was a Draenei named Shayari,
Actually half Kurenai, half Mag’hari,
Who lived in Nagrand where it’s starry,
And went on a wildlife safari,
While Pops is busy in Pandari
And maybe something about the Sha’tari,
And had calamari and Londo Mollari,
and okay I don’t think this is going anywhere. I’m just making up words at this point. Oh well. I tried.
Do you play Earth Online? What class do you play? If you don’t play do you think you might give it a try some day?
–Greztah, Earthen Ring
So, okay, first of all, no. I keep getting asked this, so no, no, no. I’m not interested in getting into your weird virtual reality game. I don’t need my reality to be virtual. Reality reality is working out just fine for me.
And also, what is it with you guys and this game? It’s bad enough I had to find out Pops is a closet nerd with this game of his. But it seems like half the jokers around here play it, too. Fel, when I went to ask that Spackle guy about the poetry thing a minute ago, even he tried making a sales pitch on me, like for some kind of referral thing. I guess if he got me to sign up he could have gotten some kind of… I don’t even know what. A make-believe vehicle in the game that he would have to buy with real money otherwise? Is that something they make you do in this game? Fork over real money to buy make-believe things? Because if so…
Okay, people, let’s have some real talk here.
Because, look, speaking as someone who takes her shopping seriously… shopping with real money for imaginary stuff? That’s crazy talk. If I’m going to buy something, I’m for sure going to walk out of that store carrying something with actual physical substance to it. Otherwise, they’re not getting my money. Well, technically, they wouldn’t be getting my money, they’d be getting Pops’ money. But you get the idea.
The point is, are you people nuts?
So I guess that’s about as good a note as any to end on. Especially since that was the last letter. I’m not sure how much longer Garry is going to need before he’s back to doing this himself, but I think I might just pass it off to that Spackle guy if Pops needs things covered for a while more. Not that I don’t like hearing from everyone. Just that I have kind of a yearly weirdness quota, and just plain day-to-day life fills up that bar pretty quick as it is.
[And so we’re back! As I announced before the break, our next mailbag will be Monday, September 5. I’m making one revision to the plan, though: rather than that installment being Garrosh’s return to mailbag duties, we’ve going to have one more guest mailbag — this time, from everyone’s favorite goblin tech guru, Spazzle! This is essentially me heading my bets — the Warchief is going to have a lot going on at Kypari Zar, which will involve a lot drawing that I’ll need to get done over several posts, so I wanted to make sure I’ll have time to get all that done without Garrosh seemingly having to stop in the middle of it to answer his mail. Plus, I’ve wanted to do a Spazzle mailbag for a while! (Who knows, maybe Mokvar will get one one day, too…) Garrosh will be back answering his accumulated mail for October’s mailbag (October 3, for those of you keeping score at home). As always, send your letters via email (link in the upper right sidebar) or using the form below.]
[And so, now that I’ve teased you all with a plot point I’ve been ham-fistedly foreshadowing literally for years… BREAK TIME! As I noted at the end of the last mailbag, I’m going to be taking a blogging break for a few weeks, partly to work on getting a jump on the next stretch of posts, and partly to steel myself for what’s always a pretty busy summer work schedule. With that in mind, here are a few notes and dates for those of you who are already chomping at the bit for more Garroshy goodness (“Dammit, Averry, you only JUST got back to blogging consistently again!”)…
The blog will return to action on Monday, July 18, with a guest mailbag from Shayari. (I know I originally said July 11, but I decided to push it back one week for work reasons.) I’ve already received a few letters for her mailbag; keep ’em coming so she has plenty to respond to!
Also, since Shay’s guest mailbag will take us toward mid-July already, and Garrosh will be pretty busy when the blog returns to action, Shayari’s post will cover us, mailbag-wise, through August. Garrosh will be back for a mailbag of his own on Monday, September 5. By all means, be getting those letters in, or at least be mulling over what kinds of lunacy you might want to send his way as the fall draws closer.
In the intervening time, I’ll still be responding to blog comments and messages, and of course I’ll still be engaged in my usual Twitter shenanigans.
As always, thanks to everyone for reading, writing, commenting, tweeting, breathing, and, y’know, just plain being you. Look at me trying to be nice. (It only burns a little.)
Have a great early summer! See you all soon.
(Metaphorically. I can’t really see you. OR CAN I?)]
Ugh. Okay, I can tell that THIS headache is gonna stick with me for a while. Something told me I shouldn’t have had that third pitcher of I Know My Redeemer Liveth…
So, yeah, let’s try this again.
Short version, ’cause who needs to go through all that again — we left Mokvar at the Tavern of the Mists to do his thing and get rolling on his sha research, and then Gurtash and I flew up to Tian Monastery with Zhi-Zhi to collect Elder Cloudfall and bring him back to the base, and then we got there and everything is kind of a big blur from that point, and next thing I knew it was two days later and holy shit I know I say this a lot but seriously, people, literally HEAD fucking HURTS.
So that was a thing.
Anyhow, other than the part where I’ve swallowed my weight in aspirin the last 24 hours, everything is back under control now. Cloudfall’s come back to Domination Point with us, and we’ll be getting back to some overdue business in short order. Meanwhile, since things were all hectic around here the LAST time Old Man Furball came to call, I’ve been showing him around the place and introducing him to some of the major players he hasn’t met yet. Which, come to think of it, WOULD include Mokvar, seeing as he was off doing his own thing the last time Cloudfall was around, but now he’s off doing his own (different) thing AGAIN, so so much for that. And, of course, since Mokvar isn’t on hand for a few days, that means I’ve got Gurtash picking up the slack for me…
[Okay, I said I was taking a few weeks off starting in June, but I ended up needing a little longer than I’d planned to finish up a few final posts before that. One more installment to go, then a few weeks’ blogging break. Stay tuned!]