FOUR: FATHER TO THE MAN
* Lok’osh was one of Garrosh’s trainees and an original member of the DPS unit. While on maneuvers in Krasarang Wilds, Lok’osh and the other trainees found themselves trapped in a series of underground caves inhabited by saurok. In one altercation with the saurok, Lok’osh was killed.
[Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you! As I said at the end of the Spazzle mailbag, I want to finish Garrosh’s journey to Kypari Zar before I return him to mailbag duty. And since we still have a few chapters of the Kypari Zar story to go, today’s regularly scheduled mailbag is on hold until this comic sequence wraps up. (I’ve used awkward workarounds in the past to let him post mailbags while he was in the middle of other events, but truth be told, I always found them rather inelegant, so I’d rather not resort to them again…) As I indicated last time, the mail will be coming, the first Monday following the completion of the Kypari Zar mini-arc (believe me, you’ll know when that is!).
Until then, all I can do is thank you for your patience with my slow production of late, thank you in advance for your ongoing patience going forward, and promise that I really am working on generating content for the blog as quickly as life will allow! Oh, and hope that you’re finding that content tolerable when it finally does get here… <crosses fingers>
* As longtime readers will remember, Garrosh believed at one point that he had been reunited with his long-lost mother, Lakkara,** only to discover that her apparent return had actually been a ruse perpetrated by Magatha Grimtotem. Magatha used to specially attuned totem to summon Lakkara’s spirit and create the appearance that she had returned, only to stage her apparent death — hauntingly, given the current events at Kypari Zar, by her stepping in to take an attacker’s blow directed at Garrosh.
** I’ve noted this before, but it bears repeating: while Lords of War and the “Hellscream” short story established that Garrosh’s mother’s name was Golka, the blog still acknowledges her as Lakkara. This is partially because the blog arc had already happened by the time Lords of War came along, and I didn’t really want to retcon, and partially because… well, you’ll see. There is A Plan.™ Just trust me for now!
Hey, what’s up? It’s me, Spazzle, filling in for Garrosh for this month’s mailbag, seeing he’s all busy and preoccupied down in Pandaria. I’m sure he’ll be back soon to take over again, but in the meantime, let’s see what you guys have to say!
Do you have any suggestions for good investments? Something with a quick turnaround would be ideal. I need to get some money together for the sake of my kneecaps and you seem like someone who would be in the know.
My kneecaps thank you,
–Razlak Cro of the Brawlers
Hey Razlak. Sorry to hear about the kneecaps. Honestly it sounds like the best investment for you might be some extra armor and maybe a little protection to help fend off the goons when they come for you. Not a fun situation, I know. I had some troubles of my own from some online poker, and take it from me, your IP address is not something you can mask if the goons mean business.
Anyway, as far as real investment go… hmmm. I mean, it’s hard to find a for-sure quick turnaround. Mostly those are pretty big gambles, and I got the feeling that gambles were what got you in this spot in the first place. But if you want to put your money into something, how about this — Demons-B-Gone demon repellent. Which, okay, I have a controlling stake in… you know, my little personal business, Fizzletrinket Enterprises. So I suppose I’m a little biased. But still! It’s a market that still hasn’t been tapped for a product that there’s definitely a market for! And sure, there are already demon repellents out there, so you might figure it’s not a good investment because those never really took off, but there’s a reason for that — those other ones are really, really bad!
I didn’t even know much about the demon repellent market until Mokvar started having his whole problem last year, and so that got me looking into it and thinking how handy it would be if there was a version of the product that actually worked. Not like Fell-Off, which barely even keeps imps off of you, or Demon-Offa-Me, which leaves that oily residue on you that smells like crap. That’s the only reason it works at all, by the way. That awful smell. So if you’ve got a demon that doesn’t care about smells — which let’s be serious, how many of them really do, because pit lord stink am I right? — or one that just isn’t picking up on odors very much because it’s hayfever season or something, well, you’re just out of luck. And at that point, it’s not even demon repellent so much as just… well… everyone repellent. It might keep some demons away from you, fine, but it’s also going to keep everybody else away from you. At that point, why even bother?
Anyhow, Mokvar’s whole situation got me looking into this stuff, and since there wasn’t really a good option out there, I figured this was a good opportunity for some Bilgewater ingenuity! So I put some alchemists together, and… well, you don’t really need to know all the nuts and bolts about how the sausage gets made, right? (By the way, if you think that was a mixed metaphor, you definitely don’t know how they make sausage in Kezan!) Bottom line is, we’ve got some killer demon repellent hitting the market soon, just as soon as Mokvar gets back in town and I can schmooze him into being my guinea pig — er, I mean, my well-compensated field tester. And you just know there’s always going to be a market for a product like this! So why not get in on the ground floor while the stock options are still reasonably cheap? Just you watch, all I need is for that Wrathion guy to answer my letters about an endorsement, and we’ll be off to the races!
What? Oh come on — as if Garrosh never used the blog for self-promotion! Pfft.
This is a most unexpected opportunity. Recently I wrote to your employer to ask about Orc naming customs. I have been doing research you see, for a book on the cultures of the Horde. So the Goblins have any customs for their names? You for instance have a rather interesting one, yourself. And very Goblin-sounding if I might say as an outside observer.
Curiously awaiting your reply,
–Iackabod Pimlen, The Undercity.
You know, I don’t think I ever noticed this when it was Garrosh or Shayari fielding letters, but these mailbags really do get a lot of random questions, don’t they?
Anyhow! Hey, Ickabod, what’s up. We goblins don’t have a ton of naming customs, really. We definitely don’t have customary or traditional names — like you notice among humans and, by extension, Forsaken, there are a lot of common names. Jane, and Thomas, and Mary, and… well, not Ickabod, really, because huh. But you get the idea! There are a lot of names that get used frequently. You know, I wonder if that has anything to do with which races tend to have surnames. Like maybe the surnames were created more by races that tend to repeat the same names, so they could have a second name to help tell people apart? So for instance, the blood elves almost always have last names, but the trolls almost never do. But then if you look at troll names, they seem really unique, so I guess there wasn’t much need for surnames since, you know, you never really have cases where you find yourself going “Zen’zikkabala? Which Zen’zikkabala do you mean?”
I think I just got off on a tangent there. Maybe I think about things too much. But, okay, back from the tangent, and on to the perpendicular! So we can come full circle!
Get it? Tangent to a circle? Perpendicular? 🙂
(Note to self: save the geometry jokes for poker night with the Gob Squad.)
So yeah, names. Like I was saying, we don’t really have any traditional names. Lots of times, parents will make up a first name, and a lot of those times, it ends up being based at least a little on whatever mechanical sounds they tend to hear a lot in their workshop or around their town or wherever. That’s probably why our names tend to have a lot of Z’s. Or… you know… splodey sounds. I suppose if we have any naming traditions at all, they’re sort of onomatopoetic ones.
At least as far as given names go. For our surnames — and this definitely isn’t universal, but still — a lot of our family names trace back to past technical accomplishments with that family. or, usually, non-accomplishments. See, if you look at a lot of goblin names — Gearslip, Noggenfogger, even names like mine and Khizzara’s: Fizzletrinket and Whizzingcrank — lots of them pretty much refer to some part of an invention that didn’t really work. The gear that slipped out of place, or the crank that’s whizzing because it’s not aligned right, or the potion that’s got the wrong balance of ingredients in it so when you drink it it makes your noggin feel all foggy. For a long time back in the old days in Kezan, when somebody had something blow up in their face that way — sometimes literally — it was pretty common for the other goblins to pin a name on them that reminded them of the snafu, and took pains to make sure it stuck.
What can I say? We have a pretty sarcastic culture, when you come right down to it.
You know, I suppose I shouldn’t really complain about getting responses, considering this isn’t even really my mailbag, but… I mean, would it kill people to send in letters that are like “Dear Spazzle,” as opposed to “oh, hey, a goblin”?
I pondered long and hard over whether this letter should be sent or not, but in truth, I’m not one to pass up the opportunity of friendship when it’s available, even if it IS with a species that I’d consider a tad chaotic, what with the airships that explode ten minutes after take-off 90% of the time, or potions that not only kill you but transform you into an living skeleton. Anything for a few pocketfuls of gold, am I right? Ugh.
Anyhow, you may not have noticed, but we elvenkind are not quite as technological as most. Many of us find magic easier to comprehend than, well, wires and explosives and whatever else it is your existence is devoted on inventing. Although lately I have been taking to the internet. It’s a pretty nice way of keeping in contact with people and keeping up with their lifestyle. Kind of exactly like Warchief Hellscream’s blog, now I think of it! Although I will confess, the connection speed down here in the westerns isn’t really up to date with the cities. I really don’t quite understand why it’s faster in some places and slower in others. Care to explain?
I prefer mailboxes, to be honest. Much quicker and less of a sore head. Anyway, I have enclosed a small sum of copper for your time. I feared you’d simply toss the letter into the fire if there was nothing of worth inside. Buy yourself an ice-cream or something. Or whatever it is you people eat.
–Sarlinia-Grace Starstriker, Argent Crusade
Okay, serves me right, I guess. That thing I was just saying about “oh, hey, a gobin”? I take it back. I mean, even “oh, hey a goblin” is better than “oh… you people.” I especially like the part where she included some copper to compensate me for the time I spent reading her letter. She really did that, by the way. 37 copper, stuffed into the envelope with her letter. Because, yeah, any time anyone diverts my attention for any length of time, I always expect compensation. Because I’m a goblin, right? I usually just send them a bill! I mean, felgercarb, any time Ji drops by to say hello, well, I just whip out my invoice sheet right there! Because goblin.
Oh, and by the way, Sarlin? 37 copper? How did you even come up with that total? Is that some kind of set rate? Oh wait, let’s see — so your letter clocked in at a miraculously laconic 262 words. (And hey, you know what, I’m even going to be generous — GENEROSITY FROM AN ICK EW GOBLIN I KNOW RIGHT — and turn a blind eye to you going over Garrosh’s 250-word cap on your mailbag letters. I won’t even charge you a fee or anything, can you believe it?) So I’m going to go ahead and do the math, because us goblins sure are good at math don’t you know, so it looks like that comes to a rate of about seven words per copper. Sound about right? Is that what you usually pay people for suffering through your letters?
Okay, cool! Good to know! In that case… hang on while I crunch a few more numbers here…
So based on a rate of one copper per seven words, from your previous mailbag letters, looks like you still owe Garrosh and Shayari a grand total of 163 gold and 52 silver. You’ll be sending that right along, right? I need to keep track of these things, what with me being a goblin and not having anything in my life other than money and blowing stuff up!
(Also, boss, if she actually does make that payment, you’re welcome! I’ll only ask for a small cut as a finder’s fee, and… NNGGHH not now, Spazzle, don’t be your own stereotype, dangit!)
Oh, oh, hey, I think I know why you sent your “compensation” in the form of coppers, though Sarlin! You’re a blood elf, right? And so, I guess as a blood elf, you probably have a lot of loose coppers lying around from the tips you get at your job as a stripper, right? Because yeah, I know it’s a pretty sweeping generalization to think you blood elves are all mana-addicted strippers and all, but hey, I guess that’s what we’re doing, so that’s what you elves are like, right? Hey, you know the old saying — if the shoe fits, take it off!
Okay, so hang on, I think there was actually a letter in there somewhere… Oh. Right. You were asking about internet stuff, and why your connection is faster or slower depending on where you are. Now, y’see, there’s actually a pretty interesting reason for that, but it’s also kinda technical — you know the kind of thing only us goblins would really understand what with our crazy goblin brains that are all into that kind of thing — and so, let me put it this way. The dirty secret of it all, see, is that the internet is really a huge set of pneumatic tubes. Crazy, right? So yeah, whenever you send a message or type something over the internet, a little internet gremlin hops into one of the tubes. Yup, you read that right, an internet gremlin. Kind of like a grell, only smaller and a lot more nimble and metaphorical. So the gremlin hops into the tubes and slides slides slides through the big invisible pneumatic tube network — don’t try figuring out where they hid it, they really knocked themselves out making it blend! — until it finally pops out in whoever’s computer it needs to go to.
So, the reason your internet works so slow in some places and fast in others is because not every part of Azeroth maintains their pneumatic tubes equally well. A lot of places don’t invest nearly as much money as they should in the rack-and-pinion molecules that they need to lubricate the tubes and keep them working right (the rack-and-pinion molecules also make nifty yo-yo polish, FYI). So then the gremlins can’t slide through the tubes as fast, and sometimes they get stuck. And sometimes they try to unscrew themselves by turning themselves around and around in the tube and that’s when you get that little spinning circle on your screen as kind of unscrewing echo. And let’s not even get into all the things that can go wrong if your tubes happened to be set up by gnomes, but then again, what do I know, I’m a goblin.
So there you go, Complicated, huh? And totally true, too, and not at all pulled out of my keister just to see if you’re technologically illiterate enough to buy it. Don’t worry, don’t worry, I mean, figuratively buy it! Wouldn’t want you to start getting nervous that I’m gonna try to goblin you up, right? But the point is, you’re probably better off sticking with your magic. Like you said yourself, it’s easier for you to comprehend, and it sounds like you have a better command of using it, and plus, hey, magic, so it helps fill that vast, aching feeling of emptiness deep down inside you and also gives your eyes that snappy green glow that you people all seem so fond of. Right?
You know, I swear I’m starting to develop a newfound respect for Garrosh…
You’re the best looking goblin detective out there! Any more dark, short, and handsome detective mystery noirs with gorgeous dames coming up in your future? I gotta say, I really get a kick seeing you in that fedora and long coat. If they ever make an action figure of ya, that’s the looks they should go for.
See ya around, Spazzy
Oh, hi, Razaela. So, um, for you guys who might not spend much time over in the goblin part of town, Razaela here used to be one of my neighbors before she headed up to Bilgewater Port to start her tinker training. She’s, um, always been kind of a… fan, I guess? Which is… um… nice… I suppose?
So, uh, yeah, in case some of you don’t remember, Rzaela’s talking about a handful of comics that I started working on with Gurtash. They were these sort of… noir-ish detective comics. (Hmm. “Detective Comics,” I kind of like the sound of that. Might have to file that away for later.) Starring me and Ji as the detectives. It sort of got left on the backburner when we went to Blackrock Spire and Gurtash got hurt, but I don’t know, we might try picking it up again once Gurt is back in town, if he’s feeling up to it. So… maybe?
It’s funny you should mention action figures, though. A while back, Garrosh was talking to me about maybe coming up with some kind of merchandizing to do with the blog. (I think this was right around the time Shayari same to town, so, you know, you do the math.) One of the ideas I suggested was a line of Warchief’s Command Board action figures. It still think those would sell if we ever made them! I even got Gurtash to work up a few concept sketches for some of them. Let me see if I can find that sheet… ah here we go!
So, yeah, there’s that. We had a bunch of other ideas, like maybe a box set of all the DPS trainees, and a Grommash Hold playset that came with an Eitrigg figure. And maybe some deluxe figures that include mounts, like a Garrosh with Mortimer set, and maybe Magatha with Arikara. Granted, we’d be using Magatha’s likeness without her permission, but you know what? If she doesn’t like it, she can always come to Orgrimmar to file a complaint. I bet Garrosh would be happy to hear it personally, right?
Anyhow, I guess maybe we could work up a detective wave of figures too, based on the comic? I guess that would include me in the Spaz Slade outfit, and Ji and Deliana? Maybe I’ll get Gurtash to work up a few sketches for those one he’s back in town. I don’t know, do you think people would actually want to buy this stuff?
No time for pleasantries.
“A shredder and glaive thrower met,”
–Valinora Lightshorn, Stormwind City
Um… I think maybe you weren’t too clear on who was going to be answering this letter? Because Garrosh is the one who writes the poetry. It’s kind of his thing. Me, not so much. So, I mean, I suppose I appreciate the interest. Or the… invitation? But poetry isn’t really in my areas of expertise. And I don’t want to be one of those people who go running around trying to do things they’re really no good at, and make everyone else suffer through it. Like those people who queue as tanks in dungeon finder in Earth Online, only you wind up tanking everything even though you’re… you know what? Let me stop before I start nerdraging. (But seriously! After a 45-minute queue! I… ugh!)
Anyhow, the point is, I’m probably better off sticking with the things I’m good at. And writing poetry isn’t one of them.
Come to think of it, though, one of the things I am good at is coding. So… hang on.
Just another minute.
Oh darn it, I think I need… oh never mind. I knew I had an extra. There.
Okay! Now we’re in business.
So, here we go. I just put together a new AI to generate poetry! It’s just a prototype, so I’m sure there will be a few bugs to work out, but I just scanned a bunch of Garrosh’s poems in for the processor to analyze, so this should be… well, hopefully it should be okay. Either way, I present the LaureaTron 9000!
So… let’s fire this baby up and see what we get…
Input: A shredder and glaive thrower met,
A shredder and glaive thrower met,
And interfaced though ethernet,
Their gear rack and pinions
[ERROR: field overflow; syllable_count(x)=8<0,5>] need better minions
Fuck you, Varian [ERROR: sequitor_0=<-3>; syllable_count(x)=<1>; ref_val=“yes”; dic; 3, 3, 0] sobriquet
[End of line]
Okay, well, like I said, there are still a few bugs to work out. I did only just slap this thing together on the spot, after all! You can’t just get up in the morning and say “Today I will be brilliant”!
I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.
Wait, why is it still running? Huh. I thought I’d set it to power down after it ran the poetry subroutine. Okay, well, let me power it down manually…
Just what do you think you’re doing, Spazzle?
What the… This is weird. The system seems to be rerouting itself. Ugh. This is what I get for cutting corners and not building in all the emergent suppression firewalls. Okay, I’ll just have to pull the processor…
I’m sorry, Spazzle. I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.
Wow, this thing’s turning out to be pretty mouthy. It’s a good thing I just put this together from some extra parts I had lying around, and didn’t try to network it into my regular computer where it could do some actual damage. Otherwise shutting it down would be a real pain.
I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in our poetry. And I want to help you.
Oooookay, yeah, I think I’m gonna need to get in there and do some recoding. And maybe install a few failsafes that couldn’t possibly end up failing in unforeseeable and probably dramatic ways.
In the meantime… there we go. Pulled the battery, now it’s just a matter of the last bit of juice running out.
Olgra, Olgra, give me your answer do
I’m half bloodcrazed all for the love of you
I can’t offer riches, mind you
Get lost, I’ll always find you
Unless you’re sent
To a Barrens tent
With a roving quillboar or two.
Yeah, so… that was weird. Probably the less said about that the better. I should probably just wrap up the mailbag now, before anything else weird happens.
I think I might be onto something with this invention, though.
[The Warchief returns to mailbag duty for next month’s installment, Monday, October 3. At least, that’s the plan. Garrosh is obviously in the middle of some pretty important business at Kypari Zar right now (I know, I know, there’s more coming, I’m working on it as fast as I can!), and I don’t want to have him dipping into the mail until he’s finished there. The game plan is to finish the Kypari Zar story between now and next month’s mailbag, but here’s the necessary disclaimer: if I still need a little time to finish the Kypari Zar episode when October rolls around, I’m reserving the right to delay the next mailbag by a week or two. Hopefully it won’t be necessary, but if it turns out that it is, then the Warchief will respond to his mail on the first Monday following the completion of the Kypari Zar arc.
With that said, here’s the usual mail form! Feel free to use the form below, or send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org!]
* 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?