The book is a small leather bound thing, covered by soft jade green leather covered in a sky blue painted engraving of creeping vines around it that bore bright red berries. In the front, in Pandarian, the word "Meditations" is written.
I've begun writing this journal as a meditation tool, I've been told by others that it can be soothing to do this. Might as well try, right? I suppose it's best to start at the beginning.
My name is Xhu-Pai Bao. I'm the third cub of a prestigious family in The Jade Forest. My parents were wealthy merchants and I grew up never wanting. It was peaceful, but deeply dull. I never really fit in at home, my eldest sister was set to take over the business, my oldest brother was a masterful geomancer working to serve the people. I was gifted in my own way, though. Chi, the energy that flows through all living things. I found a natural aptitude at manipulating it. I wrapped my hands in rolling lightning of chi, I could form sweet mist to bolster the chi in others. I had a talent, but I was unsure how to use it.
Selfish perhaps, but monastery life never fit with me. The Temple of the Jade Serpent was a good place full of noble and wise Pandaren, but it was just as restricting as my family manor. I felt as if I was trading one gilded cage for another, and my chi suffered for it.
I found freedom, though, in a wandering brewmaster. She was older, but moved with a spring in her step normally only seen in cubs, unencumbered by the large kegs of brews she carried on her. She came to the temple to trade and told us tales of her travels, of the beauty and wonder of Pandaria outside our walls. I begged her to take me with her when she left, to let me study under her. I never meant to offend the masters of the Serpent, but I knew instantly she was my destiny to make me into what I could be.
Master Yan was a good teacher. She was firm, but compassionate. I came to her soft and pampered and sheltered, complaining about the traveling conditions and camping under the stars and such. She had a great task ahead of her to forge me into something better.
One place she taught me to break my shell was in the brawl clubs.
Underground betting clubs where Pandaren could get together to fight and make some money. I'm sure they were 'gray' at best, legally speaking, but they were better training than a million drills and meditations could be.
I fought under an assumed name, not wanting to potentially embarrass my family, wearing a mask. I picked a name after one of the drunken patrons made a clumsy pass on me while I was waiting...Hunae. Master Yan insisted to the end he was calling me 'honey' but it sounded like 'Hunae' to me..
My first fight was brutal. I was completely unready for a proper brawl. I was paired up with another young lady, she was oddly slim, wearing long sleeves that billowed around her arms. I went for a blow and she dodged it easily, dancing around me and sliding a wooden rod from inside her sleeve to strike me upside the head with it. I was angered by that, I insisted that was cheating, dishonorable, shameful, and she responded by revealing another rod and striking my chest with it.
She fought like a whirlwind, dancing and weaving around me, jabbing me to keep me from focusing. She won near instantly, but she toyed with me for a good while before she finally knocked me down for good. I was bruised, both body and ego, but I learned a lot from that. I learned what a real fight was, I learned that I wouldn't be fighting fellow monks all my life, and most of my enemies had no qualms fighting dishonorably to win.
"You can spend your life crying," Master Yan explained as I iced my wounds. "You can be a scold from the ground, telling anyone who beats you they did so 'wrong' as if that changes anything. You can do that, you'd find many peers who agree with you too." She reached into her bag, taking a small knife from it, it looked like a kitchen blade that had been sharpened and honed. "Or, you can accept the way the world is. There's no shame in honesty. I look for the light where I can, I treasure sunny days and cool breezes. That doesn't make the darkness go away, though, it doesn't turn the storms back. I'm not telling you to be a cynic, I'm telling you to be honest about the world."
Chi is life energy. I learned that in time. Chi is not good, chi is not bad, it's life. I can do great things with chi. I can heal wounds, I can send bolts of lightning from my fingers, I can wrap my hands in energy strong enough to let them punch through great armor. I can also shroud myself in shadow. I can coat my blades with venom drawn from deadly creatures and empower it as if they were still alive. I can give life and I can take it, and both gifts must be treated with the gravity and awe they deserve.
I am an optimist despite everything. I truly believe there's more light than shadow in this world, but I won't ignore the shadows, nor will I cower in fear of them. I look at the world honestly and take no shame in that. There's heroes in every army, there's villains in all worlds. Harmony requires balance, a world of pure light would be blinding flame just as a world of pure dark would snuff everything out.
Sometimes the only way to teach a spoiled young woman what the real world is is to allow her to get beaten. Sometimes you bet on the other fighter. Still, more often than not, you bet on your student, because you believe that they can grow and improve. You see greatness in them, no matter their birth. I think Master Yan believed that too much, but I still treasure that faith she had in me, even if it led to her fall.
I need to work on my healing chi. I was always weak in that. My master never nurtured that element either. She was more interested in the violent side of things, healing magics were focused on myself rather than others.
I don't blame M for killing the Highmountain. He was warped with Void, we had two people draining the Void into them and just me working on purging it. Dragging it out meant they could get infected or he could keep attacking us. She made the right call as a leader, I respect her for it. I was never cut out to be Shado-Pan though. I'm empathetic, to a harsh degree. I saw his pain, I felt his sorrow, I HAD to fix him. I couldn't, though. Like I said, M was right to kill him, we saved the others, it was a success still. Dragging it out could have ruined all of that.
People don't understand being a brewmaster, it feels like. They think it's just drinking and fighting. You have to master yourself, though. Every Pandaren is different. Everyone has their own limits, their own chi flows. You have to study that, map your chi, know the line to dance between too drunk to pay attention and drunk enough to throw the other guy off. You have to know your brews, too. Every ingredient, every drop of water, every cask and waterskin, the temperature your tea is brewed at, how long your booze should age. A purifying brew that's got its ingredients all wacked up may not be able to purge the venom of a viper from you when you need it.
That's why we travel, to constantly expand our knowledge. Who's to say we know the best brews? Maybe someone else has a better ingredient or the like to improve it. That's why we have no temples, that's why we wander. Death is natural, we prepare ourselves for it, but stagnation...Stagnation is as close a 'sin' as we have.
I spent a few months on the wall, when the Mantid began to wake early. That was a hard tour. We weren't ready for them, people scrambled, my healing was tested there as much as my fighting. I needed work then too...
Master Yan never guided me much for that, though. She told me the best way to heal is to prevent anyone from being hurt at all. We went over the wall, into the wastes with a small team, and we destroyed a small tunnel the Mantid had dug right by the wall we never noticed. It slowed their assault. We prevented the damage, we gave them time to recover. We lost someone there, though. A Mantid ambusher got them. I tried to use my healing brew, but Master Yan stopped me. She said we needed to save the brews for ourselves, what if there was more attackers, we could all die if we spread our resources too thin. We did wind up using most of our supplies down there, maybe she was right.
I don't think Master Yan had much faith in others. I think she saw healing chi used on them as a waste. She may have been right as a leader, focusing your resources on the most able is maybe the most pragmatic option. Casualties are...sad, but acceptable then, right? The weak being sorted out while the strong can focus on trying to keep everyone safe. That was how Master Yan saw the world.
That's a very sad way to see the world, I think. I hope M isn't as lonely as Master Yan was.
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