Part 7: Bydlo

Late morning, Westfall. On the road were a Gnome riding one of their mechanical birds, a mechanostrider. Next to him a Pandaren riding tortoise, being ridden by a Pandaren monk. On his right, a Dun Morogh riding ram ridden by a dark-haired Human woman. They had talked about all kinds of things having nothing to do with boyfriends or related subjects. When the sound of them not talking about boyfriends had become an eardrum-shattering un-sound, Trixie had pulled ahead a few dozen yards, and stayed there.

“I still don’t know why she’s pissed off at me,” said Nix. “Don’t shoot the bloody messenger.”

“Which is why I told you to butt out,” said Raven.

Thunderpetal took the stalk of grass he’d been chewing out of his mouth. “I tell you of the Eight Immortal Monks, yes?”

“The one with the epic blow-up donkey”, said Raven.

“The sixth monk is called Li Tia Guai, or Li with the iron crutch.”


“When Li is a young boy, his parents die,” said Thunderpetal. “He is raised by his older brother, and his wife. His sister-in-law treats him badly, Li is always hungry. So Li flees into the wild, where he learns the Hidden Knowledge, and becomes immortal.”

“Gosh,” said Raven, “Mind if I flee into the wild for a bit?”

“Li is now a grown man, so take your time,” said Thunderpetal. “But then, Li wishes to see his brother again, and he goes to his house. His brother is not at home, so he asks his sister-in-law for some boiled rice.”

“As one does,” said Nix. “A cheese sandwich is traditional with Gnomes.”

“Li’s sister-in-law, she says, fine, but there is no firewood. But Li is not troubled. He says, I can use my leg for firewood.”

“Proving that immortality does not in and of itself provide you with wisdom,” said Nix. “How about running out into the woods?”

Thunderpetal laughed. “For the purpose of the story, can we assume that there are no trees either? Li then warns his sister-in-law that there is one thing she must not do. She must not ask if his leg is hurting him.”

“Does this sister-in-law have a name?” asked Raven.

“The story does not tell.”

“Typical,” said Raven. “Who cares about the women?”

“The brother does not have a name either,” said Thunderpetal. “Li sits down with his leg under the rice pot, and lights his leg. The leg burns like coal, and in eleven-and-a-half minutes, the rice is nearly boiled.”

Raven buried her face in her hands. “Oh gods. The stupid woman is going to ask, isn’t she?”

Thunderpetal ignored Raven’s blatant stealing of his punch line. “With the rice almost finished boiling… the sister-in-law asks, Li, is your leg not injured? Li is most annoyed. He says, do I not warn you? If you do not ask, then nothing happens. As it is, my leg is lamed. And he takes the poker and fashions it into a crutch, puts his bottle on his back, and limps off back into the wild for medicinal herbs. And that is why he is called Li Tia Guai.”

“Oh hard core,” said Nix. “None of that running round screaming My leg is on fire! Heals! Heals!”

“Sounds like any warrior I’ve ever known,” said Raven. “Get out of the fire. Monosyllables only, and still…”

“What’s that got to do with Richard, though?”

Thunderpetal put the stalk of grass back in his mouth, and talked around it. “Li sets his own leg on fire. It is the fire that burns him, but only when sister-in-law points it out to him. T’li-chi knows that she will be burnt unless Li-cha defies his father. She knows he never will, but she ignores that, like Li ignores that his leg is on fire. You, Ni-chi, break the spell. And that is why T’li-chi is annoyed with you.”

They found that they had caught up with Trixie, who had stopped. The rest of the caravan came to a stop.

“What’s up, short stuff?” said Raven.

Trixie pointed ahead. “Fight going on there. Undead against someone big. Can’t tell who.”

“Undead?” Thunderpetal looked ahead. “What are they?”

“Corpses brought back to life by dark magic,” said Raven. Her face looked tight, angry. “Not nice. I don’t like undead.”

Nix jumped down. His strider folded itself up. “Let’s go remind them they’re dead.”

They walked forward, quickly but carefully. A group of grey-clad, grey-skinned ghouls were attacking a knight in heavy armour. The knight was hacking at them with a heavy war axe, but several of the ghouls were holding on to his arms. Some of the undead were no more than skeletons, surrounded by a ghastly green glow. They were using swords, daggers, shining with a pale light. Some of them were wearing bits of armour. If nothing happened, the knight was, to use a technical term, doomed.

Trixie tapped Thunderpetal’s leg. “Ever fight undead before?”


“Go for the neck. Breaking their spine makes them immobile. Fire works well, too. They’re not very fast, but once they grab you, they don’t let go. Keep them away from your throat. Raven, stay back.”

“Stuff you, squirt,” said Raven, drawing two daggers. “I’m not as useless as you think I am.”

Nix and Raven disappeared into the shadows. Thunderpetal reached into his bag for a battle brew and flipped the cork off. Trixie pulled out her sword.

Thunderpetal wrapped the rope on his keg round his hand, then jumped forward, rolling head over heels. He leapt to his feet in the middle of the group of undead and swung the keg round on its rope. Brew splashed over all the undead. Thunderpetal spat out flammable brew and set it on fire. All the ghouls ignited in flame, and there was a dry, unworldly sound of agony. It seemed to be enough to draw the undead creatures’ attention. Thunderpetal slowly walked backwards, with the ghouls and skeletons following him. Whenever one came too close, his staff struck out, sending them reeling back.

Trixie yelled, and rushed forward. The skeletons were too tall for her to reach their backbones, so she chopped their legs from under them first. Her two-handed sword danced in her hands as she dismembered the enemies where they stood. There was a horrible rattle of breath behind her, and a skeletal hand grabbed Trixie’s shoulder. With a yell, she tried to pull free, but she couldn’t. Another hand felt for her throat. She batted it away, but it came back. Trixie tried to swing her sword round, but she couldn’t hit hard without decapitating herself as well. The skeleton reached for her throat again, unable to feel fear, unable to feel anything except for its purpose.

With a noise no louder than a breath of wind, Raven appeared behind the skeleton, one dagger entering its skull at the neck, the other piercing its spine with a dry crack. She twisted both daggers with a vicious snarl, and the skeleton collapsed to the ground in a cascade of bones, the magic that held them broken. The skeleton’s hand was still on Trixie’s shoulder, bones sticking up. She grabbed it and jerked it away. Raven bent down to her, with a look in her eyes that would have made poor little Aubrey faint with fear.

“Watch your back, squirt.”

“Thanks,” said Trixie.

They looked up to see Thunderpetal turn round on one foot, and kick a ghoul back with such force that it landed ten feet away in a mess of bones and rotten skin. Nix leapt onto its back, and stabbed it twice. He got up, and looked round.

“I think we’re out of undead,” he said.

“For now,” said Raven.

Thunderpetal stood up straight, eyes closed, slowly breathing out, concentrating. Then, he opened his eyes and looked round.

“Is the big knight good?”

They walked over to have a better look. The knight was pulling bits of ghoul off him. The first thing they noticed was his sheer size. The second thing was the horns above his face.

“It’s a Tauren,” said Trixie, not putting away her sword just yet. Tauren were Horde. Enemies.

Raven flipped one of her daggers in the air and caught it. She grinned at the large bull-like creature.

“Steak! Thunderpetal, break out the barbecue!”

“Quality steak must mature,” said Thunderpetal. “He is too fresh.”

Thunderpetal put his staff on his back, walked over to the Tauren and bowed to him.

“Greetings, great being. My name is Léi-shēng Huā-bàn. What is yours?”

The Tauren picked up his war axe. Thunderpetal didn’t even blink. The tauren put the axe on his back. He closed his eyes, and bowed his head.

“Bydlo,” he said, surprisingly quietly.

“Here are Ni-chi, T’li-chi and Lei-huen,” said Thunderpetal, pointing. “Are you hurt? We are not healers, but I have a strengthening brew, and bandages if you need them.”

“I need no healing,” said Bydlo.

Nix looked up. “Hey. Where did a Tauren learn to speak Common?”

“My clan worked for the Druids of the Cenarion Circle. They deal with Horde and Alliance.”

Nix looked at the sun in the sky. “It’s getting late. We have to be getting on. Darkshire isn’t getting any fresher.”

“I cannot walk with you,” said Bydlo. “Walk with the Earth-mother.”

And without another word, the big Tauren turned round, and ran off into the forest. They walked back to where they had left their mounts, and got on.

“He didn’t even say thank you,” said Raven.

Thunderpetal looked thoughtful, rubbing his chin. He shook his large head. “He does not seem grateful to be alive. There is mystery here.”

Griggin allowed his daemonic form to fall away. The Daemon dropped from sight and the Circle of Binding winked out of existence. Another failure. These Terrorguards were the most powerful of Daemon warriors. They could be a great asset to the Warlock Circle. Sadly, so far their enthusiasm for killing the things Griggin told them to, was as nothing compared to their enthusiasm for killing the impudent mortal who had summoned them. Still. He now had another twenty methods of binding that didn’t work. That was progress, though it didn’t look like it to the average layman. Well, the average layman be bothered. Griggin sighed and crossed another few items off the list. He used a Chain of Light to bind his Felguard, Skurikraksha, affectionately referred to by his daughter as “the axe dude”. This Terrorguard had broken through that as if it was paper. If it hadn’t been for his Circle, then he would have been splattered all over his basement by now, followed by everybody else in Stormwind.

Griggin stretched, and leaned his desk chair back on two legs. If anyone would see him at work, they would probably want to kill him. There were many misconceptions about Warlocks. Most of those misconceptions looked amusing, but weren’t. Griggin sneered. What would be the most glaringly stupid thing? So many to choose from. Daemons being the Warlock’s friend, perhaps. Imps being comical little helpers. Griggin shook his head. One of the notions about Daemons stood head, shoulders, and indeed breasts, above the rest. Succubi. And now, Shivarra. Phoar. Look at the knockers on that one. Yes, you ignorant git. That’s what they’re there for. Distraction. The Shivarra could hold an enemy by mesmerising them with bright lights. Succubi went straight for the groin. Griggin had once met a Paladin woman in a fight against the Horde. Griggin had tried to warn her, but she had laughed at him, and the weak men who’d let themselves be seduced. A Horde Succubus, rightly perceiving her to be the greatest threat, had worked its magic on her. She had simply stood there staring, saliva running from her mouth, wetting herself. Griggin had blasted the Succubus’ form away with soul-fire, and the Paladin woman had continued fighting with her face red with shame, and everyone but Griggin laughing at her.

Griggin had sat with her afterwards, holding her hand, trying to convince her that it wasn’t her fault. A person’s sex drive, to the Succubi, was merely one of the avenues of attack. To the victim, it could easily touch their very identity. The Paladin woman had died in another place, another fight. Griggin had never found out whether she had been able to work through the experience.

Young miss Raven had been the victim of a similar attack, years ago, in Ironforge. Griggin’s apprentice had fallen, and tried to use Raven to kill his family. The attempt had failed, and Raven had bounced back admirably. Still, Griggin could probably remind her with a single word.

So many things about people’s minds could be used against them. There was a religious pacifist sect somewhere in the Hinterlands. Their commitment to non-violence was admirable. It is easy to be non-violent if there are soldiers there to protect you, but these people would not even allow others to fight on their behalf. The worst punishment they administered was simply to ignore the errant member of their community, to the point that they might as well be ghosts. Griggin could understand well what a terrible punishment it was. It deprived the victim of a basic need for companionship. Griggin still hadn’t decided whether a savage whipping would have been more, or less cruel.

Daemons, ignorant as they might be of all things that made people… people, things like mercy, laughter, friendship, and peace, knew all too well the things that would destroy someone. Hatred. Greed. Unchecked lust. Indifference. As a Warlock, Griggin’s mind was under permanent attack. He could block out the voices with mental techniques, even in his sleep. He would have gone insane long ago if he couldn’t. And still, every one of his moral values was being challenged in his every waking moment.

Griggin sighed, put away his book, and walked up the stairs. He needed some light.

“It’s dark here,” said Raven.

“That’s why they call it Duskwood,” said Trixie. After their encounter with Bydlo, she had rejoined the group. “The invasion of undead did something to the trees, or the grass, I think. It’s a kind of smoke.”

“I read about an assault of Orcs on a big city, said Nix. “Before they struck, they sent over a great big dark cloud, to darken heart and counsel.”

“Fat chance,” said Raven. “I like dark.”

“What?” said Trixie. “Dark things move, preying upon the careless and the innocent. There’s no telling what nameless horrors lie in the shadows.”

“Yes there is,” said Raven, with a grin. “Me.”

“You’re not a nameless horror,” said Trixie. “You’re more of a hiccups cure.”

Raven laughed, with a side glance at Trixie. “There’s only one answer to that.”

“Yeah? What?”

Raven maneuvered her ram closer to Trixie, then bent over to her.


They rode on along the road to Darkshire, a town that was once called Grand Hamlet, before all the trouble with the undead and worgen. Sadly, even though times were dire, the town had been thrown back on its own resources, due to Stormwind’s armies being drawn off to the conflict with the Horde. Because of this, the Darkshire Night Watch, under the capable leadership of Althea Ebonlocke, was happy with anyone who wanted to lend a hand. This included Warlocks, religious zealots of the Scarlet Crusade, and in one of life’s little ironies, a number of Worgen from Gilneas who had no objection to slaughtering their erstwhile brethren.

There was only one type of adventurer that they were happier to see leave than to see arrive. Luckily, they were a rare and specialised breed of idiots, who would happily do the bidding of an old mad hermit, gathering all kinds of ghastly ingredients for his great spell. Once, he lived at Raven hill Cemetery, a nasty, ghoul-infested graveyard in the West, until he was driven out by the Night Watch. Where he lived now, was a mystery, and anyone asking for a drink called Zombie Juice in the Scarlet Raven inn would find themselves very quickly in the presence of the Night Watch, being asked a few very serious questions.

It was therefore a bit of a disappointment to learn that someone had again seen fit to supply the hermit, named Abercrombie, with all the ingredients needed to stitch together the corpses of about a dozen fallen heroes, jolt it back into life, and send the abomination in the direction of Darkshire. It was in the resulting commotion that Thunderpetal, Nix, Trixie, and Raven arrived in Darkshire.

In the middle of the town square stood a large, large individual. The design had not changed much from the first. A cadaverous body wrapped in miles and miles of dirty linen, stitched together with ghost hair. It wielded a large cleaver in one hand, a sharp hook on a chain in the second, and some kind of club in the third. The Night Watch soldiers were charging in, putting in a few hits, and then quickly retreating as the abomination turned towards them. Trixie looked round the corner of the burning house they were hiding behind.

“We must help them,” said Thunderpetal. “The Path requires it of us, that we destroy the manifestations of evil.”

“Yeah,” said Raven, “No thanks. Did you see how hard that thing hits? The final body count is gonna be more favourable to us if the cute Human chick stays alive.”

Trixie grinned at Raven. “Scared?”

“A sound mind in a sound body,” said Raven. “And I like it that way.”

“Seconded,” said Nix. “Damn, I wish Dad was here. He’d have turned it into a smoking heap by now. I get hit once by it, and Spud’s going to be a pre-natal orphan.”

“I do not say that we should impale ourselves on its weapons,” said Thunderpetal. “That is not the way of the Tushui. A Huojin would be fighting it now, but careful consideration is foreign to them.”

“I’m going to rush out and hit it,” said Trixie.

“Attack pattern Omega,” said Nix. “I hate that one.”

“Huh?” said Raven, always the inquisitive one.

“Basically rush out, hit anything non-Steambender that moves until it stops moving. Scares the crap out of me every time we use it.”

Thunderpetal looked at the abomination fighting through narrowing eyes. “The creature can strike out in three directions at once. But it can only think of one target. We need to strike it all together, from all sides. The Chiu-man do it right, but they need more bodies.”

“Like I said,” said Trixie. “Come on! Hit it already!”

At that moment, there was a great bellow, and a thundering of hooves. Axe in hand, the massive bulk of Bydlo the Tauren rushed forward, and stamped on the ground in front of the abomination. He started to chop at it with huge swings of the axe. The abomination belched, giving off a poisonous stench. It swung round the hook-and-chain. The sharp hook caught on Bydlo’s arm, cut through and sent his axe, hand still grasping it, flying. Bydlo breathed in, and bellowed. With the blood spouting from the stump of his arm, he charged forward, grabbed the creature by the throat. He drew his great head back, then thrust it forward. His horns pierced the abomination’s face. It screamed, and its sharp weapons swung round, striking Bydlo’s arm and chest. Once more, Bydlo pulled back his head and pierced the abomination’s skull. With a final, disgusting noise, the abomination collapsed, Bydlo fell down on top of him. His legs moved feebly.

Trixie was the first to react. She sprinted forward. With a cry, Thunderpetal leapt to his feet and ran towards the fight. Dazed Humans stood around, not sure of what to make of all these newcomers. Thunderpetal turned over the huge Tauren with one jerk, untied the piece of rope he used as a belt, and tied it round Bydlo’s wounded arm. With a stray bone from the abomination as a lever, he tightened it. Then, he looked at the Tauren’s face, and he simply stopped and stared. With blood streaming from all his wounds, Bydlo was smiling, smiling with a joy that knew no bounds, tears streaming down his cheeks.

“Bydlo!” Thunderpetal shook him.

The Tauren laughed, coughed up blood, then laughed again.

“Not Bydlo,” he said. “Ketonga. Ketonga Firewind.”

The big Tauren whose name was not Bydlo looked at Thunderpetal. He raised his large, three-fingered hand to his neck, and pulled off a necklace. He put it into Thunderpetal’s hand.

“My friend, though I meet you at the end of my life, do this for me. My clan is at the entrance to Stranglethorn Vale. Show them this necklace. Tell them…” He coughed, and his eyes closed. “Tell them. Ketonga Firewind… fought to his last breath. Promise me this, Friend.”

“You have my word,” said Thunderpetal.

Ketonga Firewind’s chest stopped moving, and his face became still.

Thunderpetal looked up. A dark-haired woman wearing chainmail was shouting at a man from three inches away.

“And whose bright idea was it to hand this stupid bastard more zombie juice? Why are we even carrying it at the Raven?”

“Because it is the world’s most powerful antidote to the curse, as well you know! Want me to pour it down the sink? Fine by me, but then don’t come whining to me when you’ve got a really bad hair day.”

“From now on, everyone, everyone asking for…”

Thunderpetal stopped listening, and looked at the necklace in his hand. It was a leather thong, strung with wooden beads. Simple but elegant carvings were on a central plate of ivory. He stood up.

“Friends, we have a job to do.”

Raven peered out from some shrubs next to the road. She pulled back to rejoin the group.

“Ten of them. Three warriors, two Shaman, Three Druids, and two hunters.” She looked at Nix, raised her hands and wiggled her fingers at him. “Human numbers. The missing ones are eight and nine. Learn them. Love them.”

“Only good for counting money,” said Nix. “That’s a traditional raiding party. No mothers with children, not enough hunters for gathering meat. Thunderpetal, are you sure you want to do this? If things turn nasty, we can’t do much.”

“I am on a peaceful mission,” said Thunderpetal. “I bring news of Bydlo.”

Trixie looked worried. “It’s a Horde war party. If they see us, they’ll splat us. You’re Alliance too, remember?”

“They cannot see that by my face,” said Thunderpetal. “I must go.”

“Right.” Nix rummaged in his pack, and produced a pair of goggles and three dark metal globes with a Big Red Button on top. One of these, he handed to Raven.

“Smoke bombs with an added bang. These are the ones with a four-second fuse. Stealth up. I’ll go left, you go right. Thunderpetal, walk in. If things go tits up, we’ll throw in the smoke bombs, and you run like shit off a shiny shovel. You won’t be able to see, so don’t forget where you came from. Raven? One, two, throw, duck, bang.”

“Got it. That’s a bit quick, though.”

“Used to make them with twelve second fuses. I gave one to an Elf once. Guess what happened?”

“Heh. Four seconds it is.”

Despite his confidence that he was doing the right thing, Thunderpetal’s stomach tied itself in knots when he walked up to the Tauren. His staff was in his hand, and he was leaning on it as though his leg hurt them. He was going slowly, to show he was a harmless pilgrim, not a threat.

One of the Tauren noticed him, and warned the others. The largest Tauren stood up, and raised his hand.

“Halt,” said the Tauren, or words to that effect.

Thunderpetal raised his hand, to show he had no weapons.

“I come in peace.” he said.

The Tauren snorted. “You come in peace, speaking the language of the B’taq.”

“I am Pandaren,” said Thunderpetal. “The quarrels between To-luen and Chiu-man do not concern me.”

“So you say. What do you want?”

“I bring news of one of you, named Bydlo.”

At this, several horned heads turned to him, with none too kind expressions on the bovine faces, as far as Thunderpetal was any judge. Thunderpetal produced Bydlo’s necklace and gave it to the Tauren leader.

“He is dead. Before he dies, he tells me his true name is Ketonga Firewind.”

“Ketonga…” one of the other Tauren spoke up, but the leader silenced him with a look.

“First thing, Pandaren,” said the Leader. “Unless you are looking for a fight, do not call any Tauren Bydlo.”

“He calls himself that,” said Thunderpetal.

The leader shook his head. “In Taura-he, Bydlo means ‘Cattle’. This is not a good thing to call a Tauren. Unless you wish to die.”

“Then why does he call himself Bydlo?”

We call him that.”

“Ketonga is big and strong. Do you wish to die?”

“Ketonga disgraced himself, and brought shame to the Clan. He was given that name as punishment.”

“How does he bring shame to the clan?”

“We sent him, and others, to the war against the Night-elves. Their orders were to take their position, or die in the attempt. But the Night-elves were aided by the Humans of Theramore, and they defeated us. All of our warriors fought to their last breath, as they had sworn. But not Ketonga. He surrendered himself. The Night-elves allowed him to live, and he came back to us. Then, we took his name away from him and gave him the name of Bydlo, for submitting like a senseless beast.”

The leader turned to his clansmen, and held up the necklace. “Ketonga Firewind has fought to his last breath. He fulfilled his oath. He shall be called Bydlo no more. Ketonga!”

In one voice, all the Tauren repeated the name. “Ketonga!”

The Tauren leader turned back to Thunderpetal. “Thank you, Panda-ren, for this news. Our clansman now hunts with the Ancestors.”

Thunderpetal looked up to the Tauren, shaking with anger.

“Stupid.” He pulled the reins for his riding tortoise from his bag, and summoned it. He got on. “Stupid,” he said again. “Stupid. Stupid! Stupid To-luen!”

And Thunderpetal let out the reins and his tortoise ran back towards Duskwood.

They caught up with Thunderpetal half way to Darkshire. This was the first time they had seen him this angry. Even when fighting, there was a sense of unshakable calm about him. Not so now.

Trixie pulled ahead of Thunderpetal, and waved. “Hey Fuzzball, what’s up?”

Thunderpetal’s gaze seemed to withdraw from a place of great anger, and focused on Trixie.

“They call him cow. Cattle, they call him. That is what ‘Bydlo’ means. And why? Because he does a sensible thing! He sees many Kel-do-lei and Chiu-man against him, and sees he cannot win. So he gives up. The To-luen blame him for living! I can see Ketonga is brave, strong, a friend to be proud of. He does not deserve this.”

Thunderpetal fell silent for a moment, staring in front of him with a fierce scowl, muttering to himself.

“There is a river in front of our house in Pandaria. In the river is a big rock. I sit on it and fish sometimes. The water can not flow through the rock. The water is not strong enough to wash the rock away. And still, strangely, there is water downstream of the rock.”

“It flows round the rock,” said Trixie.

“Yes! You see,” said Thunderpetal. “There is always a way. Back in the time of my ancestors, the Mogu rule Pandaria. They are big, strong, cruel. The strongest in all Pandaria, and they treat Panda-ren, and all other people, like… like playthings. Slaves. We Panda-ren are strong, but not strong enough. Then, finally, the Mogu come to our house, and demand that my Honoured Ancestor works for them. Give them all the crops in his field that he works hard to raise. So what does he do?”

Trixie raised a fist. “Kick their butt? Use his killer moves on them?”

“He kowtows to them! Bows to them, give them all they want, because they are too strong for him. Even if he can defeat these Mogu, there are many others, and he can not move his crops. He has to stay. So he stays, and lives. The Mogu take away our swords, and bows, and spears, and only let us have farming tools. And we grovel, and till the earth, until they think we are no more dangerous than worms.”

Thunderpetal took his staff from his back, and held it up for the others to see.

“This is my weapon. It is a good weapon, yet it is simply a stick. Do you know how many sticks there are on a farm?”

Raven laughed. “Sorry Thunderpetal. City girl here. I only realised when I was twelve that the pigs in my book, and the bacon on my plate were the same thing! Turned vegetarian for a bit then. Eating Mr. Porky was almost cannibalism.”

“So what turned you back, then?” said Trixie.

“Realising Mr. Porky was… delicious.”

Thunderpetal looked at the girls, seemed to calm down a bit.

“Shovels for digging. Pitch-forks for clearing out cow-dung. Flails for pounding the rice. Pokers for stoking the cooking fires. Some of these things, you can use as a weapon as they are. Some you can turn into a weapon in the time it takes to boil noodles. And the Mogu see us slaving for them, and they spit on us, never realising that we are an army, and a well-armed one at that.”

Nix slowly started to smile. “That must have been a bit of a shock.”

“We wait, and like the blade of grass can grow through stone, we destroy them. With swords made of plowshares, and the knowledge of how to use them. We beat them to powder with flails, stab them with pitch-forks. And now the Pandaren live, and prosper, and the Mogu are no more. And here I am.” Thunderpetal looked in turn at Raven, Nix, Trixie. “I travel in a beautiful world, with something wonderful round every turn. I eat good food, am with good new friends.”

Thunderpetal’s smile slowly faded. “If my Ancestor had fought till his last breath. Do you think I would be here now? I choose well, when I choose the path of the Tushui. I choose well to follow Teacher Aysa Cloudsinger. I choose well to join the Alliance, and I am blessed to have you as my friends.”

Part 8: Promenade IV


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