Title: Open Arms :: Krasarang
Character/Pairing: The Rogue meets Lorewalker Cho. Be prepared.
Rating: Pretty much good for everybody, yet again.
Summary: Patch 5.4 has just gone live, but our players are not yet ready.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…
Disclaimer: All these people live in a computer game owned by Activision and Blizzard. NPC names are specific to the Wrath expansion. The one I play is mine in my mind only.
This one was the hardest of them all to complete. A lot of words have been lost by the wayside to get here, and a great deal has changed as a result. I would like to thank Scott (that’s what we call him now) for undying effort above and beyond the call of duty. It all gets pretty weird from this point onwards :D
Tiny lights bob on the water, points of brightness in the gathering gloom, memories of those who left this land and travelled afar, explorers of past and present. He watches them drift, carried apparently without direction, but understands that the tide will drive them, their destination reassuringly predictable. They will wash up at the Alliance structure that invades this sanctity, an alien outcrop in the beauty of a land that never asked to be helped by human hands, but got it anyway. They never asked to be harmed either, but after 10,000 years of self-imposed exile perhaps both were an inextricable part of a conflict seemingly without end.
For the first time since he arrived in Pandaria, Crais is lonely, truly lost. He has come to try and find calm in his personal chaos amongst the people for whom stability seems easier to locate than for any race he has encountered- yet he cannot engage with any of them. Their good grace and warmth in the face of almost constant disaster is something he simply cannot grasp: there is no anxiety in their natures, and he does not understand why. He has felt compelled to sit alone, to watch the lanterns in a desperate attempt to maintain his equilibrium, to hide his disquiet.
‘I sense a troubling fear inside you, Master Assassin.’
Loremaster Cho has been watching him for some time, but has taken his leave from the throng by the Wanderer’s Shrine and now stands beside Crais, serenely challenging him to meet his gaze.
He is nine years old and more afraid than he has ever been in his life. His mother lies in his arms, her life ebbing away- he has finally silenced the source of their fears: his father will never again raise a hand against them. Joseph knows he will be judged, but a part of him understands this is right, that the truth will save him. He wishes he had more time to love her as she is now, calm and serene, not frightened and cornered, but time has run out. He finally understands that the moment is what matters, her words coalescing in his mind. ‘Take every opportunity as it arises, because there may never be another chance to do so.’ Death scares him more than anything he has ever known.
The Rogue understands the importance of the moment. His response, like everything else, is a carefully-timed reflex.
‘I carry many fears, Loremaster. Which one do you see?’
‘This is a man who is alone and does not wish to be, yet this is a human who comes to lose himself whilst surrounded by those who would happily be his friends.’
Crais stares at the Panda, into eyes that don’t reflect his uncertainty. Of all the natives he had met, even the great Chen Stormstout, this man was the one he felt he most connected with. Cho’s understanding of the past, its significance to the present, the continued desire to understand what was happening around them- and yet in this all there was something about him that the Rogue could not place. A sense of mystery not deliberately created, but undoubtedly present. In those regards, they were much alike.
‘I have lost a friend. I don’t know how to find her.’
His honesty hurts far more than he is comfortable admitting, even to himself, but the truth needs to be spoken, to be given a form outside of his mind. He knows about the argument in the Keep between the Dwarf and Sky Admiral Rogers the night before, more by luck than planning. Although he’d be reprimanded for engaging stealth inside Alliance buildings he is grateful for the ability to vanish when it comes to her. Events had come to a head far quicker than he had expected, but that was beyond his control. Garrosh’s destruction of sacred ground, the disappearance of Taran Zhu, the need to explore further into the Vale for answers. He cannot do this alone. He needs P back in Pandaria.
‘Perhaps there is a reason she does not wish to be found?’
He is fourteen, and wants the ground to swallow him as the girl kisses him tenderly on the cheek. He doesn’t crave what she does, he needs a friend. Not to hold hands, but to fight battles. He is most comfortable with daggers in his palms. He never worries about anything when he does, except the desire to win. When he fights, he is complete and without fear.
The Rogue accepts that emotion must never cloud his judgement. However much he cares, his mission remains the priority.
‘I believe she needs my help. I wonder if I have made a mistake.’
He knows why she has disappeared, the words Randall pressed into them all after Mirrie’s death in Northrend making sense just a moment too late. He’d told them all never to hide, but she believed that to survive she must retreat, conceal herself away from everything. Crais wants her here to mock his lack of finesse, his inability to charm under pressure. Then he’d respond by pressing her to acknowledge his skill in communication as well as his understanding of the both his own and the opposite sex, a skill at which he is infinitely more accomplished than she will ever be: a fact she had begrudgingly begun to admit.
He just needs her beside him, because without her the fight has less meaning. Then again, she is abrasive and frustrating, a constant and persistent irritant. She argues and cries far too often for his liking.
And yet, when she picks up a gun, something happens that Crais cannot explain, brilliance that diverts all of the wrong into something so perfectly right he is often left breathless. It is a dance he has learnt with her, the effortless grace and finesse of a woman whose biggest skill is also her greatest failing. She was born to hunt, but finally the demands of that profession have bought her to her knees. Her heart and soul, perpetually in conflict, have fractured her mind.
Cho’s response is reassuringly predictable when it finally comes.
‘I believe you know the answer to your own question.’
The Loremaster is right, as Crais suspects is most often the case. He doesn’t care about the negatives. He never has. He needs to remind her that she isn’t alone, that conflict is a feeling they both share.
He is seventeen and the woman is dead, killed by a common thief for three gold coins. His relationship and their future has been shattered, destroyed by greed. He cannot control fate, his destiny is out of his hands. He swears to himself that he’ll never love again, but he knows it’s a lie he’ll always tell if the moment allows him. Deep down, he still craves something better, an understanding not bound by flesh. A connection to a kindred soul. A mind as frightened of the unknown as he is.
The Rogue wishes fate didn’t exist, but he knows there must be some events beyond his control. He cannot fix everything, however hard he tries.
‘I am truly sorry for the conflict my people have bought to your lands.’
The apology is nothing, he knows, simply an afterthought, but it needs to be said, especially to Cho. At this the Panda’s face breaks into a smile and his paw touches the man’s arm, a brief acknowledgement of his understanding.
‘Neither you nor the Dwarf are responsible for what has happened here. You will both carry the guilt, regardless of this fact, and this is what makes you as noble as you are. You may not feel like heroes, but I would choose to disagree.’
The fur on his arm connects Crais to the moment, to the Vale. These people are in danger from our actions, regardless of the reassurance.I must redress the wrong the Horde’s errant leader has wrought on their most sacred place. We must restore balance to these lands.
He didn’t come here to be told what to do, because he knows what must be done. She is a fugitive in her mind and that motivation will drive her differently, but she won’t run far… because she’ll be hoping deep down he will come and find her. Not because she’s after a happy ending, and certainly not because its the right thing to do.
All her friends have gone.
He understands that for a long time she has remained alone and afraid and those are emotions the Rogue grasps- far too tightly, every day. In his life he has sought out many people for countless reasons: love, respect, lust, guilt, responsibility… but like the Dwarf, friends never quite stuck. The constants, the companions, the comforts in moments like this. The real reason for living.
His motivation for saying yes when she first asked him to join her.
The scroll that sits in his pocket was given to him by Proudmoore. She had known his desire better than he had himself: sometimes, it takes an extra step to change a direction. This Panda understood all about journeys, and why his race needed to leave their homes, to make a difference. To change the future into something better.
‘I was alone, Loremaster, and briefly lost. Not any more. Thank you.’
‘Your apology was unnecessary, but is still gratefully received. When she is ready, return her here. I know this land still has lessons to teach you both. I am sure I have much to learn from you, too.’
The longer he stays here, the harder it could be to find her quickly, and he wants her back. Her team needs her too, a fact he is all too aware of, and he can use that as ammunition if required. If he’s clever he can grab a space in the last Portal back to Stormwind before the day is done. He’s not been to the Slaughtered Lamb since Mirrie’s wake, but he knows that’s where she’ll start- that the beauty of the past still exists in her memories, and that’s where she’ll have escaped to survive.
He needs to find her so they can start again.