The story below is my second effort to write fan fiction using the voice of my World of Warcraft avatar Lotao and quest content in the Mists of Pandaria expansion. Numbers in parentheses refer to endnotes that link to the quests used; links within the story provide background information.
My fondness for Lorewalker Cho grows. We’re both seekers of wisdom, but our ways of going about it differ. I’m basically an explorer, learning through action and from experiences with the various peoples, cultures, and terrain I encounter. I joined the Horde expedition to Pandaria to see a new world – but not to see a new war. What was I thinking? Under the leadership of Garrosh Hellscream, whose overweening ambition and thirst for domination were always apparent, I should have known much blood would be shed. What no one foresaw were the horrors our invasion would unleash nor the Horde civil war that would erupt.
Even so, I don’t regret coming to Pandaria. Much beauty still remains, despite the sha-infested areas of the Dread Wastes and the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. But it’s the friends I’ve made that keep me here, notably Lorewalker Cho. His path to wisdom is much clearer than mine. Unlike me, he’s at peace with himself, comfortable in his own fur. He’s his own master and knows what he’s after – the wisdom contained in Pandaria’s past, especially that of his hero, Emperor Shaohao.
Cho initiated me into the wisdom of Emperor Shaohao, the last emperor of Pandaria. It was before the Horde civil war. I was traveling through Kun-Lai and stopped to rest and resupply at a small Grummle village right off the Burlap Trail. What luck! Cho was there, preparing to climb Mount Neverest, the highest peak in all of Pandaria.
Because Cho isn’t the sort to climb a mountain just because it’s there, I asked, “Why such a treacherous trek?” He replied, “The toughest roads often have the most to teach us…. I will no doubt learn a great deal from following the path of Shaohao” (1).
You see, on this peak 10,000 years ago the spirit of wisdom, embodied in the Jade Serpent, prompted Shaohao’s search for wisdom, the kind of wisdom that comes from conquering one’s own doubts, despair, fears, anger, aggression, and hatred.
When Cho asked if I would like to follow Shaohao’s path, I jumped at the chance, thinking I would accompany him. But first, he said, I had to prepare for the trek by working with Uncle Cloverleaf. The Grummles are known far and wide for their great skill as mountain guides, as well as for their belief that success comes to those who hold “luckydos.”
The preparation seemed absurd to me, like gathering incense, good-luck trinkets, and lost supplies. Whew! It took several days. And when I was finished, I learned from Lucky Bluestring that Cho had gone ahead without me and wanted me to follow – without a guide! – up the mountain path known as Seeker’s Folly, a dangerous trail even by Grummle standards.
“Why didn’t he wait?” I asked. Bluestring repeated Cho’s words: “The priest must endure the trek alone, with only her thoughts. She will honor each shrine before meeting me at the top” (2).
I packed a few supplies, accepted a couple of luckdos – a cloverleaf and a bluestring – and headed alone up the path. The first shrine, the Shrine of Seeker’s Body, was fairly easy to reach, but its wisdom was locked. I wasn’t about to quit. For one thing, this was the first meaningful quest I’d undertaken in some time.
But I was frustrated and wondered what to do. Hmm, “Seeker’s Body.” Cho said that I had only my thoughts; yet my body, not my thoughts, was growing colder by the second. I needed to keep moving and trudged on.
Reaching the second shrine wasn’t as easy. Strong whirlwinds spun furiously across the path. I avoided them by hugging the mountainside. Soon I approached the Shrine of Seeker’s Breath. It opened! “Finding peace within will allow you to see obstacles with reason.”
Sounded wise to me, but how does one find “peace within”? Cho seemed to know, but to reach him I had to honor all three shrines. I took deep breaths, seeker’s breaths, grew calmer, and mountain-hugged my way back to the first shrine – it opened! “Each bodily injury is a lesson learned. Each defeat, an opportunity to grow” (2). Was I growing in wisdom? Perhaps a little.
The hardest part of the trek was over. I found the Shrine of the Seeker’s Heart, opened it, and received this: “Wisdom can only penetrate a heart that is truly open to it” (2).
Am I open enough? Are my self-doubts closing me off? I’ve mostly overcome despair, rarely experience anger or hatred, am only violent by necessity, or so it seems to me, yet I have much to learn about overcoming fear and doubt. Fear and Doubt, these are my personal demons. “Not the time to think now,” I told myself. “Cho is near.”
And there he was at Seeker’s Point, bending over a shrine, engrossed in preparing a new task for me, one that would include violence in an attempt to keep the Mogu and Zandalari from resurrecting the Thunder King (3). Oh my, I really didn’t want to get involved in that. I was hoping for more lessons in the wisdom of Shaohao. Clearly that would have to wait.
Quests used to tell this story:
(2) Seeker’s Folly