Shadow word: Hate

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Shadow word: Hate.

Things have taken an ugly turn for Zavessa. What started out as a frolic in strange lands has been tinged. Tarnished. The light is turning grey. the light is fading … But first things first.

She was carefree and adventurous as she hit the shores of Pandaria, striking out against the Horde near Paw’don Village and later as she took part in what SI:7 refers to as “Peacekeeping educational needs among indigenous Pandaria races”.

Wich, in the cold, hard light of reality means – arming and training a paramilitary force of Jinyu and eventually use them as tokens in a war with devastating effects. Zav (as someone called her) didn’t take part in the battle at the Jade Temple, she was far away by then, but she heard the rumors. She did however use her mercenary expertise helping a poor, defenseless village against a marauding gang of bandits. It was unavoidable. As she stopped on top of a small hill and saw the orchard burning and mogu on the rampage, well …

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Something stirred inside her. She killed way more mogu than necessary. She trapped some of them in shadowy tendrils, spoke the word – and then she just stood there. Watching them die. In pain. Just like Marion, the harpy queen. It was supposed to be a bad – almost shameful – memory, but something terrible stirred inside her.

The villagers were more than grateful. They invited her to solve some other problems in the close-by village of Dawns Blossom, but Zavessa politely declined. Her interest was ghost iron. Most of her time as a “contractor” for the Alliance in Jade Forest was spent mining. Exploration of the area was a mere bonus. During her travels across the Jade Forrest she even made a friend. A gnoll, down on his luck, decided to stay close to her. Either that or get beat up by “advunt’rues” as he called them. Poor Martar. Zavessa felt bad for hitting him on the snout until he dropped his spyglass. She took him under her wings, made it to the Shrine and told him to stay there. Last she saw of him, Martar was sniffing the air close to the butcher, muttering “grrr … fresh meat!”.

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Her prospecting for ghost iron eventually took her to the Valley of the Four Winds. It was about that time she thought it would be a good idea to visit Halfhill. After all, “the Dead One” – her sister Zavannah the Death Knight – lives there.

Zavannah wasn’t home. There was however a farmer – for some reason called Yoon – who pleaded for help. The Yoon family must be a big one. All of Zavessas sister has encountered a struggling farmer named Yoon … strange that. Must be a pandaren thing.

This is where some things started to change. This is where the carefree adventure started to turn ugly. No doubt she’s spent countless sleepless nights in the makeshift Shado Pan camps dotting Towlong Steppes, wondering if Halfhill was the moment everything changed.

It wasn’t even something big, something epic, something distatrous. It wasn’t a Big Bad turning up in a cloud of smoke. It wasn’t a world destroyer. It wasn’t even the Horde.

It was the Tillers.

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Oh, she knew people like that the second they opened their mouths. Oh, she knew what they would say. They’d sneer, laugh, snicker, puff up their chest just like the elders who once teached her the way of the light and chuckled when she questioned some of their teachings. “Silly girl, this is how it’s always been”. She knew them allright. There’s an ancient eredar word for people like that. It translates, roughly, to – “bastards”.

Yoon had problem with unbudging rocks. Zava helped him; mining all that ghost iron ore had really given her the right swing for unbudging rocks. They had barely disposed of the rubble when the rabble showed up. Snickering. Leering. Laughing. Suddenly she understood why Zacannah had “settled down”. It wasn’t about carrots. It wasn’t about scallions or other crops. It was about – justice. But maybe … something more terrible.

Vengeance.

The carrots turned out pretty good, though. Farmer Yoon promised to keep an eye on the farm. After all, more important things than carrots are out there. The Alliance (or so I imagine) was pestering her about reports of this and that. Her travels turned out to be of the uneventful sort. Most of the time was actually spent mining. She spent more time on horseback – erhm, gemmed pantherback – than running through adventures. She did go through some “mercenary stuff”; dungeons, that is. Mogu’Shan Palace is quite nice if you take your time to notice the details. All in all the journey from 85 to 88 was … rather boring. Kun Lai was rainy; the one day it didn’t rain a porcupine tried to eat her.

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Things heated up in Towlong Steppes. She was off to a rough start, falling off the great wall and barely have time to deply her goblin glider. Once she landed she was – more or less – lost. It took quite some time finding a grumpy Taran Zu. By the time she found the Shado Pan she ended up right in a pitched battle.

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Taran Zu suggested 8 would be an approriate number. Just how field commanders decide such things is a mystery. Zavessa met her quota – and then some more. Then … things changed. The war became emotional. The “contract” became personal. By the pricking of a thumb …

The osuls murder of a pandaren prisoner of war must have been the catalyst that set terrible things in motion. A routine mission – disturb the enemy, free prisoners, disrupt communications and artillery – turned into something far worse.

She enjoyed killing.

Maybe Taran Zu understood what was happening, maybe not. It was hard to read him, face hidden under a wide-brimmed hat and all. She couldn’t forget the shrieks of grief … the murder. The widow – the widow of vengance. The widow of hate.

Zavessa could relate to that. Sure, she was young and far away in other parts of Draenor when Shattrath fell, when Karabor fell – but she knew what happened. Like all draenei know. She knew what price there is to pay if hate becomes all-comsuming. She also know that sometimes … sometimes the light isn’t enough. That mercy, as her sister Vassannah puts it, is an option.

There was no mercy for the Osul.

Her trek further into Towlong Steppes – not far from the frontlines – was swift. As she reached her destionation, an abandoned – slaughtered! – osul camp, dark things stirred in her mind. Words of pain, thoughts of justice, of mercy, of vengeance, of hate. The work of a grieving pandaren widow. Zavessa was eventually tasked with putting the widow out of her misery. She finished the contract, to the letter. She didn’t think much of it, to be honest. That night, she had a dream. She woke up screaming, sweat covering her body, heart racing. As is the case with many nightmares she couldn’t remember all of it – just … one thing. The words of admiral Taylor: “This land tests us!”.

Oh – she remember one more thing, darkness. Embodied darkness. Corporeal hate. That’s when she woke up, screaming, gasping for air. Just a nightmare, of course. Nothing to worry about. A nightmare before Winterveil … but the light has dimmed. It’s not just the beckoning missions in the Dread Wastes that weighs her down. It’s something more.

She stared into the abyss – and the abyss was herself.

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