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Kexti

Red Lightning

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“You are not performing your form correctly,” said the pandaren, Fong. Kex’ti seethed, and swung the butt of his staff upward, aiming for the other monk’s solar plexus.

Fong stepped backward, out of the path of the attack, and threw his entire bodyweight behind a palm strike. The blood elf’s nose broke, and Kex’ti reeled backwards, bringing a hand to ward his face. The panderen expected the elf to yield. He expected the monk to bow, as others had.

When the Wandering Isle had sent the Huojin and Tushui envoys towards the end of the Cataclysm, they had spread hints of Pandaren culture like petals drifting on the breeze. Ephemeral, transient, and easily missed.

 

The Wanderers continued to wander across Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, and set up small encampments among their new Horde and Alliance allies. One of the simplest arts they passed along were the teachings and traditions of monasteries remembered only in ink and word, stories of a continent lost in the mists.
 

But the memories and stories endured, and teaching farmers and warriors alike the virtues of meditation and unarmed combat translated beyond one’s race. Indeed, many of the people the Pandaren reached out to could relate to the monastic traditions of the Pandaren; the Forsaken and humans had orders of knights and priories to the Holy Light; the tauren had their druidic circles, and the blood elves would cling to any hope of calming the ever-present itch at the back of their minds.
 

Fong expected this elf to be much the same as the others. The elves, particularly the sin’dorei, practiced the soft arts well, thought the monk. They could reflect, and they could show discipline. But they would never truly master the hard arts. Their bodies were frail, their thoughts alien to the tranquility necessary to truly be masters.
 

To a one, Fong had found the trials easiest against elves. It wasn’t to say they weren’t capable. Just that so much of their technique, and so many of the “new” developments they brought to the Broken Temple were glamour rather than substance.
 

One good hit was usually enough to put them down. Fong was Tushui, and knew only a little of blood elven culture. What he learned he had heard from a quel’dorei secessionist. The picture the high elf painted was arrogant and vain.
 

Disdain huffed the monk’s black nose. At least the orcs and dwarves bothered to master some of the fighting. They attempted to be masters. They saw glory, and they saw opportunity, and they saw what it was to be a monk.
 

The blood elves wanted something to distract them from their addiction to the arcane. That the urge was mostly abated by the Sunwell was little known and of less value to Fong.
 

Fong was disappointed. So many pandaren, Huojin, Tushui, and Continental, could have been invited to the Wandering Isle. So many lost opportunities.  Elves like this one were invited. So much wasted space. Pathetic.
 

Kex’ti lunged back in, and was met by Fong’s guard.
 

***
 

The elf first broached the subject to Baern Grimtotem. The pair sat in oak chairs in the Filthy Animal, a skin of whiskey flaccid between them. Their cups rattled each time they lifted them to their lips.
 

“I have been invited to the Wandering Isle,” he said. The pair had been discussing Baern’s induction into the Valarjar, the elite warriors chosen by the Titan Keeper Odyn. A small hint of a smirk rattled and died at the corner of the monk’s lips.
 

“Then why don’t you go?” Baern asked in as many words. Kex’ti had waited for that question. And he did not have a response.
 

He made up a satchel for the journey. He packed and unpacked his cooking equipment, pondering if it would be met with open arms or with disregard. He reviewed scrolls and form diagrams he had all but crumbled into dust with his obsessive smoothing and study.
 

It was not that he doubted his ability. Not really. He knew he had mastered his stances and his strikes, had the countless scars and calluses to prove his dedication to his style. His combat record, too, reflected this.
 

But monks were not plentiful, not in his experience, at least. His lot for comparison was near to nonextant.
 

And he wondered why he had been invited. Why were the monks gathering? He supposed the only way to find out was to go. He smirked to himself as he climbed aboard one of the cloud serpents corralled at Krasus’ Landing. His own, Shou-Kara, would wait behind.
 

He gathered his cloak around himself, patted the serpent, and tried to doze. An hour later, he opened his eyes, and peered through the cloud cover.
 

He smelled, over the sea, the mixture of many smells. Kex’ti gaped, taking it all in. The island itself was a massive turtle, its flippers and head rising and falling in the slate grey waves miles off the Broken Isles.
 

As the serpent wheeled above and descended down to a clearing near the center of the turtle’s back, the tinge of fel met his nose, along with the clean trees and herbs of Pandaria, blended more still with the overwhelming aromas of food. Heat shimmered from a village that had been converted almost wholesale into an open kitchen.

Near the massive temple, students of hundreds of disciplines engaged in duels. And among them walked venerable Pandaren, obvious even at a distance that they had forgotten more about the martial arts than Kex’ti could learn in his remaining lifetime. He grimaced at the though, and swallowed down a cough.

 

The cloud serpent landed, dust whirling around the current that guided and suffused the creature. A pair of acolytes immediately began speaking to the monk in quick, dialectic Pandaren. Even after a year on the Continent with no other language to hear, Kex’ti still fumbled over the euphemism and tonal notes.
 

“Om nom?” asked one of the acolytes, a pandaren man with stark white fur and black rings around his eyes.  


“Nom sze om,” said Kex’ti. The acolyte seemed confused and nodded, and helped remove Kex’ti’s belongings from the serpent. The pandaren paused, and spoke again, slowly, placing emphasis on the way the O’s left his mouth.
 

The monk blinked, and nodded, bowing his head gratefully. He smirked, even still, drawing a neatly narrowed gaze from the attendant. Try as he might, Kex’ti could not get the tic to subside. Choice words in Thalassian crossed the monk’s mind.
 

He dismounted, carefully, and used his staff to steady his stride. The limp was apparent, but not incredibly obvious.
 

It was noticed, thought Kex’ti. He closed his eyes, inhaled, and raised his head high, speaking amicably in Pandaren--Huojin Pandaren--to the duo who aided him with his things. It would be impolite to not accept, he knew, and the conversation’s initial brusqueness gave way to something more honest.
 

“Certain am I not to why here I have been invited,” he said, thinking carefully over the words. “Pardon. I am not certain to why here I invited I have been,” he attempted.
 

The second pandaren, similar in most respects to the first, save that he had dyed the longer hair on his head to a vibrant purple answered. They were hesitant to give him their names, for whatever reason.

“The Order of the Broken Temple was formed to bring together monks of as many styles and backgrounds as was feasible. Any who might have something to contribute against the fight against the Legion,” said Purple. Rings nodded.

 

“Yes. The council of Grandmasters wanted to see what had happened to the teachings in the wake of of the diaspora.”
 

“So they just invited everyone that drew anyone’s attentions…” Kex’ti asked.
 

“Ah, not so simply,” said Rings. “It is also to collect and...gather the information people have made about monastic styles.”
 

“For salad? Pardon, for grouping? For....”
 

“Collection,” said Purple. “Just in case.”
 

Kex’ti nodded, grimly. “I see. Is the council of Grandmasters that pessimistic about our odds?”
 

“Not quite. It is also to make certain that those who have mastered a style or discipline are rewarded accordingly.”
 

“Wait,” said the monk, pausing his steps. Around the three, Pandaren chittered and droned, while pandaren and other races mixed and talked amongst themselves, demonstrating strikes and stances. He almost lost track of his thoughts. “Does a master not get to make those choices? For their disciples?”
 

“Yes, but the Order of the Broken Temple wants to provide an extra standard, so as not to lose the techniques of the ages. It is very precise, and incredibly exacting to meet their standards.”
 

Kex’ti nodded. “I...think I understand.”
 

Satisfied, the pandaren took him towards the Temple of Five Dawns. “You are a Serpent initiate, yes?”
 

Kex’ti blinked. “I have learned quite a bit of Serpent teaching, but in truth I am much more of a Crane adept.”
 

The pandaren shared a glance. “So you have learned a bit of Tiger style? What temple?”
 

“The Crane temple in Kun-Lai,” Kex’ti said. The two shared another glance.
 

“Ah, to the Crane grounds, then. And what of Ox style?” asked Purple, scanning the monk’s figure. “You don’t look typical for an elf.”
 

Kex’ti hobbled along, the scrolls and tomes on his staff fluttering. He smirked.
 

“I suppose that is true,” he chuckled. “I did study a bit of Ox style. All of the styles connect somehow, yes? Ox and Serpent both focus on leaves.”
 

“Leaves? Oh, medicine?”
 

Kex’ti nodded. “It was a lot of work, but pandaren martial arts...well, elves using them is newer than the arts being made for them, right?”
 

The pair nodded in agreement, and led him through a red archway. They left him with his satchel and armor, and he hobbled in, looking about.
 

He drew occasional glances. He coughed and took a pull from his jug.


Kex’ti sat down next to a jinyu and a night elf. The Jinyu was dressed in simple black robes, and was, to his estimation, a woman? No, a man. The aura failed to give it away in either respect, not that it ever did. The kaldorei sipped at some ginger tea.
 

“Hoi, friends,” Kex’ti said. The two gave him a cursory nod. “How do you fare?”
 

The others turned towards the sin’dorei. “Well enough. How goes the Horde’s fight with the Legion?”
 

Kex’ti gripped his leg. “It is slow progress,” he said. “And the Alliance’s?”
 

“Considering we lost our High King, and the new Commander of Forces…” began the Jinyu. The night elf glared, but his expression softened, and he sighed.
 

“Suzu, hush,” said the night elf. “What happened at the Broken Shore and our current factional leadership is inept on both sides, for many reasons. We should focus on what is happening here, today.”
 

The Jinyu looked into Kex’ti’s eyes, noted his waiting disagreement, then looked down to Kex’ti’s tabard. “Sanctuary? I’ve heard of you.”
 

The Pandaren language flowed between the three as they waited for what happened next. Tea was shared, and for a brief moment, Kex’ti’s heart soared.

A stern, young Pandaren woman emerged from the temple at the end of the courtyard. Her robes were fine, if used, and her gaze was calculating.
 

She refrained from any magic. Instead, when she spoke, the voice echoed throughout the court. “Crane adepts,” she began. “I am Number Eight Aiko, Shado-Pan and Crane Master.
 

“Our world, our way of life, faces an unprecedented task ahead of us. It is not an orcish menace that stands before us…” she said, looking over the crowd, “...But the extinction of all life. Do not take your summons here lightly.
 

“The council of Grandmasters has convened in an attempt to gather the various splinters and techniques developed from the original four styles. While many of you are Cranes, so many of your teachings have not come according to the original trainings. This is just as well, as we are more than what we were when the original sects were born.”
 

She nodded. “Crane adepts are unique among the four styles. We strike hard like Tigers. We heal like Serpents. And we are more than willing to defend our allies like the Oxen. But we are bastions too of hope. And no matter who we once were, the Red Crane watches over us, as we must watch over our allies, no matter where they reside: Before us, behind us, or at our side.”
 

“The Legion comes. We must have hope that we possess the skills, together, to overcome them. In the days to come, we will find out how this is possible.”

Edited by Kexti
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It began with a test. A duel between practitioners, and studied by masters and scribes. Fong fought, and he recovered, and he fought. The pandaren had learned at the feet of Chi-Ji himself, and had studied the celestial over years of practice, learning his stances and jabs and kicks without fault.
 

He wove the mists easily, and the pooled within him, giving additional strength to his already formidable form.
 

And then he was paired with Kex’ti. The elf was graceful, Fong would say. But the amount of brute force and low cunning the monk employed, consciously or no, told him all he needed to about the white-haired elf.
 

When Fong spoke, it was not out of derision, but merely to help his sparring partner’s form improve. Not that it ever could rival his.
 

Or another pandaren’s, thought Fong.

It disappointed him, how little the new monks could bring. Especially not one from a backwater monastery, who fought as much or more with cheap tricks and dirty hits than fluid technique. This opponent’s attacks were jagged. His forms were all sloppy. They flowed together somewhat correctly, but they were all imperfect. Journeyman, certainly. But they were the sweeps and weaving of someone who had learned it wrong, and had been so ingrained with the incorrectness that even an expert couldn’t remedy it.

 

Fong parried the elf’s attack, but was surprised when Kex’ti’s leg took his feet out from under him. He rolled easily out of the path of the falling heel Kex’ti attempted to hit him with, and responded with a brief invocation.Fong’s chi focused jade mists, and burned red as he shaped them into an avatar of Chi-Ji.
 

The crane stood at his side, and he felt his fighting spirit rise. Perhaps the elf didn’t warrant a full response. Fong was being observed, though, as was Kex’ti. What better way to provide a contrast between a true master and an amateur?
 

***
 

“You are doing it wrong,” said Tideriel. “Follow your sister, Kexerian.”
 

He was following her hand motions and wording perfectly. But just when he thought he’d done it exactly, Kex’ti would see his father’s mouth twitch, just a little. Maybe he learned more from that than he did from his attempts at arcane magic.
 

The smallest of arm movements. The most rigid, or most fluid of wordings. He understood it, or thought he did, but for whatever reason could not make it work. And throughout, all he felt was sick.
 

Eventually, the attempts to instruct him stopped entirely.
 

***

“The purpose of these sparring matches isn’t to see who is the best or most ideal master of our style. It is about seeing how the techniques have diverged and developed among so many splinter disciplines.”

 

Kex’ti never felt very smart. Clever, or insightful at times perhaps. But he never had the same talent for book learning or abstract concepts that Tesonii or his sisters did. But he knew how to try things and wasn’t afraid to take risks.
 

When Augustus Krowne had met with him in the lobby of the inn in Silvermoon, he had been willing to sell everything and travel as wandering arena fighters. Kex’ti’d accepted experimental potions to bring his strength up, and to make him feel better. He’d loved, and he’d fought, and he’d journeyed and lost because of his recklessness, or his curiosity, or something inbetween.
 

When he had learning at the Kun-Lai monastery, he focused more on the somewhat familiar herbal medicine and anatomy lessons that all mistweavers learned. But he worked hard at mastering each and every elbow sweep and the accompanying backstep, the way a jutting hand depended on a turned forearm for defense; Kex’ti never felt very smart. He felt tenacious.
 

Perfection was prized among most of the monk disciplines. But Kex’ti’s life was never perfect, and he tried to focus on what he could do. His body wasn’t as tall or stout like the monks who developed Crane style. His mindset he could adjust. But he knew that there were limits to what he could achieve in trying to emulate.
 

So, for a year, he threw himself and his imperfect forms at better trained students. And slowly, he began to win, and if nothing else, the strikes and sweeps and spells became consistent, and just as good. The results he wanted, he got. And it did not go without notice.
 

***
 

The Pandaren’s avatar leapt between injured monks as he honed it down to his own chi. Chi-ji stood at the monk’s side and mended his injuries.
 

Kex’ti assumed his stance, dropping his hips low and holding his staff in a short guard before him, his other hand held low and back at his waist, waiting, and gathering air in his chest.
 

Fong left the avatar to heal him at his back, and lunged for Kex’ti, his strikes too heavy and too fast to fully deflect. He turned more aggressive still, trapping the elf’s staff between the pair, using his knees and elbows to hammer at the monk.
 

“Your attacks are imperfect, your defenses subpar...Why are you even here?” asked Fong.
 

Kex’ti merely held the other monk at bay. He waited. He thought. And no cogent response came.



 

Edited by Kexti
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“Scout Dalendala, why don’t you help out with the mission in the Borean Tundra?” asked the orc, the wolf-fur on his armor at odds with the war wolf at his heels.
 

“Has that area not been scouted already?” Kex’ti asked, a bit confused. He had been in Northrend for months, and wasn’t a first responder by any means. He had come to Northrend to see Remiaan, and while it didn’t always work out, he got to see her far more often here than he would on Outland, or in the Arena circuit.
 

“We need persistent reconnaissance,” said the Lieutenant-General, glancing down at a scroll in his gauntleted fist.
 

“With all due respect, sir,” said the elf, “I believe I can do more good on the front lines. In Icecrown.” He flushed, a mixture of embarrassment and frustration rising to his clean-shaven face.


“And I believe you would do more good in Borean Tundra. Issuing timely reports is important for any tracker or any explorer…”
 

“I have been relaying all relevant information as it is needed to be relayed.”
 

The orc stared, and took a deep breath. He stopped petting his wolf, and set the paper down on his chair. He stood.
 

“Your health has also been an issue. Since the Wrathgate, you haven’t been passing medical checks. This doubtless ties into your consistency of reports.”
 

Kex’ti was stunned, and tried not to let it show. The commander’s eyes locked on his, as he tried to formulate a version of the truth that would let him slip loose from this.

 

“I have been...having to cope somewhat on my own as far as medicine goes.”
 

“It’s easy to disregard the Forsaken after what Putress and that bitch Sylvanas did but--”
 

“I do not think it was the fault of the Forsaken at large--” started Kex’ti. The orc’s mouth hung open, his tusks jutting upward. The wolf growled low in his throat.
 

“--But there are plenty of medics who can address your needs. Vanishing into the fields, not reporting, and returning increasingly unwell is a liability at best and treason at worst. I suggest you pack for Borean Tundra.”
 

Kex’ti exploded.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Would you rather we risk our forces in lost battles, or would you rather have one scout dispatch them silently in the night? The Scourge don’t rest, and I don’t need to move with a group. I don’t need to be watched. I don’t need help, I need to be let loose. In the Arena, it was often I was alone…”

 

The orc stared, and sighed. “Pack your things. Go to Borean Tundra, and take the zeppelin back to Orgrimmar. You are dismissed, Scout Dalendala. You had a chance to learn your place, and it looks like that’s off the battlefield. Go back to the Arena, if it pleases you. But the Horde cannot afford disobedient combatants. ”
 

***
 

“Why are you so angry?” asked Yuting. The pandaren woman asked him as they sat late one night. Kex’ti had been sparring, and had not fared well. “If you can control your anger, you could control your chi better.”
 

Kex’ti coughed, and Yuting punched him in the shoulder. Hard. “And take your medicine on time. You lack discipline,” she said.
 

The elf scowled and exhaled, then closed his eyes and nodded. “Maybe.”
 

“That does not answer the question I asked you. And listen to your sifu. She only wants what’s best for you.”
 

Yuting was a Serpent adept, and while she could certainly fight, she much prefered healing. She had been Kex’ti’s closest friend in Kun-Lai, and over the past six months, had taught him much about chi, geomancy, and the art of bending life energies as a mistweaver.
 

Kex’ti took another deep breath. “Why do you think I am anger?”
 

“Angry,” she corrected, “It is one of the easiest things to read in an aura.”
 

“The only person I am anger--angry--at is myself. I do not understand why I cannot make faster progress.”
 

“You cannot solve your problems in a day...or run away from guilt.”
 

“So now I’m guilty? Why would I be guilty?”


She put her hands in her lap, and inhaled. Normally, Kex’ti would expect her to exhale, but somehow Yuting managed to absorb the breath, or at least let it out so slowly Kex’ti didn’t notice. She said nothing.
 

“People do not come here because they are happy, Kex’ti. Not if they are not from Pandaria. Do you find that strange? Those that are most likely to draw the sha come here. Whether it is pride and the desire to be powerful, or fear, or something else, those who come to the Temple do so to escape.”
 

He looked at her. “Then why did you come here?”
 

She laughed. “To brush up on what I learned as a cub.”
 

“I do not understand how you can so easily go from sad to laughing.”
 

“Life is laughter. If you don’t laugh, you give rise to the sha, do you not?”
 

“I...suppose so.” He looked across the pools below, steaming in the setting sunlight. Roars and screeches from the Isle of Giants echoed up the mountain.

The two were painted pink orange by the dying light.

 

“I guess I feel ashamed. That this is supposed to make my life better. But I cannot even do it well.”
 

“I think you do fine,” said Yuting. “Is that all?”
 

“But the others…” He shook his head, either to her question, or to his own doubt.  
 

She shrugged. “Worry about yourself first. You need to focus and calm your chi before you can worry about theirs.”
 

“I do not know how.”

“And that is why you’re learning here.”

 

***
 

Fong’s attacks battered the elf, who could barely put up a defense. He focused and tried to gather the mists into himself. Kex’ti tried to separate the damage inside himself from the healthy, and to align his chi so that his tissues and injuries could idealize themselves, so they could mend, and mend quickly.
 

He hadn’t gone where he’d gone and come away uninformed for it. Kex’ti dispersed the negative chi building in his body and repelled Fong with a bluish ring of defense. In the circle, Kex’ti wove the mists, summoning a spirit avatar of his own. He had been familiar with invoking Xuen after intensive practice, but had never tried to incarnate Chi-ji...Nor had any other monk in his memory. But it had just been done.
 

The white energy he had condensed burned red, and sprang into a hazy outline of a crimson crane. Fong was taken aback.
 

“Sloppy,” he spat. Kex’ti raised his guard as the crane tended to his wounds, and Fong passed through the circle, its effectiveness diminished by time. The pandaren would beat him, sapping his mana down, and the elf knew he didn’t have a great deal to spare to begin with.
 

Kex’ti swung his staff in a feint. Fong raised his arm in a wing stance to block it. Kex’ti drew the staff back and drove the flat of his foot into his opponent’s waist, driving him back.

Edited by Kexti
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The rogue’s ankle twisted as he fell back in the dirt. The kick had worked, and the vrykul before him struggled to catch his words and cthnonic syllables back in the shape of a spell. But Kex’ti was in trouble. His second dagger was embedded in the wood of the cliffside dwelling, a remnant from his long drop from the ravine above.

Empty air to his left. To his right, an angry vrykul allied to the Lich King. He made his choice, and the elf spilled a sack at his waist into his palm. He threw the clump of white powder at the vrykul before him. The man yowled as he tried to scrape and cough the itchy dust out of his eyes and mouth.
 

Kex’ti looked up and wondered if he could scramble to the other dagger, and looked down at his ankle.

It could be worse, he thought. He grit his teeth, and vaulted himself back to his feet, biting down a gasp as he put his bad foot down. He sprinted towards the giant, and drove his dagger upward, leveraging it from his waist into the runecaster’s ribs.

 

The daggers had come as a prize in one of his arena fights. Not a particularly memorable one save for the weapons, but he liked using them. And there was something wrong about keeping just the one.
 

The rogue’s charge barreled the vrykul back towards the cliff, and a slug of the elf’s fist propelled the giant, dagger and all, backwards into the ravine. This one had been a sentry, but there would be others. He quickly pulled some frostweave from his field kit and made a makeshift splint with his boot.
 

***

Fong chuffed and came forward, drawing a shortsword. The sheen of the living steel weapon blinded Kex’ti.

 

If the elf was going to use dirty tricks, why shouldn’t I? Thought the pandaren.
 

The light shining in Kex’ti’s eyes would’ve distracted him. But some cheap tricks worked on monks. Some of them didn’t. He focused his senses, and followed Fong’s aura. The red of anger, the bright pink of passion. To say that Fong didn’t care wouldn’t have done the other monk justice. He did, Kex’ti knew.

But emotions had to be controlled. Either by yourself, or by your opponents. Kex’ti didn’t consider Fong a foe, not really. A threat? Perhaps. Few others fell into that category, mostly out of caution rather than any real concern on the monk’s behalf. Rorrek was one. Awatu, another. People who Kex’ti could not see himself fighting, but neither could he see befriending.

 

Fong’s blade sang through the air, the mists guiding his strikes. Mistweaving among crane initiates involved focusing on both the external arts of healing, and the internal arts of qinggong. Using the mists allowed one to surpass physical limits and fight with greater endurance than one would imagine. Pain could be dulled, reflexes heightened. It wasn’t the longstanding training of wearing plate mail or the practiced incantations and summonings of others; but it could bridge the gap for a time.


Fong’s strikes continued onward, the monks dancing in and out of the melee, their feet crossing, their arms jutting out to break offensive maneuvers, the staff and sword clanging and twisting. Sloppy or no, Kex’ti’s modified forms worked for him. He wouldn’t win. He knew it, Fong knew it, and most observers knew it.

But he wouldn’t go down without a fight.

 

***

The human had caught him by surprise. Not in ambush, but merely that it was the first he’d seen another non-pandaren monk out in the world. In the thick of combat in Ashran, he could spy glimpses and glances of unusual fighting styles, and occasionally the distinct green lightning and mists of other healing monks.

But this monk was not a healer. His armor was more cloth than leather, and barely padded. And the power he could draw from his strikes, and the aggressiveness of his stance painted him as a tiger adept.

The tiger adept’s strikes were quick, and deadly. Kex’ti had to roll and transcend more often than not just to catch his breath and mend his wounds. As the duel continued, Kex’ti’s medicine managed to keep his mana flowing. And eventually, the crane began to win. The tiger refused to yield. Kex’ti didn’t plan on killing him...But leaving him badly wounded might send a better message.

 

With a quick series of palm and finger strikes, Kex’ti released his chi into the other monk. As a crane, Kex’ti never learned the tiger technique of the karmic touch. By aligning one’s chi with another’s, pain suffered by a monk could be transferred whole cloth to another. It was a difficult technique, but one that was almost essential to fragile, but nimble, tiger adepts.

But the dim mak, the death touch, caused resonance in the target’s lifeforce, and dealt monstrous damage after its application. It required a focused mind and a weak foe; used too soon, the dim mak’s destructive effects would bounce back into the user.

 

Tiger adepts, among all monks, were the most dispassionate. They could focus their emotions, and clear their minds to unleash their powers. While all monks could do this to some extent, most needed their emotions to draw on.
 

Kex’ti channeled a moment of rage, and left the tiger shattered.
 

***

He was not prepared for the same technique to be used against him. The elf could no longer dodge, no longer slip away. He bent his will and the turbulence roiling inside of him towards resisting the hostile invasion of chi.

 

But this technique was different. It still manipulated life energy, but was not designed as one final blow. Fong was doubtless the better monk, and had adapted the dim mak to something new and superior to its original form.
 

In all his many battles, Kex’ti had seen one single person shrug off a death touch: the orc rogue, Gnarrdog. The fight ended regardless shortly after, but it was a singular moment. Kex’ti knew he could not repeat the feat. He had a few seconds to go, and took a deep breath while he waited for the pain, or worse, to hit.
 

***

Kex’ti took months before he could walk again. Remiaan’s last act had been to shield him from the collapsing pavilion at the Argent Tournament. With each step, he’d remember her. It chilled him more than any night he’d spent in Northrend. Without invitation, each itch and fork of pain would be accompanied by her smile, her smell, or the ripple of her hair in the wind.

 

The only running he could do was away from the memories, and the cold. He left the formal Horde Offensive, his record one of failed efforts and disobedience.

He went to Ratchet, and tried to forget. But even when he ran deeper into the dark, he was not content to simply stay still.

 

***

Fong and Kex’ti watched each other, gauging the elf’s reaction to the dim mak. It coursed through his energy, painlessly at first, and the elf did his best to chase down the chi and expel it. It tore at him, splitting apart the balance of generating and consuming force in his essence.

Kex’ti assumed a stance. He only had a few seconds left. And he smirked.

 

***

The Nightmare oozed into Sanctuary’s guildhall. The relics collected there, the magic the guild relied on, all beckoned it like moths to a flame.

 

Kex’ti had encountered it, and the dreamless sleep he experienced in the wake of his own attack by the Nightmare was more peaceful than he’d had in...months. Kex’ti never slept well, not since the Cataclysm, and the unspeakable company and acts he’d participated in.

The guilt was never truly washed away, the blood on his hands stained too much to remove, much like his oft-quoted metaphor about teacups. But he managed it. He tried to do better.

 

Chi, as Kex’ti understood it, was related to the elements that shaman could draw upon, and as elemental spirit, could be used to manipulate life itself. To him, mistweaving was about aligning the current state of one’s body with its idealized, pain and damage-free form, and bending the difference away, like smoothing out a wrinkle.
 

It touched the Emerald Dream, elemental spirit did, in some way. And throughout his experiences with Sanctuary, he’d faced his own fears, and the fears of others, more times than he’d like to admit.
 

The Nightmare would find something new to take from him, as it always would, in a world of infinite, horrific possibility, it doubtless would find a fault or crack to pick at. But Kex’ti thought, for once, he could take something back.
 

***

He felt the energy separate, waiting to crash together. The flimsy avatar Kex’ti had summoned faded as he drew what spare energy he could from it, and he focused on the pathway the dim mak traced through his limbs. His discipline had taught him to focus his chi, and to commit fully to the acts he set out on.

 

In this case, not dying would suffice. He reached into the stain within himself, into the miasma of the touch of the void on his soul, and let the corruption into the small gaps of separated chi. What he prepared himself to do would not be undone, and it would change the way he could mistweave, perhaps for the worse. The corruption, the pain and doubt and mistakes and loss and errors that hid in the corners of his mind and spirit were set loose.
 

He released a lance of lightning at Fong at the moment the dim mak would have finished its reaction inside his body. The beam singed the pandaren’s fur, and knocked him to his back, ten yards back. The pain brought Kex’ti to his knees regardless, and he raised a hand in surrender.
 

The other crane adepts stood by, and murmured amongst themselves. The chroniclers and masters looked on, processing what happened.
 

Kex’ti had come to learn, to have anything he’d develop be recorded and evaluated by the true masters of Crane style. It was a simple discovery, albeit one that could be replicated. Even though it was simple, even though it had more an impact on Kex’ti than it would on other mistweavers, even though the technique had likely been practiced by others, he had chipped a sliver into the new disciplines taking shape on the Wandering Isle.

He made red lightning.





 

Edited by Kexti
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About us

The Twisting Nether Gazette is a role play forum for characters on the RP-PVP servers Twisting Nether and Ravenholdt.  We have been active since November of 2005, a few months after the Twisting Nether server originally went live.  Our purpose is to provide a safe and inclusive environment where role players can meet and interact with each other, and, of course, post their amazing role play stories, art, bios, and journals.

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