The End of Zhishi
- -by Zhishi
The Spirit of the Tauren ElderEdit
"Ohhhhhh Blink... so shiny" Zhishi breathed, staring upward. Her gaze followed the shaft of shimmering light down to rest on the Tauren Elder.
"Eek! A cow! Hide quickly Blink! HIDE!!!"
The tiny gnome struggled to simultaneously pull her giant hammer from its place on her back and coax the faerie dragon into the safety of her pack.
"You're not going to hit me on the head with a stick and take Blink away and put him in a cage are you?" the gnome demanded fiercely, brandishing the hammer and blazing fury from deep blue eyes.
The Elder recovered from the initial shock enough to speak in a deep and (he hoped) comforting voice. "No, child, no... I am a friend, an Elder charged with protecting this land."
Zhishi stepped back, lowering the massive hammer. "Blink... are cows supposed to talk?"
The Elder rolled his eyes, but decided to let that one go. As he began to drone the speech he was sure he could now give in his sleep after the multitude he had previously greeted, the girl crept up cautiously, extending one pudgy finger out to touch the ethereal Tauren. Her gasp of surprise, followed by a frantic waving of her hands through the Elder's midsection, cut the usual speech short.
"Really now. That's undignified."
"But... but you're not REAL!"
"Of course I'm real. I'm an Elder charged with..."
"You already said that, but you're not real! See!"
At this point the tiny gnome was rapidly jumping back and forth THROUGH the elder at a dizzying pace, chased by her fluttering dragonling.
"Child... child... really now... stop... Oh, for Light's sake."
With a sigh of resignation, the Tauren reached into his satchel and brought forth the coin. "Look! This is shiny AND you can buy pretty dresses with it iin Moonglade!"
This stopped the gnome in her tracks. "Ooooh." A tiny hand reached up and grasped the coin, blue eyes studying it... "But why is the coin real and you're not? And why is the sparkly light shining on you? And what color are the dresses? And where..." The gnome looked up at this point toward the Elder, but the Tauren had somehow managed to fade into the moonlight.
"Wow, Blink... I wonder if there are more not real people with shiny lights and coins... we should find them! Let's go!"
The tiny gnome hopped lightly on her Mechanostrider and tore off at full speed, dragonling fluttering behind her.
From the moonbeam came a deep sigh. "My poor comrades. Light help us. What have I done?"
The Spirit of the Dwarven ElderEdit
The dwarf stood, arms crossed, glaring at the approaching gnome girl. How had he been talked into this? Be a protector, the elf said. Manifest yourself for the Lunar Festival, the elf said. There'd be booze, the elf said. There was booze, sure enough, but he wasn't likely to enjoy it in his present ethereal state. Watching the living quaff mugfuls and light up like fireflies it only made him feel more grouchy.
"Greetin's young gnome, I am an Elder pledged to the..."
He stopped short, sputtering, as the tiny gnome strode forward purposefully and unceremoniously stuck her hand through his belly.
"See Blink? He's not real either."
The dwarf blinked. "Beggin' yer pardon?"
"You, Mister Dwarf! Just like the cow. You're transel... transloo..."
"Translucent?" the dwarf offered.
"Yes! And also not there."
"I'm right here, ye crazy gnome" the dwarf shot back.
Zhishi cocked her head at the dwarf, then stepped through him. "See? Not real."
"I'm as real as you are. How 'bout ye take yer coin and be off?" the dwarven elder grumbled, proffering a coin and again silently cursing the elf that talked him into this.
The girl started to reach for the coin, then snatched her hand back. "Last time Blink and I wanted to ask questions but the cow went away as soon as we took the coin. Can we ask questions first please Mister Dwarf?"
"NO! Take the dern coin!" the dwarf thundered.
"But... but why is the coin real and you're not?"
"'Cuz I'm the spirit of an Elder, which means I can't get a blasted drink an' I have silly little gnomes like you askin' me questions all day long. NOW TAKE THE DERN COIN!!!"
The tiny gnome's eyes widened, filling with tears as her lower lip started to tremble.
"Oh, fer... There there lass. Don't be cryin'. I didn't mean it." The elder reached a hand out to comfort the girl, then, realizing his current state, dropped it again with a muttered "Blast."
Zhishi sniffled a bit then composed herself. "So... why IS the coin real and you're not?"
The dwarf sighed, then brightened a bit with the dawning realization that this was his big chance.
"Tell ye what, lass. There's an elf, he's an Elder like me, see? An' he knows the answers to ALL your questions."
"All of them?"
"All of them. Even things like why the grass is green an' the sky is blue."
The gnome's eyes widened, this time in wonder. "Reaaaally?"
"Sure does. And don't ye be lettin' him tell ye otherwise." The dwarven spirit leaned forward and whispered a location and a name in her ear, then leaned back, smiling widely.
"Wow. Thank you Mister Dwarf! I have so many questions..."
The dwarven elder tossed her the coin. "Best get goin' then lass! Time's a wastin'!"
He chuckled as the pair sped away, his mood significantly improved by sweet revenge.
That would teach that blasted elf.
The Spirit of the Elven ElderEdit
"Well, the gas molecules in the atmosphere scatter the blue component of the light of the sun, which causes the sky to appear blue." the elven elder said, a feeling of panic starting to grip harder at his heart as the questions continued to fly. How long had they been at this? The blue eyes of the gnome girl at his feet gazed intently into his own, hanging on every word.
"Molly-cule? I know a dwarf priest named Molly."
"No... molecule. Tiny pieces of matter that make up everything."
"Really? Even me?"
The tiny gnome looked down at her hand, peering at it intently. After a great deal of squinting, she returned her gaze to the elf.
"I don't see any molly-cules."
"No, they are too small to see."
"Then how do you know they are there? And how do things get made of them? And how many are there?"
The elf rubbed his brow a bit with one ethereal hand. "Are you sure you don't want to just take this shiny coin? You can buy more pretty dresses."
"Ohhhh no." The girl's face set into a very stubborn look. "The cow tricked me with that one, but I won't let YOU trick me too. Mister Dwarf said that you knew everything about everything, and I have LOTS of questions before I take the coin and you disappear on me. Isn't that right Blink?"
The elf raised an eyebrow, which, as anyone who has seen an elf knows, is no small feat. A dwarf, hmm. He knew his fellow elder was disgruntled but THIS... this was unconscionable. Someone was going to get a talking-to. Assuming, of course, he survived the current experience. Meanwhile, the font of questioning was continuing to spout unabated.
He tried his best look of fatherly concern. "Aren't you getting tired? Maybe a little hungry?"
"I'm fine. I had cookies. With SPRINKLES! And lots and lots of sugar so I won't be sleepy for a long time. Why is the grass green?"
"Well, light from... and the chlorophyll, and er... I mean... A wizard did it!" the elder sputtered, fending off what felt like an attempt by his brain to claw its way out of his skull in response to the dashing of his final hope of reprieve any time soon.
"Where did the mountains come from?"
"A wizard did it."
The gnome paused momentarily. "Was it the same wizard?"
The gnome pondered the elder for a moment. "He must be really busy."
The elf tried to hide his look of sheer relief. "Well, he's mostly done now I think."
"So about those molly-cules..."
"Wizard. Like so many other things."
"But how did the wizard..."
"I'm not sure. You would have to ask him" the elder replied, confidence and sanity returning.
"Wow. Do you... do you think I could meet him?" Zhishi asked, eyes wide with wonder.
The elf thought for a moment. If he could just delay her until the end of the festival... of course!
"Well, I don't think he's taking visitors these days. Have you ever been to Dalaran?"
"Ohh, the pretty bubble thingy?" the gnome asked, excitement in her voice.
"Oh yes. That's where the wizard lives. If you want to meet him you'll have to find a way inside the bubble."
The girl pondered that idea for a moment.
"Okay, Mister Elf. I will go see the wizard! And then I will come back and tell you so you can really truly know everything like the dwarf said."
The elder forced a smile, mentally counting the days left in the festival. "Oh, absolutely, you do that."
Zhishi hopped aboard her mechanostrider. "Big shimmery bubble with no door.... Blink, I think we're going to need more explosives."
The elf slumped gratefully as she sped away. That dwarf was going to have some explaining to do. At least the tiny gnome wouldn't be able to get through the bubble protecting Dalaran. Really, there was no way she could get through it. He was certain. Okay, he was pretty sure. He... hoped.
Nixx Sprocketspring, Master EngineerEdit
Nixx Sprocketspring, Master Engineer of the Goblin Experimental Engineering Korporation, pondered the tiny gnome with a look of poorly concealed alarm. Though the guild preferred getting more gold over restricting membership to a certain age, he was beginning to question the wisdom of that policy.
"A larger bomb, you say."
"Yes sir!" Zhishi exclaimed enthusiastically. "A really really REALLY big one."
"The just plain "Big One" is insufficient then?"
"'Fraid so Mister Master Engineer Sir."
The goblin engineering master pondered this a moment. "I don't suppose you would mind if I asked why you need this?" he asked, in a voice a bit more high pitched and screechy than usual with nervousness.
"We're off to see the wizard!"
"The wizard?" the goblin looked perplexed now.
"Yes! The wizard who lives in Dalaran."
"Because... because of the wonderful things he does!"
The goblin was utterly confused at this point. Noting the blank stare, the girl continued her explanation.
"Blink and I want to know all sorts of things. Like why the sky is blue and the grass is green and why dwarven flightmasters yell "Keep your feet on the ground" right after they toss you on a griffon."
"Alright," said the goblin, digesting this slowly. "But where does a wizard come in? And, more importantly, why would you need a really big bomb for that? Not that I'm at all opposed to the use of explosives, for commercial use... and for recreational use... and, well, just for the heck of it... but I'm not getting how the two are connected. Simple version... daylight's burning."
"We talked to a see-through elf, and he said... the wonderful wiz... the wizard, HE is... the one who did it."
"A wizard did it." The goblin paused for a moment, collecting his thoughts. "Well, I suppose that makes sense. But why the explosives?"
"Because we need to get into Dalaran to see him. Inside the big shiny bubble."
"The bubble is really hard to get into so we need a BIG BIG bomb."
"Well," the goblin engineer said slowly "There IS a bigger bomb. But, it won't be easy, and I'm not entirely sure it will work."
The gnome's face set in a resolute expression. "Blink and I have come this far. We won't give up now. Not when we're so close."
The goblin sighed and continued. "First, you must find the very rare Dark Iron Ore, which only surfaces near and in Blackrock Mountain. Then, you must find a way to smelt it. Then, as legend has it, deep inside the mountain live weapons technicians who hold the secret to..." his voice lowered to an almost-whisper "The Dark Iron Bomb."
"Ohhhhhhhh" sighed Zhishi, enraptured. "Do you think they will tell me the secret if I ask nicely?"
"Perhaps if you ask nicely with that big hammer," the goblin suggested.
"Thank you Mister Master Engineer Sir! Blink and I will go find those plans!"
The goblin cast a sideways glance at Lil' Smoky as the gnome scampered out of sight in the bustle of Gadgetzan. "What?" he demanded. "Don't look at me that way. There's a chance she'll survive it. Time is money, friend. She was wasting far too much of my time." He sighed, then screeched a bit more confidently. "I'm sure she's tougher than she looks. She's a full fledged Goblin Engineer! And she'll make it! You don't think I'd send one of my engineers out without thinking they could do the job do you? I'd lose the membership fee!"
Master Engineer Nixx Sprocketspring gazed with some concern at the rattling Lil' Smoky. He'd never seen smoke look... skeptical... before.
((with apologies to those who will have the song playing in their head the rest of the day. ;) ))
The End of ZhishiEdit
"There is nothing I can do, little sister."
Zhishi smiled softly, reaching a withered and wrinkled hand up to brush the tears from the still young and smooth face of the priestess leaning over her. "We knew this would happen, sister. We knew that you and Zhi would still be young long after I had grown old and turned to dust."
Zhiwu blinked hard, trying to hold back the tears. Zhi reached across the bed to put a hand on her shoulder, though her eyes, too, were shining with moisture.
"Remember when you were so worried because I was too young? When I ran off for adventure and met Blink, and you travelled the whole of Azeroth looking for me to bring me back home?" The tiny gnome's giggles turned into a rasping cough deep within her chest that left her gasping for breath. The dragonling nestled in her long silver hair spilling over the pillow raised his head in alarm at the sound, then nuzzled the wrinkled face of his master with concern.
Zhi smiled. "We were beside ourselves. But, you managed to take care of yourself, then and for the many years to come."
"And now it has come full circle, hasn't it. Dear sisters, you were always there to help me. I sometimes think that it wouldn't have been all that difficult to catch me had you truly been trying." Tthe gnome's blue eyes, still sharp in her advanced age, twinkled merrily. "But, this is something you won't be able to catch me and bring me back from. Not with your Light," she smiled at Zhiwu, then turned her gaze to Zhi "or with your Nature. This is the way of things, even for you elves, now, and I leave having lived days full of adventure, and excitement, and laughter." Her voice softened. "And love. There has always been love. You have been the best sisters anyone could hope for, and my only regret is that in leaving this time, your hearts will be sad, and I won't be able to write you letters to reassure you that I'm doing fine."
Tears flowed freely now from the eyes of both elves. Zhishi raised her aged and trembling hand and lightly stroked the dragonling beside her. "Take care of Blink please. Make sure he gets plenty of melon juice. I still think he will grow into a big, strong dragon one day." She smiled at their nods and sank back into the soft pillows. "Perhaps Elune will let me send moonbeams." Her eyes closed with a final, contented sigh.
The sisters looked at each other silently, then walked through the house, past the scorch marks from countless experiments, past the large hammer that had fallen into disuse of late, past an impossibly small set of armor, and out the door. The night was cool, and the sky was filled with a million twinkling stars. Shining above them all was the moon. Tonight, it seemed the goddess was smiling.
"The stars that shine brightest burn out the fastest," Zhi whispered, putting an arm around the priestess.
"Elune will keep her until our days run out as well," Zhiwu replied softly.
"We will see her again."
The two sisters stood silently, gazing into the brightness of the full moon, feeling its beams carressing them lovingly. A tiny dragonling darted around them, irridescent wings flashing as it seemed to be playing old games with the soft light. For perhaps the first time, the two elves pondered the fact that losing one's immortality had its benefits.