As she handed the last of the re-stolen vegetables to Farmer Yoon, Kamalia felt a sudden burning sensation on her forehead. It flared intensely for a second or two, then faded away.
Puzzled, she rubbed at the spot.
“Are you okay?” Farmer Yoon asked. “Your eyes turned red there for a moment. Come, sit down.”
He prodded her up the stairs, into the house, and onto a chair, then bustled around making up some ginseng tea while Kamalia tried to figure out what had just happened.
As he handed her the steaming mug, Farmer Yoon’s gaze fell on Kamalia’s mace. He frowned at the deep black gem glimmering on the pommel, and, shuddering slightly, hurried back outside.
Then Kamalia remembered. Only a few days after the Black Prince had given her that gem, she had visited him again with the news of the arrival of the Horde and Alliance warfleets on the shores of the Krasarang Wilds. He had received it with a rather childish degree of glee — but then again, she supposed, he was still very much a child, especially as dragons age — and challenged her to prove to him that the Horde was worthy to be the ultimate victor in the ongoing strife with the Alliance. Then he had done something entirely unexpected…
Without warning, Wrathion sliced his thumb and pressed it against her forehead. His blood burned to the touch, but rapidly disappeared into her skin.
“There!”, he said, “My eye is upon you, shaman. I am watching.
The Pandaren, like the Horde, value the concept of “Valor.” There are many ways to prove yourself valorous on this continent, from daily tasks to the defeat of heroic enemies within their lair. I will let you choose your own course.
Prove your bravery to me!”
That had been nearly three months ago. Much had happened in the interim. Blood and oil soaked the sands of once-pristine beaches in Krasarang Wilds. Pressured by Warchief Hellscream, the Sin’dorei had helped him obtain a dangerous ancient mogu artifact — costing the Sunreavers their neutrality — and the Horde’s foothold in Dalaran — in the process. The young Prince of the Alliance, at once wise and brave and very foolish, had destroyed the Divine Bell. It had collapsed on top of him. Kamalia did not know his fate, but she hoped that he had survived, somehow. At this worst of all possible times, the Shado-Pan reported that the ancient mogu hero, the legendary Thunder King, who had been stolen away and resurrected by the Zandalari trolls at about the same time as the Horde and Alliance first arrived on Pandaria, would soon return to his full, terrible strength. While the Warchief continued to press the battle with the Alliance in Krasarang, the displaced and utterly outraged Sunreavers took this matter into their own hands, hoping to show the Shado-Pan that at least some of the Horde were interested in honorably helping. Kamalia had helped them secure an outpost on the island where the Thunder King’s stronghold was located. She’d spent most of the last month there, fighting trolls and mogu and mogu and trolls and occasionally some saurok and more trolls and more mogu, until finally the way to the gates of the palace itself was cleared. She had carefully stayed out of the sniping between the Sunreavers and the Kirin Tor, who were leading the Alliance’s effort to aid the Shado-Pan. She had a handful of keys to the palace treasure room that she hadn’t yet mustered up the… greed to use. And yet.. and yet… after all of that, it was completing a simple task of service, one that Kamalia had done many times before and would probably do many times again, that had apparently been the final “proof of bravery” that Wrathion wanted.
Kamalia carefully placed the empty mug with the rest of Farmer Yoon’s dirty crockery, and, smiling, went out into the garden to tell him that everything was just fine.