“Good morning, Miz Kaumaleia!”
“Good morning, Andi.” Kaumaleia waited to hear which of the Tillers the boy thought she ought to appease today.
“You know,” said Andi, “I’ve been thinking. I’ve got it pretty good living here with Uncle Yoon and all these great folks here in the Heartland. But there’s a lot of orphans here in Pandaria who don’t. Even without you outsiders and your silly war, there’ve always been the mantid and the yaungol and the saurok and the hozen… There’s an orphanage in Dawn’s Blossom, and you’ve been so nice about helping out around here that I think you should go see if you can help them out, too.”
Orphan Matron Mai-Lin scowled up at Kaumaleia. “I guess you’re not a yaungol — your face is all wrong.”
“No,” Kaumaleia agreed, “I am not a yaungol. I am a taunka from Northrend, as far to the north of the world as Pandaria is to the south.”
“Hmph,” said the Matron. “Well, it’s about time one of you outsiders took some responsibility for the consequences of your actions. The massacres at Pearlfin Village and Grookin Hill and the battle at Serpent’s Heart left a lot of young jinyu and hozen family-less and homeless.” She looked over her shoulder at the youngsters peeping curiously around the door- and windowframes of the orphanage building, and though her face softened, they all ducked.
Orphan Matron Mai-Lin considered for a moment, then walked into the building, motioning for Kaumaleia to stay outside. Through the windows, Kaumaleia could see monkey-like hozen and fish-like jinyu tussling in a way that strongly reminded her of the wolvar and gorloc children at the Dalaran orphanage. She watched as the children settled down in the Matron’s wake. The Matron selected one of the older-looking hozen, briefly spoke with him (or her? Kaumaleia had difficulty distinguishing the males from the females), and then brought the child outside.
“Bonzo is almost old enough that soon it will be time for him to leave the orphanage and decide what he wants to be in the world. Perhaps you can help him with this choice.”
Bonzo gazed up at Kaumaleia with complete awe for a few moments. Then he grinned and asked, “Can I ride on your shoulders?”
“Of course you may,” said Kaumaleia, dropping to one knee and holding out a hand for him to climb up.
Orphan Matron Mai-Lin smiled. “I think you two will get along just fine. Oh, and don’t mind the gloves. He’s a bit… pugnacious, but they’re all he’s got to remember his family by.”
When Kaumaleia asked Bonzo where he wanted to go and what he would like to see, he thought for a minute or two before replying.
“Didja hear about how Ken-Ken the hozen monk cured Zhu’s Watch of the super-sads?” he said at last, “He trained at Tian Monastery, up on the next big mountain to the north of Dawn’s Blossom. They’ll teach anybody — pandaren, hozen, slimy jinyu, even strangers like you! Maybe I could be a monk, too… Let’s go check it out!”
“Wow, I didn’t think being a monk would be so much work! But I’ll do the work if it means I get to eat all that great food!”
“Some hozen don’t get along very well with anyone. Some hozen get along great with everyone… well, everyone that’s not jinyu.” Bonzo paused for a moment and made a face. “Anyhow, some hozen get along so well with pandaren that they work with them on their farms. I heard that there’s a hozen in the Heartland who has his own farm! His name is Chee Chee, and he raises sheep! I wanna visit him and find out how he did it. Um, does it, I guess?”
“Lookit all those frikfraks decorating Chee Chee’s house! Toldja he was important. Are you gonna help him save his sheep from those Kunzen hozen? They sound like they’re the kind that don’t get along with anyone.”
“I know, I know!” Bonzo exclaimed, “I wanna be a pirate! The Matron doesn’t let us have parties at the orphanage very often, but pirates have fun parties all the time! There’s some hozen pirates that hang out at a place called Unga Ingoo. It’s one of the islands that surrounds the Nayeli Lagoon off the coast of Krasarang Wilds. Can we go to a pirate party?”
“That would have been a more fun beach party if those pirates weren’t so mean… Can I keep the Golden Banana?”
Bonzo looked pensive as they returned to Kaumaleia’s lodgings at the Lazy Turnip.
“You know that hozen tribes have two chiefs, right?” he said. “A hunting-chief and a legend-chief. My Mam-mam was the best legend-chief Grookin Hill ever had! I miss her stories. The Matron tries, but she doesn’t tell a story nearly as good. You know who might, though? The pandaren have a great legend-chief, Lorewalker Cho, who lives in the library at Mogu’shan Palace. I wonder what kind of stories he tells about hozen?”
“Hahaha! That was a great story! I will have lots of good stories to tell the others at the orphanage now!”
As they left the Seat of Knowledge, Bonzo jumped around Kaumaleia excitedly, tugging at the edges of her armor.
“I was gonna ask if we could go visit Emperor Rikktik’s Tomb, but then I thought of something even better! The Timeless Isle has come back, and the Monkey King is there! The Monkey King! From the legends! Oh, can we go see him, please-please-please?”
“I bet the Monkey King always talks in riddles like that because he is so wise. Emperor Shaohao was lucky to have a hozen for his greatest friend!”
Kaumaleia asked Bonzo what he would like for a treat before he went back to Dawn’s Blossom. The young hozen looked around, then began vigorously sniffing the air.
“Noodles!” he cried, bounding off toward Noodle-Maker Monmon’s cart. Kaumalea bought them both a bowl of Crazy Snake Noodles, and they sat at one of the nearby tables to eat them. Bonzo slurped his noodles enthusiastically.
“Oh yeah, these are real hozen noodles!” he cheered at Noodle-Maker Monmon, who responded with a fist-pump. “Noodlemonger Chin at Dawn’s Blossom tells you he makes the only noodles worth eating. His noodles are the best in town, for sure… but these are better!” He sobered for a moment. “They remind me of the ones my Pap-pap used to make… That’s it! I should learn how to cook! I’ll be the best noodle cook and the best storyteller of all the hozen in Pandaria. Yeah!”
inspired by Noxychu’s “Bad Example” artwork on Wowhead
Previously: the Underpowered Death Knight goes to Draenor