Tales of a Teabelly

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Tales of a Teabelly

Post by Baji on Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:36 am

I've been wanting to write something about my favourite character, Baji, and how he came to be the most ambitious Teabelly that ever lived... whilst achieving nothing at all! Thusly, I have written the origin story of Baji Teabelly, my Pandaren Hunter and Wanderer from Shen-zin Su.

An average joe and all-round nobody! These are the Tales of a Teabelly...

Part 1: To be a Master...

At Shang-Xi's Academy, in the Tower of the Masters, inside a small, well-kept office sat three adult Pandaren around a desk. A fourth, a child, sat by the door, a very sorry look plastered on his face.

"I'm afraid your son has no flair for the ways of the Monk," spoke the Pandaren at the head of the desk. His face was full of wrinkles when he spoke and his fur was grey and tattered.

The two others, sitting on the opposite side of the desk, looked at each other. Their gazes met and fixed on each other for a good ten seconds without uttering a word. The grey-haired Pandaren shuffled awkwardly, clearing his throat, sniffing and peering at the Pandaren child sitting by the door squeezing a stuffed hozen tightly. Suddenly, the two Pandaren burst into hysterical laughter.

"Another Teabelly drops out of Shang Xi's Academy!" the laughter was almost contagious as the older Pandaren awkwardly started to laugh along, not really knowing what to say.

"I-- I'm very sorry," he tried, as the two chuckled uncontrolably.

"Master Haozin! I'm sure Baji here tried his best, but there has only been one Teabelly Pandaren who has ever graduated from the academy. We had hoped he'd show some promise but... well..." spoke the father of Baji. He mopped tears away from his eyes with a single finger. His wife was still chortling. They, too, had failed and been forced to drop out long, long ago.

"B-Baji here shows promise in other areas..." Haozin attempted.

"Oh?" they peered back at their son, who looked up, suddenly hopeful.

"Although the way of the Huojin seems lost on him, as Baji is not one to simply act, he puts great thought into anything he does. He has shown promise in, at least, the teachings of Tushui, though he is unable to keep up in martial arts class."

"But Bao Teabelly was a master of the Huojin..." interrupted Mrs. Teabelly, suddenly disappointed. Her great-great-great-great-great uncle Bao was the only Teabelly to succeed and was still spoken of to this day. "A Master Tea-brewer he was! Throwing those barrels of scolding tea on those nasty virmen and then pelting them with tea-cups! Protected many a harvest, he did!"

"That was some time ago," stated the Master, "Bao Teabelly is but a legend now," he continued, not eager to dwell on tales that happened long ago and bring the conversation back to their son. "As we usually do, we have attempted some weapons training and Baji here shows some promise with a bow and shooting stars. He hits the mark at least six-to-seven times out of ten!"

Master Haozin's face lit up. He knew Baji would never become a master monk but he knew he was a kind, sweet boy who would deserved a little praise. The Teabelly parents smiled a bit as well.

"What does this mean, then?" they probed.

"Well, I'm afraid there is not much else we can teach him. If he wishes to do so, he may take one of the practice bows from the school and use it at home... but there is no longer a place for dear Baji here at the academy. He has learned all he can of the Tushui and he is a very thoughtful young Pandaren. You should be proud."

Baji's father did indeed look proud. He'd come further and lasted longer than he ever did. Now a simple tea leaf-gather, he had hoped his son may amount to something else, something more, but he was just as happy to have his son working alongside him. His mother, on the other hand, looked a bit less pleased. She hadn't expected much either but she had always heard tales of her uncle Bao and how he brought honour to the Teabelly name. The Teabellys were brewers back then and had their own little brewery. It had long gone out of business, their secrets being lost and their once famous tea becoming ever weaker. "Teabelly Tea! Fill your belly with the best" had graced the sides of many tea-tins in the homes of Wandering Isle folk.

"Oh well!" she blurted out randomly and started chuckling, "We're proud of you indeed, Baji!"

Baji looked up, a big smile on his face. He giggled and ran to his parents who embraced him in a tight hug. Master Haozin smiled, too and peered down at the nine-year-old Pandaren.

“Maybe some day...” he thought.


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Re: Tales of a Teabelly

Post by Baji on Thu Aug 28, 2014 4:59 am

Part 2: It started with a giggle...

Baji had spent most of his childhood, from three and up, at the academy trying to learn the ways of the monk. It had not gone well. His parents both were tea leaf gatherers and lived in Mandori village at the foot of the Temple of the Five Dawns. Since leaving the academy, Baji, too, had become a leaf gatherer. Although he had shown some promise with a bow, but he had been far too busy working with his father to practice all that much.

His parents were packing their giant, old turtle with the last of their belongings. Today they were moving.

"I'm going to miss this place," said Mr. Teabelly. He decided to move the family to Wu-Song village in the north as the mischievous Hozen kept stealing the village's herbs and tea. The Teabellys often found themselves delivering all the way to Wu-Song from Mandori, but the long walk was becoming too much for the Teabelly parents. They didn't enjoy that sprites would attack them on the roads during the night. They didn't enjoy the Hozen bombarding them with faeces when they made their way back and forth, either. Moving there seemed the only way to avoid such a thing on the unguarded roads. The Teabelly family were not adventurers. The people of Wu-song had Huojin monks guarding the village and their leaf gatherers.

Their pack-turtle, Kaba, had laid an egg a few years ago and Baji now took care of an energetic little terrapin he had named Haba. Baji would sneakily carry him around in his pocket and feed it tea leaves when his dad wasn't looking. Haba was bigger now, though, but still followed Baji around where ever he went and took great joy in chasing naughty sprites around, snapping at them with a furious delight.

The family set out from Mandori, waving goodbye to their friends. They'd see them again. It was only a half-days walk.

Wu-Song village was not as well-kept as Mandori. Often troubled by Hozen attacks, the houses were covered in graffiti, banana-peels and... well, faeces. The Hozen loved to throw faeces. And they were good marksmen, too, much to the horror of many an elderly Pandaren lady. They wouldn't have their own little house here. Instead, they would share a long-house with a bunch of other families. They had their own room. It was considered safer for many families to live together here. The Hozen were too afraid to attack large groups.

Although few people ever died to Hozen attacks, they could still be terrifying, and everyone wanted to avoid it if possible. If someone did die, it was because they got hit on the head by a rock or an elderly Pandaren had collapsed of a heart-attack from the shock. Occasionally they became violent but a good thwack of a broomstick would knock them to their senses.

The family made themselves at home. They worked hard, gathering leaves, and actually came to enjoy the communal living. The families would eat and play games together. They would share recipes and brew all sorts of tea and ales. Mrs. Teabelly would even attempt to re-create the famous Teabelly tea. She failed miserably, but she enjoyed the experimentation.

Work days weren't as long here, as things were done fast in a group, and they were able to relax more at home. They'd lived in Wu-Song for a few weeks now and Baji found himself admiring his old, school bow again and wondering if what master Haozin had said was true. Did he have talent with it?

One late night, Baji sneaked out to give his old bow a try. The families were inside having fun, playing games and eating food. Nobody would notice he had gone. He snuck around the back and into the orchard up the hill. He hazarded a few shots into a tree, collecting his few, withered arrows when he finally did hit his mark. He sighed, yanking out one arrow from the tree and gazed up at the stars. “Focus!” He thought, pulling back the string tightly and closing one eye. He tried to remember what his old Master had taught him, but that was seven years ago and then he was just a child. He let the arrow fly. It glided through the air and sliced through the side of the tree. He wasn't far off this time – but the arrow flew further and landed with a thud as it pierced the ground somewhere in the dark woods behind the orchard.

“Oh my...” he said to himself. He hadn't meant to go as far out as he already did and he didn't really want to wander further into a dark, hozen-riddled wood in the middle of the night. He gulped and began a slow, cautious trot towards where he thought he heard the arrow land. He couldn't afford to just leave it. He didn't really have time during the day to make new ones and his parents might get mad if they knew he was trying his luck as an archer again.
The lights from the houses grew dimmer as he ventured further in. Wind shook the trees and whistled through the leaves. He was afraid.

Taking a few more cautious steps, he broke a twig. He half-expected something terrible to happen. Pausing to look around, the only sound was his own breath. He seemed relieved.

“This yours, hoo-hoo?” came a voice from behind him.

Baji's eyes shot open! He leaped forward in shock and swung clumsily around to see a young Hozen, almost his own height, holding his arrow with a big, goofy smile on his face. He fell to the ground, a bit afraid of what the Hozen might do with the arrow. A few seconds went by before he realised the monkey had spoken to him.

“Hoo-oOoOoo!” the hozen started laughing. “Te-he frighten little Pandaren in the dark?”

“I wasn't afraid! You, you just gave me a shock,” Baji's face soured, as much as it could sour anyway, and got to his feet, folding his arms.

“Pandaren not good shot. Need more practice,” he answered, handing Baji the arrow. “Maybe better to hit target in day time, hoo-hoo?”

Baji scoffed and then giggled. “Yes! I suppose you're right.”

A big smile creeped on the hozen's face and he laughed along with the Pandaren. Baji had only had negative experiences with the hozen and heard horrible things. Most were frightened of them. They were hooligans. The Elders had said that they were just immature as they were a short-lived race and that everything they did was “for fun,” even at the expense of others. He was surprised this one was... talking to him. And being friendly, at that.

“I am Baji Teabelly,” he continued, bowing gracefully towards his new friend.

“Te-he,” he answered simply, returning a bow in an overly-courteous and mocking fashion.

“What's so funny?”

“Nothing funny, hoo-hoo? Well, Baji is funny. Big belly! Full of tea,” he giggled more.

“You said Te-he.”

“That is my name?” the Hozen shot Baji a confused look, arching his head sideways.

“Don't suppose you understand irony, do you?”

Tehe sat down and crossed his legs. He rubbed his chin and looked up at the stars, seeming to think.

“Is that when water tastes funny?”

Baji chuckled and sat down beside his new friend. Tehe laughed along as well, not really knowing why, but he thought this Pandaren seemed nice. He hadn't tried to hit him with a broomstick yet, anyway.

The two practiced throwing arrows and shooting the bow. They joked around, laughed and talked long into the night...


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Re: Tales of a Teabelly

Post by Baji on Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:06 pm

Part 3: The Hozen Herder...

“BAJI!!!” yelled Nanna Tung. It was early in the morning and she stood outside the shared Pandaren house in her nightie and a sleeping-cap. Baji stirred in his room, his eyes half-open as he heard her scream again. Confused, he dragged himself, still half-unconscious, out of his bed and trodded slowly towards the door still in his bed clothes, a third scream waking some of the other Pandaren as well. He started to hurry. Nanna Tung wasn't the most patient of Pandaren.

The outside of the house had been littered terribly. Cooking and gardening utensils dangled from the trees and Nanna Tung stood pointing angrily at the side of the house. The look on her face was one of doom. She usually looked mad but this look had only been seen a few times. Once when her grandson spilled broth on her favourite dress at the dinner table. A second time when her son married a monk from the academy and, well... this was the third time. It seemed the Hozen had came to town during the night and had a little “fun."
Baji came around to the side of the house and eyed what had infuriated Nanna more so than the state of the front yard.

“Oh,” said Baji, obviously lost for words. The Hozen had painted, in their trademark red paint, speckled with faeces, an unflattering portrait of Nanna Tung. A morbidly obese, elderly Pandaren hag - way beyond what the Pandaren would call 'normal weight' anyway - eating Pandaren children and revealing the crack of her behind. There were fart clouds, too. Also, it looked although she had body odour. He guessed that from the squiggly lines coming from her.

Nanna Tung's face was red. Red with rage. After all she had done! She had sympathised with Baji and his tales of the “kind, playful hozen” and had on occasion left them food to eat when she had made too much dinner. All because of Baji. The so-called “hozen herder,” a nicknamed given to him as he managed to keep, at least some of them, in check.

“I'll... yes... oh my... I'll get this cleaned up,” said Baji, his head hanging dejectedly on his chest.

“Y-You bet you will!” said Nanna, her tone awkward, having hoped to have yelled at Baji a bit more or even demand he clean it. But Baji was too kind for his own good sometimes and she felt immediately bad for wanting to yell at him, since he always tried to help others and do the “right thing.”

“I'll... oh by the Celestials... I'll help. And so will the boys,” she sighed, heading inside and picking up a few things on the way.

Baji was almost 20 now and had found work, indeed, being the town “hozen herder.” He still helped with the harvest and collecting apples and tea-leaves but his main job was, well, playing with the Hozen. Though he never described it as such. His friend, Tehe, had taken him in all those years ago and introduced him to his tribe. They liked Baji. He always had some fun game to play. Or they rode his turtle, though Haba didn't seem to like it that much.

But the Hozen were many and not all of them liked Baji. They hung around in different groups and, since they reproduced so often and died so young, it only took a couple of years before a new group was causing new trouble and had forgotten what happened to the old ones who caused trouble. This group was new. Tehe and his friends had “grown up” and had a bit more respect for the citizens of Wu-Song.

The day was long and hot as Baji and Nanna Tung's numerous relatives cleaned up the mess. Tehe even turned up and helped out, after calming Nanna Tung who went berserk with a broomstick at first. She had to get her frustration out somehow and, by the Celestials, her grandchildren had red-ears enough.

When the work was done and the sun was close to setting, Tehe approached Baji, munching on an apple he had found on the ground. It had a worm in it, but he didn't seem to care.

“Baji come play later? Took say he have new game for Baji to try. OoOooo! Exciting!” giggled the Hozen.

“Oh my! That sounds fun, but maybe not tonight. I still have to convince Nanna not to rush into the forest with her broomstick. She's pretty mad.”

“Good idea... I remember...” Tehe rubbed his arm, it was still throbbing from the hit he took from the old lady. “See you later! Tomorrow okay? Oo-Oo!”

Tehe jumped up into the trees and swung away, his monkey-chuckling echoed back to the village. Baji smiled to himself and went back inside. He liked his “job” a lot. It didn't pay much but he didn't mind. The responsibility was another thing. The villagers tended to look to him to solve problems with the Hozen. Some Pandaren considering them no better than the Virmen that plagued the farms to the south.

Luckily, most thought along the same lines as Baji and knew the Hozen were harmless, if mischievous, and could be reasoned with. The older Pandaren, who had witnessed dozens of new, troublesome Hozen groups favoured extermination and cohabitation in equal number. It wasn't too hard to understand, though, after years upon years of hard work only to have a Hozen ruin it every 5 years or so must become tiring after a full Pandaren lifetime and the ordeal of befriending them and teaching them took time.

The Hozen, after all, were simply naughty children.

Baji was happy. He would meet Tehe later that night and, together with Haba the turtle, would sit and stare out across the ocean together and wonder what lay over the horizon...


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Re: Tales of a Teabelly

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