It’s past time. And not enough time. It’s too early and too late.

What would you do if confronted by an unnatural fate? What would you do if someone threatened to make it so that your family never existed, when your family doesn’t exist anymore?


I live!

I apologize for not writing lately. I also apologize for updating with an OOC post. I wanted to reassure everyone that I am still maintaining this blog. I’ve been uninspired of late – concerned more with leveling than writing. I will amend the situation soon and write something for Salanthe. Additionally, I will be transferring Anara to Moon Guard soon, so expect Lorekeeper to gain content in the next month.

Thank you for sticking with me and stay tuned for more!

A few days ago a new orc shaman joined our little guild. I have not spent much time with him yet, but he seems like an interesting individual. We share certain things in common and it is my hope I can prevent him from repeating my mistakes.

I am worried about our leader though. He left his clan when the warlocks rose to power and always assumed that his clan was destroyed. With the arrival of this new orc, he learned that his tribe still existed and had suffered for the lack of their shaman, our leader Donkar.

I was there when the new orc, called Maorkin, told Donkar the truth. He left soon after and I fear that hearing the news was too much for him. I am anxious to speak with him. I cannot imagine what it is like to learn that your tribe still lives, after you thought they had perished.

All that remains of my tribe is a young woman who works as a baker in Bloodhoof Village. I know beyond all doubt that my entire tribe, save Jhawna, has joined the ancestors. I was there to see their charred bodies strewn among the remains of the camp. The Earthmother smiled upon Jhawna that day. She should not have survived the massacre.

It seems that both Donkar and Maorkin fled their responsibilities to their clan, leaving their people to survive without a shaman to guide them. In Donkar’s case, he feared what his people were becoming and left. In Maorkin’s case, he did not want the responsibility. Neither action is worthy of praise, but I understand why they both acted in such a fashion, particularly Maorkin. It is a daunting responsibility, being a shaman. It is not always easy to shoulder the burdens that come with the calling.

When someone is called to path of the shaman, they must walk into the wilderness and learn to trust the elements. My tribe, the Oatwinds, called it the Earthwalk. It is a sacred journey – one with the elements, spirits, and ancestors as guides. The future shaman must leave their tribe and family behind, both physically and mentally. It is a test of will power, as well as strength and stamina. You can take nothing with you, for the elements will provide for you if you listen to them.

Each Shu’halo tribe has a different version of this initiation. They also have different conceptions of the link between the shaman and the elements, spirits, and ancestors. My tribe believes that shamans have an animal guide that acts as their instructor. We are not so different from druids in that respect. This animal guide is the embodiment of the Spirit of the Wilds and is different for each shaman.

It was the Zhevra that came to me the first night of my Earthwalk. I will admit to being disappointed at first. The Zhevra is not known for being fierce like the prowler, brave like the raptor, or strong like the kodo. They are not honored in our stories, beyond being prey for stronger animals.

I learned to respect and honor my animal spirit though. Now I understand that Zhevra are both fierce and strong. More importantly, they are free. They have the speed of the wind, the strength of the earth, the ferocity of fire, and the freedom of water.

After the argument I had with the young Brave, I spent many hours thinking about his words. Eventually I realized that I had to step away from my responsibilities and go on another Earthwalk. I needed to speak with the spirits and receive guidance from the ancestors and the Zhevra.

I will not share all that happened since it is an intensely personal experience. Suffice to say that I have made my peace with that part of my past.

This has been troubling me for some time. I hope that in writing it out, I will be able to sort through my feelings. Please bear with me.

The other evening, I was deeply vexed by an upstart young Shu’halo warrior. Our conversation started out well enough, but quickly became a heated argument. I will admit to nearly walking off in a huff like a calf. It shames me that I let that child get to me! For all the years I’ve seen, I thought I would be able to confront my past with grace and dignity. Hah! That youngster certainly proved me wrong!

He managed to find the chink in my armor – the role of a warrior. Such a simple thing and one that most Shu’halo wouldn’t have any difficulty understanding. But there is no one left of my tribe, save myself and a child who doesn’t remember what it was like.

The argument began when I described how a shaman supports a warrior in battle. We throw down our totems to pass the strength of the elements onto those around us. It is our greatest gift. I made an off-hand remark about a Brave’s, or warrior’s, tendency to rush into the fray and the young Brave sitting beside me took offense. He proceeded to tell me, tell me, that the role of a warrior, of a Brave, was to act as a shield.

Forgive me. Even writing this, that comment cuts me to the core. A shield! I know better than anyone what that entails! How do I even begin to describe how deeply that cut; how deeply it still cuts?

After that young Brave left, a young Shu’halo shaman approached me. He’d overheard some of our conversation and, Earthmother bless him, he tried to make me feel better. He dragged the tale out of me and succeeded in partially restoring my mood, though he did not touch the root of the problem. That is why I am writing. That young warrior, Kefir, reminds me so much of my son, Hanthe, that I do not want to argue with him. I am desperately trying to sort out my feelings so that I can face him without anger. I would never forgive myself…

I digress. Back to my tale. The Oatwinds, my tribe, were always peaceful. We lived in the Barrens, following the kodo across the great plains. We were herbalists and leatherworkers, skinners, and tailors. We lived off the land and the Earthmother provided for us. We never had reason to keep Braves around; there was no one to fight. Shu’halo tribes do not war with each other the way orcs, trolls, and humans do.

In my youth, the old Chief died and was replaced by my uncle. He had strange ideas about our tribe and sought to protect us. He decided that we needed Braves though we never had need for them before. To recruit them, he promised the hands of his three daughters and two nieces to Braves from other tribes. My Elahanu came to me from the Longrunner tribe, a battle-hardened warrior who hated the Quilboars with great passion.

When we were first joined, we argued constantly about warriors. I didn’t think they were necessary. The hunters had no difficulty killing things for us and the warriors weren’t strong enough to battle the kodos. Elahanu knew better and tried to convince me that some things meant us harm and would try to kill us. He used the phrase “Braves are shields” often when we argued.

Eventually, all the new warriors came to believe our repeated assertions that there was nothing in the Barrens except kodo, prowlers, and hyaenas to worry about. Even Elahanu settled into our placid lifestyle and often went herb-picking with me. That’s not to say that he lost his vigilance or that we stopped arguing – quite the contrary. There was a change during those years though. Our arguments lost their heat. It was more out of pride in our tribes that required us to defend our respective upbringings.

As you can no doubt guess, we were ill prepared when the centaurs came flooding out of Desolace. The Braves defended us for as long as they could survive as we fled across the plains in search of another tribe to help us. Hanthe, Earthmother bless him, was exactly like his father and had proudly followed the path of the Brave. He was one of the first to fall. In his death and Elahanu’s battles, I learned exactly what it meant when he described himself as a shield.

I do not know how long Elahanu lived defending my doomed tribe. I was forced to leave him and my youngest daughter when the ancestors and elements chose me to replace our slain shaman. When I finally found my tribe again, there was nothing left but spirits, debris, and tiny Jhawna. The shields saved one at least.

In the years of war and strife that followed, I served Chief Bloodhoof as a shaman, supporting the warriors in battle. I learned their true value. I know first hand how they are willing to sacrifice themselves in defense of others. Believe me, I know.

This is why Kefir’s words hurt me so. He had no idea that he was wounding me so deeply with his words. I know the honor and the sacrifice of the warrior. That is why they are called Braves in our culture. Elahanu and Hanthe both had the distinction of proving the truth of that title.

There is a certain irony to this situation. I always preach to the young ones that it is important to face their pasts, no matter what the pain. They must learn from those experiences, face them head on, else they are running from them for the rest of their lives. I believed I had faced these memories. I could speak of those sacrifices with pride and honor my tribe without feeling the pang of loss. I did not cry whenever I spoke of them.

Kefir, and that young shaman Varran, have taught me that I was hiding the depth of my pain from myself; that I had not truly faced it. I still have not faced it, even writing so bluntly. Perhaps it is time for me to go on another Earthwalk and call Elahanu and my children to me. Perhaps if I face them as spirits I will finally be able to listen to Kefir speak so proudly of being a shield without feeling such pain.

I still do not know how I am going to face that young warrior. I fear my anger may have pushed him away. Only time will tell, I suppose. The mantra of the old: only time will tell.

I recently rolled a tauren shaman for my guild. I’ve been playing her more frequently and am attempting to give her a solid background. Therefore, I’m shifting directions in the blog so that I can post as both Araven and Salanthe, the shaman. This will be their combined story, instead of devoted to one.

First, let me begin by saying that I have advanced far enough in my training to achieve travel form. I am delighted! I can run like the wind now!

Now for the purpose of this entry… I met the most interesting blood elf a few weeks ago in Thunder Bluff. He is a paladin, a warrior of the Light, but he wears feathers in his hair and uses a Shu’halo name: Mikase. It means ‘coyote’ in my tongue, a very strange moniker for a blood elf, I must admit. He describes himself as an Ambassador to the Shu’halo and he is certainly very diplomatic. He is very charming!

We’ve bumped into each other on a few different occasions since we first met and we speak for hours on end! He is truly interested in learning about our humble race and asks many excellent questions. He has gone a long way towards improving my opinion of the blood elves, which I believe is his goal.

The other evening, he gave me a beautiful black lotus, a very expensive flower! I was stunned. I am not a young Shu’halo anymore and do not expect such gestures from anyone, let alone one of the sin’dorei! I am also somewhat alarmed. Huthfet’s memory is still fresh in my mind. I sincerely hope the lotus was a gift of friendship and nothing more!

It seems to be vogue to write your views of the other races. Each race, indeed each person, deserves their own consideration, but here are my general feelings.

Trolls: “Clever and brave, if a little on the blood-thirsty side.”
Forsaken: “I am wary of them, but it is unjustified and I am trying to remedy my attitude.”
Orcs: “Honorable, though a little volatile at times. They are still searching for the steadiness of the Earthmother.”
Blood Elves: “I know little of them. Their city has an undercurrent of… pain…. that I cannot ignore. I am cautious of them, particularly warlocks.”
Night Elves: “They walk with the Earthmother, though they do not call it that. They are allies, not enemies.”
Humans: “Humans are as changeable as the wind. Some can be trusted, others cannot.”
Gnomes: “They would replace nature with technology, but I do not think they intend lasting harm.”
Dwarves: “Their thirst for ore has brought them to steal from our land. They are not evil but they are trying my patience with their continued invasions.”
Draenei: “The night elves believe they are demons, but they care more for the earth they walk on than many of their allies. Such care for the Earthmother must be respected and honored.”

I met with my shaman friends tonight. They want to start a guild exclusive to those that understand the spirits of the elements. I decided to look into it because I am tired of journeying alone! Druids should mesh well with shaman, since the spirits speak to us also. And, I am a Stonehoof, so my bond with earth is stronger than most.

We spoke for a bit about a name for our little group. Several suggestions were made before I timidly proposed “Earthwalkers.” If you read my journal entry about my philosophy, you will understand why I made that recommendation. After some debate, the name was accepted by those present, much to my delight and surprise.

Then we discussed who should lead us. The hunter that organized our little group offered to lead if no one else would and I was content to let that happen. Then someone suggested that I do it. Me! Araven Stonehoof! A druid! I was stunned into silence for many moments as the others debated the suggestion. Finally, I acquiesced. If everyone wanted a female Shu’halo druid to lead them, then who am I to deny it? I have been around for a while and I understand the training of hunters and warriors, though I have no experience as a shaman at all. I am flattered by their faith in me, though! We ultimately agreed to sleep on the matter and vote at a later date.

Once that matter was decided, someone mentioned the Sin’dorei that was supposed to join us, which sparked a huge debate. Not only is he an elf, but he is also a warlock! Many were opposed to him being allowed into the guild. Only three of us spoke in favor of giving him a chance.

I am not certain how I feel about him. I know that not all the Sin’dorei are bad, but it is difficult for me to believe that a Sin’dorei warlock can be shamanistic. I will give him a chance; listen to his story before I make my decision. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is to give everyone a chance. Sometimes your first impressions were correct and sometimes they were not, but either way you learned something.

If we look at the path, we do not see the sky. We are earth people on a spiritual journey to the stars. Our quest, our earthwalk is to look within, to know who we are, to see that we are connected to all things; that there is no separation, only in the mind. ((Native American quote))

I went from hunter to warrior to druid, from glory to duty to destiny. That is my path and I am still finding my way. I use those words to remind me that it is the earthwalk that matters, not the destination. This is the heart of what it means to be a druid.