As I mentioned before, I used to be quite an avid player of World of Warcraft. And while I play far less these days than I used to, I still love the game and the story behind it. One of the biggest gifts WoW has given me (other than some amazing friends) is a shot in the arms as far as creativity goes. I’ve always liked writing, you see, but after college it seemed all of my inspiration dried up. I didn’t write any fiction at all, and even my beloved livejournal fell by the wayside. I think I was just too caught up in my hectic New York City lifestyle to even think about writing anymore.
When I started playing WoW, I was immediately drawn to the story of the game. I didn’t even know that things like raiding existed, nor did I care. I was more concerned with making up a story for the elf druid that I was playing. It made her more interesting to think about why she was doing what she was doing and where she’d come from, even if I didn’t know the lore very well. This is something that I really love about WoW, and MMOs in general. Your character is who you decide. You’re not playing through someone else’s storyline. Unless you’re in Uldum, in which case you’re just a plucky sidekick to Harrison Jones.
I’ve always said that I wish I could get a job at Blizzard making up incidental lore that has absolutely no effect on the game’s storyline. Things like the life story of the stable master in Agmar’s Hammer. Or writing a story about an elixir that trolls take to let them share dreams with each other. Or, my favorite, coming up with uses and details behind the various herbs in the game. I still have dreams of writing an entire herbal guide to WoW one day that has no details on how to quickly level up herbalism, but plenty on the history of sungrass and how it got its name.
Inspired by Pandaria when the latest expansion was released, I decided to write a folk tale about how another herb, the Rain Poppy, got its name, and I thought I would share it here. It’s meant to be a fairy tale, not a historical account, so some of the details won’t make perfect sense (the same way that the Grimm tales don’t make perfect sense in the real world). I hope you enjoy it!
Once upon a time, there was a man name Xiaotong. Xiaotong was a soldier in the emperor’s army. He spent his years marching through the land, using his spear to fight in the wars that his emperor commanded him. He was happy with his life. He was a soldier through and through. One day while scouting he a song rising up from valley below him. He followed the sound of the song until he came over a rise and saw a woman kneeling by a river, washing a basket of clothes. She was beautiful, with a voice like the breeze on a perfect summer day. He watched her for a long time, listening to her song and watching her work. Before she had even finished, he decided he would speak with her once her song was done. When the last word was sung, he moved forward to approach her. She heard the sound behind her and glanced over her shoulder. With one look at him, she jumped up from her washing and took off at a run.
Xiaotong chased after her, only wanting to learn her name. He was a soldier and he could run, even with his armor. But she was fast too, much faster than he would have expected her to be. He watch mystified as she ran sure footedly along the river, dancing across the rocks in it to get to the other side. But Xiaotong didn’t give up, still running after her, his heart pounding through his chest. He called for her to wait, but that just made her run faster.
They reached the end of the valley and Xiaotong thought for sure he would have her since the climb up was difficult, even for a soldier. But once the climb began, Xiaotong had another surprise. The girl jumped onto the wind and ran along it, the leaves that had been swirling through the air dancing around her feet. Xiaotong’s eyes widened. Never in his years of traveling with the army had he seen such a thing.