Note: Had to split this up into two parts as it was getting pretty long. Thanks to Blackwald for doing the RP that the journal comes from. Also since I’ve been procrastinating on writing this up, I should note it takes place a few days after the succubus was first introduced to the guild and Arialynn said now fucking way was she joining. That was…weeks ago? Argh, sorry. It’s been a rough few weeks.

The farm was set into a hillside in the Valley of the Four Winds. It was just close enough that the wind could carry the smells of either Halfhill Market or Stormstout Brewery at any given time. The fields were small but their crops were not. Carrots and cabbage as big as a person filled the fields in well planned rows.

Step by step, Blackwald approached the farm. Lei Pan had marked it on a map for him and told him to stop by. As he neared the farmhouse he saw Lei Pan kneeling in the dirt at a small plot occupied by weeds she was pulling from the ground and setting on a burlap cloth next to her. He offered a small smile as he stopped on the edge of the plot and spoke.

�Didn’t know you tended garden, Lei. Hobby, or something you were raised with?�

The monk looked up at him through weary eyes staring for a moment as if trying to recognize her visitor. She gave a few slow blinks and a look of realization crossed her face, �Blackwald,� she muttered, �Nice to see you. I do some gardening. Herbs.� her voice was hollow, her demeanor much more calm than normal, and if she had slept in the past several days her face didn’t show it.

�Herbs? Tea, or poisons?� the Captain raised a brow.

�For alchemy. Dunno what alchemists use them for. Maybe alchemy things.� there was a pause as she pulled another clump of weeds out, �Cael gave me a flower.�

�A flower? What sort of flower did she give you? Rather surprised by that. She doesn’t often part with such things.�

Lei seemed unsure. She broke up a clump of dirt the roots of the weeds still held and returned the soil to the patch, �I think she wanted to thank me for the cookies and cupcakes I gave her. I wanted her to feel better.�

With a gentle huff of air through his nostrils, the Gilnean appraised Lei Pan thoughtfully as she worked, �You do that for a lot, don’t you? You gave me that cookie the other day, and… for all the shite that’s been going on, still managed to do something nice. You worry about her and the rest, eh?�

She nodded and strained against another stubborn weed, nearly falling back when it gave way, �People shouldn’t have to be sad,� she looked up at him, �You look tired. Are you sad too?�

The question was surprisingly blunt, catching the Captain off guard as he knelt down and began rummaging through the weeds to lend the panda a hand. It seemed he was using the work as a way of avoiding the answer before giving up and speaking softly, �…aye. Quite sad, Lei. Figured I had the perfect life, and now…now it’s like I’m holding a bunch of puzzle pieces and no way to re-fit them into a semblance of my life.�

�Maybe you’re holding the pieces to two different puzzles. Or maybe you just haven’t found all the pieces yet,� she let that hang for a moment while she sat lost in thought, then added, �Check the couch cushions. Pieces always get lost in there.�

�Mm, pieces. Maybe. But…I don’t think any pieces will patch what ails me up. Just something that has to be…to be endured.� with a furrow of his brow, the Gilnean shook his head tugging on a root, �But you give so much to others. Not sure about your own needs, aye?�

�You need the people you give to. If that’s not enough, find something else to make you happy. Be happy. Don’t be angry, don’t cry, don’t be afraid, don’t hate, don’t be prideful.� she began muttering that last sentence again as she grasped for more weeds.

For a moment, Victor seemed to take her words at a glance, his voice soft, �Maybe you’re right, Lei. But I am angry. I am sad. I am afraid. And…I am prideful. I can’t help how I feel, aye?�

�That’s okay. It’s okay to feel. Don’t let emotion become your enemy though.� she scrunched her face trying to remember something, �The brewery. I said we would get you something good from the brewery. Got you some samples. Good stuff. Also tea. Drink tea. That might help with your problems.�

The focus � no, the clipped tone and the lack of energy, that set the wolf off immediately. His eye flicked to Lei Pan as his brow dipped in concern, �It might. And what of your problems, Lei Pan? Mine’re solved by strong drink and time, yours…I don’t rightly know where to begin. But just like you’re helping me, well…would like to do the same.�

Her gaze lifted, looking out across the vast stretch of the valley and the farms that dotted it. The breeze picked up and she closed her eyes, inhaling deeply, �This helps,� she paused for a moment to savor the smell of whatever was being cooked in Halfhill and then resumed her work, �Mei helps too.�

Over her shoulder a pandaren woman was walking out of the farm house carrying a tray with a teapot and mugs. She sat down a few steps from the bottom and waved at the two of them. Blackwald’s gaze flicked from Lei to Mei and his brow rose slowly. While it may not be a proper Gilnean black tea, he had a soft spot for the pandaren teas (and food for that matter). He dug his boots into the earth and gave one final heave on another stubborn weed, tossing it aside and dusting his hands.

�Mei, aye? What is she to you? Wife? Sister? Cousin?�

Lei pulled another weed and answered, �Big sister. Caretaker. Rememberer.� she nodded, �Get some tea. I’ll finish here.�

‘Rememberer’? That was new. Nevertheless, the Captain brushed some of the dirt from his trousers then clapped a hand on Lei Pan’s back, �I’ll see you back at the homestead, aye? And for what it’s worth, thank you. Half the time I think you’re about to punch me, but under all those fists there’s one damn good friend.�

She smiled, �I might still punch you. But you’re a good friend too.� as Blackwald walked away Lei started muttering a mantra to herself over and over while worked.

Don’t be angry. 

Don’t cry. 

Don’t be afraid. 

Don’t hate. 

Don’t be prideful.

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