Ireenia scowled as her bottom painfully hit the stone ground. The impacted jarred her teeth in her head.
Master Cheng’s patient smile never wavered. The hollow staff continued to spin in the pandaren’s steady hands, its movements slow and deliberate. His gaze remained friendly but steady, his small black eyes flashing.
“Get up, young one,” Master Cheng insisted, his voice soft. “We are not done yet.” To punctuate his words, he cracked the end of the staff onto the floor, halting its movement abruptly. At the same time, the smile faded and his face became more serious. “You still have much to learn.”
Exhaling sharply, Ireenia scrambled up. Once her hooves were beneath her, she brushed the dirt from her pants and swept the tails of her azure hair back behind her shoulders. The draenei woman met Master Cheng’s eyes. Her own luminescent silver orbs narrowed stubbornly.
“Zhunbei!” Master Cheng shouted, the command to prepare herself. He swung the staff around above his head and behind him. Its trailing end came to rest with a soft whump against his shoulder as he crouched down into a defensive stance, his left arm out to the side for balance.
Ireenia snapped her hands out before her. She bore no other weapons.
“Wei ziji bianhu!” the pandaren roared, swinging his staff forward. Defend yourself!
Ireenia dropped back a step and swept her right leg around before her in a great arc, knocking Master Cheng’s blow aside. The pandaren immediately reversed and swung the staff back across, catching the woman in the calf.
Crying out in pain, Ireenia spun away. Favoring her injured leg, she hopped back without taking her eyes from Master Cheng, avoiding a few more swings of the pandaren’s weapon and batting aside others with her hands.
She made a quick upward gesture and let out a relieved sigh as light green mist settled around her and the essence of the Jade Serpent revitalized her.
Master Cheng’s staff was coming at her again, and Ireenia slapped it aside with her bare right hand. As she pulled back to a readied position, she shot her left hand out, quickly followed by the first. As her right hand came forward again, a glowing white wave of force pushed ahead of it and struck Master Cheng hard enough to knock him back and interrupt the steady flow of his attacks.
Ireenia did not pause to allow him a chance to recover. She came forward steadily, fists and hooves striking again and again. Each hit drove Master Cheng back a step. They were nearly to the edge of the sparring area.
He was beaten. Ireenia came on more forcefully.
Then, Master Cheng surprised Ireenia and unexpectedly dropped low beneath one of her kicks. He spun and and swept a leg outward. It caught the draenei woman unprepared and took her other leg out from under her.
Ireenia cried out as her legs crumpled and she dropped to the ground, hard.
In less time than it took to blink, Master Cheng’s staff was biting into her chest. He made a tut tut noise as his smile returned. “You overextended yourself, left yourself open,” the pandaren monk explained. “When will you learn patience and restraint, young one?”
Ireenia’s eyes narrowed. It took all of her willpower to resist changing then and there, and showing him the futility of his tiny threats. She imagined the look on his face seeing her in all of her draconic glory.
But that is not my purpose here, she reminded herself. I must learn to master this draenei form, and myself.
Master Cheng helped Ireenia to her feet. “I think that is enough training for today. Tend to your scrapes and bruises, and remember that everyone of them is an important lesson.” At that, the pandaren bowed to her and walked away, leaving Ireenia to her thoughts.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Awaiting the Muse by Jamie Roman AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/