"Why do you fight?"
The Pandaren ask it often, especially to those who seek training among the elite warriors of the Shado-Pan. I thought it a useless question at first. I am Sin'dorei, and a Farstrider, a mother and grandmother. I fought to protect my people, my lands, and especially my family. I fought to preserve their existence, and my own.
But the question has a deeper context, once pondered about long enough.
As I learned the true answer to it, I finally knew why it was that I was apparently so resistant to the corruption of the Sha. The hidden, dark, and twisted power that dwells beneath the beautiful vistas of Pandaria feeds on anger, hatred, fear, and doubt. Such influences had affected many since our arrival here. Some of our best, and had even caused Lord Sunshield to feel compelled to take his people back to Quel'thalas. When I saw him last, he admitted that he was unsure that even he could endure an internal attack if he returned to Pandaria.
My concerns for Hallistus have been even more overwhelming. His despair over the landfall of the Horde's fleet made him uncharacteristically fatalistic. He tried even Archmagister Fallfire's legendary patience as he mourned the coming death the escalation of the war would bring, as we had tea together in the Shrine that night.
Hal claims he came here to fight for me. His normal reluctance to spill blood has been overcome by his desire to protect me as I completed my duties to both the Horde and the Sin'dorei. But one person is a poor reason to set aside personal convictions. His guilt, frustrations, and doubts would make him an easy target for the Sha.
I resolved to send him back to Quel'thalas…and immediately realized that while he claimed to fight for me, he was not under my command. I had no authority over him.
He spoke passionately of peace, of fighting for it, instead. Of changing the world by laying down one's sword, and making the first gesture of good will towards those who would harm us.
All my mind could picture at this statement was a small child swimming out into the ocean, standing with the salty water at his neck. Of eyes pleading with the relentless waves to stand down, and recede. But instead, drowning as they crashed uncaringly over him. I did not try to convey such a bleak image to him, though.
Instead, I told him I believed we should trust the judgment of the Regent-Lord, and to follow the orders we were given. To do as much good as we could, but to go to whatever lengths we must to protect our own kind.
The Archmagister compared the folly of fighting for peace to pursuing sexuality for virginity. If I had not been so upset, I would have blushed at such a topic being spoken by such a usually formal and reserved man.
It was all lost on Hallistus, though. He was not saying we should fight for peace, he insisted. He was saying in his mind, there was a mystical world of impossibility in which the world just stopped fighting.
My answer was that it is fine to wish for such things. But we must deal with the world we actually live in.
Not the one we wish we did.
After he left, I pondered just why it was he really did fight. It was not for my safety, or he would have killed the injured human soldier he claimed to have saved. He would have planned to kill them all, if his paths crossed theirs. For each of their soldiers who lived was one who might end my life with the end of a sword if given the chance.
But that was the point. It was not my place to understand why it was that Hallistus fought, or why anyone else chose to spill blood. It was only my own intentions that I could become enlightened about. And over these past few days, I have.
I thought of my childhood, and my early days as a Farstrider. I had been raised without much of a family, and did not know much of what it felt like to be loved. To be loved was something I learned over time, and came to appreciate. Never though, did I actually feel I needed it. What I required was something entirely different.
I needed to love.
There was no one readily apparent for me to give such feelings to as a child. I had not been taught how to show such emotions, even if there had been. And so my first love was not a person, but many. I came to love my people as a whole. Tall, slim and beautiful, elegant and intelligent, wise and passionate. I loved sapphire blue eyes, shining spires, the song of the forest, and the thrill of pure arcane magic running in my veins.
Kierrynn was the first who became more than just one of the many to me. My sister of my heart, she was all that I was not. She lived to show her feelings and passions to others, and it fueled her power as well. Service to the Farstriders followed, and even now, I cannot see an elf with a longbow and not have my heart yearn to know them. My family followed, and my battalion. I had focus for my adoration now, but not the means to show it.
Even now, after raising two children and losing a third, after over a century of marriage to a man I cared deeply for, after serving with many I admired… it was still with great effort I shared the depth of my love and appreciation for them. Hard through words, harder through actions. Lord Sunshield's increasingly warm and lingering embraces, Kierrynn's relentless teasing, Hallistus' occasional chaste and stolen kisses, and the bright smile on my granddaughter's face at the sight of me only reinforced the lack of such easy displays of affection on my part.
It was with the Farstriders I first learned how to share my great love for my people. It was not through any sort of physical intimacy, spoken word, or elaborate gift. My love for my fellow Farstriders was expressed with each arrow I shot that found its mark. One less creature to take the life of my loved ones, the joy of their existence in my life.
The devastation of my people, the loss of most of my family, and the costs of so much battle over the years, has only increased my devotion to those few who remain. Occasionally in the eyes of someone dying with an arrow through their throat, I see my face reflected back to me. The expression on my face is not one of anger, satisfaction, or cruelty. It is one of tenderness and affection. Not for the life I just took, but for all of those dear ones I know I might have just saved.
From the very beginning, I did not fight for vengeance or hatred. Not for power, prestige, or any sort of personal gain.
I fought because it was how I had learned first to express love. And after two centuries of living, it is still the first and the best way I show it.
Why do I fight?
I fight, because I love.