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Xue-La Zhou
Xue-la.png
Xue-La training with her spirit companion, Lin Yu.

Race:

Pandaren female icon.png Pandaren

Gender:

Female

Affiliations:

Pandaren-crest.png Zhou Clan
Elemental Icon.png Ancient Spirits

Family:

Zhou Clan

  • Sanfeng Zhou (Grandfather)
  • Zhiruo Zhou (Sister)

Status:

Alive

Youth and passion combine to create a hardened warrior.

Xue-La Zhou (Pandaren:雪拉周), also known as Summer Blossom, is a Pandaren Shaman of the Zhou Clan, distinguished for her kinship with elemental spirits of flame, primarily the spirit known as Lin Yu. Traveling as an inseparable pair, the two work to foster friendship with the elements of Pandaria, and protect those of the lands beyond.

Background

Born as the younger sibling to her sister, Zhiruo, Xue-La was born only with her given name, as all the Zhou shao'din were. Even in her youth, Xue-La spent much of her time looking upwards, idolizing those who succeed and those who had accomplished great things, wanting to achieve for herself and fulfill the legacy of the shao'din. When Zhiruo had gone on to begin her teachings, and became known as Snow Pilgrim, Xue-La could only watch with admiration and envy as she waited for her turn.

Eventually the opportunity came for Xue-La to begin her study and training of the ways of the Zhou. As she took up this responsibility, her name and sense of self were to be temporarily discarded. As part of the lesson of commitment, she was to shed the name Xue-La, and instead become a new Pandaren. Beseeching the elements of Pandaria, the name "Summer Blossom" was bestowed upon her.

Never was there a day that Summer Blossom did not devote herself wholly to her lessons and her vows. She took the commitment over the self seriously, and remained focus. However, commitment alone was not enough; she needed passion. Passion and joy were rather fleeting in Summer Blossom's life during this time, for she scarcely allowed herself a reprieve from her responsibilities.

Only when she was tasked with meeting elemental spirits for the first time did some of that passion finally begin to blossom. Taken to the mountains of Kun-Lai Summit, Summer Blossom met with the fire spirit Lin Yu, a playful creature that had often kept the winters from becoming frigid for the local village near it. Lin Yu asked for little in return - he did the deed out of kindness to those he saw as his friends. His only price was friendship, and spirited company.

Summer Blossom did her utmost to appease Lin Yu, and in turn Lin Yu seemingly revived that passion that she had been missing. The joy of their play and company tempered Summer Blossom's serious commitment with a welcoming passion, and her improvement was all but tangible. It was not long after that Summer Blossom came to complete her rites of passage, and her name was happily restored to her, with the family name added to it: Xue-La Zhou.

Doubt

After the mists of Pandaria fell, and the continent was visited by the Grand Alliance and the New Horde, Xue-La was entranced by the presence of the outlanders. The notion of a world outside of Pandaria was still wholly unfamiliar to her, and where she had never felt the need to explore before, there was a surge urging to see what world these two factions hailed from. However, the pandriarch of the Zhou shao'din was quick to put his paw down, for the Zhou would be forbidden from leaving Pandaria with either faction. Furthermore, as it became clear the two factions were at war, the Zhou heeded the advice of Taran Zhu, choosing to take no sides and abstain from helping either faction.

It was not long after the factions' arrival that the malignant Sha were released, culminating in the manifestation of one of the Prime, the Sha of Doubt. Doubt began to sweep across the Jade Forest, and even the Zhou Monastery was eventually touched by it. The shao'din weathered the Sha's malaise, but frequently would Doubt gnaw at the edges of their consciousness. Some monks learning within the Zhou Monastery came to doubt their ability or their cause, beginning to reconsider their vows and commitments. Others began to doubt the words of others, neglecting real problems as they underestimated their severity.

Xue-La managed to avoid this, but in her focus upon the foreign presence in the Jade Forest, she had been negligent to Lin Yu. It was not until word reached Xue-La that she realized her mistake, for the Pandaren village built around and outside Lin Yu's shrine had been sacked by the Yaungol. Its inhabitants were either slain or enslaved, and it was believed that Lin Yu may suffer a similar fate. Seizing a kite, Xue-La rushed to Kun-Lai to save the fire spirit.

True to the message's word, there was no trace of the village save for a smoldering, burned ruin. Xue-La had no time for regrets; fueled by a drive to find Lin Yu and protect him, she rushed into the ruin where the Yaungol were still picking apart the debris for survivors or anything of use. No time was wasted on them even as they chased her inside, the Pandaren racing to find Lin Yu. To both her relief and horror, Lin Yu had been cornered by the Yaungol, who 'played' with the spirit that was desperately trying to keep up with their abuses. Beating upon the spirit and mocking the fallen Pandaren's reverence, the Yaungol hurled attacks physical and emotional alike.

With a roar of protest, Xue-La hurled herself upon the Yaungol that tormented Lin Yu. Their attention was quickly pulled away from the fire spirit to the raging bear, forced to defend themselves from her martial strength. Yet already superior numbers were reinforced by the Yaungol that had chased Xue-La inside, and soon the lone Pandaren was overwhelmed. With death on the horizon, Xue-La was prepared to give her life for the spirit's protection, however fleeting it may have been.

However, the break in the combat and Xue-La's drive spurred Lin Yu into action. Now was not the time for play - it was time to fight back. Lin Yu unleashed a hail of flame upon the Yaungol from safety, interrupting the would be execution of Xue-La and forcing them to scatter. Though the Yaungol began to counterattack, Xue-La seized upon the disarray to strike again, and was once again joined by Lin Yu. The two united in their battle against the Yaungol and, against all odds, protected each other in a fierce battle that saw the Yaungol exhausted and crippled.

With their chance to escape, Xue-La led Lin Yu out of the shrine, out of the village, and back to the Jade Forest. Injured heavily by the Yaungol, Xue-La was forced to seek to treatment from the Zhou monks, while Lin Yu was taken care of. As she rested in the monks' care, Xue-La finally began to feel the swell of pain and regret she had been holding back, as the fact of the lost village and Lin Yu's suffering settled in. Her near defeat to the Yaungol, coupled with her failure to keep her vigil and protect Lin Yu, weighed so heavily upon her, that Doubt had finally ensnared her within its claws.

Taken by the Sha of Doubt, Xue-La waned in her practices and her commitment, deeming herself unable to succeed. She turned away from Lin Yu, deeming herself unworthy of her vows to the shao'din. She distanced herself from her sister, Zhiruo, deeming herself incapable of ever being true family. Though Lin Yu and members of the shao'din both tried to assist Xue-La in her despair, she shouldered her Doubt alone, feeling unworthy of such sympathy. As time went on, the Doubt worsened, until Xue-La finally attempted to shed her family name of Zhou, and disown herself from the shao'din.

Appearance

Xue-La is a Pandaren of average build and height, bearing the rotund physique prize among her people, with a modicum of muscle beneath the fur. Her fur, like all Pandaren, bears two colors; the lighter hue has an almost cream coloration to it, and stretches upwards across her torso and covering almost all of her face. The darker fur is a deep shade of brown, covering her arms and legs, and appearing on her face only as a pair of symmetrical rings around her golden eyes.

The Pandaren symbol for Fire, written on Xue-La's fan.

No stranger to battle, Xue-La can often be found with her armaments on her person. She primarily wears bronze lamellar armor over a windwool gambeson that is dyed red, with an ornate white cloak tied behind her. Though Xue-La can use weapons, she rarely carries one and instead prefers a fan that is strapped to her hip as one would carry a sword. The fan in question is, when folded, as long as a common shortsword. When unfurled, the fan is a brilliant reddish hue, with the Pandaren symbol for the element of fire emblazoned upon it. This fan is used in the vast majority of Xue-La's spells and combat techniques.

Always in Xue-La's company is the elemental fire spirit, Lin Yu. This exuberant spirit burns with deep reddish flames, almost hellish in appearance - a stark contrast to the spirit's abundant playfulness. Xue-La's kinship with Lin Yu is a source of both companionship and her mastery over flame. As such, the two both journey and fight together.

Personality

Raised by the Zhou shao'din, Xue-La takes her reverence of the spirits of her ancestors and of the land seriously, and does her utmost to fulfill her charge as a protector and companion to them. She is not one to suffer dishonorable choices and actions, even if they may be for the best. Because of her protection of the elemental spirits, she is not one to forgive those who torture and manipulate them, such as the Dark Shaman, and considers such individuals her greatest adversaries.

Despite a rather narrow list of achievements, Xue-La aspires to succeed and accomplish great things. Her passion for doing her utmost leads her to never settle for 'just enough' and devote all her attention and effort to whatever she puts her mind to. There is no room for cowardice; even in the face of possibly defeat, Xue-La wears a face of bravery. Despite this, she is not brash; she still believes in the wisdom of judgment tempered by clarity and principles.

Fostered for (and by) her bond with the elemental spirits, Xue-La also has a most energetic streak, always willing to engage Lin Yu in sport and play and join others in merriment. It is believed that the elements brought her the sense of joy, and that without that bond, she can be more serious and jaded in nature. She is not oblivious to serious matters, however, and knows when to meet them with similar seriousness.

Though Xue-La is not strictly bound to the factions and prefers to exist outside of the two, she is not without her preference. The crimes of the Horde to corrupt the elements and enslave the Pandaren people in the past are not ones she has easily forgotten, and she feels the Alliance better understands her values of honor. However, in the end, she is aligned with Pandaria first and foremost.

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