30 Days of Character Development #2: Ben-Lin
[Each week, a post will profile one of the blog’s many supporting players. See the first profile for more details. Feel free to chime in with recommendations for other characters you’d like to see more about.]
Occupation: Counselor, specializing in meditation and stress/anger management
Class: Monk (retired)
Group affiliations: Horde (member), Huojin Pandaren (member), Shang Xi’s Academy (former student)
Known relatives: Ting Cloudstrider (daughter), Dewei Cloudstrider (son), Kenji Cloudstrider (husband, deceased)
First appearance: “Anger management”
Key posts and plot points:
- Ben-Lin met Garrosh – along with many other blog notables – while conducting an anger management seminar in the fittingly titled “Anger management.” The session proved…less than productive. Since then, she has continued to meet with Garrosh in an attempt to teach him to better control his temper. (Admittedly, visible results have been questionable at best, but let’s be fair – she had the deck stacked pretty heavily against her.)
- Traveled with the Horde expedition to Pandaria and accompanied Garrosh on his first trip to Tian Monastery (“I think I can remember your name”, “Shock the monkey”, “Getting around with the Shado-pan”, and “The geometry of shadows”), where the Warchief first encountered Elder Couldfall. She also joined Garrosh on a follow-up journey to Tian to recruit Elder Cloudfall’s aid in “Moments of transition.”
- Worth noting is that Ben-Lin appears to be one of the only people capable of making Garrosh stop and listen with any regularity (such as “ordering” him back to bed while he was sick with the Pandaren flu in “A sniffly Warchief is a cranky Warchief”). Evidently, the Warchief has trouble holding his ground with greatmotherly women.
- A few behind-the-scenes notes for those who might be interested: Ben-Lin is a veritable walking bundle of science-fiction referentiality. The name “Ben-Lin” is a deliberate nod toward another even-tempered mentor figure – and, in fact, the name was largely chosen specifically to set up this joke:
Her last name, “Cloudstrider,” was likewise meant to parallel “Skywalker.” (Also worth noting – the names of the two pandaren who have become mentors of sorts for Garrosh: Cloudstrider and Cloudfall.) And, lest the Babylon-5 fans among you feel neglected (I know you’re out there!) – Ben-Lin’s outfit and, to a lesser extent, speech patterns were designed to be reminiscent of the B5 character Delenn.
In her own words:
What is your most prominent physical feature?
I have been told that my eyes are fairly distinctive. They are violet, which is highly uncommon among pandaren, and held by many among our people to be a sign of inner balance. This was pointed out to me many times as a small child, though my parents would likely have held me as a counterexample at the time.
Describe your happiest memory.
Ironically, the passing of my husband Kenzi. This is not to say that I wished his death, or that I do not miss him dearly. He was some years older than me, and had been in poor health in his final months. The night he died – he knew the end was close – we sat and reflected on our life together. There was no sadness or regret. Each memory served only to remind us how much more this life had given us than we could ever fairly have asked. He held my paw, and thanked me for making him young, then passed away peacefully. I did not feel grief. I felt – and continue to feel – grateful.
Is there one event or happening you would like to erase from your past? Why?
No. I believe that every step of our journey is a part of what makes us who we are. I have had misfortunes and hurts, as do we all, but they have all left remainder that has helped to shape me. Without any one of them, I do not know who I would have become.
There are two: my coming to Shang Xi’s Academy, and my departure from the Wandering Isle to begin a new life among the Horde. Each marked the beginning of a new adventure. The first began in my youth and opened a world to me of learning, friendship, love, enlightenment – all of which are, of course, different words seeking vainly to express the same thing. I look forward to discovering where the second will take me.
How are you with technology? Super savvy, or way behind the times? Letters or e-mail?
I am almost comically inept with most machinery. Much of it is new to me; having lived almost my entire life on the Wandering Isle, I was not in a position to keep up with the latest inventions. This is likely for the best. Given my poor skill level, exposure to the latest technologies would only have provided me with new and better ways to embarrass myself. Letters, most certainly. I do not have the e-mail. To this day, I know the internet only by reputation. (That reputation does not, by and large, inspire me to investigate further.)
What does your bed look like when you wake up? Are the covers off on one side of the bed, are they all curled around a pillow, sprawled everywhere? In what position do you sleep?
My bed tends to be relatively tidy, and I make it each morning after rising. I sleep on my back; I am a very deep sleeper, and usually do not stir very much during the night.
Are you an early morning bird or a night owl?
An early morning bird. I wake each morning just before dawn. Wherever I live, I always take care to have a window that faces east, so that I may watch the sun rise.
Are you a good cook? What is your favorite recipe?
I cannot say that I am an expert cook, but I am told that my wildfowl ginseng soup is quite good. I wish I could have inherited my father’s skill with the steamer; I often miss his steamed crab surprise. I have tried many times to recreate it. The result often tries even my discipline over my temper.
I prefer to travel by foot when possible. If not, I am adequately proficient in the use of Pandaren kites. I prefer not to employ animal mounts, as I suspect they have destinations of their own that they would prefer over mine.
Do you have any irrational fears?
Is there any other kind?
What might your ideal romantic partner be?
My years of study and meditation tell me that it is unwise to cling to some imagined ideal; such perfect fantasies serve only to impoverish our appreciation of the reality before us, beautiful often precisely for its flaws.
My heart, however, tells me: Kenji. Again, I am grateful.
Are you superstitious?
I am a mother of three. Hardly can one say that, without having spent many hours with crossed fingers.
How do you smell? Do you wear perfume or cologne?
Though my sense of smell, I would venture, is unremarkable, I do have a sensitive nose, which most perfumes tend to irritate. My one compensation is that I often let snow lilies soak in the water before washing my fur.
[OOC note: Running a little behind on posts after a bit of a trying week. Luckily, there’s a lot in the pipeline, so we should have some relatively rapid-fire posting this week, including, yes, the follow-up to that last little freakout-inspiring nugget. Also stay tuned for news and announcements concerning the return of the Friends-of-WCB meta raid!]