Trials of the Mind is the name of a great challenge faced by Leugim in order to gain a stronger control over his emotions. It happens in the day after the events of Burden and is a direct sequel to the story.
In the morning, with the sun shining above the cold and snowy ambience of the Peak of Serenity, Leugim's meditation was interrupted by Bojo, calling the corpse on behalf of his pandaren masters. The duo went up to their monk masters at the Tiger Shrine, bowing respectfully to them upon arriving. The trio of masters, after greeting Leugim and Bojo, told the corpse to follow them to the Cave of the Crane, after ordering Kegpaw to not come with them, as this was supposed to further help Leugim in maintaining his peace of mind, or what was closest to it to one of his kind. Bojo, although concerned and eager to watch and even aid Leugim's recovery, nodded firmly in obedience, the Huojin pandaren making his way to the training grounds afterwards.
As Santangelo and his teachers made their way to the caves, Xing-qi said that, although what brought Leugim to attempt suicide was doubt and despair, the corpse had other negative emotions to deal with before fighting those, saying that those two were too strong and that they fed at the consequences of Leugim's actions provoked by the violence and brutality of his warrior nature, Di-yi made an extra remark, stating that something woke Leugim's anger to incredible proportions, and, based on their limited information of Leugim's part in the Grey Legion when the corpse told them about what brought him to this situation, stated that Santangelo's proximity to orcs such as Mol'Tsok, although admittedly benefical as they made him extremely bolder in terms of attitude, also made the corpse tap too much in his most primal negative feelings, which boosted his hatred and anger, giving birth to much more violence. Leugim snarled in a nearly threatening manner, questioning if they were trying to brainwash him in order to cull his mind from all these three emotions, Di-san slowly shook her head, calmly stating they were merely going to aid Leugim in subduing and acquiring a better control over them, for they were truly needed for any being's well living, but existed solely to be defeated and surpassed.
Once they arrived and emptied the Cave of the Crane of the people researching the scrolls within, the three masters told Leugim to sit at the center of the halls while they positioned themselves around the Forsaken as if to form a triangle around him. The corpse was then told to empty his mind and meditate like he was doing before, although Santangelo didn't exactly understand the use in that, his ethereal eyes slowly faded as he rested both hands over his lap and lowered his head. About a minute later, his body began to hover and a meditative cloud spawned under him while his hands began emitting a jade green aura, indicating his success. The masters watched Leugim as he meditated for about three minutes, never breaking their triangle formation, and, once they noticed Santangelo reached a deep state of abstraction, the three pandaren channeled massive torrents of jade mists into the corpse, one going into his chest while the other two each entered his body's left and right side, the mists served as some sort of catalyst for a barrage of very small-sized bursts of purifying Chi into the corpse's organism. As the purifying pseudo beams were channeled into the apprentice, black and white smoke began to sprout from Leugim's hands, replacing the jade aura on them, and then from his empty eye sockets, also spawning from his nostrils minutes later and then from his mouth. The masters grew tense as they forced Leugim's negative emotions to manifest physically, but they bravely proceeded with the enchantment, resulting in all of the smoke leaving Leugim's body through every rotten pore, the smoke spread across the room but soon assembled in front of Leugim ten seconds later, the burst of energy disrupting Santangelo's meditative state.
Suddenly, the swirling darkness enveloped all of them, and the group found themselves in a twisted version of the cave. The original Cave of the Crane could be seen from the semi-transparent walls of the dark realm they were transported into. Xing-qi, using the arcane knowledges she abandoned long ago to enroll in the path of the monk, concluded that what happened to them is that they were transported into a pocket dimension created by the Sha creature. As the darkness became thicker, a both angered and concerned Leugim asked them what was happening, Xing-qi answered that they had unwittingly empowered the local Sha, a Sha that they didn't expect to exist at the Peak, by trying to summon forth Leugim's emotions in physical form so that he could deal with each one of them individually, which caused the Sha to pull them in like a hunter capturing his prey with a trap, so that it may feed on Leugim's aroused thoughts, with Di-yi supposing that he and the other two masters were sucked into it as well so that the creature could "have a dessert" after it was done with Santangelo.
Violence, Hatred and Anger
The corpse assumed the Stance of the Fierce Tiger and readied himself to battle the monstrosity that trapped them within its realm. Afraid that the creature could suck more people inside, the three masters started using the best their powers could provide to contain the walls of the pocket dimension to prevent the Sha from manifesting physically outside.
Part of the darkness converged to the center of the cave in the shape of some black and white smoke. The smoke soon acquired a cocoon-like form, with human arms and legs sprouting from it, the right hand that came out of the cocoon soon began to grow wildly until it became a seemingly shapeless clawed hand with three fingers, the smoke then began to acquire the form of a whole human body wearing what seemed to be a distorted gear of a Stormwind guard, once the head was formed, a black goo-like substance sprouted from the top of its bald self and mutated into what seemed to be hair, the eye sockets had nothing but a dull grey faint glow filling them. After roughly half a minute, the transformation was complete, the human apparition roared at Leugim and readied itself for battle, the roar echoed through Leugim's mind, instantly flooding his mind with memories of his childhood and his suffering at the hands of his father, the corpse stared at the summoned creature as the memories struggled to divert his focus from reality, there was no doubt to him about what was in front of him when his masters said that Leugim's violence, anger and hatred had a single name and face, the being in front of Leugim, the manifestation of all these three emotions at once, was no other than an apparition of his wretched father.
Xing-qi told Leugim that they were sorry, their summoning had gone wrong. Di-san said that they intended to summon each of Leugim's emotions at once, but they were so strongly intertwined that, when one was brought up, the others two followed. The trio offered themselves to help fighting the vile presence they summoned before it fully fed on all of their negative emotions and became strong enough to finally manifest properly in their realm, but Leugim shook his head and told them to keep containing the energy, because, since the creature was feeding on his own emotions, then it was up to him and himself alone to face and defeat it.
The deformed figure of Miguel rapidly charged at Leugim as soon as the corpse finished speaking, a disturbing roar coming from it's trembling mouth as it attempted to slam its monstrous hand at the undead monk, who promptly jumped before the fist would connect. Leugim landed over the twisted hand and used it as a platform as he ran all the way through half of the beast's arm and slammed his plated right boot at it's face in the blink of an eye, rapidly bringing it down as Santangelo leapt off of it before losing support, landing behind the pseudo-humanoid and preparing a stomp towards skull. The creature rapidly rolled forward and started hovering as it rose and stared at the Three Masters with widened void eyes, seconds later, it landed with a brutal stomp as soon as it turned to Leugim, a shockwave of Sha energy going for the young corpse, the monk kneeling down as he enveloped himself in Chi, warding him against the attack, the energy of the shield was then reabsorbed by the corpse as he propelled himself forward, concentrating it in his left fist as he slammed it against the side of the Sha's face, the impact of the punch plus the ensuing burst of Chi energy causing it to stagger hardly to its left, to the point it stumbled with the wall.
The Three Masters watched the raging fight with a concerned frown, Leugim's attacks were causing no harm to the beast although it seemed to be doing so, the pandaren discussed while warding the cave in low whispers, their eyes never leaving the wild Sha beast. After roughly half an hour, they noticed that the beast started growing after each blow it took from Leugim, and was becoming faster and stronger, progressively surpassing the corpse and frustrating his attempts to hit it, its successful blows becoming more and more overwhelming.
Enter Doubt, Fear and Despair
Leugim's attacks began growing reckless the more he failed to hit the evil creature, which only caused him to be further brutalized by the beast, the corpse began to wonder what would happen to him should he fail, what would be of the Grey Legion, he tried to plot a way to defeat the growing enemy, but it's blows clouded his mind further, the more he thought and realized he wasn't reaching any conclusion, the more doubt grew within him, and the more it grew, despair also started to gain ground in this battle. Deformations grew around the Sha as thick gray smoke left the corpse's body and was absorbed by the creature as it fed on Leugim's doubts, fear and despair.
Upon noticing how increasingly savage Leugim became throughout the battle and how bigger and stronger the creature was becoming, Di-san realized that it was feeding on the corpse's fury all long, the monk master rapidly leapt, landing behind the creature as it repeatedly slammed Leugim against the wall, the corpse roaring and struggling to get off the Sha beast's grasp but to no avail, the woman rapidly brought the creature down with a swift leg sweep and pinned it down by stomping its neck, a stoic expression in her face as she stared into the beast's eyes as it struggled to rise, the pandaren looked over at the angered Leugim and calmly stated that the corpse was repeating his same mistakes all over again and that his actions during the fight had only made his enemy stronger. The monk apprentice snarled savagely as his ethereal eyes trembled, his shaken voice asking how was he supposed to defeat the incarnation of his very nature, the pandaren closed her eyes and shook her head, stating that he has to discover it by himself, and said he better do it fast before the creature became too strong to contain.
Leugim nodded firmly and slowly reassumed the Stance of the Fierce Tiger, Di-san lifted her foot and leapt back to the entrance, the freed Sha rapidly rising and attempting to swipe Leugim with its deformed hand, the overly thoughtful corpse was propelled against the right wall from the impact of the mighty blow, snapping back to reality, Leugim rose, a void expression in his face as he composed himself and stared at the creature, the Sha beast charged at the corpse, attempting to tackle him against the wall again, but the corpse rapidly stepped to his right, letting the creature crash against it alone, the apparition even sinking slightly into the rock due to the amount of brute force put into it's failed blow.
Leugim merely watched as the creature unstuck itself, Di-yi and Xing-qi quirked a brow, wondering what the corpse had in mind, Di-san slapped the back of the other two masters' heads and told them to keep on warding the entrance, which they promptly resumed. Xing-qi moved her sight from the Sha to Leugim, staring curiously at the corpse as she channeled the protective Chi that blocked the cave.
The freed Sha growled angrily, but before it could turn to face Leugim, the corpse rapidly slammed his boot against its "spine", sinking it back into the wall exactly where it got stuck. Despite the strength of the blow, Leugim's expression was emotionless, the attack being mere use of strength directed to pin down a target without almost no influence of his desires to have revenge on the creature that humiliated him so far. The beast tried to unstuck itself again, but the corpse kept his boot over its back to press it back, Di-san's words echoing across Leugim's mind as he watched the creature becoming progressively more furious the more it failed to get out of the wall, the corpse also noticed that, although it was getting more angry, it wasn't growing, nor was it as strong as it was before, Leugim slowly nodded, finally realizing what his master meant. Leugim stepped back slowly and stood still as the Sha unstuck itself, the corpse placing both hands over his waist as he stared at it and waited for the beast's move, as the Sha ran towards him, Leugim merely crouched and brought it to the ground in the same fashion that his master had previously done. Instead of pinning it, however, Leugim stepped back again and watched as it rose and propelled itself against him, the corpse dodging each of the Sha's punches, kickes, claw swipes and corruptive breaths, but not counterattacking, just stepping away instead. The corpse chuckled darkly, stating that he didn't believe how agitated he was that he couldn't conclude that it was him the reason behind the creature's growth, he taunted the beast as it glared at him by saying he already knew what to do, slowly reassuming the Stance of the Fierce Tiger.
The creature howled in anger and charged at the corpse, attempting to slam its deformed hand against his chest, Leugim merely crouching and hitting it from below with an uppercut as he rose, tilting his head at the creature as he proceeded to avoid and dodge the beast's following headbutts and punching sequences, his face growing more emotionless by the moment, the corpse wondered as he avoided the creature's attacks, he wondered if he was exaggerating in his emotional supression, if he would end up becoming a completely cold shell, his thoughts whispering him what would be of him if he became just as apathetic as his other brethren, if even the anger and hatred he once felt was no more, it questioned what would remain of his original self to carry on his objectives for the Horde, when such thoughts spawned in his mind, Leugim took the full might of kneeblow crackling with Sha energy directly at his upper stomach, the dark energies ensuing from the impact causing the corpse to snarl as they connected with his soul. Leugim was then grabbed by the neck and slammed against the wall, staring stoically at the creature, the monk stating that he finally understood the reasons behind such sudden thoughts, the beast was attempting to feed on his doubt and fear, after sinking his claw fingers into the creature's normal hand, which held his neck, and blasting it from the inside with Crackling Jade Lightning spawning from the tip of his rotten sharp fingers, Leugim stated that a true Forsaken does not give in to fear, as the creature let him go for being unable to stand the pain, Santangelo answered his corruptive thoughts that he wasn't becoming an empty shell, and that while almost nothing of his humanity truly remained, he was still himself, only renewed and stronger. After slamming his palm against the snarling beast's Sha and blasting it against the ceiling with a Chi Burst upon connecting his hand against its body, he said that, for the undead, emotions are truly to be felt, but that they're no longer wild animals, and are to be tamed.The creature growled as it crashed against the ceiling and fell face first on the ground, Leugim slowly stepped towards the fallen Sha creature, stating that what gave birth to it is supposed to serve him, the Sha diminshed as the corpse's mastery over his emotions became more evident, it rose with difficulty, staring Leugim in his ethereal eyes. The corpse shook his head, stating that the creature would never be able to hold any sort of domain over him again, but that he didn't seek to dominate it either, Leugim said that, after seeing its deeds across Pandaria, such power was born only to be destroyed.
The creature growled, but now the sound was weaker than before, it's head shaking as Leugim said that he was going to seek revenge whenever he saw fit, but never allow the feeling dominate him as it used to, stating that his father will meet his fate, but that he won't go after the wretched man anymore, Santangelo then concluded that he is now waiting for his father to find him so that they can settle their matters. The Sha panted heavily as it heard Leugim's words helplessly, its form degenerating into a standard Sha after hearing the portions about his father.
Leugim stepped backwards, stating that it was time to deliver the final blow, challenging the beast to land a single hit on him as his violence still needed "some work" before being properly controlled. The Sha roared, its fury reawakened as it charged against Leugim, the corpse dodging and parrying each of its blows, but never fighting back, the Sha's form began to diminish further and emit thick smokes that dispersed as soon as they disengaged from its body, as if it was about to vaporize. Leugim's masters stared the scene with a joyful smile upon seeing the corpse gain the upper hand against his inner demons, watching as the Sha crumbled the more it failed to hit the corpse, in time, the ooze-like substance of the beast vanished, leaving only its skeleton-like structure behind, which shattered and vanished into nothingness as soon as it hit the ground.
As soon as the Sha disappeared, the dark cave was filled with peace, the Three Masters finally stopped channeling the protective ward as they and Leugim were phased back to the Cave of the Crane now that the essence of the twisted dimension was gone. Unlike the dark phased cave they found themselves in, the Cave of the Crane was fortunately intact.
The Three Masters went to talk to the curious monks outside, who were attracted by the sounds of the Sha's summoning and had witnessed the group disappearing right in front of them. As Leugim walked out of the cavern, the first emotion in his previously void face being an expression of surprise as he stood by Di-yi, who was between Xing-qi and Di-san. Some apprentices in the crowd were surprised at what the masters told them, and a smaller impressed portion of that group looked over at Leugim and nodded respectfully at him, which the corpse promptly answered with a firm salute. Leugim stared at them before looking at the rest of the crowd, and found interesting the racial variety of the small group that regarded him, them being orcs, Darkspear trolls, and even humans and dwarves. After congratulating the corpse for overcoming such an unexpectedly dangerous trial, his masters departed with the crowd back to the training grounds, telling Leugim to follow them as soon as he saw fit, with Di-yi remarking that this "soon" didn't take too long, which the corpse answered with a rapid nod.
Amid the departing crowd leapt a pandaren towards the undead, Bojo landed in front of Leugim and punched the corpse's shoulder, stating how proud he was of the undead's success. After answering the overly eager Bojo's questions about the battle and how it went, the two followed the crowd to the training grounds, where Leugim spent the rest of the day.
The Three Masters' Fate
In the late night of that same day, while Leugim trained alone at the grounds, his three masters were summoned by the other masters and their superiors, in which they were questioned about the reasons behind such a dangerous rite right into the Peak of Serenity, as if the chaos brought by the newly arrived war wasn't enough. Di-yi stated that there wasn't anything wrong in having the apprentices fight against their manifested inner demons, and that the problem was in that the Forsaken's link between emotions is more complex than they had expected, Xing-qi said that no one could have predicted that summoning a single emotion would cause others to be simultaneously evoked as it never happened before, nor could have anyone predicted that it would bring them to a hidden spot of Sha energy, Di-san defended herself and her comrades by stating that a similar process was used to test those from beyond the mists at the Temple of the White Tiger and that nothing was done against it. Di-san's argument was promptly reprimended by one of the upper masters, who stated that such thing was done by the White Tiger himself and that he can do whatever he wishes to his own temple, the ones of Xing-qi and Di-yi were also rapidly countered by saying the trio was assigned to include Leugim and other undead among their apprentices with the exact intent of learning about them, it was also said that, if the corpse had failed, the consequences would be catastrophic and that the Peak of Serenity has to remain a beacon of peace and harmony, free of the chaos of the Sha. After hours of discussion, it was defined that Di-yi, Di-san and Xing-qi were no longer allowed to train apprentices at the Peak, they could remain there as students and could try to teach at other training grounds, but they wouldn't do it at the Peak of Serenity any time soon. When asked if they had any final considerations, Di-san asked that they didn't do anything to Leugim and allowed him to continue his training, as what happened to him and what he did were their fault, the masters said that the undead was safe as he was only following his masters' orders and even remarked his success positively, but that such thing should never be repeated and that the trio's defense of the method proved them unfit of training apprentices of the Peak, one of them concluded that their students will be assigned to masters almost as good as they were, but who wouldn't be prone to such mistakes.
The trio of former masters thus turned around and walked to the training grounds to bid goodbye for Leugim and his fellow undead colleagues, the only ones awaken and training at such a late time. The news brought by them deeply shook the corpse's mind, but he kept his ground as he was shown the outcome of such extremisms. After the other Forsaken, those who actually cared about their masters' departure, spoke to the pandaren trio, Leugim finally stepped forward and expressed his support of his former teachers' methods after saying he knew exactly how it felt to be punished for using methodology that, although effective and even vital at times, won't match others' standards. Santangelo and the pandaren trio spent about half an hour speaking about the subject until Di-yi deemed they should leave the Peak and seek a new destiny for them, the other two agreed and departed with interesting news, stating that their time with Leugim and the other apprentices from beyond the mists had convinced them of where to go: Di-yi-, Xing-qi and Di-san said that they were on their way to pledge their allegiance to the Horde.
In the morning of the following day, the three pandaren officially joined the Horde after a brief discussion with some of the faction's authorities at Domination Point, then took a portal to Orgrimmar, where they started making contact with the Huojin Pandaren and started learning of their philosophies, the three eventually became part of the pandaren faction of the Horde.
During the morning of the next day, Leugim was seen leaving the Peak by a female tauren apprentice who then questioned him about where he was leaving to that time, Leugim stated that he had people needing him at Kalimdor, Bojo approached the two, to wish Leugim luck on whatever he needs to do at Kalimdor and, joking, acquiring some new plate armor for himself. The corpse grinned darkly and rubbed his left palm agains his chest leather attire, saying that that he had chosen his definite path, and that the recent experiences he went through showed that this was the right one to follow, then departed, unarmed, wearing nothing but the simple leather armor and his leather-covered pair of boots.
Leugim went to the Shrine of Two Moons, where he took a portal to Orgrimmar and then made his way to Silverwind Refuge at Ashenvale, where the Grey Legion was still deployed, in order to resume his works for the guild. Some people noticed the difference in Leugim's attire and some changes in the corpse's behavior, though his habits didn't remain like that for long, or so others thought.
From that day on, although Leugim seemed to be the same corpse of before, he was only doing so because he allowed such emotions to flow in such way, as if giving his "pet feelings" some free time before incarcerating them when needed. This obviously wasn't always the case, but Santangelo surely acquired a considerable emotional control that would only be shattered in moments of great frustrations in sequence or other extreme cases.
In the third day following the trial, Bojo went to Mistfall Village and met with Mizaia once again, the two decided to stay there for a week to aid the Golden Lotus and the Shado-Pan in defending the Vale of Eternal Blossoms from the mogu and mantid threats, but their plans changed when they noticed they had enough resources and money to build a simple homestead at Mistfall Village, the two thus settled at the Vale, although Bojo would remain going for the Peak for training on a daily basis.