Bloodied Heart: Further Up and Further In

From the wreckage of the Jade Forest they made their way west and up the coast until they reached scalable land. The warm summer plains of the Valley of the Four Winds were a welcome release from the endless downpour of the eastern Forest. For much of the time they spent travelling and lounging, the sun remained high in the sky, cool winds blew, and little troubled them.

A few virmen burrows later, they found themselves in Halfhill, where ample research supplies were acquired, and communication began to come in. Only a handful had survived the Sha of Doubt (which the pandaren had destroyed) and had been taken north, into the mountain range of Kun-Lai, to heal. The Convocation would move to Binan Village, the border between the valley and the mountains, and decide upon a new course of action alongside the remaining Horde forces.

All in all, the Convocation had made it through the Forest with little damage compared to the Horde scouting armies. There had been troop losses, but nothing to stop them keeping going. There was reason to be thankful.

Some days later, with full rations, and a collection of pandaren-crafted weaponry, the Convocation set off to the northern borders of the Valley, where thin mountain trails awaited them.

‘There is an inn midway up the trail. We will make our way there, rest, and then head into the village. Follow me.’ With that, Sorlain led the way, scaling the Hundred Steps up through the Veiled Stair. A rather motley crew of magi, paladins, and warriors followed behind. A short way up, they encountered a single pandaren Lorewalker.

‘Beware the mountain passes. The saurok hide in the trees, the bushes, the rivers.’

The various scouts looked around, but nothing seemed out of order. As the Lorewalker continued her path down the Steps, Sorlain tutted derisively. ‘Little children’s tales are no match for our-‘

A boulder rolled down the stairs out of nowhere, crushing the stone beneath it and slamming into the forward members. The back of the troupe scattered and Keliera shielded herself, draining a substantial part of her magic. Sorlain was slammed into the wall and collapsed forward as the boulder trundled down the rest of the way into the Valley.

‘Report…’

Most had survived intact, with Sorlain as the greatest casualty. Supporting him, they moved to continue up the stairs until a volley of allows fired down. Saurok. They loosed more arrows at the group, and the faint acidic smell of poison drifted towards Keliera. She prepared a spell and as the Convocation fought back she fired a devastating wave of arcane, wiping out half the saurok on the ledge above them and destroying several feet of tall grass, exposing more saurok.

By the time the fight ended the inn was in sight, but Keliera was drained dry and many of the Convocation were injured. Aided by potion, they struggled to the inn, significantly weaker than they had anticipated.

Two days later, dank mists set in over the entire mountain system. Though thin at first, gradually the vapour built until seeing past one’s face became almost impossible. The nature of Pandaria made weather unpredictable but constant – if it was not mist it would be rain, or fierce winds. So, the Convocation had to press onwards. Having spent their spare time completing mundane tasks for the local powerbase – some Soya or something, Keliera did not know – the mostly-healed Convocation packed up banners and weaponry and set off across the high trails that let across the dry canyons of the Stair and onto the lowest of Kun-Lai’s bluffs.

For much of the journey, it was quiet; the mountains loomed overhead, casting shadow on their silent trudging. Although the saurok infested the region, the pandaren had survived for millennia with just one passage through the saurok breeding caves. The earlier stairs, cut through a mountain by legions of mogu slaves, had not been replicated. For some reason, the intricate mogu stonework of their earliest kingdoms stopped completely just beyond the Tavern. Regardless, they pressed on until they met the entrance to the saurok cavern, where they were to sneak their way through, pressed against the wall under an illusion that would make them appear as the wall itself.

They encountered few saurok until the narrow bottleneck that marked the border into the Kun-Lai side of the tunnel. At once, everything seemed to go wrong. Focused on helping maintain the illusion, Keliera was forced to watch as the invisible grummle boat bearing their supplies was destroyed by impeccable saurok marksmanship. The grummles shrieked, drowning as the cavern’s currents pulled them into another room along with the supplies. The waves roared, splashing the Convocation and causing Sorlain to slip and nearly fall into the water. A group of saurok were alerted and a desperate push through the bottleneck ensued, resulting in a skirmish.

Fortunately the only casualties were those of the supplies and the grummles. Soon, the Convocation pushed out from one pitch darkness into another; they were alone in the blanketing silence of Kun-Lai, the stars their only company.

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