The Jade Forest: Part 2

(Format change – I can’t be bothered doing my own views like this, and I find it way easier to write this in past tense. Hope it’s still enjoyable, even if I’m not adding much character to it yet!)

Honeydew Village specialises in farming and brewing. It’s a beautiful place to view the scenery from, surrounded by green bluffs and overlooked by the beautiful bronze ruins of Thunder Hold. The trees here are wondrous shades of green and red. The locals here – the Pandaren – call this the Jade Forest.

I set out this morning to help search for one of the unconfirmed survivors, a troll by the name of Zin’jun. From the top of the village bluff you can see the remnants of Hellscream’s Fist embedded in a nearby bluff. I decided to set out from the top of the village, where a little forest path leads further away from the coastal farms. The green hills here are called the Ascent of Swirling Winds. I decided to look there – it was too dense to be searched last night.

Curiously, terrified critters dash about here. I found Zun’jin not too high up, amongst some small ruins and surrounded by the corpses of oddly-shaped ape-men. He was bleeding pretty heavily. He was clearly not going to make it to the Village in time, but I agreed to help him with avenging him upon the odd monkey things that had stolen his possessions. Not far out, we found the remnants of an old statue, with feet bigger than our own bodies. I decided to sketch it for display in Silvermoon – it looked ancient.

We made our way up the Ascent, killing the monkey-things as we went. They did not seem to be very intelligent, and quickly yielded Zun’jin’s eyes, rifle and, sadly, the corpse of Snuff, his beloved tiger. A dark rain began as he said his mournful goodbyes.

“I must avenge Snuff before me death. De leader o’ dese things be named Konk.”

With Zun’jin’s weapon and eyes restored we continued our trek up the Ascent. The forest was hazy with mists as the rain pelted us, and forest spice filled our lungs. Pandaria – such a beautiful place to be in. But war mattered more right now, sadly. What if we were making war on an innocent people whose territory we had literally crashed into? Cries of ‘wicked invaders’ and ‘no outsiders allowed’ from the hostile natives certainly backed it up – I was feeling more and more uneasy.

Along the way I finished detailing the statue remnants I was seeing around – they formed a massive-looking creature that seemed to exude dominance even in statue form. It was curious, but the statue resembled the same thing I’d seen at Thunder Hold. I could only hope whatever they represented were long gone as they had been in the ruins, for the looked terrible. Reaching a little branch of the Ascent, we stumbled across a cave.

‘Dis be de Nook of Konk. He ‘oled up here after I beat him too much.’

Fighting our way past the guard, we reached a little cave that resembled a dwelling, with a single creature waiting inside, surrounded by relative opulence. The architecture within was sort of a cross between what I had seen in Honeydew Village and in the ruined Hold. A similar, but smaller statue to the one I’d seen earlier was decapitated inside, along with several idols of the curious ape-creatures from earlier.

Konk was more powerful than his underlings, but no match for both I and Zun’jin, felled by canny use of mirror image and well-aimed shots. With his death, the ape-men fled and we were left alone. I sent up a flare, but Zun’jin breathed his last alongside Snuff. At least they would be together in the Great Dark Beyond. Not long after, Nazgrim and his surviving underlings arrived. Nazgrim was furious that Zun’jin had held out so long only to be felled by lesser creatures.

‘We identified the Alliance airstrip on our search. You will destroy it for the Horde and secure our safety!’

The Airstrip lay further up the Ascent, constructed from logs of the nearby trees and filled with the surviving Alliance of the first battle. As we surveyed, a Pandaren merchant ran up from Honeydew Village. He explained that the Pandaren had volunteered to build the airstrip, thinking that the Alliance needed shelter after arriving on Pandaria – but the Alliance soon turned it into a military base and had begun to hold Pandaren villagers against their will.

Still well-charged (the ape-men were really not too much of a challenge) I set out towards the airstrip, which was already under attack by Horde ground troops. I managed to stealth my way through, freeing Pandaren and taking out Alliance troops, until I got to their actual airbase. I fought past their commanders, making my way to the tower, and began sending fire and arcane streaks through the sky. The gyrocopters they had used to destroy our air fleet fell in quick succession.

I am only ensuring our safety. It felt more like a lie than a truth. I was desperately afraid that I would not make it out of this forest alive. With the entire airstrip ablaze I quickly leapt from the tower and muttered an incantation to slow my fall into the forest.

I caught my breath for a few minutes in a little bamboo copse, then headed back to the reclaimed Nook of Konk. I wish I could stay for longer, take a good look around.

Nazgrim did not share my sentiments.

‘The Alliance coward has been spotted. Doren. We must find and kill him!’

So we set out once again. I was more than a little doubtful that this would go to plan a second time. We quickly made our way through the ruined airstrip to a cave system the Alliance had retreated to, across a bridge from the airstrip.

‘The Den of Defiance.’ Nazgrim muttered grimly. ‘This will be their last stand. FOR THE HORDE!’

Doren was no match for Nazgrim’s fury from the earlier battle. Though I lended aid in magic and distraction, it was a battle firmly between the two. As Doren began to lose the fight, doubt crept across his face. He knew he was going to lose, and the Alliance’s foothold with it.

He screamed and began to mutate.

It was like the creatures earlier – shadow and light flickered over him and his body mutated, squirming like the construct of an old god beneath your feet. He was turning into one of the creatures from earlier. Nazgrim retreated, powerless to stop the transformation as the ground beneath Doren’s feet blackened.

‘Get back!’ I was dazed by the blur of Tarun Zhu’s body as he leapt into the cave, involving the monstrosity that Doren had become with some kind of extremely fast martial arts. The creature was no match for him, and soon lay dead on the floor like the ones I had seen earlier.

‘This is one of the Sha – physical manifestations of negative emotions that will consume an entire person if they are made strong enough.

The Pandaren will not stand with you. This is a bloodbath that will only lead to more destruction. You have seen the end result. Let this be your warning.’

With that, Tarun Zhu stalked out of the cave. General Nazgrim seemed unaffected.

‘We must make haste if we are to continue our efforts without reinforcements. Quickly, meet me at the ruined airstrip!’ With all the enthusiasm of a magical sprite he sprinted out of the cave.

I rested before following. The information took a while to process. Would the Alliance and Horde continue this war now that they had experienced its terrors? Was this the brunt of it, or would it truly get worse, as I had been warned? Would military command hear of this at all?

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