I and Muskpaw Junior set off along the road in the twilight towards the Grummle Bazaar. It was supposed to lie in the shadow of a large temple of an August Celestial in the north – even from here we could see the temple’s large silhouette, but the Bazaar was not obvious.
Much of the journey went in relative silence, the yaks taking more of our time than conversation, but as we drew closer to the Temple I asked Muskpaw Junior about it.
‘The Temple? That’s the domain of Xuen, the White Tiger. He is the Celestial of the North and one of the guardians of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. He shepherds the yaks and brings lost children to their homes – but he is not a tame tiger.’
The Grummle Bazaar was across from the hill that the Temple was built on, a pandaren-style village brimming with grummles. Junior led me to Lucky Eightcoins, the buyer of our yaks.
‘Ooo, I can smell the luck of those yaks from here. The wait gives us much reward. And you, new friend, welcome to the Grummle Bazaar!’ Junior bade me goodbye and set back off to the Muskpaw Ranch, leaving me in the Bazaar to see its wonders and sights. Lucky Eightcoins told me about grummle culture.
‘Luckydos are places, people or things of good luck and fortune. It is a most high compliment to be called a luckydo by a grummle. Usually a luckydo has a special scent that grummle noses are keen finders of. The Grummles are the great mountain ferries, the packers of the trails, the guides through the mountains and the deliverers of supplies! We keep the defenders of the Wall well fed, and we have travelled the Burlap Trail since the mogu dynasties. But alas, the yaungol have stolen our luckydos! If they discover their secrets all grummles along the Burlap Trail will be in trouble! North of here is Fire Camp Ruqin. Recover our luckydos and we will pay you handsomely.’
Undeterred by the yaungol, the grummles kept bravely sending out convoys to all the corners of the Summit, so I agreed. The next morning I headed north onto the Burlap Trail, seeing as I did so the Temple of the White Tiger with all its silver pagodas against a background of gleaming snow-capped mountains. It was a breathtaking moment that stopped me in my tracks, and I was reminded again of the wonderful beauty of Pandaria – and why I was here.
The path led me to Fire Camp Ruqin, another fire camp filled with oil rigs and yaungol invaders. I fought my way through, and decided to tap some oil to bring to the grummles. Maybe they’d like it. I reclaimed as many luckdos as I could, and made my way back to the Bazaar and to Lucky Eightcoins.
‘Ah, it is good fortune that an elf such as you had come to help the grummles. And goof fortune comes to friends of the grummles. Now, you should talk to supplier, Smokey Sootassle.’
Smokey was just by the exit to the Burlap Trail.
‘Ah, hello, friend of the grummles! A luckydo remembers to bring incense on a journey in the mountains. The smellier the luck the better.’ Smokey handed me a bundle of incense. ‘Can you journey up to One Keg and light the incense you find on the way? This will give good fortune to travelling grummles. Speak to Brother Lintsprocket when you arrive.’
I remembered that Lorewalker Cho had been in Onekeg, so I decided to head there, but I first wanted to see the Temple of the White Tiger.
The path up to the Temple was lined with grand whitestone statues, detailed in bronze. I met some monks up the ascent.
‘Hail, monks! May I be permitted passage into the Temple of the White Tiger?’
‘Of course. But you might not be allowed to see the White Tiger himself. Legend has it that Xuen hasn’t fought in centuries. Maybe he’s getting old, for a celestial.’
The Temple grounds were full of arenas and spectators. Apparently the Temple was famed for its martial arts tournaments. I made my way across large bridges and through elaborate terraces, up the layers of the mountain, until snow littered the paths and the trees turned white. Soon, I reached the front entrance to the temple, guarded by the largest statues of the lot. The Temple looked more like a battleship than a Temple, its pagoda rooves shaped like cannons. The doors at the top of its grand staircase were upon, and I made my way in.
‘I’ve seen them with my own eyes! Mogu legions, storming the Vale in force. We are not trained for mass combat!’
‘The Alliance – even the Horde – we can help you!’
‘Great Tiger, the strangers from beyond the mists, they cannot be trusted. The wreckage in the Jade Forest attests to this.’
In the main chamber, four people argued with each other for the White Tiger’s attention. Xuen, a mystical spectral tiger, stood patiently as they argued. I could see… Taran Zhu, the Shado-Pan monk I had met when we crashed on the bluffs of the Forest. Sunwalker Dezco and Anduin Wrynn, and a pandaren in golden robes I did not know. Dezco turned to me.
‘Hail, Keliera. We have been granted audience with the White Tiger. The human prince seeks admittance into the Vale of Eternal Blossoms – for both the Alliance and the Horde. The Vale is a sacred place, the place Leza saw in her visions. Perhaps we will finally find shelter there. But the argument does not go well – perhaps you can aid myself and Anduin and intercede on our behalf. Be careful. The White Tiger likes to set tests.’
I stepped forth towards the Celestial.
‘Welcome, elf. Another stranger from beyond the mists.’
Taran Zhu interrupted.
‘Soon they will overwhelm this continent! Where do we draw the line?’
‘We’re here to lend our aid. We can help protect the Vale.’ Anduin retorted.
‘We have witnessed your “help” in the Jade Forest. This “Horde”, this “Alliance” of yours – you have no control over your own nature. You leave misery in your wake.’
Xuen silenced them. ‘Ten thousand years ago, the last Pandaren Emperor came seeking my advice. He, too, was filled with conflict. Let us see if you are correct, Taran. Let us see how this stranger deals with the turmoil of the soul.’ With that, Xuen flew me to the back of the room with his breath. The following is a transcript I was given later, as I was… busy.
A manifestation of violence was pulled out of me, forming into a likeness of my own image.
Taran Zhu says: Violence. See? They are filled with it.
Anduin Wrynn says: Yes… we are fighters. But we come from a violent land. We fought off demons, we fought off death, we even fought against the very end of the world!
Zhi the Harmonious says: It is true. They are strong. There is much they can teach us.
Upon the sha’s defeat, Anduin healed me. I used my mirror images, and it proved no match for me.
Xuen says: We can agree it is noble to fight for a righteous cause: to defend home or family. But what of vengeance? What of anger? I sense these emotions run deep in this one.
Next, a manifestation of anger formed into my own likeness.
Anduin Wrynn says: Anger is a part of us all, yes. But we value control. The orcs were once driven solely by anger – they lived in a state of bloodlust – but they conquered it.
Taran Zhu says: All you seek to conquer is each other!
Zhi the Harmonious says: To live without anger is to not live at all. It is ours to overcome. In defeating our anger, we draw great strength.
The sha was more devastating the last, coating the floors in corruption, but it fell too.
Xuen says: Well spoken, Zhi. The strangers from beyond the mists have no shortage of passions, but let us see if they indeed control them. Beyond anger lies hatred, the wellspring of all misery. What is this? Your hatred has a face!
The manifestation of hatred erupted from me, forming into two figures – Varian Wrynn and Garrosh Hellscream.
Anduin Wrynn says: That… that cannot be!
Taran Zhu says: See? See how these outsiders hate one another! They wear their hatred to battle and carry it to their graves!
Anduin Wrynn says: No, that’s not true – there is so much more to us than this!
Zhi the Harmonious says: How interesting. They bring much to our land, but they also bring the shadow of war.
Anduin Wrynn says: Peace will come. I swear it. And old hatreds will go away. You have to believe me.
The third manifestation was incredibly draining, whirling violence, anger and hatred around my head, but it fell, taking with it all my mana.
Xuen says: Well, this one has indeed proven mastery over anger. Between the young cub’s words and the actions of this hero, I think I understand. Those from beyond the mists are hardened by battle. They are scarred, yes, but they have learned much. I trust them.
Taran Zhu says: You are making a terrible mistake!
Xuen says: It is decided. I will open the gates. The Vale of Eternal Blossoms will be open for all.
Anduin Wrynn says: Thank you, Master White Tiger. You will see. I believe that my people – and the Horde – are essentially good.
Xuen says: I will consult the others. Meet me at the gates.
Sunwalker Dezco says: I find your faith inspiring, little one. But I wonder if you have ever met our warchief?
Taran Zhu stormed out.
‘You did it, Keliera! The White Tiger has agreed to allow us to accompany the pandaren into the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. I will gather the other pilgrims and we will travel into the gate together. We can set up a Horde outpost there to act as our embassy with the pandaren. When Xuen gives the word, we will send for you, and you can join us at the Gate of the August Celestials.’
On my way out, in the Temple grounds, I found another Lorewalker scroll.
‘The Emperor’s Burden – Part 6
It was at this very location ten thousand years ago that Shaohao, the Last Emperor of Pandaria, defeated the Sha of Anger, the Sha of Hatred, and the Sha of Violence.
From the Book of Burdens, Chapter 19:
“Confident and fearless, Emperor Shaohao thought nothing could stop him. But at the urging of the Red Crane, he sought out the counsel of the White Tiger, the spirit of strength.
The White Tiger saw in Shaohao a dangerous recklessness that often accompanies those with no fear. He gathered together the greatest warriors of Pandaria to test the Emperor.
Emperor Shaohao was given a ten-foot pole, and was challenged to strike one of the warriors. For hours they fought, but the warriors were too quick and too nimble for the untrained Emperor. He grew angry, he cursed, and finally, broke the staff over his knee.”
Humbled, the Emperor asked the White Tiger what was wrong, and learned that his own passions made him weak. To save Pandaria, Shaohao would have to combat his own anger, hatred, and violence.
The Monkey King sprang into action, and carved three masks. The Emperor wore each mask in turn, and with the help of his friends, as well as all the greatest warriors of Pandaria, the Sha of Anger, the Sha of Hatred, and the Sha of Violence were defeated and imprisoned beneath the ground.
The Emperor was forever changed, and as he set forth on the final leg of his adventure, he was a creature of patience, love, and peace.’
So three Sha had been defeated in Kun-Lai. Perhaps there was an explanation for what madness went on in the Summit.
I left the temple, making my way out of the grounds and back onto the Burlap Trail. The path led onto the second layer of Kun-Lai Summit, where the deep amber ground became a muddied brown, and the foliage became sparser. I lit the incense as I went, and soon reached One Keg. I checked in with Brother Lintpocket first.
‘Welcome to One Keg! Gateway to Burlap Trail and Mount Neverest.’ Sure enough, behind Onekeg stretched the tallest mountain in all of Azeroth, Neverest. It was named because no one had ever managed to scale it, if local legend was to be believed. The air here was even colder, and I began to wear furs instead of the cool robes I had worn in the south.
Cho was in the village inn.
‘Oh, hello. Nice to see you again, Keliera. The toughest roads of ten have the most to teach us. I will no doubt learn from following the path of Shaohao. Many years ago, he travelled to the top of Neverest – the highest peak in Kun-Lai – to seek the wisdom of Yu’Lon. I too will travel to Seeker’s Point in search of wisdom. If you are interested in such a journey, please speak to Uncle Cloverleaf. Until we meet again, may your journey be safe and meaningful.’ With that, Cho pointed me to a nearby grummle and set off.
‘Ah, hello, traveller! Travel to Seeker’s Point will require much good fortune. Hopefully you brought lucky trinkets.’
Unfortunately, a group to aid me up to Seeker’s Point was unable to leave. The Burlap trail was under attack here by Hozen – the Shado-Pan usually defended the trail, but they had all been recalled to the Spine for some reason. I volunteered to help encourage the local nature sprites to stay away, as they had been stealing supplies, and recover some of the luckydos for the grummles while I was at it. The Howlingwind Trail led along the snowy cliffs that formed the base of Mount Neverest and the surrounding mountains, to a cave known as Howlingwind Cavern, inhabited by snow-petal sprites.
The sprites were weak against fire magic, and fell quickly, yielding various luckydos, from coins to feet and even shoes. Throughout the cave were numerous stolen supplies, and I took as many as I could carry and levitate. Though grateful, Brother Lintpocket informed me that the grummles were still too afraid to aid me in my trek up the mountain.
‘Maybe friend of the grummles can go to the Burlap Waystation instead. Look there. But they tell us too many hozen! Hozen ravaging our entire supply line! You clear out hozen first and maybe grummles will be less scared.’
It did not seem like I had much choice, so I escorted a grummle convoy to the Burlap Waystation, a small rest stop on a hill off the main road. Spots of sha corruption still dotted the landscape. Hozen attacked in packs as we went, but ran in fear when I fought back. We made our way to the Waystation without much interference. Brother Trailscenter awaited us.
‘Many thanks and fortune to you, friend of the grummles. But the way to the Serpent’s Spine has not been cleared yet. The hozen stole Rabbitsfoot! He was the grummle with the biggest luckydo. This is very bad fortune indeed, and we need his fortune if the supply line can continue. Can you search Broketooth Outpost for him while grummles defend the Waystation?’
Broketooth Outpost was an abandoned hozen outpost to the southwest of the Waystation, and there I found Brother Rabbitsfoot, tied to a dry tree. I helped him down.
‘Many thanks for rescue of good fortune! The leader hozen here, Mo Mo, stole my rabbitsfoot. This is most unfortunate. All luck could be lost if hozen learn how to get luck from luckydos. Please can you get it back? It is a big luckydo for grummles everywhere.’
Brother Rabbitsfoot set off for the Waystation while I headed further up the cliff into the inhabited section of the Outpost. In a small cave-house at the top of the cliff was Mo Mo, the leader of the Outpost. He was a simple shaman who fell easily, and I quickly took the rabbitsfoot from him and hurried back to the Waystation.
‘I smell my luckydo! Look what Broketooths and Knucklethumps did to grummle waystation. Hardly a luckydo to be found. Grummles named for the luckydo that gives them most fortune. It is most important that hozen not steal a grummle’s luck.
Grummles had a deal with hozen. We give them food, and they don’t ravage. Whenever they think to ravage anyway, Shado-Pan remind them not to. But Shado-Pan are all away defending the wall now. And the hozen want more food than the grummles have.
Broketooth hozen have big magic idols now. They use them to get power from sacrifices, and so the hozen attack grummles. You must destroy these idols! Each Broketooth chief has an idol. Kill the chief and throw their corpses on altars. The power of the idols will break.’
Brother Trailscenter spoke to me as I prepared to go into the heart of hozen territory.
‘The Jib of Dook was a friend of grummles. He lasted a whole three seasons. Now the Ook of Dook is in charge and angry – he think food from grummles will stop soon, so he ravages. But it stop if they ravage anyway! Many grummles are dead in Broketooth village, and fortune does not shine on a grummlepack undelivered. Bring their packs to me so that they will be delivered and give the grummles peace on the great trail beyond. And while at it, destroy hozen – if they have less mouths they need less food, and there are few grummles now.’
I headed into Broketooth Village, indeed overpopulated with angry, well-armed hozen. I found the first chieftain, Hateful Ko Ko, by his own altar, and used my mirror images to confuse him until I could take him out with a barrage to the head. I quickly sacrificed him over his own altar, and it exploded, the power removed. I made my way into the Deeper, a large cave imbedded in the rocky hills of the village, where more hozen resided, and quickly killed Dak Dak, the second chieftain. I made my way down to the bottom of the cave where two dead yetis were splayed against his altar. I destroyed his idol and searched the rest of the cave, but there was no other chieftain there.
I made my way out of the village and east to Broketooth Camp, a hozen encampment in a small cleft. At the back awaited Tak Tak, the last chieftain, and his altar. I quickly utilised some more mirror images in order to kill him, destroying his idol before making my way back to the Waystation with the grummlepacks I had collected. Brother Rabbitsfoot awaited me.
‘Ah, the luckydo returns! We saw the idols explode from here. You bring us good fortune, and you bring the dead good fortune too.’ Rabbitsfoot took the grummlepacks from me. ‘The Broketooth ravage is slowed down sufficiently. However, bad luck fell upon the others. Brother Yakshoe was leading a group of grummles down the trail when the Knucklethumps attacked, taking them north to their village. Please, save my brother! They will have taken him to the altar in front of Fort Silverback. Although he has bad luck, he is my brother.’
The Knucklethump Hole, as it was known, was the village in front of Fort Silverback, and I fought my way through to Yakshoe. On a raised platform before another idol I found Mok Mok, the chief of the Knucklethumper tribe, about to sacrifice Yakshoe. I kicked him from behind, knocking him into the sacrificial fire. Yakshoe was freed and the altar was destroyed by Mok Mok’s sudden death.
‘Woohoo! And they say Yakshoe is not a luckydo. Many thanks for the rescue! Good fortune to be saved by a luckydo such as you. And Brother Rabbitsfoot says I have bad luck! Hah! Now, the hozen have a yeti called Old Poot Poot. They keep it at the back of their cave. Hozen are normally scared of yeti, but now they feed it grummles.
But bad fortune for hozen if a yeti is loose in their fort. Can you see if Cho Cho the Wicked, the hunter chief, has a key to the shackles? And rescue my grummles anyway you can!’
I made my way through the village, cutting down imprisoned grummles and fighting past hozen to the cave, where Cho Cho the Wicked dwelt with his ‘pet’ yeti. I killed him, finding the key on his person, and quickly freed Poot Poot from his bindings. The yeti inclined his head towards me… was he grateful? before dashing out of the cave, destroying all hozen insight. He dropped me off at the Waystation, now bustling with grummles again, and ran off.
Yakshoe and Rabbitfoot were appreciative.
‘You truly are a luckydo.’
‘That looked like one wild ride! Today is a day of many bad and good fortunes. Bad fortune that hozen stole the grummles. Good fortune that many were saved. Bad fortune that so many hozen had to die to learn lesson. Good fortune that elfs are luckydos who know how to fight.
Grummles are not fighters. We carry, we explore, and we are content.’
We rested, as it was finally approaching twilight. The next morning, the sun dawned brightly, and the grummles made new plans.
‘Rampaging yeti… Hm. This gives me a most big idea.’ Rabbitsfoot said to us over breakfast.’
‘Rabbitsfoot only have small ideas. Yakshoe have grand plan!’
‘Only plan Yakshoe can make is plan to fall into trap!’ Rabbitsfoot burst into laughter.
‘Anyway, Yakshoe’s plan is to take supplies from Ook of Dook – he is only chief because he has supplies. And a grummle without things to carry is a sore sight!’
‘Rabbitshoe’s plan is to use Ook of Dook’s pet yeti Chomp Chomp to scare hozen off. He uses this yeti to stay chief, and if we get rid of yeti, Ook of Dook is not safe as chief.’
‘We need to go to Dooker Dome!’ Said the brothers in unison.
I led a pack of packless grummles to the Dome, fighting our way through to reclaim supplies and find the brothers. Grummles re-packed, they headed off to rejoin the Trail, and I headed up to Chomp Chomp’s cage, where the brothers awaited me.
‘Now that hozen king is going to learn why it is bad fortune to cheat grummles.’
Rabbitsfoot nodded in agreement with his brother. ‘If you kill the cagemasters, Chomp Chomp will be less chained. We have incense and a yak, but you need to kill the hozen.’ I made my way around the cage, killing some of the cagemasters and sneaking past the gladiator chief. With about half of Chomp Chomp’s chains destroyed, I hurried back to Yakshoe and Rabbitsfoot.
‘Ready for the yeti? We will meet you back in the Waystation when you finish.’ Attaching the incense to the yak, Tassle, the two brothers sent the yak into the ring and ran for it. Chomp Chomp, seeing the smoking yeti, was confused and terrified, destroying its chains and the wooden ring in a fit of fear, charging through the village and sending the hozen fleeing.
‘No! Wikkets stole MY Chomp-Chomp!’ The Ook of Dook jumped down from his altar, sending fists pummeling over the ruins of the ring as the idol shot fire at us, turning it into a great fiery battle. I called upon magical enhancements, summoning mirror images and sending volley after volley at him. In the confusion and the fire, he fell, and the hozen ran.
I made my way back onto the Burlap Trail and hurried to the Waystation.
‘The Ook of Dook is dead! Hurray! The grummles are saved!’