Taran Zhu led the tactical meeting into the early hours of the evening in the Monastery.
‘It’s proceeding towards the Ancient Passage. If it makes it into the Veiled Stair, we won’t be able to mobilise around it until it reaches the Valley – and by then, it will be too late.’
‘Then we mobilise now.’
The Shado-Pan and the August Celestial armies would flank the Sha from either side, coming up from Binan Village and Inkgill Mere and cutting it off in the Yaungol Advance. The trail of devastation was obvious – minor sha littered the Advance in its wake, and it moved so fast that the armies barely beat it to the end of the Advance. A giant swirling cloud of smoke and ashes from afar, but up close spines poked out, and haunting eyes and maws seemed to be all over it.
As part of the army, I headed along from the back, clearing the devastation and catching up with the Sha before it could reach the Valley. If we failed, the last line of defense for Pandaria would be the Celestials themselves.
Fortunately, the southern army engaged it before it reached Binan, and its clattering yell rang out across the Summit.
‘YOU WILL NOT… BURY ME AGAIN!’
As we drew closer, limbs and eyes and tendrils began to erupt from the cloud until it formed a full major Sha, and we engaged it.
‘Yes… Bring your rage to bear! Try to strike me down! It sustains me!’
The Sha swept out, flinging shadows at us that erupted with rage. Minor sha clambered from the shadows, running amok between us and trying to split our ranks and frustrate us.
‘It is being divisive! Do not give in to your rage!’ The armies merged at last, surrounding the Sha, as great clouds of shadowy vapour drifted around, trying to twist the thoughts of those nearby.
Even being in its proximity was cause for anger. The Sha’s tendrils swept in to your mind, trying to make you angry, and more than a few members of the army had to be fought down from their anger.
Despite the damage we caused, the Sha managed to feed off us, off the thoughts even we thought we had banished, and it continued to grow in anger.
‘Stay calm! We can finish this!’
‘Does this make you…. angry?’ The Sha swept out with a tendril, clawing at people indiscriminately and malforming them, corrupting them with rage. The stronger it became the angrier they got, and the angrier they became the stronger the Sha got.
Despite our best efforts, it had the upper hand, and it knew it. We were all becoming frustrated. My vision blurred, and I found it hard to stop, until the Sha itself drained our anger and enraged.
‘MY FURY IS UNLEASHED!’ Shadow spewed from the Sha in all directions, decimating our ranks.
‘Stay… Calm..’ Even the commanders began to struggle under the weight of the corruption.
But… There had to be something… There was… always…. something…
To fight for.
In my mind, I was within the peaceful springs of Eversong. I watched the life of the forests pass by, continuing the endless cycle. Calm. Always.
I was in the frozen seas of Northrend, where fish drifted from stream to stream, and tuskarr tamed turtles. Calm.
I was in the Jade Forest, the Valley, the Wilds – each their own, but each calm.
And I was calm.
And I felt the greyness leave my vision and my focus and agility increase as I dashed from limb to limb, landing strikes, knowing that I could not be angry at the Sha, for it was merely formed of my own nature. I could not defeat it without first defeating myself. And the Sha weakened at my hands, enough for me to free a few kinsmen, who freed a few more, and so on. Our army replenished its numbers and mastered its anger.
‘You cannot hold us in your thrall. Those who rule through negativity only rule so long as the people let it hold them.’
‘NO!’ The Sha shrieked in despair as it felt its grasp over us weaken. It threw volley after volley of energy at us, but we knocked it all back. The Sha became weaker still.
‘Give in… to your rage! Let anger flow through your veins! It strengthens you! It… is the only way!’ The Sha’s endless scream turned into a demented hiss.
The army landed hit after hit, their dexterity bolstered by their mastery over their anger, and the Sha was powerless.
‘AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Hehehahahahaha…’ With one last laugh, and one last scream, the Sha burst in a final volley of energy, collapsing on the floor – and with no one for the emotion to possess, it dissipated harmlessly into the air of Kun-Lai Summit.
A moment passed before we realised we had won, and for a few minutes there was cheering and dancing and ale, before we began the journeys back where we had started from. Anger had fallen, after Doubt, Despair and Violence. Mainland Pandaria had been saved from the catastrophic influence of the Sha.
We rendezvoued back in the Monastery. Taran Zhu spoke to me and Ban.
‘After the yaungol invasion across Kun-Lai, we wish to organise a counter-attack – both to secure the Serpent’s Spine once more, and to find out why the yaungol were invading. Furthermore, the Sha of Hatred was spotted going across the wall. It is our duty to find and defeat it. I will lead troops through the Ox Gate. Meet us there when you are ready.’
Ban also had a message for me before I left that night. ‘Suna called for you while the battle was going on. She was willing to wait until the Monastery was saved to save Lin, but she went ahead to scout and make sure he was kept safe.’
The night fell, and I set back off out of the Monastery towards the Ox Gate.