The Vale was surrounded by mountains, cutting it off from all regions of Pandaria except for the Serpent’s Spine, which cut into it in the west, forming a great barrier against the mantid in the Dread Wastes.
I went with the refugees along the Emperor’s Approach, the northern road by which the Mogu Emperors always entered the Vale – for it was mogu who had first discovered the Vale, and legend had it that the waters of the Vale had turned them from primordial brutes into the strong, cunning then-masters of Pandaria.
The great trees of the Vale almost glittered, their leaves a perpetual gold and their trunks white to the point of being silver. The main road led right between two monstrous mogu statues, both wielding huge polearms of pure gold, with their bodies made out of stone. They formed a barrier into the city-state that had once been the mogu capital. I had never seen statues so large in all my life – they were easily as tall as Sunfury Spire, carved right out of the rock itself. The time taken to construct those must have been far longer than the time spent on the Serpent’s Heart – and all of it would have been done by slaves. I had never seen such beautiful lands.
At the Golden Pagoda, a rest stop between the main road and the capital, the Golden Lotus stopped to take up residence. Before us, we could see the grand majesty of the height of the mogu empire – a huge glittering city made of gold, with beautiful stained glass windows and the pure blue waters of the Vale flowing around it. None of us could speak, for none of us had ever encountered such beauty, even in Pandaria. But the opening of these gates today was an event that would only occur once in pandaren history – and a tale that would be told for centuries to come.
Zhi the Harmonious, the leader of the Golden Lotus that I had met at the Temple of the White Tiger, spoke to me.
‘Mage, so good that you came. For thousands of years, we Golden Lotus have protected the Vale from those who would seek its power. But now, that time is past – we must ask Pandaria for aid against the enemies that come from within it. We have allocated two sections of the city for residence – the Horde may stay in the Shrine of Seven Stars, and the Alliance in the Shrine of Two Moons. Pandaren may stay-‘
‘Die, intruders!’ A mogu charged us, and had we not been great in number we would have undoubtedly been taken out. Guards leapt upon him before he reached us, and he fell.
‘Good heavens…’ The leader of the guard, Sun Tenderheart, addressed us. ‘Zhi, this blade was meant for you as the leader of the Golden Lotus. I had no information of the mogu being so close to our location.’
Zhi cleared his throat and tried to calm himself from the shock. ‘Then we must fear for the refugees first. Keliera, go to the Shrine of Two Moons to the northeast of here. I will send messengers to the other parts of the city.’
I headed past the Pagoda into the Summer Fields, where the plantlife and ground literally glowed with the power of the nearby waters. The crossroads marked the way to the Horde section of the city, a towering selection of spires embedded into the rock. The grandiose balconies and roofs of mogu architecture reflected copious amounts of sunlight, making the place brighter still. Bronze mogu statues lined the way. I searched for the leaders of the area.
In the Golden Terrace, ambassadors from all the great sects of Pandaria – the August Celestials, the Golden Lotus, the Order of the Cloud Serpents, the Shado-Pan and the Tillers and more – gathered to recruit help and distribute messages. The place bustled, and yet it was never loud or hot or uncomfortable. Above the Terrace, kites and serpents flew to and fro, among the city and all over Pandaria. The inn known as Summer’s Rest could be found in one of the spires, and the refugees were settling in all over the place, opening shops and creating portals and trade routes.
News came in all day from Pandaria of how it fared, and regular food shipments began to arrive from the Valley of the Four Winds – which sourced its magical growth water from none other than the Vale. There was no sign of any mogu until I was dwelling alone in the central plaza by the Mogu’shan Palace – once home to every mogu emperor since Lei Shen, now controlled by the Golden Lotus. Out of the blue, two mogu teleported almost on top of me and attacked, and taken by surprise, I yelled, attracting the attention of guards, who brought the mogu down.
I quickly went to inform Sun.
‘This is worse than we thought. The mogu are actively trying to reclaim the Vale – starting with the palace! You must go inside and stop the united tribes before they force the pandaren out of the Vale altogether!