We were not long in One Keg before more news came. The Zandalari had invaded Kun-Lai’s northern coast, pillaging villages and performing dark magic. Our pandaren guide was informed that they intended to resurrect an ancient king of old times – a mogu tyrant known as Lei Shen, or the Thunder King. The first mogu emperor, Lei Shen persisted in children’s tales, but was apparently a figure of great power and greater fear.
Messages were sent to those in Pandaria who held their own power, before we set off for the northern province of Zouchin. Apparently a pacifist area for the last century and a half, the villages were weak against any invasion and needed immediate reinforcement. We quickly made our way to the northern pass – another old mogu construction. Once upon a time, Zouchin had been the start of the pass between the two races of mogu and troll (according to our guide, their alliance had terrorised Pandaria before the pandaren rallied the other races in rebellion).
The pass was not as straightforward as it first looked. Just after halfway, there was an ancient cave in and a separate tunnel dug alongside it. The smaller tunnel pushed the Convocation, along with our various supplies and yaks, onto a small balcony where various balloons were used for transport all across the mountain range. Welcomed by an old pandaren couple, we went down in balloons, drifting over the green forests while our guide took the supplies by foot.
I felt the same exhilarating freedom, drifting over the light woodland, as I had on the treacherous snowy peaks. The feeling of not being there, the feeling of not having to care. I wondered why I had not felt it earlier in Pandaria. Pandaria was beautiful. Even in war, those feelings were there, a little blessing from the world.
My indifference to the fight continued for some time after we arrived, through several skirmishes with trolls and gnoll mercenaries that they had hired, carrying me right through a burning building. I didn’t realise the sheer gravity of our situation until the real battle began.
The Pandaren supplied great explosive kegs, ineffective against the legions of trolls. We gathered on a single hilltop overlooking the village, fighting them back narrowly, but the trolls managed to take out one of our cannons and their mind priests slowly began to affect us.
I was being healed for a shadow-inflicted shoulder injury between waves when the bats set upon us. A great swarm that darkened the skies, the trolls had the upper hand, and soon the entire village was burning. I felt it for the first time in days. Fear. A strange, dark feeling that bubbled up inside me and threatened to overtake my entire soul.
The last thing I saw before a dart from a bat-rider knocked me out was Amaran’s body darkening as the Sha overtook him.