The journey was too long for me to not dwell on what had occurred during our last excursion to Pandaria. The emotion welled up within me quite easily.
Focus. Remember what the Pandaren say. Do not prostrate yourself as slave to emotion; acknowledge, rise above, conquer it.
You can do this.
My philosophising was interrupted by the prompt sinking of our troll longboat by cannons manned by gnolls, and, taking a (fortunately defective) cannonball to the chest, I was knocked out until the next night.
‘Does all this death not worry you, Sithrial? They’re saying all of Lordaeron will have to evacuate.’
‘It doesn’t affect us. We’re stronger than any paltry human nation.’
‘Paltry? Lordaeron takes up almost the entire continent. Dalaran, Alterac and Stromgarde are all enclaves within it. If the Plague reaches here-‘
‘You don’t need to fear. We are Highborne. We shall always triumph.’
‘You sound like one of the history textbooks.’
‘I can’t leave you behind, are you mad?’
‘The Scourge are coming! They’ve already taken Tranquillien!’
‘But – but that’s impossible! You said so!’
‘I – maybe I was wrong! That doesn’t matter now, you have to go, you have to keep going, we all have to! We need to survive, to make the world a better place. You understand this, I understand this. Now go. I’ll hold them off.’
‘I won’t let you. I can run just as fast as you, I don’t need you giving up your life so that I get a headstart.’
‘Come with me!’
Why didn’t you come with me? Could we not have made the world a better place together?
‘Go, Keliera. This is it. This is our final stand.’
‘I can’t let you do this, not again, not now. Garrosh will kill every one of you!’
‘Then go back before he kills you for talking to me. It does’t matter. You know what to do. You can do it. I’ve always believed in you. Go make the world a better place.’
‘Sithrial… I can’t say goodbye again… Don’t make me…’
‘You have to. Go!’
‘GO! They’re coming!’
Annoyingly, when I woke up everyone else was in a better position than I was to go walking forty miles south. I stayed at the back after our balloon-ascent to Whispercloud Rise, using a staff to help me close the distance between Zouchin and Eastwind Rest. I couldn’t complain now. Too much was at stake. Hellscream was in Pandaria, and he had found something in the Vale, something that warranted a fleet of Sin’dorei warships and the mobilisation of the whole Dominance Offensive. Something had even roused the Crimson Hand, who apparently were staying north of us.
It was imperative that Hellscream did not obtain whatever it was that had been found, and to that end we dove into an assault on Firebough Nook and the Shado-pan Fallback, which Hellscream’s forces had captured. Though it was relatively easy to re-capture once we negotiated with Westwind Rest, almost all of the Horde had vanished – along with the Fallback’s kites.
Where could they have gone? Are they already in the Vale?
Our journey led us to the Gates of the August Celestials, the entryway into the Vale of Eternal Blossoms itself. After settling business with the Shado-pan, who we were helping to track Hellscream, we passed into the Vale, bound first for Mistfall Village, where we dropped off some refugees from the Gates before heading to the Shrine of Two Moons.
The Vale of Eternal Blossoms matched every description I had ever read. An intense feeling of peace and serenity envelops you instantly, soothing your fears, assuaging your doubts. It is as though someone has merged gold and silk and wrapped you tightly within.
This is to be it. This is where we make our stand against Hellscream, for better or worse, with the knowledge that it is we who are the ones striving for a peaceful world, a better world. A world once had, and lost twice over.
No doubts. No fears. No hate. Just us, and Hellscream, fighting for the direction of Azeroth.
And we will win.