After that enlightening tale, I made my way back to the jungle and collected the rest of the cranes and tigers I needed.
That was not the end of it, sadly. She set me about taking out the largest crane and tigress in the nearby wilds.
The tigress, Chasheen, was the oldest and fiercest of all in this area of the Wilds. She ruled over the Krasari tigers as Alpha Female, and had a dark, rich fur that had resulted in a camouflage allowing her to surpass all her peers for years. I felt uneasy killing such a noble beast, but I took solace in the fact that she was responsible for the deaths of many innocents herself on the banks of the Dojani River – and she did not make it an easy task to hunt her down. Bones were arrayed like traps around her lair and she had the sharpest teeth I had seen on such an old wildcat.
The crane, Needlebeak, was further north, below the waterfall. From there he had the prime catch of the largest migrating carp from the Valley of the Four Winds, and though old age and generous feasts had made him plump, his plumage and poise kept him almost invisible among the trees. Fortunately my magic meant I did not encounter his beak – easily sharper than any well-made sword.
With their hard-obtained corpses in tow I made my way back to Daggle, hoping that that was enough carnage to satisfy her aims in Krasarang.
‘Excellent! The rest of the safari is up the western side of the Valley of Four Winds. If you find yourself there, join us! Good hunting!’ With that, the goblin strapped herself into her rocket and launched, cargo in tow, over the cliffs towards the Valley.
With that unpleasant business sorted out, I resumed my journey along the path past the Dojani River. Along its delta I found the corpse of a Pandaren alongside that of a local tiger. The Courier had met his end, and the tiger had succumbed to the wounds he had inflicted upon it. After murmuring a quick prayer, I sent an arcane construct back to Zhu’s Watch to notify the village of his demise, and picked up the courier’s unharmed supplies satchel. The Temple might be able to use them.
I did not know which way to go yet. The Temple was supposed to be along this river, but I couldn’t see any sign of it in the rain. However, not far off I saw a bridge along the path, and beside it… Tauren buildings? It couldn’t be. There were other soldiers here? Suddenly, the presence of Sha earlier in the Wilds was possibly explained. I hurried along, knowing that as a Horde soldier I could take refuge there, and possibly find my way to the Temple.
The bridge across the Dojani delta was in fact a fallen jungle tree – the wood and ground were so dark I had not been able to distinguish it. One of the Tauren Braves met me as I approached.
‘Hail, traveller. You are of the Horde, yes? Welcome to Thunder Cleft, a small beacon of the Earthmother’s Light in these dark, unforgiving lands. Please, come inside. Sunwalker Dezco will be pleased to meet a friendly face.’
Inside the encampment were a collection of Tauren Braves and Sunwalkers, as well as an orc. Sunwalker Dezco was the most decorated of those present.
‘Greetings, traveller. I had not thought we would see other friendly Horde faces on these shores. On the command of our Chieftaine, Baine Bloodhoof, we were ordered to sail into the unknown waters of the south. Our people were granted visions by the Earthmother – of a promised land, filled with golden blossoms. My wize, Leza, had visions that led us here. She pushed us north until we reached these cliffs. She is-‘
Dezco was cut off by a strangled scream from a nearby tent. He sighed at the ground. ‘She is in labour, blood elf, and the water and heat here are taking a toll on her. I fear she and our child may not make it out of this jungle. But you are welcome to stay here while we decide upon a path that will take us safely north.’
I met Kang Bramblestaff later that evening (I think it was evening), one of the monks that had been searching for the Hidden Master. Whereas Ken-Ken had followed the east wind, and not really gotten anywhere, Kang had gone south, and had apparently ended up in the central Wilds.
‘This place is most interesting, elf. This settlement is but a few weeks old – as though it arrived as the Mists cleared.’ I was about to ask Kang about his progress searching for the Hidden Master when I remembered my experience at the mogu ruins in the Borderlands. The Shu’halo there had told me to warn Dezco at Thunder Cleft of the mogu! I quickly retrieved the weapon and poison samples I had taken from the ruins, and hurriedly informed Dezco.
‘Chezin is dead to these foul mogu creatures? This is bad news indeed. I have fought alongside Chezin and Kor on almost every shore that has a name.’ The orc, Kor, nodded grimly. ‘Thank you for recovering these weapons, Keliera. It will give us some knowledge about our new enemies.’
As Leza continued her fraught labour, Dezco and Kor worriedly discussed their options.
‘Dezco, we must strike at the mogu now while they think us weak. This is a weapon of the Horde now and we must use it on the Alliance.’
‘This was not supposed to be a combat mission, Kor.’
‘And the Alliance was not supposed to follow us here!’
Dezco went to be with his wife, and I spoke with Kor alone.
‘The Alliance has spies all around us, Keliera. We cannot let them know of our internal problems. Make sure that no information reaches their camp on the south coast.’
Kang spoke with me as I was leaving.
‘Keliera, is it? I remember you now from back in the Valley. My mother, Mama Greatstaff, once told me of a recipe that could heal almost any illness – Skitterer Stew. We must find out if it will help with Leza’s fever – no mother in labour should have a fever. Gather some glands from the pond skitterers around here, and I will gather herbs for the stew.’
Despite appearances, the local pond-skaters were actually pretty slow, since as soon as they ran towards me they fell in the water and were taken completely off-guard. I had managed to collect a few glands when I saw the Darnassian spy making her way south along the riverbed, no doubt from the outpost. I could not let the Kaldorei have an advantage over us, at least while Leza remained in labour, and I quickly engaged her with spellfire. She proved more than a little challenging, especially with her nightsaber leaping at me from the shadows, and I was forced to use almost every evasive spell in my repertoire to get range.
With a suitable collection of glands gathered, I made my way back along the river to Thunder Cleft. Kang awaited me on my return.
‘Even the air here can be dangerous, Keliera. Be careful. Luckily, nothing clears an illness like Mama Greatstaff’s stews.’ When I returned to Kor, he and Dezco were arguing again.
‘Dezco, we must press westward. We are vulnerable if we stay here. The Alliance knows our location.’
‘We must wait. We cannot move Leza while she is in labour.’
‘I appreciate that your wife led us this far in, Dezco, but this is a poor choice of-‘
‘There is no choice here, Kor. We cannot move Leza and we cannot leave her behind.’
‘Very well then. We will simply have to prepare to move westward and move Leza as soon as possible. Keliera, there are mogu ruins to the west. The mogu are like night elves – ancient and with an over-developed sense of entitlement. They must lose it soon enough. Quell their numbers and find out what they are doing there before they have a chance to attack.’
Kang accompanied me on my path west when I set off the following morning. The stew had not worked, and Leza’s condition was worsening. Kang had another idea. ‘This fever is not simply a fever. There is something in the land affecting all of us, sapping our hope and placing despair in its place. The lotus plants in the wilds may be able to help. They grow nearest to us at the Ruins of Dojan, so it is as good a place as any to go picking them. And I hope to find out what is going on at the ruins while we’re there.’
The path to the ruins led us into a curious clearing. An orange sun beamed down from over the cliffs of the Valley, and few trees grew among the ruins. Mogu yells were easily heard. We fought our way in, picking Imperial Lotus leaves when we rested. I could not see any signs of leadership yet, but the mogu were casting curious rituals on the local stone. I saw the statue of a creature I had never seen prior, like a lion but with its hair in ringlets. I wondered if it was a native creature to Pandaria.
‘For the Thunder King!’ A runecaster yelled as he attacked us, and fell.
‘The Thunder King? That doesn’t make sense. The mogu have not had proper leadership since their empire fell fourteen millennia ago. Perhaps they-‘
‘Faster, you fools! We need every one of these artifacts soon or it’s the cane for your hides!’ The voice boomed from the centre of the ruins. Their leader. The mogu were gathering the ancient artifacts here for some purpose, but why here? Why now?
‘I don’t think these mogu are from here. They’re only scavenging relics, not pillaging or digging in. They must have been sent from elsewhere.’ We fought our way up the terraces, as the Ruins led upwards to the top of the hill they were built on. At the top of the terrace a single mogu stood, yelling orders to his brethren. Though taller, armoured and generally stronger than the rest, with Kang’s aid we defeated him in short time. On his person we found some orders.
By the order of his exalted, the reclaimers shall be dispatched to the ruins of Dojan. There they are to recover any artifacts that may be used to arm our people. We need guardian statues, scrolls, any arcane devices that will help us rekindle our former glory.
Priority must be given to the Pools of Youth on the north side of Dojan. These waters are vital to the continued strength of the empire.
The Lord Reclaimer’
‘So the mogu are reclaiming their empire. They used to subjugate all the races they encountered. It seems that these particular mogu have aspirations of reliving the past. Wait. This document talks about the Pools of Youth! These pools exist?!’ Kang began to chatter excitedly. ‘The mogu found the Pools of Youth! Mama Bramblestaff used to tell me old stories about those. During the mogu empire they would use the waters to extend life.
Thing is those stories never ended well for some reason. As if the waters were cursed. Either way, we should investigate. There is a good chance those waters might help Leza. It looks like the Pools of Youth are on the northwestern side of the ruins.’
We hurried off the terrace, scrambling down the hill to the northwest. On the northwestern side the terrace linked to a bridge. On the other side, an abandoned pool stretched past intact statues – and in the middle was a massive, chained water spirit. By one of the statues I found a story scroll.
‘The Lost Dynasty
Even by mogu standards, the reign of Emperor Dojan II was short and brutish. His maniacal drive to finish his father’s work and complete the great purge against the rebellious saurok legions drove him to leave his court in disarray while he set out on a doomed military campaign.
From his perch high on the cliffs overlooking the Krasarang Wilds he oversaw the slow clear-cutting of the jungle, the establishment of the Dojanni Dungeons, and the gradual genocide of the saurok race.
What he didn’t expect was for the remains of the saurok fifth and seventh legions to scale the enormity of the cliffs in the dead of night, ambushing his imperial pavilion from the Valley of the Four Winds and forcing him over the edge. His body was never found, and the resulting disarray in the capitol left the empire in chaos for over two years while the saurok melted back into the wilds and disappeared…’
Setting that story of the ruins aside, I and Kang raced into the pools to examine the poor spirit. Red energy like that of the runecasters pulsated around it, sapping its energy. As we approached, the weak spirit smiled at us. Somehow, I felt invigorated. We attempted quickly to free the spirit, and I wondered if the tainted water of the Wilds had something to do with the events here.
When the elemental (who was apparently revered as Na Lek) was freed, a large mogu overseer teleported to the pools.
‘Halt, supplicants! These waters belong to the Thunder King. Your presence is unwelcome. GUARDIANS! KILL THESE INTRUDERS!’ His booming voice shuck the ground, and as it did the statues of the curious lion-beings came to life. Though we were outmatched, the aid of the water spirit quickly struck them down, and Na Lek returned to the pools. Kang collected a small portion of the water, bowing reverently to it. With that done and the local power of the mogu broken we were left to make our way back to Thunder Cleft, and wonder what the mogu’s next step would be.