This is a story about the patch 5.4 trailer. If you haven’t watched it yet, you probably shouldn’t click through the cut until you have.
A sudden loud peal of the chimes hanging in the Tillers Shrine in the front garden awoke Kamalia in the wee hours of the morning. As she sat up, the chimes continued to jangle and clamor, more loudly and cacophonously than any thunderstorm winds had ever moved them — and she did not hear thunder, nor rain pounding on the roof. She grabbed the nearest weapon before opening the door.
“Miz Kamalia!” Tak-Tak rushed up the stairs and began pulling her out the door, “Oh, Miz Kamalia, we must hurry! Something very bad going down, very bad!”
“Just a moment!” she said, “Let me get my armor first.” She shut the door in his face, dressed quickly, and grabbed the bag containing her other gearset, as she didn’t know which of her two specializations would be more needed.
Tak-Tak was already hovering on his kite when she re-emerged, and he took off steeply as soon as she was settled.
“Lots of new troops been coming to the Point lately. Barely room to hold them all. They looked real scary. Their eyes were like hozen about to ravage.” Tak-Tak began as he directed the kite northward.
“Two, three days ago, there was big feast, big party. General Nazgrim gave loud talk to all the new orcs. He say goblins found something in the Vale. Something big, something important, new troops here to get it for Warchief Garrosh. There was something… ikky about how he said it.” Tak-Tak shuddered. “Made my fur stand on end.”
“All day yesterday, they were preparing, and tonight, soon as it was dark, they all got on wyverns and zeppelins and other air things and started heading north. I snuck out in the fuss and noise. This kite faster than all those other air things, but not that much faster. Look!” Tak-Tak half-turned, pointing southward. Behind them, in the greying sky, Kamalia saw a fleet of creatures and machines to rival the invasion fleet with which she had, seemingly so long ago, ridden to the Twilight Highlands. As she watched, a quartet of sleek grand wyverns detatched themselves from the front of the airborne wave and accelerated toward the kite.
“They’ve spotted us!” she cried.
“Hang on!” Tak-Tak replied, expertly tipping the kite to catch a rising thermal that quickly carried them over the crest of the Skyrange. Then he ducked them into the stone spires surrounding the Tu-Shen burial grounds, twisting and weaving. Now they could hear the voices of the wyvern riders echoing harshly off the cliff walls.
“Turn that way!” Kamalia pointed toward Mistfall Village. She rummaged in her pack and found one of the small casks of Jade Witch Brew that had been lurking there for months. “I hope this works,” she muttered as she hurled it down toward the market courtyard. The cask smashed against the flagstones, and, sure enough, the scent of alcohol brought the Slateskin Troublemakers running. “Now, back toward the burial ground!” She opened another cask and tossed a splash of brew down at the sprites. Greedily, the sprites followed. Coming back into the Tu-Shen spires, they nearly collided head-on with the wyvern riders. Tak-Tak pulled the kite up steeply, while the wyvern riders dove. The second cask of Jade Witch Brew tumbled from Kamalia’s grasp. Now the ruckus of the sprites had awakened the mogu spirits that infested the burial ground; snarling, they pulled the wyvern riders down.
The sky was just beginning to turn pink as they landed at the Golden Pagoda. “Leven!” Kamalia shouted, “Kun! Anji! Hellscream is bringing an army to the Vale! They are coming to get that thing the goblins found!”
“Zhi, you fool!” Leven Dawnblade cursed, after Kamalia explained. “Kun and Anji are up at the Setting Sun Garrison,” he told her. “Tell them what you have told me. I know that many of your people disagree with Hellscream. I will send Ren Firetongue to the Shrine of Two Moons and Che Wildwalker to the Shrine of Seven Stars to warn them. Go now. I must ready our people here.”
“That Golden Lotus pandaren more upset than he looked,” Tak-Tak commented as they flew westward, achingly away from the rising sun and the coming battle. “Who is Zhi and why is he a fool? Well, more a fool than any of the rest of us?”
“Zhi the Harmonious was the leader of the Golden Lotus before Leven Dawnblade,” said Kamalia. “He convinced the White Tiger to open the gates of the Vale and allow the refugees from the yaungol in Kun-Lai — and all the Horde and Alliance — to come in. He argued that the Golden Lotus needed help to protect the secrets of the Vale from those who would use them improperly. But the mogu were just after some of the relics of the Thunder King.”
“And we know what Hellscream was after,” Tak-Tak nodded somberly. “The cure turned out to be worse than the disease.”
Kun and Anji Autumnlight were leading pre-breakfast morning stretches with the trainees at the Setting Sun Garrison when Tak-Tak dropped the kite into the middle of the practice ring.
“Trouble from the east?” Anji wondered calmly while the trainees scattered into flustered clumps.
“Usually it is trouble from the west,” Kun finished his wife’s thought, “but the mantid have been quiet since the fall of the Empress, thankfully.”
“More like trouble from the south,” said Kamalia. “Hellscream is bringing up an army from Domination Point to claim that Titan-made Sha casket the goblins found in their excavation out by the pools. They are probably flying over the Skyrange right now. We just came from the Golden Pagoda — Leven is organizing a counter-force.”
“The most senior trainees can probably handle anything the mantid might try to do today,” Anji said thoughtfully. “We will take everyone else to the pools.”
“Taran Zhu must be notified,” said Kun. “Sending a runner up the wall would take too long, but that is a fine fast kite you have there, young hozen.” He smiled at Tak-Tak, then continued, with a wry grimace, “Though I think I fear what Lord Zhu will have to say to us all afterward more than the battle itself.”
And so they flew yet further away. Kamalia was somehow not surprised when they intercepted Taran Zhu’s great onyx cloud serpent, already streaking toward the Vale, as they reached the Dusklight Bridge. She remembered how the Shado-Pan leader had first appeared right when General Nazgrim first drew forth the Sha at that fortress in the Jade Forest, and thought, not for the first time, that the Shado-Pan must have informant operatives everywhere. They coasted in the serpent’s slipstream all the way back to the Vale, ignoring the venomous glares that Taran Zhu occasionally shot back at them.
The sun had fully risen by the time they sailed over the top of the great mogu spearmen that guarded the Emperor’s Approach and saw the Golden Lotus in pitched battle with Hellscream’s forces all around the Big Blossom Excavation and the pools at the base of Mogu’shan Palace. Kamalia glanced over in the direction of the Shrine of Two Moons and saw a group of Dawnchaser braves and other Horde combatants just beginning to surge down the stairs. Even from this height, she could see the frustration in Ren Firetounge’s stance; apparently it had not been easy to convince Sunwalker Dezco and the others of the threat — but why?
“What the ook is that?” exclaimed Tak-Tak as a tremendous rattling noise drowned out the sounds of the battle. The apparatus at the edge of the Big Blossom Excavation that the goblins had been fussing over for the past few weeks turned out to be a collapsible bridge that now fell across the distance to the central well of the pools like a whiplash. Taran Zhu leapt from his cloud serpent and alighted at the center of the bridge, facing off against Garrosh Hellscream. Kamalia could not hear what they said to each other as they fought. Distressingly, Hellscream seemed to be winning. Watching the duel, Kamalia wondered if perhaps Lord Zhu had not yet fully recovered from the near-fatal wounds he took in that final fight with the mogu sorcerer, Shan-Bu, at the gates of the Thunder King’s citadel. Garrosh throttled Taran Zhu with a chain torn from the bridge, then tossed the mighty pandaren aside as if he were a child’s plaything.
And then he opened the huge chest that had been dragged across the bridge behind him and unceremoniously dumped the foul thing inside it into the most sacred waters in all of Pandaria.
As Kamalia reeled at the Earthmother’s pain, nearly fainting, Tak-Tak quickly and carefully brought the kite to ground on the nearest hilltop before she could fall. It was worse than the Serpent’s Heart. It was worse than the Crane Temple, or the festering patches in Kun-Lai Summit, or the deadened scars marring the Dread Wastes. It was worse than the black breaches in the Twilight Highlands and the tentacled old god maws there and in the Dragonblight. It was almost, but not quite, as bad as the Maelstrom had been, until the restoration of the World Pillar had shrunken and stabilized the rift between Azeroth and Deepholm. The Earthmother would not completely die from this wound, Kamalia realized as she began to acclimate to the pain and her head began to clear… but this part of her, this Pandarian continent, just might. The mantid were already facing massive famine due to the Sha-induced decay of so many of their kypari trees. Now the pandaren and other races of the land would, too, because what would happen to the Valley of the Four Winds, now that the waters flowing down from the Vale — the miraculous waters that had nourished all those huge, rapidly growing vegetables for so long — were gone?
“This land will suit our people well,” the orc sniper, Shokia, had often said. With the very heart of the continent now blasted by Sha energies into a wasteland even more desolate than Durotar, it would not do so any longer. Blinded by pride and arrogance, Hellscream had destroyed the very goal he sought when first he ordered General Nazgrim to claim this new land and “paint it red”.