16. All War is Based on Deception

When it seems that Yao is losing ground in the fight, you sense…something, as if forgotten or misplaced. An unease that saps your resolve. Yao glares at you with fel-flamed eyes, “A Jing Xi is about choice…you sense it, don’t you. The Shado Pan should be rounding them up right about now…”

Make your choice:

16A.) Finish Yao and bring back the scrolls

Pushing past the pangs, you overwhelm Yao’s defenses. For a fleeting moment, you almost see surprise…astonishment on his face. Was it your decision and focus or the sheer power of chaos and shadow you bore down on him. That council echoes in your mind like dripping dew in a cave. You retrieve the scrolls from the urn – they appear unusually durable, the writing ornate. Packing it carefully you return as discretely as you came to find the village in flames. The grassy landscape pocked with charred eruptions and smouldering felfire. Farmhouses and buildings turned to rubble with only bits of wall jutting up from the ground like an ancient semi-toothless smile.

This was not the work of the Shado Pan. As you survey the ruins closer, you begin to find the bodies: Shado Pan…Jing-Xi…and demons. Not the kind that you are accustomed to summoning, OTHER demons. A fallen Wrathguard’s body furrowed with precise cuts and scorched with felfire lay face-down in the blood-soaked mud.

A whispered groan leads you to a pile of rubble and collapsed roof under which your master lay dying. His wounds are severe, his form partially crushed from a nearby fallen Infernal’s remains. “We…can…work together – Shado Pan and Jing-Xi…ag-against the Legion. Go…take the scrolls to the monastery…Zhen Hu…”

With all speed you rush to the monastery and find some wounded Shado Pan there. If it weren’t for the business all around you would have been stopped and questioned: couriers shouting their reports, armsmiths equipping soldiers, monks tending to the wounded.

“All this- from Stoneplow?”, you mutter unconsciously.

“Where have you been? Demons have been falling from the sky all over – you…you were at Stoneplow?!”

“No…my master sent me with a message to Zhen Hu. Do you know where I can find him?”

“Lord Sergeant Zhen? Yes, he was one of the survivors.” lowering his voice in an almost shamed tone, “They say the Jing-Xi were there…and that they fought WITH the Shado Pan. What nonsense!”

Half-smiling, you ask again for Zhen’s whereabouts.

16B.) Withdraw and try to help the other Jing-Xi

Sensing the urgency building, you roll back narrowly dodging a shadow strike from Yao. As you race towards the village, the echo of Yao’s cackling roar haunts you. A Shado Pan sentry causes you to take a more guarded approach. In the shadows of one of the outlying buildings, you hear a Shado Pan officer sternly addressing several Jing Xi rounded up in the center of the town.

“We have reason to believe from a reliable source that you have practiced sorcery – specifically the forbidden arts of the Jing-Xi.” Several villagers gasp or back away in fear.

“We no longer need be adversaries Zhen Hu. Can you not sense the change; the imbalance?”

“Nonsense! Jing-Xi seek imbalance from harmony-”

“Is that what you think or what you are told? I thought the ways of the Shado Pan were to watch and contemplate, not be a bureaucrat with a sword.”

“I am not here to debate philosophy but uphold the law. We will -”

A Pandaren farmer shrieks as a loud rumble shakes the ground. Looking towards the disturbance, you see several more infernal meteors land with the thud of a drumbeat across the landscape.

Zhen Hu staggers back as he sees the shadow forms of other demons scrambling over the hillside, “Shado Pan – form a perimeter on the northwest face! Get the civilians out of here!”

“We can help you! Take off these restraints. Hu! Look at them! We are already outnumbered, only together do we stand a chance.”

A soldier looks expectantly at Zhen Hu in the silence pregnant with indecision. Your senses tingle with electric alarm as you see the air shimmer behind Zhen Hu. The moment is broken as your chaos bolt sears overhead striking a demon behind Zhen Hu from its stealthy position. It falls back smoldering as Zhen’s blade awakens crossing from shoulder to hip, cleanly cleaving his diabolic foe.

Looking back at you coldly, his eyes narrow for a moment, “Cut them loose!”

17. Harmony is the Storm of Chaos and Choice

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