18. A New Beginning…

After several hours, you and the other Jing-Xi are brought before the Lord of the Shado Pan and his officers. At first, you fear this is a prelude to an execution but notice the lack of soldiers and equipment for such a purpose.

Quan Zhe, one of Taran’s oldest friends, speaks, “You have admitted to being a Jing-Xi.” The air is thick with tension, “A crime which is punishable by death. For centuries the art of the Jing-Xi has led to wanton mayhem and destruction without exception”, and a groan of concern rumbles softly through the room.

“Until today. Today, we saw something that has never been seen – Jing-Xi helping to protect life and preserve Pandaren instead of enslaving. Several veterans and trusted officers witnessed and testified under oath to that effect. You fought selflessly and with honor.”

Quan Zhe looked to his fellow officer, Jiao who stood up and paced slowly, “We have faced one who called himself a Jing-Xi – and defeated him. But one of your group was given the opportunity to share that that is not your way. Your fellow practitioners’ sacrifice today in the face of the Legion has demonstrated that statement. Had it not been for the wisdom of Lord Zhu, however, this meeting might have taken a different turn.”

Both Quan Zhe and Jiao remained standing and Lord Zhu remained seated.

“A long time ago, my father taught me…that watching without learning is to miss an opportunity. We watch to protect…to react…and ultimately to grow. Otherwise, we are nothing more than idols of a bygone ideal. Today, your example has shown me that there is more to your teachings than we knew and more to you than we saw. Therefore, today, I make a change that the Jing-Xi are no more an outlaw practice and no longer a sentence of death…provided…it is in the service of Pandaria and the security of our people…our family and that we may have harmony in our lands against the Legion. But know that your practice will no longer be in secret nor hidden – you will be here by our side and under our watch, that no more like Xiaoyin or any other in history might arise.”

At the conclusion, Taran stands in silence looking at the group and waits…and watches.

After an uncomfortable pause, Shing Sing looks up and speaks, “For hundreds of years, we have watched in the darkness while you in the light. Now, for the first time, we will swear to walk together – shadow and light, summer and winter, chaos and choice. Now, we the Jing-Xi will stand alongside the Shado Pan and watch and work together – any who would do otherwise is an outcast and will be subject to our combined answer. Will you all swear?”

The rest of the group bows and swears, “We are the watchers on the hills, in the forests, and the shadows. Together, we will serve and agree or we are not Jing-Xi.”

Taran and the officers nod, “We have much to discuss – the Legion is on the move.”

THE BEGINNING…

17. Harmony is the Storm of Chaos and Choice

17. Harmony is the Storm of Chaos and Choice

17A

You find Zhen Hu in the midst of the monastery among the wounded and dying. A stillness pierces the gentle murmur of groans and monks hurriedly chanting healing spells and attempting to help more wounded arriving. The acrid smell of burnt fur, blood, and smoke hangs in the air.

17B

You find Zhen Hu in the midst of the remains of Stoneplow among the wounded and dying. A stillness pierces the gentle crackling of seared wood frames and smoldering fire. The acrid smell of burnt fur, blood, and smoke hangs in the air.

BOTH

“Lord Sergeant?”

Zhen Hu, his face darkened with soot and blood, looks up at you almost from a dream. After a moment lost in thought, his expression becomes more firm, “Yes?”

“I-I have been sent from my master to bring you these.” You hand him the scrolls.

Zhen hesitates and looks at you, then the scrolls. He seems almost in disbelief. “You are giving me these?”

You nod, “Harmony is birthed with sacred trust – a Shado Pan saying, I believe.”

“We were at Stoneplow, rounding up suspects from an informant. That’s when the demons fell from the sky like hail. The others–they stood WITH us, not as Shado Pan and accused, but as Pandaren. They fought with honor – several of my men would not be alive if it weren’t for them. Remain here and help the monks. I must take this to Lord Zhu.”

Your expression of surprise is met with a comforting look, “Now you must trust me. You have brought the storm, now we bring the choice – perhaps we have overlooked something in our duty to protect Pandaria…”

Walking away Zhen says, “and each other.”

 

18. A New Beginning…

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

15. Possession is 9/10ths of the Law

You journey from twilight until dawn cautiously avoiding any large predators and the occasional Shado Pan patrol. Winding your way up the terraces you find the lake which Darkmaster Viu mentioned. In the cloudy grey morning, you can still see effervescent sparkles above the water, whether mist, magic or something else you cannot be certain.

An unwelcome cold, moist breeze brushes against you almost urging you to turn back but you see the spot nestled between a boulder and tree. It seems too small yet you find, with some careful planning, you are able to work your way through the crevice. Inside, the air is decidedly warmer and a narrow set of steps appear to have been built around the natural rocks providing the perfect camouflage. It is quiet and your own heart’s beat pulses in your ear as you strain to keep your breathing as quiet as possible. You hear something else…someone else is down there.

Carefully creeping behind a stalagmite, you see dimly Yao near a stone pedestal upon which a stone urn rests. Yao sniffs the air and sighs, “You can come out – didn’t they teach you how to sense fear? It’s like the salt-air, unmistakable. Face me, we will see if you are Jing-Xi; I think not.”

  • Defeat Yao 0/1

16. All War is Based on Deception

14. Dread Man Walking

Darkmaster Viu’s brows furrow and the flames of his eyes flicker violently, “We should disperse, the Shado Pan will notice if we gather for too long. Meet together here at twilight in seven days when the moon waxes full.”

“Come with me”, Viu growls with a demonic echo.

As the others leave, some taking the form of a mountain goat and others simply walking up the narrow rocky paths, Viu motions for you to stop.

“The Shado Pan have been watching and all of our members are under some degree of suspicion, but you…let us have some tea.”

Journeying to the shore, he ignites a fire and prepares a pot of strong tea with a hint of orange blossom, roses, and peppery spice. “This will quicken your wits. Have you heard of Li Bao Yun?”

Your stare answers and he continues, “Li Bao Yun was the last Jing-Xi hunted down and executed by the Shado Pan almost a thousand years ago.”

As you take a breath to ask, Viu seems to know before you speak, “How are there Jing-Xi then? He wrote his teachings and knowledge into a book – a book that was supposedly captured by the Shado Pan, erroneously called the Book of Beizhing..the Forbidden. They felt if they could keep his secrets under their guard they could extinguish us like a candle. He wrote a shorter version called the ‘Parables of the Razor’. At first glance, they appear as fables, poems but in the writings he hid the teachings if one knows how to read them. I fear Yao will try to steal the scroll from where it has remained a secret in order to purge us. We have come…so far to return to the Chaos and imbalance.”

Viu looks at you intently, “The others would arouse suspicion but you…you have been called to stop him. Journey to the Dread Wastes to the Lake of Stars. In the center you will find an island and there a narrow crevice. You will fit, don’t worry, that leads to a natural stairwell to a chamber. Take the scroll and bring to me for safekeeping. If Yao challenges you, you have been trained in the arts – we will see if Chaos or Choice rules today.”

15. Possession is 9/10ths of the Law

13. Divided We Stand

The last sha-ling shrivels before Viu, bubbling away in a pulse of negative thoughts. Only the faintest rustling of distant grass can be heard.  Viu looks solemnly at you, almost nodding in approval – almost.

“The greatest demons are the ones within us. The ones on the outside merely push and prod. Now you see the horrible truth of it. So many seek to blame something else because the alternative is incomprehensible: they choose. The ways of the Jing-Xi reverse this principle. Now you stand in the eye of the typhoon instead of being swept up by it; just be careful you don’t lose your footing. Come, you should meet the others.”

He takes you to a small cove at the rocky base of the cliffside. Inside, a dozen Pandaren – some younger, some older sit.

Darkmaster Viu looks at them, taking a deep breath of the salty air, “We grow in strength, <$n> stands in the Eye with us.” Several nod in approval.

One, however, grunts, “Have we become so desperate we open our ranks to any interested in the ways of the Jing-Xi? For centuries our arts have been banished…mocked. Things are changing, you can feel it – a shift. Even Xiaoyin knew it when he set out on the path of the Golden Fel.”

Viu leans forward with a demonic growl, his eyes flickering with fire, “Xiaoyin was reckless. You know why we could not approach him – he would have destroyed or exposed all of us with his extreme views. Had we followed him, it would have been open war on the Shado Pan.”

“Yet we hide and skulk about from them”, Yao protests.

Viu sarcastically laughs, “Ha! I do not fear conflict or chaos Yao but I do not make them my master either. That is not our way. Xiaoyin’s thirst for power was such he thought he could swallow the ocean. Chaos will always tell you to take another step and you become it’s slave like so many written about in the past. And what was there end? A ripple, a wave?! Never achieving harmony – only making noise.”

“Yao,” Viu chides, “as balance tips, so our numbers are destined to grow. It is as the tide responds to the moons rising. Without balance, we must answer the call… or do you fancy yourself like one of those whom history simply makes another example of? We have the opportunity to show the Jing-Xi is a balance to the Shado Pan, not a single force unto itself.”

Yao storms out clearly agitated.

  • Listen to Yao 0/1
  • Listen to Viu 0/1

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

In the philosophy of the Jing-Xi – one sees everything as a typhoon; a circle with a dot at the center. To the Jing-Xi, the goal is to stand in the eye (the dot) choosing where and when to act and using the power of the typhoon (Chaos).

The Jing-Xi view the Shado Pan as standing on the edge of the circle, meditating, contemplating, and choosing to act but shaping the winds (results) instead of initiating them (the eye). This is somewhat different from the Huojin and Tuishi philosophies which the Jing-Xi see as other opposites but not in harmony with their views (i.e.: muddying the waters with their paws anytime their fears and passions strike). To them, they are more or less driven by the typhoon.

14. Dread Man Walking…

12. The Third Step…

“Good”, Darkmaster Viu curtly approves, “on the next test. I will meet you at the Townlong Steppes. We will be close to the Shado Pan’s outpost so be careful. A Jing-Xi is not always about felfire and brimstone. Subtlety and hiding in plain sight, like a goat on a mountain, are part of the art too.”

You cautiously journey from the safety of the Paoquan Hollow north. You notice things seem different as if being an outsider to what once was familiar or perhaps you simply have a new perspective on things. In either case, you feel ‘outside’ and on edge which is most likely good considering Darkmaster Viu’s warnings.

Your only contact with the Shado Pan was a weary patrol. One of the guards seemed to take notice of you for a moment but kept about his leisurely pace. Travelling farther away from the main roads and into the crumbling cliffsides, you meet Darkmaster Viu near a cave. It seems to whisper a cold, moaning breeze.

“There. In there you will find the sha. Fear, terror, despair, jealousy, anguish, remorse, the list goes on but that is only the surface. What if one could harness that power, hmmm? To take the power of fear and not simply throw it around like some child’s ball but shape it, focus it, like a gem cutter to a raw stone. I can see the gleam in your eye – you see?”

“Find a sha-ling and possess it. Let your will…your CHOICE create the harmony between two forces. Bend it’s shrieking, tormented echo to me; show me your mastery of the demon.” Viu chuckles quietly.

  • Possess 3 weakened Sha and return them to Darkmaster Viu

13. Divided We Stand…

11. The Second Step

Sing nods thoughtfully, “With practice, you will find the Soul Gate a most potent tool. On to Master Viu whose specialty is Fel.” You walk back into the Hollow and you notice it seems almost tranquil; the shadows seem more like a shelter than an ominous threat.

Master Viu rises and bids you to follow him back into the crevice for training. “The fel is dangerous – only ignorant fools think otherwise. It must be respected, cautiously handled – not with fear but determination. Treat it as you would teaching a ferocious pet. You must channel your chi around the fel. Let it build but do not embrace it – torment it; evade it as a coy lover until the moment is right. You will need to be still and concentrate to maximize your potency. Once ready, release with the roar of a dragon at your target. Doing do will take some of your chi so be careful, we sometimes loose a few exuberant students to the fel.”

  • Channel and release 4 Golden Fel Bolts 0/4
  • Do not die 0/1

[Golden Fel Bolts use 35-50% of your max health and mana but do more damage than a Chaos Bolt. Casting one creates a debuff (Felstruck) absorbing any healing by 50% for a short time but increases the damage of the next Fel Bolt.  Casting 2-3 bolts in succession will kill the caster.]

12. The Third Step…

10. Soul Stepping

As you follow Seedbearer Sing, she takes you to a spot up the ridge in plain view yet out of direct sight. “Positioning is critical to act decisively,” she gestures towards the goats in the field. “You must focus your chi to shape the shadow. Reach out and take hold then…Snap!”

In a moment Sing switches places with a goat in a puff of purplish-gray smoke. A faint thunderclap echoes as if a storm was approaching. “You see? We use chi, theirs and ours to bridge the distance. In time you can even use it as a weapon.”

Looking down, you notice the goat is quite dead. “Don’t worry,” Sing says cheerfully, “that was a real goat. Now you try.”

  • Use Soul Gate on 3 goats 0/3

11. The Second Step

9. The First Step

Finishing the tea ritual, the figure rises. “I am Darkmaster Viu. The others will be waiting to begin your training.”

“Others?” You ask in an uncontrollable outburst between a gasp and a mutter.

Master Viu looks over still walking, “did you think you were some special snowflake. The last or only one? We are few but more seem to question in these exciting times.”

As you exit the crevice, you find where several of the goats stood, now Pandaren silently watch.

“The Shado Pan are not the only Watchers,” Shing Song remarks coyly. “With your permission Master Viu”, she bows and gestures for you to follow her. Turning around, you find the Pandaren appear as goats calmly separating and shadowing you along the hollows.

  • Complete the Tea ritual 0/1
  • Talk to Seedbearer Sing

10. Soul Stepping