Tag Archives: temple of the jade serpent

Second Guesses


You know, I realize that Garrosh has mentioned this about the pandaren more than a few times, but they really do love to drink. I’m no tea-totaler myself by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t even approach these folks. I’m not sure how I never noticed it with Ji. I suppose I got distracted by the food. Maybe that was a sort of smokescreen. Only with gravy.

Maybe I should back up.

After my mixed results with the sha yesterday, I traveled over to the Jade Serpent Temple grounds. The Shado-pan are working there to clean up some more of the aftermath of the Serpent’s Heart outbreak. Even though the Sha of Doubt was defeated some time ago, there are still lingering lesser sha that it had spawned still infesting the area. I’m still not exactly sure how that works — whether the defeat of the prime sha means that no new lesser sha can spawn, or if they can spawn but at a slower rate, or for that matter whether the prime sha’s destruction means that the lesser sha will simply die off on their own, like vines withering after the root is dead, so that all the Shado-pan need to do, ultimately, is keep them contained until the inevitable end comes.

I ended up spending a fair bit of time with Elder Sage Tai-Feng. He’s managed to shed some light on the nature of the sha creatures. He’s not certain — nobody appears to be, ultimately — where the sha manifest from, but their essence seems to exist in non-corporeal form before they spawn physically. Strong negative emotions — fear, anger, hatred — can catalyze that emergence. In some cases, the sha takes physical form in a body of its own; in other cases, the sha energy seizes the person who’s giving off the emotions as a host and infests their body.

The sha are drawn to powerful emotions like fear and anger, but they also have a strange symbiotic relationship with them, particularly when the sha are occupying a host. They draw on those emotions to become stronger, but they can also feed them back to others, their host bodies especially. From what Tai-Feng tells me, the sha don’t control people exactly, and they can’t make them do anything against their will. But they can intensify emotions like fear and despair that people are already feeling, so they’re more prone to act on them — even in ways that they might not normally be inclined to. I guess that amounts to pushing you harder into your worst impulses? Not really controlling you, but in a way doing something even worse.

So I think I have a better idea of why things went down the drain as much as they did yesterday. I mean, I’m far from immune to questioning myself, but I don’t usually dive that deep into the self-doubt pool. It’s kind of creepy how it sneaks up on you, though. I’d heard about sha influence before, but I’d always imagined it felt more like something that was forced on you, kind of like a priest’s mind control (not that I’ve had any first-hand experience with that, mind you). This wasn’t at all like that, though; it just slides into your head and feels like something that was already there naturally. And in a way, it was, which makes it that much more disturbing.

Still, it serves me right for not putting two and two together earlier. I mean, the prime sha around here was the Sha of Doubt, after all. I’m kind of embarrassed that I somehow managed to miss something that obvious. Sometimes I think I’ve been hanging around Garrosh too long. (Do not tell him I said that.)

At any rate, that brings us back to the drinking. I had my whole discussion with Tai-Feng over a few drinks… okay, several (it was his idea, I swear!)… then he suggested that I give my experiments another try now that I had a little liquid courage in me. And maybe it was the 15% blood alcohol level, but it seemed like a good idea, especially when the elder sage offered to have a couple of his Shado-pan guards come along to help watch my back, just in case.

I stayed pretty close to the Shado-pan base and tried channeling the powers of the Nether Prism on a few of the sha that were lurking nearby. I can’t say the second round went off without a hitch, but it was definitely an improvement over yesterday. The smallest, weakest sha fell in line fairly easily; the one larger one that I tried my luck on put up more of a fight, but after a little wrangling I was able to control it, too. For a short while, at least. Getting everything to click took a little longer than I would have expected, and the whole process felt shakier, but that probably had something to do with all the booze I still had in my system. (Seriously, have you even tried harnessing fel energies on a full gallon of beer? Stay clear of that Seed of Corruption is all I’m going to tell you.) Still, no breakdown on my end of things like last time, and, maybe more importantly, no smaller sha dinging their way to larger sha. So at least I managed to sidestep some of those problems, even if my head was a little too groggy to be working as crisply as I might like.

So, the overall verdict is that they definitely are susceptible to Nether Prism influence, though I’m pretty sure they’re not demons. Not exactly. There’s some overlap there, and I’m not sure where they do come from if not the Twisting Nether, but then, voidwalkers aren’t demons either, strictly speaking, and the Prism — and fel influence — works on them. As a matter of fact, I noticed that the adjustments I had to make while working on the sha bore a few similarities to the differences in handling the ol’ blueberry.

That is, a voidwalker. That wasn’t supposed to be some kind of weird draenei euphemism for… you know, never mind. I think that might still be the beer talking.

Either way, though, the academic questions about exactly what the sha are can wait for whoever studies that sort of thing. For my purposes, the important thing is that the Nether Prism seems to be working. Not seamlessly, and not easily; it’ll take more practice, and I may need to find some way to augment even the Prism’s influence in order to make it work reliably. But, we’re getting there. If nothing else, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to bring a progress report back to Garrosh that won’t end with me being punched.

I think.

I may want to put some more work in tomorrow just in case, though. You never know when the boss will wake up a little tastier than usual.

Testier! TESTIER! Testier than usual! That was the beer again, I swear! Ugh. Spirits help me, now I think I need to go drink some more just to wash that out of my head.





Shadow Safari


After my stopover with Garrosh and Gurtash at the Tavern in the Mists, I made my way to the Terrace of Eternal Spring, which was the location of a pretty major sha infestation not too long ago. As it turns out, it was still long enough ago; there wasn’t much sign left of the outbreak, and the guardians of the terrace already had the place pretty well under control. They weren’t exactly unwelcoming toward me — I doubt they saw much distinction between me and the “newcomers” who’d helped defeat the Sha of Fear — but they also didn’t seem to know what to make of me just showing up. I figured it was probably better for everyone involved if I didn’t have to ask questions.

By this point, I’d parted ways with Garrosh and Gurtash. They had something of their own that they had to tend to with that pandaren elder and his hozen friend, while I had my investigations to conduct in the field. I flew by myself up to the Jade Forest, to an area called Serpent’s Heart near the Temple of the Jade Serpent. From what I’ve heard, there was a major sha outbreak there not long after General Nazgrim and his forces arrived in Pandaria. Evidently, there was a battle at Serpent’s Heart between Horde and Alliance forces that freed one of the major sha, the Sha of Doubt, which had been contained or buried underground. That sha took refuge within the temple but was defeated not too long afterward. Still, all the lesser sha creatures that it had unleashed were still around the area making a mess of the place. The Shado-pan were making steady progress clearing them out from the temple grounds, but their work wasn’t done yet. I was content to leave them to their work for now, and try to do my research around Serpent’s Heart where — hopefully — I could keep out of the way and avoid attention.

I’d been hearing about these sha ever since the first reports started trickling back from Pandaria, but this was my first chance to see them up close. I’m not sure what to make of them. There are definitely greater and lesser sha, but I’m not sure what kind of hierarchy they have, if any. The greater ones seem to be able to create — or summon? or… splinter into? — additional lesser sha, but the lessers aren’t dependent on the greaters for their existence. So these lesser sha at the temple are still up and kicking even after the “main” Sha of Doubt’s been killed.

Or was it? Are they killed? Can they be? Or do they just return to some prior state, where they can be called into being again?

So do they have their own Twisting Nether that way? Are they connected to the Twisting Nether, for that matter?

I suppose that last question takes us back to the bigger question for our purposes: are they demons?

I spent some time around Serpent’s Heart trying to test out the Nether Prism on the sha. With ordinary demons — even fairly powerful ones — the Prism would enable me to control them, much moreso than a warlock’s usual powers would allow. Even for a demon that would normally be beyond my power, the Prism would give me enough of a boost that I could exert some influence over them, even if I couldn’t seize outright control. With these sha, though, it’s not quite so clear-cut. They don’t respond to the Nether Prism the way most demons do, but something about it definitely reaches them; it just takes a lot more focus and effort on my part, sort of like trying to force two puzzle pieces together that almost fit but not quite.

I was able to manage brief control over the weakest of the sha — those little crawlers — but it took a lot of doing. And even that much didn’t last long. I was already uncertain if the experiment was going to work, and once I started feeling my hold slipping, things unraveled quickly. I tried to repeat the process on a few others, but those unraveled faster than the first one. I can’t say it was much of a surprise; after the first attempt went sour, I had a bad feeling about the subsequent ones, and it seemed like they only got stronger the harder I struggled to get a grip on them. Magically speaking, that is.

The weird thing is that when I lost my hold on the third attempt (and believe me, by that point, losing my hold didn’t take long at all) the little sha crawler lashed around for a few seconds, then swelled up into a larger sha. I’m not sure if that’s just part of the gestation of a sha — maybe the smaller ones are just a type of larva stage? — or if something else triggered the transformation. Either way, though, at that point there wasn’t much else to be done. The larger ones were definitely beyond me. I’m not sure yet if it’s because I’m going about it wrong, if my own abilities are too limited, or if these sha are just operating on a completely different wavelength altogether.

The whole time working on them, I couldn’t help feeling like the attempt was doomed to blow up on me. Still, I was able to reach some of them, so there’s something there. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something familiar about the energy they have about them. I just wish I could put my finger on how.

I’d arrived here planning to try to fly under the radar and conduct my research without drawing any unnecessary attention from the Shado-pan, since that would probably have led to at least a few questions that I’d just as soon avoid answering. I’m starting to think, though, that unnecessary Shado-pan attention might be necessary after all if I’m going to salvage this project. When I offered to help Garrosh control the sha, I really believed that the Nether Prism would give me my means to do it, but now I’m far from sure and getting further by the minute. I think I’m going to have to head to the temple and see what I can learn from the Shado-pan. Maybe there’s some missing piece they can fill in that will pull it all together, but based on the early returns, I have serious doubts.




Tavern in the Mists


So now that we’re mostly settled in Pandaria again, Mokvar’s ready to start in on his whole sha project, with his… dodgy pink nether region crystal thingy… you know what? Something about that way of saying it sees like it’s just asking for trouble, in a vaguely Ruekie kind of way, so let’s just move on. Point is, he needs to start testing out his warlocky hocus-pocus on the sha, and he says he needs to gather some advance intel about the buggers.

Luckily, Mokvar was able to get a run-down on the sha from Zhi-Zhi back at the base, but he says he wants to get more intel from the people who’ve been dealing with the sha in the field. And plus, I mean, Zhi-Zhi seems pretty eager to be helpful and all, but I can’t rightly blame Mokvar for wanting to get some intelligence from non-Zhi-Zhi sources, because let’s face it, when you spend more than eight seconds talking to ol’ monkey boy, “intelligence” isn’t exactly the first word to come bursting to mind.

So, in other words, he fits right in around here. Just watch him stick around for a while.

Anyhow, back to the point. There’s a major sha outbreak over in the Jade Forest where the pandas have a ton of boots on the ground… well, except that they don’t really wear boots. I don’t think. So… they have… fat furry paws on the ground, and… um… Oh, fucking hell, why do I ever bother trying? SOME PANDAS ARE FIGHTING THEM SOME SHA IS THE POINT, over at the Temple of the Jade Serpent or the Emerald Snake or the Chartreuse fucking Anaconda or WHATEVER the fuck these pandas groove to. And so Mokvar wants to head over there and pick their fuzzy brains and hope Ji Lunchbox is the exception rather than the rule so maybe THESE pandas have something in their brains to pick other than “pass the gravy.”

We’re also making a stop at this tavern near another location where they had a major sha problem until pretty recently. I don’t know if the place has some kind of drink special for warlocks or their wings are really good or something, but Mokvar was REALLY keen on stopping at this place on the way over to the Jade Forest. Some “Tavern in the Mists” place, I guess, and I don’t know if I like the sound of that, seeing as the last time I hung out with Mokvar in a tavern surrounded by mist or steam pools or whatever… hoo boy. At least frigging Garona isn’t around this time.






A Shado-Pan of a doubt


So, based on the early returns, this sha energy and I are going to have a real love/hate relationship.

Let me explain.

While Burzum and Krimpatul were doing their respective investigating, I went back up to Kun-Lai Summit to do a little more checking around. Ponytail and his blood elves had cleared out of the Valley of Emperors, and by the looks of it, the mogu who had been up there had decided not to take their chances coming back after the grade-A ass-kicking I’d given them. Which, by the way, makes the mogu smarter than at least half the enemies I’ve run into over the years.

I flew around the mountains for a little while to see if I could spot any more mogu activity, but didn’t have a whole lot of luck, so I decided while I was in the neighborhood to check in at that monastery I’d heard about – the Shado-Pan Monastery, I think it’s called. I figured the monks there might have something they could tell me about the mogu, or the sha, or, hell, even just give me some idea why that Cloudfall guy at Tian Monastery felt the need to be so damn cryptic.

Problem is, all of that assumed the monks would actually, you know, TALK to me. When I got there, though, I could barely get anyone to answer the damn door. I knocked away for a while, and at first some fat panda dude poked his head out and asked who I was…but then after I told him, he just slammed the door shut again. After that, they just let me knock away all I wanted, and the only answer I got was one time when someone behind the door yelled “We don’t want any,” and this other time when I guess they decided to get cute, and one of them did a bad troll voice like “Dere nobody home, mon” – which, I can HEAR you TALKING, idiot, so there obviously IS somebody home.

Fucking pandas.

Eventually, Burzum and Krimpatul arrived, and we set up camp near the monastery to compare notes. Krimp reported that the sha outbreak around the Temple of the Red Crane was mostly gone, other than some stray animals in the area that had been affected, but that those animals seemed a good bit stronger than the garden variety. Seems like they were able to be infused with sha energy just from proximity to the manifestation there, which tells me that it shouldn’t be that difficult to tap infuse some of our soldiers with that power, assuming we can find a sha source to draw on. THAT’s going to be the tricky part, I’m guessing – finding a source – since it’s not like we can reliably just summon these sha things up out of thin air.

Burzum, on the other hand, gave a whole breakdown of the pandas fighting an ongoing sha outbreak near the Temple of the Jade Serpent. (By the by, don’t ask me why these pandas seem so obsessed with naming everything after rainbow-colored animals. Can the Temple of the Mauve Meerkat be far behind?) The sha down there were still much more active, and according to Burzum, the pandas there deliberately took steps to AVOID being affected by the sha energy. Because, I don’t know, I guess they feel like a dose of extra power might take the edge off their signature bouncy goofiness. Don’t ask me.

Whatever they’re thinking down there, though, it seemed like Burzum had gone native on us some, because while he was talking about it, he got really insistent about not thinking it was such a hot idea to try to tap into this sha energy. He seemed to get really stressed out over it, actually, to the point that I could even see him going a little pale in the face. I managed to calm him down some, but he still seemed more than a little antsy.

At that point, I gave the blademasters the rundown of the warm welcome I’d gotten at the monastery. Burzum wanted to try talking to them himself, and I figured what the hell, if he wanted to try beating his head against the wall, let him knock himself out. So he went over and knocked on the door, and one of the pandas stuck his head out to see who it was…and I’ll be damned, they let the fucker in!

So Burzum was in there for a little while, and I figured eventually he’d be back to bring me and Krimp inside with him – you know, after he’d finished buttering up whatever antisocial panda had had the bright idea to lock me out. After a while, sure enough, Burzum came out again, but instead of showing us the way in, he let the pandas shut themselves up in there again while he came staggering back to us looking more upset than ever. And I’m talking SERIOUSLY shaken – I don’t know what those pandas said to him, but dude was beyond just pale at the point and was looking out-and-out GRAY.

That’s when he started yammering a bunch of incoherent nonsense – “Is this what we’ve come to?” this, and “losing our way” that, and all the while getting more and more visibly upset. Krimpatul and I tried to talk him down from the crazy, but Burzum wasn’t having it. He kept ranting on and on, until finally the ranting gave way to flat-out growling, and the next thing you knew, Bruzum’s arms started to morph into these tendrilly black claws and his whole body seemed to exude shadows.

And that’s when he attacked us.

I’ll say this for that sha stuff – because obviously that’s what had to be coursing through Burzum’s system – it really is no joke. I’ve sparred with all the blademasters a bunch of times, so I know their strength, but this was way beyond the normal Burzum scale. It took Krimp and I everything we could muster to keep the upper hand, and even then we were only barely able to hold him off most of the time.

Eventually, though, Krimpatul got in a few solid blows to disorient Burzum, at which point I hacked off one of those creepy-ass claws at the elbow. That turned the tide in our favor for good. I made one last attempt to talk Burzum down, but he was long gone by that point. So Krimpatul and I finished him off. As he fell, he muttered something about “should have remained in Garadar,” and the rest was silence.

I’d just as soon spare Burzum’s memory from people seeing the state he was in at the end. He was a good man, and whatever came over him in those final moments, I’m certain his spirit will find its way to those of the honored ancestors, even if he’d fallen far from home. Krimpatul and I found a quiet spot in the mountains nearby and laid Burzum’s body to rest.

Except for that severed claw. That’s coming with me back to the Sanctum of Two Moons so the braintrust can give it a good going over.

Rest well, Burzum. Spirits willing, we’ll make sure you didn’t die in vain.


Sha hunting


I’m giving the blood elves a few days to see if they can get anywhere with Shan Kien — that’s the name of that mogu dude we captured in the Valley of Emperors — but in the meantime I’m going to try to explore other avenues. From what I’ve been able to gather, the mogu’s Divine Bell artifact was able to focus and infuse the power of what the pandas call sha. Basically dark power come alive, sparked by emotions like anger or fear. And even though this Divine Bell sounds like it’s the key to harnessing this sha power to the fullest, that doesn’t mean we can’t do a little testing at the source.

After we’d finished our visit to Tian Monastery the other day, Burzum had stayed behind to see if he could learn a few new tricks from the pandas. I had Gurtash stay with him, and after I’d left for the Sanctum of Two Moons, I had the rest of the DPS kids brought over to do a little hand-to-hand combat training. Now, personally I’m not so big on the fancy martial arts moves — I’m a much bigger fan of just pummeling your opponents to death when you’re not hacking them into little pieces with an axe. But then, that’s ME. Seeing as I’m 300 lbs. of rock-solid awesome and not some skinny fourteen-year-old, I don’t really NEED a whole lot of bells and whistles in my asskicking toolkit. But I figure it might be good for the kids to see if there’s anything useful they can pick up from the pandas.

Also, side note, since I forgot to mention this before — on the way back from Tian, I made a stop at this place nearby called the Arboretum, where they train cloud serpents for some big race. It took some doing, but I managed to talk them into letting me participate in the race even though I didn’t have my own cloud serpent. I will neither confirm nor deny that “talking them into” this involved slapping a few pandas around. Anyway, the race was pretty fun, and you seriously should have seen the looks on the other riders’ faces — and their cloud serpents, for that matter — when Mortimer left them all in the dust. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: wyvern > all.

Anyhow, I digress.

Getting back to the actual business at hand, I’m having Burzum head down to a temple in that neck of the woods that’s been hit by a pretty major sha infestation. Temple of the Jade something-or-other, which really doesn’t help narrow it down much, seeing as it’s in a region called the Jade Forest, and half the stuff around there is called the Jade Whatever-Whatever. Lesson: them pandas sure do love them some jade.

Meanwhile, I’m assigning Krimpatul to investigate another temple not far from our base at Domination Point, a little ways to the north. I hear tell there was a major sha outbreak there until pretty recently, so he might be able to learn something there. While they’re both doing their thing, I’m going to do some extra checking around in the northern mountains, and then the two blademasters will meet me there to compare notes. I hear tell there’s another major monastery in the northwest part of Kun-Lai Summit, so it might be worth convening there and seeing what the monks have to tell us.

More soon.