Veexie pointed to the corridor beyond the pool of Immerseus. “Where does that lead?”
“That stairway leads back to the Vale,” replied Lorewalker Cho. “The sha corruption in the Vale is rampant and it would be good for us to do our part in clearing some of it for everyone’s benefit. Come, let us do what we can.”
Mal nodded and led the way up the stairs to a ledge overlooking a small clearing that had 3 mysterious figures standing in it. They were pandaren, definitely, but sha corruption rose from them in clouds.
Lorewalker Cho strode forward, distress clear on his face. “Can it be...? Oh no, no no no no no. The Golden Lotus... they pledged their lives to defend this place.”
Zetsuen raised an eyebrow. “Those are the Golden Lotus protectors? What happened to them?”
The largest of them turned slowly, seemingly alerted by their presence, pale eyes staring directly at Lorewalker Cho. “You... Rook knows you…”
“Yes! Rook Stonetoe! You remember me! What has happened to you?” The lorewalker was beside himself with anxiety.
The one called Rook Stonetoe shook his head, as if confused. “Rook... does not know... Head... is cloudy…”
One of the female pandaren, who the lorewalker identified as Sun Tenderheart, wailed. “We know only despair now. A fitting punishment for our failure…”
“I see. This sha energy has trapped their spirits here, to endlessly relive their failure. It feeds on their despair.” Lorewalker Cho explained.
Jizal appeared troubled. “How do we cleanse this corruption without hurting them?”
“I don’t think we can, to be honest,” Bulalo the shaman remarked. “The vessel of the corruption may need to be destroyed for the corruption to dissipate.”
Rook Stonetoe whispered, “Please… help…”
“This is a fate far worse than death - please, heroes! Set their souls free!” The lorewalker pleaded.
Mal nodded to Avierra who adjusted her shield onto her left arm. “Zetsuen? Veexie?” Mal asked.
Zetsuen and Veexie both nodded. As I finished off my noodles, I asked, “There’s 3 of them. Who goes first?”
Lorewalker Cho chimed in. “Rook is the toughest of the 3. He Softfoot is known for his legendary stealth while Sun Tenderheart’s magical abilities are formidable. Might I suggest we take Rook first while someone keeps He and Sun busy?”
“Avierra take Rook please,” Mal suggested. “I’ll handle He and Sun.” Avierra nodded her agreement.
I unlimbered my bow and nocked an arrow into place, signaling my pet wolf Lobo to get ready. Her ears flattened and a snarl signaled she was good to go. Jizal and Bulalo both hefted their respective weapons, Jizal mouthing a silent prayer to the holy Light while Bulalo communed with the elements for aid and strength. Cyanmyer the warlock summoned a soulwell from which everyone took a healthstone, for use in emergencies.
Another warlock, Tekkreinah, had joined them, adding his own skill with fel magic to theirs while Nonchalance the mage completed the party.
“Remember to focus on Rook first,” Avierra reminded them. “His spinning crane kick is quite formidable so move out of the way.” Mal and Avierra nodded at each other.
“For the Light!” Avierra swung a mighty Light-enhanced blow directly at Rook while Mal literally burned the ground as he charged at He Softfoot first before casually throwing a weapon at Sun Tenderheart, causing her to glare at him with narrowed eyes even as she started to cast a spell at the orc warrior.
“Sun... He... aid me,” Rook roared as he engaged Avierra.
“Will you succeed where we have failed?” Sun asked in a snarl at Mal.
He Softfoot nodded to his foes before pulling out a knife and rushing his opponent.
I slammed 4 quick explosive shots at Rook while Cyanmyer and Tekkreinah threw massive Chaos Bolts at the huge pandaren monk. Jizal and Bulalo rushed in, weapons swinging, while Nonchalance stood back and threw a Frozen Orb followed by an Ice Lance, fingers weaving spells faster than the eye could follow.
Rook roared with fury. “Brawl… with Rook!” His Spinning Crane kick smashed into Avierra, sha corruption nearly overwhelming the paladin’s Holy Power. Avierra simply muttered an oath to the Light before pushing the monk back with a screaming diagonal slash of her sword.
Rook stumbled back, wounds leaking sha corruption. “Rook… needs help!” He sprang free even as 3 shadow clones of himself leaped to battle in his stead. Lorewalker Cho gasped. “This is a forbidden technique! The Desperate Measures technique it is called. For the monk, three shadow clones appear and are known as Misery, Sorrow, and Gloom, each one with different abilities. Focus on Sorrow first!”
Nonchalance sidestepped a burning patch of ground before firing off a frost bolt at the shadow clone known as Sorrow. Cyanmyer and Tekkreinah both followed up with identical Incinerate spells while I fired 3 Arcane Shots in rapid succession. All this time, Veexie and Zetsuen were busily healing Mal and Avierra while making sure Sun Tenderheart’s Bane spell was cleansed from targets quickly, else it affected others fairly quickly.
Sorrow popped out of existence, having absorbed too much damage. Jizal and Bulalo had switched to Gloom earlier and it popped away shortly afterwards. Misery followed quickly as the warlocks, mage, and hunter focused him down. Jizal and Bulalo had already leaped to assist Mal in pinning down the sneaky rogue He Softfoot.
Again, Lorewalker Cho proved most helpful. “The Desperate Measures technique for rogues is just a single shadow clone known as Embodied Anguish but it places a Mark of Anguish on a person that causes a massive bleed. This needs to be passed on to another to minimize the effect.”
At this point, He Softfoot signaled for aid. A shadow clone sprang forth, dripping with sha corruption. It targeted Nonchalance and placed a glowing Mark of Anguish on her, causing her to scream in pain. “Pass it to Bulalo!” Veexie instructed quickly. The mage quickly blinked to the shaman and slapped him on the back with her palm, passing the Mark on to him. The large Tauren shaman merely grunted, prepared for the influx of pain the spell caused.
“Focus the Embodied Anguish down!” Zetsuen yelled. A torrent of fel, arcane, elemental, and holy energy slammed into the shadow clone, causing it to stumble back before simply popping out of existence. As the shadow clone disappeared, so did the Mark of Anguish, causing Bulalo to heave a sigh of relief.
Even as we turned our attention on Sun Tenderheart, she yelled. “Protectors, come to my aid!”
The Lorewalker piped up. “The Desperate Measures Technique for spellcasters is called Dark Meditation. It causes a field to spring up around the caster. All outside the field will die. Within the field, sha creatures of Despair and Desperation will spring forth to fight you. They must be destroyed for the spell to end.”
The field sprang up as light outside darkened to twilight. Everyone rushed into the field around the caster as small sha creatures sprang up. They died fairly quickly and soon, the spell ended.
This sequence happened one more time before Lorewalker Cho spoke up again. “The taint must be cleansed from all three at the same time! Otherwise the spell Bond of the Golden Lotus will trigger, causing them to heal each other.”
“Take them to the center Mal,” Avierra yelled. “We’ll bring them down all at once.”
“Got it!” Mal replied.
In short order, we had them all together in one spot and released our area-of-effect abilities to bring them down together.
Rook Stonetoe bowed deeply before fading away. “Feeling... better now... Thank you... little friends.”
Sun Tenderheart bowed as well. “We return to when we lost our way. You... are very kind.”
Lorewalker Cho bowed in return. “Be at peace, dear friends. May your souls become one with the land you gave your life to protect.”
“Our thanks, Lorewalker, without your aid this would nearly impossible.” Tekkreinah said with a bow of his own.