Character: Emperor Chen Stormstout
Chen woke up with a loud yawn. He stretched around a bit and then just sprawled on his bed, unwilling to get up and get to his duties. He had duties now, as much as he hated that idea. After he accepted Shaohao’s nomination to become the new Emperor of Pandaria, he almost immediately began to regret that decision. All the formalities and everything he’s expected to do every day. The entire Pandaria has gone a bit out of rhythm with imperial duties due to lacking central leadership for ten thousand years, but Taran Zhu was quick to dig up all the protocol from Yaochi’s and Shaohao’s times. One of the first decrees Chen made was adjusting some of that protocol to be more… modern. Less time spent on passing judgments on every small thief in the Empire, and more time for beer. But no matter how would he change the protocol, he would not be allowed to continue sleeping.
A loud bang on his door shook him up. He grumbled again and started looking around the bed, searching for his pants. As he did, the banging continued, every knock echoing inside his skull like a goblin mine exploding. Don’t they know he was drinking last night? Finally, the door opened and Kang Bramblestaff entered the bedroom with a deep bow. Reluctantly, Chen rose his back, sitting on the bed, still half-covered by the bedsheets.
“Glad you’re here,” Chen spoke up, “Maybe you can help me find my pants.”
Kang smiled. “You’re still wearing them, your highness.”
Chen looked down and took off the bedsheet. “Oh,” he said, “Good, saves me some time.” He looked towards the window, almost blinded by the light coming from outside. “Why are you waking me up at this early hour?”
Kang just looked at the clock on the wall. “It’s half past eleven in the morning, your highness.”
“Yeah, so?” Chen said, getting off the bed and walking towards the chair where he left his shirt. “And stop calling me ‘your highness’, Kang. We’re alone now.”
“As you wish, old friend. But know that I do not bring good news,” Kang responded, looking on as his Emperor clumsily dressed up.
“What is it? Did they lose a chicken again or something?” Chen replied.
“No.” Kang’s expression became sadder. “I’m afraid the Golden Lotus lost track of Princess Li Li.”
Chen’s eyes instantly opened wider as he stopped dressing for a moment. “How did you lose track of the heiress to the whole Empire?”
Kang lowered his head. “They were attacked in Krasarang Wilds. By satyrs.”
Soon afterwards, Chen was walking down the great stair of the Imperial Palace. Once the Mogu’Shan Palace, when the mogu king Xin fell, the pandaren occupied it. When Chen was crowned by the August Celestials, the palace was restored to its former glory and turned into the seat of the empire once again. The Free Mogu did not even protest that move – they had other concerns on their heads, such as Lei Shen and trying to reimagine themselves after his fall. But that’s where he came – Yu Gwai. An ancient enemy of the Thunder King, a stuff of legends, who came back from the mists of history and gave his people new purpose. The King of the Free Mogu, they call him.
Yu Gwai stood in Chen’s way, clad in his best regal gear and wielding a large cannon at his hip.
“Get out of my way,” Chen spoke to the mogu, “My family is in distress.”
Yu Gwai raised his arm to stop him. “And I am here to help you, friend.”
“No,” Chen shook his head, “This is my fight.”
“And I am your friend,” Yu Gwai continued. “You found me in the Valley of the Four Winds. You helped me find the Monkey King to break my curse. With you, I would have never became what I am now. Me, and my people, are in your debt.”
Chen sighed. “Fine, Yu Gwai. But it’s only us two. No imperial guards, no mogu warriors. Just me and you.”
Yu Gwai nodded and rested his arm on Chen’s shoulder. “So be it.”
A few hours later, Chen and Yu Gwai stood over the ridge between the Valley and the Krasarang Wilds. Two things were puzzling Chen at the time – how are there satyrs in Pandaria now, and why the heck is Valley of the Four Winds called a valley, if it’s not a valley at all? He was distracted, worried about the well-being of his niece, and the heiress to the Pandaren Empire. Just a couple of years ago, they barely even spoke with each other, but they were always kindred spirits, in a way. Finally, they found each other and went on further adventures. As luck would have it, they became involved in Pandaria’s struggles against the ancient enemy of Pandaria, the Thunder King. With their help, the adventurers from the outside world penetrated the Throne of Thunder and freed Lorewalker Cho, who turned Lei Shen’s own powers against him in a great display of magic. The spirit of Shaohao appeared to Chen and asked him to take his place and lead Pandaria into this new era, and soon afterwards the August Celestials crowned him, as the Free Mogu proclaimed Yu Gwai their new king. With no children of his own, Chen decided it would be his beloved niece who would inherit the throne upon his eventual demise. And now, all of this was in peril.
They continued down, to the dark forests of the Krasarang Wilds. This foreboding place was once the domain of the Sha of Despair, one of the most terrifying of Sha. Few people find violence in their hearts, and few are easily overtaken by their hatreds. But everyone knows despair, if you tug at the right string. Although the Sha Primes have been dealt with, their stain would remain in the land forever. As the old saying went, as long as there is evil lurking in the hearts of pandaren, so long there will be sha, and no amount of hitting them with a pointy stick will keep them down forever. Now, somewhere within these forests there was a force of satyrs from Kalimdor who dared to attack the Princess.
But as far as Chen could see, there was nothing there but lone jinyu swimming across the rivers of Krasarang, some anglers that took residence here after the campaign against Lei Shen, and sauroks, skulking in the shadows and waiting for the most opportune moment to strike. But after fending off another stupid reptilian attacker, an idea struck Chen. What happened to sauroks now? They are leaderless and prone to manipulation. What if they were turned by another shadowy race from outside? What if the sauroks worked for the satyrs? The two rulers immediately ran for the lands they knew as the heart of saurok settlement in Krasarang.
Surely enough, there were they – a large group of sauroks, hiding underneath a cliff-face from the Valley, surrounding a group of powerful satyrs, including one in particular. A large, white satyr with pink eyes and thorn-covered horns stood at the center of this gathering and waved around, speaking out a tale the two heroes could not hear but which the sauroks were obviously mesmerized with. Undoubtedly he promised them great treasures if they took part in whatever evil schemes they were hatching.
Yu Gwai looked on, thinking of their further moves. “We should sneak up,” he said finally.
Chen looked back at the mogu, clad in heavy armor, and wielding a cannon too big to qualify as a hand cannon. “You any good at sneaking?”
The mogu king just shook his head. “No way.”
Chen chuckled. “Then we just do it the usual way.”
Then the two stormed the camp. Chen jumped into his barrel and rolled right into them, knocking around several of the sauroks. Yu Gwai just stood back and kept bombarding the satyrs from afar. Occasionally, he shot a special cannonball that ignited everything around the landing spot. Chen then kept throwing the sauroks and satyrs around and killing many of them with a single punch. And if any saurok was stupid enough to attack Yu Gwai at close distance, he was immediately hit with the metal cannon and put out of commission. Before long, the only one left standing was the Albino – although wounded, still defiant in the face of his enemies.
Chen grabbed him by the throat and pushed him to the wall. “Tell me,” he yelled, “where did you take the girl?”
The satyr coughed up blood, but still continued to gloat, despite staring down the barrel of a cannon. “You will never find her. Your pitiful empire will die before it even began.”
“Tell me!” Chen pushed the satyr further into the cave wall. “Or I’ll snap your neck!”
The satyr just laughed louder. “I’m not even the real one. The real satyr prince is… far away.” As he finished talking, he dissipated into mist, as if he was never there. But Chen and Yu Gwai knew a mirror image when they saw one.
Yu Gwai just scratched his head. “What satyr prince?” he said, not knowing who they were facing.
For the next hour, they sat at the shores of a nearby lake, the jinyu settlement barely visible in the distance. While they were resting and fishing, they were trying to think of another location where the satyrs could hide Li Li. Yu Gwai wanted to go for Kun-Lai Mountains but as Chen said, Kun-Lai Mountains were his answers for everything. Then, the Emperor wanted to scour the Dread Wastes, knowing of a few saurok crags in there, but they both soon agreed the satyrs would fear to tread upon mantid grounds. They continued to debate, until they heard a familiar voice.
“What are you both doing here?” said the voice of a little girl. They turned around and to their surprise, it was Li Li!
Chen jumped upon and dropped his make-shift fishing pole and ran to hug his niece. “Li Li!” he shouted with joy. “I thought the satyrs kidnapped you.”
“They did,” the girl responded, “And you were what, rescuing me?”
The mogu nodded. “We owed you that much.”
She just chuckled at them. “I don’t need babysitting. I bit right through the ropes and snuck away when the dumb lizards weren’t looking.”
“Whatever happened,” Chen smiled, looking at his niece again, “at least you know we were there for you.”