“It is said, my child – ”  Lorekeeper Xai began, “that in the dark days before the Emperor freed us all, there were great ones, male and female, that laid the path that the Emperor would one day follow.  We all stand on the shoulders of those that came before us; we grow in wisdom from where their learning ends, from where they leave us to learn.”

The elder Pandaran chuckled, “It is like following a river.  It begins small, a mere trickle at the edge of a mountain.  As it flows, it gathers more water to itself – more learning.  Each master in turn contributes her wisdom, and then – then!  Before we even realize?  The trickle has become a mighty torrent, a roaring river that sweeps all before it in its anger, or reshapes the land when it is at peace.  This is wisdom – and if it is allowed to grow, it becomes a mighty force indeed.”

“So it was for the Emperor.  Before him came great ones who, humble in their service, no less created the river that he would drink from, and direct against the Mogu.”

“One of these masters was the great Fa Shon, a villager who lived on the very edge of the Temple of Thunder.  Shon was no one of consequence – a tailor, a mender of clothing, and a barber.  The earliest stories of him say that for a few small coins, he would clean your fur until it gleamed, and put you in clothing fit for the mightiest of Mogu princes – but he only rarely plied his trade.  Times were hard, then, and the Mogu ruled all.  The Thunder King held the very soul of Pandaria under an iron fist, and our race was little more than servant and slave to the decadence of the Dynasty.

“Shon had three daughters, each more lovely than the last.  The first two, as they came of age, were taken by the Lords of the Temple to serve, and they were not seen again, until their bodies came down the river from the high mountain, old and broken and withered before their time.  Shon resolved that his last daughter would not be taken, and so he fled with her, becoming an itenerant tinker, a thing of patches and rags – a sharpener of knives and scissors, pushing his cart, with his daughter, from village to village.  Thus, did he stay out of the sight of the Mogu and their servants.

“He married off his daughter one day, to a tradesman in a village; freed of this family fetter, the tradesman – disgusted with the poverty and pain, the broken spirits of his people, and the deaths of his daughters… vanished.”

“To this day, none know where he went – some say, he dissapeared into the hills, and was among the first to meet the Celestials, and appeal to them for wisdom.  The most reliable of the old stories tell us that he went up into the mountains, to ancient tombs of our people, and there uncovered .. well.  You will see.”

“What is known is this – the great Fa Shon appeared at the edge of the great palace, resplendent in beautiful robes of red silk.  He brought with him a mighty weapon, and the light of knowledge in his eyes – and, old though he was, it is said he killed a hundred Mogu that day, fighting his way to the Grand Magus, and bringing justice for his lost children.  It is said that the Thunder King himself met him, and while Fa Shon was no match for him in combat, he nonetheless laughed as the King cut him down.  His last words are known to all:”

“‘You will kill me today, mighty Tyrant.  But you will not kill what has been done here.  The journey is laid.  The river flows – and it will lead unerringly to your end.'”

“The weapon Fa Shon wielded in that fight was spirited away after his defeat, and was lost – but it is said that the Emperor himself studied with those who had learned from Shon, and was offered the great master’s weapon before he went to face the Thunder King.  His words have been recorded so:”

“‘This weapon is not mine to wield; it served its master, and will serve others in time, as it has served me.'”  

“And the emperor, unworthy to wield the great weapon, nonetheless defeated the Thunder King, and ushered in a new era of peace to the Pandaren.  That is truth, children – that the Emperor learned from all those who came before, including the master, Fa Shon.”

The old pandaran looked over his young audience, and smiled – teeth white. “I wonder if any of you will be worthy to carry his weapon?  Perhaps one day, you will do what the Emperor would not.  Who can say?”

Author Aunne
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