An elderly pandaren man clad in the traditional plate uniform of the Golden Lotus, the honorable society of pandaren who protect the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, reclines in a stool that creaks against his shifting weight in protest. The pandaren man has gray, aging fur; thick, bushy eyebrows that nearly hide his eyes underneath; scruffy sideburns and a long, thick and braided beard sprouting from his chin. Over time, a grizzled arm and paw raise themselves to his beard and begin to stroke it casually as he contemplates. When he finally speaks, he does so with a solemn and worn voice. The man's targeted audience is unknown, although he appears to be responding to a question of sorts.
My name is Mu Jian. That is the name I was given at birth, and it is the name I have lived my long life with—it is also the only memento of my early childhood. I have been unable to remember the faces of my mother or siblings for many years now: I was chosen at an early and impressionable age, and sent to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms not long after. I was told it was my destiny to serve the Golden Lotus and informed that it was a great honor; naturally, I was enchanted by this mature sense of duty and the grandeur of the vale upon my arrival. In fact, I recall the first thing I saw well: As I emerged through the Golden Stair and looked past the tall trees I noticed, towering high above into the clouds, those two ornate stone statues of the mogu, each brandishing a formidable polearm crafted of stone with a fine tip of pure gold as though they were protecting something or somebody's honor. Oh yes, as a child I was captivated by the mysterious Mogu'shan Palace behind those two statues. Never once was I permitted to enter it at my age, although as I went about my duties sometimes they would bring me through the Summer Fields, and I would stand on the lakeside to admire the fine marble and pillars of gold. "There is nothing else like this in the world," I would tell myself in awe, "and I will be one of the few able to savor its beauty!" I was indeed easily entertained as a child.
I digress. The separation from my blood relatives was difficult to cope with at first – before my training began. Months eventually turned into years and I learned not to cling to weak emotions that would lead me to fall into despair; in other words, I began to accept the Golden Lotus as my new life. I grew quick on my feet and skilled with my hands as the years endured, and by the time I was middle-aged it was I who instructed the trainees. As our allies, the Shado-Pan trained together with the Golden Lotus in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, and working in close collaboration with them taught me a great deal of the sacrifices our organizations make daily to prevent another Mogu Empire and protect the innocent. Using that knowledge as my predecessors and now friends before me had, I instilled the same beliefs I learned to uphold into our trainees. Together we all grew: we scouted the vale and kept a vigilant watch for mogu; we learned of and honored ancient pandaren heroes of the past; and we strived regularly to maintain our balanced way of life.
These days I am an old man. I have watched as the two generations of children I trained blossomed into strong and capable adults whom I respect. As the pandaren before me have and as the current generation does, I watched over the vale with my colleagues. I have heeded the Lorewalkers and their tales of our people's past and in turn I have imparted this knowledge as I should have. I have guarded the vale and after pledging my long life to the Golden Lotus I have wound up with many memories; enough to fulfill a lifetime. I recall that, after collecting so many of these memories from my colleagues I was approached by them and offered an honorary retirement. Having been in the middle of my fiftieth years I was persuaded with little effort. The vale has always been safe because of our ever cautious state, and I felt secure leaving our legacy to the newer generations. They had, after all, more than proved themselves.
While I did enjoy my peaceful retirement a great deal, I regularly maintained contact with several old colleagues and friends. Nevertheless, I was surprised when I learned of recent events and why the Shado-Pan had suddenly pulled their forces from our vale. Allow me to explain: despite the legends of Shen-zin Su, the Wandering Isle that reached our ears, many of us – perhaps ignorantly – indeed believed that the world outside the mists was shattered; that in other words we were the only survivors on Azeroth from the Sundering that took place ten thousand years ago. The events unfolded suddenly, far too rapidly for an elderly, retired man to comprehend at once: first the so-called Alliance and Horde in the Jade Forest; next, the yaungol broke through the Serpent's Spine and encroached upon the Kun-Lai Summit; worse still, the mantid swarm—an event that occurs only once every hundred years—began ten years early, and the Serpent's Spine was beset by mindless hordes of insects from above. Unfortunately, these events awakened the sha and left the unprepared Shado-Pan stretched thin all across Pandaria. We Golden Lotus were left isolated in our vale, and without our allies to assist us the mogu, ripe with the vengeance that had been growing patiently since their empire fell, were able to surprise us with unprecedented numbers. Large warriors crafted with stone and infused with the souls of long-deceased mogu known as the terracotta entered our vale and instantly began their invasion. By the time I was informed of these events, the terracotta soldiers were already occupying the Emperor's Approach, where their armies relentlessly pressed against our forces. Reports that the Mogu'shan Palace, the seat of all Pandaria's past emperors, had been infiltrated emerged along with darker rumors that told of the Thunder King Lei Shen's resurrection. Although I had grown old, I understood this news as my call to duty. I will also admit that there was a notable lack of protest when I wielded my swords and strode into battle clad in my armor once more – I was even provided with a large and ferocious feline companion to ride atop, a boon in my higher years. With these accommodations, I felt as though I was more than capable of pledging myself to the vale's defense.
I confess, I no longer have any intention of returning to my retirement. This is what I believe I was chosen to serve the Golden Lotus for, and I must continue to be ever vigilant in our cause. Now that the August Celestials have permitted the outsiders to join and aid us against the mogu incursion, we must adapt to and achieve a balance from their judgment. The outsiders must heed the lessons of Pandaria, as must we if we are to overcome the trials ahead of us. Whatever may come, both my blades and I shall readily continue to serve the Golden Lotus.