They pop with an achievement step completed when you look closer. When you put the whole achievement together, you get the entire short story. Between archaeology items and these shrines throughout Pandaria, there are plenty of lore tidbits to be found. Anne Stickney wished in Know Your Lore for a way in-game to hold on to these stories for later viewing.
There is a way, but you have to hit level 90 first to unlock it.
The quest's in the mail
Upon finishing a whole story -- that is, finding all the pieces -- you receive in-game mail from Lorewalker Cho. Along with an invitation to share at the Seat of Knowledge what you've found is an item that starts a quest if you are level 90. The quest is merely to return to Lorewalker Cho at the Seat of Knowledge in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, rewarding reputation with the Lorewalkers.
The Seat of Knowledge sits high above the Mogu'shan Palace on the mountainside halfway between the two faction shrine cities. Mishi, the pink serpent dragon companion of Lorewalker Cho, will greet you outside. I also could not find any way to get up there without flying, which you can obtain at level 90. Inside is a small library, with Lorewalker Cho on a central platform, engrossed in a scroll.
The first time you walk in, you need to clean off a bookshelf for your finds. To the left of the platform as you enter, there's a bookshelf for each shrine's part, where you can click on each and reread the inscriptions. There's also a bookshelf that houses the completed volume, and clicking on it will prompt Lorewalker Cho to tell you a story. Cho himself will also give you a dialogue option to repeat a story.
Does Cho merely spam you with text? Gleefully, no! He phases himself to walk around on the seemingly empty platform, and while he tells the story, characters and things appear on the platform to act out the event! From all that I could tell, the phase is yours alone, even if other players are there, so you can relive certain scenes without interruption, overlapping, or waiting for your turn with Cho.
The beta is obviously unfinished, for I got a Yaungol-looking event when I asked Cho to tell me about the jinyu Fish Tails, and clicking the book gave me a different scenario, with Cho disappearing into an unseen phase while his textual telling continued on in my chat frame.
Naturally, other knowledge seekers reside in the Seat. The Lorewalkers quartermaster has nothing to offer me yet, but she's standing to the left near the bookshelves. To the right stand the archaeologists, both a trainer and a supplier who also offer dailies. I bet one of the random dailies has to do with the ability to crate solved items.
The shelves on the left side are mostly full, but the right side has many empty shelves. I wonder if there's more in-game recorded story to come?
It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!