That said, the absolute last person I ever expected to show up in a short story surrounding the Tillers was Vindicator Maraad. Yet there he is, accompanied by Sentinel Commander Lyalia, another Alliance face we haven't seen for quite some time. The thought of a towering blue-skinned alien from another world interacting with the jovial and decidedly down-to-earth farmers of Halfhill seems like a really strange idea for a story. And yet in Blizzard's latest short story offering, The Untamed Valley, it works. It really, really works, in the most unexpected way.
Written by Robert Brooks, author of the Klaxxi tale Death From Above released last year, Untamed Valley takes place after the events of the Siege of Orgrimmar -- after Garrosh Hellscream's capture. That does a lot to explain why exactly Maraad is now in Pandaria. The Prophet Velen is in Pandaria as well, but occupied "to the north" -- presumably attending Hellscream's upcoming trial, to be highlighted in Christie Golden's next novel. But this isn't really a tale of Garrosh Hellscream, it's a tale of what happened after he was taken away. What happened to his loyal followers, those that now have no Warchief to follow.
Just because Hellscream is captured, it doesn't mean there aren't still loyal Kor'kron soldiers on Pandaria, attacking both Alliance and Horde encampments alike in their fury over Hellscream's defeat. One of these followers is taken prisoner by Maraad and Lyalia, yet their journey to escort the prisoner to the Alliance outpost in Krasarang takes a sudden detour in the Valley of the Four Winds. Offered a night of hospitality by Haohan Mudclaw, the two accept, although worried about their prisoner -- and any who might be planning a rescue attempt.
What's interesting about Untamed Valley isn't just the theme surrounding the night that follows, and the highlight of just how powerful Pandaria's spirits happen to be. There's also an undertone that all might not be exactly as pleasant with the Tillers as we've experienced, and that some might not be as accepting of "outsiders" as others. But it's the conversation at the end of the tale that really stood out to me. In just a few short paragraphs, one pandaren farmer manages to elegantly sum up the entirety of what the Alliance is, and where their strength really lies.
And with just seven pages of story, Untamed Valley manages to deliver a far more satisfying wrap-up to the Siege of Orgrimmar and the Vale's destruction than even the ending cinematics did. You can read The Untamed Valley over on the official site, and while you're there, be sure to check out the other fine tales in the Destination: Pandaria section.