Pandaria has a lot to offer when it comes to secrets and hidden locations. One of them, “Riches of Pandaria“, I interpret as a recognition of exploration as a play style by Blizzard. Some of these treasures are placed slightly off track – finding The Hammer of Folly near the Black Market Auction House, for example, will also reward you with a great view over Western Jade Forest.
Last night I found a great hidden location. I had noticed when traveling through the Ancient Passage to Kun-Lai Summit, that the tunnel had several offbeat tracks. So I came back later on a level 90 character to see where they lead.
And it leads to The Secret Aerie! You can see the tunnel symbols on the map of The Veiled Stair below showing the Ancient Passage entry and the Secret Aerie exit.
When you come out of the tunnel, you’ll stand in front of a small shallow lake. There’s a boat and a small shrine, but not much to see otherwise, except the strong pink hue of the area.
From the lake, you’ll see bamboo bridges leading upwards. This means it is theoretically possible to get there by land mount, but this path and the surrounding mountain pillars are populated with quite a few hostile level 90 sprites.
At the top, there’s two village houses and a Hawk Trainer working on a boat with his hawk supervising.
Why on earth this guy, being a “People of the Sky”, is building a boat at this location, is a riddle to me!
Another peculiarity of this place, is what you’ll find inside one of the houses.
Two hawkmasters, a gryphon hatchling flying in a circle and Hoggle, the pug and its prize-sized poo! I mean, I assume it’s the dog who did it, although it is a rather large poo for such a small dog…
So for your own sake, run out of there! Proceed to the area behind the house. Here you’ll find another unnamed hawk trainer, perhaps practicing a special trick with his hawk circling him.
Continue on to the cave that you can see to the right in the picture above. This is where you’ll find Hawk Master Liu standing in the center of the cave with a flock of hawks flying above him.
This guy will actually talk to you! When I spoke to him he just said “Welcome Ironyca. We have been watching you for some time. You are a gust of wind that heralds the storm of change.” Another one of those stalky NPC’s…
On Wowhead you can read that if you have finished the quests in Townlong Steppes and thus met Hawkmaster Nurong, he will instead say: “Word reaches me you served with my brother in Townlong Steppes. How is the young fellow? Did he ever tell you how he lost his eye?“
There’s one more thing to discover here and again you have to look around a little to find it. Instead if describing it here, I’ll just tell you to go and explore a little on your own (if you haven’t been here before) and follow the narrow path behind the hawk trainer balancing on a barrel.
I don’t know what the purpose of the place is, on Wowhead commenters are not sure either, but one of them noted that Hawkmaster Liu has unique voice acting, so he is probably going to be significant at some point. It’s also possible that they are connected to Shado-Pan.