|“||I am Lei Shen, slayer of kings and gods. You have made a grave mistake.||„|
|~ Lei Shen|
Emperor Lei Shen, the Thunder King, was the first emperor of the mogu and the secondary antagonist in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. He is the main antagonist of the "Thunder King" patch. Although he died many years before the game takes place, he was resurrected by the Zandalari during the course of the Kun-Lai Summit storyline.
Rise of the Thunder King
After being infected by the Curse of Flesh like many other creations of the Titans, the mogu fell into a dark age known as the Age of a Hundred Kings. It was in this period of turmoil that Lei Shen was born to a mogu warlord. Coming to be fascinated by the Titans, Lei Shen sought to restore his people to the glory they had lived in while the Makers still roamed Azeroth. Upon his coming of age, Lei Shen announced his intentions to seek out the mogu gods in the Thundering Mountain, where none of his brethern dared to set foot.
Finding and beating the Titan Ra-den, Lei Shen is said to have torn out the Titan's heart and gained its power over the elements of the storm. His followers christened him the "Lightning King" after his new powers, but Lei Shen shunned this title, saying that lightning "strikes in an instant and is over in a flash". Instead, he insisted on being called the Thunder King, since thunder strikes before lightning does and remains long after it is gone, as well as scattering lesser creatures in fear. Remaining on the Thundering Mountain, he established a palace upon its summit, forbidding any he deemed unworthy from setting foot inside.
Reign of Terror
Lei Shen next set out to secure his power, killing or enslaving anyone who dared oppose him or his armies. Most of his fellow mogu submitted to his rule, seeing a chance to reclaim the glory they had known under the Titans. Lei Shen transformed Pandaria into a mighty empire, organizing language, currency and law. Any non-mogu races were seen as inferior and were enslaved, put to work erecting buildings and monuments like Mogu'shan Palace and Mogu'shan Vaults (the latter built to hide the empire's greatest weapons and secrets). Special hatred was reserved for the pandaren, who Lei Shen saw as a potential threat. They were forbidden from learning to read or write and their leaders and scholars were executed.
Knowing that the powerful mantid would never accept his rule, Lei Shen had his slaves build the Serpent's Spine, a gigantic wall sealing off his empire from the mantid lands. One of the few races who he considered anything less than slaves were the trolls of the Zandalari Empire, who he allied with in putting down a pandaren revolt. However, Lei Shen eventually died and the pandaren succeeded in earning their freedom. Lei Shen was buried in the Valley of Emperors, hidden in Kun-Lai Summit. However, despite being dead, the power he got from Ra-den remained with him and preserved his body.
Thunder Strikes Again
After the events of Cataclysm, the Zandalari sought to reestablish their empire after much of Zandalar Isle was damaged by the second Sundering brought about by Deathwing. The Cataclysm also disappated the mists hiding Pandaria from the rest of Azeroth and the trolls set about restoring their former allies to power. To this end, Zandalari forces under Prophet Khar'zul recovered Lei Shen's body and brought him back to life. Although the player tries to prevent the ritual, Lei Shen escapes to the Isle of Thunder (the peak of the now-sunken Thundering Mountain) and begins to gather his Zandalari and mogu armies to the island fortress to take back his empire.
Seasons Change and Tyrants Die
As Lei Shen slowly began to assault the shores of Pandaria, the Shado-Pan (legendary Pandaren defenders) sought to contain his legions within the Isle of Thunder. Shortly after landfall, it became apparent that the Shado-Pan were going to require non-Pandaren assistance in order to contain the legendary threat.
Recognizing the threat that Lei Shen posed, the Kirin Tor under Jaina Proudmoore and the Sunreavers under Lor'themar Theron lead an assault on the Isle of Thunder, battling the mogu, the Zandalari and each other. The Shado-Pan also join the attack, hoping to bring down the greatest enemy the pandaren people had ever known.
Little by little, the Alliance, Horde and Shado-Pan wear down Lei Shen's defenses, assisted by the player. Eventually, the Throne of Thunder raid is opened up and the player is given a chance to take on the Thunder King himself, fighting through the Zandalari, mogu, fearsome monsters lurking in the caverns beneath the palace and twisted creatures created by the mogu as living weapons. At last, Lei Shen falls once more. To ensure he can never be reborn, the Black Prince Wrathion, last of the Black Dragonflight and son of Deathwing, devours Lei Shen's heart.
The Ballad of the Thunder King
"Pandaria! Her hills of gold
In dark and mournful times of old
Did once a hopeless horror hold.
When from her sacred Vale did spring
With storm and flash, a monstrous thing!
His name? Lei Shen. The Thunder King.
His thunder boomed across the land
And none who dared and fought could stand
Against the Iron Tyrant's hand.
A palace grand, a walled domain
Such mighty works born of his reign!
Built by slaves, their hearts in chains.
But seasons change and tyrants die
His fury spent in times gone by
The thunder slept beneath Kun-Lai.
By Zandalari hands, he has been taken.
By Zandalari voice, he has awakened.
Gather heroes, sound the drums.
The Thunder King comes! The Thunder King comes..."
- Lorewalker Cho's narration from the Patch 5.3 trailer, explaining Lei Shen's history, his resurrection, and the need to stop him.
- Lei Shen appears to have been inspired by Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. Like Lei Shen, Qin Shi Huang was capable of both great leadership and great cruelty, organizing the country's infrastructure in a way never seen before while also building the Great Wall of China using a slave labor force and persecuting scholars and the learning classes.