His journey had taken him longer than his mind, weakened from lack of water and food, could recall. But Zhill had finally reached a desert so desolate than none of the allies of the humans dared to enter. Though his strength was as empty as the horizon, Zhill’s body had mended its wound. And he had gained a sword as a trophy from it as well. He had traveled far on a single mouthful of dwarven meat, and now his ribs protruded like the cacti around him as he trudged onward, hoping to find some safe haven.
After walking for what seemed like hours, a collection of buildings appeared in the distance. Though he initially believed it to be a mirage, his unconquerable will drove him onward. As he drew near, Zhill saw a few single story building centered around a much larger hall from which several figures exited. Plodding closer, becoming weaker with each step, Zhill shuffled towards them as they watched in silence. The only sound other than the whistle of the wind was that of his feet scraping the earth, leaving behind ragged footprints as he closed with the thin wedge of shade the tall building provided. When he finally escaped the sun’s glare, he put his hands on his knees as he bent over and breathed wildly. Without looking up, he announced himself with a hushed “Hi.”
The assembly, a mixture of orcs, trolls, and cow-like tauren, stood glaring in judgment. It was the way of the Horde: the rag-tag union always demanded that respect be earned rather than given. A wide tauren stepped forward from the back of the group and stood towering over Zhill. The cow-like beast looked as strong as he was large, and he spoke with a deep voice that rumbled with confidence. “What business does the Forsaken have in the Badlands?”
He just wanted a morsel of food, and something to drink, and then he would distance himself from this mob that leered at him with disgust. He could only imagine how he appeared, with dried blood still caked on his face. Only, Zhill was too exhausted to care about their games. “I…” He tried to speak but the words died in his parched throat.
Still doubled over, Zhill was caught off guard when a small metal flask appeared before his eyes. Reaching out to take it, he was in slight awe as he looked at how tiny his thin skeletal hand seemed against this tauren’s huge furry fist. Quickly taking a deep gulp, he found the strength to speak. “I am Zhill, and I only seek refuge.”
Wiping the sand from his eyes, Zhill looked up to see the mob whispering among themselves. “Your lies wont extend your life,” the tauren threatened as he drew a monstrous double bladed axe.
His rage instantly boiled. He was as tired of political maneuvering and power games as the undead could possibly be. Summoning the last of his strength, he stood upright, starred the large warrior in the eyes. “I am Zhill! I am the Shadow of Death! Let me pass or I shall feast on every one of your weak souls!”
Time seemed to stop as silence fell on the group. Even the wind seemed to be waiting to see what would happen next. Zhill waited, too weakened to act but unwilling to let them think otherwise. The tauren leaned closely, his nose nearly touching Zhill’s as he whispered, “You’re every bit as mad as they say, aren’t you?”
“Most likely,” Zhill responded, unsure of what else to say. He nearly jumped with fear when the tauren exploded in bellowing laughter and punched his shoulder hard enough to knock him to the ground. “Fate has shined on us brothers,” the large warrior exclaimed as he turned back to the group. “The Scourge of Southshore brought to our doorstep at such a time as this!” Reaching back a big meaty hand, the tauren effortlessly pulled Zhill to his feet. “Make room for our brother!”
“We thought you to be a legend,” the tauren explained as Zhill gazed at him quizzically. “The pride of the Horde welcomes you, Shadow of Death.” It was a name he had taken for himself in his insane pursuit of carnage. Zhill had never imagined that it would become a reputation that preceded him. “If you hunger for blood,” the tauren continued as they walked into the large hall, “then you shall have a feast in deed. For tomorrow night we plan to ravage the humans while they sleep in their fortified city of Stormwind.” Zhill had heard of the place, but had never heard of any of the Forsaken daring to even approach its borders. “Our plan requires the….special talents of one such as you, and we would be honored if you would join us.”
As others came up to him, shaking his hand and welcoming him, Zhill felt a profound sense of significance that he had never found with the Forsaken. As if sensing the call of destiny, he submitted wholly to the circumstances into which he had been thrust. “Count me in.”