Zhill: Rebirth Part 6

Calm

Zhill had not noticed initially, but gradually he began to sense that the bond that they held over him was weakening. Though he had thought he was merely carried along by the bond of the Forsaken like a leaf on a stream, he realized that he had been free to go along with the invasion plan by exercise of his own will. He did not know what they had done in raising him from the dead, but he could tell that the magic was only strengthened in the proximity of other Forsaken. It had been several weeks since he had last seen any of his kind and, for a moment, he almost felt free. It had caused Zhill to smile with a toothy grin that would likely have caused young children to die of fright.

“Its a Summoning Stone,” the warlock had explained before Zhill had departed. “Just loft it into the air as you call my name, and I shall appear.” He had traveled with a scouting part deep into dwarven territory with the stone secured in one of his pouches. There he was lead to a cavern that was so well hidden that even he did not see it until it was pointed out to him. The scouts had informed him of how they had tunneled from the bottom of the cave into an underground passageway that ran between Ironforge and Stormwind. There in that dark passage, the Horde would assemble and strike out at the humans. For quite a while, Zhill sat there considering casting the stone aside and returning to the Forsaken, but the allure of freedom ultimately won over him.

Having found a portion of the tunnel that was especially dark, Zhill had summoned the warlock. In less than an hour scores of shadows filed the tunnel as the one he had summoned called forth another warlock, who in turned summoned another as the first began summoning his companions. Zhill stood watching in amazement as more figures appeared with a distinct popping sound. Though there were many orcs, trolls, and tauren, he was the only one of his kind present, a fact that did not discourage him in the slightest. As he stood by waiting for what would come next, a dark shape loomed in front of him. “How fares the Shadow?”

Zhill looked up with a wicked grin upon recognizing the large tauren warrior. “I am ready. This will be glorious.” “Glorious indeed,” the tauren exclaimed with a short but deep laugh. “I have spoken with our Captain and he has told me that you are to lead us in.” Though he didn’t care much for formality, Zhill could not ignore the honor of being first to draw blood. “The entrance is this way,” he remarked as he walked further down the passageway.

The small army proceeded up the tunnel calmly, secure in the knowledge that it had been blocked off by a magical ward on the far side. There would be no reinforcements, and by the time a message was passed, the city would already be in ruins. As they approached the large door that separated the tunnel system from the city, the air was still with anticipation. An orc, shorter but also wider than himself, passed among the crowd giving last instructions to the leaders of the various groups of the force. As he finally approached the gate, Zhill was plainly aware of the orc’s right to lead. The fierce warrior had a gaze that nearly startled him, and would likely put great fear in any of his enemies. “Years of planning have gone into this assault,” he said in a gruff and scratchy voice. “It is fitting that we should be lead by the Shadow of Death.” He smiled broadly showing his yellowed teeth as Zhill considered how to respond. Drawing both of his daggers, he nodded to the orc, showing his readiness. “I will open the door and then you proceed,” he instructed. “Go far and deep, striking terror in their hearts, and know that the strength of the Horde is behind you.”

The moment had been created for him. Destiny had carried Zhill to this point in time, he was sure of it. As he crouched in anticipation, he sensed the greatness that had been thrust upon him. Zhill licked his lips quickly as the orc gripped the wide oak handle to the door.

When he pulled it open, a rush of foul air wafted by the waiting mob. Zhill had begun sprinting the moment there had been enough space for him to pass, but nearly came to a stop when he saw a wall of armored men up ahead. Almost without though, Zhill cast a pouch from his side towards the end of the passageway that lead out into the city where it exploded into a billowing yellow cloud of smoke. As the humans erupted in a fit of coughing, Zhill weaved through the line, slashing in every direction he could before sprinting to an alleyway across the street. He paused dumbly in the shadows as a thunderous roar echoed behind him. “They knew we were coming,” Zhill muttered to himself. Turning back towards the others, he watched as the line of defenders began to buckle against the mass that poured against them. In a moment the first wave had been broken. But before the invaders could spread out further, the writhing army was confronted by a second and larger wave of humans, dwarves, and elves. Zhill was transfixed as he saw bolts of magic fly in every direction and warriors collided with each other with a horrendous ring of steel against steel. This is what he had come for. This was the hour when Death would reign. Suddenly, the spark that he had rammed deep into his dark soul forced a question to the surface: “To what end?”

Years of planning to strike at a foe that had been warned of their coming. Even his own recent addition to the plot, a quest for more bloodshed and destruction, seemed meaningless.  Though the warlocks continued to summon their allies, the battle would be a stalemate. Much blood would be shed and may would die on both sides, “But what will change,” his thoughts questioned him.

The futility of his hatred towards humans instantly overwhelmed him. As much as the sense of free will, had exhilarated him, Zhill now felt empty and completely without purpose. Was this his destiny? Had he been brought to this moment to cast his life away like a pawn? Another meaningless casualty in an endless conflict whose beginnings had been forgotten? Zhill began to sweat profusely as his soul came under the burden of the lives he had extinguished in the name of this frivolous fight. Only the sound of a sniffle returned his thoughts to the moment at hand.

Zhill turned to see a small girl with pointed ears looking at him fearfully. Though he had witnessed others as they became paralyzed with fear in his presence, this was different. Through the pitch black depravity in which his soul had been plunged, a single thought resonated, “I am a monster.”

As he sheathed his blades, hoping to quell her fears, the girl began to cry loudly. Feeling a dripping on his cheek, Zhill brought his hand to his face to discover that fresh warm tears were streaming from his eyes.  Yet it was quickly interrupted by pain.

White hot pain.

Zhill was gripped by the sensation that his very bones were being boiled inside his skin. As he tried to stand, every muscle screamed in agony. A horrid stench filled his nostrils, washing over him with waves of nausea. The odor which nearly caused him to wretch was that of his own searing skin. As he shouted with pain, his cry was echoed by the little girl who now cowered behind another. Looking up, Zhill’s eyes locked with the female elf he had previously encountered. She gazed upon him with pure disgust and hatred as currents of anguish flooded his soul. “Im sorry,” he whispered with deep remorse.

She knew that she alone did not posses the power to destroy him, and he no longer had a desire to strike, leaving them to stare into eachother’s eyes for a long silent moment.  “Begone foul demon,” the woman shouted as Zhill retreated quickly. The city, wholly taken up in its own defense, had hardly noticed his passing as Zhill escaped to the south.

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