Episode 1: The Broken One
I seem to have acquired a traveling companion today. I'm not entirely sure how it happened. One moment I'm walking on the road alone, and then the next moment he was there beside me, matching my pace.
I was hiking the Grol'dom road at a good clip, trying to take advantage of the favorable weather while it lasted. The skies were overcast, but the rain they promised never came. Hardly a surprise, judging from the barrenness of the red desert that stretched as far as the eye could see.
The little water I had left would not last until morning, and I hadn't seen an oasis, a stream, or even a puddle in days. I suppose that I was not paying enough attention, and I let my concerns distract me. That was stupid. Durotar is war-torn land. Not paying attention here is asking for a quick death.
His sudden appearance startled me so much that I cried out like a new-born calf. I jumped backwards and raised my hammer over my head, ready to defend myself. My heart was racing.
He just stood there, motionless, staring at me.
I had never seen a man - a creature - such as him before. He looked tiny and frail. Had he stood up straight, he wouldn't have been more than five and a half feet tall. I doubt he weighed even a hundred pounds. His skin was pale and translucent, marked here and there with decay. His jaw hung at an unnatural angle that made my molars ache.
He looked like a dry husk, a dead casing that some sort of evil beast would one day crawl out of. He made my skin crawl.
The Forsaken. I had heard of these creatures, of course, but I'd never seen one. I'd never even met someone who had. My people did not openly discuss such abominations, so I knew little about them. Some plague, supposedly, had turned them into what they now are; the dead that refused to stay buried.
He stared at me, silently. He didn't breathe.
He smelled faintly of rot. It was not a pleasant smell, but it wasn't as horrible as I would have guessed. He smelled more like a dry, musty thing, than a corpse.
He continued to stare at me.
My eyes began to tear, and unlike him, I had to blink.
I found my voice, hoping it sounded confident. "Why are you staring at me?"
He didn't say anything.
A fat, black fly landed on his temple. It washed its face with its forelegs for a moment and then casually strolled across the creature's eyeball.
Something lurched in my stomach and I had to look away. "Are you headed to Razor Hill?"
He raised a bony finger and pointed the direction we had been walking. I took that as a "yes".
I started walking again, a little slower this time, a lot more cautiously. He fell in beside me, as if I had invited him along.
There is safety in numbers, but I didn't know anything about this guy. Although I'm sure I could lift him up with one hand, or break him in half with both, what if he planned to slit my throat in my sleep?
The Forsaken are not our friends. My people would have nothing to do with such creatures. They are, however, friends of the Orcs, and us Tauren owe everything to the Orcs. The Orcs saved us and helped us take back our homeland.
The Orcs are a great, noble people. Thrall, the leader of the Orcs, trusts the Forsaken. That mystifies the Tauren. How can you trust the dead?
We walked in silence until the day grew late.