I don't know if this is the right place for this, but after seeing people discussing the lack of shadow priest lore, I took it upon myself to make a personal lore. I took some liberty with the canon lore, and my writing ability is rusty, but hopefully someone will enjoy it. If people want me to, I will continue this story.
"Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there; I do not sleep."
But oh how very tired I am. I'm not sure what compulsion led me to sit in this decrepit house at a desk I once called my own and recount this melancholy tale. Maybe it's because with each passing day these memories seem to slip farther away than my mind can reach, or maybe, it's for fear that I will never return to this place again, never get a chance to tell the world I was here.
I can hardly remember the beginning anymore. My early years were nothing to speak of. A poor farmers boy who's only responsibility was delivering our cart of grain to Andorhal and working the fields. I remember those long, rough paths through the country. If I close my eyes long enough, I can feel that bump caused by overgrown tree roots by dalson's orchard. I can still see that opulent keep of the Barov's, standing alone upon the Isle of Darrow. But I dare only remember those times briefly. Too quickly I see flashes of nooses around the tree branches. Too vividly I watched that house turned into a horrific school of necromancy, Scholomance. Not yet! No, I must not get ahead of myself. For now, I pray that I can remember the warmth of the sun on my face, the rhythmic trotting of the horses on cobblestone as I pull into Andorhal.
It was never much of a town, but to me it was magnificent. So many people moving and working, packing and shipping crops. It was all so efficient. They even unloaded my wagon for me, giving me time to wander around town, inevitably I would make my way towards the center of town, towards that tall steeple. Every time I stepped foot through the door I was greeted by a young priest, Lorin. One of the few names that has stuck with me; Lorin. The first person I ever met that treated me as his equal. He told me that in this place, I stood on equal footing as King Terenas himself. I was enthralled, drawn to the light.
Before long, I had left my decaying family farm and began my training as a priest. Little did I know at the time that I merely traded one farm for another. A "monastery farm" they called it, where I was to be taught the second virtue, Tenacity. Dedication, they said, was the true mark of a priest who had committed his life to the Light. Many times I had my bags packed, ready to give up, when I remembered Lorin's words:
"You have the ability to bring about revitalizing change in this dark world. Let the kings and knights fight over their land. You... will fight for their souls, and win!"
Years flew as quickly as those golden grains on a breeze. One of the few things I've learned after all these years is that time doesn't stop for anyone; hurdling forward and onward, unstoppable and catastrophic. My catastrophe had just begun. Rumors spread like wildfire through the north country, burning bright enough to reach even us priests, alone in our monasteries. The dead, were rising from their graves... Was this some kind of joke? Some sailors tall tale that had taken root? The truth soon hit me too quickly to ignore.
It was a cold, rainy day. We huddled around the monasteries largest fireplace for warmth. As the sun set there came a knocking on the door; but who? Who would come all the way up here at a time like this? Joy filled my face as I slowly opened the door to see Lorin standing there, but his face filled only with despair as he told me that we must return to Andorhal as quickly as possible.
He spoke not another word the entire journey, I heard only the frantic breathing of our horses, pushed to their limits. The night was sheer, cold, consuming darkness. It was broken by the faint glow of a light over the horizon. It grew and grew for what seemed like an eternity until we reached that final hill. Andorhal was burning.
I saw children frantically searching for their parents. Brawny men huddled in corners, too petrified to move. I was dumbfounded, my mind was desperately trying to put together all of these puzzle pieces I was seeing before me. Then I saw the whole picture. Walking corpses were slowly engulfing the town. What seemed so odd to me was that this didn't seem to surprise me, as though I had known in my heart that the rumors were true all along. It was as if some permeating force of darkness had pierced my soul. Ready to charge into town and put my new found abilities of light to use, I felt Lorin's hand firmly grab my shoulder.
"You can't" he whispered
"What are you talking about? We have to help them!" I yelled
"You've come a long way in your training, but you still lack the third, and most difficult virtue, compassion."
"Compassion?! How is letting them die showing compassion?!" I said, with growing fury in my voice.
"Compassion is about knowing when to give help, and when none is needed. Those people are lost, and you will be too if you attempt to aid them." his voice was as quiet and calm as ever.
I could barely contain the rage I felt building in my chest. How could this man, a man I've looked up to my whole life, let his city burn and his friends perish without lifting a finger?! My rage was interrupted by a lightning bolt that shot through my mind in an instant. "My family..." I murmured.
There are some things in this world that no matter how much time passes, we cannot erase from our minds. Things that we desperately wish we could send into oblivion, but they cling to us like a parasite. This is one of those memories. I saw my home burning, and outside, two bodies laid motionless. I was too late to save them. I wept over my parents bodies on that cold earth. My white clothes stained by blood and mud. I held them in my arms, they were gone, but some unspeakable force clung onto their souls, twisting them into servitude, and brought them back before my very eyes. Every part of my being wanted to run, I wanted to flee as quickly as my legs could carry me, but I couldn't. I stood petrified in place. I couldn't go on knowing that my loved ones would never know peace. I heard the words leave my mouth and my arm extend before I even had time to think about what I was doing;
"I SMITE THEE!"
Realization came closing in faster than a hurricane, and it proved too much. Everything went black.
I later was told that Lorin had found me and fled south, to Hillsbrad, where he left me with a farming family to recover. In the months that followed, I studied my books, hoping to use my powers to combat this Scourge. I caught bits and pieces of news regarding the war from the old couple that had taken care of me. It seemed that although Andorhal had fallen, Prince Arthas had defeated this "Kel'Thuzad" in the streets of my town, claiming revenge for unleashing this plague upon us. It all seems so ironic in hindsight.
I won't bother you with the details of the Third War, as I'm sure all of Azeroth knows the tale, suffice to say I soon joined the ranks of the Knights of the Silver Hand as a triage medic. Not since that fateful night had I used my powers for harm, I vowed that I would only use them to heal my injured allies as best I could. But the war drug on, my powers fell too short. Day after day I had to look in the eyes of my brethren and walk away knowing I could do nothing more for them. My heart had grown so heavy with a burden I felt could never be lifted, until I saw the hope that shined through a young women's eyes.
Her name was Sari. She couldn't have arrived to our camp at a more desperate time. Powerful beyond comprehension and wise beyond her years, she quickly won my heart. The agony I saw day and night was soothed only by the sweetness in her soft voice as she recounted prayers and hymns in the candlelight. We forced ourselves to find happiness a midst the chaos that surrounded us, as impossible as it seemed at times. But even as much as I loved her, the burden grew heavier by the day. Together, we did all we could to slow the spread of the plague through Lordaeron, and our quest eventually led us to Stratholme, that damned city that burns to this day.
I saw such a familiar rage in the young prince's eyes as he came to realize that the city had fallen to the scourge, that same reckless haste that filled me as I stood over the ruins of Andorhal. Arthas' quest for power and revenge had slowly compromised his spirit, he would not be defied when he commanded that the city be purged. Uther the lightbringer, along with Sari and myself could not follow this order, and left Arthas' and his men to do the deed themselves.
With the Knights of the Silver Hand disbanded, I finally convinced Sari to flee with me to somewhere away from all this death and agony. We retreated deep into Silverpine forest where the plague had not reached and we were content, at least shortly, to find peace for the first time in our lives. How I wish I could stay in those days for all of time, waking up to the smell of pinewood out the window, the sound of song birds looking for love, and the sight of the sun glowing through her golden hair. Somewhere in the back of mind, I knew that we couldn't hide from the coming storm forever, but I was never prepared when I heard that the storm had arrived at the hand of the returned Prince.
After the betrayal of the King, the Scourge spread like wildfire through Lordaeron. How naive of me to believe we were safe, hiding in our cabin. I knew that if the day came that the scourge reached us, I would have a choice to make; keep my vow of peace or defend what I loved. In hindsight it was this realization that led me to seek out a rumored cult of priests who had been studying an untapped source of power. In every attempt I made to contact them however, they seemed one step ahead, vanishing into the shadows. Travelling through the hillsides I came upon abandoned houses where they had taken shelter and studied. Manuscripts and vague, maniacal diagrams were all that was left, but eventually it all started making an odd kind of sense. I recognized the rantings of the Three Virtues when I saw them, but the third was not the one I had so painstakingly come to know. "Power" it said, over and over and over again. "Power"
Suddenly, their trail was gone, like a thief in the night, they disappeared. I was left with books and diaries and diagrams that left me with so many unanswered questions. I became obsessed with studying them, trying desperately to solve the mystery. All of this at the great dismay of Sari, who warned me time and time again to burn it all and cling to the light. "Compassion" she would say. "Compassion is our strongest weapon". How could she stand there after all that we had seen and still find compassion for the walking dead that had devoured everything we once held dear?! Would she cling to compassion and peace as those undead monstrosities of the resurrected Kel'thuzad tore down all the walls we hid behind?!
I had shut myself away in the basement to study, as had become the norm after chasing the disappearing cult, when I heard the screams faintly rising in the distance. Running out the door as quickly as I could I saw that faint glow over the horizon that I had come to know so well, an all consuming torrent of fire and death. It was too late to run, we had nothing but the great sea at our backs, and an ever advancing army before us. Before me... where was Sari?! Frantically I called for her, searching through the forest to no avail. I heard the screams, the terrible shrieks of the scourge growing louder and louder. I felt the impending doom slowly consuming my mind until all that was left was Sari, and my need to defend her. Eventually I reached a hill overlooking the outskirts of Ambermill where the first undead soldiers had come upon travelers, and in the distance, I saw Sari and all her compassion, desperately trying to save them. If only she could have seen what I saw, the endless army quick approaching through the woods.
My legs burned as I ran as fast as they would carry me. I felt cold raindrops hit my face and I knew that I had been here before, that history does indeed repeat itself, but this time I would have the power to change the outcome. At least, that's what I told myself. When I finally reached the clearing, the army had already overtaken the caravan. My eyes darted across the landscape, searching for my lover. There! Behind an overturned wagon I saw her hiding along with a few other survivors. "They are not lost! And neither am I!" I screamed at the top of my lungs, hoping that somewhere Lorin could hear me. With holy fire I cut my way through the undead that stood in my way. To this day I'm not sure what my plan was when I reached them, but eventually I did, unknowingly drawing more attention to our location. I clung dearly to Sari and told her how much I loved her, and that we had to run.
The seemingly endless woods and endless trail of corpses all seems a blur to me now, but I do remember the terror that instantly consumed me when I lost hold of Sari's hand behind me. In the pure darkness I turned only to see her silhouetted against the flames on the horizon, and the red eyes of those that had snatched her from me. In an instant I watched 1 become 2, 2 become 4, 4 become 8; rising and multiplying before I could reach her. I knew she would soon be gone.
After all these years of fighting and running I was brought back to the same decision I had made in the rain and mud outside my home. I couldn't allow her to be turned into one of those foul creatures, serving the Lich King for all eternity. I tried and tried to think of any other way this could end but was left with a resounding silence. Looking into her eyes, I recalled the words I had read every day on those shadowy manuscripts. Slowly reciting them out loud I prayed that it would be over quickly, and then I reached that last, truly final word;
"Death" I whispered
The innocence in her eyes I had fallen in love with slowly sunk and faded away. Her body fell eerily still. My heart fell to the floor. I could hear the cold bodies closing all around me, and as I fell to my knees in anguish my only consolation was that her spirit may find rest, even though I knew mine never would. As I closed my eyes, bracing for my undeath, I hoped that those I would harm could somehow find pity in their hearts for me. And then, it was all over, it was all a blur.
A blur of mindless blood and violence that seemed never ending. The toppling towers of Quel'thalas, the breaking of that poor Ranger's spirit, the horror of the Banshee Queen's shriek. I'm still unclear about everything that happened during that dark time, all I know is that eventually Ner'zhul's powers began to wane and his control over the scourge slipped. While I would never dare to call myself lucky, I'm thankful I was given an oppurtunity to repay the torture the Lich king had put me through. My memories slowly returned to me and I had been freed from the Lich King's control.
I wandered for days through the forest, unsure what to do with this freedom. My body was decayed and revolting. Everyone I ever knew was dead. I had no friends, no family, no home. The Light had betrayed me. I dedicated my life to serving the Light only to be left with nothing in death. Trapped in this undead corpse, I had only the haunting memories of everything gone wrong. Eventually I heard word that Sylvanas had regained both her freedom and her body, and had claimed the ruins of Lordaeron as her base. It was there that I came face to face with that dark cult I had chased in vain.
"The Cult of Forgotten Shadows" they called it. Somehow, priests who had fallen to the scourge had found a way to break free of the Lich King's control before I had even been turned. Little did I know I had been chasing corpses around the countryside. They taught me that through the shadows they freed their minds. They saw clearly the hypocrisy and failure of the Holy Light, and clung to what they now called Divine Humanism.
"The Forgotten Shadow shapes reality. There is no inherent bond between myself and universe; a bond exists only when Forsaken impose our will on the universe."
Studying along side them we learned that we could impart far greater changes on the world with our personal power than we ever could with the Light.
As the months passed by, I could feel my power growing exponentially more than it ever had in life. Shadows seemed to cling to my body, my flesh and bones grew dark, light became increasingly more annoying and I stayed in the darkness whenever possible. Slowly, my powers began manifesting themselves. Without ever lifting a hand I could impart mental distress upon the unworthy. Pain, crippling pain that coursed through their bodies, left them at my feet. Soon I could twist their very senses and flay their minds, inevitably leading to insanity or death. But merely discarding life wasn't enough for me, I wanted to take it for myself at the same time. A few powerful warlocks occassionaly visited the Undercity and I took it upon myself to learn how they learned to steal another's life force. I took their fel arts and drew my shadows into it until I mastered it. With a mere touch I can wither the life of some unworthy weakling and pull it into myself.
Eventually I grew more powerful then all other members of the Forgotten Shadow and they grew jealous, saying that I had lost touch of the true shadow. Fools, all of them are fools! I had grown so weary of this forsaken city and these weak priests who thought they were more powerful than me. I took my books and journals and started down a long, familiar road.
The bump, it's still there. Those tall trees stood dead. That solitary keep stood empty and quiet. Not a soul around to disturb me, it was perfect.
It's been 5 years since I left the Undercity, alone with my shadows in this broken shell of a house I once called my own. Every once in awhile I will slip into the shadows and listen in on the Cult's meetings. If what they say is true, it seems that my old friend, no, my old enemy has returned once again. The forces of the horde and alliance are united under a single cause. The Scourge must not be allowed to gain control of Azeroth. The mages of Dalaran seem to have already begun attempting to move the whole of their city to the front lines of northrend to combat the risen Lich King.
Is this my oppurtunity for revenge? To utterly destroy that bastard Arthas who took my only love from me? It may be. This may be a cause that my powers are worth displaying for. The world will finally see that the shadows can decimate the childish powers of light. And I will be the one to show them all. Arthas will fall at my hand...