Zor'gul Cursewhisper is an orc warlock, formerly of Gul'dan's Stormreaver Clan and before that Ner'zhul's Shadowmoon Clan, who in recent years played an integral role in the revivification of the orcish Shadow Council. Long having plucked the strings of fate from behind a veil of anonymity, this cruel and haggard sorcerer has been the orchestrator of many horrible disasters designed to weaken and subvert the Horde and Alliance both.
Those sulfur-yellow eyes hold a cruel and withering gaze, with a penetrating severity that could bore holes into iron. The left is slightly off-colored, milky from cataracts, indicating blindness. Dark circles frame the eyes from years of sleep deprivation. His sallow olive skin is shriveled and dry like tanned hide, deep crevices and ravines etched into his flesh.
A drooping muzzle ends in a pale reddish-purple discoloration around the dry, cracked lips from consumption of potions, reagents, herbs and occasionally blood. Completely bald save for a long, braided beard of white twink forks, his scalp is like a leathery cap of wrinkles and liver spots.
The old warlock wears sweeping, tattered robes of dark hues, and a hooded cloak of indigo that seems to billow always behind him even in the absence of wind. A plethora of runes and talismans adorn his vestments, clanking together on his collar and the stitched hems of his draping sleeves.
Orcish and Eredun letters of power have been inscribed into the cloth, shimmering softly with a navy gleam of shadowy power. Avian skulls and humanoid finger bones rattle like grisly wind chimes with every step he takes, hanging from his belt or strewn over the skull-crowned staff with which he walks.
Though he is old, withered and bent, he retains some of the bulk and strength of his youth through unnatural means, and there is still a powerful grip to his gnarled claws and a sovereign gait in his step. There is something noticeably uncomfortable in his stare.
A lingering trace of hunger, a starving madness, intense contempt which he does not bother to conceal. His poised gait and questing demeanor, the faint note of displeasure in his gravely, wheezing voice, all contribute to an inescapable feeling of dismay in his presence.
Zor'gul was born, orphaned from the womb, to the Shadowmoon Clan. Though it would take him many years to discover the truth, his conception was the result of an odd coupling. His father, Goz'rogan, a strong and wise shaman aspirant rising through the ranks of the prophetic sorcerer-clan, had fallen in love with the dark witch Maggathra, practicer of forbidden arts: blood magic, shadowy rituals and even whispers of raising the dead.
No one knows how precisely she managed to woo the stoic shaman. Some say she used a spell to addle his mind and ensnare his senses. Regardless of why or how it came to be, they knew each other many times in secret in her ruinous lair, under the cover of night.
But Maggathra was much maligned among the Shadowmoon, despite removing herself far from their presence. She was a source of shame and dishonor, and when Goz'rogan fled from his duties to live with her it was the last insult they would endure. Shadowmoon warriors stormed her cave, slaying her without mercy, to avenge the shames compiled against their clan and with hopes of retrieving the shaman.
But the loss of his lover drove Goz'rogan to madness, and he disappeared into the wilds, living like a beast for the rest of his life and preying on unwary Shadowmoon as they traveled. In that moment, they chose not to pursue him, though they were later regret it for he would come to garner a reputation even fouler than Maggathra's. The warriors discovered an infant child hidden away within the cave, and returned with him to Shadowmoon Valley. Maggathra had bequeathed only one thing to her newborn son in her short time with him. It was a name, scrawled onto a strip of boar hide with her own blood: Zor'gul.
The Rise of the Horde
Zor’gul’s rise to power began in the infamy of Gul’dan, the great betrayer, Darkness Incarnate. He was drawn to the fallen shaman as a moth to the flame, whispers of his knowledge and power intoxicating him, saturating his imagination with power-drunk dreams of forbidden magic. Once more, Galna cautioned Zor’gul against this dark path, for she did not trust this soothsayer of prophetic omens, nor the seductive powers he offered.
But at this time, the elements were no longer answering his people’s call. The magicks upon which Zor’gul had relied for so many years were failing him, and all others, as a result of the folly of Ner’zhul, who gave ill counsel to his people. The Shadowmoon Clan was rapidly losing faith in their chieftain. Their star-gazing shaman, as well as countless others from every clan, turned instead to Gul’dan to light the path forward.
But Zor’gul was no fool. He knew that Gul’dan’s solution was of a dark and insidious nature. He did not care. Years spent alone, wandering like an exile, the subject of derision and contempt had hardened his heart to the needs of his people and opened his mind to the possibility of… alternatives. Despite his love for Galna, he ignored her advice, and became not only a devoted servant of Gul’dan, but one of his most promising pupils.
The magic taught to him by Maggathra served him well in those days, for the shadowy arts of the witch were not unlike those of the arch-warlock. It was in these days, when the fel blood of Mannoroth had been consumed and the wholesale slaughter of the Draenei commenced, that Zor’gul took his final plunge into evil. The cool anger and resentment of his youth became seething hatred, directed at anything and anyone weaker than himself. The natural curiosity and fascination with the inner workings of living things became unchecked cruelty, a sadistic obsession with mortal suffering.
The New Horde
The Burning Crusade
Northrend and the Cataclysm
The One They Call "Redhand"
It was following the discovery of the mist-shrouded land of Pandaria that Zor’gul slowly made the trek back to his shadowy fastness in Desolace, to recollect what remained of the Shadow Council’s forces there. He traveled between his tower in the east to the moldering ruins of Thunder Axe Fortress which teemed with cultist filth, intercepting news from the outside world and learning of Garrosh’s conquest of the Pandaren homeland.
He found the subject disinteresting, and saw no reason to involve himself, for Pandaria held nothing he desired. It was not until one day, when the blistering sun was high in the sky, its light obscured in a pervasive grey pallor by the dust clouds that roiled always over that accursed place, that he was stirred to action once again by the arrival of a stranger in the desert. He found him lying near death beside the body of another, a companion he supposed, upon the sloping mountain borders of Feralas.
Zor’gul wondered at this stranger, at his broken body only barely clinging to life. He wondered at his purpose so far from Orgrimmar, at the curious wounds which he seared shut with dark magic. And of course he wondered at the charred, black remains of his left hand. Though rarely one to gamble, Zor'gul took a risk and elected to spare this stranger from the icy grip of death. Using his sorcery, he took the disguise of a shaman, so that when the orc awoke he would see a familiar face of wisdom and authority, one he would welcome and trust without a second thought.
He fooled Karrag, as he learned was his name, into believing that his companion had died. He told him that he very nearly died as well, which was true. The two wandered together long through the desert, but it was only a short matter of time before the warlock’s true intentions were made clear. Zor’gul saw something in the young orc, something which perhaps Karrag did not yet see in himself. The spirits had selected this Karrag to serve as a conduit for their counsel and guidance. It was this connection to the spirit world that Zor’gul coveted, for reasons of which even he was not yet entirely certain. He had seen it once before, this bond. Long ago it seemed then, like in a dream…
The revelation of Zor’gul’s true identity struck Karrag like a lead weight, and by the time he uncovered the truth, he was too deeply entwined within the warlock’s machinations to turn back. Imprisoned at Thunder Axe Fortress, Karrag might have faced many long years of hideous torture at Zor’gul’s hands were it not for the intervention of a foolhardy but loyal goblin, the heroic Dreblix, who miraculously happened to spot Karrag’s plight from afar as he surveyed the desert for caches of kodo droppings. Why precisely he was doing this is just about anyone’s guess.
Using stealth, quick wits and an impressive array of explosives, Dreblix freed Karrag from Zor’gul’s clutches, but nearly brought down the building he was held in in the process. Flames tore across the fortress compound, sewing chaos and destruction, and the warlock fled through a portal into the unknown. Karrag, undeterred by any obstacle, followed after him, slaying the acolytes maintaining the gateway, ensuring none of Zor'gul's minions would follow them into the beyond.
There he found his foe, in the midst of the Twisting Nether, struggling to open a doorway to another of many secret safehouses in Azeroth. They did battle, Zor’gul and this impetuous mongrel he found strewn across the desert like a desiccated carcass, for strength had found its way back into the Spirit Champion’s body. The charred, coal-black left hand burst aflame from the elemental powers that surged around him, and no demon soldier nor fel fire could Zor’gul conjure to stand against his enemy.
It was then, as Karrag’s flaming fist descended upon him, breaking bone and shattering the tether his body shared with the mortal world, that the warlock learned the true name of this wandering wastrel, this impudent creature who would make a mockery of Zor'gul. He was the one they call “Redhand”.
The Shadow Returns