The Shadowlands were originally intended to be a fully playable zone in World of Warcraft, designed for high-level play. The idea was that as deceased characters made their way back to their corpses, they'd see high-level players battling creeps in the area, which would inspire lower level players to increase their character level so they could experience the zone for themselves.
During the Burning Legion's third invasion, the Knights of the Ebon Blade traveled to the Shadowlands to acquire the Aggregates of Anguish, five tormented essences of powerful souls - Admiral Proudmoore, Soulbinder Nyami, Grand Empress Shek'zeer, Grand Apothecary Putress and Archmage Arugal. Salanaar required these to conjure the Steeds of the Damned for the order's new Horsemen.
By and large, your failures in Torghast are measured in deaths, not with a timer. Dying repeatedly alerts the Tarragrue, a lumbering iron-clad creature that will appear at the level’s entrance and slowly move toward its end. If he sees any heroes, he will chase down and kill them. If he reaches the end of the level or kills all the players in the level, your run ends and you are thrown out of Torghast.