Know Your Lore: Rathma, Mendeln and Necromancers
Necromancers in Diablo are members of a sect named the Priests of Rathma. Like many other groups such as the Barbarians of Sescheron or the Druids of Scosglen, the Priests of Rathma were founded by one of the original Nephalem. Rathma, or Linarian, was as brother to Bul-Kathos and Fiacla-Géar and others of the Ancients, the first generation born of the rebel angels and demons. Indeed, of those mighty beings, Linarian was the first born, the son of Inarius and Lilith.
Others of his ilk set out to explore the world, but Limarian did so in his own way. The world of Sanctuary was the creation of his parents, using the mighty Worldstone. The Eye of Anu that was all that remained of the primordial deity after his two halves did battle and created the Heavens and Hells. The Worldstone, however, was far more than Lilith or Inarius understood. The world it created was far more than they grasped.
Linarian submerged himself in deep caverns and studied the rhythms of that creation, of life and death, light and shadow. He observed the struggle between his parents, how Lilith destroyed the other rebels in order to protect her Nephalem offspring. He saw how Inarius banished his mate for her crime, rather that kill her. How the renegade angel, now alone on Sanctuary, altered the Worldstone so that further generations of Nephalem would be weaker than their forebears. Linarian witnessed it all, and came to a simple decision.
The forces of Light and Darkness would forever be in conflict. They would forever be a threat to Sanctuary and its future. Balance needed to be maintained between them. Linarian would find a way to impart that balance.
Others of the Ancients, as the first generation of Nephalem came to be known, started societies or cultures throughout the world. Some ran afoul of Inarius. He used the Worldstone to destroy them if they seemed too quick to rebel against him and the order he’d created for Sanctuary. Others faded into obscurity, while at least two — Bul-Kathos and Fiacla-Géar — set about finding a way to protect the Worldstone. But to Linarian, all that was secondary to the protection of the world itself. He eventually found his way to Trag’Oul.
Trag’Oul and Rathma
Trag’Oul was a powerful being that resembled a dragon. It apparently had a primordial connection to Sanctuary itself. The mysterious elder serpent called itself a guardian of the world, and apparently came into existence when Sanctuary itself did. What we don’t know about Trag’Oul vastly outweighs what we do, but one thing is certain. It was even more devoted to the balance than Linarian. Once the first of the Nephalem found his way to the Guardian, Trag’Oul began to instruct him.
Linarian came to take the name Rathma, which meant student, to acknowledge his role as Trag’Oul’s apprentice. Together they sought to find ways to maintain the balance. For Sanctuary was imperiled by both Light and Dark if the Eternal Conflict ever found its way there.
The Sin War brought a new urgency to Rathma’s quest. The Vizjerei Jere Haresh had unwittingly breached Sanctuary’s secrecy and revealed the world to the demons of the Burning Hells. And so the Great Evils created a religion as a means of manipulating humans to join their side of the Eternal Conflict. For with human souls added to their ranks, the legions of Hell could finally overwhelm their angelic opponents.
Rathma knew this was bad enough, but he sensed worse. The return of Lilith and her manipulation of the Worldstone, weakening the dampening effect that Inarius had used against the Nephalem. Once again, humans could reach their full potential. They could attain power like unto that of Primordial Anu, who was Good and Evil, Light and Darkness in one being. Uldyssian ul-Diomed, his brother Mendeln and the other resurgent Nephalem of the Edyrem who followed them set to stop both the demonic Triune faith and Inarius Cathedral of Light. Rathma watched and worked behind the scenes, and as he did, he studied Mendeln. For the younger ul-Diomed brother was much like him in temperament and personality. One who could learn to understand the Balance and its importance.
Together Rathma and Trag’Oul convinced Mendeln to join them. They imparted to him the wisdom of the Balance and the knowledge of life and death, forces unique to Sanctuary. Angels and demons, when destroyed, would be recreated to fight again. Their existences were tied to the Crystal Arch in the Heavens and the Pit in the Burning Hells where Tathemet’s corpse lay forever decaying into demonkind. So the power of life and death was not one they truly understood, but Trag’Oul and his students learned it and imparted it.
After the defeat of the Triune, Lilith, Inarius and the end of the Sin War, Uldyssian used his power to reset the Worldstone rather than see Sanctuary destroyed by his growing might. Angels and demons came to an agreement and Sanctuary was left to its own devices. Only Mendeln was left with any memory of his brother, who defeated Heaven and Hell and sacrificed himself to save Sanctuary from both.
Uldyssian’s destruction was the final proof of everything Rathma had ever said about Heaven and Hell. Neither truly cared about mortal lives or the world they lived on. Either side would destroy Sanctuary — the demons seeking to use it, the angels to prevent it from being used. The Balance wasn’t a mere metaphor, an explanation of the clash of opposing forces. It was life and death for everyone on Sanctuary — everyone and everything depended on Balance. And so Mendeln, Rathma’s apprentice and the first of the Necromancers, set out to create an order that would maintain that balance.
The Priests of Rathma, the Necromancers we meet in Diablo 2 and Diablo 3, are members of this order. They possess the wisdom imparted to Mendeln by Rathma and Trag’Oul. They revere Rathma as the founder of their order. Mendeln himself is a mostly forgotten figure. But it was his work that created the order and it wouldn’t exist to defend the Balance without him.As the forces of Hell continue to encroach upon Sanctuary, the Priests of Rathma know their place — be it the Prime Evil or a self-proclaimed Angel of Death, the Balance must be maintained. Death is part of that cycle, and none, not even Malthael, can claim to know its secrets better than Rathma’s chosen.
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