Know Your Lore: What do we expect to see in Diablo 4?
The lore of the Diablo franchise has gotten deeper and more involved with every new game, expanding from the small town of Tristram and the catacombs beneath the cathedral there to a globe-spanning adventure that led to Hell itself and finally in Diablo 3 we went to the Heavens and Pandemonium in turn. We’ve seen nightmarish monsters, Baal’s army overwhelm the Barbarians and the destruction of the Worldstone, the siege of the Crystal Arch and the Nephalem stand triumphant against a former Archangel with the power of all seven Evils in its grasp.
After all that, what do you do for an encore?
Diablo 4 will have a lot of potential storylines to use, that’s for sure. There are several things that could come back in the next installment of the series. This is the first in a series looking at what Diablo 4 might draw upon.
The Rise of the Nephalem
With the destruction of the Worldstone in Diablo 2, both the Angels and Demons lost the powerful, world-creating artifact of the time before creation that they’d been fighting over. But also, the destruction of the Worldstone removed the limitation that Inarius placed on the descendants of the Angels and Demons that fled the Eternal Conflict to hide in Sanctuary — now, for the first time since Uldyssian ul-Diomed, mortal heroes can be born with the power of the ancient Nephalem, the kind of power that beings like Bul-Kathos, Vasily (also known as Fiacla-Gear), Rathma and Esu once wielded.
The events of Diablo 3 and its expansion Reaper of Souls show that just one such being is powerful enough to challenge the entire might of the Seven Evils in one being, and even can defeat an Angel wielding both the power of Death itself and the Black Soulstone when it contained all seven of the Greater and Lesser Evils.
Now, what happens when there are more than just the one Nephalem?
The heirs of Anu
What happens when many Nephalem are born? Uldyssian, when he was growing in power following the defeat of both Inarius and Lilith (themselves the progenitors of the Nephalem, angelic and demonic parents to beings with the potential of both lineages) decided that the power he was growing into was too great for him to comprehend in his single mortal lifetime. He chose to reinforce the Worldstone, dying in the process and draining the Nephalem power from his followers in the Edyrem.
But there is no Worldstone now. The power cannot be returned to the Eye of Anu — the cosmos will have to cope with the rise of beings powerful enough to shake the Heavens and raid the Hells. For years, the plain of Sanctuary has been used as a proxy between the Demons and the Angels, and the mortal inhabitants have been seen as a means for one side or another to win. But now? With even Tyrael, who sympathized enough with mortal beings that he sacrificed his immortality to aid us, afraid of the potential of the Nephalem?
Perhaps Heaven and Hell will join forces for an entirely new kind of war, one that sees Angels and Demons alike fighting to destroy the Nephalem before the Nephalem reach their true power. Because if one Nephalem could beat the Seven Evils and stand against Death itself, what could a host of them do? What could an army of them accomplish?
Who reigns in Hell?
During the events of Diablo 2 and 3 the various Evils all died one by one and ended up in the Black Soulstone. The Greater Evils are divided into two groups, the three Prime Evils of Mephisto, Baal and Diablo and the four Lesser Evils, Belial, Azmodan, Andariel and Duriel. Diablo had planned for this, however, using his mortal follower Adria and the possessed body of Aidan to conceive a mortal child, Leah. Once Azmodan was collected into the Black Soulstone, Adria used it to feed all of the seven Greater Evils into Leah’s body. This allowed Diablo to return with the power of all seven at his command.
But following the events of Reaper of Souls we know that the Black Soulstone was destroyed. What we don’t know is, who was freed, exactly? Was it just Diablo, who was last seen as the Prime Evil, the combined power of all seven of them in one body? Or was it all of them, which means that Diablo’s ‘siblings’ are now free and presumably somewhat angry at him for the way he tried to use them all to become supreme over all Hell?
Seven may be worse than one
The seven Evils date back to the creature Tathemet, the seven headed dragon that was created when Primordial Anu removed all evil from itself and became the perfected Diamond Warrior before the dawn of Creation. The Crystal Arch is the last remaining piece of the Diamond Warrior. Meanwhile the broken corpse of Tathemet crashed into what is now the Hells. There, the Evils and all demonkind arose from the mangled body.
This is why Angels and Demons fight — they’re continuing the war their predecessors began from the moment Anu ripped itself into two beings. But with the current state of affairs, we no longer know who is in charge of the Hells. The Lesser Evils overthrew and banished the Greater to Sanctuary, carving up the Hells up between themselves. But that was all part of the Prime Evil’s plan to enslave all humanity, to serve as soldiers in the Eternal Conflict.
Now, who knows? If Diablo is the sole Evil, then the threat he poses is exceedingly great. By himself, Diablo stormed Heaven and nearly destroyed the Crystal Arch, defeating Imperius and only falling in defeat to the Nephalem. But it’s almost worse if all seven are loose. A civil war in Hell could well lead to horrible danger for the people of Sanctuary as each demon lord attempts to corrupt more souls and add possible Nephalem to their armies.
Next time, we’ll talk about threats that may come from unexpected places. Many have suffered over the years from the machinations of Demons and Angels alike. What if that suffering itself is turned against Sanctuary and the cosmos? And there’s another, even worse possibility… something worse than Diablo, than any of the Evils, may well be loose now.
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