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Diablo > Diablo 4Dec 13, 2022 4:00 pm CT

How does the newest Diablo 4 trailer hint at the return of Zakarum’s Paladins?

The latest Diablo 4 trailer features an army backed by Inarius, marching into Hell with shields bearing the symbol of the Zakarum, the religious organization from Diablo 2 which was corrupted by the Demon Lord Mephisto. Based on those Zakarum symbols, it’s likely that Diablo 4 will bring us the return of the Paladins.

We haven’t seen any of the Paladin orders of the Zakarum faith since the revelation of the Church of Zakarum’s corruption in Diablo 2. In Diablo 3, as a consequence of that disgrace, we saw the Templars as a secretive splinter sect, as well as the Crusaders who broke away from the Zakarum before that corruption was uncovered to the world. But as to the fate of the orders that once served the Zakarum — and even the ones that broke away from the main Zakarum faith and headed to join the Knights of Westmarch, such as the Order of Paladins — we have heard little.

So who were these soldiers? Where have they been? It’s been decades since the events of Diablo 2 — what role do these Paladins have in the shattered, nearly destroyed world we’ll be exploring in Diablo 4?

Who were the Paladins of Zakarum?

Zakarum was the name for the faith itself, and Akarat the name of the ascetic Monk who founded it. This faith was rooted in Akarat’s teachings that all Humans possess a link to the Holy Light, and could choose to believe in and behave as stewards of that Light. During the growth of that faith following the Mage Wars and the Sin War, when the people of Kehjistan grew tired of chaos and magic and sought a new path, Akarat’s teachings found fertile ground in their discontent with those that summoned Demons and destroyed fertile land with their terrible curses and rains of fire.

As Zakarum grew, however, the faith soon discovered that it had enemies, many of them powerful — the aforementioned Demon summoners who refused to let such power slip from their grasp, those that sought to prevent the Zakarum from growing in influence among the Kehjistani, and the cults that were often created by Demons who’d killed their summoners and began working to corrupt the world. So the faith needed protectors, and those men and women who answered the call became the first Paladins of Zakarum, able to channel the Holy Light that Akarat taught was within every mortal soul.

Fall of the Zakarum, engineered by Mephisto

The Zakarum faith eventually aided the Horadrim Order with its goal to capture and imprison the three Demon Lords Mephisto, Baal, and Diablo, who had been exiled to Sanctuary during a revolt in Hell called the Dark Exile. As a result, the Soulstone containing Mephisto was laid to rest underneath Travincal, a temple complex nearly as large as the city of Kurast, capital of KehjistanIn time, this allowed Mephisto to corrupt the church itself and draw many into his service. The fallout of this corruption becoming known was that the Paladins of Zakarum saw many of their orders dissolved.

The Hands of Zakarum, for example, were seen as corrupted after the events of Diablo 2, as were the other devout servants of the Que-Hagan Sankekur, who was literally possessed by Mephisto himself. Some Paladins abandoned the Zakarum before that and joined with the Knights of Westmarch, who were themselves Paladins who had abandoned Kehjistand for the Western nation. While technically still part of the faith, Westmarch tended to value its independence both from Kehjistand and the Zakarum Order as a political entity, and thus felt the impact of Mephisto’s corruption far less keenly.

The presence of the Zakarum in Hell in the latest Diablo 4 trailer

Seeing soldiers with the Zakarum symbol marching into Hell and Inarius using the Holy Light on their behalf makes a kind of sense — we’re told that the Heavens have turned their back on Sanctuary. While Inarius is a rebel who turned against the Angiris Council, by the time of the events in D4, he’s also potentially the only real source of the Holy Light that the Paladins might well have access to. Seeing them in the trailer could mean we’ll eventually see them in the game, perhaps as a post-launch character class much as the Crusader was in D3, or the Druid and Assassin were in D2.

At any rate, it’s at least plausible that despite Inarius having somewhat questionable status, he could convince the formerly disgraced Paladins to join him to wage war against the forces of Hell, perhaps even holding the potential for redemption over their heads to get them to jump whichever way suits his personal vendetta against Lilith.

At present we’re not even entirely sure these are Paladins. It could be a new sect bearing the standard of Zakarum, in an attempt to avoid the perceptions that dogged them following Diablo 2. Hopefully we’ll find out soon.

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