CONTEST: Diablo 3 short story contest - The winners!
Posted by Patrik "Raistlin" Hellstrand 1 year, 9 weeks ago
Didn't get a beta key? If you had entered our Diablo III beta key conests you could have been one of the lucky ones. Today we can announce the winners of the Diablo 3 short story contest. Also, find the links to the stories below.
We received many stories that somehow involved Diablo. But we had to pick out the 25 best out of the 73 entries. Below are the winners.
The winners: Seth Garrett, Rebecca French, Boris Mihaljevic, Jeremy Lee Jones, Catalina Bobescu, Sean Haddy, Paul Koopman, Chris Segal, Morten Bang Jensen, Rob Moses, Andrew Parisi, Sven de Jager, Tobias Grøsfjeld, Marco Lasorsa, Rafael Valério, Barry Kearns, Shane Sticka, Mikkel Lehmann Nielsen, George Goktsis, Robert Krcic, Radovan Beno, Morar Daniel, Mads Lerche Neergaard, Savu Adrian Tolbaru, Kyle Letham
Written by Seth Garrett
Binkles, if that's even his real name, wasn't what you call the most social type of frog.
His origin dates back to his conception in the dark fiery depths of the Burning Hells.
Binkles was never normal to begin with, he was born under a giant demon bullfrog and a nudist siren.
He grew up contradicting the actions and commandments of his parents and peers as he did not agree with their ambitions. When the time came that the hells were forced to invade the "Sanctuary" above, everyone including Binkles was sent forth to claim the land for themselves.
Amidst the warfare and chaotic events, Binkles strayed away from the pack and took refuge in the small cathedral in which the demons flooded, he thought to himself "All cathedrals must be safe havens, those foul beings will leave eventually!".
Boy was he wrong.
As he cowered away from all the scrutiny and abuse he revealed a softer and fearful side of him that the demons preyed on. One fateful moment as Binkles was listening to the soft brontide coming from above, two sad excuses for demons strolled up to him in a disgusting manner and threatened him with wicked violence.
Just before they could hold up their end, a courageous and inhumanly mighty man lunged his sword of demons bane right through the abdomen of one foul monster and quickly dispatched the other. Binkles could only witness in shock what could absolutely be the greatest moment in his existence (as it was all downhill from there).
The two figures which represented all that is good quickly bonded, but of course with all good things, it had to come to an end.
The warrior quickly fell down a path that he could not escape. After the defeat of the dark lord himself the warrior and Binkles headed East, for that was all the man could speak of and Binkles was too loyal to refuse to follow.
Slowly the man was showing treacherous signs that began to worry the poor frog and ignorance was all the creature could produce, for he didn't want to lose the only good thing in life he had.
Along the path of corruption, the darkened man with seemingly no soul struck the frog for following too close and thinking too much.
This caused a release in Binkles as his anger reached a limit of unacceptable proportions.
Without control the amphibian struck a minor blow to the man.
His eyes quickly widened in fright as he knew this was the end.
The man rose his hand and tremors commenced.
Before he laid death on the poor creature, a glimmer of control and conviction rose from the bottom of his heart that prevented him from murdering the frog, only just leaving him on the steep cliffs of death.
The man shed a tear for his lost friend but that was all he did and nothing more before he proceeded on his unholy path.
The frog didn't get too far before he reached a safe haven and collapsed.
The goddess of luck must have smiled on him greatly that day as a elderly but kind man took him in and cared for him to the best of his extent.
To this day Binkles doesn't like to recall the past for all it contains is crude scars and lost friendship.
If any wandering soul ever summed up the curiosity to ask the frog about his past, Binkles in return would only shrug and turn his back for it hurt him too much.
All he had left now was to chime in his attention and listen to his new master that could never get a grip on his nonsense repeating of history which all starts with
"Stay awhile and listen!".
Written by Rebecca French
This is how the story begins.
The light in the sky came closer, and the rushing sound in the air turned to the keening, falling note of a dropping missile. She had been out in the yard, settling the beasts, her family safe in the solid stone walls of the farmhouse. Eshenda had walked out, shielding her eyes against the harsh blue white light. The smell of lightening on summer dry ground filled her nose and then the meteor struck, hitting the distant Cathedral in a huge flash of white, blue, yellow and gold. The sound hit her seconds later. A dull rumbling under her feet, twisting and turning the earth, then splitting it in giant gashes. After that the monsters had started to appear, pouring up through the ground. She heard the screams of her family from the house, gut-wrenching screams, death screams. The demonic faces gibbered at her, bodies twisted and distorted beyond all recognition of what they might once have been. Eshenda hit them with the blade of the muck-shovel, twisting it with muscles used to shovelling the heavy manure of the farm animals to split the creature's skull. It exploded, showering her in sulphur stenched gore. She'd killed what seemed like hundreds of these things in the last few hours, her utilitarian working clothes tattered to ribbons. In a pause in the tide of creatures she ripped shreds of quilted cloth from one of the bodies and wrapped it round her hands. Then the dead had started to walk, the macabre masks of those she had once loved disguised as faces that were ripped and crumbling away..
She ran, screaming and retching and vomiting, ran away from the demonic things and the zombies dodging and ducking and falling. Measuring her length on the broken ground over and over again. Tears blinding her, mixing with the gore on her face and running down her neck. Sulphur and thick dense fog clouding what was left of her vision. Eventually she seemed to get clear of that part of the relentless onslaught of horror and crouched against a wall, gulping in lungfuls of the stinking, rotten air. A movement caught her eye, a woman, eyes steel-hard reflecting the light of the meteor that landed from within. One thing registered in Eshenda's numbed mind; the woman said that she had a choice. She could run and she could hide. The other choice was to fight. She caught the weapon she had been thrown; it was a lifeline. As the woman killed the creatures that had been shambling towards her she made her choice. With a roar she pushed herself to her feet, gripping the weapon that felt so unfamiliar in her hand.
"Come on you stinking demons, I'll show you mercy! The same mercy you showed my family!" she slipped into fighting stance, crouched low, watching all around her and heading towards where the meteor had hit. Heading towards revenge, allies and the possibility of hope, anger showing in the steel set of her own eyes, the same inner rage that had driven the dark woman.
She was hacking through a pack of undead when she came face to face with a woman who might have been straight out of her old nightmares, the ones she had dreamt the last time she had slept. Feathers woven through her hair and an unsettling grin on her face as she killed the abominations around her. This was no monster; they fought together as if born to it. each taking the others' back. The stranger using a magical attack that seemed stronger than the fabled wizard, Eshenda with the weapon that was fast becoming part of her, grabbing what she could to arm herself better from the bodies around her as she went. The stranger spoke at last.
"New Tristram" she said, in a heavy accent, pointing towards faint lights in the distance.
"Yes" Eshenda replied, and loosed another volley at the hordes of undead that still poured towards them.
They worked their way on in grim silence, broken only by grunts of effort and occasional shouts of warning as they cut a path towards the distant lights. Once she had fallen and the stranger had stood over her, protecting her until she found her feet once again. Another time the ground had given way under the feet of the witch doctor woman, and Eshenda had grabbed her arm, hands locked to wrists and pulled her back never missing a shot from her armed hand. They had been inching forward, checking each new piece of ground in case an unwise footfall would trigger a new wave of monsters. A shout from the other side of a gash in the ground surprised them, with a sharp crack and a thump a barbarian man appeared, reared back as if to strike them and then stopped himself, staggering back a step or two. He immediately fell into formation with them, the third side of the triangle, leaping out to stun the creatures, attacking them with ringing blows while the two women used magic and weapon-fire to finish them off.
Movement was quicker this way, but it had still been hours of killing monster after monster. Eshenda felt that she'd never see light again and the water the witch doctor gave her to drink tasted odd. As if the water skin had been tainted just by being in the sulphurous fog that clung to everything around them. They saw lights flickering in the trees ahead of them, the distinctive flash of wizard spell fire. In unspoken accord they shifted direction slightly to move towards it. Together they were strong but with another ally they would be stronger still. There was power in a group of four. As they drew closer they could see him, standing in the centre of a circle of monsters, pulling the spell fire from his hands and whipping it at them, sweat standing out on his brow. The companions fought their way in towards him, and as they drew close he seemed to gather his strength. Between the four they quickly cut down what was left of the wizard's attackers and at a nod from the Barbarian he joined them. Making their way towards the lights that drew them once again.
Next to some hastily constructed barricades torches spluttered in the foul air. These were the lights they had been trying to reach. An armored man stood guard, his plate bearing the insignia of rank. A few of his men stood behind him, guarding a gateway. The men were alert, but exhausted. Each of them looked as if they had lived several lifetimes of nightmare in a few short hours. As they drew closer a new wave of attacking undead began to hack at the armored men, shouting at the companions, he exhorted them to help, threatened to attack or told them they were on a fool's errand in turn; they needed no encouragement. Perhaps here behind this gate there would be respite. The barbarian spat into both hands and rubbed them together, Eshenda and the others spreading around him and prepared themselves. They leaped forward into the melee.
"Let the game begin!" the barbarian roared.
Written by Boris Mihaljevic
It was a murky, foggy night,filled with unpleasent sounds of demons and abominations, ravaging the nearby mill, which was abandoned long ago.Nothing unusual for this place.I thought I almost got used hearing unearthly sounds while studying old tomes and scrolls, but I was wrong. This night was somehow different than the others. I just couldn't concetrate on doing anything, while locked down deep in my cellar, hoping to be safe from the hordes of merciless hell beings.I was able to hear the sounds more often and clearer. I realized something was approaching our small village. The air was full with stench of rotting meat. That could mean only one, zombies and other inconceivable horrors were getting closer. I didn't spare any time, and I've equipped my falchion and shield. I quickly cleaned dust from my helmet and armor, and sharpened my falchion, beacuse I was unsure of what I might run into. Then I unlocked the massive cellar door which was my only protection from the outer hell, and what I saw then was unlike anything I've previously seen in my life, even after decades of patient reading through tomes, containing vast amounts of informations about all unearthly beings and other hell contents. I saw hundreds of zombies , approaching our village with fast pace, but one shade was completely different than the others. Its eyes were glowing with dark red color, while blood was constantly dripping out of its mouth. Unlike other zombies, it held a massive claymore with some symbols on it , unfamiliar to me. I could see the symbols even from a distance, because they were emitting a certain light. I knew the village will be devastated ,unless I gather all the strength and power I have. I leaped into the group of zombies, slicing their heads and arms down and I realized then that I actually missed this. Zombies started to run toward me, wanting to kill me with every atom of their being. I blocked one punch with my shield, and a zombie who hit me, was set on fire. Luckily, my shield had runes written on it, preventing any fire bolts to directly blast through the shield ,while also setting on fire any foolish being who attempted to hit me. Expectedly, even more zombies rushed in my direction ,trying to kill, bite or take a shield out my hand. Driven by the instinct and the will to save my village, I killed them ruthlessly. Then, all of a sudden, they started running away from the village. Somehow, I knew that this can not end in such an easy way, and I was right. It was that shade now ,who was approaching me. I could see in his eyes and his grin how he underestimates me. I took a sigh, maybe even a last one, since I never encountered such a mighty adversary. As he approached me, I could see what it was. It was a defiled warrior,slightly different than the others that were familiar to me from the tomes I was reading. This one must have been the leader of a pack. He swinged his claymore, missing me the first time, but as he landed his hit on the ground, the ground itself turned to ice. It must have been that strange light it was emitting. I knew then ,I must avoid it at all costs. He was swining the claymore rather slow, but one hit was enough to turn me into lifeless pile of ice. I was waiting until he misses, so I can counterattack him and try to make a certain damage to him, but I continually missed. After one miss , he landed a hit on my shiled, destroying it, followed by an explosive blast. I was pushed away and my falchion landed several yards from me. He realized I was vulnerable, and he rushed toward me to make a final blow. He swinged his claymore in the direction of my head, but I managed to escape. As I rolled on the ground, avoiding his claymore, my falchion appeared right in front of me. As I looked up, I saw his body right in front of me, while his claymore was on the way to kill me. In a matter of second, I took my falchion and nailed it right in his heart. He momentarely fell on the ground. I quickly rised, and decapitated his head, to make sure it will never rise again. I took a moment to rest, then I explored his claymore. As I was holding it in my hands, I realized I've never seen such a strange light emiting from a weapon. I headed back to my cellar, to realize it was set on fire. Now I will never be able to read through tomes, trying to search for an answer for the strange light. It was not my cellar alone that was burning. Entire village was engulfed in flames unreasonably. The only good thing was that I was wielding a powerful claymore, a weapon capable of turning anything into ice. I walked toward the village, exploring everything, trying to find a reason for all this. Soon, I've found a fiery path leading to an unkown direction. I knew I must venture into the unexplored to find out what has happened to our village and who stands behind this...
Written by Jeremy Lee Jones
The stink of rot rolled out of the doorway to the crypt.
Surtur squinted his eyes, and tiny flakes of his dried blood sifted down from the lines in his weather beaten face.
It had been a long road this deep into Khanduras, and after weeks of eating salt pork and sleeping fitfully on cold rocks, he'd found his way deep into the mountains, to the last home of the dead kings of Khanduras.
Word reached the north by traveling caravans that the dead of Khanduras had begun walking again. He had torn himself from the arms of his wife and child by a duty so deep it ran in the marrow of his bones. He'd served with many southernors through the Sin War, and he was bound by honor to see them laid to rest. He remembers his woman and his child with a fond smile in his mind, but his face remains stoic and hard; this is no place for smiles, and he regrets even thinking of them with work to be done so close to hand.
He hears the boiled leather under his mail creak as he shifts his huge frame and begins to move. He can taste the death in this tomb, feel it stinging his eyes and crawling over his skin like a thick slime.
He turns inward, starts to focus on his body. Muscles cord and bunch, tendons pull taut like wires and release as he takes inventory and drinks in the feeling of power that runs through him. The battlesong is close... he can hear something moving inside the tomb at the very edge of hearing, and his body sings with it's desire to hack and maim, rend and tear and kill.
His weapons are positively thrumming in his hands and he knows it is time for his song to be sung. He roars, and feels the rock around the tomb vibrate in answer.
Still on the edge of hearing, he knows his enemies tense inside, waiting in undeath, full of infinite patience and unknowable hunger.
He attacks the hinges of the door, and one stroke from his axe to each is enough to split the old iron and send the doors crashing to the ground. Light floods into the tomb and the old kings begin their slow march to greet him. He slams the fist that holds his battle hammer into his chest, and he feels the chain mail bite in even through the leather. He wants to wait for them to come to him, but some songs must be sung sooner than is prudent.
The kings shamble on, dragging their old greatswords with the strength of the dead. Surtur begins to dance with them, singing and roaring and laughing as his hammer and axe find purchase in heads and necks, shoulders and chests cleaved in two or bashed to splinters. He is constantly turning, can hear his father even through the dance screaming at him "you twirl like a flower when I want a windstorm! Faster! Eyes always searching!" Searching for the next sword coming to bite into his side, the next set of bones trying to scratch out his eyes or rip into his cheek. Here and there his bracers turn aside a killing stroke, and he lets a blow glance off his greaves that would have hamstrung him, leaving his weapons to do their brutal work.
He wanted a fight, but these old kings are either soft or brittle. Even in life, he knows he could've handled the lot of them with all their southern tactics. In a few moments the lot of them are splayed around him in waves, twitching or clawing their last.
As he gets his breath, he takes his inventory again. All of his muscles cord and stretch and relax. He can feel here or there where claws scored his flesh, but nothing to worry about. He digs into his pack and tears into the last of his salt pork, and even the bland meat sings to him in the afterglow off the battlesong. As he chews, he begins hewing down limbs from the dead trees about the tomb, preparing kindling to burn these remains to ash. The barbarians of the north know that the only clean death comes by fire. He intends to give his southern kings a taste of the northern rites.
As the heap of bodies and wood begins to catch, he turns his back and walks away. He's smelled enough death to last him... until tomorrow.
The challenges of demon hunting
Written by Catalina Bobescu
There was an ambush up ahead.
No demon hunter would let themselves be ambushed at night. You did not survive long in the profession if you did not learn to read the darkness, looking for deeper shadows and listening for the silence that would come before an attack. The demon hunter would then react accordingly, by stepping out and killing all the waiting demons.
But these were humans.
Fiora stopped to weigh her options. Gingerly, she touched the two crossbows strapped to her legs. She should have expected bandits. All the villages she had passed by had been subsisting on the very edge of poverty. Naturally some would see quick fortunes in the promising trade of banditry. But now that she was faced with them she didn't know how she should react.
She would have to be ready to kill if she was to pull out the crossbows. Yet, nothing in her life had prepared her for raining her fiery bolts onto humans. Demon hunters rarely dealt with humans, as they usually ventured into an area after the population had already been wiped out. True, there weren't many humans left, as the poverty and war had caused the people to seek refuge in more peaceful lands. Those that remained did not suffer at the hands of demons, but their fellow humans.
The bandits moved. She counted four shadows moving almost but not quite silently through the trees. And she saw the glint as moonlight reflected off a knife. This helped her make up her mind.
It was hardly worth drawing her weapons against thieves armed with kitchen utensils. Sword would have been different. People with swords usually had experience in using them and in killing people. People who used knives were people who did not fight often, who badly needed an edge in combat but could not afford a good one.
It was time to finish it. After selecting a stun bomb from a hidden pocket she hurled it at her attackers. The man that was closest to her turned to look at it. As he turned back she was already shoving her elbow hard into his side. He fell down wheezing. Her eyes closed, she turned towards the nearest scream as the bomb exploded and broke into a run. That man was already on the ground though, so she merely stepped on him as she hurled herself at the next bandit. Her fist came around and hit him in the jaw. Later she wished she had stopped to think about it and hit him somewhere softer, but the attack made the man stagger back and she took advantage of the opportunity to plant a knee in his belly. That man went down and stayed there. The fourth man was already running. Still blinded from her stun bomb he went right into a tree and fell to the ground, unconscious. Luckily there was still one of them left.
"Oh please, oh please, don't hurt me!" The man wailed as she picked him up. Then he got a look at her.
"But you're a wo..." The man's voice trailed off. Looking at Fiora's glowing eyes, he suddenly decided that arguing that a woman really should not be able to beat up four armed men did not seem wise. She might take offense.
"You may have noticed that you're still alive. You may also have been wondering why that is. I have questions. Do not try to run away", she said as she lowered him to the ground.
"I know the two armies are somewhere near but I've had no luck finding them. There are no scouts, no raiding parties and no errant soldiers. Since you appear to be roaming bandits I was thinking that you may have stumbled upon their location."
"Umm, yeah, sure, they've been stationed on the Liens Plains for weeks."
"Both the armies are there?"
"Two opposing armies are just camped on a wide open field and neither thought to attack the other as the weeks passed? Was
there a truce?"
"Noo, but, well, there's some trade going on between the two armies, and there were never even any skirmishes. I guess they're just waiting for orders or good weather or something. The bandit shrugged and looked away. He did not like having those fierce eyes stare at him. It felt as though she could see into his soul.
"And why did you desert then"? She asked.
“Huh? How did you know?”
"Lucky guess" she said irritably.
"Look, we were camped there for so long and at first supplies were coming okay but then they started getting short, and then shorter, and me and some of the lads decided that we weren't going to wait until we'd have to eat our boots. And umm....there was something weird about that place."
"I don't know what it is. It's just …wrongness. It's there. And it makes you feel like you can't do anything. Except, no, it makes you feel like you won't do anything because you don't want to. Umm, does that make sense?"
"No." She turned her back to him and went back to the path through the woods, leaving the bandit to tend to his unlucky friends.
It sounded like a demonic aura, but not exactly. The presence of demons usually made people fight and hate each other, not sit happily near their enemies and do nothing. It was strange. Maybe a demon no one had heard of before. And if it was a demon where would it be? The most likely place of hiding of the foul beast would be around the armies since its influence was powerful there. But if so it would probably not be in its demonic form. It could be trapped and still polluting the world around it with its aura or possessing one the many soldiers that made up the two armies. She would need a way to find it.
Fiora sighed. While the usual trails of blood were regrettable, it at least made it easy to find the demon responsible. Now she would have to get creative.
"Is it there"? Fiora asked as she surveyed the Duncraig army.
"YEEEEES”, the demon strapped to her back answered. It had been a spider demon. Well, it was still a spider demon, but spiders were usually defined by the fact that they had 8 legs, and this spider had none. Fiora had ripped them all of. And then she had promised to slay it in exchange for information. The alternative, which had not been considered long, would have been to be left to lie in the woods waiting for something to come and slowly eat it.
"Can you tell me its exact location?"
"NOO. Bring me nearer to it."
That had been another factor in the decision making process of the spider. The demon that the huntress was looking for had an incredibly strong aura. The kind of incredibly strong aura that meant that the demon it belonged to would be strong enough to rip any human in two without breaking a sweat. Thus it would get to see its tormentor squashed and for that the spider was willing to be very helpful indeed.
Fiora was tensed. She was entering the camp of an army and, while soldiers wouldn't normally be too concerned to see a beautiful woman approaching, her collection of weapons and assorted traps and bombs, as well as the armor that could accurately be described as hellish looking, usually made people nervous. She expected patrols, guards and curious foot soldiers to approach her as she attempted to track the demon.
Instead, no one bothered her. It only made her feel more uneasy. People were sitting about with blank looks on their faces. Some turned to look at her as she walked past, looking mildly interested in the thoroughly armed stranger that walked into their camp, but no one actually got up to ask her what she was about. Idly, she wondered if they would react if she got out her crossbows and threatened to shoot. Probably not.
The spider demon directed her to a large tent located near the middle of the camp. As she stood in front of it a young man approached it, walking very slowly. Panting, he stopped some 5 feet from it and seemed to think about something. She heard him sigh, then watched as he sat in the ground and let his head rest on his palms, having seemed to decided that whatever was in that tent was not worth the effort of walking all the way up to it. As she approached he made an effort to look up at her.
"Excuse me, what is this tent for"
"Women's tent." He replied, seeming not to like having to waste energy talking.
"Yes. The women we captured when we raided Brymwich. We keep them for"...he paused as he searched for a proper euphemism ...entertainment."
Fiora's mouth hanged open for a bit. She could think of no reply to that.
"Is somebody out there?" came a female voice from the tent. A girl soon came out, saw Fiora and decided to ignore her presence, and spoke to the man on the ground.
"Lieutenant, would you be a dear and get us some more tea. And some biscuits would be nice too. And the privy needs cleaning by the way."
The lieutenant looked like a man who would not move out of the way of a stampede, let alone to fetch tea and biscuits. And then suddenly he seemed to recover. He jumped up, seemed to consider saluting as his hand stopped just short of his face then nodded and marched off.
Fiora finally managed to close her mouth. And then she opened it again.
"How did you ...you're the demon aren't you?
The girl looked her up and down. Then she patted her head.
"If you pay close attention you will see that I have no horns or other demonic features, and ... what is that thing on your back?
"That is not exactly a denial, replied Fiora. You only said that you didn't look like one. And it's a spider demon. It helped me find you."
"Don't spiders usually have eight legs?"
"This one doesn't" Fiora said.
"Oh well" the girl, no the demon said and went inside the tent.
“Can you kill me now, please? The spider asked. It was not happy that it’s assistance of the demon hunter had been brought to the attention of whatever was in that tent.
Fiora ignored it, brought out both crossbows, cocked them, and tumbled trough the tent entrance after the demon, expecting a trap. Instead she found herself pointing her weapons at a half dozen ladies, lounging lazily on some blankets, playing cards. The demon girl sat among them as she stared and picked up the cards dealt to her.
"I hoped no one looked at my cards while I was away" she said. Then she seemed to finally notice Fiora and continued "I see you're still here. Fancy playing some cards?"
Fiora chose to ignore this. “I am a demon hunter. I live to kill foul demons such as you. You can either battle me or die where you
The girl looked surprised.
“A demon hunter. You mean you actually hunt demons for a living? "
"Ok, sorry, stupid question. It's just that most humans prefer to stay well away from demons, and the ones that do kill demons
usually just do it because they're searching a dungeon for treasure and the demons are in the way. By the way, do you really
intend to shoot those crossbows in here?"
"Yes. And I am a very good shot."
"It's just that I couldn't help but notice that the bolts appear to be kind of...on fire."
"They are" said Fiora, not taking her eyes of the demon girl. "Fire works well against your kind."
"I'm sure it does, but, you see, you're in a tent. A flammable tent. Filled with flammable stuff. And flammable people. Surrounded by more flammable tents filled with flammable stuff and people. People who probably won't be too quick to jump and put out a fire."
Fiora moves her hands quickly in a complicated way and the bolts were replaced. The new ones weren't burning but they looked
just as deadly.
"Any more complaints?"
"No, but I do have a question. How is it that you're so ...energetic? Usually it does not take much to talk people and demons out
of fighting me."
"Demon hunters are immune to the corruption of demons."
"Oh. Really? What a useful skill to have in your profession. Yet, I cannot help but notice that you do hesitate to pull the trigger.
Why is that?"
Fiora growled. “I would prefer a more adequate battle ground"
The demon smirked. "You may have realized by now that I am not much in favor of ...what was the word now, ah yes …effort. So why should I bother to move at all? You haven't even asked nicely."
Fiora cleared the distance between her and the demon with one leap. She stood among the discarded playing cards, one crossbow in front of the demon’s face. The other women gasped and moved away, albeit slowly.
"I am not used to conversing with demons. What I am used to is filling them with arrows. But I am also not used to having people around as I do that. It is not much of an inconvenience to me; however, there is something else. You currently possess a human body. I don't know if there is anything left of its original owner but it seems to me that it be preferable for both of us if you came with me outside the camp and fought me in your true form."
The demon laughed. It was not a very evil sounding laughter; the girl instead seemed genuinely amused. At that moment the
lieutenant returned from his errand. The demon addressed him, still smiling.
"Leave the tray and go fetch a wagon will you? I have to leave for a while. Thus, I shall have to be carried. Sorry to inconvenience you but it must be done apparently." Then, turning to the huntress, she continued:
"Will you have some tea while you wait? And do try the biscuits; we get the best the army has to offer, although I have to admit that is not much."
Fiora didn't move or reply.
"Fine then." said the demon and shrugged.
It was sunset. Fiora watched the orange sun in the orange sky as it tumbled behind a distain hill. Sunset was always a busy time for demon hunters. In the short space of time where it was neither day nor night but something in between the demons came out and attacked anything living they could find.
"Pretty isn't it?" The demon said, smiling as she too watched the sun set.
Fiora growled. The other woman had been cheerful all the way. It had been enervating. The lieutenant had carted her there, and now they waited for him to get far enough away. She was sick of having to talk to her, but she was still curious about one thing.
"Who are you"? She asked, not really knowing why. A demon was something you killed, and you did not need to know their names to do that.
The demon continued watching the sun. Just as Fiora though she wasn't going to answer she said:
"It is not a name you've heard. Acedia, the Maiden of Sloth. I suspect it was that last part you were really interested in.
"Yes. Laziness. It doesn't sound too evil does it? When you have Lords of Destruction, Terror and Hatred, being the patron of sloth sounds rather silly doesn't it?
"Well, if you're going to compare it to the Prime Evils it certainly doesn't." said Fiora as she readied her crossbows.
Acedia grunted. "The Lesser evils too. Sloth isn't really much of an evil if you think about it. Actually, since it usually means inactivity, it leads to a whole less of evil things being done. Might say I was doing the world a favor. It's why I'm here. Hard to keep a reputation in Hell when no one can remember when you've last done something evil...or well, something at all."
"At least you've managed to survive this far", replied Fiora, hating herself for keeping up a conversation with a demon. "Do you intent to show your true form in the end?” she said while leveling her crossbows with the girl's face.
The demon looked at her critically. "Have you ever considered the possibility that you might, maybe, possibly, not win this battle?"
"I never think about the outcome of a battle. I just kill all demons I find."
Acedia sighed. "As you wish!" Then she fainted. Immediately afterwards there was the sound of an explosion and a sudden rush of air. Fiora gasped at the apparition that stood before her.
It had a definite female shape. And it wore no clothes, not as such, although it seemed to be completely covered in smooth metal plates, thin in some areas but thinker over the chest and head. It also had huge metal spike covered plates on its shoulders and the side of its legs that looked heavy enough to completely crush the small frame they were attached to. And there were blades
jutting out from almost every articulation. It looked like something that had bathed in a molted metal and survived, then stood in the blizzard while the wind curved blades out of the cooling metal and sharped points, and to top it all off, stuck 4 enormous metal contraptions to its sides.
"You look surprised. I told you I am the maiden of Sloth. Did you expect me to perform acrobatics and energetically swing a heavy sword around? Hah! I have specialized in the art of fighting while standing still and not doing anything at while patiently waiting for the enemy to get tired and leave or impale themselves on a spike."
"How can you even move in all that?" Fiora managed to say as the shock faded.
"Very, very very slowly. It is why I prefer having a human body; they are so incredibly light one can almost contemplate walking a whole hundred feet in one. I still prefer not to though. Energy should not be wasted lightly. Speaking of wasted effort, shouldn't you be trying to kill me? The demoness said, and then crouched into a spiked metal ball.
Fiora stared at the metal monstrosity and blurted out. "How am I even supposed to kill you?"
"How should I know?” came a muffled voice from inside the ball. No one has ever succeeded, obviously."
Written by Sean Haddy
Upon entry of the Inn, I saw her eyes, I could not put past the thought that I had known her from somewhere… sometime early in my travels. A sinister stare of relentless madness coupled with a clear desire to snare evil in its path, coupled with the amazing body of a Goddess is hard to forget. I could not believe my eyes as the last time I saw her figure was deep in the god-awful labyrinth of caves, mazes and demons below the sands of Lut Gholein.
I remember being mesmerized by her continual aspiration to seek out death, in a way that would push the strongest of men past sanity to a point of carelessness toward death… but her maddening personality propelled away thoughts of selfishness into thoughts of continual bloodlust toward demonic entities. Though we met briefly, and I sought to earn her as a companion in my travels. Her way of life, desire to defeat enemies with vengeance and self sacrifice, she ultimately drifted away into the desert sands and pursued evil in her own way.
Through my travels, I thought about here from time to time, when foes, enemies and friends reminded me of times that we had together, during that cold winter decades ago. I often wondered if she had even survived the storm of evil presented during the reign of the Lord of Destruction. There were few places that weren’t dramatically affected and swayed by darkness during those years. Even I, looking back, felt the hold of darkness through my soul, and daily had to fight against the negative affects of such affliction.
Now, she looked broken, finally affected through misery, and the test of time drew painfully along her brow. Her knuckles, bruised, face scarred, clothing worn, and all sense of what she once was faded into a shallow grim reality. When she saw my face, she didn’t seem to realize who I was at first, and then I saw the immediate glimmer of memory of earlier travels. As she stepped toward me, I had little understanding what to expect after all this time.
After a short hesitation, on her part, she wrapped her arms around my body, and sunk into my chest upon my embrace. As we stood there, both of us torn by the battles seen, I could not help but think, what this dark world we live in, has in store for us now.
WHY EVERY CLASS IN DIABLO 3 HAS THE SAME FACE AND HAIRCUT
Written by Paul Koopman
The SES Babylon exploration party landed on AE-139A, a dark red planet orbiting a blue giant, on March 23rd 2149. A planet that was found by a crashed exploration drone on December 2nd 2148. Preliminary reports indicated no signs of life in a habitat that seems able to sustain life. The SES Babylon, a small exploration vessel housing a crew of 5, was closest to the site and send for inspection. Researcher Linda Linderman and her assistant Hugo Czechnic are accompanied by Jack Franken, a military man, as their shuttle lands for
“Ok SES Babylon, speak to you in 1 hour, Linderman Out”.
“Acknowledged, be careful out there. SES Babylon over and out.” A calming voice replies. Jack stands with a readied weapon at the shuttle door as Hugo presses the commands to open. A spectacular view of blasted rock and steaming rivers envelops the sight of the Lt. 1st grade. “My god, you got to see this.” he says.
Hugo peaks around the corner and stares in awe. The world looks primitive, untouched by creatures and composed of superstructures created by spewing volcanos and seemingly wild weather conditions, however there are none to be spotted. Ms Linderman hurried besides her crew and her eyes glister as she takes in the scape of a world that could present a colonization opportunity for mankind.
“The readings where right.” she says “It seems the air is breathable, and the pressure was coherent with that of our shuttle.” She un-clicks her helmet. And puts it to her side. She calmly counts to four and takes a breath. “The air... it's so clean”. Hugo immediately follows, Jack however waits a moment to make sure neither of them collapse before he takes of his own helmet.
They carefully make their way down into a maze of canyons that seem to be the only walkable path in this direction. After a minute or 10 Ms. Linderman stops as she feels her boots cling to a metal object, she looks down and starts to investigate, totally forgetting about her party that seems to wander onward.
She scratches the ground and uncovers the tip of an arrow, rusted and bloodied. She's lost in a moment of freight as she realizes this means they are not alone on this planet. A shiver speeds through her spine.Complimented by her last tought Ms. Linderman tenses up even further as that, what was seemingly impossible at first, happens. An iron point pinches her shoulder blade. The cold steel nearly penetrating her protective overcoat. Slowly she turns around and sees a hooded woman, accompanied by two barbarians of a men, holding a spear point blank in her face. Silence. The hooded woman lowers her spear, her hands loosen, the spear falls. Underneath the hood her mouth seems to falter, she cannot seem to fathom the inexplicable coincidence laid before her. She slowly grasps the collar of her mask and lays it aside, blonde hairs, almost magical, shine through the darkness. It is her. It is Ms. Linderman. Or what strikes as an identical resemblance of her. It's like looking through a glassless mirror, a reflection that's more vivid and real than any reflection could ever be. Ms. Linderman finds herself in the same shock as her counterpart. One of the two men standing besides the once hooded woman slowly raises his right arm and places his hand on the shoulder of the prehistoric twin.
“Who are you?” is silently muttered through the heated air. “Linda” she replies. Another uncomfortable silence occurs, both women grasping for an understanding they cannot reach. “DEMON!” screeches out of the once hooded figure as she tries to grasp the once fallen spear. The other man, dressed in a grey coil and plate helmet stops her. Grabs a knife out of his belt and slowly walks towards Ms. Linderman in the least threatening way he deems possible. Ms. Linderman stands up however, horrified, as she stumbles backwards into a rock wall. The man slowly coming closer, her eyes shut. The man grabs her hand and places the knife blade down onto her palm. In a quick slice he opens a wound that could only ever be human. The man speaks again. “I am Hugo. Where did you come from Linda?” A soothing warm voice she immediately recognizes. She opens her eyes and is astounded once more. Hugo Czechnic. Her pilot is standing there, right there, before her. Dressed in armor coveted in dirt and blood. A hilt at his side chambering a sword that seems twice as heavy as she is.Ms Linderman closes her eyes and brings her hand towards her temple. “You better come see this” she says. “See what?” Hugo replies. “Just get your ass over here and bring Jack.” She swiftly commands. “We got your location, we'll be with you in minute or two” are the last words spoken by Hugo as communication is cut off. “What just Happened” The other Hugo questions. “I'm just speaking to my colleagues. They'll be right here, I think you'd be interested.” She speaks in a less frightened tone. Her curiosity seems to get the better of her.
Hooded Linda has made her way to the talkative couple. She storms in with a rope. “I don't trust it” she says. She grabs her hand and as their flesh collides a brief shock pulsates through their bodies. “I.... You...” The Demon Huntress stutters. Ms. Linderman looks at her in awe.
Suddenly she grabs a tight fit around her hand and Ms. Linderman seems to concur holding her hand as tight as she can, their bodies seem to come into coherence. Their eyes roll backwards into their sockets. Rocks begin to lift up around them the air is becoming magnetized, sparks flying around. And then they fall to their knees. Slowly they look up into each others eyes, what they just experienced they cannot explain. It's as if their brains melded and they became one person, their memories bonding together. A glow of understanding
becomes both women, they can't doubt, only know that what just happened is real. That they both, are real. Hugo and Jack turned the corner and the other man who thus far hold his distance carefully observing what was happening in front of him comes storming in. As his fast paced steps quickly close the distance between the newly arrived explorers he lifts his helmet. It's Jack. He stops two feet away from the flight crew and stares intensely. Lt. 1st grade Jack quickly lifts his plasma rifle and takes aim at which both Ms's Linderman yell in unison “NO! PUT IT DOWN!”. “You don't understand, they are us, she is me. We are the same. And this, this is Earth! Touch him, touch him and you'll know!” Hugo is the first to respond, quickly they pace towards each other and they grab their hands. A similar display occurs, eyes rolling backwards into their skulls, rocks lifting, magnetic sparks shooting back and forth. Both falling to their knees drained. Jack who let his attention fall re-ready's his weapon and is now aiming wildly around. A freak spectacle of four people speaking in pairs, speaking in unison in pairs, are trying to explain to him why this is earth, why it can be so, why this earth is a different earth and yet the same and why this earth is burned to ashes and their earth is not. From the mutters he can only seem to understand a few words. This Earth. Diablo. Did not.
The ground trembles, a shadow is cast over the group of both explorers and warriors. A low sound growl shakes the foundations of the earth. “NOT EVEN DEATH CAN SAVE YOU FROM ME.”
Written by Chris Segal
It was dusk on a clear, warm night in late spring. I walked my horse through the streets of a small town, stopping before a quiet, well-kept tavern. The gently swaying sign bore a faded image of a rickety old rocking chair. I tied my horse up in the back and stepped in. The interior was well lit and clean, and perhaps just under half full of people, mostly at least middle aged. In the corner I saw the companion I was meeting, and stepped over to sit with him. Like me, he wore a thick black cloak, which he had loosened a little in the heat of the room. I nodded to him as I seated myself and ordered a mug of ale.
For a long time I sat, simply listening to what went on around me, gathering information about the world. But as the evening wore on, and tankards were drained and filled and drained again, the talk in the room increased both in noise and quantity. Finally, one conversation reached such a pitch that other people started to listen.
“It was a green gargantuan!” cried out a gray-haired barbarian, leaping to his feet.
“I tell you, it was red,” said a tall human quietly.
“What’s this all about?” asked a young serving maid, quickly intervening, “why are you arguing about those beasts from the old days?”
“What? Oh yes, the old days…” The barbarian paused before going on in a tired voice. “We were disagreeing about details. I suppose that it doesn’t really matter now.” He sat back down heavily. “You, see, my name is Grag, and my friend here is Garth. Of Grag, Garth, and Ginny, you see. Though Ginny’s been gone a long time now.” The woman looked puzzled, so the barbarian went on. “It’s so hard to explain, although I couldn’t tell you why. You see, well, we were heroes…a long time ago.”
“Heroes?” asked the maid with a raised eyebrow.
“Of course,” the barbarian replied defensively, “we fought evil. Helped make Sanctuary safe, you see.”
“That was a very long time ago,” Garth said quietly. “Yet I can remember some of it.”
“I can remember it,” interrupted a heavy woman seated by the fire. At the quizzical looks the two men gave her she laughed loudly. “I’m a sorceress.” She also paused. “I was a sorceress. After Diablo was defeated the second time, I traveled about fighting the remains of his armies. But it felt like times were changing, and somehow those battles seemed less and less important. Eventually I settled down, got married, you know. I stopped needing any of my spells, having been a strict battle mage. And what a battle mage I was! You should have seen those monsters go down.” She chuckled, remembering, but then grew more serious. “One day, I woke up and the magic was just gone. But I do remember those days, and I suppose that there were some who might have called me a hero.” She gazed off into the fire, seemingly lost in her memories.
For a long moment the tavern was perfectly still, and I turned to my companion to exchange a glance from deep within our hoods.
Finally, a scarred warrior broke the silence. “I remember when people called me a hero,” he said. “I remember what it was like to be a hero. I traveled everywhere, fought anything. In town after town they welcomed me, but for some reason I stopped traveling and fighting. Now this is as far from home as I go anymore.”
“Many of us have done that.” I turned to the farthest corner to see the source of this new voice. It was quiet, but dark and rich. An assassin. “I too remember what it was to be a hero. But many of our compatriots do not. Some have truly wandered off, others have become more sinister. Some now steal to survive, others will stoop to killing.”
“Such were never true heroes!” interrupted Garth.
“Of course not, “the assassin replied, “but they carried arms with us against evil, and now their actions demean all that we stood for. Because of them, nobody believes that there are heroes anymore. They sing the songs about the old days, of course, but when they look around and see those villains, and see us living ordinary lives; they think to themselves that those days are truly gone. Nobody thinks that I’m a hero anymore, so I’m not. But I do remember.”
“What you do is what makes you a hero, not what people say. Or so they always taught me.” An old man in a dirty white robe was speaking. He looked to me like he had once been a priest of Zakarum, but his clothing was unruly and I could detect only the slightest trace of the Light in his body. No more than an ordinary, upstanding citizen might have. “But I haven’t felt the Light for a long time now,” he continued. “Sometimes I wonder if it’s just me, or if the Light itself has failed and gone into nothingness alongside evil. Sometimes I feel an urge to travel to the east and see if it is so, but then I would know, and I fear that I may be right, and the Light may be gone.”
For a long time nobody responded to that statement, but as the night wore on, more and more people began to reminisce. It seemed that every man and woman in the tavern had fought alongside us in that war, in spirit if not in body. They told many tales, and described many scenes, some in great detail. They spoke of the places they had seen, and the monsters they had met in battle. They told the stories of their companions and their dear friends, and of the days when they had either parted company or laid them to rest. They remembered a time when folk had been purer of heart, and generous and determined through sheer fear if nothing else. They did not agree if that had been a good thing or not.
But most of all, they spoke of how their world had been ordered. They recalled the old kingdoms, both in Khanduras and Westmarch and further east, and they shared songs of their earliest forebears. They discussed politics from a hundred cultures over three score years, and they remembered great centers of learning and knowledge, some created just for the war, and some older. But no one could say what had become of any of them.
The spoke of their own lives, of the farms they had tended and the markets they had trod, the long journeys between cities and the longer journeys through the wilderness, whether tracking or wandering. They remembered how the ways of their childhoods had been different from the ways of the present, and they spoke of how strange it must be, to have grown up without the fear of evil. They lamented the lack of understanding between them and those who had come after them.
Finally, they remembered the great tribes of warriors that had once roamed the land, doing good wherever they found themselves. They recalled packs of druids, and guilds of every type imaginable, from those that accepted only the finest warriors with the purest hearts, to those that accepted anyone who could wield a weapon and wished to protect Sanctuary. They even remembered the names of a few of the most famous ones. In the stories they told and the songs they sang, it was always those who were lost that they remembered. Those that had been destroyed in battle, before the waning years after the war, had been immortalized in song. The names they spoke were nearly all familiar to me, and listening was like seeing their faces, and hearing their voices. I looked over to my companion. His head was bowed, deep in thought, or prayer, or tears, or memories.
Had a scribe been present, he or she could have filled a volume with the stories we heard, and the memories, and the joys and sorrows. The conversation wandered freely, with all taking part, save for my companion and me. If there was a theme, it was those words that were spoken again and again. “I remember what it was like to be a hero.”
Finally, long past the middle of the night, folk began to trickle out. They embraced each other, and shouldered their walking bags, and went back to their homes to live out their lives in peace. I watched them go, hoping that their memories might bring them joy more than sorrow, and that we could see to it that their days were indeed peaceful.
Soon the tavern was near empty, and I caught my companion’s eye. He nodded to me, drained off his mug of water, and rose. We left coins on the table and went to retrieve our horses. As we stepped outside we threw back our cloaks and loosened our swords for riding. We mounted up and turned our path westward, towards the mountains. After we had ridden a short ways, Trebain turned to me and spoke.
“Race you back to the Gryphon Palace?” he challenged.
Laughing, I accepted, but on the condition that he join me the next morning on a short trip west, to meet in secret with the leaders of several important cities. He agreed, but in turn demanded that I join the next week’s expedition into the mountains, to root out both the robbers and the monsters that had gone to ground there.
I agreed, but had hardly finished my reply before he cried out, “Last one there is a rotten egg!” and his horse leapt out in front of me. I urged my horse forward in pursuit, but before I lost myself in the race, I had time for one more thought.
We did not have to remember what it had been like to be heroes. We knew what it was to be heroes.
Written by Morten Bang Jensen
Potions of blue
Potions of red
Who is this "butcher"
ARGH! Now I'm dea...
Written by Rob Moses
It was near midnight in the crusts of the Aranoch Steppes when I heard the bleating mania erupt from beyond. The undeniable sound of death; a beast’s call into the wilderness and the howling of unearthly horrors. It seemed to beckon to my heart from the darkness. I knew to move East, but what was left of my burned map charted only the arid wastelands.
In my hands I held the dying request from a close friend and on my back I stored a small bit of water and the last few days of trail rations. Every step felt like a marathon and my eroded mind bled hope.
The sky was deep and the stars themselves were like eyes poked into the rippled flesh of the night. They watched every move I made and stared coldly into me. I remember clutching my arms with my eyes shut tight, hoping to the Heavens that whatever evil stalked the desert would not find me.
I couldn’t allow myself to stay put. I pulled a bit of dried meat from my knapsack and moved Eastward into the desert. The desert had a peculiar stillness, as if the deathly moans had humbled even the insects of the night. The darkness was growing.
Our caravan was headed to Lut Gholein from Kingsport, a route we had made many times before. Trouble spurted forth as if manifesting from the dry cracks lining the desert. Perhaps the smell of our boiling stew attracted the wolves, we thought. It was unusual for them to approach humans, but nonetheless we found ourselves face to face with more than a dozen wretched beasts. They looked unwell: rabid, and mania-driven. They attacked suddenly and fiercely, and the bloody melee that occurred will stay with me as long as I live.
The crew fought back with their daggers and swords but the wolves did not back down. I struck one in the skull with my hilt and watched as it bit the tip of its tongue off, shook its head, and lunged at me again with fire in its eyes. The wolves were terrified, it seemed as if their violent actions surprised even them. It was a peculiar and terrifying thing.
After the wolves were mostly dead and retreating there was a morose silence. We started out as nine, but only three of us were standing. The caravan’s crew lied on the ground in tatters. The crazed scuffle had left three of our packs in the fire, nearly destroying the map and much of our food. Both horses were bit and bleeding, though neither looked mortally wounded. The men that had been badly wounded died in the night and only two of us remained by morning.
Why was I the only one who wasn’t bit? I wished then that I had joined my crew in death’s twisted grasp. The other survivor from the ordeal, Hariff, had but a minor bite wound on his hand. Slowly, he and the horses began to look weary. The sun had risen and our minds finally could focus on what had happened. Our spirits were withered and it was like a manic fever took us over. The mind breaks so easily, like panes of glass snapped in half.
Hariff’s wounds began to grow. The skin around the lesion began to recoil as if pulling back from a flame. The wound wouldn’t stop bleeding and his flesh turned pale. The horses, too, bled like springs. The wounds on their bellies spread until their glossy ribcages glistened like ivory piano keys. As they slowly pulled the disheveled caravan, they left behind bits of their guts until they stopped; they had become diseased piles of flesh and their spirits had finally left.
Hariff was terrified. His hand had only gotten worse and it was then that we both knew he would not make it to Lut Gholein. He had adopted a grayish pallor and his hand was that of a fleshy skeleton. He winced in pain as we walked for hours, and finally he stopped.
As he sat down on the ground, Hariff’s helpless face met mine. The Aranoch Desert was hot, and yet he did not sweat. Where my brow shined in the sun his seemed to absorb the light like a ball of wax. His eyes had become a deep red and I saw the flesh crackling away from his elbow. He gave me a letter he had written to his family two nights ago, when we still thought everything would be normal. He asked me to deliver it to his wife back in Kingsport. I contemplated telling him he would be okay. We both knew that that was not true and so I simply nodded. What more could I do? The despair clouding my eyes blinded me emotionally. I was lost in a haze.
I can only hope that Hariff’s death was solemn and quick. The vultures have no doubt picked every speck of flesh from his bones by now.
The sun set that evening and the cool night air brought the first calm to my mind in two days. Soon, however, I was trembling with mania as I rested. The whooping howls sang their dreadful tones through the night. That is when I knew I would not sleep again in that god-forsaken desert. My mind turned to the tragic tales of those who escaped Tristram’s recent attack. Could the stories be true? Have the hells spewed forth into Sanctuary? My mind twisted tales and bent in strange ways. I began to question my chances of survival.
Hariff’s letter absorbed the sweat in my hands. I marched onward. When my mind strayed too far into the morbid darkness I would rub my hands across the toothy paper. It seemed to ground me. Beyond survival I had a purpose. The letter shone like a dim candle in the darkness of my mind. I told myself that I would deliver it; no matter what.
That last night in the desert lasted far longer than any natural darkness. I wonder now if Sanctuary herself had taken mercy on me. It is because of the cool desert air that I was able to make the trip to Lut Gholein with the small bit of water I had. The night was silent and its darkness was pure and strong and almost vibrated through the air. The stars in the sky looked weary; their time was up and yet the sun never came. Soon they, too, faded, and the darkness became like a thick black mist.
The darkness was absolutely sinister in nature. It forced its way into my mouth and through my lungs. I choked on it like miasma and soon I believed I would be lost forever in the unnatural blackness. I felt myself moving up a rocky hill, my limbs like a puppet’s, my mind a blank slate. I was nearly ready to lie down and give up forever when I noticed the crest of the hill.
I could see it. I could actually see it.
A soft orange halo glowed around the silhouette of the rocky wastes. My grip tightened on the letter and my mind gnawed at hope itself. I climbed the top of the hill and like a miracle before me shone the blessed lights of civilization. Lut Gholein’s wondrous ports were shining under the tainted sun.
For the first time in what must have been two days of darkness I heard myself speak. What exactly I said was swallowed up by pure ecstasy, however, and my heart began racing. I ran. I ran as fast as I could for as long as I could; my ears and eyes were more alert than ever. I felt sanity itself pouring into my mind from Heaven’s basin. Somehow I was alive.
I’m sitting now in a jostling ship, holding the light close and my faculties closer. I think back to Hariff and I can only ask why. Why me? Why am I alive? Was it fate? Coincidence? No. I believe something demonic and something divine is alive in Sanctuary. Our horses knew. Our wounds knew. The desert knows. The fiendish grip of the desert’s anonymous howl tugs at my mind’s stitches but somewhere deep inside I can find the candle of hope. I can only hope the haunting visions of my time in the desert will pull away like the strange darkness did from Aranoch. Bring home the sun.
Written by Andrew Parisi
From the Journal of Ah’shann, Assassin of the Order of the Ironscale Dragon
The demons are birthed from fire and brimstone, they say. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t really care where they’re born, but how they die. I am Ah’shann, of the Order of the Ironscale Dragon. In a past life, I was a member of the Viz-Jaq’tarr—the Order of the Mage Slayers. I had the duty of hunting and destroying any mages that sought to use their magical abilities for a demonic purpose. Those conspiring bastards may as well be demons themselves, for they brought upon us a darkness that no light can breach.
Carefully stepping through the ruins of the catacombs, Ah’shann proceeds with great caution. She is tracking a leader of a notorious clan of Fallen, named Bah’sheeok—a Fallen Shaman known for wreaking havoc throughout the Rogue Encampment and neighboring villages.
She can hear the Shaman leader conversing in some demonic tongue with some of the other clan superiors. Ah’shann bides her time, and waits for the right moment. One of Bah’sheeok’s officers begins to break from the pack, and Ah’shann sees her opening. When she has good distance from the group, she ambushes the officer, impaling her razor-sharp claws into its back with one claw, and with the other quickly slitting the foul demon’s throat. There is a short gargle, as an eruption of green, acidic blood bursts from the demon’s throat, coating a nearby bush. The bush begins to visibly disintegrate from the demon’s blood.
Ah’shann breaks away quickly, as she sees yet another demon approaching. She prepares for its arrival by placing down traps of fire and lightning to shock and singe the approaching Fallen. The Fallen notices the fallen officer’s body from afar, and begins to rush over to examine more closely.
As soon as it reaches not within ten yards of the body, a flash of lightning blinds the Fallen, and shocks it with a bolt of lightning so powerful that the sharp teeth on the creature actually begin to melt from the intense heat. Knowing little of fear, the creature somehow presses on, only to entangle itself in yet another trap. A wave of fire blows over the demon, completely searing off all its hair, instantly turning the demon to a blackened corpse.
Ah’shann’s deadly claws are said to be those of the infamous Bartuc; the ancient ornamented claws are encrusted with rare jewels and have ancient inscriptions that were said to only be readable by Bartuc himself. Ah’shann will not say to this day how she retrieved these revered artifacts.
With nothing but a smirk on her face, Ah’shann quickly makes her way to the leader of the clan: Bah’sheeok. The demon senses her approaching, and quickly turns to see her standing there. With no words, it begins to conjure a large fireball that will surely burn Ah’shann to ash.
Fortunately for Ah’shann, she has become quite attuned to the elements. She quickly casts a spell of Fade on herself, absorbing the blast from the fireball with minimal damage. She laughs as the remainder of the fiery coals fall off her body into a pile of ash on the ground beneath. The demon is now in a state of disbelief, as Ah’shann casts a spell of Burst of Speed on herself, and quickly sprints towards the demon.
Without time to react, the demon holds up its staff in a reflexive manner. This will not help it, as Ah’shann slashes through Bah’sheeok’s staff with one swift blow. Her Bartuc’s claws are unmatched in power; for their ancient energies augment the assassin’s speed, strength, and precision. Ah’shann drives her right arm forward, jabbing her claw into the demon’s heart. Fiercely gritting her teeth, she twists the blades slowly as the demon wails. The cry of the demon attracts the attention of a nearby Fallen clan, and they begin to travel towards their leader.
She senses the demons approaching, and while holding Bah’sheeok airborne with one claw, she quickly lays traps of lightning and fire around her immediate perimeter. The demons approach quickly, and in large numbers, only to be overrun by the immense heat of the assassin’s defenses. Ah’shann focuses her attention back on Bah’sheeok, who is at this point, helpless.
Ah’shann says: “Ah finally, I have you where I’ve wanted for a long time. No longer will you torment the souls of thousands of innocent lives, crushing their hopes and dreams, and destroying their families.”
Ah’shann slashes horizontally across Bah’sheeok’s abdomen, spilling all of its entrails all over the dirt and grass. She then delivers a brutal slashing uppercut; Ah’shann can hear the tendons in the demon’s jaw snapping as it detaches from the skull and flies off, rolling into a nearby bush. The final blow is delivered, as Ah’shann gets behind the demon and places both her claws around the demon’s neck in a criss-cross formation. She utters her final words: “Diablo’s next”, then ferociously digs her claws in opposing directions, beheading the demon.
Ah’shann continues her hunt for Diablo by heading towards the east. The Wanderer, they say, was last seen around the city of Lut Gholein. This will be the next chapter of the carnage that Ah’shann will bring upon her enemies.
The Dead Touch The Kettle
Written by Sven de Jager
It was quite a travel back to Tristram. The young wizard Janeth went outside the city gates to find some herbs, but resulted in wandering quite a distance.
Somehow, she managed to get lost too while she absentmindedly sought for various herbs for her renowned potions.
However, Janeth wasn't the best fighter. She'd given up the art of combative wizardry ages ago when her father got killed during the Destruction.
Not being a fighter, Janeth instead had to rely on her sneaking around, avoiding unwanted people or... things detecting her. This caused her to leave behind a trail of monsters who
would wander around mindlessly; she had no idea where they would be exactly when she returned. This was her fatal mistake.
A bit more than a mile away from the bridge towards Tristram, the line of zombies that was first wandering around separated had now come together much closer.
It would be impossible for Janeth to move on forwards in a direct route. However, she couldn't side track too much either since the road -even though it didn't really resemble a road all that much- to her right just ended in massive chasm after a little and the road to her left would travel into forests unknown. Alas, she had no choice. Bracing herself, she traveled into the forest, muttering swearwords to herself in anger. After a while she tried to look up in the sky and see the stance of the sun, but that was impossible. The trees around her had grown so dense, it was impossible to see even a tiny slither of the sky up above. As a result, the forest was the darkest shade she'd ever seen before. "It could even be night at the moment", she thought to herself.
As she traversed great lengths in this dark forest, the temperature started rising. She grew more accustomed to the forest and released the tight grip she'd placed in her fists, letting go of most of her nerves. She hadn't seen any kind of harm in the time she'd been here anyway.
Suddenly, there was a tiny little object in the middle of the road, a few feet in front of her. She hadn't seen it before as she was looking around, but now she could clearly see a shining little object in front of her. As she approached the object, she saw it was a ball made of some sort of silver-colored metal exterior and some ceramic parts sticking out of the metal ball.
Her feet were less than a foot away from the object and she could see it clearly now. The object was a kettle. Doubtful, she bent her knees and lowered herself so she could look at the kettle up close. She picked the kettle up by its white ceramic handle and lifted it up as she too stood back up. Studying the kettle, she could see a crystal clear reflection, although distorted by the round shape, of herself in the metal. However, she didn't want to travel with a kettle as she thought it was useless anyway, so she put it down at the side of the road, regarding it highly unimportant.
Someone else, however, didn't.
Janeth's thoughts were constantly somewhere behind her, thinking of the kettle. "What was it doing there? Why was it there? Whose kettle is it?" She was puzzled by the very existence of a kettle. Then her thoughts ceased. In front of her was a tiny man wielding an even smaller cane used for support. Even though the cane was tiny, he still leaned on it with his full weight, making him seem hunchbacked. Maybe he was. His face showed his age, filled with rimples and little gray hairs. His eyes seemed like they would creak like an old rusty door when they'd move around in their sockets. "This guy seems like the embodiment of the word old", Janeth thought to herself. At first, she didn't want to move closer to the old man, but curiosity sent her forwards. When they were within earshot of each other, the man opened his mouth.
"STOP!", he yelled.
Instantaneously, Janeth flinched and moved no further. "Why did he want me to stop? Does he think I might be dangerous? Maybe he doesn't want anyone close to him anyway?"
When Janeth wanted to open her mouth and shout back at the man, he moved towards her at a speed unimaginably fast. She saw a flicker of his face, his mouth had turned into big grin, exposing only three rotten teeth. His eyes were completely back, lacking any form of pupils.
It happened so fast, that before she could ready her staff for battle, the man had already appeared right in her face, still grinning. She let out a loud scream in terror and closed her eyes.
This is the end.
When she opened her eyes again after nothing had happened, the man had vanished. There was no one in front of her. Quickly, she looked around to see if he would've crept around her or hid somewhere else. She saw no one.
She stood completely still for a full minute, waiting. Nothing happened. Janeth decided he had gone away, so she decided to move on. Still nervous, she lifted her feet and continued.
As soon as she set the first step, she heard a quiet laugh fill the forest. It was almost inaudible among the wind. Then Janeth realized the wind had suddenly started blowing too!
During her entire stay in this forest, she hadn't heard any kind of ambient noises besides some crickets. Now, though, the wind was blowing. She immediately discarded the thought and as such, the laugh also faded away. She prepped herself and went on, regardless of any noises that'd come up.
After traveling quite another while, the dirt road she was on suddenly stopped, the dark grass taking over. Janeth had to be careful now, as she could easily get lost now, or travel in a circle.
However, she also saw a light source up ahead. She decided to travel towards it and see if there was anyone there who could help her out.
"Hold on", she muttered to herself. "What if that old man lives there? Or someone who would want to hurt, or even kill me? I don't know this forest at all!"
Imprisoning her fears in the deepest corner of her mind, she strode on. She needed help, or she wouldn't survive much longer in here. Food was something she didn't have an abundance of, too.
Closing in on the light source, she noticed a little hut made of dirt walls and straw behind it. The light itself was a single torch mounted in the ground. The wooden door -which she assumed was the entrance- at the front of the hut almost hung off of its hinges. She carefully opened the door and saw nothing but darkness inside. She needed a light. Turning around to grab the torch behind her, she saw the old man again in the distance. Her heart was pounding in her throat. She squinted her eyes and looked at him better. Janeth noticed his head was almost hanging in an 90 degrees parallel with the ground. "A human could barely bend his head like that, let alone an old man!", she thought to herself, shivering at the sight.
Never losing her gaze on the man, she bent her knees and reached out with her hand while trying to grab the torch. As a result of not looking, her fingertips touched the burning embers of the torch, burning her slightly. "Ack!", she yelped in pain, looking at the torch. Quickly looking back up she noticed the man had moved forwards slightly. However, it seemed he had remained the exact same stance.
She moved backwards slightly, holding the torch out in front of her and trying to touch the walls of the dirty hut behind her, but the hut never seemed to appear.
Janeth had no clue what to do. She quickly turned her head around to see where the hut was, but it wasn't there. It was nowhere to be seen.
Her heart was pounding so heavily now that she could feel it in her ears now. She quickly turned her head back to look at the old man who again seemed to have moved closer, but still remained in the exact same stance. Janeth was clueless on what to do next. Her staff was inside the hut, which had now vanished. All that she had left was this torch.
Then, the man moved forwards, very slowly. Janeth turned around and ran as hard as she could. After a little bit, she turned her head around whilst running to see if she was out of range of the man. But to her surprise, and horror, the man seemed even closer now. How he had done it, she didn't know, cause he was still moving as slow as before. She turned her head back again and kept on running. In the distance, she saw yet another light source. She took the bet and ran towards it, hoping someone would be there.
She approached the light and there was again a dirty hut behind it, a very similar looking one. Janeth rushed to the door and swung it open, ran in and immediately swung it shut behind her. With the torch, she illuminated the first of the two rooms that occupied the hut. It was a tiny square room with a little table in it and one chair. On the table was a moldy piece of bread, which Janeth ignored. At the far end of the room was a door, which, adversely to the entrance door, seemed to be in perfect shape. She grasped the handle without thinking and swung it open too.
The room was as dark as the night and the torch didn't seem to illuminate it. She couldn't see anything in it, but she did hear the same faint laugh that she had heard before in the forest.
She inched backwards, holding the torch out in front of her. Slowly but surely, a silhouette appeared. A tiny silhouette, limping forwards. When the figure came closer to the door, the light of Janeth's torch suddenly seemed to enter the next room, illuminating both rooms somewhat. What she saw made her stomach turn. It was the same old man from before, in almost the same position, but a stream of blood came out of his grinning mouth and pitch black eyes. He was leaning on his cane still, but now his head had bent much further towards to cane. It even seemed as if the cane's top had penetrated the man's head.
She turned around to leave the hut, but the old wooden door had turned into a door similar to the door opposite of her; in perfect shape. However, this door was locked. She bashed against it with all her might, but nothing happened. Then she aimed for the dirt wall next of it, trying to knock through the dirt, but to no avail. The dirt would only dent inwards slightly, but not collapse. Janeth turned around again. The old man was now less than five feet away from her and she could see the bloodied skin around his eyes seemed to constantly bulge, as if there were parasites hiding inside his head. She turned around again, crying and bashing in on the dirt, screaming for her life. Her eyes were filled with tears in fear and fright. Nothing worked.
Janeth realized she was stuck and again, turned back around to the old man. The man had vanished, like in the start.
She was completely alone in the room, the torch she dropped had gone out from her trampling over it as she was trying to bash her way out. She was still horrified, but a feeling of immense happiness rolled over her. She had survived. She was alone. The man had gone. Janeth turned to the locked door again, but as she turned the handle it was still locked like before.
She then turned around and noticed the darkness of the next room had completely faded, even though her torched died out. Instead, it was the brightest shade of light she'd ever seen. The entire room was empty, but filled with light. The light stretched on for an eternity it seemed. Janeth didn't care. The old man had gone and she had survived.
Without a single fear, she strode into the room and walked forwards.
And she walked.
Written by Marco Lasorsa
The other Vizjerei had thought he was eccentric. That his ambitions outreached his grasp, or that he didn't realize what forces he was meddling with. Ignorant cowards, all of them.
Of course sacrifices had to be made. His experiments did not always turn out positive, but what new knowledge could be gained by reading books written by people who knew even less? In his many years of experimentation, his advances had by far counter-weighted his setbacks, and even if his achievements had gone forgotten until recently, he would sooner or later wield power great enough to enslave any demon of Hell, and make the power of Sanctuary rival even the High Heavens.
His initial experiments had been successful. He had broken an army of minor demons, which stood at his disposal until he fled his old sanctum beneath Lut Gholein. Most likely, they ripped whoever discovered it into shreds, but whether or not they did was of no consequence – if it had been discovered, the old sanctuary was no longer safe. In any case, he highly doubted anyone would find him or understand his now-lost encrypted tomes before his project was finished.
Tyrael had once given the soulstones to the Horadrim – flawed prisons intended to contain the Prime Evils. Of course, the Archangel must have known of this imperfection. According to his research, the soulstones must have been doomed to fail from the beginning, as they were created by beings whose essences any evil thing would reject. As such, his own creation would not fail in this manner. A man-made soulstone would surely imprison any demon. Perhaps even an angel, by the same reasoning, but as no such experiments had been conducted to his knowledge, he could not be certain. The fallen angel known as Izual would probably have been the perfect test subject, but apparently some mortal fool destroyed him before he could be found.
Now, his masterpiece was finished. Larger than any of the horadric soulstones, the black, crystalline prison was finally ready to receive a host. Theoretically, it should be powerful enough to contain a prime evil, but they were in short supply, and he should try it on one of the lesser evils in any case, as he might defeat them on his own should things not go according to plan. Luckily, he had managed to lure one into a trap, where it was overwhelmed by his minions. It was now being brought to his lair for the final phase of the plan.
Arriving at the summoning hall, he double-checked his preparations while waiting. The arcane wards on the floor allowed summoning, but prevented creatures from leaving the room through teleportation. Binding runes which would be manned by satyr minions in order to keep the demon chained. They all soon shimmered as the demon materialized. It was magically chained, but much larger than expected. No matter, the Black Soulstone should easily control it. Suppressing his excitement, he walked towards the demon, and shouted. «Hark, demon, and know your fate! From this day forth, you are the servant of the mage, Horazon! Know that though your brothers escaped their soulstones, your prison has now been perfected by man!»
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he felt the thrust of a halberd through his knee. One of the satyr had attacked him? The chained demon rose, and Horazon could only watch as the satyr did nothing to stop it. With a satisfied laugh, it spoke. “You speak of servitude, human? Did you think the embodiment of greed would have no influence over your minions?” Horazon panicked. Of all the lesser evils he could have trapped, he had netted the current ruler of Hell? “I've heard about you, mage Horazon.” declared the Lord of Sin. “I hear you understand the value of a good servant, and you impress me. Tell me how you crafted this soul prison, and I will not only let you live, but bestow unto you secret knowledge, forbidden even among demons...”
Horazon knew better than to blindly believe something, even more so the words of a demon lord. He would probably be tortured to death as soon as he finished telling Azmodan about the creation process. He started weaving a portal spell. Without his minions, there was no escape for him, but he would be damned before letting his greatest achievement be used as a weapon by the demon king, and spoke in order to stall for time. “Well... The stone isn't much different from the horadric soulstones in its design, but the slight alterations I made means it can control any soul, demonic or divine, and...” That should get his attention, he thought. He kept telling rather inconsequental facts about what the stone did, as opposed to how to make one, and used the time to channel all the power he could muster into a meteor summoning spell. He never was much of a combatant, but if there was one thing he did well, it was summoning. Using his final strength, he opened a portal back to Sanctuary. Still holding his creation, he quickly limped into it, letting his wards shred him to pieces, but sending through the Black Soulstone, destined to call down a meteor that would hopefully destroy it.
Perhaps he was sacrificing the greatest weapon mortals had ever created. Perhaps he was saving the world from Azmodan. He did not know, but he knew that Sanctuary's fate was out of his hands now.
Written by Tobias Grøsfjeld
Once the man from Harrogath finally destroyed the empire of the early evils, defeating the hordes of hell and finally, Baal, Tyrael appeared.
"I'm impressed, mortal ..." were the words that echoed in the room of the Stone of the World. But the man from the North was tired of being considered as such. He, who had opened the portals of the monastery, who had traveled in sevarl dimensions and discovered the mysterious dwelling of Tal Rasha, who had calmed the hatred in Kurast, penetrated into the underworld and defeated Diablo himself ...
One evening, a meeting was arranged between heroes from different lands, came to celebrate the Barbarian. The Arena, was prepared for the occasion. Men, women, children and old people looked that great encounter of magic, nature and muscles. People admired the beautiful wolves that helped a man, hurled the meteors from the sky by a magician, was excited by the speed of a paladin, while the children remained blinded by the aura emanating from Valkyrie appeared out of nowhere; a dark lord terrorized with His creatures born from
the ashes, while another girl sowed death traps in the ground.
The inducements were all for the other races, and after a few laughs for some barbarian missing jumps, no one made even realize, that the Hero came out first and then abandoned arena. Walking back toward the tables laid out for the banquet, knocking away the wooden benches in his run, a child, clearly oblivious to everything, pointed to the man and said: "You're big and strong, but when you get old, you have no fear of those who have defeated if your strength will be less?"
The barbarian gave a mighty shout and walked hastily towards the woods, angry at the fate that was intended. His fate was already sealed: Diablo would come around again, now that the stone of the world had been destroyed. Will he be able to counter its dominance once again? With these thoughts that crowded his head, exhausted, trudged up the Arreat mountain until falling almost fainted in front of a gate that earlier had crossed for the first time. The atrocities that Diablo did his people were only part of the pain that caused the Lord of Terror in his body. The flesh itself was burning and his eyes revealed that large movements of evil limbs unleashed arc of fire on earth who walked quickly away from him and his old companions.
Then a flurry of light and three men, three barbarians, appeared to his view: "Friend! -Shouted inunison- Fighting Diablo is not as easy as you thought!" The echo of their voices echoed in the narrow valley, despite the blizzard. "You fought like a hero against his brothers, but you have yet to learn the most important lesson: the faith in allies. Will be days when the force will be no longer the only way to destroy evil. We three warriors decided to make a gift of this ancient hammer that you can draw from past to smash your enemies. We three brave warriors, will give our help when you need it: learn the formula written on the altar. Then destroy the altar and we will become your warriors and your companions when you’call for our help, from here until the end of your days. Now do not waste time: Evil will soon return. Leave the rest of humanity, flee from them. Because the memories soon become nightmares and nightmares become doors of madness. "
The barbarian did as he said and, white hair by white hair, began to wander sanctuary reinvigorating its spirit.
Written by Rafael Valério
The Fallen Star Athin streak of light still cut the sky when the three adventurers entered the cave. They didn’t know if they will find that fallen star - that hours ago crossed the sky, turning the night into day for a few moments - inside there.
They know by the smell, even without see almost nothing, that the place was fulled with rotting human flesh. Even the three experienced heroes felt a killing and deadly cold in the spine.
They stopped for a moment, looked each other, and without say anything, took their weapons higher, and restart to walk, slower than before, as if they can feel a stranger watching them. The feeling of can’t see the sunlight anymore was starting to spin faster in their minds. But
they need to keep, so many lives already lost, the only hope for those poor and weak people outside was these three brave heroes.
The only woman in the group, known from where she comes as The Wizard, was able to control the nature to act at her will, and use the natural elements as weapons. The tallest of the men was big as a bear, as all the Barbarian, and had scars all over his body, and carried an ax, bigger than any other ax that you’ve already seen. The other man was bald, and has upon his forehead a tattoo of two red dots, one larger than the other, and despite of the terror in the cave, his body seemed to emanate a peaceful aura, as the old Monks.
All the three, there, inside the dungeon of the enemy, the place that could kill some people of fear. There wasn’t another option, if not proceed and make their legs move, one step a time.
After some time walking, their eyes already accustomed to the low light, could see a flickering red light at the end of the stone passage. With more ten or eleven steps, they reached the place, the place where they knew they were been expected. With a loud and hoarse voice, showing those sharp and dirty tooth, the huge and red demon said:
- “Huh! Fresh meat!”
And without say anything else, he advanced against the three, opening his mouth and deadly waving his cleaver. The three separated, almost without time, and started to walk around the beast, avoiding the cleaver. Attack after attack, the adventurers dodged, seeing the death each time the hatchet passed in front of them. Then, as fast as a thunder, The Wizard casts a lighting bolt that hit the demon right in his chest. With the impact, he took two steps back, and while tried to recompose himself, the Monk hit him in his legs, making the demon fall on his knees. Without hesitate, the Barbarian approached and raised his axe, preparing to cut off the beast’s head. After a noisy laugh, the demon said: - “I am nothing compared with what is coming, fools. The dead will walk, humans will pray for a swift death! Angels will flee, as fire breathing demons rise from the ground. And in the end of days, the first signs shall appear in the heavens. Justice shall fall, upon the world of men. When the sun vanishes, and the fire cuts the sky once again, the Fallen will arrive to rule both Hell and Heavens!”
With a thud, the demon’s head fell to the ground .
There wasn’t no doubt, the signs were pretty clear. Lately, the days remained rainy and gray. People didn’t talk much, as a apathy and uncertainties aura hung over the world. But everyone knew, that something was happening, something was changing. That night, the third night of new moon, people look up and saw, the last sign, that few people knew that would happen. And as the fire tore through the sky, each word of that demon, twenty years ago, reborn in the mind of the trio.
Every war must have an end, every end must have a sacrifice. With a last look over the still peaceful Sanctuary fields, the trio headed east, following that Fallen Star, because they knew that the end for this war, had begun.
Written by Barry Kearns
The young man stirred, and said, "I don't even know your name. You
saved my life, you've shared your fire and a meal with me... and I
don't know your name."
The woman seated across from him paused in her knifework on a piece of
wood, glanced up and said, "That's true."
The young man cocked his head slightly to the side, brow furrowing.
"My name is Dathan, I don't wish to seem ungrateful, but that seems
like an odd answer."
"It's not an answer at all. You didn't actually ask a question. My
apologies if my manner strikes you as abrupt... I intend no offense.
The recent battle has taken much out of me. The subject of names is a
sensitive one among my people, as names contain a kind of power. You
may call me Erann."
"Well then, thank you for my life, Erann. I didn't expect to survive
that attack, and I'm still not quite sure how I did, or even how you
did. I saw you doing impossible things."
"The fact that I did them should tell you that these things are indeed
possible. You simply don't understand how I accomplished them. Do
you feel well enough to spend some time discussing what happened, or
would you prefer to rest first?"
Bristling slightly, Dathan gathered himself and assumed a more upright
posture. "I'm well enough for simple conversation. I'm not a child,
Erann set her woodworking down beside her, and with a slight smile
said, "Resting after a battle is not a sign of childhood. Even mighty
warriors must husband their strength and regain themselves after a
prolonged fight. Resting in this manner shows wisdom, not weakness."
Dathan blushed slightly. Stammering, he said, "I'm sorry, I guess the
battle took much from me as well, including my civility. My
"Your reaction is understandable. You've experienced something truly
terrible this morning, and it has unsettled you. I take no offense.
I'll try to help you understand what actually happened. Take your
time, and tell me what you saw. Try to focus on the things that you
didn't expect to see... and on the things you did expect which didn't
"What we didn't expect was the attack itself. My family and I were on
our way into town, to purchase goods at the market. Before we
arrived, we heard the bells sounding, and saw flames rising from some
of the outbuildings. We raced forward in order to assist in fighting
the fire... and found ourselves standing in Hell. Demons were
appearing in puffs of greasy black smoke. Their numbers were
"Everywhere we looked, people were being slaughtered, torn limb from
limb and impaled by these foul creatures. Fleeing townsfolk were
struck down, their legs chopped from under them. Fireballs erupted
from some of the demons, igniting both people and buildings into
conflagrations. As I stood, transfixed, I saw my own mother sliced
in half. Blood everywhere... so much blood. And always, as the
people screamed in agony, came the laughter of these... these..."
Dathan's gestures and speech had become more and more animated with
each passing moment. Gently now, Erann, gently. In the softest
possible voice, barely a whisper, Erann spoke his name. "Dathan."
Through clenched teeth, Dathan said, "Do you know what they did? One
of those monsters skewered my father, like a pig on a spit, and lifted
his body into the air, laughing and laughing. Then it made his body
dance. Dance, like a puppet on a string!"
With slightly more firmness, Erann repeated "Dathan."
Whirling to face her squarely, hands clenched and shaking, Dathan
screamed at her. "WHAT?!"
Erann paused for a brief moment. Was it a trick of the firelight, or
did she actually see a split-second of the glow in his eyes as he
faced her? No. Surely this was too soon. Erann weighed her words
and tone carefully. It would be important to gauge his reaction at
In the same whispered tone she had used when first speaking his name,
she stated simply, "They're not here, Dathan."
Slowly, Erann lowered her gaze from Dathan's eyes, to rest on his
Chest heaving, Dathan slowly opened his hands, turning them to see his
own palms, noticing the bright red crescents where his own fingernails
had just dug fresh wounds into his skin. Dathan closed his eyes, drew
several shuddering breaths, and began to slow his breathing. In a few
moments more, he returned to a state of relative calm, and opened his
Good, thought Erann. He has some rudimentary discipline already.
There's potential here.
"It's easy to see the hatred you possess towards the Hellspawn.
That's an asset we can use. You were telling me about the attack.
What did you see next?"
Dathan gathered himself for a moment, and went on. "As I was watching
the carnage around me, rooted in one spot as if paralyzed, I expected
to die at any moment. But instead, the beasts around me began falling
to the ground, each crying out briefly as they fell... and each with a
crossbow bolt jutting out from them. That's when I saw you, striding
through the masses of them," Dathan said, nodding towards Erann's hip,
"firing those hand crossbows into the beasts at a speed I simply
"And what didn't you see?" asked Erann.
"Not once did I see you stop to reload, or draw the strings on the
crossbows. I've fired a crossbow before, Erann, and while it's
powerful, it's also slow and tedious to operate. You were firing
without pause... and firing far more bolts that you could have
possibly been carrying with you."
Erann raised her eyebrows slightly. He has insight, and a quick mind.
Better and better. With a nod she said, "It's true, a Demon Hunter
travels light. It wouldn't be effective to carry a wagonload of bolts
around with us."
"So the rumors are true, then", said Dathan. "When I saw that your
eyes glowed, I hoped that the tales could be true. It's clear that
you were able to fend off far more demons than I would imagine anyone
could. There were scores of them, Erann, and you just kept firing. I
saw them close around you, and I was certain that you were about to
die, despite your weapons, for surely they would crush you under their
weight, if nothing else. And then, as the circle closed tight around
you... you weren't there."
"And where was I?"
"You were several yards to the left of the circle, firing into their
backs from within a cloud of black smoke. How, Erann? How are you
able to do these things?", he asked.
Erann tilted her face skyward, scanning about for a moment. "You've
begun to ask the right questions. That bodes well for the future.
But stop for a moment and ask yourself: Do you really want to know?"
Puzzled, Dathan asked "Why wouldn't I want to know?"
Pausing a beat, Erann said, "Knowledge can be a mixed blessing. Once
you come to know something, you cannot simply choose to not know it.
That knowledge becomes a part of you, and it affects you going
forward. Some find the truth of what we do to be... unsettling."
"After what I've seen today, I doubt I could ever be more unsettled,
so I'd rather know the truth" stated Dathan firmly.
"That attitude will serve you well going forward, Dathan. Demon
Hunters make the embracing of truth a practice, even when that truth
brings us pain. We have a saying: Truth is not hard, it simply is.
What can be hard is reconciling yourself to that truth. Do you think
you can do that, Dathan? Can you accept the truth, without regard to
the pain it brings?"
"I will try, Erann."
"Very well. The truth is that your old life is over. You saw for
yourself the slaughter that took place in your town. You know that
you and I are the only two to walk away from that charnel house. But
there may be a new life awaiting you... a life as a Demon Hunter
yourself, if you can adapt to the training."
"Me, a Demon Hunter? I'm not born to your people... my eyes don't
glow as yours do."
"The glow comes later, as you begin to master the skills we practice.
Demon Hunters are not born, Dathan, they are made. Almost without
fail, they share experiences just like yours today... experiences
which forge them into something new, and powerful. We serve a simple
goal: The complete eradication of the Hellspawn."
The lines in Dathan's face seemed to soften, and his eyes held a
faraway look. "Could such a thing actually be achieved?" he asked
with a hint of eagerness in his voice.
"Indeed," said Erann, nodding in affirmation. "We would not have
embraced such a goal if it were not possible. Doing so would mean
lying to ourselves, and to each other. Our goal is quite real, and
each day we see progress made in the fight. Though you lost much
today, Dathan, hold to the thought that the demons lost, as well."
"How? I thought that demons could simply be sent back, time and time
again to torment us, even when they were dispatched here in the world.
Is there another answer?"
"Yes, there is. The answers to most of the questions you have been
asking all tie together, into a common thread. For example, you asked
how I was able to keep firing my crossbows without stopping to reload
or draw the strings. I used a form of magic to assist me. Shadow
"So the bows are enchanted, then? What happens if an enemy takes one from you?"
Perceptive, thought Erann. An awareness of tactics. Promising
indeed. "Here," said Erann, handing one of the crossbows to Dathan.
"Fire the crossbow at that stump over there."
Dathan hefted the hand crossbow, took aim at a knot in the side of the
stump, and slowly squeezed the trigger. With a twang and whistle, the
bolt from the crossbow embedded itself in the side of the stump, just
left of the knot. Dathan glanced down at the crossbow, and with a
curious tone said, "It didn't reload itself!"
"Quite right. It takes more than just the crossbow itself. It takes
knowing how to trigger the shadow magic, in order to have the Engine
do the work of reloading for you. Here, hand it back."
As Dathan handed the crossbow back to Erann, a small puff of black
smoke appeared in the firing channel of the crossbow. The string was
somehow back in place, ready to fire, with a bolt already set. Dathan
jumped slightly at the sight. "You said 'the Engine' just now. What
does that mean?"
"The Engine is one of the things that makes it possible for us to win
the war against the Hellspawn. The tale of how it was created, and
the terrible price that had to be paid in order to ensure its
successful operation, is one for another day. For today, know that
the Engine is what allows us to bring far more shadow magic to bear
than one would ordinarily expect a mere mortal to be able to muster.
If I were to try to continually redraw that bow on my own using just
the strength of my own
shadow magic, and more still to conjure a bolt into existence at the
same time, I would have been easily dispatched in that battle through
Erann returned to the side of the fire, and sat down. "Instead," she
said, "I use only a tiny fraction of that power to send a triggering
signal to the Engine, and that allows the power of the Engine to work
to my benefit, while I maintain my own strength for other matters,
such as the escape that you saw me perform when I was swarmed."
Dathan seated himself across the fire from Erann. "So where does the
Engine get its power?", he asked.
Erann sighed. "You asked to know the truth. The power comes from the
rending of souls."
A small shudder passed through Dathan's body. "I don't understand,
Erann. I thought souls were supposed to be immortal. How could
something like that happen to a soul?"
"When a soul becomes tainted with evil, as the souls of the Hellspawn
are, they change in nature. A kind of vulnerability forms. When we
dispatch the Hellspawn with our skills, a fragment of that tainted
soul is ripped free, and is transported to the heart of the Engine.
If an incomplete soul, missing such fragments, is ever sent again to
the world to fight against us, it will be weaker and more easily
"If the taint is deep enough, and our aim is true, we can sometimes
capture the entire soul outright. That leaves us one less enemy to
face, forever, for no bit of soul escapes the Engine intact."
"So the Engine rips the fragments and souls to pieces? What must that
be like?", asked Dathan.
"A soul is meant to remain intact. The forces holding it together are
immense, which is why the Engine can extract such power from the
struggle of the souls to hold themselves together. We are told that
the rending of a soul is a torture no mortal can possibly imagine. It
is an anguish beyond all comprehension."
Dathan's head slumped forward, with his hands pressed to his temples.
Staring at the ground, he said, "But not all of your power comes from
the Engine. You said yourself that you used your own shadow magic in
order to escape. Where did your shadow magic come from, Erann?"
Erann paused for five or six breaths. In a low voice, she said, "I
think you already know the answer to that question, Dathan."
Without moving, Dathan asked, "It's from the demons, isn't it?"
Erann didn't hesitate. "Yes, Dathan. We study our enemy, and learn
from them. Doing so allows us to turn their own skills and techniques
against them, just as the Engine turns the force of their own souls
back on them, making it easier for us to defeat them. Thus we make
them ever weaker over time, while we grow stronger. And one day,
we'll win outright, and the war will be over."
Dathan sat in silence, immobile. He's at the edge, thought Erann.
Will he see the answer? It's time to push and find out.
Sharpening her tone, Erann rapidly fired questions at him, like bolts
from her bow. "Why do we do it, Dathan? Why do we embrace the very
powers of the ones we hate? Why do we flirt with the possibility of
our souls being taken by the evil? Why do we employ a monstrosity
like the Engine, subjecting souls to unimaginable torture, even our
own souls if we grow careless? Why would we do such things, Dathan?
Shaking, Dathan's head abruptly snapped halfway up, and with an icy
glare, he uttered a single word in a deep, gravelled voice cracked
Erann slowly nodded. "You see the truth. You have the instinct,
Dathan. I predict you'll do well. I'll take the watch tonight."
Reaching downward, she picked up the piece of wood she had been
"Tomorrow, I'll show you what this is for, and we'll begin your
training. Try to get some rest, you're going to need it. Oh, and one
more thing. Spend some time thinking about what you'd like to be
called. We'll need to protect your real name."
And with a crack of sound and cloud of black smoke, Dathan found
himself alone beside the fire.
The Price of Balance
Written by Shane Sticka
When I’d been raised I had always been told horrible things about the followers of Trang-Oul. Everything from the basic they raise the dead to the more disturbing fixing other peoples limbs on to their own or animating a dead prostitute for a free night of fun. As much as the rumors varied one thing always remained the same, it was always negative. Even to this day when I look in a mirror and see the pale lithe figure in robes covered with ghostly runes looking back at me I have a brief moment of disbelief, who would of thought that I would become one of the followers of the dragon's and Rathma's teachings? A necromancer?
I had been reluctant at first to be trained into the order. My parents had died by a raid of demons a pair of necromancers had been tracking, unfortunately they arrived too late with most the caravan having been already slaughtered or in the process becoming the next fresh corpse. Seeing nowhere else for me to go they took me in and raised me as if I was one of their own. My past however cause personal conflicts during my teachings as I had a burning hatred in my heart for demons and anything related to their like. My teachings however taught me the world must be in balance, good and evil having equal footing upon Sanctuary.
I was pulled from my thoughts when a man walked into the bar I was visiting, dressed mostly in shades of purple ranging from dark to light. He was truly a wonder to the eyes. I began to think him simply a fool when I felt my dagger begin to vibrate at my side. After muttering a few words of power with my dagger facing toward the man under my robe it confirmed my fears. This was a higher class demon, a shape changer even. I was repulsed for a moment as I considered what it might have done to the previous owner of the form the creature now wore.
I waited in the shadows observing the demon as it interacted with the other patrons, calmly socializing with each person, obviously a regular visitor to these parts of town. Night had well past fallen by the time the target of my interest had decided to leave the inn. Muttering a few more words of power under my breath I cast a spell allowing me to track an individual was placed. After waiting several minutes I left silver on the table and took my leave. On my way out I noticed several patrons showing signs of relief openly on their faces at my departure.
As my dagger tracked its target it gave a pull toward the direction of the target and getting the stronger the closer you got. The pull was faint enough I could tell the demon had left the city grounds. Following its trail I left the city. The pull continued to get stronger with each step. Progressing this way I eventually came to a small cave. Stopping to gather a possible strategy before entering I continued to feel the pull get stronger.
He emerged from the cave leisurely as if I was an expected guest he had to entertain. As he walked out toward me the air around him shimmered like heat in a dessert. Through the haze his form began to change, shrinking and expanding in places, soon a different figure stood before me. The demon had skin the color of polished stone with what looked like red cracks randomly about the body each radiating great heat. The demon was obviously female, scaled along her arms, back, legs, and along the neck and cheeks of her face. Her hair looked like long coils of obsidian glass, and down her back several long spikes protruded along the spine. She had a great tail which while she was walking would move back and forth in the air but now standing before me she used it to hold her balance almost like it was a chair. Her two glowing eyes changed color from a deep red to a golden orange and everything between, it was like a living inferno in her eyes, and they were looking directly into mine with what seemed like pity and kindness.
“And so you have come young necromancer”, she said in a voice that sounded as a mix of gravel and honey. As she spoke the very inside of her mouth seemed alive with heat. “I expected a faster pursuit after you had placed your tracer on me.”
Hatred for this creature and all her kind flowed through me, “I took my time getting here so I may think of ways to strike you from this plane.”
“Of course. Now that I’m here before you do you still feel the same burning passion?” at the word of burning her hands flared to life with two orbs of flame.
She literally spun into action, turning in a circle as she threw one orb then immediately the other. Drawing my bone dagger I prepared myself and blocked the first orb dispelling it, its twin however made it past and struck me in the chest. I staggered backward from the blow gasping for air as two of the runes on my armor faded slightly. The demoness let out a long hiss, like hot water hitting a cold surface, when she saw her attack didn’t cause the damage she was expecting.
I started to make gestures with my dagger in the air crafting runes which appeared silvery and ghostlike and with a final quick thrust toward her the runes were sent flying to their target, stopping a foot away and hovering for a moment before sprouting ghostly arms and holding her in place. While she was subdued I cast another spell, this time a spear made of bone, soaring toward her at an inhuman speed and accuracy straight toward her heart. Where the spear should have impaled her it instead shattered upon the impact resulting in only a throaty laugh from her lips.
I leaped to the side as a wall of flame came toward me, narrowly missing it and causing more of the fire protection runes of my armor to fade. Half a second later the ground started to tremble beneath my feet and I instinctively rolled to the side as a gout of flame erupted from the ground scorching the earth around it a deep black. A quick gesture and a word of power sent a row of Trang-Oul’s teeth into creation, the tiny projectiles of bone exploding outward in a cone from the tip of the dagger. Most the projectiles exploded harmlessly against her much like the spear had but two of the teeth struck the spikes on her spine, destroying the spikes. Her low laughter turned into unearthly howls of rage and pain, her eyes turned from pity to pure burning hatred.
Her anger clearly showing now she turned it toward the arms restraining her and broke free then summoned a flail of pure flame and started to slowly swing it around over her head, increasing the speed as she increased her pace towards me. Upon being in range she struck at me with the flail, barely avoiding it and losing the last of my flame runes. Upon hitting the ground there was a thunderous crash and the world shook from the devastating impact. As she recovered and began to swing the flail again I pricked my finger with dagger letting my blood flow onto it and began casting again as the blood moved up the blade against gravity all while trying to keep out of the demons reach. The moment the blood touched the hilt the blade started to give off a faint glow like moonlight and I shouted the last word of power, plunging the blade down into the earth in the same moment.
Four skeletons erupted from the earth in a shower of earth, rotting clothes clung to the bones still with strings of flesh, and armed with swords and axes they charged the demon. The first one to her was struck with by the flail and immediately erupted into flame and exploded sending flaming bone fragments everywhere. The other three upon reaching her struck her spines hacking them from her body. She continued to strike the undead down one after the other with each swing of her weapon. She was not fast enough however to destroy them before they finished their task of removing all her spikes.
With her back in view I could see the damage the undead had done to the demon, her back was torn and the ichors that passed as her blood was all over. Along with her spikes removed she bore several slashes from sword strikes in her back as well. I summoned a second bone spear as her back was still toward me, still recovering she was unable to avoid her fate. The spear pierced her heart the moment she fully turned around and sent her several steps backwards from the force of the impact. A second unearthly howl escaped her lips as her body collapsed to the ground and began to turn to ash and molten rock until that was all that remained of her.
Exhausted I collapsed against a nearby tree to rest. I had never needed to cast so many spells in such a short amount of time before tonight; I was weary mentally and physically. My eyes struggled trying their best not to close but quickly submitted to exhaustion and closed.
A sensation of dread tore me from my rest and my eyes snapped open and what I saw made me go cold. A spirit was hovering over me that I was still too familiar with.
“Oh my dear young necromancer” she said as she reached out and placed her scaled hand against my forehead. Agony instantly followed her touch spreading through every nerve of my body. “We have such sweet plans for you” her voice whispered inside my head. It was the last thing I heard before the terrible darkness of unconsciousness took me.
Written by Mikkel Lehmann Nielsen
It was the year 2000. I had just turned 5. My dad came home, oh god I miss that man. We used to sit up late on his old pc that he had won in a big competition somewhere, wonderful nights. As he walked through the hallway, I noticed a small bag of some sort, he told me to come down to his computer office, his eyes was shining as he took it out of the bag, Diablo II. I didn’t know what to say, I was somehow astonished, I was old enough to recognize the cover, but the main reason for my happiness, was because my dad was happy. I had tried Diablo I once together with my dad. I enjoyed it so much, mainly because it’s one of my biggest memories of him, the game made him happy, the game made me happy. He played the game a lot, and I played it with him. I still remember running around in the big world of diablo II, while sitting on his lap, with him telling me what to do, and translating everything into our native language. Some years went on, I had lost a bit of interest to the game, and I would rather play football with my friends outside. And then, from one day to the other, he passed away. Half a year went on with deep sorrow; it was a hard time for me. One day, I decided to turn on his old pc, I had become a bit older, and I did understand some English now. He mainly had stuff from his work, and junk files on it. I noticed the Diablo II icon on the desktop. I decided to give it a try, though it reminded me so much of him. He played on some realm. I don’t remember which, I opened the character list, his characters was pretty bad geared, most of them also really low leveled. Except for one, A Barbarian, with the highest level achievable, and incredible gear, but the thing that made me cry… He had named it after me – Mikkel.
And so the war begins...
Written by George Goktsis
Kalan stood amidst the trees on the northern hill facing New Tristram. The cover of the night hid the necromancer from unwanted eyes. His black robe swirled as if the wind was raging, though the night was still and peaceful. Glimpses of pale skin were barely visible under his heavy hood.
“The silence before the storm...” Kalan thought to himself. “Through light it all begins...” a faint whisper escapes him. Twenty years had passed since the destruction of the worldstone and the consequences had already grown in size. The balance, which Kalan served, was barely kept, the rise of the powers of the humans made it so. With the worldstone gone, nothing was in the way of the
rising of the nephelem once more. Memories swept back form the days when his own brother had made it so, so many years ago. Edyrem, that's what he called them, those who the light have seen.
“Yet too much light for the balance to be sustained...”
Suddenly, the necromancer felt the presence of someone, not very far away from his current position. “But, how could anyone possibly find me here?” His dagger to his hand, Kalan turned to face whomever was capable of detecting him. The visage of a hooded man appeared from the distance. Kalan suspiciously stared as he approached him with confidence. Then it struck him, he saw the true visage of the stranger. Hood without face, ethereal steel armor shining, wings of energy expanding, it was the Archangel of Justice, “Tyrael!”
“Yes Mendeln it is indeed me”, the angel replied to Kalan's own thoughts. “We have a lot to talk about and you are particularly difficult to find.” It was true, the necromancer did not want to be found, he had spend only a few moments on the mortal plane over a hundred years time! Yet his calling, the very reason of his existence was forcing him to act on this desperate times.
“You have noticed what they have become, haven't you Tyrael? Have you noticed what YOUhave created?” Kalan's robe swirled faster as if some wind was picking up suddenly. Dark eyes glowed behind the darkness of his hood. The angel took the hard words calmly, he took a moment to himself to contemplate the words.
“The rise of the nephelem is not of my making Mendeln...”
“Yes it is Tyrael, the structure of the stone could be altered, Uldyssian did it, it could be done again!” The necromancer interrupted the angel. “But in your arrogance you preferred to have it utterly destroyed than grand a single human the power to change it. You had a host of champions right there in the chamber with you! Especially the fighter one, Drakthor, had shown amazing signs
of character. He was modest and understanding, did not abuse the power he gained...”
“The powers of centuries are not to be tampered with human!” with these words the angel abandoned his former visage and assumed his true form. “YOUR BROTHER ONLY CAUSED DESTRUCTION AND CHAOS! HE WAS A FOOL, AN EASY TO CONCIEVE ONE AT THE MATTER, HE PUT OUR VERY EXISTANCE AT STAKE!”. Power soared from the angel, his anger hardly at check. His booming voice heard in both ears and mind, only a handful of humans would survive that alone. But Kalan was no ordinary human. “AND THE CHAMPION YOU
SPEAK ABOUT HAS YET TO FULFILL HIS DESTINY. HE HASN'T PASSED THE TEST OF TIME AND ALL HIS COMPANIONS HAVE FAILED...”
Gaining back his temper, Tyrael managed to contain himself in a humanoid form again. “And the test of time is necessary Mendeln, of all humans alive, you should be able to understand this”.
Loosening his grip on the bone dagger, Kalan contemplated the words of the angel. He struggled all this time to avoid intermingling with the world of men, but magic aptitude was more and more common into Sanctuary, people unworthy manifesting more and more power for personal gains. People untrained and short minded, they all used their power foolishly, for vengeance or for show off or for any petty reason the human mind could conjure up. This alone was enough for the balance to be disturbed, Kalan knew that it would never come unnoticed by the Burning Hells or the High Heavens. Yet the presence of the angel there amidst the trees was a good sign, someone finally made a move.
“What is it that you require from me?” the necromancer asked.
“It is good to see we understand each other! Mendeln ul'Diommed you must warn our champion before it is too late. The board is already set, soon the pieces will start to move. He must reach the last Horadrim and remember. You have to persuade him to choose his destiny...”
The visage of the angel began to fade as the forces that sustained him in the mortal realm began to diminish. Clearly his outburst paced up this process. “So be it!”, Kalan thought to himself, hopefully this Drakthor had still some strength left for the task at hand.
* * *
The night was still and the air was crisp and pleasant in Harrogath. Drakthor was lying to his bed, staring through the window the magnificence of the starry sky. Memories of the Arcane Sanctuary came to mind, the shear beauty of that place... and how a true hero can be corrupt by his own powers. “The Summoner”, that was the name he was known to Drakthor, pity that his
companions would share the same fate as he did. All lost, tainted by the corruption they struggled to defeat. But he, being simple minded and not trusting all the sorcery he came across, had managed to survive through all those long twenty years leading a simple life among his kin. His strength had
significantly faded away, the mundane tasks of everyday life made his muscles soft, still very strong, by all means, but way smaller in both size and power since the days of the Great Battle. Remnants of a forsaken past were everywhere to be found in Drakthor's hut. His armor had
gone rusty now, the trusty axe that severed the very soulstone from Diablo's head had lost it's former glow, clearly a sign that the magic it withheld had dissipated over the years. Drakthor was pleased by this fact though. He wanted nothing to do with magic and battles anymore, the toll of them he had to pay by memories and nightmares. After all, the journey to the Burning Hells could
not been undone. It was, to him, a gift, to have been forgotten to oblivion...
A sense of impeding doom overcame the barbarian. The feeling that he is being hunted and the hunter is closely observing him before he makes the move. Gulping, pushing the emerging terror to the back of his mind, he turned to face the predator.
“He can be frightened after all!” was heard in a giggling manner.
“Who is there?” the barbarian demanded to know.
“I am known as Kalan, I am a keeper of balance of this retched world you call home, and I Sanctuary. You have heard it by this name before, haven't you, barbarian?”
“So Tyrael sent you...”
“Hm! Your mind is in better shape than your physical status I see... Good! You will need it before I am done here.” The necromancer let his guard down, the swirling of his garment ceased and the darkness in his gaze eased up, so as not to make the barbarian anxious. After all he was a “guest” in his hut.
“What do you want with me then Kalan, keeper of the balance?”
“It is possible that you have noticed the rising of the magic affinity of the people that surround you, correct?”
“Yes, indeed. Fools, they are playing with fire...” an expression of disdain formed in the warrior's face. Even children nowadays could manifest magic, hurting people for caprice and immaturity.
The necromancer smirked, “Exactly! And this is the reason that you must act now! My information tell me that hell is on the move. Soon they will be at our very doorstep.”
“They have failed to consume this world many a time. I am sure new heroes will rise up to handle them.”
“This is exactly what they are aiming for!” Kalan was starting to get irritated by the barbarian's implication. He didn't notice that Drakthor had given up. Perhaps corruption found this way to penetrate the barbarian's spirit, by indifference and exhaustion instead of vanity and selfdestruction. One thing was certain, though, he wasn't the man he thought him to be. Merely a shadow of his former self.
“The main role of the worldstone was to dampen the humans magical affinity, Drakthor. The angel destroyed it, so the veil slowly disappears and humans become what they were in the beginning of their journey on this world. They are rising up to become nephelem again.”
“This explains a lot, yet I cannot see the plot you are referring to necromancer!” Kalan struggled not to lose his temper, his clothes swirled a bit as he exhaled hard trying to avoid hurting the barbarian. “They will never learn to listen it seems” he thought to himself.
“Is it not obvious...” he said in a tenser tone, “... that an invasion on Sanctuary would force those more apt to the arts of magic to set themselves apart from the masses, they are the only ones that will be able to survive the might of the Burning Hells!” getting better grip on his emotions, he moved closer to the terrified person in front of him. “And then they will be twisted to form the
deadliest weapon of creation. By means of torture or promise of unending power your fellow humans will succumb and awaken to their true potential. This is the weapon! One that can spite the very heaven's gate! A few words from them will reduce the host of heaven into rubble!”
Terror arose into the barbarian's heart. Terror and immense sorrow, for his kind was as weak as Kalan described them to be. Weak, yet wielding the strength of titans it seemed... “What an irony! But...” , “... but the High Heavens are aware of this, aren't they?”
“Yes, they are. But not all angels share the same view as archangel Tyrael does. To most, your kind is abomination. A potential weapon too, yes, but it is not in the heaven's nature to twist things to their purpose. They are too righteous for these methods. They'd rather see this Sanctuary destroyed.”
The barbarian lowered his stare to the hut floor and on the edges of his peripheral sight he caught a glimpse of his old magic cube, the one of the order of the Horadrim. Kalan noted that the barbarian noticed the cube. A faint smile appeared on his lips, so faint that it was barely noticeable. Then with renewed strength, the barbarian stood up.
“No! My life's cause, all these sacrifices I made will not be in vain!” His muscles tensed, face frowned, his fingers closing up to form two tight fists. “I didn't roam the Burning Hells to live to see such an end befall us! Heaven or Hell, I'll fight them both if that's what it takes!” Drakthor soared with power. Power buried deep beneath, now running through his veins unchecked. Kalan smiled a bit wider, “It wasn't that hard!” he thought. “I think you understand what you must do. There is prophesy about these events Drakthor! The wisdom of the prophets should not be taken lightly.”
“If only I knew where to find Decard Cain! He used to study ancient scrolls and talk about prophecy.”
“He resides in New Tristram now. I can take you there if you wish to consult him.”
“Yes! Take me there Kalan, I need to know more of this.”
Kalan grabbed the barbarian by the arm and vanished from the north to appear on the hillside, where he talked with the angel. He took a deep breath, the scent of the wilds reminded him of his long lost home and a farmer's life he had long forsaken. “Such a beautiful night!” he thought while turning his stare to the starry night sky. Then a star started to grow brighter. To his amazement
and curiosity they brightness of the star rose exponentially. It grew so bright that could measure up to the moon itself! A tail started to form, so a trajectory was obvious by now. It seemed to approach Sanctuary. Fast! With the corner of his eye he noticed a perplexed expression on the barbarian's face. He thought it to be troubling event. Not that he was wrong in any way...
The star seemed now to be the shape of a ball of flame traveling fast across the horizon. It seemed to approach their current position too. Within moments it seemed to hover right above their heads, falling from the sky rapidly. With a booming explosion and a blinding flash of light, the star impacted the ground, in the vicinity of New Tristram.
“And so it has begun.” the necromancer whispered. “Drakthor, you must see this through, I have to turn to things that require my immediate attention.” Drakthor said nothing, he turned to face Kalan, but he had vanished into thin air. He started to descend towards New Tristram, muttering “This place reeks of death. The fallen star is near.”
Written by Robert Krcic
Site looked pretty much the same like all the others temples and expedition members were starting to pack to go home since there was no significant discoveries. Robert went to the Temple to take few more photos of the walls just to fill his camera. While he was shooting he saw a small hole in the wall. It was really small, just enough to fit your hand. He went and tried to see what is in the hole and he felt an object like a lever. He pulled it and immediately wall where pictograms were started to move! Robert screamed and Cain and Lea came to see what is happening...
And they saw it! Another chamber behind the wall. All were amazed. They entered carefully but chamber was empty except for the pedestal in the centre with a crystal object on it. Robert took it despite Cain's warnings and did not listen. Nothing happened but Robert felt a little strange. He saw images from the past flashing and voices of the dead yet he was not scared. Cain and Lea noticed something was wrong with Robert he claimed he was fine. Robert kept the crystal and all three went to the camp to prepare for the night.
As night draw nearer, Robert was experiencing more and more flashes and voices but he sat quietly looking at the moon. Cain and Lea went to sleep and Robert stayed starring in the moon holding the crystal. Was it fate or just coincedence, full moon arose and Robert started shaking violently. Cain and Lea were still sleeping while Robert was changing! Very soon he started screaming which awoke Cain and Lea. They were horrified with what they saw. Robert was changing rapidly into something. They ran and tried to take crystal away from him but it was almost burned into his hand!
Change was now in big effect, Robert started to grow 2 spines from the shoulders and his teeth became huge and eyes white as that full moon. There was no turning back... Cain said that he will go to the chamber to see what they are dealing with while Lea tries to take the crystal... somehow...
Robert became violent and jumped onto Cain as he was leaving for the temple. He drove two spikes into him and casted him against the temple. Lea started running towards temple while Robert was "occupied" with Cain.
She managed to reach the chamber and looked around vigorously for any sign. There was nothing and it was dark. But there was a glance on the wall clearly revealed by full moon. She went there are saw another crystal otherwise invisible. She did not know what writings mean without Cain so she decided to risk it and try something while there is still time. She took the crystal and it disappeared in her hand. Her hand started to glow very bright...
In the meantime Cain was almost dead and Robert turned his attention to the temple and the glow. It immediately attracted him and he leaped there. Lea was there but with a surprise. From her hand a huge holy light ball went and hit Robert. He started screaming and dropped on the floor. The crystal off his hand fell off and slowly he started to revert back....
Lea went fast to check on Cain. He was barely alive and she helped to tend his wounds. After few hours Robert came out the temple and dawn was setting. They looked at him but he had no idea (or so he told) what happened. Once Lea told him he immediately started crying and apologizing but really just for show because experience was amazing. Realizing it was not his fault, the three decided not to tell this story to anyone because it could have ended very badly if Lea did not find the Holy Light to fight the evil inside Robert.
They packed and left carrying Cain.
But what of the evil crystal that dropped? Robert took it of course and hopes this crystal will enable him entrance into the world of evil again.....
Written by Radovan Beno
Barbarian, Monk, Wizard and Witch Doctor are going to kill Diablo. All of them are frightened, uncertain, but nobody says anything and they are keep moving. Suddenly Treasure Hunter rushes out from dark corridor, having a band of demons in tow. Group of adventurers wake up from indifference and kill all demons. Treasure Hunter, gasping for breath, thanks them:
"I owe you for saving of my life. Thank you. As my gratitude I will fulfil one wish for each of you. Please, don't look at my sack of golds, it's the only thing I can't give you. However, you can wish anything else and you don't have to say it aloud. Just think about it."
Barbarian wishes the most powerful and biggest two-handed axe, which is human able to still bear. Wizard closes his eyes. Suddenly he learns every spell of the basic elements: water, fire, air and earth. Monk is thinking a little bit longer.
He said: "My friends wished very mighty gifts. I wish that from every single mob, which is surrounding and protecting Diablo, would drop a health globe, so we will still have a full health during battle with Diablo."
All of them look at Witch Doctor and wait on his wish. Witch Doctor closes his eyes and thinks... but he open his eyes and he looks very, very frightened.
"What's up?" ask him friends. But Witch Doctor remains silent and refuses to say anything. Friends shrug their shoulders, thank to Treasure Hunter and set off with great determination to kill Diablo. In group is good mood, except Witch Doctor, who is strangely downhearted. Finally, they appear before a giant, stone door. Behind them a demonic roar is sounding and corridors are shaked by a heavy stomping. Barbarian turns to his companions.
"Ok, we are here. Diablo is behind this door. We are prepared. I have the powerful axe, Wizard knows every elemental spell, in addition we will be healed by a tons of health globes, right monk? I don't know, why Witch Doctor is still depressed, but I say, there is no place for any worry. We can beat Diablo and glory shall be ours!"
He pushes doors. The doors are opening very slowly. The demonic roar is deafening. Finally, Witch Doctor responds.
"I'm sorry guys, but I have three bad news for you, which means that we can't beat Diablo."
"What are you talking about?" ask friends uncomprehendingly.
"I wished to have a knowledge about killing of Diablo. So firstly, Diablo is completely imunne to all physical and elemental damage. Secondly, there are no mobs, so we can't rely on the health globes. And finally.... Diablo is weak only against poison damage."
Friends cheer. "But the last news is good one, isn't it? You are Witch Doctor, and you are possessing the poison magic, so we have some chance!"
But Witch Doctor just lowers his head sadly. "I will be disconnected from here in 3.... 2.....1....."
Chariot of destruction
Written by Morar Daniel
1267 Anno Kehjistani
He wipes off the sweat from his face and urges his horse to go faster. They have been for four days now in the ruthless Khanduras desert, and still have a long way until El Aradj. Six days at least. Otul, as any caravan master, was hoping that this time too all will go well and they will travel unhurt with the people and merchandise intact. But he couldn't be sure of anything these days...
He had a small army of 20 mercenaries to his aid, good men that know the battle well. They were probably the best he could find in this part of the world, and he spare nothing to hire them. Rumor has it that the Dark has risen once more and the roads and the commerce have grown more and more dangerous. The passage through the dessert has always been dangerous, but now they will face even more threat than usual.
"It's good that this time we have that Sharval's witch with us ", he thought, and made a sign to his men to lay down the tents for the midday halt. The sun was too hot to venture further into the dessert. At the shelter of the tents they will gather strength for the evening march, and tell stories at a cup of coffee or tea. It was too soon to think about the valuable merchandise he'll bring to El Aradj port (just 40 miles North from Lut Gholein), but he couldn't help it: jewels, silk, wool clothes, avinian pelt clothes from the far barbarian north, spices from Skartara Island that were worth their double weight in gold. All to be sold for a good profit to his old friend Shatkan, who will bring them to Gea Kul across the sea.
He would double his fortune if he succeeded in bringing the merchandise to El Aradj, but he held his breath and tried to think of the best decision that he could make to arrive safely there.
Draja looked with envy at the honeycombs and mostly at the water-bag that Teeli brought to the tent of the witch.
- It isn't enough that she occupies a strong camel with her things, she receives water whenever she wants and food for free!
- O... She doesn't eat too much. And on the other hand I trust Otul, he always knows what he is doing,
said Malu, the tailor woman.
- She didn't do anything else than eat, read books and sleep all day! And don't tell me about Otul! As the days pass he has become more of a fool, an old fool! Why did he mix up with this charlatan and fake witch?! All those priests and wizards don't do anything else than throw dust into our eyes! To give them the shirt of our back, if they could have it!
- Draja, please... tried Malu to calm her.
A big mercenary stopped just in front of their tent, looking somewhere in the distance, there, where he sky kisses the earth, where the desert turns to dream. He had a big two-handed sword on his back; he was probably a barbarian, only they are so big. His beard was long and harsh, he wore only a pair of leader shorts and a leader bag on his shoulder. His enormous muscles and stature was enough to make everybody safe with him around. Although his power came at the cost of 2 or 3 times the food a jaii man eats. Otul never bothered with this, he has always had strong camels that could carry a lot of food and the mercenaries kept safe his caravans until now and worth their money.
Something captured the attention of the barbarian, because he started in a hurry towards the edge of the camp. The two women exited the tent to see what it was.
Somewhere between the hot dunes, 5 silhouettes grew in size and became more definable as they approached. The camp entered immediately in alert. The mercenaries and the carrier let aside the food, or whatever they were doing and picked up the weapons. Then hurried to shelter the camp from where the danger was coming.
Otul with the barbarian were ahead, to welcome the strangers, whom ever they might be. Already he could tell that they were brigands of the desert. They were 5 indeed. He would expect a passage tax from them. They wouldn't risk a battle due to the fact that he had the mercenaries on his side.
The brigands were riding on small, white, fast horses. They were wearing long black clothes, with their turbans covering their faces leaving only the eyes at sight.
- They use to wear their turbans like this all the time? asked the barbarian for good reasons.
- No, only during the dust storms... answered Otul, but said no more because the brigands were dismounted and headed towards him.
- Where are you coming from and where are you going, unfortunate travelers?!
The voice of the brigand, who appeared to be the chief, sounded like a hoarse whist, torturing the others ears.
- This... can only be known to those with good thoughts... those with other thoughts will receive from us the answer of our weapons!
Answered with a powerful voice Otul. The brigands chief said nothing for a time, then he spooked with his broken voice:
- Your weapons mean nothing against the power of Lord Mokul!
As soon as he finished his words he started to babble something in his beard.
All turned to the spot from which that voice came.
The witch stood with her feet spread and the arms on her shoulders, nobody saw her coming. The brigands' chief stopped from his dark spell and growled like a beast.
- We give you 100 gold coins for the passing tax! That should be enough...
The chief stopped growling and approved by shaking his head.
Draja looked overwhelmed with intrigue at the woman that had the imprudence to take in their name the decision to give away their gold. Otul reacted promptly and sent two men for the gold in his tent.
- Better let me sweep them away and give to the scorpions their corpses!
Screamed the barbarian rolling his sword above his head. The whistling sound of the sword cutting the drying air put fear in the hearts of the brigands. They quickly took out their black, dirty sickles, and their chief stepped back growling in retreat.
The witch approached the barbarian and put her right arm on his back. He calmed down immediately .
- Let's not make thoughtless things, Ugrund! We give them the money and let them go with God. We don't need any bloodshed today.
Said Otul with wisdom. The barbarian agreed and put his sword back, then looked amazed at the little woman that smiled sincerely to him. He felt small in her presence, although he had three times her size.
The brigands took the money and disappeared quickly from sight.
- My name is Kraana, and I'm a solomoness from the high lands of Sharval.
- My name is Ugrund, defender of the sacred mountain Arreat! You are from kistai people then... I've heard of you only in our ancient stories...
- Yes, I'm kistai. We leave in our remote forests far from the world's broil. We'll have time to talk about our lands later, now I want to know if you know the name of your sword.
- The name? No...
The other two barbarians that were in Otul's mercenary group, approached curiously.
- It is a special sword... where do you have it from?
- I have it from my father. It has been in my family for generations.
- Hmmm... Its name is...
Kraana passed her finger on the sword's handle and whispered:
- Gaav-e-notu! It's unique! It has special powers. I will teach you to reveal them.
The other mercenaries and some people from the caravan gathered curious around them.
Kraana instructed Ugrund to stay down with his sword in both hands.
- Relax! Don't think about anything... Tell the name with vigor then... Remember the fights you fought with it... remember It!
There was total silence, even the dry dessert wind stopped in its way and waited.
Screamed the barbarian with all his power, shaking the earth beneath. All people around him were brought down from their feet, except the witch. In an instant the sword started to vibrate and an explosion followed, with a bright light afterward.
Ugrund rose glowing with happiness, like a child that receives the toy he dreamed about for a long time. Then lifted Kraana up in the air in a burst of joy and put her back down so as not to harm her in any way.
- I thank you Kraana from kistai people! After I finish my agreement with Otul I will go with you wherever you may go.
- I thank you Ugrund, I'm honored to have you as my companion. As for my goal, for the moment I can't tell you anything, we have some important things to resolve, I fear the worst regarding those brigands. I am going to speak to Otul.
Saying that, the witch left for the great tent in the center of the camp. Before that she whispered to Ugrund:
- Don't tell anyone the powers of your sword! It's better that the enemy doesn't know...
Ugrund agreed with his arm on his heart.
Otul understood Kraana's plan and gave the order to lift up the camp and head South with haste. After an hour of hard march under the ruthless desert sky, from the back of the caravan someone gave the alarm. The five silhouettes had returned! Kraana and Ugrund turned back from the front of the caravan to face them.
The chief dismounted quickly and said with his broken voice:
- These 100 coins are not enough! Lord Mokul wants 15 water bags and 30 breads also.
Otul agreed after a short calculation. The brigands left as quickly as they came, in a cloud of dust and sand.
The others didn't say anything, they started the march right away. The sun was incredibly hot and the pain of the burning sand beneath their feet, was terrible.
After another hour or so, the brigands returned again. This time everybody was nervous, mostly the barbarians, eager to finish this nonsense of requests.
- You gave nothing up to now! We want 10 virgins for sacrifices and 20 women for us to [....]!
- What? shouted Otul intrigued by the immense insolence of the ugly brigand.
- You don't receive anything else! Go back from where you came from and don't come again! said Kraana with a thunder voice, pointing her finger towards the North.
- We will take all then! said the brigand chief and turned his horse around.
- We don't have any virgins! said Draja with a slow but very serious voice.
Malu barely held herself not to burst into laugh, despite the seriousness of the situation.
- Quick, lets hurry towards the oasis.
Said Otul, and then only to Kraana:
- They are possessed by demons, aren't they? Kraana consented, she was worried. She saw Ugrund on her left and said to him:
- Prepare for the battle. Be calm and determined, do not let yourself dragged in combat by fury and too much enthusiasm. And always protect the women and children. They will stay on our back, hidden on a small forest near the lake. I will be with the mercenaries in front of the lake. You and the other companions will stay in front of the small forest near the lake.
The caravan was going fast, despite the heat and exhaustion. The oasis was near. At least that is what Kraana said. Otul didn't know of any oasis on those parts. They were totally on the witch's call.
To Otul's surprise, hidden beneath some high dunes was the oasis that they were desperately searching for. A small lake and near it 20-25 coconut trees, and some dune grass was the oasis. They rushed to the trees and hid there all that they have: the women, the children, the camels and merchandise.
On their back they saw a cloud of dust that approached fast.
- By the angels, but how many are they?! said somebody and all of them were frightened.
The mercenaries entered in battle formation with the carriers on their side. The three barbarians stood in front of the coconut trees as Kraana taught them, they were all prepared. But they didn't know what they will face...
Certainly not the brigands they saw earlier. An army of some hundreds brigands possessed by horrific entities, skinless, with their turban hanging on their back, stacked on the exposed flesh. They were riding on the back of large lizards with enormous teeth and tails.
Otul looked around for Kraana. She was standing near the lake with a brindle in her hand, murmuring a powerful spell. The possessed brigands were at 100 meters from them, when a powerful sound came from the lake. The witch threw the brindle in the water, then, in an instant, a serpent-dragon rose with an enormous uproar and fled up in the sky. A black cloud darkened the sky and moved above the attackers. An axe flew from the lake into the cloud - it was Kraana's magical axe that broke the cloud in half. Immediately, large beans of hail, as big as a human head and sharp like glass, fell from the sky hashing the demons to pieces. The lizards' horrifying agony screams combined with those of their masters filled the air with pain and desperation.
But the hail stopped as quickly as it appeared. The remaining one hundred or so demons and lizards, gathered in haste their ranks and renewed their assault. From the sky a drizzle fell on the oasis, cooling the humans and renewing their forces. For the demons and their lizards, the rain was like an acid that tore their meat down and melted their body to nothing.
Kraana appeared near Otul just before the rain stopped. The serpent-dragon descended from the sky in to what remained from the lake, barely a pool. An explosion of energy fled from the solomoness's hands. Balls of lightning swept everything on their path, breaking into other smaller balls as they hit the demons. But the demons kept coming. Kraana was exhausted and dropped down from her feet.
Some of the possessed brigands have gone round the lake and now faced the mighty barbarians. The brigands were easy to deal with, but the lizards were not. One of the barbarians fell down under a lizard, and the other was cut by a flying blade. Only Ugrund stood on his feet cutting deep in lizard flesh and stunning them with his sword's magic.
The large group of possessed brigands finally arrived at the mercenaries' location and a fearsome battle began. The odds were still against the humans, there were still 12 brigands on lizards alive, and the mercenary light weapons barely screeched the lizard skin. The lizards grabbed some of them in their mouths and tore them to pieces. With her last forces, Kraana took a big apple from her woolen bag, and with a fast evocation she threw the apple onto the ground. The fruit broke and exploded into a cloud of dust and salt. In that spot, a black woman wearing a suit of colored large feathers appeared. After a moment or two of confusion, she took from a small bag on her back a fist of salt, and scattered it on the sand. With a quick sign from her hand appeared five weird creatures, called mongrels. They immediately jumped at the lizards, and in the next second they exploded in a cloud of salt and killed all the remaining demons and lizards, leaving the humans unharmed. The black witch with a swing of her hand summoned a locust swarm, that began to devour to the bone all wounded and death enemies, cleaning the area within minutes.
Kraana and the black witch quickly turned to the wounded and poisoned companions, and healed them with magical plants and enchants. Ugrund was barely breathing, as a large lizard fell on him, but he wounded it to death. The locust swarm liberated him from beneath, eating all the beast flesh. The witches managed to resurrect all the people, acting quickly and with an unmatched precision and experience.
The battle was over. The lake was no more, as well as the demon threat, for now...
- Amatajul! the black witch doctor presented herself.
- Ugrund! said the barbarian, and embraced her hands in his.
- I owe you my life today! I hope I will return you the favor.
The female witch doctor laughed, showing her white, perfect teeth.
- I honestly hope not, but we still need you to carry our bags to Ver Meelain!
They all laughed with relief.
- I see we have some affinity between us. In my lands they say: "If two people laugh well together, you will know they will stay together even after the nightfall!"
- I will not abandon you even after the dark will dissipate, said the barbarian with more seriousness than he wanted.
Ugrund couldn't take his eyes of Amatajul, so Kraana let them inure with each other, and headed towards the center of the camp, to speak to Otul.
Otul expected her at a large table, filled all with a lot of daintiness. Djara has offered herself to serve, to clear her mind and pay for her ugly words from that day. She was all a smile...
After Otul and some of his trusted men congratulated and thanked Kraana for what she's done for the caravan that day, they asked her some question that tormented them until now.
- What is the source of that evil that we fought so bravely today? asked Otul seriously.
- As you know, a comet fell from the sky some time ago somewhere in Aranoch, in a little town named Tristram. The wise men say it is the "Chariot of destruction", bringing back the time of terror, when demons plagued the earth. I am here because of that. I'm the hope of my people to an escape way. A way known to the Five Wise of Ver Meelain. They are five monks from the mythical monastery Ver Meelain, that is said to be somewere in North-Eastern Kehjistan. The same monastery that the ancient general-demon Bartuc tried to find and destroy, but failed. There lies the most valuable library of the world, guarded by its faithful guardians, the five monks. That is where Amatajul and me are going. To find out if there is a way...
- God be on your side! said Otul, followed by his companions.
They stood in silence for a while, to digest what they've heard. One of the older carriers said after some time:
- How could you summon the witch doctor Amatajul from that apple, in the battle?
- It was no ordinary apple, it was a special kind of apple that grows only on our lands, called "God's apple". It has more magic under its peel than ten crystals taken together. I can take Amatajul from the place where she is, because we have known each other for long time. Near her home in the Teganze jungle and near my home in Sharval forests are two magic stones, that with a proper spell transport you to the other part of the world, in an instant. So I took Amatajul from her road to Ver Meelain, and we met sooner than we expected.
- God have you on his guard! said Otul, and after him the others.
They went all inside their tents to rest. It was a long day. A long day to remember...
Written by Mads Lerche Neergaard
It roams in the deepest of shadows,
quietly it crawls – no eye may learn.
The very being itself, strikes fear
deep into the heart of the soul, and
With long thin, hairy legs, it leaps from
shadow to shadow where it stalks the
silhouette of mortality. It crawls and
climbs around your spine – feeding on
the very skin of man. Its many eyes
make it easier to see, the target of the
With huge poisonous fangs, it
thoroughly garrotes your flesh, leaving
you wounded and fatigued. The toxic
poison enters your vein and seizes your
brain, where it haunts and vexes your
dreams. A pestilence is what it is – a
mere splinter in your mind that broods
on the putrefying eggs in which your
body now hosts.
The curse of diablo siphons your life
and exhausts your bones – your very
pillar of construction, weakens you.
Your heart fails and dissolves into a
Written by Savu Adrian Tolbaru
The mist that previously inhabited the cave all but vanished and with it a serpentine form appeared in front of the others. With broad shoulders and a torso more akin to that of a man than of a beast and strong arms that ended in needle-like fingers, he slowly moved his body almost filling the 200foot cavern, making him a sight from which even a behemoth such as Duriel would bow down his head in fear and awe. He opened its mouth, filling the cavern with a foul stench of rotten fish:
“Diablo is amassing an army of within the depths of the reawakened Chaos Sanctuary. His powers are growing stronger than ever, now that the balance of the world has been shattered along with the Worldstone.”
Saakar’s low hissing voice made the cavern tremble. The flames of torches set on the walls dancing menacing like mischievous demons of fire, engulfing all gathered there only to be engulfed slowly within the thick darkness. It was a damned place with rough stony walls that never had the pleasure of bathing in the sun’s purifying light, a bridge between worlds composed by the abundance of runes, each of ancient power – bright yellow where the dim rays managed to reach and blood red where darkness reigned, each rune slowly pulsating as if every one of them tried to tell the story of the untold horrors which have befallen the cave and its current inhabitants in a past so long gone that even the earliest chronicles do not dare mention. As soon as Saakar finished talking a new voice echoed and the flickering orbs of fiery red of an undead mage, or at least this is the form in which he chose to show himself in. It gained shape as his words got lost in the chorus of the wailing souls within the cavern.
“Excellent work Saakar, and Orlif, what of the host? Have you found anyone suitable yet? “, came the voice of the leader. He was a mysterious creature to say the least. Even his name was lost in the dark realms of the unknown and his intentions were as hidden and shrouded by mystery as his whole being. All they knew was that he wielded tremendous power and it had been rumored that his eye could pierce the very fabric of the future and foretell that which awaited them. He anticipated that Diablo will return and that the war to come will thrust the world into such chaos that his actions will go unnoticed until it is too late... far, far too late. He was the one who pointed his followers in the direction of the Diablo’s army to seek a host, but alas he was unable to give more specifications thus leaving the other three council members searching blindly though the throng of bloodthirsty demons.
A ghostly visage came forth and looked straight into the eyes of their Leader, speaking on a harsh tone: “The only one with anything special is Diablo himself. After being slain by the Champion; his hatred burns stronger than ever, so strong in fact that he overshadows all that are near him, their presence being felt like nothing more than a butterfly’s frail flutter within the harsh hail storms of Mount Arreat. We have scanned his army thoroughly and nothing, no demon, no zombie and not a single tormented soul shows the potential we so much desire. But maybe we wouldn’t have failed if you were more specific, my master. What is it exactly that we need this host for? Why can’t we transfer the host to the strongest warrior in our army? Why must we check each demon with this strange shard and why does the shard never resonate? ” said Cordela.
“You dare defy me? I am your absolute leader and you are just pawns as insignificant as bugs and yet I have given you the honor of serving me! With patience you will soon find out who shall come forth in this world through my help. But your defiance cannot be ignored!” Suddenly Cordela’s body started to tremble violently. A piercing pain ran through her veins and she could feel herself turning gradually to stone. As she slowly petrified, she sensed death’s grip for she could not move nor voice out the pain that shredded her body and cut through her sanity. The Leader’s spell was powerful and she knew that there was no way to overcome it for it was the burden of her kind. Feeling her thoughts slowing down and turning to stone one by one, she could only hope that the end will be swift and that the pain will disappear into the darkness. “Let this be a lesson to all of you, I command, you execute, anything more and your ends shall not be so pleasant.”
“Yesss Massster, I am your humble servant.” said Saakar clearly shaken by the events that unfolded, fearing that his destiny will soon lead him on the same path as Cordela’s.
“Back to the matter at hand, have you also performed the ritual on Diablo himself, or where you also consumed by his terror, fleeting from his path and mustering all the strength you could just to keep yourself hidden?”
“We could not; his throne room was heavily guarded. We couldn’t risk being detected. We did all we could just to scan the guards in front of his throne room, but going within it could have allowed him to detect us, we are not strong enough to hide our presence within his place of power.”
“Very well, a wise decision for once, then I shall see if the shard resonates with Diablo myself, and if it does, we shall take advantage of the lower being fighting their meaningless wars and bring our true Lord within this realm and allow our master to walk the earth, to take rule over the world when its balance’s is about to crumble, to become a savior once again for both humans and demons alike… and I shall rule by his side reaping the rewards of my long overdue revenge…”
The Leader which was engulfed in molten flames now started shifting, changing into a being of pure hatred, taking the guise of Mephisto. With his new form he casually walked within Diablo’s throne room…
Written by Kyle Letham
I sit and wonder. Was it as he said? I think probably not, objectively speaking.
It was a few months ago now. I'd done it before, so I was a shoe-in for this next, altogether more exciting round. A whole new experience. I had always wondered about these things: if they let a bunch of people play now, wouldn't that spoil the game when it was actually released? But those thoughts were always washed away with the exclusivity of the thing. One of the official posters, Toe-berry, announced that the beta tests would soon be starting, and we should all be sure to have stated our interest to expect an invite at all. Toe-berry, I should clarify, was not his real name - it was Jack South, but he went by a pseudonym, despite his official station. I've always detested the practice - I happen to want what I say to be against my own name, and not some alter-ego. We're not crime fighters, we're just beta-testing a game, and, really, morality is best enforced through accountability, because responsibility is fleeting.
But we were talking about beta-testing. It was not a great experience, in reality, but that didn't matter. It all comes back to the exclusivity: to be picked, specifically you - your opinion sought, and your input required - is a feeling of such exultation. Yes! These are the truths of video gaming, as I proclaim them: that enemy has too much armour! See how he becomes tiresome after too many clicks. This wooden post is clipping - my cape is going right through it! Who among you intended this transgression, that a mere wood post would phase out and become ethereal to the fabric of my garments? You there! Fix it - and get out of my internet.
But did I make an impact? Looking at the finished product, the mob still had too much clicking and the post was still incorporeal. So was that one quest still boring and the other still unfair. Was I ignored? Did they get my feedback? Did other feedback disagree with my feedback? Did the developers disagree? They couldn't have. They don't have the right. I am the consumer - the customer - and the customer is always right. This is my product which I am playing, and hence should be tailored to my desires.
Rifling through opinion sites, I had read whispers of cynicism over the nature of these beta 'tests.' I tended to ignore them, at first, but -
"Hah!" they said. "Diablo 3 beta? Nonsense. Glorified advertisement!"
Such a stark contrast to Toe-berry's original post:
"Citizens of Sanctuary! We call upon you to give us your input. Our scheming Fallen brethren are hard at work getting the last things in place, and we need you to help them! Get picked for our beta tests to get an exclusive look at our latest work and help us make a brand new video-game to boot!"
Blimey. That was the clincher. Ever since I was the littlest of dreaming boys I'd wanted to make a game. No particular goal within that, of course: just make a game. Nobody ever pressed me on it - computer games is far too frivolous a topic for most - so I was left dreaming and ignorant. To this day, I still have no specific skills with which I could make even a bit of a game, but the call of those words was strong nonetheless.
Oh and the disconnects. Woe to them. One could hardly play for ten minutes without a forcible ejection. After a while, a sort of paranoia sets in - Is it just me being booted? Are we mere crash dummies while the Americans give all the feedback? There's an interesting mindset at work here: the exclusivity again rears it's lonely head and brings with it an air of privilege undeserving of a mere beta test. We have been chosen - hand-picked, no doubt, by the very masters of the video-gaming universe - to act as special advisers on just the most important of releases, and every concession must be made to ensure our lasting cooperation. Our connections are of paramount importance, and in no way should be manipulated for any sort of stress testing. Such a thing can be trying for a busy beta tester - and, you know, I've got companies falling over themselves trying to sign me up for their betas. I don't need this.
And it's true: I have, and I don't, but this is a non-sequitur.
So I've sat and I've wondered, and I've concluded that Toe-berry lied. They don't need our help. They just need our cooperation. I was nothing but a pawn in a giant game of advertising chess - a low-cost way of ensuring across-the-board coverage of solid marketing, ready for a strong offensive charge on release day.
But given this grand revelation, will I abstain from further testing? No, of course not. My opinion is sought, and who am I to refuse such a disarming request?