What happened to Leah’s soul after we killed Diablo at the end of Act IV in Diablo III? There are no clear answers to this question. We can only speculate on where Leah’s soul went. That being said, we can also figure out some places where we know Leah’s soul couldn’t possibly have ended up.
For whatever reason, I seem to be haunted by Leah’s soul this week. I decided to share my thoughts on Leah’s soul mostly to get this stuff out of my head and into a blog post. Again, I’d like to point out that some of these thoughts are speculation and not “canon”.
Isn’t Leah’s soul mixed with Diablo’s?
My original impression was that Leah never had a soul of her own. Her mother, Adria, got pregnant from Aiden, who just so happened to have a cracked soulstone jammed into his forehead that contained Diablo. From the moment of conception, Leah was entwined with Diablo. I’m not sure that leaves room for her to have a soul of her own.
We have examples in-game (and in lore) where Diablo possessed someone. In every case, that person existed long before Diablo possessed them. Not so with Leah. In this way, she is completely unlike any other character in the “Diablo universe”.
At the same time, it is clear that Leah is not simply Diablo in disguise. She was abandoned by her mother at a young age, and never knew her father. For her entire life, Leah has been wondering why her mother left her. What was more important than raising her daughter? Even after bonding with her “Uncle” Deckard Cain, Leah still desperately wants to have her mother in her life.
When Adria returns, Leah honestly believes that her mother was off doing something noble – marking the souls of the greater and lesser evils – and that’s why she couldn’t take young Leah with her. Anyone who has played through Act IV in Diablo III knows that wasn’t really want Adria was doing. But, Leah needs to believe that her mother loves her. She convinces herself that her mother was protecting her by not taking her along on a dangerous task.
This certainly doesn’t sound like something Diablo himself would feel. He made some kind of pact with Adria, but he doesn’t actually need her anymore. He’s the Lord of Terror, and there really isn’t anything terrifying about pretending to be a little girl who wants her mom. This indicates that there is something in Leah that actually is her own self.
Could that part be Leah’s soul? I guess so. But, I’m not entirely convinced that Leah’s soul is not at least a little bit meshed with Diablo’s soul. Leah’s other father, Aiden, went mad from having Diablo’s soul in his head. Those that share a body with Diablo don’t stay entirely themselves for very long.
Could Leah have a soul all her own?
Tyrael certainly seems to think that Leah has a soul of her own. The above screenshot comes from Act IV right before the player character is about to fight Diablo. By this point, the player has gotten to know who Leah is, and has even done some adventuring with her in the party. The player watched Leah get “possessed” by Diablo, saw Leah’s body start to resemble a zombie, and watched a cinematic where “femme Diablo” fights with Imperius.
Tyrael: I fear that if we defeat Diablo, Leah’s innocent spirit will die with him…
This brings up an interesting question. Did Leah die when Diablo finally took over her body? Or, was Leah’s soul, her spirit, her consciousness, stuck inside “femme Diablo” the whole time that Diablo was fighting Imperius, wreaking havoc on the high heavens, and battling the player character?
Tyrael doesn’t know the answer to that question. He’s conflicted. It’s obvious that there is no choice other than to have the Hero fight and slay Diablo. He’s also worried that whatever remains of Leah’s soul will die when the body of “femme Diablo” does. The player kills Diablo, and absolutely nothing happens that gives any clue about whether or not Leah’s soul survived.
There’s a lot that isn’t clear. Was Leah’s soul still in “femme Diablo”? Did Leah’s soul “die” when Diablo completely took over her body? Where did her soul go, if it wasn’t locked inside “femme Diablo”?
Is this Leah’s soul?
In Act IV, the player has to run through what’s left of the High Heavens. It has become corrupted, is blackened in places, and overrun with demons. Play through this part of the game, and you run into the spirits of familiar characters who have died during the course of the story line that exists in the game. One of them is Leah.
Leah: How does it feel? Knowing you helped me become the Prime Evil? For all your mighty deeds, all you really accomplished was unleashing me upon the world. Some savior you are, nephalem.
Although this spirit appears to be Leah’s soul, it actually isn’t. Seconds after taunting the player, this spirit reveals its true self. It’s the Aspect of Terror, Diablo’s Herald. If you’ve been paying attention to the dialogue in the game, then you already know this.
It is my understanding that a whole lot of people prefer to zoom through the game and ignore the story aspect, so this part of my blog post is here for them. I’m also putting this in for those who mostly play in Adventure Mode, which removes quite a bit of the story parts of the game.
The Aspect of Terror, of course, immediately tries to kill the player (and Tyrael, and whichever Follower is in the party). The spirit wasn’t Leah. It wasn’t her soul. Instead, it was Diablo’s Herald, who was there to confuse and slow down the player character. Diablo’s Herald pretends to be Leah, and then has her say things that match the Hero player character’s biggest fears.
Where could Leah’s soul be?
We know that Leah’s soul wasn’t wandering the High Heavens moments before the player killed Diablo. Let’s assume that Leah’s soul not only survived that battle, but also managed to extract itself from Diablo’s soul when “femme Diablo” was slain. Where could her soul have ended up?
Could her soul be wandering around the High Heavens now (after it started healing)? Most of the ghosts in Diablo III are located near where their bodies have been buried. Queen Asylla’s ghost, however, stays in the cell she was imprisoned in before she was beheaded by her husband. If we assume that ghosts and souls are the same – then there is potential that Leah’s soul is somewhere in the High Heavens.
Matthew Rossi wrote a post at Blizzard Watch about things that might be included in the next Diablo expansion. I highly recommend you read it. Not only does he come up with some very interesting ideas, he’s also a great writer.
One of the ideas he mentions involves Leah. Rossi speculates about where Leah’s soul may have ended up. Could her soul be trapped somewhere in the Burning Hells? (I’ll leave you to go over and read what he wrote about how this concept could be played out in an expansion).
I think this idea has potential, especially if Leah’s soul and Diablo’s soul are as entwined as I suspect that they are. Dead Demons go back to The Burning Hells to be reborn. Was Leah’s soul corrupted enough to count as a demon? Would her soul automatically go there since it was …. well, more “demon” than the typical human who lives in Sanctuary?
What if Leah “died” the moment that Adria helped Diablo take over Leah’s body? If that’s the case, then it’s possible that Leah’s soul is wandering around at the top of Bastion’s Keep. As I mentioned earlier, many ghosts in the “Diablo universe” have a tendency to hang around nearby where their body was buried. Maybe Leah’s soul is staying near the spot where her body died.
I love seeing speculation on Diablo lore. The Diablo universe is my favorite of all of Blizzard’s IPs and the one I am most familiar with. Let me try and fill in some of the gaps here so that we can try and figure our where Leah fits into all this.
What exactly is Leah? Does she have a soul?
I’ll answer the latter part first; yes, she most certainly does have a soul all of her own. How can I be so sure of this? Leah, like the rest of humanity, is a nephalem herself, she just so happens to have one of the Prime Evils as her father. She’s ‘merely’ the daughter of Diablo, not some empty proxy. Her existence, however, was planned from the beginning to serve as a vessel for Diablo’s soul once his minions collected all the other Primes and Lessers within the Black Soulstone. This vessel would need to be powerful to be able to contain the energies collected within the Soulstone, but it would also need to be easy for Diablo to corrupt and control. What better way to ensure that than to use your own offspring? While Leah has her own soul and an individual being of her own will, her destiny was on the path of damnation from the very beginning.
What happened to Leah’s soul?
This one will require a little bit of speculation, but we can look to the rest of her family for some insight. Leoric is Leah’s grandfather and one of the first beings to be corrupted by Diablo. Even though Leoric’s will was strong enough to fight off Diablo’s control, he was still corrupted wholly and his soul forever damned for the maligned spirit it became due to Diablo’s influence. Aidan, Leah’s father, was tormented by Diablo after he plunged the Soulstone into his forehead at the end of Diablo I. Diablo was much stronger now than when he was attempting to possess Leoric and was able to corrupt Aidan completely. While wandering through Tal Rasha’s tomb in the Aranoch Desert, Aidan lost his battle of wills with Diablo and Diablo took complete control over his body. But what happened to Aidan’s soul?
Cain wrote about this in the Book of Cain after witnessing the final battle between the heroes of D2 and Diablo. Cain felt he could sense a small part of Aidan’s soul still residing within Diablo’s body and was fighting him from within while the heroes fought him from without. After Diablo’s defeat in D2 he reverted back into Aidan’s mortal form and the heroes provided him with a ceremonial burial in a lake of fire to honor him in the hope that some part of soul was still intact. This gives us a lot of hope that Leah’s soul may have survived in some way after Diablo’s possession. This is especially true when we look to Tyrael’s and the Nephalem’s comments at the end of A4. While each hero gives their own response, they are all pretty certain that Leah’s soul is still in there somewhere fighting back against Diablo’s corruption.
While we don’t know what happened to either Leah or Aidan’s souls after Diablo’s defeats, if Leoric’s example is any evidence they both may very well be suffering in torment. This question gets even more convoluted by Malthael’s meddling.
Malthael was pulling all of the souls of the entirety of human existence into the Black Soulstone and consuming their power into himself. Countless generations of souls were completely lost in Malthael’s hunger for power while he was completely consuming their essence. While Diablo and the other Evils had corrupted countless human souls throughout history, Malthael was completely erasing souls from existence in his lust to finally end the Eternal Conflict. Could Leah’s soul have been one of those that was consumed? Could her soul have been pulled into Pandemonium by the Black Soulstone, but is now lost in limbo? It’s very hard to say, but I’m sure the writers for Team 3 have something in store for Leah in the future. It’s one of the last few plot threads left from the original D3 that weren’t answered in Reaper of Souls and that makes me pretty certain Leah is still going to factor into the future of Diablo III’s story in a big way.
Thank you for your comment! I don’t mind “verbose” comments at all when they are totally on topic and as interesting as what you wrote. I, too, love speculation on Diablo lore. I never quite got into that with WoW lore, but there’s just something about the “Diablo universe” that I find consistently compelling.
I’m gonna respond piece by piece. Some of what you pointed out is stuff that I’ve written about before. I never assume that anyone has read any of my previous blogs, though. So, I’m gonna link to some previous work as shorthand for “you and I are of the same mind on that topic”.
The part you wrote about Adria, and Leah being a vessel for Diablo – Agreed. I wrote about that in a post titled: “Diablo III: The Lore of Adria http://www.nomarket.org/diablo-iii-the-lore-of-adria/ (I also covered that post in a “Jen’s Lore Corner” on a recent episode of Shattered Soulstone).
Leoric is Leah’s grandfather – agreed. I drew up her family tree in a blog post titled “Diablo III: Leah’s Family Tree” http://www.nomarket.org/diablo-iii-leahs-family-tree/
Here’s the part that you wrote that I did not take into account when I wrote this blog post (the one we are commenting on right now): The paragraph where you mention The Book of Cain and the D2 stuff – I now remember reading that part of The Book of Cain – but completely forgot about it. I’ve never played through D2, and seem to have a “gap” in my understanding of the lore that connects to it.
You bring up a good point. Cain felt he could detect a small part of Aiden’s soul residing in Diablo’s body. So, between Cain noticing that about Aiden, and Tyrael suspecting that about Leah… Ok, that does make a compelling argument that Leah not only has a soul but that it could have still been trapped inside “femme Diablo” after Diablo took over Leah’s body. (Or, that at least some small part of her soul could have been in there.) You’ve convinced me that Leah has her own soul. It matches with what happened with Aiden. There is precedent.
Your last paragraphs are also very interesting – in terms of what could appear in an upcoming expansion. Could the next expansion involve the Hero/player character fighting through Pandemonium to get to the “limbo” place where Leah’s soul is trapped? Or, maybe “limbo” would be a brand new area accessed by….. I have no idea.
That being said, I don’t really dig the idea of an expansion that boils down to a “save the princess” kind of ultimate quest. So far, Diablo III had the player seeking the Fallen Star, and then fighting Diablo as the “Big Bad”. RoS had the player seeking out Malthael to put a stop to what he was doing. If a new expansion is a “save the princess” thing, I’m gonna feel icky about it.
Leah is a fascinating character, with a ton of backstory and lore. (Much of which can be found in Diablo III: Book of Cain by Nate Kenyon). She deserves more than turning into yet another female character in a video game that is helpless to save herself – and is little more than a “goal” for the player character to aim towards. I would need a better story than that.
I think Team 3 is going to have to be careful with how they bring Leah back (assuming, of course, they have any intention of doing so). I remember the D3 people at Blizzcon (forget if it was 2013 or 2014) responding to audience questions about “When are you bringing Cain back?” They said something to the effect of that if they brought Cain back it would make his death meaningless. Could they be using this same line of thinking in reference to whether or not they should bring Leah back? I don’t know.
Speculation about D3 stuff is fun, though. 🙂
Agreed. I’m sure they can do better than the princess in a castle troupe. What if Leah’s soul is what gives us guidance hunting down fragments of the Black Soulstone to try and break the Prime Evil back into it’s separate entities? There is a lot of possibilities there.
I doubt Leah will take front and center for any future content, but be some sort of supporting role to our nephalem in the fight against whatever big bad is coming for us this time. Diablo again, but this time he brings literally ALL of Hell? Hell and Heaven invading at the same time? A rival nephalem that wants complete power? Tathamet reborn? Anu awakened? So many possibilities.
I found the fate of Leah heartbreaking. I am glad to find someone take the time to focus on a big piece of the lore. I hope she comes back. Evil or not.
Thank you for your comment, Yered Woods! I am happy that you enjoyed that blog post about Leah.
I’m not sure if she will come back or not. But if she does, it will be interesting to see what she is like after returning to Sanctuary.