Diablo IV takes place many years after the events in the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls expansion. Millions have been slaughtered. Some people (who are part demon and part angel) are still there – trying to survive. It is only a matter of time before an opportunistic and powerful being steps in to take control of it.
Diablo IV: By Three They Come was released at BlizzCon 2019. It provides an intense, and terrifying, look at what to expect in Diablo IV. (At the time I am writing this blog post, Diablo IV has not yet been released.)
Watch the video before reading through this blog post. It contains spoilers of what is in the video.
At the beginning of the video, we hear the voice of someone who sounds like he is praying. It’s hard to make out the words, but it sounds like a chant. Part of it sounds like: “The Eternal Light protects me.”
The camera pans over what looks like an old church or cathedral. It is decrepit and looks to have been abandoned long ago. Four men run across the floor – away from demons that are chasing them. They have no time to notice the pattern on the floor.
The Book of Adria includes several, similar, patterns. She used them to mark the souls of the Lesser Evils and Prime Evils, and to trap them all in the Black Soulstone. None of those designs match the one in the video, though.
In her book, Adria mentions that blood is needed for these rituals. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who played through Diablo III and fought Adria. To get to her, the player must go through an area and fight monsters that are made from Adria’s blood. The room she is in has a giant pool of blood in it.
Three of the four men in the video look rough. We quickly learn that they are there for gold. The other man is very injured and being half-carried by the man who appears to be the leader of the party.
“Blessed Akarat, by eternal light protects me, by divine… ” the injured man says. His voice matches the one at the beginning of the video. The leader tells him that “all the gold we want” is behind that door. The religious man says that he came here for knowledge.
Akarat the Prophet is an influential figure on one of the oldest religions in Sanctuary. The Book of Cain says that Akarat was “a wandering ascetic from the rugged mountain land of Xiansai, north of Kehjistan.”
In short, Akarat had a vision with a “spectacular flash of light and energy cascading across the sky”. Akarat attributed his vision to an angel named Yaerius, or “son of light”. Akarat wrote that humans are “bound together in a spectrum of cosmic radiance that was the foundation of existence itself.”
At some point, Akarat “disappeared into the jungles of Kehijstan, content that he had spread his message to as many others as he could”. Later, the name Zakarum was used to describe those who followed the ideal of Zakara (or the “inner light”). Akarat didn’t name this religion himself – his followers did after he disappeared.
From this, we know that the religious man in the video is a follower of the Zakarum faith. He calls upon Akarat to bless him, believing that he is about to die. He appears to be bleeding heavily, and may be aware that monsters are chasing them. It is reasonable for him to think he is about to die.
I have no idea what kind of demons are chasing these men. I suspect that players will encounter whatever those things are in Diablo IV.
The three rough looking men start to fight the demons, and the religious man is tasked with getting them through the door. To do so, he needs to read the carvings. He stumbles onto the door and says: “Oh, light, help me,” and starts reading it out loud.
“By three they come. By three thy way opens.”
He reads part of a sentence about blood, but kind of mumbles it. Looking down, he sees drops of his own blood falling onto a detailed carving on the floor. It rolls to a circle that has the shape of a hand. There are two others like it. “Blood is the key!” he yells.
He explains to two of the rough looking guys: “It says, the blood of the willing goes…” The Barbarian slams his hand onto one of the circles and starts bleeding. The smaller thief-looking guy does the same. The religious man puts his hand on the original circle, and they manage to open the door.
The three men don’t understand they are enacting a ritual.
The door opens, and the three bleeding men rush through. The religious man wants to help the leader, but the thief holds him back. “He’s dead already.” The Barbarian breaks the chain that holds up the door, and it slams shut.
The three men enter an area with three pillars, and another detailed symbol carved into the floor. The thief throws the religious man into one of the pillars, and demands that he read it.
“By three they come. By three thy way opens. By… the blood of the… willing. Hail!… Hail the… the creator! Hail the daughter of…”
The religious man stops, “Oh no. No, no no.” The thief wants to know where to find the coin. He’s clearly on there for the gold.
“This is forbidden,” the religious man says. “This is a summoning! I cannot speak this!” The thief hits him, and the Barbarian pushes him against one of the pillars, yelling that they came here for treasure.
“What is this place?” the Barbarian demands. The religious man says he doesn’t know. “Maybe it’s a temple. Or a tomb, or…”
“It’s a gate” a mysterious voice says.
They are in what remains of the Temple of the Triune. To make a long story short, the Temple of the Triune (also called the Cult of the Three) was formed by the Prime Evils on Sanctuary for the purpose of enslaving humanity.
People thought they were worshiping three benevolent gods. Dialon was the spirit of determination, represented by a ram. Bala was the spirit of creation, represented by a leaf. Mefis was the spirit of love, represented by a red circle.
But, that was all a lie. The people were unwittingly worshiping the Prime Evils. “Dialon” was really Al’Diablos – Diablo – Lord of Terror. “Bala” was Tor’Baalos – Baal – Lord of Destruction. “Mefis” was Dul’Mephistos, – Mephisto – Lord of Hatred.
When the Temple of the Triune started, it was led by Lucion, son of Mephisto. Later, Lilith, daughter of Mephisto, disguised herself as Lucion and took over
Season 18 in Diablo III was live during BlizzCon 2019. It was called “The Season of the Triune“. It included the Power of the Triune buff, which appeared as three circles.
The Triune of Love (Power) gave players a damage bonus. The Triune of Determination (Resource Reduction) gave players a 50% discount on resources spent. The Triune of Creation (Cooldown reduction) enabled skills that were on cooldown to come off cooldown faster.
Little did we know it, but the entire theme of Season 18 was softly hinting at what players could expect from Diablo IV.
After the mysterious voice speaks, the thief gets quickly pulled away. The camera gives us a view from above, as the Barbarian stands on top of the very detailed design that is carved in the floor between the three pillars.
Things get really disturbing from here. The thief is pulled into the air, bleeding, his bones broken.
“…and blood is the key,” the mysterious voice says.
The leader, who is dead, appears behind the Barbarian. The Barbarian tries to fight him, but ends up thrown to the top of a second pillar, head down.
So, now we have two of the three rough looking guys trapped upside down on pillars. The third dead, but walking around. The religious man is on the floor where the Barbarian dropped him. The circles in the floor start to move as the dead leader walks toward him. The religious man starts praying to Akarat again, as his companions are torn apart.
“From the Abyss,” the mysterious voice says, “We seek thy salvation”.
Let me back up a minute here, for a quick history lesson about Sanctuary. It was created by Inarius, a renegade angel and Lilith, a renegade demon. (I’m leaving out a whole lot of details.) The two recruited additional angels and demons who also wanted to opt-out of the Eternal Conflict.
Lilith and Inarius had a child they named Linarian (which is a combination of the name Inarius and the name Lilith). Linarian was the first Nephalem. Other angels and demons had children together, who were also Nephalem.
According to Diablo Wiki Inarius eventually realized that the Nephalem were too powerful. He saw this as a big mistake, and considered whether to kill them or spare them. Lilith decided to kill the other angels and demons, to prevent them from deciding to harm the Nephalem. When Inarius found out what she did, he was horrified.
He couldn’t bring himself to kill Lilith, so he banished her into the Void, which is also called the Black Abyss. It is an endless empty realm where individuals can be trapped.
“From the Abyss, we seek thy salvation. By three, they come. By three, thy way opens. By the blood of the willing.” The dead leader walks to the center of the carving on the floor, and his appearance changes.
“We call thee home,” the person says. But, who is this guy? Who is he trying to summon from the Abyss? And why does he want to do that?
Let’s back up, again. Linarian, son of Inarius and Lilith, gathered other members of the first generation of Nephalem. After discovering what Lilith did, Inarius went out and started slaughtering the Nephalem. Linarius was not on good terms with either of his parents, and changed his name to Rathma. He became the first necromancer.
Long story short, the remaining Nephalem were getting weaker with each generation. Lilith escaped from the Abyss and returned to Sanctuary – and ended up taking over the Temple of the Triune. Inarius banished her into the Abyss again.
He also banished his son, Rathma, into the same Abyss where Lilith was. My interpretation of this is that mother and son were stuck in the same place at the same time. Perhaps they bonded with each other?
Back to the video! A dead man enters the room and uses powers to put two of his former companions up on pillars. That body changes as the mysterious voice speaks, and reveals the necromancer that was controlling the dead body. That necromancer must be Rathma! No one else on Sanctuary would know where Lilith was or how to bring her back.
The religious man floats towards Rathma, and frantically starts praying. “The Eternal Light protects me.” Rathma says: “There is no light here. You came to the darkness, for knowledge”. He memorizes the religious man, calms him, and uses him to finish the summoning.
“Yes,” the religious man says. Rathma responds, “And all the knowledge you seek is here. Surrender. Speak the words. Call her home.”
The religious man speaks, as he floats to the top of the third pillar. “By three, they come. By three, thy way opens. By the blood of the willing. We call thee home.”
His blood joins that of the other two men. He gets a vision of Lilith’s face.
“Hail! Daughter of Hatred,” the religious man says, as the video shows Lilith forming in a portal made of the blood of the men on the pillars.
The religious man gets a vision of Inarius, chained up in Hell, where Mephisto (Lilith’s father) is torturing him, forever.
He gets a third vision, this time of men in hooded robes facing forward. Behind them is what I think looks like the skull of a horned demon. It might be the the symbol that the Triune used to represent Diablo.
It also looks a lot like the skull Lilith is holding in the statue that was revealed at BlizzCon 2019.
“Creator of Sanctuary,” the religious man says, sounding absolutely terrified. Lilith is starting to come out of the blood portal.
Another vision appears, this one showing fire, buildings that are falling apart, and people that have been attached to tall pikes. It’s not quite a crucifixion scene, but those people are probably dead. The one nearest the viewer has arrows stuck into him.
Is this a vision of what Inarius did to the Nephalem he murdered? Or, is this a vision of what Lilith is planning to do to the people who are currently living on Sanctuary? I have no idea.
“Hail…. Lilith,” the religious man says, with his dying breath, as he watches Lilith reach out of the blood portal to take the hand of Rathma.
As Lilith steps out of the blood portal, Rathma says: “Blessed mother, save us.” Lilith, covered in blood, has returned to Sanctuary. Her son bows before her.
One of the reasons why I think guy is Rathma is because he is the only person who could realistically refer to Lilith as “Blessed Mother”. He is, quite literally, her son. The other reason is because Rathma is a necromancer.
What do necromancers want to do? They want to restore the balance between light and dark, good and evil. Sanctuary is in ruins, after what Malthael and his minions did to it. Rathma needs someone powerful to restore the balance. Lilith seems like the perfect choice, since Lilith has an established history of trying her best to protect the Nephalem.
This makes me wonder. What if Lilith isn’t the “big bad” of Diablo IV after all? What if she is there to save not only Sanctuary itself, but the current generations of Nephalem?
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