Hatred and Discipline is a short story that was released in 2012. It was part of something Blizzard was doing in the days before Diablo III was released. You can read Hatred and Discipline online (or download it as a PDF).
Blizzard revealed each of the five classes of playable characters in Diablo III, one by one, before the release of the game. There was a “Gathering of the Heroes” page (which has since been taken down) where players could watch a class video, and learn more about a specific class.
There was a short story that accompanied the information about each of the classes. Hatred and Discipline focuses on a Demon Hunter named Valla.
The artwork you see in this post came from the Battle.net website. When Hatred and Discipline was posted, it used this artwork (but cropped it so that it focused on the Demon Hunter’s face.
In the short story, Valla is a relatively new Demon Hunter. At the start of the story, Valla is following her mentor, a Demon Hunter named Josen, as they investigate a small town where it appears a demon has slaughtered everyone.
Only, that’s not entirely correct. There are definitely signs that a battle took place between a demon and a Demon Hunter named Delios who appears to have turned evil.
This is a risk that all Demon Hunters face. When a demon looks inside their mind, the Demon Hunter can choose to look back into the demon’s mind. Doing so is dangerous and can lead to madness.
It can also corrupt a Demon Hunter. He or she loses their balance between good and evil, and crosses over to the evil. A turned Demon Hunter becomes “no better than a demon” and cannot be uncorrupted.
It is suspected that this is what happened to Delios. However, what happened to the people who lived in the small town of Holbrook was not something that a Demon Hunter, even one who had become evil, would do. Piles of bodies were laid haphazardly in a storehouse, where they rotted. Valla notices that all the bodies are of adults, and wonders what became of the children.
Valla wants to go after Delios, but Josen refuses to allow her to. He will do that himself. Valla accepts this order, and states that she will go after the demon, then. Josen orders her not to, telling Valla, “You’re not ready.” He reminds her of her recent failure when she, Josen, and Delios, were going after a Rage Demon.
Before Josen leaves Holbrook, he orders Valla to stay there and help search for survivors. This, too, is a task that Demon Hunters regularly take on. They rescue those who survive demon attacks and train them to become Demon Hunters.
Shortly after Josen leaves, Valla decides to go ahead and seek out the demon anyway. She takes a moment to figure out where the demon would likely have gone, gets on her horse, and heads out.
What follows is an adventure as Valla searches for clues about what kind of demon she is facing, where to find it, and what happened to the children. There are small sections of the story from the viewpoint of random townspeople who give the reader clues that Valla does not yet have.
Along the way, Valla remembers when her town was attacked by demons. She grabbed her sister Halissa’s hand and ran. This was shortly before Valla became a Demon Hunter. She thinks of her sister often, carries an etching of her sister in her pocket, and takes the time to write letters to Halissa.
I will leave you to read the short story yourself to find out what happens. It is a creepy, nightmarish, story that fits perfectly into the tone of Diablo III. It gives you a clear idea of what being a Demon Hunter is all about.
Towards the end of the story, there is a reference to a star falling from the sky. Players of Diablo III will recognize this as something that happens at the beginning of the game. Hatred and Discipline makes it clear that Valla is the female Demon Hunter in Diablo III. Later, after Heroes of the Storm was released, Valla crossed through the Nexus and became a playable character in that game, too.