This blog is part of the series I am writing for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. The goal is to write one blog that matches up to each letter of the alphabet. You are supposed to post every blog on the correct day, and to keep up as the month of April goes along. I am a few hours behind where I should be, but I am not giving up yet.
People who are participating in this challenge can choose whatever topics they want to write about. As long as they can find way to make their topic fit with the letter of the day, it’s all good. I have decided to write all of my blogs for this challenge about Diablo III (and the “universe” it exists in).
M is for Malthael, the “big bad” of the Reaper of Souls expansion. (Note, there are some “spoilers” here).
Malthael was once the Archangel of Wisdom. He was part of the Angiris Council, the “Supreme Court” of angels (so to speak). He was known as “the silent angel” because he rarely spoke. It makes sense that the embodiment of Wisdom would choose his words carefully, and only share them after research and a whole lot of serious contemplation had occurred. Malthael was the only angel who abstained from voting when the Angeris Council was deciding whether or not to destroy the nephalem. It would have been unwise to cast a vote without having enough data to base a decision on.
Unlike Imperius, Malthael was slow to anger. Even so, Malthael was a proficient fighter against the demons in the Eternal Conflict. He was very in tune with the nature of all things, and this allowed him to easily deflect enemy attacks.
Where did his wisdom come from? There is a vessel called Chalad’ar, the Chalice of Wisdom. Malthael spent a lot of time gazing into it. The Chalice contained “living light”. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the angels are made up of a sound wave and a beam of light. I’m guessing that the “living light” would also be connected to the Crystal Arch that all angels originate from. By looking into the Chalice, Malthael could see a web that showed how all things were connected.
Malthael’s domain in the High Heavens was an area called the Pools of Wisdom. It is suspected that these pools are where he fills Chalad’ar, the Chalice of Wisdom, from. The pools do not contain water. Instead, they hold every emotion that any sentient being in the universe has ever expressed. These pools are “deep” in a way that a swimming pool could never be.
Over time, Malthael began to grow darker. Perhaps it was some type of “side effect” that happened as a result of focusing so hard on the “pools of mixed emotions” for so long. It is also suspected that Malthael’s mood changed after he learned about the existence of the nephalem. In short, he kind of went “Emo” for a while, ran away, and was not heard from for a long time.
Malthael’s return occurs in between Act IV of Diablo III and Act V (which is the Reaper of Souls expansion). The cinematic that the expansion starts with explains what happened when the former Archangel of Wisdom returned.
Malthael has become the “Angel of Death”, so to speak. He swoops in, beheads two men, steals the soul from another, and beats up Tyrael (who is now mortal.) He also steals the Black Soulstone, which contains the soul of Diablo (and others). None of these actions sound like something that a “good” character would do.
Yet, El’druin, Tyrael’s sword, goes right through Malthael without causing him any damage. It has been established that El’druin cannot harm anyone whose actions are Just. Malthael is unharmed, and that indicates that he is not acting unjustly. That may seem confusing. How could stealing people’s souls be an act that is on the right side of Justice?
To understand, you have to throw away the idea that all angels are “good”. They are not. They aren’t “evil”, either. Instead, angels are all about order. The demons, on the other hand, thrive on chaos. Concepts of “good” and “evil” are mostly grey areas in the Diablo “universe”.
The way I see it, Malthael’s actions are completely just (even though we don’t approve of them.) The nephalem are not exactly “human”. They are part angel and part demon (more on the nephalem in an upcoming blog). Malthael knows this, Tyrael knows this, all the angels and demons know it. This means they have the potential for order and chaos. They can help each other in wonderful ways, and torture their brethren to death. Each nephalem has the ability to make his or her own choices about which way to go.
That’s the problem. The nephalem have the capacity for chaos. Nothing is stopping them from choosing that route. It is possible that a certain amount of nephalem will decide to focus on chaos and side with the demons of the Burning Hells. That might tip the balance in the Eternal Conflict towards the demons. Of course, the opposite is also true. Maybe the majority of nephalem will side with order, and tip things in favor of the angels of the High Heavens.
There is no way to know, and no way to control the outcome. Malthael realizes this. As an angel (even as one that has “lost it”) he is still focused on order. He believes that the way to restore order is to rip the demon “parts” of the nephalem right out of their souls.
Obviously, this is going to result in the extinction of all nephalem. No one can argue that the termination of an entire people is a “good” thing – it’s obviously a horrible thing.
Keep in mind, though, that Sanctuary is not equivalent to Earth. The nephalem were never meant to exist in the first place. In the Diablo “universe” the nephalem truly are abominations.
Malthael realizes that the only way to prevent the power of the nephalem from tipping the Eternal Conflict in favor of the demons is to destroy them. In doing so, he would be restoring order. It would put the “universe” right back to where things were before the Sin War (and before the nephalem existed.) In a way, Malthael’s efforts to terminate the nephalem can be seen as protecting the angels. He’s removing a potential weapon before it can be used against them. His actions are just.
His other motivation has to do with the Eternal Conflict. Right now, the souls of Diablo (and others) are trapped in the Black Soulstone. Malthael takes it because he wants to ensure that the demon lords do not escape. The strongest demons are trapped. This means that the angels of the High Heavens have a unique opportunity to end the Eternal Conflict. They have the best chance they’ve ever had to overpower the demons of the Burning Hells. They have the “upper hand”.
That could change if the nephalem side with chaos. Malthael, former Archangel of Wisdom, must realize that the opportunity to finally end the Eternal Conflict will not last forever. He had taken it upon himself to ensure that the angels win and that the war ends. The “Angel of Death” wants to end the war that has been going on for millennia. Those whose actions are motivated by a desire for peace can be described as acting on the side of Justice. Malthael’s methods are incredibly destructive, but his motivations are just. This is why El’druin slides right through him without causing harm.
Why doesn’t Malthael take Tyrael’s soul? After all, Tyrael has become mortal (with a mortal soul). The reason is simple. Malthael is interested in destroying the demon parts of the souls of the nephalem. When he “tastes” Tyrael’s soul, he discovers that Tyrael doesn’t have any demon in him. He’s not an angel, he’s not a nephalem, and he’s not a demon. Malthael has no use for him. It would have been entirely possible for Malthael to kill Tyrael. Instead, he throws him across the room and leaves him on the floor. To kill a former “brother” would have been unjust. To destroy a being that is zero percent demon would not have served the cause of ending the Eternal Conflict.