This blog is one that I intended to write for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Unfortunately, I failed to complete all the blogs in the given time-frame. Instead, I spent a lot of time in April completing writing work that was for pay. The challenge itself is over, but I still wanted to write about the topics I selected for it. The difference is I will be doing it on my own timescale.
Q is for Queen Asylla. I have very mixed feelings about how this character is presented in Diablo III and the quests she gives the player.
The player first meets Queen Asylla in the Cursed Hold. Her ghostly form floats over to the player. This poor, dead, woman is holding her head in her hand. I don’t mean that she has put her hands on her face as a sign of worry. No, I mean that her head is no longer attached to her neck. She holds her severed head out toward the player so she can carry on a short conversation.
It is pretty obvious, upon first meeting Queen Asylla, that she died after being beheaded. This confirms the rumor shared by the two women in the Slaughtered Calf Inn in New Tristram. One of them says to the other that she heard that King Leoric had his own wife executed. There was truth to that rumor. She clearly has lost her head, and the player has already defeated the Skeleton King (which is what became of Mad King Leoric).
Queen Asylla: I am Asylla – once queen to our beloved Leoric. My servants and I were consumed by his madness.
Queen Asylla: Now I give you my blessing, champion, to release my people from their eternal torment.
The main purpose of Queen Asylla is to give the player a couple of quests. She provides just enough backstory to make the quest seem like a noble cause. It gives the player a reason to feel like a hero. After all, the player is asked to release her tormented people from their prisons. This puts the player into the position of helping those who are unable to help themselves – something a hero would do. I like how that works in the game.
For whatever reason, Queen Asylla doesn’t have the ability to free her people by herself. She needs the player’s help. I understand that this is necessary, or else the quest line wouldn’t have worked at all. I mean, if Queen Asylla could just go free her people on her own… then she wouldn’t have any reason to hang around and wait for a “champion” to help her do that.
What I don’t understand is why Queen Asylla couldn’t tag along with the player character and help with the quest. By the time a player reaches this point in the game, he or she has seen ample evidence that ghosts can fight. In order to obtain the crown (and take it back to Haedrig) you have to fight the Chancellor (who is a ghost). Lucious the Depraved, the Dataminer, John Gorham Coffin, and Drury Brown are all ghosts that can be found in the Cemetery of the Forsaken. You have to fight (and slay) them as part of the Haunted Achievement.
All these ghosts are very able to fight, so why not Queen Asylla? Is it because she has has to use one hand to hold her head (which might prevent efficient use of a weapon) or is it because she is female? All of those other ghosts are male. This bothers me. (More on this concept in another blog post).
The quest itself, though, is a lot of fun. It reminds me of some parts of the original Diablo game. There you are, running through a prison type dungeon, shooting the bad guys through the bars with your ranged weapon. I played the Rogue a lot in Diablo I specifically because of that tactical advantage. Therefore, I experience a nice sense of nostalgia when working on this part of the game.
Another part that I like about the quest is that is truly is a noble one. You go around freeing the trapped souls of Queen Asylla’s dead people (all of whom are male). There’s his body on the floor over there. Here is his ghost, slowing trudging in a circle of some kind of magic, unable to escape it. Imagine how horrible it would be to have that happen to you! It feels good to finally give these unfortunate souls their release. I like that aspect of this quest, too.
On the other hand, there is a problem. Queen Asylla’s people are very obviously bound to a small space within their cells, held there due to some type of magic. We can clearly see that they are unable to move beyond that circle. Players release the trapped ghosts by removing the spell that makes the circular trap. The ghost is instantly free to go – and quickly disappears.
Queen Asylla was not trapped by a magic circle. She floats out of her cell and directly over the the player immediately after the player enters that part of the game. There isn’t anything holding her back – so why can’t she come along and help fight? It certainly sounds like she desperately wants to free her people, so why can’t she come with the player and help with that task?
Skipping ahead, the player frees the ghosts, fights the monsters, and slays the Warden. Before you can move on to the next section, you have to let a “mini-scene” (again, for lack of a better term) run its course. Yes, I am referring to the part where players are shown Queen Asylla getting beheaded. I hate, hate, HATE, that scene! I activate it and then run away, down the stairs, out of “earshot” and wait to be able to access the exit.
As I have mentioned before, the torture aspects in Diablo III make me nauseated. What happened to Queen Asylla is both physical and emotional torture. She loves her husband Leoric, and is repeatedly telling him so, even after he has put her into the guillotine. This, after spending who knows how much time in a jail cell. King Leoric, however, has gone quite mad, by that point in time. He refuses to believe that his wife loves him. I’m pretty certain that he basically calls her a liar right before he has her killed.
I cannot think of a more vivid example of an abusive husband. It’s disturbing! I know, I know, this dreadful scene was probably put into the game for “horror factor” and to make it abundantly clear that King Leoric really did go stark raving mad. But here’s the thing – we already knew that.
There is plenty of information that is picked up by the player as he or she goes through the game that allows one to come to that conclusion. We just ran through his multi-leveled torture chamber, after all. We fought and killed the Skeleton King long before reaching this part of the game. It’s obvious that the Skeleton King wasn’t “all there” (both mentally and physically). We have heard the gossip of the women in the Slaughtered Calf Inn when one tells the other that she heard that King Leoric had his own wife executed. And, if that wasn’t enough, we have now seen the ghost of Queen Asylla herself, head in hand. The scene with the guillotine is not necessary I truly wish there was a way to opt-out of having to see that ever again. (Oh wait… Adventure Mode… I guess there is an option).
Moving on from the quest line itself, there is something else interesting about Queen Asylla. We know she was married to King Leoric. They had two sons. In game, you can learn that from Queen Asylla’s Journal. It says:
Starved of the sun, I no longer know what day it is. I can hear The Warden, my husband, and that dog Lazarus discussing my fate. My life will be over soon, yet I fear more for my poor Albrecht’s future in the wake of his father’s madness. If only Aiden were here. – Queen Asylla.
Albrecht was the younger son. His future involved getting dragged into the labyrinth below the Cathedral in Tristram by Lazarus. To make a long story short, Diablo possessed Albrecht. Aiden was the older son. He eventually returned to Tristram. He ended up slaying his father (who was now the Skeleton King) and slaying Diablo (who was inside his little brother’s body).
Aiden, as I mentioned in a previous blog, decided the best way to ensure that Diablo’s soul did not escape the cracked soulstone it was trapped in was to jam that thing into his forehead. Not long after that, Aiden meets Adria, who immediately notices that her master, Diablo, is inside Aiden. She has sex with Aiden, becomes pregnant, and gives birth to Leah (who is intended to be a vessel for Diablo).
In other words, Queen Asylla is Leah’s grandmother, and the Mad King Leoric (and therefore, the Skeleton King too), is Leah’s grandfather. Albrecht, had he lived, would have been Leah’s uncle. Such a sad and disturbing family tree!
Sometime after I posted this blog, Diablo III had an update that added a large, new, section to Leoric’s Manor. Players find Queen Asylla there almost immediately after entering. It turns out she left the dungeon after her servants had been freed, and returned to her home.
Queen Asylla appears to be grateful that the player helped her to set her poor, imprisoned, servants free. In return, she guides the player to the correct staircase so they can complete a Bounty or seek out the Tome of Set Dungeons.
Next, Queen Asylla guides players down a hallway.
If you take the time to explore Leoric’s Manor, you can find the ghost of Queen Asylla floating in the air just outside a balcony. She has aimed her head so she can look down about what I think is the ruins of Tristram.
If you enjoyed this blog post please consider supporting me on PayPal.me. Thank you!