Demons, Angels and the In-between, Part 2

Just to refresh, the previous part in this installment covered sealing up what had directly happened during Diablo III, with a primary focus on demons, the Black Soulstone and Adria. This time around, I will turn the focus on the other end of the scale: The Angels, specifically those in the Angiris Council. Helping me is everyone’s favorite prophecy: “The End of Days”. But we averted that one by defeating Diablo, did we not? We did finally kill him, did we not? The Angels are happy about it, right? Did the prophecy really get averted, or has it only just started?

With that, let us take a look at the Angels, and try to figure out their role in the future of the franchise. Suffice to say, there’s plenty of things open for discussion and theorizing. And, as always, there are spoilers in the post – so if you have not played through the game (nor read the previous post), go and do those things first.

Angels: Is the New Dawn Looking Bright?
Before getting completely started on looking on the angels in detail, allow me to first post the full “End of Days” prophecy, so that it can be read in its entirety. I feel it is important to show which parts of it we – in my opinion – are meant to get as the developers intended, and which parts could be twisted even further – or simply have entirely different meanings from what we thought.

…And, at the End of Days, Wisdom shall be lost
as Justice falls upon the world of men.
Valor shall turn to Wrath –
and all Hope will be swallowed by Despair.
Death, at last, shall spread its wings over all –
as Fate lies shattered forever.

It is quite obvious that the meaning of the first two lines is that Malthael, Archangel of Wisdom, gets lost after the destruction of the Worldstone, and that Tyrael, Archangel of Justice, falls from High Heavens as the Fallen Star.

This is where it splits, as most of these can be explained through things happening in the rest of the game. It is obvious that Imperius is angry whenever we meet him, and likewise obvious that Auriel, Archangel of Hope, is almost devoured by the Rakanoth, the Lord of Despair. This is the point where we apparently break the prophecy, thus avoiding the united forces of the Burning Hells – that is, Death – to crush the heavens, and leaving the last Archangel – Ithereal, Archangel of Fate – broken and beaten. But no, there’s more to it than that.

Imperius: From Valor to Wrath
The first – and primary – focus to look at here, is naturally the Archangel of Valor. It has been a long coming, ever so subtle. From the prophecy, we heard that “Valor turns to Wrath”. Most people probably remember the awesome animated short revealed just before the release of the game, as the grand finale of the promotion site. The name? Naturally Blizzard had to taunt us ever so slightly by calling it something as simple as “Wrath”. Besides the all too obvious connection between that title, the End of Days prophecy, and the incredibly strong focus on Imperius, there are still quite a few subtle clues that can be used to heavily underline the coming fate of Imperius. The first of these signs comes when Imperius faces Diablo alone… apparently for the first time.

Wrath Transcript – 3:20
Diablo: “Your rage makes you powerful, yet you hide it from your brethren.”
Diablo: “Perhaps you fear them seeing you for what you truly are.”
Imperius: “I FEAR NOTHING!”

We quickly get the idea that Diablo is obviously taunting him, by calling him afraid – which directly contradicts his whole being of valor. While that might also be true, it is not exactly what Diablo hints at. He had most likely suspected what would happen if he added a twist to Imperius’ increasingly bold acts of valor, causing his zeal to slowly turn into pure, reckless wrath. Somehow, Imperius has kept this hidden from the rest of the angels, and Diablo is doing his best to get the wrath to manifest even further. It is also very much worth it to mention the fact that Imperius is wounded by Diablo. We do not know if this is the first time this has happened, but being as this is obviously first time they have faced off alone, it would make sense. The wound is important, as this could potentially spark a corruption in Imperius, further hastening the transition.

Wrath Transcript – 4:00
Imperius: “This was your trap, Diablo. Pitiful!”
Diablo: “Yet, here you all are.”

At this point, the other Archangels has caught up to Imperius. While the above could be understood as a simple gesture of Diablo getting all the angels where he wanted them to crush them, I believe the truth is much more subtle – Diablo simply wanted, as mentioned above, the other Archangels to experience Imperius’ change of character – nothing else. He knew that Imperius would not be able to hold back, and destroy him rather than letting him be captured – even though they all know that he would eventually resurface.

Wrath Transcript – 5:00
Auriel: “Sacrilege.”
Diablo: “So much for your unity. The trap, at last, has sprung.”
Deckard Cain: “Angels. Demons. I fear their conflict will soon engulf the world of man, and when it does, what hope will there be, when even the wrath of angels cannot be quenched?”

At this point, everything becomes fairly obvious. The unity that made the Angiris Council so very strong was broken, and everything has not exactly been going great since then. While it is not entirely clear when these events takes place, it seems fairly obvious that it is before the Horadrim is tasked with catching the Prime Evils, rather than the Angiris Council doing it themselves. Furthermore, I found Auriel’s comment to be noteworthy to add in this part, as it can be seen both as a playful “oh well…”-type of comment, or the much more actual serious meaning of the word.

It is also important to mention that Imperius was further wounded – and hence, probably further tainted as well – by Diablo in their confrontation at the Crystal Gates, during the game. This time the wound was also far more critical than before. Not only was the first one a deep scratch, but this actually had Diablo lifting him from the ground for quite a while, penetrating his “stomach”. One would expect more serious potential corruption coming from that.

Now, the last thing I want to bring forth concerning Imperius, is a short nod all the way back to the first Diablo game. Remember the quest “Valor“? The one start starts from reading a book with the text “… And so, locked beyond the Gateway of Blood and past the Hall of Fire, Valor awaits for the Hero of Light to awaken…”? Take a brief moment to look through the Wrath movie again, from 2:39 and onwards: Imperius flies through blood-red tunnels and ends up in a hall with fiery torches, where “Terror awaits for the Hero of Light to awaken” – or “Wrath of Valor”, so to speak. This might be grasping at straws, but remember who actually ends up wearing Arkaine’s Valor: Aidan, resulting in Diablo essentially wearing the skin of Valor. With all the indications that Diablo’s corruption is making Imperius turning bad, this could very well be a subtle clue. Either way, it is quite unclear how that armor ended up below Tristram in the first place, and why it is protected with blood and fire – and who Arkaine really was. Maybe Imperius chose to go rogue with the demon-killing, or it might just be a big coincidence… but that is no fun, is it?

Malthael: The Wisdom of Death
As mentioned in the start, Malthael is yet to be shown at all in the game. He gets mentioned in one of the lore books, but not really in a special way, as there is one for each of the angels. However, he has been given quite a special spot in the lore, as he apparently disappeared after the Worldstone was destroyed, but why is this mentioned – and the character created – when he is not present at all? It does not really help with the mystery of it all that, when Tyrael steps back into the Angiris Council, he declares himself the new Archangel of Wisdom, completely sealing the deal with Malthael’s disappearance – or simply signifying that he will surely show up in a form much different from Wisdom.

In that relation, it is worth mentioning that he was a close friend of Imperius, and has – like him – been turning more grim, although much more visibly. Not only that, but Blizzard even took it as far as to describe him as something closely resembling Death, by using double scythes and black armor. Looking at the End of Days, the sentence “Death, at last, shall spread its wings over all.” gets a completely new twist. After all, Diablo doesn’t have wings…

And All the Rest…
Three angels remain that deserves a mention, but there is not really much to say about them. It is quite hard to make out anything for Auriel’s future fate, as it would seem she has played her role in the larger plot, and will probably stick around as the hope she represents. Still, it bad things could still happen, but I do not feel enough clues has been given to give a real guess – at least until concluding this post.

Itherael, on the other hand, has a much darker fate ahead – in every way that could be interpreted. The reason lies with the very ominous part, that concludes the End of Days prophecy: “As Fate lies shattered forever”. The thing is, we know the Ithereal’s powers lies with being able to see the future – but his powers were limited in such a way that he could not foresee the Nephalem-side of things. If, however, a demon threatened to invade, he would know before it happened. Or, if an angel would go rogue, then… I’m sure you can follow my line of thought from here. It would be of the uttermost importance to Imperius and/or Malthael that if they were to fulfill any kind of evil master plan, then they would have to deal with Itherael one way or the other, as he would ultimately be their Achilles’ heel. As such… he will have to be dealt with – and lie shattered forever. To further add to this, the Book of Cain also reveals that “(…) the writings tell us that he has never shared with Imperius his views on the ultimate fate of the never-ending war between the Heavens and the Hells.”. Interesting, to say the least.

Lastly we have Inarius. Most might be wondering who exactly he is, so let me bring you up to speed really quick: He was the angel that initially coupled up with Lilith to birth the first Nephalem, and later act as an entity called “The Prophet”, and a major figure in the Sin War. However, this conflict ended with him being sent to Mephisto’s custody to be tortured for all eternity – and that is the last mention there has officially been of him. What some people, however, do find interesting is that the Enchantress also mentions a Prophet, that was responsible for her 1500 year-long slumber. While the name is correct – and there is a few angelic connections to be found when following her story throughout Act IV – there is two major fatal flaws involved with the idea. Even if it was, in fact, Inarius who was behind it, his last point of being officially present in Sanctuary was during the Sin War: 3000 years ago. So, basically, in case it was Inarius, Blizzard missed by 1500 years – which also fits perfectly with the time of the Mage Clan Wars, which seems a lot more fitting for the Enchantress as a class – and a lot of the background story in general. As a last thing, aiding the Nephalem in achieving supremacy goes against everything Inarius wanted: to control Sanctuary, and have the world be in his image.

To completely seal the deal with using Inarius, much of the same reasoning as with Lilith can be used. If Blizzard decided to use one of them, they would not simply retort to use one of them – and we do not really need to revisit every single part of the lore. Finally, I also feel that the Nephalem-aspect of the story has been used enough – and seeing as those two have been a primary driving force behind the Sin War, the deserve the time to rest behind the scenes.

Spreading the Wings and Sealing the Deal:
Time to sum up. We still have to make all this new information work with the disappearing of Adria, The Black Soulstone and all that, so let us see what major new questions remains to be answered.

  • Did Imperius get corrupted by Diablo, and will we see his Wrath soon?
  • What will happen with Itherael and Auriel?
  • Where in the World is Malthael?

My theory for wrapping everything up here builds on the premise that should an archangel die, a new one will sprout from the Crystal Arch, much in the same way as any Prime Evil will return from the Abyss upon being slain. For some reason, I’ve been unable to get it completely confirmed, but when thinking about it, it makes sense to have things be like that, so that the battle between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells would continue forever. Maybe the reason it is unclear, is because there has not been a recorded incident of an Archangel actually dying – and for some reason it was also used as an argument as to conclude that Malthael was lost, not dead. But, in the end, I believe this was exactly what happened that brought Tyrael back after shattering the Worldstone in Diablo II, and thus being “lost” for around 20 years. After all, Baal’s essence was brought back in the Abyss, to be part of the Prime Evil, and it is to be expected that the damage Tyrael took was at least as great as what the lingering essence of Baal took. Also worth to notice, is that by discarding his wings, Tyrael became mortal. From this, it can be directly implied that angels are immortal, which would fit perfectly with being “recreated” from the Crystal Arch upon falling in battle or otherwise destroyed.

Now, if all of the above applies, then it will prove to be a tough task to defeat Imperius and/or Malthael. This is where the Black Soulstone comes back into play – for one very specific point. While the obvious use of the Soulstones were to contain demons, the Black Soulstone can also contain angels, according to the Book of Cain. So, if we follow the general logic of it being impossible of good existing without evil, and that these two powers must always be in balance – then the Black Soulstone becomes a very interesting device in sealing the whole deal, and bringing balance to a world that has always focused on just that.

So, rather than giving a highly condensed version of the updated plot, and attempt to tie all the loose ends, here is a list of things I expect to happen, now that the Angels have entered the fray:

  • The Black Soulstone was not destroyed, and will be used towards the Archangels. We spend time to recover it, and defeat Adria meanwhile.
  • Malthael returns – potentially as the Archangel of Death – dedicated to bringing balance to the world, and will probably choose to become mortal like Tyrael.
  • Imperius’ Wrath is finally unleashed, his endgame being to destroy all of mankind. We end up finishing him.
  • Itherael will be slain, most likely by either Malthael or Imperius, as he is a danger to their plans.
  • Auriel will choose to give herself up for the greater good, seeing the Hope in the plan.

Would it be a lazy approach to list it in bullet-points? Certainly not, seeing as there is only a few pieces left to take into consideration. Needless to say, it has gotten slightly messy. The last post will deal with the “In-between”, which should straighten out everything. The repeated mentions of balance should serve as enough hints as to which aspect is still missing. Stay tuned!

EDIT: The third – and final post – is now finally up!

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