“For as long as man fears the dark, Diablo will remain the most insidious and, I would argue, the most powerful of all the Evils.”- Deckard Cain
A Prime Evil. The Lord of Terror. Diablo.
Of all of the denizens of the Burning Hells, Diablo is perhaps the most prominent figure to spread Evil among mankind. Diablo is cunning, patient, and of course, terrifying. Let’s take an in depth look at the man…umm, demon…himself. But before we do, let’s go over a brief review of the legendary world which Diablo is a part of.
Since the beginning, the angels of the High Heavens and the demons of the Burning Hells have waged war against one another. This war has become known as The Eternal Conflict and all strife between these two forces fall under it. Seeking refugee from the constant conflict, the angel Inarius and the demon Lilith, using the Worldstone, created the world of Sanctuary. Eventually, the first humans, called the Nephalem, were also created. After many wars and tumultuous events, the world of Sanctuary was left to humanity.
Diablo and his two brothers, Baal and Mephisto, are together known as the Prime Evils. Wishing to use the inhabitants of Sanctuary for their own ends, the Prime Evils have attacked or subverted or manipulated humanity to serve their own ends for years. The angel Tyrael has helped humanity in its fight against the Prime Evils, and it is this struggle between the nephalem and humanity versus the evil of the Burning Hells that forms the backdrop to the story of Diablo.
Within the Burning Hells, there exists a hierarchy. There are three Prime Evils and four Lesser Evils. Diablo is by far the most insidious of the three Prime Evils and perhaps the most understood, thanks to his many attempts at corrupting and attacking humanity. We owe most of what we know about him to the efforts of Deckard Cain, but his is a story for another time.
Considered the youngest of the three brothers, Diablo uses his ability to terrorize his victims and cause them great pain, anguish, even death. By being able to read the minds of his prey, he is able to use their own worst fears against them. It is their fear, the simple act of man faced with his most primordial weakness, and the terror that it causes them that Diablo derives the most pleasure from.
Diablo has sought to influence humanity on many occasions. He infected the dreams of the Archbishop Lazarus by poisoning his mind. The Archbishop would, in turn, find and free Diablo from his imprisonment within his soulstone. Diablo went on to corrupt King Leoric of Khanduras, who later made his seat of power in the cathedral of Tristram. Diablo continued his reign of horror by possessing the King’s son, Albrecht. Spawning many demons and taking physical form, Diablo empowered himself on the terror and fear that the good people of Tristram suffered.
Eventually, heroes would descend into the depths of the cathedral to defeat Diablo. A warrior named Aidan placed a shard of Diablo’s soulstone into his skull, thereby containing the demon. For a while, at least. Aidan would become the Dark Wanderer and would eventually succumb to the soul of Diablo trapped within him. As the Dark Wanderer, Diablo sought to free his brothers. He descended into the Burning Hells to exact vengeance upon the Lesser Evils for defeating the Prime Evil’s in a demonic civil war known as the Sin War. Diablo would once again be defeated by mighty heroes in Hell itself, with Diablo once again imprisoned with the soulstone.
But Diablo was not yet undone.
As the Dark Wanderer, Aidan met a witch named Adria who recognized the evil of Diablo in him. She swore herself to Aidan (and Diablo) and bore Aidan’s child, Leah, in the city of Caldeum. Deckard Cain would later be entrusted by Adria to watch over Leah.
Ultimately, Diablo would bring his greatest work to fruition, bounding the essences of all of the Evils into the Black Soulstone and bounding their power to him. He attack the High Heavens itself, entering the Silver City itself. Again, Diablo was defeated by the heroes that pursued him and his essence imprisoned with the Black Soulstone.
Tyrael and his Horadrim guarded the Black Soulstone until the angel Malthael, the Angel of Death, took possession of it. Malthael wished to destroy all Evil in Sanctuary, but in doing so he would also destroy humanity. Malthael shattered the Black Soulstone and the Seven Evils were infused within him, but eventually he was defeated. With Malthael defeated, Diablo was free once more.