This theorycrafting needs to be done even if it’s been late by nigh a decade since the launch of Diablo: Reaper of Souls in light of Diablo IV’s upcoming launch and some details that have come out recently.
We never heard exactly how Archangel Malthael acquired the ability to access the Death realm, which is a bit of a shame. We haven’t exactly gotten many Diablo novels in a decade to explore what happened before Diablo III or Reaper of Souls featuring Malthael.
However, Diablo Immortal possibly, but not confirmed, might have provided a hint.
Tassi is a Umbari of a yet to be heard class that uses a spear and a shield. She claims she is not a Witch Doctor. Tassi is on a journey across Sanctuary to search for the fabled Seven Stones of Creation that her people have spoken of for ages. This is a big revelation in Diablo Immortal, because they are not a myth, and we have only seen one in the game: the Iceburn Tear. Tassi divined the location of the Iceburn Tear deep into the Frozen Tundra’s Cavern of Echoes; and asked the hero to bring it to her.
This Iceburn Tear gives the wielder the ability to cross into the Unformed Land and protects from the chilling bite of death. The Unformed Land is the fancy word the Umbari gives to the Realm of Death.
Does this mean that some time in the future Malthael gets ahold of the Iceburn Tear? Is this how Malthael acquires the ability to enter the Realm of Death before Reaper of Souls?
That’s something I wish the Story Development team addresses someday. But there is an even more important detail that has never been explained post-Reaper of Souls.
There are a few plots and ideas floating around since Reaper of Souls was introduced until Malthael’s demise.
In Diablo III, Diablo climbed to the top of the Crystal Arch and tainted it before heroes stopped him. We know for a fact that this taint had consequence, and that was the plan all along. We haven't yet seen the full spectrum of that plan or what the consequences will be in Diablo IV. Let me share a quote from the pages of the novel Diablo: Storm of Light by Nate Kenyon.
Suddenly, he felt like an abomination, a mutation of all that was good and holy. He turned to go, but the throng pushed forward as the song grew. Feeling as if his ears might burst, he gritted his teeth and turned back. The light pulses were joining at one brilliant spot above him, where fine, threadlike filaments crackled and snapped across one another. The strands began to weave themselves together, forming an intricate mat that rolled into an orb, and within it, he could see a wriggling shape made of a light so bright he could not look directly at it. But something was wrong. He began to notice a discordant tone in the air. One of the threads of light had turned gray, so thin it looked like a hairline crack across the surface of the birth orb. But it was there; he could not deny it. Tendrils of light continued to snap upward from Anu’s spine and wrap around the shape within, adding to it, and the resonant song kept building. But that one note, so faint it was barely audible, was just slightly off pitch. It made Tyrael wince and look around at the quivering angels, their wings extended in ecstasy. Did no one else feel it? Perhaps the tone was coming from him. Perhaps his presence here as a mortal was causing the change. But when he put a hand on his own chest, he felt no vibration, no resonance at all, and the core of him was empty and silent. The thing inside the orb was growing quickly. He could see the outline of furled wings, the radiance of the angel swelling moment by moment. At the height of the Lightsong, the orb suddenly burst apart, sending the strands of light crackling over the crowd, and the new angel unwrapped its wings as the light and sound.
The other angels’ Lightsong pulsed gently, a sign of acceptance and welcome. It was a female. The moment should have been transcendent, joyful, breathtaking. But there was a subtle change that cast shadows where none should be, as if the gray filament wrapped like a snake around the birth orb had incorporated itself into her essence, and although the Lightsong should have matched the new angel in perfect harmony, her resonance was the slightly different pitch that grated at Tyrael’s ears and seemed at odds with the others. The angels still did not seem to detect it. They were buzzing with excitement. He had hoped to be inspired by the birth, reconnected with the Heavens in some way, but he could not join in the song, his physical senses bruised, his mortal eyes and ears burning. Again, he felt like a stranger here among the immortal. The Lightsong filled him with dread. It is the stone, Tyrael thought. Its foul tendrils have reached the Arch and corrupted the birth. The idea chilled him in a way nothing else could. The stone’s influence was spreading even faster than he had thought possible. Tyrael turned again and stumbled away, his entire body aching, his mind reeling with terrible possibilities. He was alone in this, one against an army of angels. The entire fate of the Heavens fell on his broad shoulders. If he failed . . . But he could not. There was no other option, not now. He must find the solution to the soulstone’s black sickness before it was too late.
Kenyon, Nate. Diablo III: Storm of Light (pp. 109-110). Gallery Books.
This couple of paragraphs describe Tyrael in mortal form witnessing the birth of a new angel as it spawned from the tainted Crystal Arch (aka the spine of Anu). However, Tyrael in his mortal form is able to see what other angels can't. He can see the taint put there by Diablo, and every new angel born from the tainted Crystal Arch is tainted too.
In Diablo IV, all we know is that the High Heavens have closed shop and no one has ever heard from the angels again. But it is been several years since Diablo: Reaper of Souls. Therefore, many angels have been born since then. Is it possible for the High Heavens to have some sort of internal war between the normal angels and the tainted ones? Whatever the outcome of what might happen within the Diablo IV's High Heavens might eventually spill over into Sanctuary ... of course, in one of the confirmed Diablo IV expansions.
When an angel dies, its spirit is reabsorbed back into the Crystal Arch, and a new angel is born. Not the same angel, but a new entity with its own personality.
Diablo Immortal actually introduced a concept that we have somewhat heard in Diablo II, but not as clear as we did in the mobile game. When a demon dies, its body is reformed in the Demon Pits, and its spirit inhabits the new body. A sort of resurrection.
We saw this in action in Diablo Immortal when we killed Skarn. Diablo died in Diablo II, but his body is reformed in the Demon Pits and taunts us as we are teleported back to Sanctuary.
In Diablo IV, we know that Mephisto's soul somehow landed in the Burning Hells after Malthael consumed the Black Soulstone and we killed Malthael -- releasing the spirits of the Prime Evils and Lesser Evils. Mephisto's soul is likely been reborn in the Demon Pits, but he is weakened in Diablo IV. He probably needs to build additional pylons to complete the rebirth.
As you can see, in the Diablo mythos, angels and demons have a rebirth cycle, but in a different way. Angels are recycled different with their persona not returning, whereas demons return as themselves with a different body created in the Demon Pits.
This is a very very high concept that may be used by the developers in Diablo IV's expansions.
First, Malthael went into a crusade to remove all demonic essense from humanity. Humans of Sanctuary are the descendants of the original Nephalem: offsprings of Angels and demons. Having traits (cough DNA) of both.
In short, this unholy culling by Malthael killed many humans in Westmarch and other places of Sanctuary, because by removing the demon essence from them meant killing them.
But remember... a Nephalem is both angel and demon. If the demon essence is incinerated ... what happens to the angelic spirit/essence? Is it reabsorbed into the now tainted Crystal Arch?
Is the demonic essence of those who died by Malthael's actions reabsorbed into the Demon Pits?
Where did both essences or spirit of each who died go?
On the other hand, we learned that Skarn wanted to do the exact same thing than Malthael, but the other way around. Skarn's goal was to use the Worldstone shard to remove the angelic taint from the humans of Sanctuary to rejoin the Burning Hells as brothers.
Wait a second... if you haven't caught it yet in your mind, the story development team introduced a high concept here. If Skarn is able to remove the angelic taint from Humans and still they can be reborn in the Burning Hells ... what happened to those who died by Malthael when he removed their demon taint?
I mean... we saw Eskara, who we killed as the first outdoor boss in Diablo Immortal in the Burning Hells. She was reborn in the Demon Pits. And again, we saw Eskara die before our eyes in the Burning Hells and within seconds she was reborn as a Fallen Matriarch. Yet as we kill her for the third time, the angel who assisted us said Eskara might be reborn again.
Does this mean that Tal Rasha can return? Marius? ... Deckard Cain?
Can Deckard Cain be reborn in the Demon Pits? Or from the tainted Crystal Arch? See what I mean? Very high concepts.
What exactly will happen to Tyrael in mortal form when he dies? Will he actually die and cease to exist? Or will he be reborn somehow in the Demon Pits or in the tainted Crystal Arch? What exactly happens if Tyrael in mortal form fell in love with a woman in Sanctuary and they had a baby 30 years before Diablo IV?
So many questions.
We don't know if more angels came down to Sanctuary following Tyrael in those 30 years, taking off their own wings to become mortals. That could in some shape or form explain this leaked image shown by Rhykker recently.
Diablo IV will be around for many years with multiple expansions, so I can’t wait to see what the story development team might have in store for us using these wild new concepts about rebirth, and what exactly was Diablo’s reasoning and plan behind tainting the Crystal Arc.
Or what has happened in the High Heavens in these past 30 years as new tainted angels have been slowly populating the realm.