Deckard Cain made his way across the floor, following the footprints to an alcove in the far wall. Rotted boards clung to supports, the last remains of an ancient library. This had been a ritual chamber, many centuries before, used to summon things from beyond the human world. A portal to the Burning Hells themselves, perhaps. The shelves were empty now. He saw a speck of yellow underneath a splinter of wood and bent to pick up a corner of parchment paper, curled and speckled with mildew.
Something moved in the shadows to his right.
He whirled, holding the light up. For a moment it appeared as if the shadows themselves were alive, bunching and swirling like ink in water. At the same time, a voice like the distant moan of wind drifted through the empty room and raised the hairs on the back of his neck.
"Deckaaaaarrdddd Caiiinnnn . . ."
Cain felt a strange doubling, a memory of a night many years before, when he was just a boy. A whispered voice calling to him, just like this. He backed away, fumbling in his rucksack with one hand, holding the lighted staff with the other against the darkness. Already he was doubting himself: had it just been the wind moving through the broken remains of the building above him, a trick his mind had played after so long in the sun?
The voice came again, a sound like bones scraping together in the grave.
"Your ghosts are many, old man, and they are active."
A grating of metal over rock seemed to come from everywhere at once. Once again a pool of black smoke thickened and then dissipated, only to reassemble somewhere else: a shape carrying a sword, the form of a man, but with eyes that glowed red with the fires of hell.
Cain knew what this was, yanked from the depths of his own mind and used against him: the image of the Dark Wanderer himself, conjured up to weaken his resolve. The smoke-shape swirled and shifted, reforming into two indistinct human shapes, one taller and clearly female, one small and delicate. Shock raced through Cain's limbs as an older, familiar memory fought to surface. He closed his eyes against the darkness as the yawning pit of despair opened within him, threatening to pull him in. You must not listen.
Deckard Cain is the last of the Horadrim, the sole surviving member of a mysterious and legendary order. Assembled by the archangel Tyrael, the Horadrim were charged with the sacred duty of seeking out and vanquishing the three Prime Evils: Diablo (the Lord of Terror), Mephisto (the Lord of Hatred), and Baal (the Lord of Destruction). But that was many years ago. As the decades passed, the Horadrim's strength diminished, and they fell into obscurity. Now all of their collected history, tactics, and wisdom lie within the aged hands of one man. A man who is growing concerned.
Dark whisperings have begun to fill the air, tales of ancient evil stirring, rumblings of a demonic invasion set to tear the land apart.
Amid the mounting dread, Deckard Cain uncovers startling new information that could bring about the salvation--or ruin--of the mortal world: other remnants of the Horadrim still exist. He must unravel where they have been and why they are hiding from one of their own.
As Cain searches for the lost members of his order, he is thrust into an alliance with an unlikely ally: Leah, an eight-year-old girl feared by many to carry a diabolical curse. What is her secret? How is it tied to the prophesied End of Days? And if there are other living Horadrim, will they be able to stand against oblivion? These are the questions Deckard Cain must answer . . .
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May 01, 2012
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