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Ex Libris Horadrim
The Ex Libris Horadrim are excerpts from Horadric lore written over the centuries and collected by Horadrim mages. They primarily fill-in holes in lore, expound on enigmatic characters, and describe mysterious events.
Ex Libris Horadrim
The Hunt For the Three
"The passages contained herein are first-hand accounts of the hunt for the three exiled Prime Evils: Mephisto of Hatred, Baal of Destruction, and Diablo of Terror. Be advised: Though these entries were inscribed hundreds of years apart and found in lands far removed from one another, they each contain glimpses into the shadowy nether-realm of the Prime Evils. These passages are not intended for the uninitiated . . ."
Custodians of Hatred
I write you to address my growing concerns regarding your recent petulance and that of your fellow Archbishops. For the past few months, I have witnessed a certain darkening of your spirits that I can hardly account for. You and your brethren are First amongst the Chosen of the Light. If our retainers and followers so much as suspected a rift in authority between us, I fear we would lose much of the control we have gained over this ancient, troubled land.
Our line was charged, long ago, with watching over Kurast and its peoples. As you well know, it is our duty to spread the glory of the Light to all corners of the known world, whether it be welcomed or not. But most important, the Horadrim trusted our Church to maintain the wardings, that keep our dark guest chained beneath the Temple City. Since it has been your sole responsibility to safeguard Mephisto's Soulstone. I wonder if perhaps your dread task isn't affecting your noble spirit in some malign way.
Whatever the cause of your recent rebellions against my will, I wish to see you and your Archbishops in council immediately. If you have not the strength of heart to perform your duties like a true Servant of the Light, then I will find someone to replace you. The binding of the Lord of Hatred is paramount to the safety and future of the Zakarum Church. I will not see the Church threatened by the pettiness and jealousy of its servants. I will be expecting you.
Lut Gholein: The Binding of Destruction
On the fifty-eighth day of our campaign, we caught up with Baal near the ancient port city of Lut Gholein. We had tracked the great Lord of Destruction all the way from the lands of Kehjistan some months before. Our leader, Tal Rasha, believed that Baal was headed north, towards the wintry lands of Scosglen, but for some reason the demon chose to forfeit his lead and take refuge within the sandblasted city.
Wishing to avoid a confrontation in which innocents might be hurt, Tal Rasha ordered us to stay our attack until Baal had left the city's walls. We waited and watched for three days before the treacherous creature emerged from Lut Gholein. Heading north as Tal Rasha had predicted, Baal set off once more. Before he had traveled more than a few miles into the surrounding desert, we were on him. With the strongest spells we could muster, we battered the great Lord of Destruction and forced him to give ground before us.
The enraged demon let loose the full fury of his powers. The earth itself exploded under our feet, swallowing many of our brethren. Fire leapt up from the split rock and burned many more. Destruction spiraled around us in every conceivable form, but we had traveled too far to be stopped just then. Weakened by his exertions, Baal let loose one final strike against Tal Rasha; yet, thankfully, the mage was left relatively unhurt. Unfortunately, the sacred Soulstone that he had been given by the Archangel Tyrael was shattered into several small pieces. Reeling in panic, we pressed our attack and succeeded in temporarily subduing the raging demon.
Knowing that the Soulstone's broken shards would not be enough to contain Baal's powerful essence, Tal Rasha quickly devised a reckless plan to contain the demon forever. With a feverish light in his eyes, he coldly walked over to Baal's writhing form and slit the creature's throat. As Baal's spirit fled the dying body, Tal Rasha chose the largest of the Soulstone's shards and jammed it into the open wound. Just as with Mephisto, Baal spirit was sucked into the golden shard's vacuous recesses and trapped. The shard pulsed and hummed as though unable to hold its terrible content in check. Though we questioned his judgement, Tal Rasha seemed confident that the shard would hold Baal until our task was complete.
At this moment, the Archangel Tyrael appeared and held Tal Rasha in his penetrating gaze. The angel's shimmering visage was beautiful beyond comprehension, and I distinctly remember him whispering to Tal Rasha, "Your sacrifice will be long remembered, noble mage." With the golden shard in hand, Tyrael led us to a series of secret caves buried deep beneath the burning desert sands. There we found seven ancient tombs built by some long-forgotten people. Our grim procession stopped at the last enourmous vault, and Tyrael bade us to begin constructing a binding stone at the chamber's center. It was only then that I realized what he and Tal Rasha had in mind . . .
We etched powerful runes of containment upon the binding stone and used our magic to craft unbreakable chains from the chamber's walls. Once preparations were completed, Tal Rasha ordered that he be shackled and bound to the stone. To our horror, Tyrael walked forward and brandished the glowing shard before him. Before any of us could react, the Archangel drove the shard into Tal Rasha's bare chest. Golden fire blazed from Tal Rasha's eyes as the Lord of Destruction flooded into his writhing body. We gaped in awe as the realization of what had transpired took root in our minds. Tal Rasha had made the ultimate sacrifice: He would remain chained forever, cursed to wrestle with Baal's foul spirit until the end of time.
Sorrowfully, we made our way back into the sunlight and watched as Tyrael closed the tomb's giant doors forever. The last sound to escape the cold tomb was a tormented scream not born of this world. I pray that Tal Rasha's sacrifice was not in vain. I pray that the evil buried under the desert sands remains bound until men forget that there ever were evils that walked among them.
The Awakening and the Wanderer
An excerpt from the manuscripts of Deckard Cain: Last of the Horadrim
Regretably, I was the only man in Tristram who knew about the Soulstone buried beneath the ancient Monastery. As the last descendant of the Horadrim, I alone knew the truth about what the crimson stone held locked within it. Perhaps if I'd told them all about it, our quiet little village would have been spared. Perhaps this horrible chain of events might never have come to pass.
In truth, I suspect that it was the Archbishop Lazarus who first fell prey to the Soulstone's burning power. He had been sent from Kurast as an ambassador of the Zakarum Church. Cloaked in the Light as he was, no one even suspected the treachery he proved capable of. Apparently, it was he who discovered the crimson stone within the labyrinth under the Monastery . . . and shattered it.
Whether it was madness or some insidious agenda that drove him, Lazarus released upon us an unspeakable horror. Diablo, the Lord of Terror, who was imprisoned within the Soulstone by my ancestors, was set loose upon the world once again. Somehow, Diablo used his hell-borne powers to transform the dank labyrinth into a gateway that led straight into the gaping maw of Hell itself. His murderous servants took up residence within it and awaited anyone foolish enough to plumb its darkened recesses. Our own noble sovereign, King Leoric, fell under Diablo's sway and spiraled down into the depths of madness and fear. As our maddened King gripped the land in an iron fist, his only son, Prince Albrecht, was kidnapped by Lazarus and spirited away into the ruined Monastery. We watched as the dark things under the earth began to venture into our village, terrorizing all who had chosen to remain. Those were dark days for all of us . . .
By day we worked our farmlands as we always had, trying in vain to ignore the growing sense of the terrors which emanated from the ruined Monastery. By night, we huddled with our families and prayed for the light of dawn to come. After what seemed like an eternity, deliverance finally made its appearance.
A steady stream of heroes and adveturers from all across the known world came to investigate the rumors they'd heard about the growing evil in Tristram. Some came seeking fortune and glory, while others sought to test themselves against the mysterious beasts which slept beneath the earth. Even Sorcerers from the ancient Vizjerei Mage Clan came to study the evil that had awakened in our land. Though the many adventurers nearly bled our village dry, all our hopes for salvation rode on their shoulders.
There was one warrior among them, a quiet, brooding man, who stood out from the rest. None of us ever caught his name, or spoke more than just a few words with him. Yet he radiated a calm and a focus that unnerved even the staunchest of the other would-be heroes. It was this mysterious warrior who fought his way into the deepest recesses of the labyrinth. It was he who finally defeated the Lord of Terror in single combat.
When I close my eyes, I can hear the sound of Diablo's tortured death cry echoing in my ears. It rumbled up from the deep earth and shattered the windows of the decrepit Monastery. It may only have been my imagination, but I distinctly remember the sound of a young child screaming in the midst of the anguished roar. The echoes of that cry still torture the few hours of sleep I am able to get.
I still remember the sight of the warrior as he crossed the Monastery's threshold and stepped out into the light of the sun. He looked as if he had walked through Hell itself. And who's to say . . . maybe he had.
He was covered in both his own blood and that of his enemies. Yet strangely enough, my eye was drawn to a strange wound on his forehead. It looked as if he had somehow gouged himself above his eyes, yet the wound already appeared to have healed. I never did get a chance to question him about it.
Suffice it to say, we believed that our village had been saved, and we bequeathed all manner of rewards upon our nameless hero. Despite the praises and accolades given him, he slipped further and further into a deep, brooding depression. I could only imagine the mind-numbling horrors he had seen beneath the dark earth. I could only speculate as to how they had affected his heart and mind.
He stayed among us for a time. He had no family and nowhere else to go, so it seemed logical that he should be welcomed in Tristram. Though he was cordial to those who approached him, he usually kept to himself and seldom came out of the house that we had given him. Ogden suggested that we throw a celebration in the hope that strong drink and good company would snap him out of his dark mood. We were mistaken. At some point during the celebration he slipped away and left us none the wiser. Later in the evening I paid a visit to his home. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw there.
The nameless man sat alone in his own entryway, muttering to himself in different languages, many of which had not been used in centuries. He had donned a dark travelling cloak, and its deep hood hung low over his face. When he turned toward me, the firelight glinted off his tortured features, revealing the distorted visage of a man who was no longer himself. His eyes shone with a crimson haze and an eerie red light pulsed from the depths of the hood. The wound on his forehead had opened . . . And I thought I saw . . . No, it was probably just a trick of the light playing with an old man's overactive imagination.
I asked him if he was well, yet he just continued to ramble on. I was thoroughly unnerved by the whole scene and had made up my mind to leave him in order to bring help, when suddenly he seemed to snap to attention and spoke with an icy voice that filled my heart with a paralyzing dread. "The time has come to leave this place. My brothers await me in the east. Their chains will bind no longer." I had then no idea what he was talking about. We were all under the impression that he had no family. Yet, seeing that he had come back to his senses, I decided to take my leave and let him rest. In fact, at that moment, I was quite terrified by him and wished to escape his burning gaze. It was the last time I ever saw him.
Our nameless hero left Tristram early the next morning. In secrecy he set off towards the eastern pass with only a pack of provisions and his sturdy sword. I can only guess what he went searching for. Shortly after his departure, our worst nightmares came true. The demonic servants of Hell returned to Tristram.
As of this writting, I am the only survivor left. I have evaded the foul beasts for many nights, but I know that my time is running short. Why they've returned and why they butchered so many innocents. I'll never know. All that I am sure of is that their arrival is somehow tied with the nameless one's departure . . . I have written all of this down in the hope that someone will find these passages and attempt to right what transpired here. I expect that my life will end soon, but perhaps these writtings will help to prevent this tragedy from befalling other villages, other lands. I will remain here until help arrives or the creatures finally come for me. Heaven help me. Even after all that's happened, I cannot bring myself to abandon this dismal place.
Seek out the nameless Wanderer. Find out what he is searching for I fear that Tristram is only the first of many villages to be consumed by the evil he sought to combat.