There was a specific reason I wanted to skip the first two books, and jump ahead to the Kingdom of Shadow. That is because this book talks about the ancient ruins of Ureh located at the jungles of the Necromancers, the guardians of balance. Why is all this important? Richard A. Knaak hinted back on October 2006 that Blizzard had great plans for Zayl the Necromancer. This was the same interview where he confirmed that the storyline of Diablo: The Sin War trilogy would impact the storyline of any future Diablo projects made by Blizzard -- coughs, Diablo 3.
Why am I reading about Ureh? Well, Atrumentis and Daemon had observed and speculated that what we see in the Diablo III cinematic teaser shown on June 28 at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals in Paris could very well be the ruins of Ureh. After both images comparing the cinematic teaser's building with the front cover artwork of Diablo: The Kingdom of Shadow (by Richard A. Knaak), one could debate whether both are similar. At the bottom, I wrote a small spoiler summary of what Ureh is and the story of the first few pages. This might encourage some fans to get their hands on the Diablo Archive (752 pages) which contains: Diablo: Legacy of Blood, Diablo: The Black Road, Diablo: The Kingdom of Shadow and Diablo: Demonsbane. The spoiler summary at the bottom of the page after both images:
This summary might be inaccurate, as I wrote it from what I remember. I did not summarize the entire book however. Merely the first 40 pages, and skipping a lot of stuff. Mostly summarized the most important details about Ureh.
The lost city of Ureh was once a central battleground for the war between Heaven and Hell in Sanctuary during the hundreds of years of the Sin War era. Ureh was a fount of light to those who followed and chose the path of the Archangels. This called the attention of the Prime Evils who sought to take Ureh. Diablo had overseen Ureh from his domain in Hell, and sought to destroy the city and its inhabitants for it offended him greatly its glorius existence. The people of Ureh were so pious they would not have fear. Something the Lord of Terror found intolerable and couldn't stand. Diablo grew determined to bring down the city and make its inhabitants the slaves of Hell.
Ureh was cut off from outside travelers and supply wagons, as the surrounding areas were overtaken by demons rallying toward Ureh. Juris Khan, lord of the city of Ureh, and his priests and mages attempted to save their people from the Prime Evils and their legions of demons. Juris Khan had a vision of an archangel who informed him the High Heaven had wished to grant them a haven from the incoming onslaught to protect them, the safety of Heaven.
The archangel opened the gates of Heaven to the mortals of Ureh, where the Prime Evils could not touch them. The archangel told Juris Khan in two more visions how to accomplish this. However, the archangel was not allowed to intervene or offer much help. It was up to Ureh to do the task. And thus the Mages of Ureh opened a way into the gates of Heaven. Gregus Mazi was the only inhabitant of Ureh who did not enter Heaven. Gregus Mazi was one of the mages at the service of Lord Juris Khan who performed the spellcasting to open the way. A crimson aura enshrouded the city of Ureh. Gregus Mazi faltered in his faith at that moment, and was left behind. He witnessed how the whole city of Ureh split into a twin ethereal city floating above the original one. To Gregus Mazi it was as if he had seen the soul of the city of Ureh leave the mortal plane. All inhabitants of Ureh becoming decaying corpses.
Gregus Mazi was found by followers of Rathma, the necromancers. They healed his broken mind and tended his needs for a time. However, the mage left to roam the world in search of something. He was one of the circle of mages to cast the spell that enabled the people of Ureh to ascend into Heaven, but he didn't know all of it. He became obsessed with joining his friends and family. Twelve years later, Gregus Mazi returned to Ureh with all the knowledge he needed to perform the spellcasting to ascend to Heaven, and he was never seen again.
Scrolls and books of his studies are all what remained. The mercenary who accompanied Gregus Mazi long ago to Ureh witnessed how Gregus Mazi chanted a spell that made the ruins of Ureh change, glowing golden as if the ruins had come to live. Humbart Wessel and his mercenaries did not follow Gregus Mazi into the ruins. That was the last they saw of him. In the morning, the ruins were no longer vivid. All was gone. Humbart wrote a scroll of what happened and delivered it to Lord Hyram of the Zakarum.
Hundreds of years later, a Vizjerei mage named Quov Tsin became obsessed with reading and analyzing Gregus Mazi's studies. Collecting all of his remaining scrolls, as well as the mercenary who witnessed his disappearance.
Vizjerei Quov Tsin hired a band of mercenaries led by Captain Kentril Dumon to ensure his safety through the jungle and his arrival to the city of Ureh with promises of gold and treasure bigger than that of Kings. Once every certain amount of time, the ruins of Ureh were said to come alive once more. Briefly. A faint echo of that day centuries ago when the spell to ascend to Heaven was casted by its people. The spellwork should be casted when the shadow of the mighty mountain Nymyr rested upon the ruins of Ureh. That time according to Quov Tsin would be the next day. Once at the ruins of Ureh, Quov Tsin began the chanting of the spellwork he had analyzed from the scrolls of Gregus Mazi right at the time when the shadow of Nymyr's mountain was covering Ureh. As he was about to end the spellwork, Zayl the Necromancer approached to warn them. To stop what could mean their deaths. The greedy mage put no mind to the intruder, and continued chanting the last words of the spellwork.
The shadow of mountain Nymyr covered all of the ruins of Ureh. Even with the sun on the sky, a dreadful darkness encompassed Ureh. The towers started to glitter, and slowly all of Ureh began to glow and radiate becoming alive, as it was hundreds of years ago. The ancient city was reborn again. The necromancer Zayl accompanied the Vizjerei Quov Tsin, Captain Kentril and his mercenaries into the city of Ureh. Voices, laughter and a non-stopping flute music were heard everywhere. After certain dangers experienced within, the mercenaries no longer wished to be in the ruins and headed toward the exit ... just to find the gates closed and guarded by two angels.
They could now see the people of Ureh. Suddenly, a plaza that wasn't there before was found, and the people of Ureh led them to a copy of mountain Nymyr at the center of the plaza. After walking a very long stairway, they found a gate guarded by two gargoyles. They allowed all but the Vizjerei to enter the gates unharmed. It took a lot of wit to get the mage inside as the gargoyles would come to life to stop him. Inside ... all of them met one who was thought disappeared many centuries ago: Lord Juris Khan.
Update: I have resumed reading through page 512. Seems the people of Ureh didn't reach Heaven afterall. The legends and scrolls concerning Ureh and Gregus Mazi's studies were false. Gregus Mazi betrayed them. During the casting of the spell to make the way to Heaven, was reversed by Mazi, who hoped to send Ureh into the Burning Hell realm. Lord Juris Khan attempted to counter the betrayal. The end result was, Ureh did not reach Heaven. And it did not reach the Burning Hells. It is floating in nothingness. A limbo. A place in-between. As far as I have read, with the help of Zayl, Tsin and the mercenaries they wish to find a gem that would allow them to remake the original spell to send the ethereal Ureh to its former destination: Heaven. More tomorrow.
Update: I am merely 70 pages from finishing the book. I can say this story is a heck of a rollercoaster ride. Things that might have seem the truth, turn out to be deceit. So anything I may have said in the summary could or not have a bit of truth. Things go from bad to worse. Worth of a tale of terror. And behind everything seems to be someone who lords it, one we all know well ... Diablo.
Update: Done reading the book. At the end some of the buildings crumble to dust, and the gem to light is destroyed. This could be seen by any reader as a hint that we won't be able to see Ureh again. However, the gem had been lost before and the city was still coming to life every certain time. Attana remains within the ethereal Ureh. That means Ureh might be able to return. Specially, if she manages to reanimate Vizjerei Quov Tsin with immortality. It could be up to debate. The city shown in the Cinematic could be Ureh, or not. We will have to hear from Blizzard what exactly they are showing in the cinematic. Regardless, I do know some who have read Kingdom of Shadow would like to visit Ureh in Diablo 3.
Diablo Archive available now, click the image to order it: