There are many figures in Diablo lore that have helped shape the world of Sanctuary and all those who dwell within it, but few have had as large an impact on it as the forces of the High Heavens and the Burning Hells.
This series will take a closer look at the leaders of these factions and where they stand in the current Diablo timeline. In this first article, we'll take a look at Auriel, Archangel of Hope.
Auriel, Archangel of Hope
Auriel is a member of the ruling council of the High Heavens, which is known as the Angiris Council. Not only is she revered by the Angels for her placement on the council, but her standing as the embodiment of Hope itself has led her to become the most beloved of all Angels. She is a benevolent being who shows compassion for humanity, instead of the contempt or hatred that many other Angels harbor. Auriel was one of the members of the Angiris Council that voted to save humanity at the culmination of the Sin War, and has continued to support the human race ever since. While she supports humanity, she's unable to interfere due to the pact the Council made with the Prime Evils of Hell at the end of the Sin War, which preserved Sanctuary as neutral ground. We know that up until the events of Reaper of Souls that Auriel continued to support humans and nephalem indirectly, but she is noticeably absent during Malthael's attack on Sanctuary.
Shortly before Reaper of Souls, in the novel Storm of Light, Tyrael's newly reformed Horadrim undertake a perilous mission to steal the Black Soulstone from Heaven and hide it in the Ruins of Corvus. At the end of the story, Auriel uncovers Tyrael's plan and ambushes him and the Horadrim during their escape through the abandoned Halls of Wisdom. During her confrontation with Tyrael, she ultimately lets him escape without interfering, seeing that Tyrael's intentions are what he thinks is best for the safety of all of Creation. It's only after this that we see that Malthael had tricked Tyrael into bringing the Black Soulstone to Sanctuary so that the he could steal it and enact his plans to destroy all of humanity.
Auriel doesn't intervene during Malthael's attack, when even Imperius lends a hand in helping to defeat the Angel of Death. The pact with Hell is obviously over and she is no longer bound to not interfere, so why doesn't she help? Could it be that she began to regret her decision to aid Tyrael? Might she have second thoughts about the power of the Nephalem and the creations of humanity, like the Black Soulstone?
Even Tyrael began to question the power of the Nephalem after the detruction of Malthael — and he was humanity's most ardent supporter, so it is possible that Auriel's faith has been shaken, too. The balance of the Angiris Council's vote on Sanctuary threatens to swing in favor of war against the Nephalem, with Imperius' stance likely remaining on the side of their destruction and Tyrael's position within the Council in question after Storm of Light. With Itherael being an unknown, Imperius witnessing the true power and threat of the Nephalem, and Tyrael potentially being removed from the Council, even if Auriel simply abstained from voting on the issue of the Nephalem, it could lead to all-out war with the High Heavens and the destruction of Sanctuary.
All this being said, Auriel may still have unwavering faith in the Nephalem. She could still champion their continued existence and attempt to stave off any action from the High Heavens against the denizens of Sanctuary. Hope is her defining characteristic, and with the population of Sanctuary slaughtered in the wake of Malthael's attack, that's exactly what humanity needs in the next Diablo game.
Neinball (@NeinballGamer) is a content creator for Diablo Fans and a horadrim in training. Whether he's relaxing on Zegema Beach, fighting servants of the Corpse-God in the 41st millennium, or quelling Rebellions in the Outer Rim, his passion always brings him back to slaying Demons in Sanctuary.