Wednesday 18 December 2019

Diablo 4 story theory: Lilith is a red herring

Now that we know that the pale cultist in the D4 trailer is actually Rathma, I think I've figured out the main bent of D4's story. If my theory is correct, then despite Lilith's prominence as the de-facto main villain of D4, I think that she is actually a red herring and that another character will actually be the main villain. This theory assumes that another theory is true, this theory being that the old man in the D4 gameplay trailer is Lorath Nahr, and that the dead "old friend" whose grave he is at is Tyrael's.

So, to start with, Rathma summoning Lilith is something that should ordinarily be very lore-breaking. Despite being Lilith's son, Rathma both hates her, and helped seal her away in the ancient past. Furthermore, Rathma was described as being rational, but not cold, and was not portrayed as an evil or sinister figure in the Sin War trilogy. While obviously things can change over thousands of years, and retcons can likewise happen, I believe I have a rational explanation why Rathma would suddenly reverse course and re-summon the mother that he once sealed away.

After the Sin War, Rathma founded the Priests of Rathma, the necromancers, with their guiding cause being "to protect the balance between Heaven and Hell, because both sides ultimately want the ruin of Sanctuary and humanity, and if either one gained supremacy in the Eternal Conflict they would surely destroy us all."

Given this, Rathma must have watched in horror as Diablo 3's events came to pass, as D3's story represented the worst-case nightmare scenario that the necromancers were founded to safeguard against. The seven Great Evils joined as one, and were defeated and imprisoned by the Nephalem and his/her friend Tyrael, leading to the greatest triumph on Heaven's part since the start of the Eternal Conflict. Immediately following this, the Archangel of Wisdom took the Black Soulstone and attempted to use it to wipe out humanity, just as the necromancers feared would happen if Heaven ever won a decisive victory against Hell.

As I stated above, the necromancers serve the balance between Heaven and Hell. In prior times, the angels kept to themselves in Heaven, while the demons marauded through Sanctuary spreading ruin: thus, the necromancers served to push back the demons. However, now the tables have turned. The seven Great Evils have been scattered and weakened by their defeat, while Heaven holds the friendship of the Nephalem, through Tyrael, and is posed to gain the definitive upper hand in the Eternal Conflict. Malthael's assault on humanity has simply proven the justice of the necromancers' cause: just as they had once fought to push demons back from Sanctuary and humanity, now they must do the same to the angels.

However, allying with any of the Great Evils would likely be a colossal mistake: unlike angels like Tyrael, none of the Great Evils have a vested interest in keeping humanity safe, and none of them are trustworthy. Lilith, however, DOES have a vested interest in protecting humanity, and while she is not trustworthy, Rathma at least knows her intimately and has the measure of her in a way that he wouldn't with any other powerful demon lord. Thus, re-summoning Lilith is starting to look like a good option for protecting Sanctuary from Heaven. Plus, Rathma helped seal Lilith away in the ancient past; once Heaven has been appropriately humbled and Hell has gotten back on its feet, Lilith can safely be betrayed, sealed away once more, and then life can go on as normal (for whatever passes as normal on Sanctuary).

Meanwhile, in Heaven, the archangel Imperius is faced with a never-before-seen opportunity. He hates humanity and would gladly see Sanctuary destroyed, but Tyrael and Auriel have opposed him at every turn, while Malthael and Itherael abstained from aiding him. Now, however, Malthael and Tyrael are both gone: Malthael having accomplished some of Imperius's goal, while Tyrael impetuously cast off his immortality, became mortal, then died as mortals do. Both are still angels in essence, and will thus be reborn from the Crystal Arch at some point, but that point is likely far off in the future. At the moment, aside from Auriel, Imperius's authority in Heaven is relatively unchallenged. Not only that, the forces of Hell are reeling from the blow of suddenly losing, then regaining, its seven Great Evils. Hell is discombobulated, and Heaven is poised to claim a strong advantage in the Eternal Conflict if it can just seize the moment.

So Imperius moves to seize it. He consolidates his power and authority in Heaven, overruling Auriel's objections and instating himself as the leader of the Angiris Council. Imperius orders the gates of Heaven closed, in order to build up a massive army of angels and sweep down across Sanctuary and, eventually, Hell. When his army is complete, Imperius will lead a flood of angels out of Heaven, to consume Heaven's enemies in holy light and fire. Humanity will finally be annihilated, its stain on the cosmic balance purified, and after that Imperius can flood into Hell and wipe out the demons once and for all.

Having seen this coming, Rathma hurries to re-summon Lilith and rebuild her power base. He may hold no love for his mother, but like her or not, she is the best chance for humanity to survive Imperius's assault. And while some humans will no doubt resist her, they will eventually come to see the necessity of her summoning once Imperius's treachery is finally revealed.

TL;DR: Rathma summoned Lilith to act as humanity's champion against Heaven, who now hold the upper hand in the Eternal Conflict and are poised to wipe out both Hell and humanity. Imperius is the true villain of the game, and has closed Heaven's gates in preparation for a massive angelic invasion of Sanctuary to finally cull humanity, before moving on to annihilate Hell and win the Eternal Conflict once and for all.