Diablo® III

Fan Creation of the Week: /r/Diablo's Short Story Winners

Fan Creation of the Week: /r/Diablo's Short Story Winners

Stay awhile… and search out the secrets hidden in these forgotten tomes…

About a month ago, the moderators of /r/Diablo over on Reddit arranged a variety of contests and activities for their busy community of heroes. Among these festivities was a short story contest for players who were up to the challenge of writing an original fiction set in the dark world of Sanctuary.

Many eager writers offered up tales that delved deeper into the ongoing adventures of well-known lore characters, while others provided brief glimpses into the hearts and minds of original characters set in the Diablo universe. Their creations certainly impressed Reddit’s panelists, and we wanted to share the esteemed winners with you as well.

Below you can find excerpts from the each of the winner's short stories. Leave a comment to discuss your favorites!

Lachdanan's Son
Bastion's Keep
Mbwiru Eikura
Rumford
Witch Doctor
"Lachdanan's Son"
by stevenetwork

It was the adventure into the blackness of all existence; a trek into the eternal abyss in which one would only drown by fighting against the forces dragging one’s self down. Some say that human beings are willing to embrace death in order to find life. While many would say venturing into blackness was insanity, it was the others who claimed insanity on those who held cowardice and feared to venture into the void. The true essence of death beckons all that come near its presence, and for me the case existed in a much more personal way than desired. All of these thoughts encompassed me as I approached the horse carriage, its destination leading to my eternal darkness.

“Where ye going sir,” mumbled the carriage master as I stepped onto the rickety vehicle.

“I need to get to Tristram,” I murmured as I boarded the wooden contraption.

“Tristram? Why in the name of Leoric would you want to venture to such a godforsaken place?” responded the geriatric carriage master.

To be honest I had no real idea as to why I did want to venture to such a “godforsaken” place. In truth, I would never want to venture to any place that carried such a reputation as the village of Tristram. The sole purpose for my expedition was to save those close to me. My son, just born, possessed a serious disease only curable through extensive medication only available through the best apothecary. Unfortunately for me, my fear carried more weight than my purse. The past few weeks scouring for employment were not as successful as I would have hoped for, and instead I turned my vision to adventuring for treasures that were rumored to house in decrepit areas. And so, with an empty stomach, and an even emptier purse, I turned to the road to save myself and my son.

“I have… personal matters to attend to, good sir,” I replied as I seated myself in the compartment.

“God bless ye soul, there isn't any good aura to that place,” retorted the carriage master as he grasped the reins of the stallions in front.

I sat my buckler and sword off to my side, and felt the soft leather of the sheath. This sword, while small in stature, carried a great weight. My father carried this sword into battle when he was a great soldier in the ranks of Leoric’s army. He told me stories when I was younger about how the king regarded my father as one of his most prized lieutenants, occasionally referring to my guardian as his “right hand.” Compared to my father’s great legacy, my reputation seemed to be left in tatters, as my family pride fell into infamy. Never have I entered any great battle or ventured into incredible dens of horrible monsters. This journey, however, beckoned me to go not just to save my son but to rekindle the pride of my family. I vowed that I would restore the name my father gave my family before he disappeared, and that the legacy of Lachdanan would never be crushed under the wheel of fate.

“Don’t usually get too many passengers to Tristram nowadays, after what has happened with the king, and all the rumors,” spoke the carriage master as I neared an almost daze from thinking of my father.

“That’s why they call them rumors and not facts, and for all I know my saving grace exists within the darkness of those rumors,” I replied hesitantly to the master as I tucked my tunic a little tighter to escape the brisk air surrounding the carriage.

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"Lachdanan's Son"
by stevenetwork

It was the adventure into the blackness of all existence; a trek into the eternal abyss in which one would only drown by fighting against the forces dragging one’s self down. Some say that human beings are willing to embrace death in order to find life. While many would say venturing into blackness was insanity, it was the others who claimed insanity on those who held cowardice and feared to venture into the void. The true essence of death beckons all that come near its presence, and for me the case existed in a much more personal way than desired. All of these thoughts encompassed me as I approached the horse carriage, its destination leading to my eternal darkness.

“Where ye going sir,” mumbled the carriage master as I stepped onto the rickety vehicle.

“I need to get to Tristram,” I murmured as I boarded the wooden contraption.

“Tristram? Why in the name of Leoric would you want to venture to such a godforsaken place?” responded the geriatric carriage master.

To be honest I had no real idea as to why I did want to venture to such a “godforsaken” place. In truth, I would never want to venture to any place that carried such a reputation as the village of Tristram. The sole purpose for my expedition was to save those close to me. My son, just born, possessed a serious disease only curable through extensive medication only available through the best apothecary. Unfortunately for me, my fear carried more weight than my purse. The past few weeks scouring for employment were not as successful as I would have hoped for, and instead I turned my vision to adventuring for treasures that were rumored to house in decrepit areas. And so, with an empty stomach, and an even emptier purse, I turned to the road to save myself and my son.

“I have… personal matters to attend to, good sir,” I replied as I seated myself in the compartment.

“God bless ye soul, there isn't any good aura to that place,” retorted the carriage master as he grasped the reins of the stallions in front.

I sat my buckler and sword off to my side, and felt the soft leather of the sheath. This sword, while small in stature, carried a great weight. My father carried this sword into battle when he was a great soldier in the ranks of Leoric’s army. He told me stories when I was younger about how the king regarded my father as one of his most prized lieutenants, occasionally referring to my guardian as his “right hand.” Compared to my father’s great legacy, my reputation seemed to be left in tatters, as my family pride fell into infamy. Never have I entered any great battle or ventured into incredible dens of horrible monsters. This journey, however, beckoned me to go not just to save my son but to rekindle the pride of my family. I vowed that I would restore the name my father gave my family before he disappeared, and that the legacy of Lachdanan would never be crushed under the wheel of fate.

“Don’t usually get too many passengers to Tristram nowadays, after what has happened with the king, and all the rumors,” spoke the carriage master as I neared an almost daze from thinking of my father.

“That’s why they call them rumors and not facts, and for all I know my saving grace exists within the darkness of those rumors,” I replied hesitantly to the master as I tucked my tunic a little tighter to escape the brisk air surrounding the carriage.

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"Bastion's Keep"
by TKHC

The Soldier

High atop the stony walls of Bastion’s Keep sat a tired but dutiful soldier. Huddled in his furs and armor, the young man stretched his gloved hands toward the small torch fire. The wind was harsh and cold, tearing at his eyes and howling in his ears,as he squinted out into the dark swirl of snow and ice. The fields were black and desolate, ravaged for centuries by both conflict and the conditions. Another night spent atop the walls of the last great keep of Areat. High into the sky floated a soft light. At first the soldier believed his eyes were deceiving him, but as the light grew stronger and came into focus he saw a raven struggling to fight the wind and snow. Suddenly alert the soldier jumped from his wooden seat and approached the very edge he once feared. The raven grew closer and the soldier waited. What news could come from the Rakkis Crossing? Finally the solider could see the raven clearly. Belly glistening with blood, the raven approached the final feet before the wall. The bird stared into the soldier and bobbed in the wind, it’s wings working hard to make the wall. The raven had changed it’s target from the aviary to the soldier himself. Touching down on the wall, free of the worst of the wind, the raven hopped along the stone toward the stunned soldier. Dragging the fist sized lantern along the raven cawed and opened it’s wings. Blood flowed from a mess of feathers on the birds chest and the soldier approached. Kneeling, the soldier unfastened the lantern and opened the lid, pulling out a leaf of folded parchment. Gripping the letter in his sheep skin glove the soldier delicately unfolded the page, reading the words under his breath.

THE CRATER HAS AWAKENED READY THE MEN AND HOLD THE WALLS OF BASTIONS KEEP THE GATES OF HELL HAVE BEEN OPENED

The soldier stared wide eyed into the note, the wind no longer of notice. He stared back out into the black fields before Mount Areat and his body trembled. The letter fell from his hand and was caught in the wind, as it was carried into the black abyss beyond the wall. The blood shot back into his body as he turned and stumbled back toward his exit off the Stonefort, back into the Keep. The men must know, we must prepare for war. The raven was gone.

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"Mbwiru Eikura"
by Zekromancer

Home, the sweet sound of that word had sustained me through battles beyond all counting. Visions of my son. My wife, oh my sweet Aisha. Separation was more painful than many wounds in battle for us all. Upon the fields of Rakkis, opposite the last remnants of hell, dreams of that flickering memory grew stronger. Frost ridden and buried in snow, the last glimpse of my beloved family stood out to me like the gentle dew of morning upon the soft grass of spring. For 20 long years, war, endless war was waged against the infernal machines of Diablo and the burning hells... To what end, we had all long since forgotten. Days passed into years, and years into decades. The valor of youth gave way to the cold existence of enchanted keys forged into machines, constructs that only knew death. And yet here I was, Zekromancer of Tristram, Lord of the Umbaru.

From the east amidst a foul snow storm the enemy converged upon us in multiple waves, yet we held firm at first with minimal losses. The host of Tristram was not to be repelled on this day. As the day grew into night, the pitched battle waged on. Severely weakened, the enemy pressed as our casualties mounted. Yet in our darkest hour, wounded and out of mana, we still held firm. I cannot precisely recall the details of events that transpired next, nor will I pretend that we triumphed without divine intervention - For I believe that a host of Angels led by Tyrael briefly intervened. As a new dawn broke upon the peaks of Mt. Arreat, directly behind our forces the massive corpses of Savage Behemoths and a decapitated Undying One could be seen. Surely, we had been blessed the gift of life that night, lest they had crept and pounced upon us from the West unsuspectingly. I had now lived long enough to see the end of war, to soon set eyes upon my home again, to finally mend and find reunion.

The journey home was a long and solemn one. Despite our victory, many mourned aloud for the slain children of Bul-Kathos that day. I found comfort in my memories once more. One by one, we bade friends farewell as each departed along the path. When the last of my company set off, I walked the realms alone. For days I wondered if my son, now a man, would recall his father upon sight - And what of my wife, will she rekindle her love with my embrace.

On the 28th day of our lord, A.D.D. (After Diablo's Destruction,) I stood before the gates of Tristram. Not since my youth, I felt the foreign weight of a 1000 mana fill my loins again. The town bustled with merchants and the folk drank, merry with joy. Songs were sung in our name. News of our triumph had spread far and wide, and perhaps on any occasion but this, I would have cast aside my guise to partake in the festivities. Today, I wanted nothing more than to walk unnoticed amongst the throngs of people to my refuge beyond the winding path. From a distance I spotted them, my son, my wife! Oh how much I had come to miss them. There was my son, every bit as I imagined, firm as an oak. My sweet Aisha, youthful and proud. My spirit was home at last. As I approached, he turned and spoke to me.

"O Father, whose own mother's grace was every bit as sweet as any deer's and whose father raced just as swift and stood as strong as any horse that ever ran. Accept all natural customs within the limitless confines of the wild where you were raised by those with tails, by those with hooves, by those with fur and whiskers. All the roads in and out of your great forest now lie silent, but for the sobbing done by your wild kin. The aged children of the Umbaru mourn today and raise their withered palms in prayer as we carry you by, toward the Unformed Land."

"Rumford"
by Darksaiyan

It started a year ago when the unlikely duo of Leah and her uncle Deckard Cain came to town. I had heard stories of Cain, he's said to have been here in Tristram two decades ago when the town fell to hellspawn. I didn't believe the stories until the star fell, until the dead started to rise...

Leah came as a surprise to us all - a beautiful young woman much unlike all the craftsman and farmer wives we've had coming to New Tristram since its settling. She had been splitting her time between helping the townsfolk and visiting the old cathedral with her uncle when the star fell right on top of them. That was six days ago.

Leah came back rattled but alright, begging us to come help her find her uncle. The ruins of the old cathedral were dangerous at the best of times - a meteor punching through the floor wasn't going to make it fare any better. I volunteered to go along with the group of militia to go free the old man, though I didn't believe he was still alive. I was mostly going for Leah's sake.

We couldn't believe our eyes when we approached the cathedral - corpses were pouring out of the cathedral, proper living dead gnawing at empty air, waving their arms or stumps towards us. I had a sword, but I was a farmer, not a soldier - killing damned khazra was one thing, but living dead?

Captain Daltyn and his men fought valiantly, chopping down corpses left and right, holding their ground in front of the endless wave. But the men were starting to tire out and the dead kept on coming, more and more.

Before long, the thin line of fighters fell one by one as I was watching frozen in horror. Somewhere on the right a thin woman-like figure was shambling towards us. With a lurch the creature doubled over and puked out vile liquid onto the cathedral's grounds. The putrid ground gave way. More living dead rose and marched their shambling march towards the group of fighters.

The militia were flanked and overcome. Their small group fell back, and entered the old witch Adria's hut. Daltyn's face, the one I saw as always serious and militaristic, even when downing pints from Bron at the Slaughtered Calf Inn, was now horrified and lost, his eyes trying to focus on the grabbing arms and gaping maws as his sword was chopping them left and right in desperate defense. Eventually, he too fell.

I was frozen. 15 men were slaughtered by impossible creatures right in front of me. The dead started shambling towards me. They came close, I swung my sword and one of them fell, decapitated. I ran.

I did not stop until I got back to the town's gate. I caught the militia next to the gate and told him to raise a barricade. I yelled that the dead were coming. The townsfolk looked at me in disbelief. I repeated, explaining that everyone else was dead. They stirred and started to barricade their town with whatever they could find. Leah was in their midst, looking determined.

These people were looking to me as their leader now. With Daltyn dead and half the militia down for the count, they trust me to protect the town from endless living dead pouring out of the monastery and summoned by those vile wretched mothers...

Few hours passed before brunt of the dead forces came. They shambled out of the woods in their slow unnatural gait, moaning and gaping their mouths, baring their time-whitened teeth. We were ready though - our archers were shooting into the crowd, thinning it down as much as they could, and we were holding the line in front of the wall, like an army sallied forth in front of a citadel.

The fight did not last very long. Eventually, the crowd of living dead thinned until there were no more.

The refugees came afterwards. Some alright, others wounded, we took them all in. Most of the eastern countryside was infested by living dead. Bron, the barkeep, took them in.

This had gone for a few days. More dead came, rare wave after wave. We'd get wounded every once in a while, but adventurers seeking for fortune swelled our ranks, no doubt attracted by the falling star. Most were worse than I am at swinging a sword, but you can't expect all of them to be storied heroes.

Leah seemed to never sleep. She would be everywhere, helping anyone the way she could. She couldn't stop thinking of her uncle, how we should go to the cathedral and find him. I kept telling her that it's a lost cause - after seeing Daltyn and the other militia, I was deathly afraid of that cathedral. The mayor, Holus, wanted to run away. Tough nut he proved to be. He stuck his cart between two houses and couldn't move it. No matter how much he begged, nobody would help him move it.

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"Witch Doctor"
by redinzane

The sun shines brightly onto the emerald canopy of the Teganze. No eyes can pierce the thicket from above, the trees have kept their secrets for centuries.

His blowgun readied in his hand the witch doctor slowly leans around the tree watching his target. On the other side the abominable creature he was hunting slowly stalks through the Teganze’s thick underbrush. The demon’s claws dig into the soft earth with every step as it makes its way towards the village drooling from the meal it is expecting. As he whispers a hex the witch doctor paints a small white symbol onto the bark of the tree. It glows with a dull white. He looks up to the branches where his apprentice waits. The green ceremonial paint and the armor made from blackened bones almost make him invisible against the tree but the witch doctor can still barely make him out between the leaves. Two shadows move beside him, human corpses, sacrifices sewn into the shape of dogs, wolf skulls obtained from the traders affixed to their heads. The witch doctor finds their presence calming. They are man-made and made from men, free of the influence of demons and unlike the spirits of the unformed land, bound to his control. He both respects and fears the spirits, their incomprehensible ways and inconsistent moods making him nervous despite his years of dealing with them. Perhaps one day he would understand the unformed land as his elders understood it. He did Even so he would have to trust the spirits, just as his master had taught him decades ago, to support and to strengthen him for the coming battle.

He nods to his apprentice. Both men vanish from this world. If one were to watch from just the right angle a glimpse of the after-image of a mask might be seen were they stood just a second ago. The dogs jump towards the demon, their strong legs breaking the branches they had rested on in the process. The skulls might not be the ones they lived with but they serve them well in death. Strong sharp teeth dig into scales and flesh and hold on. The demon roars in pain as it strikes one of the dogs. The claws dig into its side, cutting skin, dried meat and scratch the ribcage but they bounce uselessly off the bones. Death annihilates all pain and the dog’s bit does not weaken, instead its teeth dig deeper and deeper. The symbol the witch doctor has painted suddenly flashes with a bright light, as lips not made from flesh but spirit, in a world next to, but quite different from our own ,intonate another hex. The lower half of tree explodes sending wooden shrapnel into the bodies of the demon and the dogs. The crown falls. As it realizes it has been the trapped the demon lunges forward, trying to escape the falling tree. Despite its size it is incredibly fast yet the dogs hold on, dead hands clawing at the dirt holding onto roots as their untiring jaws anchor them in the demon’s legs. The tree crashes down and buries the three of them.

The witch doctor and his apprentice reappear in a blue glimmer beside the carnage. The apprentice starts walking towards it but the older one holds him back. Suspicion glittering in his eyes he reaches towards a small black leather bag on his belt, never letting his gaze wander from the place he last saw the demon. His hands vanish into the bag for a while until they finally produce a small skull, covered in strange pastes and potions. He calls upon the spirits and binds one of them to the skull the throws it towards the fallen tree. As it hits it bursts into flames that seem to take the shape of a screaming man before they expand and devour the rest of the tree. The two men watch the flames, waiting for a sign of life as the demon bursts forth from the flames. It is badly wounded, limping and bleeding but still very dangerous. They start running, splitting into different directions while screaming hexes of protection and pleading to the spirits for strength. Locusts stream from the apprentices mouth covering the head and torso of the demon in venomous bites, causing it howl in pain. The witch doctor throws another skull, encasing the demon in fire and giving him time to mix two potions into a tiny flask in shaped like one of the sacred masks. He shouts the name of the spirit of decay and throws the flask high into the air. Reality seems to rip with a thundering sound is heard as the bottle vanishes and reappears ten times bigger. The mouth of the stylized voodoo mask opens and green acid pours down onto the demon, dissolving the burned meat off of its burning body. The skeleton takes another few stumbling steps towards the witch doctor, driven by the otherworldly evil that still, even in death, clings to its bones. Finally, it collapses.

Surveying the carnage the witch doctor sighs. The demons wander deeper into the jungle every day and the effort and destruction needed to deter them grew bigger and bigger. It wouldn’t be long before the first of the witch doctors would return only as spirits from their hunts.

Hidden behind meaty leaves, mighty trunks and thorns the village was safer than a castle. One day the demons would find their way in and the elders had prophesied that this day grew ever closer if nothing was done to prevent it. They spoke of omens, falling stars and devils. But tonight they would be safe once again.

Ready to cut your teeth on more stories from the world of Sanctuary, or perhaps you have your own tales of adventure to share? Peruse or offer up your Diablo fan-fiction in our Horadric Archives!

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