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Claudia sank to her knees in sorrow as the Worldstone Chamber began it's collapse. Baal's putrid blood spread out from his twisted corpse and stained her robes with thick black splotches. She had fought so hard and come so far....only to fail.
Her throat clenched as she watched helplessly as Baal's corruption snaked its way throughout the Worldstone, a sickness that could not be undone. Claudia wished that she could try again; fight harder, fight faster, slept less to save time on her journey. Stone blocks in the ceiling and surrounding pillars came loose and began crashing down around her as the earth shook violently, almost groaning in it's anguish.
She was wrenched from her despair as a huge hand gripped the back of her robes and easily hauled her up onto her feet. Wulf spoke cheerfully as he set her down, "Get up off the ground, witch. You don't want the songs of our victory to mention that you ruined your clothes now do you?" Claudia gave a sad smile and a weak laugh as she stared up at her barbarian companion, a human mountain that she'd met down at Harrogath. "How is it fine for songs to mention a hulking mass of a man to be dripping with the blood of his enemies, but it's shameful for a sorceress to get a bit of blood on her garments?" Wulf sniffed as he rested his well-worn maul on his right shoulder. "All true men bathe in blood. Little witch girls shouldn't let anything get within a mile of them, what with their fire twigs and walking sticks."
Claudia's eyes cast down to her splintered stave, still smoking from the effort she'd used in her desperate conjuration. She could feel a headache of mental exhaustion creeping at the edges of her mind. She shook herself and instead focused on her surroundings.
Darian was carefully inspecting the Worldstone itself, pacing around in frustration. She felt her hopes sink lower. If a paladin of the order couldn't fix the Heart of the World, what hope did anyone else have? She noticed a limp in his step and the shield on his back had a large crack snaking vertically through it, threatening to completely snap in half.
Alessa stood near the entrance, her dark eyes darting around uneasily as she fumbled with her strange hand-claw weapons, Katar she called them? Claudia couldn't remember clearly. Blood glinted just below her elbow and had a serious gash just under her shoulder.
Alric was crawling around Baal's corpse, carefully pooling his blood into vials. Claudia frowned at that. She never entirely trusted necromancers for their strange rituals, diet, and obsession with bones...she then mentally chided herself. Alric's.....art.....had saved them all a number of times, even if he did unnerve her a little. His white hair and gaunt face twisted with concentration as he put stoppers into the vials, licking his lips occasionally. She shuddered and looked away.
Tatiana sat on the ground with her back resting against a pillar, shards of her helmet clung to her hair, her bow still clutched fiercely in her left hand; her face was ashen, eyes closed, and her right arm was draped over three deep gashes in her stomach. Claudia had been certain that nothing could pierce that woman's gleaming armor and now beheld it shredded and shattered.
Bremen had his left hand on Tatiana's brow and stood with his back to Claudia and Wulf. Before heading over to see them, Claudia appraised Wulf to see if he needed any healing. Sensing her concern, the mountain of a man bristled, seemingly offended. "What? A scratch or two isn't worth your efforts. Get down there and help the archer girl!" He sat down on an overturned pillar in a huff.
She smiled at his dismissal and walked briskly towards Tatiana. Glancing over at Darian and the worldstone, hoping that he could perhaps at least slow the corruption.
As she approached, Bremen spoke as he turned. "She's gone. I am sorry, child." Claudia blinked in surprise and peered past him to Tatiana, she's just asleep, she told herself. As she moved past the druid, he grabbed her arm gently, but firmly. "There is nothing that you can do." His eyes reminded her of a wolf's, dangerous, threatening, and primal. Claudia let the storm of her magic dance in her eyes and the air between them shimmered. Bremen's breath came out in clouds as the chill in the air compelled him to release her. Claudia allowed herself to calm down, but kept a firm grip on her magic in case he tried to stop her from saving her friend.
Claudia knelt by Tatiana's side and placed one hand on the same arm that covered the wound. Her heart sank as she felt the magic probe the damage under the skin. Torn organs, intestines, and a void where much of her blood should be. Claudia removed her hand and placed it against Tatiana's forehead. Where she normally felt the thoughts and emotions of whom she was healing, Claudia felt nothing, a terrible silence and emptiness greeted her. Swallowing past the lump in her throat and blinking away tears, Claudia removed her hand and stood up.
A thunderous roar shook the Chamber, threatening to knock Claudia off-balance. Massive cracks ripped through the ceiling and great masses of wall broke off, disappearing into the black depths below the Worldstone. She rushed past Bremen, who stared at Tatiana with wet eyes, towards Darian. The paladin sat with his chin resting upon a clenched fist, glaring at the worldstone as the dark snakes of Baal's touch enveloped it's entire length.
As Claudia reached out to touch his shoulder, a bright flash of white light near the center of the chamber erupted with the sound of a heavenly sword being drawn from it's sheath. The sound was a musical promise to the righteous and a terrible threat to the wicked.
As the light cleared, Claudia saw him. Tyrael stood, a beacon of light amongst the darkness, the only being of light to answer the prayers of man. Though no one could see his eyes, you would always feel him staring into you. Stripping your soul bare of all your deeds and spoken words, weighing everything. Justice incarnate.
As much as she wanted to run to Tyrael and beg his forgiveness for failing to stop Baal's corruption; she was paralyzed in fear and shame. He had tasked them...had tasked her...with stopping Baal, and she had not succeeded. As she warred with herself over what to do, Tyrael was already striding with purpose towards Tatiana.
Tatiana lay lit by the light emanating from Tyrael as he wordlessly waved his hand over her. Her body was lit from within by a glowing light and grew brighter until Claudia couldn't stand to look at it. As the light faded, Tatiana's body was gone and her spirit floated in it's place, an ethereal embodiment of her. She looked almost like she was formed of a slightly blue and white smoke. Tatiana opened her eyes as she floated and looked at each of her companions in turn. When her gaze settled on Claudia, she felt a small measure of warmth in her chest, a feeling of relief for her friend.
Tyrael turned towards Claudia and Darian, his heavy footfalls echoing throughout the chamber as Tatiana floated upwards, fading the entire time until she dissipated entirely. He stopped before them both and looked to the worldstone. After surveying the damage, his hood dipped down and Claudia felt her knees go weak with the fear of Justice gazing, not at her, but into her.
Claudia felt hot tears stream down her cheeks as she fell at Tyrael's feet. "Tyrael.....we.....no I have failed." She shook with terror as she confessed her inability to stop the destruction of the worldstone. She felt her mouth go dry and gazed at the floor, prepared for the end to come. It was strange, she thought, that she would be so terrified of dying at the hands of an angel. The hordes of hell were frightening enough, but she had learned to fight them without wavering. But the righteous wrath of Justice himself was altogether different.
As she trembled in fear, she heard the clattering of metal beside her. Darian was also at the feet of Tyrael, mumbling his despair at the grim conclusion of their divine task.
In a voice that rang, echoed, and ran together as though a hundred people spoke at once -Tyrael bid them to stand. "Do not be to harsh upon yourselves, mortals. I am impressed with the progress that you've made thus far. I had thought that a slim hope burned that you could stop Baal and you have not failed in that regard." At this, his hooded face turned slightly towards the crumpled heap that had once been the Lord of Destruction.
His gaze turned once more towards the massive Heart of the World that was now mostly blackened. His voice causing a reverberating feeling within Claudia's chest at being so close. "Left as it is...the worldstone will become a gateway for the forces of hell and this must not be allowed."
Claudia's eyes widened at the idea, her head spun with the implications of an opened gate to hell. Even with the fall of the Prime Evils....the Lessers still remained. "L...Lord Tyrael? Can you do anything to stop the corruption? Can you save us from this fate?" Her plea felt childish to her own ears, but there was nothing else that she could think of doing. The chamber was crumbling around them and soon they would all be buried unless things could be set right.
Justice gazed at Claudia for a long moment before he spoke, sounding mournful. "I cannot stop or even slow the corruption, but I can destroy the worldstone itself; doing so will tear back the veil that hides you from both Heaven and Hell." That was an even worse outcome. The last time that heaven was aware of the demonic influence in Sanctuary....they destroyed it.
Silently, Claudia realized the hopelessness of their situation. If the Heart of the World remained intact, hell would spill into the realm unchecked; and if it was destroyed, heaven would wage a war against the demons here. As she considered their options and which of the two fates would be less painful for all of humanity; a gust of wind lifted her hair and she turned around.
Tyrael had stabbed his sword into the ground at the center of the chamber where he had first come in. Light radiating from his blade coalesced into an oval shape roughly the size of a door. Claudia recognized it anywhere. A portal. As the light of the gateway shimmered, it slowly became clearer -as a pool becomes clear after a storm. She walked closer in curiosity to better see what lay beyond.
Claudia gasped in surprise when she looked in. She saw a glistening city of silver towers and blue waters, streets of cities that floated in the sky being walked by angels. It was beautiful, unfairly and blindingly beautiful. She looked up and noticed that all of her companions were gathered around, staring into the portal as well.
Tyrael's back was turned to them as he looked the worldstone over again. "You have all done well and I am very proud of all of you. You have proven that in the darkness, there are those who strive for the light. And that there are some brave enough to fight in my name against the horrors of the wicked." Tyrael turned around and stared at each of them in turn.
"I will not let the fires of hell burn your world unchecked. You have all proven a case that I will take to the Angeris Council. You're all worthy of entering the High Heavens. Go. You've earned a great deal of rest from your ordeal."
One by one, Claudia and her companions were gently lifted into the air by an unseen force and floated towards the portal. As each dispersed in a flash of brilliant light, Claudia could hear joyous laughter echoing around her.
The chamber was collapsing faster, the torches flickered their dying breaths as the passages out of Mount Arreat caved in.
Claudia was now the last to be pulled towards the portal, she turned and floated backwards while she looked at Tyrael and asked the question that was burning in her heart and mind. "Lord Tyrael, what case have we proven? How will you convince the Heavens to spare us?" Claudia could not see, but could rather sense that Justice was smiling as the earth shook and broke apart around him. At last he spoke, "You've proven that humanity is worth saving."
Claudia smiled as a flash of dazzling white light engulfed her and she felt as though she were flying with impossible speed through a realm of stars and raging water. She closed her eyes in fear and felt a strange sensation of peace.
Claudia was first aware of the warmth of sunlight on her face and felt genuinely surprised. She hadn't felt the sun's warmth in months. She opened her eyes and found that she was staring up into the branches of trees, the song of birds filled the air and she breathed in the scent of summer. As she luxuriated in the moment, she heard her name being called. Abruptly she sat up, recognizing the voice.
Tatiana strode over to her and reached her hand down to lift her friend up. Claudia's eyes began to tear up as she smiled up at her. "What's with that look? Big girls don't cry!" Tatiana couldn't make her face match her words as tears of her own danced in the corners of her eyes. Claudia thought her friend was always too soft to be an amazon.
Whatever happens to Sanctuary, Claudia knew that others like her and her friends would rise to fight the evils if they ever came again. And if somehow hell managed to make it's way to heaven's gates. She'd stand with her friends again make them pay dearly for every inch. To be certain, she touched her power within to see if it had come with her.
As she felt the storm stir, she smiled as the magic danced in her eyes. She'd be ready if hell came to heaven...they all would.
This is a fanfiction that I wrote out of sheer boredom today. As I was playing Diablo 3, I never felt like the bridge between 2 and 3 was built properly. The demise of the seven heroes, the destruction of Harrogath, and the apparent survival of Deckard Cane who was there at the time really bothered me.
It's written from a semi third person view as though Claudia the sorceress were being followed by the audience. It's a simple re-telling of the end of Diablo 2.
I'd thought of expanding it more for character depth and background, but I didn't have a whole lot of free time. It's also a bit of practice for writing as I feel like I'm really out of shape. It's also really cool that blizzard has a forum section dedicated to fan fiction and such.
Bye guys. :D
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