Soundtrack for this profile
Let’s have some more Angélique Kidjo.
Normally I’d pick Koro-koro (a song about the spirit of dead ancestors, if I understand correctly).
But since I only get two soundtracks for this series, let’s go with her brilliant cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile. This is a common gateway into her work.
Beyond the homage to Hendrix, doing this cover is a little joke. Angélique Kidjo is culturally vaudou and is from the Beninese coast, which is essentially voodoo’s ground zero. So she’s, like, double voodoo.
Powers & Abilities
As a Nephalem, Seynameh enjoys superior health, intelligence, alacrity, strength, senses, etc..
These aren’t quite superhuman. But the levels she operates at would require a lifetime of training (and superb genetics) for a Human to match.
On the other hand her physical, mental and emotional endurance, as well as her ability to function with little rest, food, relaxation, etc. are superhuman.
Guardian on the threshold
She stopped ageing thousands of years ago. Her life span was boosted well beyond even a third-generation Nephalem’s using Unformed Land energy, though she’s technically not immortal.
It also seems that Guardian of Death cannot be killed. If a fatal blow occurs, she blinks out of Sanctuary and into the Unformed Land for a few minutes before coming back.
Furthermore, she can appose the Mark of Guardian on a person’s brow. With the Mark active, Seynameh can reach into the Unformed Land and bring that person back even if they were just slain.
However, she seldom uses her Mark. As always, there are innumerable, complicated rules about using it.
A kind of magic, part 1
Guardian of Death can cast extremely powerful spells and magical rituals.
She might be the mightiest being in four worlds – Sanctuary, the High Heavens, Pandemonium and the Burning Hells. She can beat a Prime Evil, or an Archangel, though that clearly pushes her to her limits.
It may also be possible to take Guardian of Death down using a well-coordinated team of powerful beings, all unleashing a barrage of varied attacks. But she knows that.
Therefore, Guardian of Death practices her combat spells so as to be able to cast them nigh-instantly in high-tempo, disorienting combat. She focuses on practicing a small body of spells at a given time. It’s bit like drill training with a selection of weapons.
She also can retrain, to refresh her speed and accuracy with another selection of spells. It is not done often, but could be useful to counter prepared opponents. Or exploit weaknesses in strong opposition.
A kind of magic, part 2
During much of the game, Guardian of Death’s practiced spells are :
- Avoidance and durability against physical and magical attacks.
- Rapid regeneration of the damage that does get through.
- Briefly weakening the frontier between Sanctuary and the Unformed Land. This creates a ghostly circle of reaching, spectral hands emerging from the grond. Therein, enemies of Guardian of Death suffer great pain.
- Conjuring a sustained torrent of quasi-elemental creatures from the void between the world and Mbwiru Eikura.
These things are kinda like bats on fire, and inflict significant cutting and burning damage. The “jet” of creatures is about ten metres long.
As long as she lets them into Sanctuary Seynameh is further protected against attacks, but it cannot be maintained indefinitely.
- A curse field around herself that slows her opponents. It makes it easy to escape if surrounded or cornered.
- Creating a sort of small twister sucking in and stunning large groups of opponents, and making it easy to attack them. This ectoplasmic creation is often whimsically styled as a whirlpool of dangerous water creatures, such as sharks or piranhas.
However, a large chunk of her magical puissance has been funelled into a cadre of helpers. Fighting in coordination with these make her a much harder target. And stopping an entire team is even harder than stopping Guardian of Death alone.
Madam’s house staff – the dog
One helper is a large, gaunt quadruped. Seynameh occasionally rides it or has it carrying her stuff in saddlebags.
Though it looks vaguely like a giant undead mutated dog, it is simply a powerful jungle monster from a rare species.
It was made immortal and even stronger by the Mark of Guardian.
The Umbaru peoples say that this beast has the strength and ferocity of an entire pride of lions. It’s not wrong, but it’s also a product of Umbaru folks loving to compare all sorts of fierce things to lions.
Even in areas where there isn’t a single lion to be found.
Madam’s house staff – the triplets
Her main fighting force is three brothers from a strange humanoid species – who might be the last of their race.
These pale-skinned creatures have a monstrous head evoking a cross between an orc and a spider, and freakishly large and clawed hands.
The triplets are mighty and fearless warriors. Furthermore, centuries bearing the Mark of Guardian have made them absurdly durable. Lastly, they can channel magical cold through their claws.
The humanoids are known as yĕ atɔ̀ɖòbŭ (pronounced “atawn ‘tdo boo” and meaning “the triplets”), and the quadruped is è aglà (meaning “the dog”).
Look, Guardian of Death is a very busy, very important lady. She has no time for making up fancy nicknames.
The triplets are surprisingly capable drummers, in a style that evokes Brazilian batucada. Seynameh learned about using drumming to help focus during magical ritual from Umbaru ritualists, and found the practice effective.
However, her helpers didn’t bring their huge steel drums with them.
Madam’s house staff – fetishes
From time to time, a Fetish slips in from the Unformed Land in the heat of the battle. These are silly-looking but extremely strong gnomes.
They are called “Fetishes” due to their habit of wearing scary wooden masks, to look more impressive in battle. They love to fight, and will attack Seynameh’s enemies.
Fetishes aren’t supposed to be there. Preventing them from crossing over willy-nilly from Mbwiru Eikura is one of Guardian of Death’s responsibilities.
But if she’s in a fight, they know she will be too busy to (literally !) kick them back to the Unformed Lands right away.
Though most Fetishes are ultra-violent giggling lunatics, Guardian of Death has a sort of fan club among them. These hooligans :
- Wear themed masks so she can recognize them.
- Utter specific soccer-style war chants.
- Will leave on their own without Seynameh having to apply a foot to their behind.
These, she allows to hang around a bit. Since they won’t be a problem.
Unbound by Fate
Due to her nature as a/ an Old Nephalem and b/ essentially a part of the Unformed Lands, Guardian of Death’s fate isn’t written in the High Heavens’ records.
That makes her a sort of cosmic wild card, able to derail events that have would otherwise have a certain conclusion.
History (Diablo III)
The in-game story could be summed up in but a few sentences. But let’s go with an approach that is closer to the events as they occur in-games.
If only for the benefit of those who played D3 without paying any attention to the story.
Though of course it S P O I L S everything.
Heed the Prophet
Diablo III depicts another near-apocalypse at the hands of the Prime Evil.
This one was prophesied by an Angel, suitably called The Prophet. Which means that a few scattered parties could oppose the arch-devils in time. The known ones are :
- Tyrael, archangel of Justice and ally to Humans.
- A special cadre of enchantresses put in suspended animation by The Prophet. The Prophet had foretold that a Nephalem would oppose the arch-devils, and these lassies would awaken in time to back that person.
- The Horadrim… who still amount to but Deckard Cain.
- One Nephalem.
Tyrael wishes to mobilize Angels against the demonic plan. But their leader, Imperius, refuses.
In outrage, Tyrael tears off his own wings. This allows him to become a mortal, and fight the devils along with Humans.
But this also means that he falls from the High Heavens, to Sanctuary.
Tyrael comes in as a meteor who crashes ‘pon Tristram’s old cathedral. This “falling star” is an element of the prophecy. Therefore :
- The Nephalem comes to New Tristram to investigate the foretold impact.
- Deckard Cain realises that the prophesied crisis has started.
Tyrael’s fall kills many locals. It also reawakens the evil magic within the Cathedral.
Leoric rises as the Skeleton King, like during Diablo I. Waves of undead and monsters arise to besiege New Tristram.
The undead court
The Nephalem :
- Breaks the siege.
- Ventures underneath the Cathedral, where they…
- Rescues the investigating Cain.
- Rescues and allies with Konrad, an elite Templar warrior.
- Destroys scores of undead, and takes down the Skeleton King.
- Discovers that the “falling star” is a man.
Tyrael has lost his memory. But Deckard correctly guesses that reassembling and reforging his sword will restore him.
The Nephalem reunites the sword fragments despite the violent opposition of a Belial cult led by one Maghda. Maghda fatally wounds Cain, but the last Horadrim manages to reforge the sword before dying.
He’s succeeded by Leah, his young niece. Leah had previously believed that her uncle Deckard was spouting nonsense and fiction.
History – Act Two
Tyrael is restored by his reforged sword. He now remembers whom he is, and why he’s there. He has come to warn of Belial’s presence in Caldeum, far to the East.
He, Leah, the Nephalem, and their support personnel journey there.
The area is in chaos. Not only is Maghda’s cult rampaging in the countryside, but the Emperor had recently died.
His son suceeded him. But the kid is about 8, gives all sorts of wrong orders and puts the palace on lockdown.
The Nephalem :
- Slays the cultists and eventually Maghda. This avenges Deckard Cain and relieves pressure on the Caldeum military.
- Determines that Belial is behind the throne of Caldeum.
- Gains the support of Ereina the Enchantress, one of the Prophet’s followers.
- Joins forces with Adria. Adria is Leah’s mother, a powerful witch and scholar, and somebody with a complicated past. She was in Tristram during the original Diablo’s events.
The Black Soulstone
Adria’s research make it possible to use the Black Soulstone. This is a lost Horadric artefact, with the potential to actually destroy the Prime Evils.
However, that is only feasible by resurrecting its creator Zoltun Kulle.
Kulle had been one of the original seven Horadrim, and perhaps the mightiest early on. However, he went mad, and had to be slain by the others. The Horadrim would never again be as powerful.
A mystical genius, Kulle had enchanted himself to become immortal. But since he was such a menace, the Horadrim had gone to great lengths to hack him apart and keep the pieces separated.
As a consequence, the ghost of Kulle only agrees to collaborate if he gets put back together.
A quest ensues, wherein :
- Adria teaches Leah spells to reassemble Kulle.
- Kulle is obviously fascinated by the Nephalem. Apparently, the core of his research was to somehow turn himself into a Nephalem, and he hints that he has had some success with this.
- Kulle is fully, bodily resurrected. He keeps his end of the bargain, activating his Black Soulstone deep in his hidden base.
- However, to his surprise, the souls of the great Evils that are currently slain immediately rush within his Stone.
- Driven by paranoia, Kulle attacks. The Nephalem has to slay him in self-defense.
- Our heroes then deduce that Adria marked the souls of the slain Evils so they would be absorbed by the Black Soulstone. She likely had been working on this for 20 years.
Adria’s master plan
Adria has indeed been toiling on this ever since she learned Horadrim lore from Deckard Cain.
By that point, only two Evils aren’t trapped in the Soulstone – Belial and Azmodan. Once these can be slain and absorbed, Adria says she will destroy the Black Soulstone – and slay all seven Evils forever.
Belial’s attempts to stop the Nephalem and her allies ruin his cover in Caldeum. As the city’s population is being evacuated, he lashes out.
But the Nephalem destroys him. Belial’s soul is cast into the Black Soulstone.
However, Belial already warned Azmodan.
Furthermore, the Nephalem increasingly suspects that Adria has done something to Leah. Adria’s daughter holds great power, and her mother wields Leah like a weapon.
History – Act III & IV
Azmodan reacts in force. He thinks that taking the filled Black Soulstone will allow him to reunite the Primordial Evil – with himself as the dominant consciousness.
His great infernal armies invade Sanctuary at Mount Arreat.
The shattered mountain is guarded by the Human fortress of Bastion Keep. But though this is a mighty stronghold, even the Keep can only hold an army of this magnitude for so long.
Furthermore, Leah’s endurance is waning. She is struggling to keep the Evils locked within the Black Soulstone.
After blunting Azmodan’s assault, the Nephalem makes a sortieAn attack made by troops coming out from a position of defense.. They go all the way to the gates to the Burning Hells at Arreat. After forcing these open, they slay Azmodan.
All seven souls of the Evils are now held within Zoltun Kulle’s Black Soulstone.
At this point, Adria reveals what her actual plan has been ever since the Fall of Tristram. She was a servant of Diablo all along. And Leah’s father secretly was the Diablo-possessed Aidan, son of Leoric.
Adria destroys Leah’s soul. She has the body possessed by all the souls within the Soulstone, with Diablo as the dominant one.
Now reassembled as the primordial Evil, the seven-in-one Diablo immediately rushes the High Heavens. He defeats the archangel Imperius, shatters the Diamond Gates, and invades.
As the primordial Evil, he can defeat even the angels on their home ground.
Furthermore, the High Heavens have no experience with demonic corruption. It soon spreads. Angels and the architecture turn into servants of evil at speed.
Nevertheless, the Nephalem defeats Diablo. Since its seven souls are still witch-marked by Adria, they are reabsorbed by the Black Soulstone.
The light returns to the High Heavens, cleansing the corruption.
Since the Evils have been slain in unified form, their souls remain quiescent. But on the other hand, it turns out that the Black Soulstone is indestructible. Adria lied about that too.
Tyrael returns to the High Heavens as the Angel of Wisdom, though he remains a mortal.
He quickly founds a new order of Horadrim. But this time, it’s more of a military order and less of a team of elite mages.
Their first point of order is to hide the Black Soulstone deep underground.
History (Reaper of Souls)
(Reaper of Souls is an expansion for Diablo III. It depicts events that take place a few months after Diablo III ends).
Though Seynameh is relieved to see Diablo fall, something is off.
- The events didn’t match the spirits’ warning at the beginning of her quest.
- And even without Guardian of Death, Tyrael would presumably have been able to summon heroes to defeat the arch-devils, as he had done 20 years before.
A few months later, it becomes clear why the spirits of the dead brought out their big gun.
When it’s not Hell…
The Angel of Death, Malthael, originally was the most powerful as Wisdom, before changing his portfolio.
He is among those who believe that Humans, being half-demon, are no better than the hordes of the Burning Hells. His observation of Humans led to the conclusion that they almost always give in to evil.
Malthael never acted on this, since the Angels couldn’t fight both Humans and Demons. But with the fall of the Prime Evil, the coast is clear.
Malthael has vast following among the Angels. He calls his partisans the Reapers (no relation).
Westmarch is burning
The Reapers suddenly attack the capital city of Westmarch, killing thousands. This shocks Humans, who saw Angels as allies.
Meanwhile, Malthael attacks the Horadrim, nearly kills Tyrael, and takes the Soulstone.
As the Reapers massacre Humans, they gather the souls for their own purposes. This prevents the dead from passing on. Which is what the spirits of the Unformed Lands had foreseen months before.
Preventing transmigration on such a scale is a grave breach of the rules. Therefore, the Angel Malthael and his Reapers now have to answer to Guardian of Death.
The Nephalem counter-attacks in the streets of Westmarch. She destroys Reaper lieutenants, as well as powerful constructs used to animate undead auxiliaries using the power of stolen souls.
But Urzael, Malthael’s right hand angel, retaliates by magically nuking most of Westmarch to get the souls anyway. The Nephalem locates and slays Urzael, greatly facilitating the survivors’ defensive military efforts.
But though what is left of Westmarch can now endure, Malthael is still drawing power from mass death. Furthermore, he is doing something to the Black Soulstone.
Hey there Adria
Locating Malthael requires specific occult knowledge. With Deckard Cain dead, one expert comes to mind – Adria.
Having been a friend of Leah, the Nephalem is determined to kill the witch. Therefore finding Adria, extracting the information from her, then killing her to avenge Leah sounds like a good plan.
The Nephalem intercepts the witch in Corvus, an ancient Nephalem ruin. This is where the Black Soulstone had been briefly hidden by the new Horadrim. Adria is predictably there looking for clues about the stone’s current location.
Adria turns herself into a giant biological Nephalem war machine. But the Nephalem knows how to destroy even this nigh-invincible horror.
Just before she died, Adria had summoned a vision. It shows Malthael’s location – he’s in Pandemonium.
Pandemonium is the center of creation. As such, and despite the name, it lies halfway between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells.
For millennia, it has thus been the main battlefield for the Eternal Conflict. Malthael and his Reapers have holed up in a gigantic abandoned fortress therein.
Tyrael deduces why. Malthael is altering the Black Soulstone so it can rip the demonic essence out of everything. Humans, being half-demon, will not survive this. Humanity will therefore be obliterated.
Furthermore, Tyrael notes how Malthael made himself invulnerable by existing in a state halfway between life and death. Even Tyrael’s angelic sword couldn’t touch Malthael when they clashed.
The Nephalem storms the Pandemonium Fortress. By this point, Malthael is reaping and absorbing thousands of Human souls across Sanctuary. That makes him immensely powerful.
But Guardian of Death
- Shifts to exist on the border between life and death — it’s her job — making it possible for her to harm Malthael.
- Orders the spirits to move on — it’s her job — greatly diminishing Malthael’s power.
(This is a slight alteration of the in-game events for narrative purposes.)
Malthael shatters the Black Soulstone to absorb the souls of the Evils within. That gives him the combined power of the Prime Evil and a senior Angel.
But Guardian of Death is at that point backed by tens of thousands of irate deads out for revenge. She thus destroys the Angel of Death.
Malthael having been destroyed frees the souls of the Prime and Lesser Evils, particularly Diablo’s. The Evils won’t return right away, but it seems inevitable.
Most are now looking at Guardian of Death with unsease. Especially since her power level is now clear to all. But she just ups and disappears within hours of her victory.
Unbeknownst to the living, she is required in the Unformed Lands for crisis management. The massive influx of souls in the afterlife is a disaster. Guardian of Death is sorely needed for organisation, relief, guidance and policing.
This profile is concluded — in part #3 !