This is a vision...
Standing in the darkest, foulest and, for all intents and purposes, abnormal place he had ever been in his life, Velen could at least take solace in that it was not real. Or, if it was, he was removed from it, simply a passive observer. However, the reason for his presence was another matter. K'ure had granted him visions before, visions that were all related to the coming of Sargeras to Argus and his people's future slavery to the Burning Legion. But this place...this dark tomb which reeked of death and darkness, was something different. It was not the past and assuming that the eredar and his followers could be saved by the naaru, the seer hoped it wasn't his future either.
Hope...something that diminished every passing day.
"K'ure?" Velen whispered in the darkness. "Are you there?"
There was no answer, no light to illuminate the darkness that Velen resided in. At least no light apart from the candles that three figures were huddled around. One, a figure clad in dark robes, clearly a traveller. One, a figure of similar size clad in cloth, as if entombed. And one which towered above both of them. A figure of hatred and the leader of the trio. A figure of ancient knowledge who spread out his arms as if to embrace the darkness that surrounded him. A figure that Velen knew was utterly wrong.
"Man'ari..." Velen whispered.
It was ironic in a sense. "Man'ari" once meant "gifted," in the tongue of the eredar, but with the most gifted members of his kind having been swayed by Sargeras' shadow, the original meaning no longer held. Yet Velen could find no humour here. Three figures, all of them beings on par with Sargeras himself, at least in their malice for all living things. Three figures that, while demons, also seemed different from what Velen had sensed about the demons of the Burning Legion. Three figures that, inexplicably, seemed familiar...
In the end, it was academic. What did matter was that their leader was speaking, his voice like a thousand needles plunging into Velen's mind.
"My brothers..." said the lead demon. "At long last we are reunited. The Infernal Gate has been prepared, and the time of our final victory is at hand. Let the way to Hell be opened!"
Despite the man'ari's voice echoing throughout what Velen now recognised as a tomb, he barely heard it. He felt its pain, true, but the sound of the damned drowned it out, a twisting gateway opening next to a bridge made of skull and bone. All three...brothers channelled their power into it, sustaining the gateway into the Twisting Nether.
No...not the Twisting Nether. Something worse...
K'ure had used the term "Hell" a few times, always to describe the realm in which demons resided. But while Velen could sense what was on the other side of that gate, it was not of the spawn of his own universe. No...while the beings were similar in some respects, they were different in others. They yearned not so much for destruction as Sargeras did, but for chaos itself...
Certainly that was the aim of the man'ari towering above the other two...
"And the Evil that was once vanquished shall rise anew," cackled the demon. "Wrapped in the guise of Man shall he walk amongst the innocent and Terror shall consume they that dwell upon the Earth."
Earth...was that the name of this place? Somehow, Velen doubted it. Somehow, he knew its name...knew it to be Sanctuary. A sanctuary that, as a storm of bones burst through the floor of the chamber's centre, was about to be defiled.
"The skies shall rain fire, and the seas will become as blood. The righteous shall fall before the wicked, and all of Creation shall tremble before the burning standards of Hell!" declared the head demon. The one Velen now knew to be named "Mephisto."
K'ure...are you with me? Are you telling me these things?
"Yes, I am," came the voice of the naaru. "Fear not, Velen of the draenei. It will be over soon."
Somehow, Velen didn't find that very comforting. He had no idea why K'ure was showing him...it. Indeed, he had no idea what "it" was. And with "it" now including the flesh of the figure in back crawling as if something was beneath it, with fangs, horns and burning eyes piercing the darkness, Velen didn't want to find out.
But you must. You must learn.
"The gate stands ready!" Mephisto declared, gazing in some twisted form of happiness for his writing companion. Now my young brother, the time has come to assume your true form! Arise Diablo, Lord of Terror!"
Diablo...so that was the name of the man'ari who wore the flesh of a mortal. The name of a demon of spiked tail, claws, horns and bore the essence of terror itself. Indeed, Velen found himself fearing this...this monster more than Mephisto. For while Diablo was the youngest of the three brothers, he was no less formidable than them, achieving a balance of wisdom and power-a middle ground between Mephisto and the final brother, Baal, respectively.
Just like I was once. A moderator between Kil'jaeden and Archimonde...
Velen could tell that this event was nearing its end as Diablo walked...no, strided towards the gateway. As the screams of Hell increased, it was as if the portal was reacting to the monster's presence. Certainly Mephisto reacted at least.
"You are the harbinger of our return Diablo!" declared the Lord of Hatred. "Send forth your Terror into Hell."
Silently nodding and entering the gateway, the Lord of Terror obliged. And following K'ure's voice to return to the waking world, to leave this universe behind him, Velen was equally as obliging.
He didn't hate K'ure. In fact, he was grateful for him. Because after losing faith in the Light, after doubting the possibility of the naaru coming to save his people, he now not only believed in them, but understood why his savoir had shown him this. The three brothers...Mephisto, Diablo and Baal. Three joined together in common cause, joined by what amounted to kinship between members of family. Kinship that he had once shared with Archimonde and Kil'jaeden. Yes, Velen understood. Understood why they had felt familiar.
Understood that if he had followed Sargeras, the three eredar would have become the same.
The idea for this oneshot came when I glanced through The Art of Warcraft, specifically the section on the Burning Legion. It was here where it was explained how and why Blizzard designed Warcraft's demons to be different from those in Diablo. It thus popped into my mind that if Velen had followed Sargeras along with Kil'jaden and Archimonde, another similarity could be drawn between the two franchises, or rather strengthening them. Hence the idea for this oneshot came to me.