PROLOGUE

Vendamor had no idea what had just happened.

One minute, the barbarian had been in the Tristram tavern, laughing and talking with Kormac the Templar, and the next minute… well, he wasn't.

He couldn't even see anything at first. The entire area where he was standing was bathed in a bright white light, and he had to wait for a few seconds for his eyes to adjust. What he saw both amazed and horrified him.

The walls of the chamber he was standing in were made of a pure white metal with golden patterns running down them, all exactly the same, all intricately carved by the hands of a master craftsman. Stained glass windows, not unlike those in the churches, were all around the room, letting in colored sunlight which painted much of the floor a rainbow of different colors. The chamber was dome-shaped, and at the top of it was an enormous window. Though he still couldn't see very well, he was reasonably sure there was no chorus in the chamber with him, and yet a faint stream of notes could be constantly heard in his ear. The floor beneath him was also white with a massive gold pattern branching out from the center, which was also where Vendamor was standing. He knew this place. It was the throne room of the Angiris Council. He was in the High Heavens.

He hadn't been here since he'd vanquished Diablo all those years ago, and it was both a pleasant and disturbing sight. Mortals were only allowed in Heaven if there was a serious matter that needed their interference, and almost no mortal had ever seen the throne room. This was serious.

Suddenly, a voice spoke from behind him, deep and commanding. "Vendamor Kolryd!" it said. Vendamor whipped around, and was shocked to find the Angiris Council before him.

The voice belonged to Imperius, Archangel of Valor. He and the rest of the Council members all stood before him, except, the nephalem noted, for Tyrael, Archmortal of Wisdom. That was odd.

"Vendamor," Imperius said, stepping forward. "you have done an exemplary amount of work for the safety of both Sanctuary and the High Heavens."

The barbarian knelt down. "I thank you, Archangel. It is my honor to serve. But, I must ask," he said, standing up again, "what, exactly, have I done to deserve an audience with all but one member of the Angiris Council?"

Though Vendamor could not see the archangel's face, assuming he actually had one hidden under that darkness-filled helmet, he sensed Imperius' expression grow grim. "Ah, yes, that," he said. He started to pace back and forth, hands behind his back. "That's what we've summoned you here for. You see, Vendamor, you have grown stronger than almost any other mortal in existence. You bested Diablo while he was the Prime Evil, and I have no doubt that you could obliterate any one of us. That, I'm afraid, is the problem."

"What?" Vendamor asked, growing worried. "Since when was it decided that it was a bad thing for a single man to be able to rip apart an entire demonic army singlehandedly?"

"Ah, but don't you see?" Imperius said. "That is exactly why it is a bad thing. If you can annihilate nearly all of the forces of Hell in a mere week, then what's to stop you from obtaining control of Heaven as well? That cannot, will not, be accepted."

Vendamor was stunned. "So you're telling me that you would destroy one of the most powerful defenders of purity and good in all of the three realms… just because I possess the power to destroy you? Idiotic doesn't do it justice. I would call it certifiably insane!" Vendamor froze. "That's it, isn't it? You've gone mad, haven't you? The Archangel of Valor has gone mad! Bul-Kathos, guide my-"

"SILENCE!" Imperius roared. The entirety of the High Heavens seemed to still. Even the soft singing voices stopped. "I am Imperius, Archangel of Valor, leader of the Angiris Council! You will NOT speak to me in that manner!"

Imperius' chest was heaving. He seemed one moment away from summoning his holy spear. He suddenly seemed to realize how mad he looked at that moment, and took a few deep breaths. When he calmed down, he continued speaking, in a noticeably more controlled tone. "No, we will not destroy you. We would be doing the universe an immense disservice if we ended your life. Instead, we are simply going to… remove you from the picture."

Suddenly, chains glowing with white light erupted from the ground around Vendamor, wrapping around his arms and legs, rooting him to the spot. Vendamor tried to break free, but the chains held tight. "Oh, don't bother, nephalem," Imperius said, walking towards him. "Those are some of the most heavily enchanted restraining bonds in all of the High Heavens. There's no breaking free.

"Don't worry, Vendamor, we aren't going to imprison you either. We simply think that one, the Heavens and Sanctuary are perfectly safe, at least for the time being; and two, there is another world out there that is in dire need of your abilities. So, we're going to send you there, at least for now."

"This is madness, Imperius! Madness, do you hear me?" Vendamor roared. Suddenly, a white portal opened beneath him, and he was slowly pulled into it. The last thing he saw before disappearing through the portal into the other world was Imperius saying, "Farewell, Vendamor."

One thing was for sure: Azeroth was in for one hell of a surprise.