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Diablo, the first installment in the series, takes place approximately 200 years after the Horadrim successfully sealed away the three Prime Evils.
The High Council of the Zakarum faith, founded by Akarat following the battle with the Order of Wizards under the guidance of Archangel Tyrael, chose King Leoric as the new ruler of Khanduras and sent him to establish his reign over the western territories. Leoric led an army of knights, paladins, and clerics called the Paladin Guard to maintain his royal authority. He was also accompanied by a personal guard dispatched by his family, his wife Asylla, eldest son Aiden, younger son Albrecht, and his close confidant and Grand Bishop Lazarus. Unaware of the true intentions behind the High Council's directive, which was to serve as a puppet for Diablo, Leoric believed he was sent to spread the influence of the religion. However, the Grand Bishop (or rather, the High Council) had already been corrupted by Diablo and became a tool for this sinister operation, ultimately leading to the downfall of Leoric and his family.
Upon arriving in Khanduras, Leoric, through his wisdom and mercy, won over the local tribesmen who sincerely followed him. Persuaded by his trusted advisor Lazarus, Leoric built his own estate near the ancient ruins of the Herodiric Monastery in Tristram. Everything seemed to go smoothly; under Leoric's wise leadership, the people of Khanduras embraced their foreign king, establishing good relations and trade routes with neighboring countries. Leoric and his family quickly grew fond of this land, except for the young prince Albrecht, who harbored suspicions about the ancient ruins.
While Leoric focused on governing his kingdom, Lazarus began to execute his true plan. He organized his followers to establish a cult within Khanduras and released Diablo, sealed beneath the monastery. Diablo sought a new host and naturally saw Leoric as the ideal candidate. However, Diablo underestimated the king's pride and faith in the light. Despite numerous attempts to invade the king's spirit, Diablo could not overcome such a strong soul.
Leoric, too, felt an evil force trying to enter his mind. His pride and faith in the light led him to believe he could overcome this force, and he chose to remain silent about it in front of his priests and ministers. However, Leoric was wrong; Diablo's relentless assaults overwhelmed him. Within months, the once "King of Light" became cold, irritable, and paranoid. Under Lazarus's manipulation, he falsely believed that Westmarch, a neighboring country, sought to invade his lands and preemptively sent his trusted Lachdanan Knights, led by Captain Lardner, and his eldest son Aiden to attack mighty Westmarch.
Leoric's madness worsened as he, influenced by Lazarus, began to label loyal subjects as traitors and executed them, including his wife Asylla. Diablo never fully controlled him, but it drove him insane, transforming from the wise "King of Light" into the tyrannical "Black King."
Diablo's reason for abandoning Leoric wasn't due to his resistance but because he found a new target—Leoric's younger son Albrecht. Soon, Albrecht was lured by Lazarus into the catacombs of the monastery and vanished without a trace, plunging Leoric into complete madness with his son's disappearance.
Meanwhile, Leoric's army sent to attack Westmarch was steadily defeated by the valiant Westmarch cavalry. Eventually, Captain Lardner had no choice but to retreat back to Khanduras. However, the king he once faithfully served had become a madman. Leoric saw Lardner's retreat as treason and ordered his immediate execution. Realizing the king's madness, Lardner and his loyalists fought desperately within the palace and overcame Leoric. Recognizing that his king was beyond saving, Lardner chose to give Leoric a quick death. As the sword pierced Leoric's heart, he let out a terrible scream and offered his tormented soul to the dark forces, becoming a skeletal monster. He killed all those involved in the execution, except for Lardner, who survived by sheer will but remained cursed to wander alone in the catacombs beneath the cathedral.
After Leoric's death, Diablo did not spare the poor monarch but used his dark powers to resurrect him. The resurrected Leoric, hating life itself, gathered an army of undead to continuously assault the survivors of Khanduras, plunging the once-beloved land into darkness.
After these events, Prince Aiden returned to his homeland, only to find Khanduras engulfed in darkness and fear, his family missing, and rumors of his father's madness.
Aiden then assembled a group of heroes to investigate the monastery, including a wizard seeking more knowledge and an archer from the "Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye" looking to hone her combat skills.
The archer established the "Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye" camp to fight the darkness there (the birthplace in the second game, though this quest was not present in the first game's plot). With the help of the heroes, Aiden ventured deep into the catacombs of the church, defeating Diablo's hideous minion, the Butcher, and killing the Skeleton King, allowing his father to "rest" (though Aiden did not witness Leoric's rest before going to find his brother). Along the way, he freed the cursed Captain Lardner, killed the Grand Bishop Lazarus who drove his father mad, and ultimately slew the evil demon lord.
However, after defeating Diablo, Aiden did not find his brother unharmed as he had hoped. Instead, he discovered his own sword embedded in his brother's chest; Diablo's spirit had completely merged with Albrecht, twisting him into an evil likeness. Overcome with grief and rage, Aiden sought to kill the demon lord once and for all, but what even angels could not achieve was impossible for a mortal.
He knew that merely sealing the demon lord again would not prevent Diablo from breaking free and wreaking havoc once more. Someone had to suppress him. Thus, Aiden decided to embed the Soulstone containing Diablo's spirit into his own forehead and use his willpower to suppress the demon lord for life.
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