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Tomb Raiders: Akarat’s Inner Light

A disciple of the Prophet of Light and her quest to save Sanctuary.


River Gate

 

The huge Diablo 4 news from this past Sunday about the release date for the Vessel of Hatred Expansion was received with much fanfare from Diablo gamers everywhere. The announcement was made during the live Xbox Showcase event, and included a new trailer that can, perhaps, be described as the most shocking cinematic for any Diablo game to date.

NeyrelleVirtually every existing gaming news website had relayed the announcement within a couple of hours of the trailer’s worldwide premier. Most of these publications featured some version of an “everything you need to know” article that covered all the information shared during the Showcase as well as on Blizzard’s blogpost. While these articles did a great job of describing the gnarly events that were featured in the trailer, there was relatively little attention given to exactly what Neyrelle said or why she said it. That is, until now.

As is customary with any animated sequence in the Diablo cinematic universe, there’s always much more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye. So, please, pull up a chair by the fireplace, grab a flagon of ale, and settle in while I share with you the tale of how and why Neyrelle arrived at the point in her journey when she declared, “I must get to Akarat’s Tomb.”

** TLDR Notice: What follows is suitably thorough.

The Mage Clans

The Sin War was an epoch in the history of the Diablo universe that was precipitated by one of the Mage Clans summoning a demon into Sanctuary. The eventual result was that both the High Heavens and the Burning Hells became fully aware of the existence of Sanctuary, along with the countless progeny of Inarius and Lilith.

The Angiris Council considered humanity to be an abomination, and the Prime Evils considered them to be a potentially powerful weapon. Be that as it may, the end of the Sin War was punctuated by Inarius’ imprisonment in Hell, Lilith’s banishment to the Void, and a pact made between Heaven and Hell to never again interfere with Sanctuary and the lives of the Nephalem.

Yshari Sanctum Mages
Yshari Sanctum, Headquarters of the Mage Clans

Devastated by the loss of the Father and Mother of Sanctuary and having been cut off by both Heaven and Hell, mankind fell to the mages for guidance and for overall stability. Religions, such as the Cathedral of Light and The Triune, lost popularity as an Age of Magic began. A Magical Council was established, called the Al’raquish, which was made up of three of the oldest Mage Clans, the Ammuit, the Ennead, and the Vizjerei.

The Magical Council agreed on the dangers posed by Summoning Magic, and thereby strictly prohibited its use. For a time, these new laws were obeyed by all. However, the Vizjerei soon began to dabble again with the darker arts during the fifteen hundred years that followed. This went on until the situation escalated into a full-blown war between the Mage Clans.

The Mage War

Having been overpowered by the Ammuit and the Ennead, the Vizjerei felt compelled to rely on their dark arts to turn the tide of the war. This perversion even included the act of turning members of the Umbaru clan into the Khazra we know them as today. Eventually, and believing that they had no other choice, the Vizjerei summoned denizens of the Burning Hells, pushing the Ammuit and Ennead clans to the brink of defeat.

Ironically, the open use of dark magic prompted a civil war within the Vizjerei clan, leaving it in shambles. The Vizjerei were forced to vow to never again engage in the summoning of demons. Nevertheless, the consequences of the destructive Mage War can be felt in Sanctuary to this day, from the hordes of roaming demonic minions and the depraved Khazra, to the deformed landscapes that scar the countryside.

The Zakarum

Zakarum Chruch
Zakarum Church

As a result of the destruction brought about by the Mage War, magical societies came to be despised. Needing a replacement for the power and authority previously held by the Magical Council, humanity turned once more to faith and religion, as a new Age of Faith began. Two centuries after the Mage War concluded, the earliest form of the Zakarum began to take root. The name “Zakarum” comes from “Zakara,” which means “inner light.”

It was an ascetic practitioner named Akarat who claimed to have seen a vision while in deep meditation. The vision was of Uldyssian who, at the height of his awakened power as a Nephalem, sacrificed himself to defeat Inarius and to save Sanctuary at the end of the Sin War. However, Akarat, in his ignorance, mistook Uldyssian for an angel. Akarat called the angel Yaerius, which simply meant “son of light” in his native tongue. Akarat believed that the vision had shown him the Force of Light, which illuminates all souls with its blessed power, and it became the basis for the Zakarum religion.

Akarat

Akarat was originally from Xiansai, also known as the Great Isle, which is located in the northern hemisphere within the Frozen Sea. Its mountain ranges are littered with arcane repositories and an untold number of magical artifacts, leading some to suggest that Xiansai’s people have practiced magic for millennia.

By all accounts, Akarat was kind, generous, meek, and professed selflessness and compassion. Having become disillusioned with society and its constant conflicts, he became a Wanderer (sound familiar?) and, after a time, he joined the ranks of a humble meditative order that sought enlightenment and peace. This order was, most likely, the Monks of Ivgorod at the Floating Sky Monastery.

It was during his time at the Monastery that Akarat had his vision of the angel Yaerius. Believing himself to be the appointed Prophet of Light, Akarat’s teachings stressed the necessity of resisting all things evil and embracing the Light with total devotion. Akarat eventually set out on a grand pilgrimage to the cities of Kehjistan, intent on enlightening his fellow men about the divine Light that he claimed existed within everyone.

Akarat eventually disappeared into the Torajan jungles to the south, known to the local inhabitants as Nahantu. Nevertheless, his teachings had left their mark, though they would waft away in near complete obscurity for a millennium. It was not until Emperor Tassara’s codification of the Zakarum faith that it became an actual church, and subsequently, the dominant religion in Sanctuary.

Crusader Order
Crusader Order Crest

The Crusades

Following the codification by Emperor Tassara, General Rakkis and his Paladins made a historic journey across the Twin Seas to bring the Light to the West, where he eventually became the first King of Westmarch. Just before that, however, a Zakarum priest named Akkhan sought out the most devout warriors and sent them East with a single sacred mission, which was to root out and cleanse away all decay and corruption from the Zakarum faith.

Akkan’s Crusaders began their holy quest by following the path that Akarat had allegedly taken in the last days of his life. The Crusader order has seen very little change since their founding, maintaining beliefs and practices that are the most faithful to the original teachings of Akarat. One of their enduring traditions has been their quest to discover the location of Akarat’s tomb. In fact, you may have already found a Crusader’s letter in the Hawezar region that reads as follows:

“You will be the one to find the tomb of Akarat, I know it in my bones. Let the Light be your guide… and our love be your courage.”

Neyrelle’s Journey

Neyrelle Soulstone 001We already know that it was at the end of the Diablo 4 main campaign when Neyrelle set off on her own quest to find a way of dealing with the return of the Prime Evils to Sanctuary. That journey began with a trek across Estuar, all the while clutching the Sapphire Soulstone in her remaining hand. She boarded a boat at the Kurast docks and sailed across the Twin Seas to Lut Gholein. She eventually ended up at the Floating Sky Monastery where she spent time with one of the monks, perhaps learning all that she could about Akarat and his vision.

A few days after reading the letter that Neyrelle had left for him, Lorath set out to follow her. Along the way he was simultaneously compiling a compendium of the most powerful artifacts in Sanctuary. He believed that this book could one day be of great use to Neyrelle in her mission. He would also occasionally find notes from Neyrelle where she described the growing power that Mephisto’s essence was gaining over her. Lorath’s journey of discovery naturally culminated with a visit to Xiansai, the birthplace of Akarat.

Akarat’s Tomb

In the newly released trailer for the Vessel of Hatred expansion, we see Neyrelle travelling by river in a small boat. We hear her chanting to Akarat the same way Symon had done in By Three They Come. It’s clear that she’s returned to Estuar and is making her way south from Kurast to the River Gate, the conduit between the northern part of Kehjistan and the southern Torajan jungles. She’s there because she’s tracing the steps of Akarat’s final expedition along the same rumored path that had once been followed by Akkan’s Crusaders so long ago.

So, why does she need to find Akarat’s tomb? Well, let’s connect the dots. Neyrelle has been on a quest to find a way of dealing with the Prime Evils. Lorath has been following behind her on a concomitant journey to compile a comprehensive record of the most powerful artifacts in Sanctuary. Taken together, this suggests that Akarat’s tomb may contain the artifact that is required for Neyrelle to succeed in her mission. It’s also possible that the tomb, rather than containing an artifact, instead contains an answer.

Uldyssian
Uldyssian, the Son of Light

The Light

Akarat had a vision of Uldyssian, the most powerful Nephalem of all time, who Akarat called Yaerius, or the son of light. It was this vision that served as the basis for the most dominant religion in Sanctuary. The principal tenet of the Zakarum faith is the Force of Light, which illuminates all souls with its blessed power. The Light is the only power in the universe capable of defeating both Angels and Demons and saving Sanctuary. It is the power of Uldyssian, it is the power of the Nephalem, and it is the power that exists within everyone who is a descendant of Inarius and Lilith.

The question to which Neyrelle is seeking an answer is, “What is the Light?” She’s searching through the Torajan jungle because she believes that the tomb of the Prophet of Light and the founder of the Zakarum faith may hold the knowledge required to tap into this awesome power once again. As always, only time will tell if she succeeds (and whether or not all my predictions end up being wrong 😒).

Content Speculation

Not long after the release date trailer premiered on the Xbox Showcase, many of the most ardent Diablo fans took to Twitter to offer their opinions. Of the countless posts I looked through, there are a couple that I would like to share as representative examples.

Fellow Diablo lore enthusiast and regular Diablo Podcast panelist Neinball went on record with the following statement:

“My favorite part of this trailer is how it depicts the ‘battle of wills’ going on in Neyrelle’s mind. To actually see a representation of the conflict going on for her soul was amazing. I say ‘battle’ because it’s obvious that Mephisto’s already won, it’s just a matter of time.”

EllyDavis, who is the co-founder of the PureDiablo website, had something similar to share:

“Ah, so Lorath ended up failing and Mephisto gets her then.”

Neyrelle 002
Neyrelle, deep in the depths of Nahantu

A couple of things occurred to me after reading numerous other comments just like these. The first was about how the trailer makes it very obvious that Neyrelle will eventually succumb to the same fate as all of the previous Soulstone couriers who came before her. At the same time, however, a fate like that somehow seems just a little too obvious at this point.

Right after that, our beloved Diablo 4 Community Manager Adam Fletcher posted a comment of his own:

“So what have we learned about carrying a Soulstone…”

It was the ellipsis at the end of that sentence that clinched the conspiracy theory in my suspicious mind. His query sounded more like misdirection than an actual question. Yes, a questline that involves Mephisto possessing Neyrelle as his mortal host would make for a remarkable story. Nevertheless, I still would not be in favor of giving it an award for Best Adapted Screenplay, if you know what I mean.

We’ve been down this road so many times before in Diablo lore that the franchise is now practically begging for a really juicy Soulstone plot twist. Does Neyrelle also possess the inner power of the Light? Well, the way I see it, Neyrelle is to Diablo what Kwan Ha is to Halo. So, do we really even need to ask that question? There just has to be more to the story, and I truly believe that, in the end, it will be all of us who will be seeking help from Neyrelle rather than the other way around.

See You Next Time

Before I close here, I would like to give a shout out to Judy Alice Lee for doing such a superb job with the voice acting for Neyrelle. I must admit that one of the reasons why I’d like to see Neyrelle win the “battle” is so we get to enjoy a lot more of Ms. Lee’s artistry.

The PureDiablo community would like to know your opinion on this topic, so please sound off in the comments section below, or contact me on Twitter. Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions for future topics here at PureDiablo. In the meantime, be sure to keep an eye on the news feed so you’ll have all the up-to-date info you need to get the most out of your game.

If you believe that any of the information shared above is inaccurate in any way, please let us know, along with a reference for the correct information, so we can update this document accordingly.


Gazerrick ArmsGazerrick is a staff writer for PureDiablo who focuses primarily on casual gaming interests and lore for the Diablo community. When not hacking and slashing his way through a new Season, he can be found participating in, and presenting at, various pop culture conventions in southern Arizona. You can follow him on Twitter @Gazerrick9000 for even more of his gaming indulgences. A collection of his creative media is also available at Cactus Palm Perspectives.



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