|On the fifty-eighth day of our campaign, we caught up with Baal near the ancient port city of Lut Gholein. We had tracked the great Lord of Destruction all the way from the lands of Kehjistan some months before. Our leader, Tal Rasha, believed that Baal was headed north, towards the wintry lands of Scosglen, but for some reason the demon chose to forfeit his lead and take refuge within the sandblasted city. |
Wishing to avoid a confrontation in which innocents might be hurt, Tal Rasha ordered us to stay our attack until Baal had left the city’s walls. We waited and watched for three days before the treacherous creature emerged from Lut Gholein. Heading north as Tal Rasha had predicted, Baal set off once more. Before he had traveled more than a few miles into the surrounding desert, we were on him. With the strongest spells we could muster, we battered the great Lord of Destruction and forced him to give ground before us.
The enraged demon let loose the full fury of his powers. The earth itself exploded under our feet, swallowing many of our brethren. Fire leapt up from the split rock and burned many more. Destruction spilraled around us in every conceivable form, but we had traveled too far to be stopped just then. Weakened by his exertions, Baal let loose one final strike against Tal Rasha; yet, thankfully, the mage was left relatively unhurt. Unfortunately, the sacred Soulstone that he had been given by the Archangel Tyrael was shattered into several small pieces. Reeling in panic, we pressed our attack and succeeded in temporarily subduing the raging demon.
Knowing that the Soulstone’s broken shards would not be enough to contain Baal’s powerful essence, Tal Rasha quickly devised a reckless plan to contain the demon forever. With a feverish light in his eyes, he coldly walked over to Baal’s writhing form and slit the creature’s throat. As Baal’s spirit fled the dying body, Tal Rasha chose the largest of the Soulstone’s shards and jammed it into the open wound. Just as with Mephisto, Baal spirit was sucked into the golden shard’s vacuous recesses and trapped. The shard pulsed and hummed as though unable to hold its terrible content in check. Though we questioned his judgement, Tal Rasha seemed confident that the shard would hold Baal until our task was complete.
At this moment, the Archangel Tyrael appeared and held Tal Rasha in his penetrating gaze. The angel’s shimmering visage was beautiful beyond comprehension, and I distinctly remember him whispering to Tal Rasha, “Your sacrifice will be long remembered, noble mage.” With the golden shard in hand, Tyrael led us to a series of secret caves buried deep beneath the burning desert sands. There we found seven ancient tombs built by some long-forgotten people. Our grim procession stopped at the last enourmous vault, and Tyrael bade us to begin constructing a binding stone at the chamber’s center. It was only then that I realized what he and Tal Rasha had in mind . . .
We etched powerful runes of containment upon the binding stone and used our magic to craft unbreakable chains from the chamber’s walls. Once preparations were completed, Tal Rasha ordered that he be shackled and bound to the stone. To our horror, Tyrael walked forward and brandished the glowing shard before him. Before any of us could react, the Archangel drove the shard into Tal Rasha’s bare chest. Golden fire blazed from Tal Rasha’s eyes as the Lord of Destruction flooded into his writhing body. We gaped in awe as the realization of what had transpired took root in our minds. Tal Rasha had made the ultimate sacrifice: He would remain chained forever, cursed to wrestle with Baal’s foul spirit until the end of time.
Sorrowfully, we made our way back into the sunlight and watched as Tyrael closed the tomb’s giant doors forever. The last sound to escape the cold tomb was a tormented scream not born of this world. I pray that Tal Rasha’s sacrifice was not in vain. I pray that the evil buried under the desert sands remains bound until men forget that there ever were evils that walked among them.