This brand new story is set in the Diablo 3 timeline, around the time of the game itself. Most of the tale takes place in a mage academy in the city of Gea Kul, where a young and exceptionally gifted female mage (who is loosely based on the Diablo 3 wizard) has just begun the lengthy and very demanding wizardry training program. In this story I envisioned what it would be like for that woman; young, talented, and determined, but utterly lacking in experience (in magery or life), and surrounded by aged professors, jealous students, and assisted by a youngish, kindly, but very conflicted Archmaester. This story is much more character-based (for better or worse) than my previous (serious) Diablo fan fiction, which was largely plot-driven and action-heavy.

    This part one of a three-part story. The divisions are due to length (it’s around 27,000 words), but short stories are often presented in installments to heighten the suspense. So here’s part one, with part two coming Wednesday, and part three Friday. The sample below is from the very start of the story; it’s literally the opening two paragraphs. As we always say, your feedback is the only payment our artistic contributors receive, so don’t be afraid to let them know what you liked. Or didn’t. (Two female friends who read this one had radically different reactions to it, so your mileage will almost certainly vary.)

      As darkness fell, I found myself sitting shoulder to shoulder with four of my fellow mages. We had food, but ate little. We had wood, but burned only enough to keep the campfire alight. We had words, but did not share them, for each man was lost in his own thoughts. I knew the others were thinking about the day’s toils, the blood that warfare had left on our hands, and the grim deeds that awaited us on the morrow. It is a terrible task to contemplate, to think of the men and demons we will have to cut through in pursuit of a wayward initiate, but it must be done.

      Though I believe that this is my last night among the living, I do not believe in fate. This tragedy was not preordained by some cruel god; some roll of the cosmic bones. This end was not inevitable. It could have been avoided, and Zia, the strongest student to ever pass through the Academy at Gea Kul, would still be enrolled there, learning and prospering, rather than almost single-handedly turning back the largest invasion of demons in remembered history, while a death squad of her former instructors closes in from behind. A death squad of which I am the leader. A death squad that will surely overtake her tomorrow, though I would not care to bet on who will be the dealer, and who the receiver, of that death.

    My initial goal was to finish this piece of Diablo 3 fan fiction in time to post it on Halloween, since that’s become something of a site tradition.Unfortunately for that plan, the story expanded during the writing process, and I didn’t get it finished in time. Fortunately, it lost all Halloween connection as well, so I didn’t have to wait until next year.

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