"The Balance is the even distribution of Light and Dark. Its essence is most significant to Sanctuary, but it goes beyond, to all of creation. A world where Dark rules will burn itself up. A world where Light commands will eventually stagnate. If either gained enough control of Sanctuary so that the other could not match it, then that would be the end of all things..."
The Balance, a.k.a. "Great Cycle of Being", is a precarious state that the Priests of Rathma seek to preserve.
"But should we not ever strive for good over evil?"
"Light and Dark are not necessary good and evil, son of Diomedes. Yes, good must outshine evil, but if the knowledge of evil is erased utterly, even good may turn on itself..."
The Priests of Rathma
"We, the Priests of Rathma, have been charged to maintain the Balance. But it seems many do not understand what it is. Think of the Balance as a net. An unknowable safety net that keeps your soft, pink insignificance from being consumed by oblivion. My charge is to maintain that net."
The Priests of Rathma have spent many years studying the Balance. They believe that all Creation exists in a delicate balance between Light and Darkness. Should either side gain control, Sanctuary would fall into ruin. Their beliefs state that falling to Light and Darkness are equally as horrific a fate for mankind. Falling to the Darkness would result in the world being ruled by Hell. Falling to the Light would lead humanity to stagnation and a loss of conscience. By maintaining the Balance, the priests believe that they ensure that neither angels or demons will gain too much sway over humanity. They do not see their actions as being good or evil, simply obedience in service to the Balance.
The priests hold sacred the delicate balance of life and death and are able to twist the line that borders the two. They see death merely as a natural part of life and do not seek to deny its arrival. To the priests, the actions one takes in life are as important as those that occur after death. They hold Trag'Oul as the fulcrum of the Balance. They believe that when one dies, their soul passes into the next plane of existence, where they will fulfill another role for the Balance.
The Necromancers believe that numbers influence the Balance, and that certain numbers will shift it in one way or another. They believe that even the slightest imbalance in the Cycle can lead to catastrophe.
"Because the Light and the Darkness balance each other. Any time power is passed into this world from the Light or the Darkness, a balance must be made. Demons come into this world, and a means of defeating them is also created. If the Light tries to upset the balance by introducing an object of power that can be used against the Darkness, the powers of Darkness intercede to make the balance whole again. Ultimately, the true threat to the balance, whether the Light or the Darkness has the greater power in our world, is left up to us. The people. Just as when the Prime Evils appeared in this world during the time that came to be known as the Dark Exile, the Angel Tyrael gathered the magi, warriors, and scholars in the East and formed the Brotherhood of the Horadrim. Those people would never have come together with such power if the demons had not been loosed in our world. If Tyrael had tried to do this before the Prime Evils had arrived here, Darkness would have found a means to strike a balance."
Kabraxis believed in a balance between Light and Darkness. He claimed that by entering Sanctuary, demons sow the seeds of their own downfall, which allows the Balance to be maintained. Likewise, all those who follow the Light have a weakness which may be exploited. Taramis similarly believed that Light and Darkness balance each other, and that the greatest threat to the Balance is humanity itself.
Some believe that the world should be cleansed of both demons and angels, that Light and Darkness should be erradicated, and humanity be left free to find its own path.
"Be ready to cross long distances and difficult terrain. The Balance is seldom disturbed in a series of convenient locations."
Trag'Oul was the first being to understand the Balance.
Rathma spent his early years studying the cycle of life and death, and imparted his discoveries to those willing to find him. Among the first generation of humanity, he discovered a fundamental truth; that the forces of Light and Darkness would clash eternally, and that both were a threat to the world.
Trag'Oul imparted the concept of the Balance to Mendeln during the Sin War. The Priests of Rathma strove to uphold the Balance, and always feared the day when the Balance would be lost. After the destruction of the Worldstone, the priests received portents foretelling a looming disaster. The masters of the order spent years trying to decipher them.
During the End of Days, the Balance was threatened, prompting the Priests of Rathma to dispatch an acolyte to help restore it. The acolyte declared that the Balance had been lost, that the fears of the Priests had come true.
The Balance was again disturbed by Malthael's resurrection of the dead en masse. As it was, the coming of the Reapers was the portent the priests had received, and the Necromancers lost many of their number to Malthael's forces. However, the Nephalem was able to defeat Malthael by gaining the powers of death, becoming closer to the Cycle than any Necromancer before him/her.
- The way the Balance between Light and Dark is described is very similar to The Cosmic Balance between Law and Chaos, which is the core driving force of the works of Michael Moorcock, first described as such in the Elric of Melniboné short story While the Gods Laugh in 1962.
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