"Much uncertainty surrounds the archangel Malthael. Once the calm guiding hand of wisdom, he was lost to us the moment the Worldstone disappeared. Unable to fathom that catastrophic event, he abandoned Heaven. His departure created a colossal fracture within the council, one that, to this day, remains unrepaired."
- 1 Biography
- 2 In-game
- 3 Personality and Traits
- 4 Trivia
- 5 References
The Great Conflict
As with the rest of the Heavenly Host and its leaders, Malthael participated in the Great Conflict and played a crucial role in it. He was the first leader of the Angiris Council (and its eldest member) and through it, angelkind as a whole. According to Itherael, when the angels were young, Malthael was the one who found the Eye of Anu in Pandemonium and named it the Worldstone. All of angelkind swore to defend it.
In one battle against the forces of Hell in Pandemonium, Malthael operated in sync with the rest of the Council, as they fought demonic forces led by Diablo. Malthael easily deflected the demons' attacks right back at them and used his weapons to immobilize Diablo himself. However, Imperius’ hotheadedness led to the Lord of Terror being brutally struck down rather than being taken prisoner as Tyrael and Auriel intended to, which would have been beneficial to the war effort. Malthael remained silent the entire time.
The Sin War
"Whatever the choice in the end, it does not matter for me...I abstain."
— Malthael abstains from judging Sanctuary(src)
Not all minions of Heaven and Hell were content to be bound by the Great Conflict. The result was that under the leadership of the angel Inarius and demon Lilith, a number of rogues stole the Worldstone and created their own realm—Sanctuary. Malthael became consumed with discovering where the artifact had disappeared to, and as the Archangel of Wisdom, was tortured by his inability to find it.
The coupling of angel and demon would lead to the rise of the nephalem. Following Sanctuary's creation, while it was originally hidden from the High Heavens, Malthael's mood darkened. Deckard Cain would later speculate that the existence of the nephalem clouded Malthael's vision or opened his eyes to a new truth, or that there was a connection between the nephalem and Malthael's chalice that the angel became aware of. Towards the end of the Sin War, Heaven became aware of the existence of Sanctuary, and in the final battle, the forces of Heaven, Hell, and the Edyrem clashed against each other. Malthael watched on, and beheld the existence of humanity.
In the aftermath of the battle, the Angiris Council convened to discuss Sanctuary's fate and that of its inhabitants. Malthael abstained from voting, but the end result was that Sanctuary and its denizens would be allowed to exist, free to choose their own path.
"I have seen visions of him in Pandemonium, lost in contemplation. He is searching for something. The calmness that once shrouded him is gone and replaced with a dark new power. It radiates off him, even in my visions. A wave of icy black surging over me, stabbing at my spirit like a thousand needles. Like me, he has taken a path to power. One from which there is no going back."
Malthael disappeared after the destruction of the Worldstone. Just prior to this, he had apparently taken a greater interest in humanity. His departure broke the unity of the Angiris Council. Some speculated (correctly) that he haunted the Halls of Pandemonium, seeking answers to the unknowable mysteries of life and death. Malthael did wander these halls, but in madness, as humanity obscured wisdom from his vision. Adria speculated that Malthael knew that Tyrael was responsible for the Worldstone's destruction, and knew why he'd been forced to carry out the action he did. Perhaps, in his "last gasp of wisdom," Malthael had realized that no matter what the angels did, Hell would always find a way to control humanity. That the Angiris Council's quest to preserve order was doomed to fail, and thus, he abandoned it.
After Diablo's defeat in his siege of the High Heavens, a now mortal Tyrael took Malthael's place as the Aspect of Wisdom. Malthael saw these events, and had seen the events that had led up to them. He had seen the actions of Zoltun Kulle, a human who had embraced evil. He had beheld the latent power of the nephalem hero. He had seen that hero defeat the Prime Evil, an act that in all his years of war in the Eternal Conflict, he had never been able to match. Faced with such power, and beholding humanity as an abomination, Malthael resolved to become the embodiment of Death. While he had been unable to vote for humanity's destruction at the end of the Sin War, Malthael now saw wisdom in the eradication of humankind.
Malthael discovered a whirling vortex of human souls within the heart of Pendemonium Fortress, where the great Worldstone once rested. He transformed this into a Soul Prison and harnessed the spirits' energy to become the Aspect of Death. With the Lords of Hell defeated, he reasoned that humanity was the most powerful "demonic" force left now, as per their ancient nephalem heritage. With humanity's eradication, Heaven would stand alone, victorious in the Great Conflict. He established the Pandemonium Fortress as his base of operations. Imperius's lieutenant, Balzael, fell in league with Malthael. He also came to be joined by Urzael, who shared Malthael's views on humanity. The angelic maidens that Urzael had brought with him also pledged themselves to Malthael's cause. Malthael also manipulated the Templar Order sect in Westmarch to act as a distraction in Sanctuary so that his wider efforts would not be detected.
Storm of Light
"Death is the void, and all mortals fear it."
— Malthael's reflections(src)
In the aftermath of Diablo's assault on Heaven, Malthael, going by the moniker of "the Guardian," was kept informed of events by Balzael. He was told of how the Black Soulstone was corrupting the Angiris Council, just as he planned. The Council was discussing the fate of Sanctuary, and it was Malthael's goal that the stone be given enough time to corrupt the Council so that they would resolve to unleash the Heavenly Host upon the mortal world, eradicating humanity. However, Tyrael's act of reforming the Horadrim in a bid to retrieve the stone threw his plans into jeopardy. That, and the Templar Order sect he'd influenced in Westmarch was scattered by the Knights of Westmarch, its members killed or imprisoned. The stone was taking too long to sway the Council against humanity, so Malthael altered his plans. He was aware that Tyrael had found Corvus, which would make for a useful stronghold. Although its enchantments denied entry to non-mortals, Balzael believed Malthael would overcome that problem. At the Pools of Wisdom, Malthael informed Balzael to let Tyrael and the Horadrim take the stone. Once it was out of Heaven, he would take the stone for himself and enact a new plan, one that would still lead to humanity's end. The plan worked, and the Horadrim retrieved the stone.
In Sanctuary, Malthael possessed one of the captive Templars, and killed the others that had been imprisoned with the man. Malthael used his powers to extinguish the torches of the cells and reap the souls of the other prisoners. He then moved down into the catacombs that would take him to Corvus. And to the Black Soulstone.
Reaper of Souls
"No one can stop death..."
— Malthael to Tyrael(src)
Not long after Tyrael took on his former aspect, Malthael re-emerged, now embodying the aspect of death. Within the Tomb of Rakkis, he confronted his erstwhile brother and a group of Horadrim, who were in the process of containing the Black Soulstone. Malthael effortlessly slew the Horadrim members and devoured their souls in the process (minus Lorath Nahr). While he was able to defend himself against Malthael's initial onslaught, Tyrael could not harm Malthael and was also incapacitated. Seeing that Tyrael's soul was free of demonic taint (unlike those of humans), he did not see Tyrael as his enemy and ultimately decided to spare his life. After casting Tyrael aside, Malthael then approached the stonewith intent on bending its powers to his will, and bringing an end to the Great Conflict once and for all. Tyrael (powerless to stop Malthael), declared that the nephalem would stop him. Malthael paused his approach and turned to face his mortal brother; responding that no one could stop death, before shattering the restraints and claiming the Soulstone for himself.
Both Tyrael and the Nephalem were baffled as to why Malthael had forcefully taken the Black Soulstone. As the Nephalem fought to save what was left of Westmarch, Tyrael deciphered a sliver of the Black Soulstone that had been broken off and left behind. Eventually, the Nephalem tracked Malthael's location to the Pandemonium Fortress while Tyrael finished deciphering the Soulstone sliver. Much to the horror of his foes, Malthael was fundamentally altering the Black Soulstone to consume and contain all demonic essence in Sanctuary. This meant that humanity faced annihilation as their demonic heritage would be torn from their souls by the stone and their bodies ripped apart. Malthael continued his work from the heart of the Pandemonium Fortress, continually feeding off the increasing souls of the dead and growing more powerful with each passing moment.
In an act of betrayal against his fellow angels, Malthael led his Reapers to attack the Pandemonium Gate in the High Heavens to prevent the Nephalem from following him. Doing this drew the Angiris Council into conflict with him, particularly Imperius, who was shocked to learn of Malthael's betrayal. Although Imperius did not care whether Malthael wanted to destroy humanity, he did agree that Malthael had to be stopped and sent his angels to aid the Nephalem against Malthael in Pandemonium.
As the Nephalem fought their way through the Battlefields of Eternity and gained entrance to the Pandemonium Fortress, Malthael taunted the hero, claiming the eradication of humanity had already begun. The Nephalem, now empowered and wielding the forces of Death itself, confronted Malthael at the heart of the fortress. Malthael proved to be an incredibly powerful adversary, displaying masterful prowess with his weapons as well as bombarding the Nephalem with waves of undeath. To bring the battle to an end, Malthael summoned the Black Soulstone into the fortress and shattered it, consuming the essence of Diablo. While this granted Malthael a massive boost in power, he was still ultimately defeated by the Nephalem. Malthael's defeat was shown to be a painful, agonizing one; coupled with a blinding explosion of energy that destroyed the roof of the fortress. As he fell to the floor below, the souls of all he had consumed erupted from his body, and his body slowly disintegrated. This included Diablo himself who, thanks to Malthael's actions, was now free.
"How long, I wonder, had his madness gone unnoticed by those closest to him?"
— Tyrael reflecting on Malthael(src)
Malthael's actions had a lasting impact on both Sanctuary and Heaven. On Sanctuary, entire populations had been decimated, and cities ravaged. Malthael's actions had erradicated 90% of the human race. The carnage led to religious schisms, famine, and war amongst mankind. Heaven likewise suffered greatly at the hands of the Reapers, and after Malthael's defeat, shuttered their gates.
At some point during or after Malthael's genocide, Tyrael learnt of the existence of the Soulsmasher, a weapon supposedly crafted by Malthael. He suspected that the weapon was crafted as part of an early attempt to free human souls for his consumption. He was left to wonder how long Malthael's madness had gone unnoticed by those closest to him.
Rumors continue to persist that Malthael once took part in a game of chance with a mortal, the mortal winning a pair of breeches. As the clothing drew out the life of all those close by, the winner brought about the demise of his entire household. Abd al-Hazir reflected that if the story was true, Malthael was a sore loser.
Tips and Other Additional Information
While players are fighting through the streets of Westmarch, there is a chance that any of the still-living guardsmen of the city, when corrupted by the Reapers, will be turned into a Shade of Malthael. Though these roughly maintain his appearance, they do so with a darkened hue, and only make use of his whirling ring attack. Other than this, the Shades are of little threat, usually having some more Life than the average Revenant Soldiers.
The final battle with Malthael occurs on a relatively small circular platform. There are two health wells to the west and east. The battle is divided into three phases. The following abilities are ones he uses during the whole fight:
- Charge attack: A charge that causes knockback, but the damage is low, if any. This ability is not too dangeous by itself, but it can (and often will) kick the player into Death Shrouds.
- Drain Soul: A whirling ring around Malthael, causing heavy damage to anyone inside. Malthael is fully mobile when using that power, and has a chance to reflect incoming projectiles (up to the point where said projectiles can actually damage the user if they do not avoid them).
- Death Shrouds: Malthael will summon clouds of mist that move slowly on the floor. These cause heavy Cold damage to anyone passing through, in very fast ticks, but they can be made harmless through the use of Talisman of Aranoch. They will dissipate over time, but they are also spammable, especially in the last phase. Malthael will spawn them faster the more health he is losing. During Phase 2, Malthael will not use this ability.
Phase 1: You Will Be The Last of Your Kind
- Soul Nova: From time to time, Malthael flies up and lands in the center of the platform. From there, he starts releasing a swarm of glowing blobs, each moving in a straight line toward the platform's edge. While this is happening, the Nephalem hero will suffer from a chilling debuff. The blobs hit quite hard and knock heroes back a very minor distance, but they are slow and sparse enough that dodging can be done easily, especially if you stand close to the platform's edge. Malthael can (and should) be damaged while he stands in the center, an easy task for ranged attackers.
Phase 2: The End is Inevitable
There is no cutscene or any event upon reaching the second phase of the fight, but the player will have reached this phase if Malthael utters that "The end is inevitable" (occurs after Malthael suffers at least 25% of his total Life in damage). For this phase, his Death Shroud and Soul Nova abilities are replaced with the ability to summon minions and to invoke Skull Spiral:
- Skull Spiral: Malthael periodically summons a group of souls at the edge of the arena. They quickly spiral toward the center of the arena, from where they fly out toward the edges. These souls cause high damage should the player fail to dodge them. The very edge of the platform stays clear of the souls' initial spiraling, while the final stage can be dodged easily enough.
- Summoning: Malthael periodically summons two Exorcists. The damage they cause can be significant, especially with their teleporting. However, they do drop Health Globes when killed.
Note that if you keep close to the edge to avoid the souls, it is possible to get pinned down, so it's best to have a skill like Teleport ready.
Once Malthael's health is low enough (somewhere below 50%), all remaining Exorcists die. In a cutscene, Malthael shatters the Black Soulstone and absorbs it into his body. This starts the final stage.
Phase 3: Not the Only Weapon
Skull Spiral and Summoning abilities are replaced with Soul Sweep, and Death Shroud can be used again.
- Soul Sweep: Malthael will from time to time fly into the air and land in the center of the platform. From there, he will release a group of five red waves of flame, each creating a stream of fire damaging everything on one side of it. The waves fly in all directions except behind Malthael (his facing is random). Get into that area as soon as possible, because immediately afterwards, two wing-like lines of projectiles (possibly the Soulstone's shards) sweep out around him, starting at the front and then going left and right. The sector behind him is the only place that remains clear, and the damage is severe. The only time the damage should be taken is if the sector behind Malthael is covered by Death Shrouds, and the player has a poor resistance to Cold damage, compared to the Fire resistance needed to shrug off the shards; one or two shrouds are not that threatening, but many more will put even the Soul Sweep to shame in a quick timeframe.
Otherwise, the main difference is the larger amount of Death Shrouds: Malthael can now spawn them two at a time.
Perhaps due to his insane Life (7 billion at Torment VI (70) for soloing heroes), Malthael has no enrage timer (there have been precedents of fighting him for up to 3 hours on Torment VI difficulty). However, this fight is more of a survival battle, not a DPS race, as the amount of damage that will be inevitably taken is insane. A high degree of Toughness, especially against that of Cold damage, coupled with a source of independent damage (like pets), kiting and/or damage absorption is seen as the better choice rather than a pure glass cannon build. The best moment for using the damage cooldowns, if any, is when Malthael first prepares his Soul Sweep attack, as for a few seconds, he is extremely vulnerable (provided one manages to get behind him in time). If playing alone, be sure to equip your followers with items that make them more durable (generally, a great deal of Cold resistance, if one does not have access to the legendary follower items that prevent them from dying), otherwise the amount of damage they will inevitably receive will keep them incapacitated for the whole fight.
Some tips to keep in mind for surviving the Soul Sweep: if Malthael suffers a penalty to attack speed, the area covered by the shards will be larger than normal. If Malthael suffers a big debuff to his attack speed, the damage will eventually become unavoidable. If possible, avoid slowing his attack speed for this reason. Fortunately, this is one of the few times slowing down an opponent's rate of attacks will prove rather detrimental. Also, if at all possible, try to avoid using a movement skill like Furious Charge into Malthael's position if at all possible. The reason for this is because all the fireballs fired off will hit the Nephalem, causing massive damage.
Even the Angel of Death has his weaknesses, however. Since most of the damage dealt is Cold, a Talisman of Aranoch will give a player some protection. As Malthael himself also possesses a greater degree of Life than even Rift Guardians of his level, if there ever was a time to use a Bul-Kathos's Wedding Band, he would be the best candidate for its drain.
Upon death, Malthael drops a guaranteed Reaper's Wraps recipe (if the player doesn't have one yet). Upon the very first kill, he also drops one legendary item in Campaign mode (can be reset by starting anew). Before patch 2.0.6., he also had a chance to drop the Reaper's Fear ingredient.
It is possible to be permanently stuck at the edge of the platform, unable to move normally, which is especially deadly combined with Malthael's Drain Soul and Death Shroud attacks. This is especially risky for Hardcore characters, as chances of surviving the fight in that case are negligible.
- "Nephalem..." (First appearance to the nephalem)
- "Nephalem...I will bring an end to conflict. In death, there is peace." (after defeating Urzael)
- "Nephalem...the Black Soulstone journeys through the portal to Sanctuary. Even now, it spreads death across your world. And so ends, the Eternal Conflict." (when entering the Death Gate)
- "I heard a sound and did not know what it was... I sought wisdom in the Chalice, but there was none. The sound calls to me, and I knew them: human souls... but where?" (The Path of Wisdom, part 1)
- "I brought myself to Sanctuary, where humans dwell... but the souls did not call me from that place. I searched the breadth of creation, always following the sound - always the sound... and then, I understood: Pandemonium, where the Worldstone once rested." (The Path of Wisdom, part 2)
- "The souls swirl and writhe. I now know the truth of mortals: all paths lead to death... whatever their struggles, whatever their triumphs, they die. That is Wisdom." (The Path of Wisdom, part 3)
- "The souls of man show their potential for greatness: they can stand for good like any angel in Heaven, or they can enact evil worthy of the lowest demon of Hell. The power of such a choice should not rest in the hearts of beings who are here for an instant, then flare and die." (The Path of Wisdom, part 4)
- "The humans cannot be trusted. They are born of angel and demon, but demons pervert whatever they touch. The humans are corrupt, and are not worthy of the choice between good and evil - angels and demons do not choose, as it should be." (The Path of Wisdom, part 5)
- "A Nephalem trapped the Prime Evil in the Black Soulstone - this is the perfect moment to end the Eternal Conflict... the demons are easy prey, but the humans must be eliminated before they grow too strong; the soulstone is the perfect weapon. The Eternal Conflict WILL end." (The Path of Wisdom, part 6)
- "The soulstone is upon Sanctuary. The blood of demons will soon be gone from all Creation."
- "You will be the last of your kind. For a few moments."
- "Death comes, nephalem." (Beginning Phase 1)
- "A world free of evil. You need but die."
- "The Eternal Conflict ends."
- "The end is inevitable." (Beginning Phase 2)
- "There is no other way."
- "Death is beyond your reach."
- "Death will release you from pain."
- "Death consumes all."
- "In the end, all bow to death."
- "You are out of time, nephalem."
- "Your world dies. There is nothing to save."
- "You are imbued with the power of death. But that will not save you/but that is not the only weapon I possess." (before destroying the Black Soulstone, beginning Phase 3)
Heroes of the Storm
"Once the Aspect of Wisdom, Malthael abandoned heaven after the Worldstone's destruction. In secret, he had resolved to end the Eternal Conflict by becoming a Reaper of Souls and eliminating everything affected by demonic corruption, including humanity."
— Heroes of the Storm(src)
- For the detailed information, see the respective article at HotS Wiki
Malthael also appears as a playable character in Heroes of the Storm.
Most of his lore and Diablo III abilities make a comeback, though heavily reworked.
Malthael has a presence in Diablo Chess. He represents the rook piece.
Personality and Traits
"This angel commands a power beyond his understanding."
"Surely he possessed great knowledge as the Archangel of Wisdom?"
"Yes, but he sees virtue only in the light, not the Balance. Without some measure of harmony between both these forces, we are all lost. The victory he imagines for himself could never come to pass."
Malthael was a gaunt figure, adorned in black robes and armor. As the Archangel of Wisdom, he was once an intelligent and noble being who was said to cherish all life. However, he came to be regarded as melancholic, evasive, and even frightening, and was an enigma even to his own kind. He rarely spoke, was slow to anger and could be ponderous and slow to act, but was revered by other angels for his insight. When he did speak, his voice was said to have enraptured other angels through its melody and the wisdom it conveyed. However, as his demeanor darkened, his voice became chilling and could even provoke thoughts of foreboding and feelings of angst. Mendeln was one such example, Malthael's voice filling him with thoughts of permanent, empty death. Malthael saw humanity as an "abomination" that shouldn't exist. In his writings, Malthael revealed that he started hearing strange voices (the sound, as he himself titled it) calling him to Pandemonium. After learning about the potential and power that humanity had within itself, he concluded them to be abominations, as he thought that their ability to have free will was not natural in the order of things between angels and demons.
Adria had a degree of respect for Malthael; far more than for other angels. Speculating that he saw the folly in the Angiris Council's attempts to maintain order, she stated that "for that, at least, he has my respect." However, Malthael's ability to see the true nature of things made him (in her view), unpredictable, unknowable, and dangerous."
As the Angel of Death, Malthael became even darker, callously murdering those who opposed him and seeing things in black and white. He saw virtue only in the Light, and had no interest in the concept of the Balance. He was willing to destroy humanity by any means necessary and even went so far as to betray his angelic brethren. His wings, once bright and purple, had become white and wispy, skeletal in their appearance. The method of his transformation was different from other corrupted angels such as Izual.
Wisdom was once Malthael's aspect, thus, he was bound to see all things. He so derived this ability from Chalad'ar, the Chalice of Wisdom. This ability was reduced, if not outright removed by apparently the mere existence of humanity, at least after the Worldstone's destruction. While Malthael was slow to anger, he was still a peerless combatant. Wielding a pair of sickle-like shotels, he was able to deflect enemy attacks with only the slightest use of force.
As the Archangel of Wisdom, Malthael was one of the most powerful angels in existence. As the Angel of Death, Malthael's power only grew stronger. In this new aspect, Malthael demonstrated the ability to rip souls, possess mortals, absorb fire, and rot bodies by creating a dense fog with his wings. He was also extremely in-tune with souls, and was able to sense any demonic taint within them. In addition, Malthael managed to attune himself to deathly shadow, becoming partially phased out of reality and therefore immune to all physical or magical harm, even to blows of angelic blades. The only being that could have possibly strike him down was the Nephalem, and only after they claimed a part of the soul power Malthael used to bind the forces of Death. After consuming the demonic essence within the Black Soulstone, Malthael was able to channel the Great Evils' energies against his foe(s).
- The Angel of Death is a figure in the Talmud, the Bible and the Quran, often otherwise regarded as the Grim Reaper.
- He is voiced by Paul Nakauchi.
- Despite "Reaper of Souls" (the title of the expansion) supposedly referring to Malthael, he is not addressed or named as such anywhere in game.
- When Malthael is killed, his armor turns gold and and his wings white in his death animation. This can be very briefly seen when the souls of the dead pour out of his body, moments before he disintegrates. It plays in contrast to his previous appearance in Diablo III: Wrath, where his armor was mostly black and wings purple.
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