Written by: Micky Neilson
Art by: Duncan Fegredo
Expanded Universe: Diablo 3
Original: Official Diablo 3 Community Site
Valla smelled the rotting dead from a mile away.
The air was warm despite the clouds that blanketed Khanduras as the demon hunter arrived in what was left of Holbrook—once a tiny, struggling farm community, now a deserted ghost town.
Or so it seemed; the heavy stench of putrification suggested that the residents were still present, just not among the living.
Valla’s mentor, Josen, stood in the center of the village, considering a pile of debris: scattered mason stones, upturned rock and soil.
He was dressed in the attire of the demon hunters’ calling. The soft light reflected dully off the plate armor that adorned half his body. His twin crossbows were slung from his thighs, within easy reach. His hood was down, and his cloak snapped in the gusting wind.
Valla was clothed in similar fashion, the greatest difference being the long, dark scarf she wore that even now covered the lower half of her face. The sawyer’s daughter slowed her horse, dismounted, and waited for a moment, silent and still, assessing.
There was a barely discernible, persistent hum. The only signs of life came from Josen and two other hunters, one searching the derelict structures, another standing near a rundown storehouse. Whatever had happened here, they were too late to do anything about it. Now it was a matter of looking for survivors. That was, after all, the second most important thing her people did: feed and shelter those left homeless in the aftermath of unthinkable catastrophe. Guide them, encourage them, heal them, educate and train them… to do the most important thing, should they so choose: become a demon hunter and annihilate the hellspawn responsible for evils like this.
Josen continued studying the rubble intently as Valla approached. “I came as quickly as I could,” she stated, lowering her scarf.
The faint thrumming sound droned on. Josen’s eyes remained fixed.
“We should not be here.” His voice was loose gravel. “Had Delios succeeded in his task, we would not be here.” His shimmering eyes finally met hers. “Tell me what you see.”