Who is Deckard Cain in the Diablo universe?
Deckard Cain has been in Diablo since the beginning. One of the last of the Horadrim, he was always there to identify items for us, game after game. But even if you haven’t been a Diablo player for quite that long, you may recall Deckard having a bit of a bad time in Diablo 3.
With Diablo 2: Resurrected coming out, it seemed like a good time to revisit Deckard Cain and the role he’s played throughout the series. So stay awhile and listen, and we’ll talk about that.
Cain was born to be the last of the Horadrim
Deckard Cain was born to Aderes Cain and a simple tanner in Tristram. He always knew his mother was a bit strange — she told stories about Heaven and Hell, about Angels and Demons fighting wars on Sanctuary, and about the ancient Horadrim who helped protect Sanctuary from the Eternal Conflict. She also forbade him to take his father’s surname. Indeed, we don’t even know what it was.
As he grew older, Deckard came into conflict with his mother. He didn’t believe her stories about the Demons battling the Angels on Sanctuary, derided the Horadrim as an extinct order, and after his father’s death he left Tristram and his mother, not caring about the fate she’d planned for him as a Horadrim. A wild period of adventure followed, where he went to Kehjistan and studied ancient texts.
But his mother’s attempt to instill a love of the ancient stories had borne at least some fruit, and when Cain returned to Tristram he became a schoolteacher. It was in these years that Cain married a woman named Amelia and they had a son, Jered. But Cain was a distant, aloof man who cared more for his scholarship than his other commitments, and he and his wife eventually began to argue about Cain’s failings as a father. Jered grew to the age of four with very little of his father’s attention, and finally Amelia took her son and left Tristram for her mother’s house.
They never made it.
A darkness rises in Tristram
With his family slain by bandits, Cain felt that he himself was responsible by his neglect. He might have gone mad with grief, but in time, he found solace of a sort in his work, especially when he was entrusted as the chief tutor for Prince Aidan. Cain may well have used the prince as a surrogate for his deceased son, but his fondness for Aidan was genuine.
However, the events of the Darkening of Tristram soon took precedence. King Leoric was apparently mad. He sent his son Aidan and the Royal Army to fight and be destroyed by the far larger army of Westmarch, executed his wife on baseless charges of treason, and now was convinced that the villagers of Tristram had stolen his son Alberecht. The return of Lachdanan, former Commander of the Guard, only created further tensions. Cain managed to enter Tristram Cathedral and study the ancient texts there, which confirmed every wild story his mother ever told him and more.
Cain had always fought within himself about the Horadrim — he’d claimed to care nothing about them, yet named his son Jered after his famous ancestor in the Horadrim. Cain learned of Diablo and his imprisonment beneath Tristram Cathedral, which was originally a Zakarum monastery built by the Horadrim as a means to confine the Soulstone that imprisoned the Lord of Terror.
At last, Cain believed. He was indeed the last of the Horadrim, and he had to act.
But his realization came too late. Lachdanan struck down King Leoric, demons began plaguing Tristram, Archbishop Lazarus led a party into the Cathedral to find Alberecht and none of them ever returned.
The Horadrim lives on
Just when things seemed darkest, Prince Aidan, Cain’s former pupil, returned to Tristram. Cain couldn’t go into the Cathedral himself to discover the truth of his suspicions, but he could inform Aidan, a seasoned warrior who’d survived the battle with Westmarch’s army, of all that had transpired. And so he did, and Aidan went forth into the Cathedral…. and we all know how that turned out. Cain did all he could to aid a band of adventurers in their quest to defeat Diablo, Mephisto, and Baal, sharing Horadric secrets. And after the destruction of the Worldstone, Cain dedicated his life to documenting and preventing such evil from returning.
Sadly, as he aged, Deckard learned what his mother had all those years before — it was easy for others to dismiss the truths he had come to learn at such great costs, easy for people to call them stories instead of history, and even the people you love most might not listen until it is too late. Leah, Aidan’s daughter with Adria and Cain’s adopted granddaughter, would accompany Deckard for years as he sought out Horadric texts. Yet she never believed him, no more than he had believed his own mother Aderes all those years ago.
In the end Deckard used his Horadric arts to reforge the sword of a mysterious stranger who’d fallen into Tristran Cathedral as a star from the heavens, and revealed it to be the sword El’druin and its owner to be Tyrael, the former Archangel of Justice. Unfortunately, the witch Magda wounded him so terribly in the process that he died shortly thereafter. Still, his last act allowed the Nephalem to find and free Tyrael and give him El’druin, restoring his memories so he could continue the fight against the Evils — even though he was now mortal. In the end, without Cain’s sacrifice, Diablo might well have destroyed the High Heavens as the Prime Evil.
Tyrael would later re-create the Horadrim in Cain’s honor. Thus was the life of Deckard Cain — wandering scholar, last of the Horadrim, and unlikely hero.
Originally posted 8/19/2021. Updated 9/29/2021.
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