I was thinking about the Diablo story tonight and had an interesting idea about where it might be headed. Could Diablo have 'good' intentions? Is his goal to escape from the tragic destiny of endless warfare he and the others share?
One of Diablo's major pieces of lore is the Eternal Conflict, a never-ending battle between angels and demons, good and evil, light and shadow, order and chaos. In Reaper of Souls, Malthael (Archangel of Wisdom/Death) tried to end the conflict by killing all the beings that opposed his side. It was the only solution he could think of. No more demons/nephalem, no more war. A very rational conclusion for an angel that lived by the ideals of order.
During RoS we also learn some startling news: as we engage Adria we are informed that Diablo has foreseen his return, and it will be us that is responsible. We eventually confront Malthael and he ends up destroying the Black Soulstone and consuming the souls of the Evils within to try and defeat us. We beat Malthael and thus free Diablo, just as he had planned.
What is Diablo's desire? We know he conspired to kill off his siblings so he could become the one Prime Evil. We know he somehow knew he would fall at the Crystal Arch since he sent Adria off to prepare for the next phase. We know he somehow even knew that it would be the Nephalem hero that freed him in the end. As RoS ends, we learn that Tyrael and the angels are afraid of the Nephalem and their power to choose between good or evil. Malthael in particular did not like that aspect of humanity.
"The humans are corrupt, and are not worthy of the choice between good or evil. Angels and demons do not choose, as it should be." - Malthael
A being of order sees nothing wrong with how things are in the universe. What would a being of chaos think about that? I don't think they would agree that they should do things 'just because' like the angels.
Which brings us to Diablo. Through his manipulations and scheming, he has sown discord in the Angiris Council and thus weakened his long-time foe, eliminated his brothers and sister and become the Prime Evil, and ends RoS as a free demon lord. What's next? In a conversation with Tyrael about Tathamet - the 7-headed dragon and original embodiment of evil that Diablo and his siblings were the heads of - it is said that Diablo wishes to become the Dragon again.
When Diablo became the Prime Evil it was by corrupting his host, Leah. That body was presumably destroyed when it disintegrated, but now Diablo - and only him as the Prime Evil, not his brothers/sister - is free. Through time immemorial, the Evils (and angels) are always reborn when they are killed unless something crazy is done like Soulstones being rigged to trap their souls. Diablo doesn't fear death, he has died many times, perhaps even willingly as seen in Diablo III. If the chain of events up to the end of RoS are part of his plan, will Diablo be able to regenerate as Tathamet now that he is considered the Prime Evil and has absorbed the other Evils' souls?
If Diablo becomes Tathamet, what then? Gameplay wise, we know we'd inevitably fight him, we'll probably defeat him, somehow. What if that is again just all part of Diablo's plan? Diablo doesn't give a hoot in hell about dying, he was already one of Tathamet's heads and survived the first death - a death that helped create the known universe. What if his plan all along was to become Tathamet and then martyr himself in the hopes, or knowledge, that a new universe would be created, one where demons have free will, where they can choose what to do, where they don't have to endlessly fight an unwinnable war? A universe where demons would rule because there would be no angels to stop them. This could leave the existing universe with Sanctuary, or what's left of it, and a new universe made from the reborn Tathamet's death (the setting for Diablo IV).
What else can we look at that shows where the story is heading? The Prophecy of the End Days is a new part of the lore they came up with in D3 that tells of a coming apocalypse. It is likely we have seen all but one of the lines of the prophecy be fulfilled, it ends with the line "As Fate lies shattered forever." The Prophecy was supposed to be a warning of what was to come, the "key to salvation" to prevent the end times according to Deckard Cain. We've had zero luck preventing any of these things from happening, so odds are not in our favor that we will prevent this final line from occurring. The Prophecy refers to the angels by aspect, which would mean something involving Ithereal comes last. Ithereal is the Archangel of Fate, and he had a Scroll of Fate upon which was written everything that would transpire to the angels. According to the Scroll, Diablo was victorious during the events of Act IV. The Nephalem were not on the scroll, and thus able to circumvent that fate. It is likely unknown what has happened regarding fate since then, but according to the wiki about Ithereal in the Book of Tyrael, he was 'inconclusive' when asked what the angels should do with the Black Soulstone, potentially meaning they are now going completely 'off the rails' instead of following a preordained destiny, which is how surprises such as Malthael can happen. The barbarian tells Auriel that the 'chains of fate' shall bind her no more when you save her.
There is one curveball here, a big old dragon entity called Trag'Oul, who was the guardian of Sanctuary that tried to maintain a Balance between good and evil. According to this mantra, "Good must always outshine Evil, but never should Evil be completely eradicated, lest Good eventually turn on itself." It is also said that the world will cease to be should one side take over. (That should mean Malthael was destined to fail from the get go since his plan would result in the end of any semblance of Balance.)
The Nephalem themselves are also a bit of a mystery in what role they will play in the future. The angels fear their strength and ability to be good or evil. The Nephalem are tired of being used as pawns in the Eternal Conflict and want to stand up for themself, to throw off the oppression of both demons and angels. The Amazon lore says that "Amazons regard the destruction of the Three Prime Evils as their destiny, ushering in a new era when mortal men and women can at long last take their rightful place in the universe, no longer merely playthings for the beings of the Outer Realms." The Crusaders believe that humanity are the only 'Balanced' beings in all of creation. The Crusader PC also playfully tells Ithereal, after Ithereal explains why he voted to save the Nephalem, that when the time comes the Crusader would vote to spare the angels. Ithereal says, "You jest, but that day is not impossible." I don't know if the Crusader is the only one he says that to (he did not say it to Barbarian), so if it is a new line they had Ithereal's VA record it could be a hint of things to come.
How does this all come together? The final doomsday prophecy line implies something happens to Fate. We assume it means Ithereal, but it could mean fate itself. The Nephalem taking over as masters of the universe would possibly mean Fate had been shattered, since they were never part of the Scroll of Fate in the first place. The Nephalem destroying all demons and/or angels would likely have the same effect as well. Diablo's scheme may not be to shatter Ithereal (he has already screwed over the Angiris Council to being mostly harmless), but he may try to 'shatter forever' the fate that angels and demons have to fight each other merely because that is 'as it should be.' These scenarios could certainly cause the 'end of all things' that was prophecized - not an end not to life itself, but an end to a way of life. An end to the insane eternal conflict that plagued all of creation.
Regardless, something big should be going down in the Diablo universe once the D3 story concludes. Perhaps the 'endgame' for the Diablo trilogy was spoiled in D3's trailer. "It has been said that in the end of all things you can find a new beginning."
Diablo's plans have included both the elimination of his fellow Great Evils, as well as the members of the Angiris Council. He stoked Imperius' fire, leading him to become more erratic. After Malthael's departure, Imperius became unrestrained and turned on Tyrael. Tyrael was the next to fall, stripping the Angiris Council of Justice. With Justice, Wisdom and Valor gone, Heaven now only has Fate and Hope left in the face of Imperius' Wrath. Neither of these two have been explored in any detail, leading me to hope they will play a larger role in coming chapters. We also have to consider the possibility that Diablo has somehow incorporated either the aspect of Death or Malthael's essence in some way.
Trag'Oul is basically humanity's soul, representing their Past, Present and Future in one. Could Trag'Oul therefor be tied to Fate? Might Diablo, this entire time, be trying to lure Trag'Oul out from hiding to force a confrontation? Perhaps he even wants to possess Trag'Oul! How wicked would that be?
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Be it through hallowed grounds or lands of sorrow
All in the Forger's wake is left bereft and fallow
Is the residuum worth the cost of destruction and maiming;
Or is the shaping a culling and exercise in taming?
The road's goal is the dark Origin of Being
But be wary through what thickets it winds.
-Excerpt from the Litany of Residuum;
As Translated by He Who Brings Order