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After the creation of Sanctuary, Inarius created the Worldstone to hide it from the Burning Hells and the High Heavens. Later, after Inarius discovered that the offspring of angels and demons (known as Nephalems) could one day be more powerful than him, he altered the Worldstone to slowly weaken the Nephalems. Every generation of Nephalem after the first progressively grew weaker. It is unknown how long it took, but the Nephalems eventually became what are now considered normal humans.
When the Prime Evils arrived on Sanctuary, they tricked Tyrael into believing that Soulstones made from the Worldstone would be able to contain their wills and powers. In truth, it was their plan from the start. From inside the Soulstones they waited. When the time was right, they started to warp the minds of the inhabitants above where they were buried. Once free to roam, the Prime Evils set their plain in motion. If it weren't for the Heroes of Sanctuary, Baal would have gained control over the power of the Worldstone. Unless, of course, this was part of the Prime Evils' master plan all along. For when Tyrael found Baal had corrupted the Worldstone, he felt his only move was to destroy it. Now that the Worldstone is gone, will humans slowly turn back to the powerful beings they once were? Now that Both the Burning Hells and the High Heavens can see Sanctuary will they bring their war there? We just have to wait and see in Diablo 3...