The ether was pure white.
No sensation of touch, sound, or sight.
Freed from the Sword, Raziel's consciousness tumbled and flew through this void, desperately trying to find some sort of direction in which to travel but his journey seemed random.
He wasn't entirely sure how long he had been floating but it came to a stop when all of a sudden, he was flung from the pure white void and back into the world of colour.
His eyes snapped open and staring up, he found that he was staring at a stone ceiling. Feeling the sensations he realised that he had a body. Sitting up, he looked down at himself indeed with that he had lost more than once.
No more was he simply an essence bond to a weapon. Desperately he searched back through his memories, trying to recall what had happened.
It was painful to try. Strange as it was, Raziel could recall two separate events running alongside each other. He could remember being there with Kain fighting Sabre but at the same time he could recall being present at the meeting where the other clan chiefs and the princess had met to discuss the aftermath of the rebellion of Willendorf.
He held his hands out in front of him, seeing the familiar three fingers but with unblemished blue skin. Acting on impulse, he held a hand to his mouth and discovered that he did indeed have a jaw. He wasn't in the ghoulish body he had inhabited for so long before.
He coughed once and pulled the top of his pants open and peeked inside.
He grinned from ear to ear.
Suddenly he felt a brush of something soft up against his back and his froze. Slowly he reached back and felt a pair of wings protruding away from him. They were wings of the ancients, black with feathers rather than the bat like ones Kain had torn from him.
"But how…" He asked himself, swinging his feet over the edge of the bed he had been lying down in. "How did I..." It was about then that he noticed the chamber around him. A large rectangular room with fine satin drapes, chestnut furniture and a mirror at one end.
Slowly, as if afraid of what he might see, Raziel walked over to the mirror and saw his reflection. He almost stuttered at the sight of his former handsome face, restored to him. True the blue skin and wings were new but the face was all Raziel was focusing one.
For a brief moment he felt like crying. A very brief moment. One did not rule a clan breaking into waterworks when emotionally touched.
Suddenly he became away of the clan drape hanging on the wall next to his bed. It was his symbol, the curved jagged symbol of the Razielim.
Not only had his handsome face been restored… but his clan as well? Had everything that had been taken from him been given back?
The large doors leading into the chamber entered and a female vampire entered. It was obvious by her stagger that she was having trouble with the extra weight of the new wings and was attempting to rediscover her point of balance.
"Lord Raziel, good morning." She started towards me, dipping down low in a bow of respect. "Your breakfast will be ready in a few minutes. However a messenger from Willendorf has arrived and wishes to speak with you."
Raziel took a moment to regain some composure.
"Yes, very well, I will see him."
"Should I not invite him in instead?" The female asked.
"No, I feel some fresh air before breakfast." She would believe that but Raziel simply wanted to take a look for himself at the stronghold his clan was building here.
The memories from one half of his spilt recall informed him that after the Pillars had been restored, the Razielim had retreated to the western most mountains to carve out a settlement where they would have some level of independence.
All the clans had followed suite after Kain had not returned, although Queen Umah kept their ambitions in check.
Queen Umah… that would take some getting used to.
The mountain settlement of Raz-rafih was carved into solid rock, making it hard to attack and endurable to the elements. Mounted high above the town of Coorhagen it was a superb defensible spot.
Construction had only just started so the conditions were somewhat rugged for the most part but with persistence, it wouldn't take long to cultivate the place.
Raziel instinctively flinched when he stepped out into the sunlight, half expected to be reduced to ashes on the spot but instead he felt the warmth of the sun on his skin and the cold mountain air and felt…strangely…good.
The messenger that had come to meet him was a Seroli. Neither half of Raziel's recall knew what happened to them after the restoration of the pillars but he knew that a scant few of them had decided to remain in the employ of the royal Lion court rather than go off with Ewoden.
"My lord Raziel, I bring you the latest news from the south."
The messenger was too overly courteous and Raziel suspected he was angling for praise for having come so far out here.
"But first my lord." He held forth a scrolled tied up with fine red silk. "As you requested, the new map of Nosgoth."
It took Raziel a moment to remember but one half of his recall did inform him that he had ordered a map. The assault by the Elder God upon Nosgoth had devastated the land, redrawing the coastline dramatically and carving up whatever remained inland. As such, the old maps of Nosgoth were no longer valid.
Raziel took the scrolls and unravelled it, holding the ink drawing upon it up to the sunlight.
The tidal wave that had smashed against Nosgoth's southern coat had carved out several islands before making a large lake that almost cut the western side of Nosgoth off from the east.
The earthquake had created dozens of valleys and new jagged mountains sprouting up where grassy plains had once been.
Willendorf was of course marked as the human capital. Meridian was gone, or at least most of it underwater. Now that it was an aquatic necropolis it had been removed from the map.
Willendorf had been hit hard by the wave as well, a good deal of the city washed away leaving the only remaining piece being the stronghold fort on the island in the centre.
The other clan's cities, although still fledgling settlements like Raz-rafih, were marked as well.
Dumah had settled his clan in the east, just north of Willendorf. His city was marked as Bull's keep. Raziel couldn't help but chuckle. An apt name given its creator.
Ruhab, in something of a bizarre coincidence, had settled his clan on the now wide shore of the lake of tears. This was where he had settled during the years of Kain's empire, where the drowned Abbey had once been. His settlement was marked as Myrmidon.
Zephon had returned to Dark Eden, reclaimed the ruin, and renamed it Arcid. Little else was listed and Raziel suspected his clan had gone into isolationism, just as he had in Kain's empire.
Turel's clan had gone the furthest north eastern point in Nosgoth and along with William and Umah were building the first metropolis for the vampires, remaking the ruins of Stahlberg and the surrounding lands. So far this city was simply labelled Stahlberg after its human name but once completed, it would probably received a new name in a christening.
Melchiach was marked as taking out land for himself and his clan where the hamlet of Uschtenheim had once been. He had probably placed himself there to act as a buffer against the isolationist Zephonim in case Zephon got any ideas. The Zephonim clan leader had been the one most disturbed by the loss of immortality and had been almost erratic when he left the conclave.
Raziel barely even listened to the other news the messenger had to offer, such as the funeral of the King of Willendorf and the formal coronation of Queen Alicia Ottmar. There was a single location on the map that drew his eyes immediately. Surrounded by a natural moat were the Pillars of Nosgoth.
"Excuse me, please, I am afraid I must be going." He told the messenger. "Relay all matters of importance to my steward."
"My lord, where are you going?" The female who had accompanied him asked as Raziel spread his wings, drawing on the somewhat brief experience one half of his recall had about powered flight.
"I er… I have to be somewhere." That was the best excuse he could come up with before he soured into the air, beating his wings hard as he soured into the cloudless sky.
Somehow, he reasoned, when his essence had been released when the sword was destroyed he had gone to the only thing he could; the body of his former self. In affect, he had literally and paradoxically possessed himself.
That was why it was painful trying to use both halves of his memory at once; the paradox was something his mind could not get around.
But Kain? Where was Kain? The Scion of Balance had disappeared in that flash and Raziel could not sense him.
Flying south, Raziel tried to remember what had happened in that exact moment. When the Reaver had pieced the eye of the Elder, the strain of energies elemental, spiritual and physical, had been too much for the blade and the action of sealing the Elder away in the demon dimension had shattered the weapon.
The action had freed Raziel and the reforming of history meant that the purgatorial cycle which he had been doomed to was now void and inert.
This world, restored back to its former glory, was breathtaking to behold. Green grass rich with dew grew out across fields and parries, rolling over hills and jagged rocks. The trees were tall, their thick canopy's rich with colour and life. Birds…birds were actually in the air, chirping and singing and to some extent Raziel could understand their songs.
They sang of renewal, of new births and opportunity. Their chirpy optimism was infectious.
There was movement down below him and flying down to investigate, Raziel found a small collection of demons down on the shores of an unfamiliar lake, before the start of a small forest. There was a large fire demon and several lightning demons around and they appeared to be arguing.
Trees, reeds and other vegetation lined the banks; feeding off the water and growing stronger. The grass further inland was waist high and the flowers seemed to be three times their natural size.
Deer drank from the lake nearby, a whole herd of them at the waters edge less than a few feet away.
Starved of life for so long, the plants were absorbing so much energy they were having a tremendous growth spurt.
A range of mountains stood out against the horizon, but Raziel could not recognize them. He had no ideas where he was at this present moment the land was simply too different to recognize. But it was a joy to stare at.
He could feel the earth beneath his feet almost overflowing with energy after held back for so long; like a lake held back by a dam.
"Not good enough, still too unoriginal." Raziel heard the fire demon mutter as it sat down on the ground with a loud thud. "I'm not going to be able to sleep now until I think of something."
One of the lightning demons looked up, noticing Raziel.
"Ho vampire, is a strange thing to see one of your kind this far south." It greeted him, waving its pincers in the air with a friendly gesture. Raziel had never thought such behaviour would be possible in beings that originated from the demon dimension, where the rules of physics required one to go insane.
"I am on an errand." Raziel told them, dropping down to the ground and folding his wings. "Although what may I ask are beings such as yourselves doing out here in the middle of the countryside?"
"'Tis the only place we can go." Another lightning demon answered. "The east of Nosgoth, at least the wilderness, has little to no humans. We tend to frighten them and they chase us with swords and pitchforks. We think it best to avoid them until they get used to our presence."
"That might take a while." Raziel warned them.
"Indeed." A third demon muttered, rolling its golden eyeballs.
The large fire demons simply sat there, a hand against the side of its head as it looked thoughtful.
"May I ask what you are talking about here?" Raziel asked.
"We're trying to come up with a name for ourselves." One of the lightning demons replied. "We have our own unique names but never before have had we contemplated a name for our species."
"We dislike being called 'demons' by the other sentient beings." Another added. "So we think up a new name."
"Any no luck thus far?"
"None. We are new to this… thinking… method. Before we acted on instinct and anger. This new clarity is challenging to us."
The large demon grunted before looking up with a sudden sharpness in its pig like eyes.
"Beastial men!" He declared loudly. "I like that. New name. I am name maker!"
The lightning demons however did not seem enthusiastic.
"I'm afraid I do not know the lay of the land that well… at least not now." Raziel started. "Might I enquire which way it is to the Pillars of Nosgoth?"
One of the demons gestured off towards the south east.
"If you've not been to the coast after the flood then you'll find it on an island. It's being fortified, made into a defensible stronghold."
That rang quite a loud and familiar bell for Raziel.
Without even waiting for them to say anything else he took to the air, beating his wings as hard as he could to gain some speed.
Flying south he kept going until he saw it, a thin strike of white that stood to the south east; vertically from the ground to go up so far it was impossibly to see the top.
That was the only landmark Raziel needed to see. With a spread flap of both wings he sped through the air towards it, flying over the transformed land.
As he nearest, the white line became more and more distinct; growing thicker and bolder. Then that single line separated into nine separate ones. Raziel flew on and within the space of a few minutes he was at the base of the Pillars.
The Island marked as the location for the Pillars was indeed occupied and being fortified. The entire island was being made into an isolated fortress that was only accessible either from the terraces that allowed vampires to fly in or the port where boats and ships could dock.
"The sanctuary of the Clans." Raziel breathed, recognising the design of the fortress. All around the pillars this bastion was so much like the one he had left behind in Kain's ruined future that it was almost scary.
It had the massive iron doors and high battlements, with the clan banners hanging outside and Kain's own symbol; the one he had born on the banner he wore over his shoulder imprinted across the front of the door.
There were new additions however. The Lion of Willendorf was there as well, right next to the banner with the symbol of the Dumahim. Next along were banners bearing the symbols of the various Hylden houses, House Pyre, House Aqua, House Aer and House Terra.
Nine towers stood around the outside edge of the fortress, protected by battlements and each with a large terrace, the tops pointed and laid with tiles. Eight of them were the same size but the last one at the back behind the ever stretching pillars was wider and far taller.
"Lord Raziel. We have not expected your arrival." Several vampires bearing the crest of Clan Turelim stated, snapping to attention as he arrived on a beautifully engraved and decorated terrace.
"Had we had word of your coming we'd have prepared a reception for you." Another added.
"That is alright." Raziel told them, having no wish to be bogged down with bureaucracy at a time like this.
"Shall I inform the Guardian Vorador of your arrival?" The first asked.
So this was Vorador's doing was it? Raziel asked himself.
"No, I will go to him myself. I would like to have words with him in private."
Raziel was led through the sanctuary and he marvelled at the similarities between this version and the one he had been familiar with, so long ago now. By this sanctuary was not merely inhabited by vampires. There were Hylden here as well, many of them, along with a large collection of humans and even one or two demons.
As Raziel had expected Vorador was to be found in the centre of the stronghold, in a large courtyard there the base of the pillars was set. The pillars themselves, now once again pure and unyielding, stood there silently lancing up to piece the cloudless sky.
"Lord Raziel for you, your Guardianship." The escorting Turelim began and bowed as he exited, allowing Raziel and Vorador to be alone. They shut the door to the centre behind them.
"Ah my dear clan lord. What brings you to the Sanctuary this day? I was under the impression you were to stay in Raz-rafih to help your clan build its citadel." Vorador began, turning to face me.
It was hard to imagine him without his green skin and enlarged ears but there he was. The hair on his head was growing longer and the baldness he had endured was now disappearing. It made him look quite different.
Attached to his belt was his token he had received from the Pillar, the obsidian hammer that was a strange mixture in style of a hammer used in battle and a hammer used for armourer.
"Vorador, I… I am confused." Raziel admitted and the new Guardian of the Pillar of Conflict raised an eyebrow. "I was fighting with Kain… inside the Reaver Blade. He had just struck the Elder, the Kraken, the blow that finished him… but then… then I was cast out."
Vorador moved closer, inspecting him carefully, almost in the same fashion Kain had before he tore the wings from his back. Considering where he was, the enveloping sense of deja-vu was unnerving for Raziel.
"And when I stopped drifting I was in this body."
"You're the same one I saw outside the Shrine of Darkness… and then again at my old Mansion aren't you?" He asked.
Raziel nodded limply.
"I am Raziel."
Vorador absorbed the information, quietly pondering the intriguing development, before a smile spread over his lips.
"Then you have done what you set out to do. You have escaped the curse of being the spirit of the Reaver."
"But at a terrible cost." Raziel added. "Where is Kain? What happened to him?"
"Nobody knows." Vorador replied, gesturing off to the side where a shrine had been carved into the wall. Two angelic beings clasped hands overhead to form an archway and in the space below on a podium was a box.
The box was long and made of stone, with the engraved icon of the Reaver upon the lid. Raziel had seen a similar container in Janos' retreat.
"We saw the Elder torn from the ground and sucked into the rift into the demon dimension so we assumed Kain had won but when we came to the underground chamber, all we found were these."
He pushed the box open and within, laid on silk cushions were the fragments of the Reaver blade. The blade was completely shattered, the hilt in pieces and the skull that ha adorned it cracked right down the middle. It was like the outcome of the first between Kain and himself, when the paradox of the Reaver attempting to devour its own soul shattered it.
"It's an empty shell now. No more than a fragmented blade." Vorador said, closing the box. "But I will keep these fragments here."
"The Kain is dead?" Raziel asked, looking up towards the Pillar of Balance.
"If he was, I would know it." Vorador told him. "Whenever a Guardian dies, the pillars immediately select a replacement. There has been no replacement that we know of."
"Well if Kain is alive, why has he not returned?" Raziel walked up to the pillars and looked around them. Vorador had not placed a throne at the base of the pillars as Kain had done and had even left some grass and trees around the pillars whereas Kain had paved over completely in marble.
"He is one whose intentions are never always clear. Even when he was a fledgling, when I first knew him, Kain was passionate and somewhat erratic. He amused me, although his unpredictability made him somewhat difficult to rely on."
Raziel looked up towards the Pillar of Balance.
Kain had been his father, his master, his enemy and even his ally. Kain had been many things to him and what he had been to Raziel came full circle. Undeniably now Raziel could not look upon Kain as anything but a father.
And his sword…
It looked…and even felt…inert. But somehow… now that Raziel was looking upon it with emotional eye it didn't look right. The pieces seemed…. Seemed wrong in some bizarre way.
Vorador sighed and turned back to the box containing the shards of the Reaver Blade. "Eons ago when I had forged this sword I had never expected it to be so important and so pivotal but still this new, lush world around us could not have been forged without it." He commented, draping a hand across the lid.
"It has given us all, every single person within Nosgoth, a second chance." Raziel added, remembering the brief time he had wielded the physical Reaver and how strong it had made him.
"For eons to come people will talk about the sword and the role it had to play. Eventually those stories would become legend before people forgot about it altogether." He moved back towards the back of the square where a set of doors lead back into the fortress and Raziel imply followed him.
"It will take centuries but eventually the Soul Reaver would be forgotten, the memory of it fading away from the collective consciousness of even the vampires."
That, for some reason, made Raziel uneasy. The Reaver, the blade his existence had been so intertwined to was now simply a relic, destined to gather dust somewhere on display in this fortress.
"However, I'm not about to let that happen." Vorador commented and Raziel looked up in surprise. The Guardian of conflict glanced around to make sure they weren't being overheard.
"The shards placed inside the box are fake, a smashed replica of the sword I made myself."
Raziel sharply glanced back at the box in surprise. No wonder they had felt wrong to him. They were fake shards. Very good fake shards but fake nonetheless.
"I had to make people think that the sword would remain shattered for all eternity. If people knew the truth they'd be relic hunters after it from all over Nosgoth." Vorador explained, pulling the doors open to reveal a flight of stairs that lead up into the fortress itself.
"You mean the sword is…" Raziel started.
"Follow me." The guardian told him and ascended the stairs. Raziel paused for a brief moment before following.
The stairs lad up into one of the tower Raziel had seen from the air, which it turned out was Vorador's private rooms. The tower was entirely his, customized to his tastes with exquisite paintings laid out on the walls.
Raziel was quick to realise that these towers were meant to be residences for the guardians for there were nine in all, although the one intended for the guardian of the Pillar of Balance was obviously the largest.
In one of the doors was an alter, a large stone slab with heat being pumped up through it by a set of large presses.
Waiting for them there was another vampire although Raziel recognised this one immediately. Janos Audron, the newly appointed guardian of Energy.
Janos, like Vorador, was keeping his token close to him. On his right hand leading almost up to the elbow was the bronze gauntlet he had received.
"Vorador, this may not work. The magic's that first created the Reaver were galvanized by the first Circle of Nine. Recreate the physical shell I'm sure is possible but the…" Janos stopped when he noticed that Vorador had a guest.
"It's alright sire, I invited him here. He needs to see this as much as any of us."
"I thought we were to keep these secret." Janos asked sceptically. "And yet you invite a clan chieftain here?"
"I am more than a clan chieftain Janos." Raziel told him, walking directly up to him and looking the eldest vampire directly in the eye. "We have met before, for I raised you from the dead and then before … in your mountain aerie before the Sarafan found you."
Sudden shock came into the Guardian of Energy's eyes and he grabbed Raziel by the shoulders and stared directly at him.
"Raziel… is that you… the Raziel I know?"
"It is a long story." Raziel assured him, his tone implying he hadn't the patience for telling stories.
"With respect my sire, you did oversee the enchanting of the Reaver." Vorador continued. "Even if you didn't personally do the procedure you must know how it was done."
"Of course I know how it was done, but you forget it took the entire first circle to make that magic. Our circle is scattered and Kain himself is missing."
Raziel looked upon the alter and felt the heat coming from it. Lying there in an grove was the true remains of the Reaver.
Shattered like the fake Vorador had on display, it was placed with the pieces in the places where they had once been. Staring at these, Raziel felt something very familiar. It was a pull, a distinct feeling of wanting that compelled him to move closer towards the shattered blade step by step.
Janos and Vorador were still arguing and didn't notice Raziel as he walked right up to the sword and stared directly at the weapon.
It was the same compulsion to grasp the hilt he had felt before, when he had encountered the broken sword in William's chapel.
Knowing there was no danger of being consumed by the sword this time, Raziel reached on gently gripped the still intact hilt attached to the ivory pummel. There was a bright flash of white light and something, contained deep within Raziel, leapt to the surface. The power travelled down his arm and shot directly into the remains of the weapon.
In that instant Raziel realised that the elemental forces that the Reaver had contained had not dissipated when the weapon shattered. Instead they retreated deep within Raziel's own essence, hibernating until the opportunity came to return to their rightful vessel.
"Vorador, re-forge it." The clan leader stated. "Now!"
"Vorador, quickly!" Janos urged him and taking up his hammer, Vorador set to work at the forge. Pressing down on a foot pump the fires inside the stone furnace blazed and heat began pouring up through into the forge.
Despite the pain in his hand at the touch of the roasting hot metal, Raziel kept a tight hold as Vorador began pounding the fragments of the sword back together.
Working skilfully and employing the talents he had honed through years under Seroli tutelage Vorador's work was a marvel to watch. Raziel could only imagine what the Reaver's creation had been like, when Vorador had forged the sword from scratch.
Each and ever stroke of the hammer was almost deafeningly loud and rung like the sound of church bells. Those who dwelt in the Sanctuary all paused in their goings on to look up towards Vorador's tower as the hammering continued.
With one final stroke, elemental energies flowing around the entire chamber, Vorador finished and the Reaver's blade was restored. As soon as it was, the cracks and other compromised lines began to heal. The ivory skull began whole again and the hilt became as sturdy as every.
The work complete, Raziel let go and stumbled back; smoke rising from his blackened palm and for the first time he really felt the pain.
"It is done." Vorador stated as Janos quickly tended to Raziel's wound. "The sword is whole once more." It took a few minutes to cool the metal down but as soon as it was cool once more, Vorador gripped the blade and held it aloft.
"The weapon of our salvation." Janos commented once the burn was bandaged. "While the barriers between the worlds will hold the Kraken will never come onto this land again. But the possibility of his return does linger, for if the Hylden found a way back so can he. The Sword is the safeguard against it."
There was a knock at the door and quickly Vorador wrapped the blade in one of the sheets stacked against the side of the wall and hid it from view.
"Come in." He stated. The door opened and a young human boy entered. He had bright green eyes and straw blonde hair. He was dressed in simple clothes with the emblem of Turel's clan etched into a sash.
"Guardian Vorador; Guardian Ewoden and Lady Guardian Sally are here to see you." He announced with a short bow. "They say it's urgent."
"Very well Malek…I'll see them in a moment." Vorador replied. Raziel stared at the boy with wide eyes, unable to comprehend what he had just heard. Janos simply put a finger to his lips, telling Raziel not to say anything.
"As far as the boy knows, he's simply named after the paladin." Vorador said with a low voice once the boy had gone. "And its best to leave it that way.
With the Kraken gone, the Wheel of Fate now turns without him. We reincarnate after we die and Malek was the first one to do so. He…he deserved it."
Waiting for them at the base of the pillars were the Guardians of Nature and the Mind. Raziel reasoned that some time must have past until he had awoken in this body so Ewoden had grown a long ponytail that reached down to his waist.
"Anything?" Janos asked.
"We found him." Ewoden replied, looking up at the pillar of Balance. "Or at least we know where he was."
"That's not the same as finding him." Vorador stated irritably.
"True, but it's the best we're going to get I'm afraid." Sally remarked sadly and there was a sudden pregnant silence.
"Kain?" Raziel asked and Ewoden nodded once, walking up to the pillar of Balance and placing his hand against it.
"What happened?" Vorador asked.
"We reasoned that, in an attempt to escape the battle, Kain must have cast a spell upon himself to Translocate himself to another place." Sally explained, sitting down on the stone floor of the pillars. "Where he ended up depended upon what spell he cast and it took some divining… we had to bring in William to help us… but we discovered that he cast the spell known as Sanctuary."
"I know that spell." Janos said. "It returns a vampire to the soil of the grave where they turned from human to vampire. It only works with vampires not born naturally."
"But Kain was laid to rest in Zeigsturhl." Vorador muttered. "And that town's now underwater."
"Precisely." Ewoden told him, turning back to look at them. "At first we thought he'd drowned but then we met a Hylden fisherman who told us that he'd pulled a vampire from the water, half dead.
He was taken to a Hylden camp and looked after and as soon as he was strong enough to leave, he simply flew away."
"Well where did he go?"
"The next person to see him was a company of soldiers from Willendorf. They were patrolling the northern plains and saw him fly overhead, heading directly north towards the mountain range."
Raziel pondered for a moment. If Kain was indeed alive and well then why had he not returned?
"We tracked him to Stahlberg. He met with Umah, stayed for a single night, and then left again."
"A single ni…" Vorador started. "Ah I see. "He coughed once. "Why did she not tell us he visited."
"He told her not to." Sally replied. "But when we discovered part of his drape left behind, we made her talk."
"Ah long live the queen." Raziel found himself chuckling.
"He went south from there, directly to Willendorf and was seen by Queen Alicia. While he told her not to inform the rest of us about it, she told us everything.
Kain told her to marry William and form an alliance with the northern kingdom, he worried about something called the Nemesis or whatever that is.
And also, he informed her that a prince from each generation of the royal family should be trained in the art of swordsmanship. Should the Kraken ever return he is to take up the Reaver and defend his kingdom. Although what he meant by that I don't know. The Reaver was shattered."
Raziel cast a glance at Vorador. The Guardian of conflict sighed and then gently unfolded the sheet covered the weapon he was holding, revealing to them the re-forged sword.
"But… but how did he know he you were remaking it?" Sally asked, blinking in surprise.
"I don't suppose it matters." Ewoden remarked. "After seeing the queen, Kain went among the humans and bought a ship."
"A ship?" Janos repeated.
"A vessel called the Jormungandr. Kain even hired a crew, made up of humans, vampires and even a few Hylden and then sailed away."
"But there's nothing directly south but ocean."
"Exactly. Kain sailed directly south beyond the borders of the map." Ewoden reached into his animal skin armour and withdrew what looked like an envelope. "But before he left, somehow he knew we were tracking him and left the harbourmaster with this letter." He turned to face Raziel. "And it's addressed to you."
Raziel looked at it almost glum expression as it was past to him. His name was written on the front in a handwriting he recognised immediately.
He opened the envelope and removed a two page letter.
"My dear son." He started, reading aloud. "If all went as I hope it has, you will have been given back everything you lost. Your clan, your stronghold and even your handsome face.
Our fight is finally over. This is the future we both can live with, the ideal I spoke to you of so long ago now. Our lives are those of mortals but I think we can agree that we have lived long enough.
Our time must pass and a new generation must be born to take our place. To this end, I urge you to…" Raziel passed. "… to take a wife. I have given the same advice to all those I have visited before I leave. Queen Alicia will marry King William and the two kingdoms will become one. Umah will bear my own child and he shall be the king of the vampires.
The first and only child of Queen Alicia will be a girl and she will fall in love with my son and their line shall be our safeguard. Do not ponder how I know this.
As for me, my time in Nosgoth is over but my path does not end here.
In our journey we learned of the Norse parent race, which came to Nosgoth from a distant land. Indeed, Nosgoth is in part named after these first people. Their continent, according to what we saw in the Orrery lies to the south.
I seek to find this continent and explore it, to seek our whatever remains of the ancient civilisation there to answer the questions I feel still need answering.
And also, when the Kraken planned to leave Nosgoth he mentioned other lands and other sentient species. I wish to know how many there are. I wish to know precisely how diverse this world is before I die.
It is a large task but be rest assured that I will return to Nosgoth for I wish to see my son and the children of our allies and friends go up.
I know it is unfair of me to do so to one who had already endured so much but I must task you with several final obligations.
The first is to ensure that my clans do not fall apart into civil war with each other. Umah must be strong and bind them together. Please, make sure that she is.
Secondly, the Reaver blade. By now I am certain Vorador will have remade it. This is good. Take it to Willendorf and place it in the care of the queen. As I instructed her, which of the future line the sword deems worthy will wield it and if the Kraken ever returns; our champion will send it back.
Neither of us will live long enough to see that day but I have no doubt it will come and Nosgoth must be ready. Ensure this for me.
My dear son and loyal general. You have served me well throughout the many years and I have put you through much. Arguing that it was all necessary does not excuse me from the pain I caused you.
I hope that at some point, before we die, you are able to forgive me.
The Scion of Balance.
Raziel did was he was asked. He took the Reaver, clad in the bandaged left hand and took to the skies; flying east. His heart was heavy and troubled.
After about an hour, the sky cracked with a loud echo of thunder and it suddenly began to rain heavily. The pellets of water matted his wings making flight difficult but somehow he managed, flying on and on until the faint peeks of Willendorf were visible through the gloom.
The river and lake surrounding the fort on the island had indeed widened although much more than Raziel's map had indicated. Still the remaining people had made the best of it, building on whatever land remained on that single island; turning the massive fortress with the buildings overlapping; houses build on top of houses with turrets reaching high. Massive flood barriers were being constructed.
The earthquake that had shaken Nosgoth along with the tidal wave had pushed jagged chunks of rock up to enlarge the island but the new large was far too rocky for building. From the island itself it was now almost impossible to see the shore.
Someone must have seen him coming as when he drew close lanterns were lit upon one of the long battlements.
With the fierce winds whipping around the island it was hard to land but somehow he managed to get both feet onto the stone projection and waiting there to meet him were several soldiers in the white Lion Militia armour with soggy grey wool clocks clinging to them.
Raziel had had the sense to cover the Reaver with a clothe so that none might recognise it but there was no mistaking it for anything other than a weapon.
"The queen's been expecting you Lord Raziel." One of them told him, stepping forward with a respectfully thump across his chest-plate. "Please, follow me."
Raziel was lead through a set of doors and into the fort itself. The interior had been redecorated with drapes and banners bearing the sign of the lion of Willendorf rather than the icon of the Sarafan.
The throne room wasn't as refurbished and looked plain in comparison. Sitting on the throne at the far end of the chamber with a metallic chandelier holding candles above was the Queen.
Alicia Ottmar sat on her single throne with the sword token she had gained from the Pillar of States slid into a scabbard at her side.
"How remarkable. Kain was right, even about whom would come to present the sword to me." She remarked as Raziel strode into the throne room with the sword in hand. "That will be all." Her majesty told the escorting guards.
"M'lady… he is armed." One of the captains protested.
"I can see that Captain. That will be all."
"With respect your majesty I can hardly leave your royal personage alone with an armed…"
"I said that will be all. Lord Raziel and I have matters of state to discuss in private. Rest assured he will not drive his sword through my heart."
The guards reluctantly withdrew and closed the door to the throne room.
"Queen Alicia." Raziel started. "I come to you bearing…" He was silenced when the queen held a finger up to her lips and stood up.
"The walls have dry runs where spies like to hide." She told him, gesturing towards the walls on either side. Raziel cast them a glance and listened intently. The spies were very good at holding their breath but none of them could silence the beating of their heart, which Raziel's heightened sense of hearing could pick up.
"Come. We can speak more privately in my private study." She led him to a wall behind the throne revealing a door. It opened out into a set of stairs leading towards. Raziel had the peculiar sense of dejavu was he was lead once more up into a private room.
Unlike Vorador's forge this was luxuriously furnished with a large set of windows facing the island and with a great view of the water around it. Through the mist it was almost possible from this vantage to see the far shore.
"Kain made some very strange predictions while he was here." The queen told him. "She said that I would bare a Child by William, but of course that's not entirely surprising. I'm already pregnant."
Raziel looked her over in alarm.
She winked mischievously at him.
"Even William doesn't know yet. I've only just been getting morning sickness. Don't tell him now, I want to drop that anvil on him.
Kain told me that it will be my only child, a girl and that she is destined to be the bride of his son; born from the vampire queen of the north. He told me that from their line, each generation will bring forth a champion to wield the Reaver. These will be warders, each standing ready and poised should the Kraken ever return.
Until that day, the world is to think the Reaver destroyed, the fake on display at the Sanctuary and the real restored artefact here."
Raziel simply sighed and unveiled the sword, holding it forth hilt first. Alicia shook her head at the offer.
"It's not my place to hold it." She informed him. Instead she gestured off to the side towards a seemingly innocent looking wall. She pressed against a loose stone and the bookcase against it swung aside with the wall itself, revealing within to be a secret compartment. It was a shrine, an archway large enough to house an ivory statue.
The statue was that of Kain himself, engraved with artistic precision to mirror almost all of features of the real thing. The wings were spread with each feather delicately engraved and the hands held forth as if clenching around the hilt of a none existent sword.
"Why do I get the feeling that I will never set eyes upon the sword again?" Raziel asked out load as slowly he placed the legendary blade into the place where it would remain for years to come.
"Who is to say what tomorrow will bring?" Alicia asked, pausing for a moment to marvel at the statue holding the blade. "But what I do not understand is Kain's motives. If he felt that there were warders that were needed, why did he not stay and help train them? Vampires have life spans of over five hundred years. He could have made such a contribution."
Raziel was silent as he looked upon the sword with unblinking eyes and in that unique moment was afforded a great clarity.
Slowly a smile spread across his lips.
"He's already made a contribution." He stated and then turned to look out the window. The rain was beginning to let up and sunlight was peeking through the cloud cover, sunbeams lancing down from the sky to strike and highlight the land.
"After all, everything we see here is his legacy to us. A land, not restored but lifted. Nosgoth had been propelled beyond what it once was. The land is no so rich with life it's bursting at the seems.
A land where for once in our miserable blood soaked and stained history we might live in peace, as one and when he opens up the rest of the world for us then we will be ready to greet these new creatures; not with swords and axes but with open arms."
"Not everyone would agree with you on that point." Alicia reminded him. "There are still zealots here and there who want to kill off the Hylden and demons because they look different and the vampire clan of the Zephonim might be harbouring ambitions in Kain's absence."
"It's a risk we're all going to have to take." Raziel stated and walked right up to the window. "He gave us a second chance and we have to do everything we can to show that we're worthy of it.
This is the Legacy of Kain; a second chance."
Alicia followed his gaze out to the beautiful land outsidce the fort and widened her smile.
"But who will know what he did for us? Who will ever know it was Kain the Destroyer who restored Nosgoth, the bloodlust devil? None will know that he was the Scion of Balance. None will know it was he who battled the Kraken as these events fade into legend."
Raziel sighed contently for the first time in centuries and turned around to look once more at the statue, holding the legendary sword. It would remain there for many years to come, awaiting the next hand to wield it. Who would it be? Himself? One of the Willendorf line? Or maybe even the hand of Kain himself?
"And that is how it should be. I saw him change from a conqueror into a saviour and that saviour will simply fade away from memory. For Kain no longer wishes for global recognition. Simply to live his life and depart, to have contributed and known that he did good."
He reached forth and pressed the loose stone.
"After all, Shades cast no shadows." He added as the fake wall swung back into place.
Oh finally! That was a really long story. Far longer than I meant it too :) thank you to all the reviewers who made it worth while. I think I could have handled the switching back and forth between characters a little better, especially with how Kain's was done in the first person but I was new to it. I hope it wasn't too difficult to follow. I may write another story someday, telling of the events after this but that might not be for a long time to gone. Should I? You decide. Either way, thanks for reading this far.