Disclaimer: I don't own Legacy of Kain.
This is my first fic in this fandom, but both the people who looked at it thought it was decent, so am posting it.
For those who read my other stuff, yes, I am on haitus for NaNoWriMo, but I had Kain in my head at 4am and was forced to placate him by writing this so he would go away. I'd like to eventually write more in this world, but NaNo, my first novel editing project, and my in-progress Devil May Cry fics take priority.
The madness was in him before he was given a name: the madness that drove Azimuth to unleash demons on the city she had guarded, the Guardian of Nature to aid in twisting it, Moebius to seek to destroy a entire race (but that wasn't the whole story, was it?). He thought perhaps it was gone now, but he didn't think he'd change. It was too late to change. His entire life had been shaped by it and the habits of sadism were too old, too ingrained.
He shouldn't have been capable of love. He hadn't loved his parents, had played vicious pranks on the servant boys who dared try to be his friends, had callously abused the peasants he came in contact with, had taxed his holding into poverty to fund his travels in search of more amusements. His battle cry, Vae Victus? Suffering to the conquered, because everything in his power he made suffer, and laughed.
He'd stood over the body of the one woman he had ever considered marrying (and only out of calculation: she seemed Vorador's favored daughter and he could use the ally, until he had used him up) and watched her die coldly. Magnus... he had favored Magnus, because he was useful and loyal, but hadn't even felt the grief he had seen humans feel over a favored dog.
Die to save the world? Ha. There wasn't anything he loved enough to save, except himself. He'd gone after the Guardians for vengeance, because they had dared to interfere with his games, his abuse of his toys, himself. The world was his toy. The guardian Mortanius had killed was right: the pillars were for them, they didn't live for the pillars.
And yet when dead eyes starting to glimmer golden had looked up into his hungrily, he'd felt something that had gone utterly unremarked at the time because he didn't have the knowledge to recognize what he was feeling, it was so strange.
He hadn't warned himself not to grow attached to his new offspring, these Sarafan saints, because the possibility had never crossed his mind. They were new pawns, new toys, new tools to win him his empire. To make others know he was the god Vorador had made him see he was.
And the thing called Raziel (because there was no difference between other people and things) had been a good toy. Made itself very, very useful. Skilled, strong, proud enough it was amusing to humiliate him but not proud enough to rebel, he simply viewed his humiliations as lessons, for Kain was wise enough to make sure he never did anything unjustified, anything to make his servant rebel.
He hadn't wanted to lose the foolish devotion his first creation had for him. The others? Ah, the others thought of themselves first, which they didn't deserve to. He was their maker and god. Raziel, ah, Raziel understood that Kain was the center of the universe.
Far more intelligent than the rest of them. That made him even more amusing, more useful... within a decade, Kain considered him the greatest toy he had ever found or ever would find, with the possible exception of the Soul Reaver.
Weakness, Kain detested weakness. Weak men tried to manipulate others, Kain never did, he never needed to. He simply used his power, his might as he had the perfect right to. Raziel, Raziel was strong, but never dreamed of surpassing Kain. The others did. That showed that they were fools. Raziel...
There was Kain, and then there was everything else, but Raziel was there, was real in a way others weren't. Did his will as though he was an extension of Kain, and Kain thought of the old metaphor of the right-hand man and realized the truth of it. Raziel was part of Kain, and Kain loved himself.
He needed his strong right hand that didn't know what the left did, for his empire was dying, his toys were breaking, and they had no right to if he did not will it! And yet...
Of course he would prevent it, there was no way he would submit to losing. He had been conquered, but only to rise again.
When he'd seen that one of the things he needed to do, would do, for fate was immutable even for him unless you did it exactly right, was throw Raziel away he had rejected the idea. Lose Raziel? And reign a thousand more years with only the others for company? Have to manage the empire himself lest it sink into decay even faster? There had to be a way around it! But that hadn't been the only reason he hadn't wanted to do it.
Raziel was uncomfortable as he presented himself, deeply unhappy that he had dared to surpass his lord and master, and expecting punishment he thought he deserved. Just... not what he had gotten. Kain had always watched as weaklings and traitors were thrown in, he'd laughed, but he couldn't watch Raziel. He'd scowled then, raged at fate for making him do something he didn't want to do.
But why didn't he want to do it? It was necessary, a move to help him win. Raziel was simply another toy... and yet, he wasn't.
He felt alone for the next thousand years, despite all the sycophants, and sent them all away. Everything seemed to bore him. He missed his favorite, and threw himself into plotting, into watching the timestream for his chances. He wouldn't waste this sacrifice. He let the empire decay, uncaring.
Raziel came back. And did exactly as Kain had seen, exactly as only Raziel could do. And he knew it had to be Raziel, for who but Kain was worthy of free will? Who else could challenge fate?
Only Raziel could break and wield the Reaver.
Seeing him again had invigorated him. He'd taunted, mocked, tormented, attacked, and it wasn't until afterwards that he'd thought about how it was only fun with Raziel. How he'd missed him.
He'd never missed anyone before.
He could have taken advantage of the paradox in William's tomb to kill Raziel, and why not? Raziel was a threat. Raziel dared to attack him.
It hadn't occurred to him that his plan, his entire plan, was to keep Raziel alive and out of the Reaver, out of the cycle of insanity fate promised for him. He'd thought it through logically, as long as Raziel and his free will existed, there would be chance after chance to make the coin land on its edge.
Hadn't though it through until he realized he was still smiling hours after he'd gone through after the portal after seeing Raziel for the second time in a millennium. After telling, hinting, teasing. Teaching. Teaching his son.
Why did Raziel make him feel alive when nothing else did?
The Pillar of Balance at which he'd set his throne taunted him. He felt better near it, knew there was a connection there. Knew that he wasn't good enough, and that infuriated him. He would have been good enough if it hadn't been for the Hylden that had stolen his destiny! He wanted to restore Nosgoth not just to keep his empire, but to show he could, to prove he was good enough for the damn column of dead stone, but it wasn't just that. The pillar was himself, the pillar supported the land, he had a duty to the land as much as his selfishness had denied it. He felt it in his bones.
And he would save Raziel. If he could save Nosgoth as the prophecies said then he could damn well save his own son. He wanted it, and so it would happen. The universe would not dare deny him forever. He might be conquered, but he never lost the war.
Raziel was... a symbol of victory, it seemed, of his goal and what he wanted. And there was that he simply wanted Raziel, wanted his company, his competence, wanted him like he wanted his own right hand. Needed his right hand, needed his sword.
He'd cursed himself when Raziel had killed him. Why had he not wanted to attack?! He'd done it to make Raziel see reason, to teach him! Anyone else, the sword would have been in his hand in an instant to punish the other for daring to challenge him!
But Raziel wasn't like the others, Raziel was... special. Raziel being hurt made him angry the way Nosgoth being hurt did: he knew one was caused by a... a feeling, an emotional compulsion, the sort of sentimentality weak humans had. So the other…
Nosgoth's decay made him feel ashamed, Raziel made him feel ashamed, he kept talking instead of ordering because he wanted Raziel to understand, understand that Kain had to do it, it was fate and... he could have used him as a pawn, he knew him well enough, but no: he would never do that, not to Raziel. Others, yes, he would if he must, but not Raziel. Raziel, he trusted to be where he needed to be, do what Kain needed him to do. He could count on him.
Kain had condemned Raziel to torture. And yet, after pursuing him all over the wreckage of Nosgoth for the purpose, Raziel refused to kill him when fate willed it. Raziel conquered fate for him. Raziel was the greatest tool in the world, the one that would redeem Nosgoth and him, the most prized toy for nothing else brought him such joy, not even the screams of the conquered. Raziel was... special.
He'd known Raziel loved him from the start, and the worship had pleased him even if he didn't understand or count on it. But he'd realized too late that he loved Raziel. When he'd cursed Raziel for a fool for killing him, ripping his damn black heart out, but not been enraged. Any other, he'd have spent at least a week savoring their broken whimpers.
And when Raziel had sacrificed himself...
Kain had thrown him away like an unwanted toy (never unwanted!) and Raziel's highest ambition, with all the power he possessed, was to once more be at Kain's right hand.
And Kain hadn't wanted it, hadn't wanted the power he would gain from this, how it would move him closer to his goal, the victory he craved.
Raziel purified him, and he could see…
And he didn't rejoice that yes, at last, he could take the fight to the true enemy, he was a great leap closer indeed, he could hurt the one who had dared toy with him. He'd felt guilt, horrible guilt that he'd condemned Raziel to this, let this thing anywhere near his son.
And he'd realized that he'd felt guilty all along. That not wanting to hurt Raziel had been the reason for so many of his actions.
He'd done all this, and Raziel still loved him.
He didn't deserve it. He was the Emperor of Nosgoth, he was worshipped by all its inhabitants and it was his due, his power deserved it, but he didn't have a right to…
And a quiet rage had swept over him, and he knew he would not, could not waste this sacrifice, could not waste his son's love.
Was this the power of love he'd always scoffed it? A god, though it had no more right to the title than he did, fell before it, feared it.
And in the end, he had hope, he knew he would win, had to win, couldn't fail Raziel. It would not happen. Fate be damned, Nosgoth be damned. He had saved his son from the sword before and would do so again, even if the young fool had skewered himself on it for the sake of a bastard who didn't deserve it.
And even if fate said Raziel was now doomed to madness for eternity, caught in a never-ending cycle, he would save him. If he could save Nosgoth, he could damn well save what was most important to him.
He knew his enemy now. His enemy would die. Screaming, suffering: all of Kain's centuries of inflicting pain would serve as practice for it.
And he would tell his son he was sorry (he'd never apologized for anything, not unless his father beat it out of him) and that he loved him.