Change is inevitable. One who refuses changed is doomed to fail.
The liberation of mind is only possible by accepting change.
More than that accepting that you, yourself will, and at some
point change will bring about the epiphany that will make you gaze
upon your own destiny. You need not be a clairvoyant to understand it
from the GodEmperor's speech before the
assault of Nachtholm, 3rd year of the 5th Age
He peered out from the top of the citadel domed council room towards the smoke rising in the distance. A forested land, serene at a glance, but corrupted for decades. The trail of smoke was a testimony of that decay of this once beautiful land. And its future was even darker. He should know. For he made it so. How this land suffers! Will it end? That was what he hoped. But this will not be so for millennia to come.
The Pillars had toppled, cracked for years, the mighty columns, white and glistening, whiter than snow, infinitely rising into the clouds, were tied to the land. If they were flawless, the land was healthy. All that now remained were stubs, poking out of the ground, like corpses of mythical creatures. He could not see this though. All there was to be seen was the dying smoke. In a few minutes there will be nothing more. A clear view towards a great lake through a forested line of hills. No more was this vista obstructed by the nine white columns rising in the middle, from the ground, and lost their tips in the clouds above. The land of Nosgoth was in pain. He could feel it.
He, a relic, a pawn, a puppet master, he. No longer sure of what he had wanted to achieve. For at this very moment his three fingered hand held the weapon he was ultimately destined to wield. A blade, a serpentine blade along which coursed tiny flames, red and yellow, blue and green. The winding blade was as sharp as any razor and as durable as the toughest granite. Between the pommel and the blade stood a cracked skull, looking angrily at anyone who dared to challenge its wielder. Its long canine gave a clue to its forgers. Four angled bone like ribs were the guard. The overall aspect didn't seam to be the weapon of an angelic race who made it for their destined hero. And it was no longer. Just moments ago it was changed, imbued with a new power. It was now the Soul Reaver.
He looked at it.
"You gave me hope, Raziel. Something I have never given you in all your life."
He struggled to get an answer from the blade, but it was silent. The soul trapped inside, Raziel's soul, could or would not speak. His sacrifice gave the weapon power beyond what its forgers intended it to have.
He put the blade on its rightful place on his back. He took out a large piece of metal. It was golden and incrusted. In its middle laid the skull of the Reaver encircled by for edged emblems of fire, dimension, lightning and time. A balance emblem. It was as big as both his hands. Before the making of the Soul Reaver, he used each of these emblems to give his blade a certain power. It was now useless. He could feel it. He placed it on the floor.
He knew he had no more use for it . It was redundant. The emblem had played its part well. It was time to get rid of it. Anything that outlives its usefulness will more than likely become an obstacle later. In his characteristic way of thinking, the emblem's fate was rapidly decided.
He took the Reaver, turned it in his hand. Using both of his palms, he wrapped his clawed fingers on the blade's pommel. The tip was pointing at the emblem.
He knew that if he would just throw it away or hide it, someone might find it. It may be useless to him now, but not to others. Who knows what it could bestow another bearer? It had to be destroyed.
He concentrated. His eyes were shut. He would crate a blast from the blade to totally obliterate the emblem.
He raised the Reaver. The blade came down on the metal fast, driving its tip straight through, while he kneeled on one foot. A quick energy wave flashed along the blade. Then it was done. The emblem was dust.
Only a small twisting red vapor remained where the skull used to be. Curious. Kain frowned as he looked at the remnants. Like a living thing it wrapped itself loosely on the tip of the Reaver. Most strange He had never seen anything like this before. It must be the emblem's core power.
The vapor made its way up along the blade spiraling around it. His eyes widened briefly. Would the Reaver absorb it? No. The worm like vapor made its way up the skull and the pommel and around his hand. He felt a slight tingle through his armband. It continued spiraling along. It reached his elbow. He rose . The Reaver was in his left hand. The other, he raised to get a closer look at this strange thing that was wrapping itself around its right elbow. His armband ended half way up his biceps. When the red twisting vapor reached his skin it rapidly entered his body. A sharp pain shot up through his veins. It was like fire spreading. It was excruciating. The room began to fade in and out. He didn't feel the floor any more. He felt he was floating, dizzily around. The room was swiveling, turning on an unseen axis. The pain reached his head. After the vertigo came the splitting pain, which felt like every nerve of his brain was on fire. He felt his skin blistering. His bones cracking. He looked at both his arms. They were fading in and out but seamed normal. A powerful shriek reached his ears. It came from everywhere and nowhere at once. He couldn't think. He put his hands over his ears. No good. He closed his eyes. The pain grew. He screamed, but he couldn't hear himself. He opened his eyes. His field of sight was now limited. Darkness crept around. The view was different. He was laying on the floor. He never felt his falling. He never felt dropping the Reaver. He didn't feel the hard cold stone floor beneath him. Darkness completed. The pain was in every fiber of his body. He slipped away into unconsciousness.
Pain. Blistering excruciating pain. He felt his head being cracked open. His muscles ached. He felt he was suffocating. He forced his lungs to enlarge and take in the cold damp air that surrounded him. He focused on his breathing. In and out. The pain started to recede. He opened his eyes when it was finally gone.
White. All around. He started blinking. Still white. Was he blind? He suddenly felt cold on his back. He raised his arms. His muscles responded and ached no more. He laid them on the floor on which he was spread on his back. Hard stone. Cold. He shut his eyes tightly. He knew that he was in a room of some sort and that his vision was impaired. His eyes opened. Much better. Although it wasn't clear, his now misty vision conferred to him the room where he was. A high domed roof was above him, the walls were covered in relieves with columns imbedded in them. He brought his arms in his range. He turned them on both sides. Strange. His three clawed finger hands were covered in grey blue skin. He turned on one side to raise his body up. He stood on his two fingered cloven feet. Then it dawned on him.
"What am I? and best of all, who am I?" his voice rang out across the room.
He had no recollection of anything before this moment. He looked around. He was naked his whole body athletic and ready for battle. Battle. Yes, somehow he knew he was ready for one. He must have been a fighter. He had to be born once, been a child once. He could not place his age. He felt young. And he felt something else twitching on his back.
He worked on the muscles on his back. He smiled. Whoever or whatever he was he had the power of flight. For as he gazed upwards he saw that he had spread the wings on his back. Large and shining, the black feathers stood still awaiting his command. He then folded them on his back. Interesting, he thought to himself. He felt better. He knew not where he was, who or even what he was, but the presence of the wings gave him an exhilarating feeling that he was capable of many things.
He decided to inspect his surroundings. He turned to look at what seamed as stone thrones incrusted with different motives. And beyond a wall that was partially broken. It gave way to a vista of a lake an beyond, a forest covered hill range. He was clearly at the top of a structure. He took a step towards the wall. He stepped on something. As he looked down and retrieved his foot he saw a long white piece of cloth. He bent down to inspect it. His fingers touched it. Fine and silky. As he looked closer he realized that the cloth was adorned with a pair of black symbols. He frowned as his blood began to boil. Rage came over him. A murderous desire to punish to destroy. He suddenly felt a sharp pain. He realized that his claws almost pierced his skin as his fists tightened.
"Why do these symbols evoke such feelings in me? What am I?"
He raised himself and used the cloth to cover his mid section. It was more than enough that it hung in front of the swift knot he had made to stop it falling as he walked. He wanted to go to the broken wall to better inspect the land he was in.
A loud crash. It rapidly drew his attention away from the landscape. The noise came from deep beneath him, a few floors down in this structure. He turned swiftly and ran towards where he thought the sound had originated. If anyone was inn this ancient place then maybe they could explain what he was. He exited the room and ran on the twisting corridors keeping his ears ready to pick up any further noise. He went down two floors and stopped. He was presented with a multitude of passages he could take. But which was the right one?
A loud crash of metal on stone rang out. He made his choice rapidly. He took the corridor to the left and ran. He went down stairs, doubled back when he reached dead ends, cursing this labyrinthine edifice. As the minutes ticked away, he thought he lost his quarry. As he turned right on a corridor he saw the initiator of the first noise he had heard. A large section of the stone floor had given way and left a gaping hole in the middle. He peered in it. A low fire light illuminated the dark room that was beneath him.
With a deep intake of air he jumped in.
Mobieus .Mobieus was behind this. The Time Streamer had led him to the balance emblem. He must have tempered with it. His enemy would hurt him even from beyond the grave.
Mobieus. The Guardian of Time. One of the nine guardians that served each pillar. Mobieus. The human who refused to be made a vampire by the winged race. Mobieus. The rebel who started a crusade against the vampires in Nosgoth using the elite fighters and wizards constituted in the Sarafan Brotherhood. Mobieus, beheaded by him before the pillars toppled when he was in his early twenties, a fledgling vampire unaware of his destiny. Mobieus. Killed again. Or rather his corps impaled on the Reaver, moments before the pillars fell. It happened in the depths of this citadel, in the Spirit Forge, where Raziel used that body to speak to him. He who came from millennia ahead, to this time. He who was again manipulated by Mobieus.
Was he dead? Was he a spirit?
He opened his eyes. Well, at least he could see. He was on the floor on a ruined stone room, the same room where he destroyed the balance emblem. His body was spread out. His hands laid in front while his head was on its side. He raised it. Definitely the same room. He looked at his hands still in their armbands which covered him from the tips of his claws to half way up his biceps. He looked around. In front was the broken wall which gave the view he earlier saw. The trail of smoke was no more. The Reaver was on the floor in front of him. Around it the gold dust glistened in the pale light.
How long had he been laying there? For he knew for certain that he was alive. Had Mobieus failed after all? Or maybe it wasn't The Time Streamer who did it. One other creature came to mind. Only another could have done such a thing. The enemy, the true enemy.
It the citadel's depths, in the Spirit Forge , Raziel became trapped in the Reaver. He purified the blade, made it what it was now. But he also purified another. Raziel made him see the face of the enemy, part of which was in the forge. A mass of unblinking eyes and tentacles, which tried to bury him there. He damaged the thing and managed to escape, while the forge room collapsed on itself. It was a cancer that spread beneath Nosgoth invisible to any. He lived of the souls of others , of the dead, he thrived in the spirit world, the Underworld. Although it was clear that this thing, called the Elder God, could materially manifest itself. It was this thing which the Ancient winged race worshiped as a god,. This abomination who boasted that it was the hub of the Weal of Fate, to which all souls abide. Monstrosity. This Elder God was Mobieus' master. The Time Streamer's power came from this one. The destruction of this abomination will restore Nosgoth's health. Or at least he hoped.
"So many probabilities. So many implications. Does history have many more turns? All in due time. First things first." He said aloud to himself.
It mattered little which one did it. Mobieus was dead and finally gone. One enemy remained, the true enemy. Laying on this cold floor will not finish the latter. He had to get up.
His fingers touched the Reaver's pommel. They wrapped tight around it. He drew it closer. He pushed himself on his hands. A feeling of dizziness came over him. He was week. He put one foot on the floor and rested on one knee. He straightened his back. The dizziness was gone. He still felt week. He pushed the Reaver's tip in the floor and used it as a cane. He slowly rose to his feet. He was still alive and the Soul Reaver was still in his hands.
How long did he lay there? He gazed through the broken wall at the view outside. The time of the day gave him no clue.
Suddenly he felt something was wrong. He felt he was different. He looked at his left hand. Same hand. He looked down at his feet. In the same boots. Something was different. He felt it. Heard it. His heart was beating. Amazing! He thought how silly it seemed to be amazed of his beating heart. He had been a vampire for millennia, although he was in his own past. The amazing part is that he lost his heart and died a second time.
Before the pillars collapsed, before the making of the Soul Reaver Raziel was hell bent on killing him. They finally dueled in the main hall of Avernus Cathedral. In his chest was the beating heart of darkness the item used to bring back a vampire to life. The item was the heart of Janos Audron, the last living vampire of the ancient winged race. Raziel was in need of it. And it was in Avernus that it was pulled out of his chest. He had survived. He was heartless after all. Until now.
A new heart was beating in his own heart.. He had a heart again. He placed his left hand on his chest. Marvelous.
But he felt that this wasn't the only different thing. He gazed at his feet again. Nothing different, He lifted his head. He felt a strange weight in his back. The Reaver was still in his hand. He gazed over his right shoulder, and there it was, on his back, a part of him. He looked over his left shoulder. A part of him.
He dropped the Reaver and removed the right arm band, what he saw confirmed his suspicion. His eyes were wide open gazing at his three fingered clawed hand, while he was turning it slowly.
He needed a large mirror.
His right fingers felt his face. Different, but the same. He wanted a mirror.
He quickly slipped the armband on and picked up the blade. He ran out of the room, an the citadel's corridors searching for what may look like a mirror.
He wanted to see himself. He smiled. He was correct. He had undergone a metamorphoses. What ever that thing that emerged from the balance emblem was, it had triggered this change. It was wonderful, and didn't matter now whose doing it was. He liked his new appearance. What still troubled him was this feeling of weakness. He stopped to catch his breath. How quickly he tired. He found no mirror. He must have been running around for over half a hour. Still nothing. He was in the depths of the citadel. He begun to walk slowly. This place was built by the ancient winged race. Were they not in the least vain? They were beautiful creatures. He had seen the old murals that depicted women in their history. He was certain they would use reflective surfaces to admire their own images.
He walked slowly down the dim corridors of the ancient citadel. Vast and tall with many relieves etched on the walls ad supporting half columns. He pressed onward. The dim lit corridors bore no mirrors.
"Wooo! Great Gods!" he exclaimed as he hanged on with both his hands. Stone chunks fell on a granite floor beneath him. A loud noise echoed around the empty halls of the ancient edifice. The floor had given way and Kain was now hanging by his hands from the edges. As he looked down he saw a dark room in which no being set foot for what appeared to be a millennium. He let go and landed on the hard floor. He was close to a wall of the room. There were unlit torches on it. He tried to fire a telekinetic bolt at it. He failed. Kain frowned.
"Is it possible that this alteration affected my abilities as a vampire?"
He tried to use telekinesis on the torch. It didn't move from its place on the wall. He searched his entire being as he closed his eyes.
"If what I sense is right then I am worse of than the time I was a fledgling. And if Mobius or the Demon God were not the makers of this situation then the ancients must have made the emblem." Is, or should I say was, my form so defiled that it took al my powers to heal my body as well? Apparently so." Said Kain aloud as he raised the Reaver to launch a bolt of fire at the torch.
Light filled the room. One torch after another lit up in sequence and the room was bathed in orange light.
Kain looked around to see what this room was. A rectangular room with mirror walls and stone floor. As he gazed at his appearance his suspicion was confirmed. The emblem had locked inside it the essence of the ancient race. And it had turned him into one of them. He looked so much like his fledgling self. His blue gray skin shone in the dancing fire light. He removed his armbands and looked at his hand .Three finger clawed hands. And most peculiar and beautiful of all were the large wings on his back. He spread them wide. He felt a sense of power sweep over him. He was the Scion of Balance depicted in the Spirit Forge Murals.
With the Soul Reaver on his back, and disregarding his arm bands, Kain turned to inspect the room. A large square sarcophagus lay in the middle of the room. Its lid had the relief of an ancient winged being laid on his back his hands on the chest. A mortuary pose.
Kain approached the casket. An inscription was on the side in two different alphabets. The top one was unrecognizable to him. But the bottom one made perfect sense.
"Here we lay to rest Vladimir Corrino the 22nd emperor of the Eldar. Our ruler in times of darkness and obeyer of the great god Eru, we let you depart to your fate and pray for your resurrection as it is the way. May you see the light and Eru bless your journey to the blessed realm. We, your people, announcer that the line of rulers lies unbroken by your ascension and that the true belief will conquer all lands of the non believers. We lay your body at dusk and await your soul's guidance at dawn"
This piece of information told Kain more about the ancient race then any old texts and murals revealed. He took some steps back and his wings touched a rack that tipped over. He spun around. The sound of metal crashing on stone filled his ears. What he hit was an armor rack. The dead emperor's armor. The golden armor still glistened after all this time. What craftsmanship! Kain stretched out his left hand to touch it. Extraordinary. He felt a tingling from the metal. It was imbued with some sort of magic to protect the bearer. And as he looked at it, he thought to himself, why not. The former bearer was dead for a long time.
He grabbed the armor set and quickly suited himself. He looked in the mirror. Perfect fit. Glorious. A fitting armor for the future emperor of Nosgoth. But before this was to come to pass he had a battle ahead of him. He looked around. On the left wall was a gold table with marble decorations on which a tiara and two rings were laid. Kain drew closer. His eyes opened wide. These artifacts surely belonged to the Emperor himself. He slipped the rings on each hand. He felt a strange power enveloping him. Elusive, yet present. His eyes were drawn to the tiara. The golden twisting elongated leafs from which it was made stopped at the front where a hovering red ruby stud. As he put his hand on it the jewel began to glow. Clearly a magical artifact destined for the Emperor of the ancient winged race, the Eldar. He took the tiara and placed it on his head. Now he knew what he had to do. On his head lay the crown of probably the last emperor. The race which erected the pillars, the forgers of the Reaver, the worshipers of the demonic elder god, called Eru. They might enlighten him as to the nature of his great enemy.
Although he was still weak his body was protected from harm by his new armor. He walked toward the hole in the vaulted ceiling. On his left, near the wall opposite the armor rack was a golden encrusted elongated object 60 cm in length. Kain drew closer. He picked it up. He felt a strange power within the thing. He concentrated on the dim humming from inside it. Suddenly the two cones at its ends split open and a with a ghostly sound the purpose of the object was revealed. It was the Emperor's weapon. The metal object was the pommel of a double blade weapon. Its blades shimmering white like a ghost, insubstantial. But the Soul Reaver was his and it far outweighed this twin blade in power. Kain closed it and placed the weapon on its rack before continuing towards the hole.
With a strong flap of dark wings Kain was out and heading for an exit from the Eldar citadel.
He knew where he must go. North and then in the depth of the mountain. To get answers, to find out his destiny. It was time for this drama to end. At his hands. On his terms. The elder god Eru will finally join his wheel.