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4) Legacy of Kain, Kain/Ariel: have faith - "Do you have the fear of a child?"

The ruler of Nosgoth (let the petty kings do what they liked: she held the power of life and death over them, and so many more besides) had never believed in anything.

What was there to believe in?

The vampires' god had commanded Moebius to wipe out that vile breed. Having the mind guardian as her lover had advantages besides the fact that he always knew exactly what she wanted, be it a task, food, or particular motion. Such a thing as that? Was not worth worshipping.

Mortanius was also the minion of a false god, one that was just as bad as the vampires' vile breed: the Unspoken. They were trying to get their claws into Azimuth as well, and she was far too fond of herself.

There were no gods, only monsters and those insane enough to obey them.

There was no good to oppose them, only balance. And so she played them off against each other, as her predecessor had done before her. Before Moebius arranged the purging of a circle grown too old and wise to fall for his tricks much longer.

She wanted the vampires gone, because they were a curse, she knew it in the pillar that was in her more solid than her bones. She wanted the unspoken and their curses kept out of the place she held in balance. Their imbalance was like a spider crawling down her back, their very existence plagued her senses. Wrongness when she was the keeper of the fragile harmony of what passed for right in this godforsaken existence.

She had never been a child. Moebius had found her and made her aware of this young, and once she knew she couldn't go back to ignorance. The one who had called her to her duty wanted to destroy the balance of Nosgoth. She had grown up knowing in her bones better than to trust anyone. She had grown up afraid, because hadn't her mentor gotten rid of her two predecessors, rendered them deceased?

There was nothing and no one to trust or believe in. Except for Nupraptor. Their powers allowed her to keep him in harmony, the one person in this world that didn't scream at her of wrongs unavenged. He kept her sane, balanced the desire to avenge and avenge until this world was destroyed with the knowledge that there was something worth preserving here.

And then she was stabbed in the back. By Mortanius, oddly enough. Moebius had been acting oddly and she'd expected the attack from that quarter. Or perhaps keeping her distracted was his attack.

And without that one piece of sanity in a world long since gone mad Nupraptor lost his own and damned the world.

Without that one good thing left preserving Ariel had no reason not to let the world perish for its crimes.

No: Ariel was not spared the descent into madness.

She recognized her successor and did not realize that his death had already paid for his sins in failing to rescue Nupraptor's sanity. Another death wouldn't do what the first hadn't.

Execute the others. Pay for your own crimes. Restore balance. And then, oh, and then? This world would get what was coming to it.

And then he betrayed balance itself and she lost her faith in even that final justice.

Then the veil was lifted from her sight and she saw. She saw how Moebius had known she had known, had forced that child to live in fear to destroy her faith in the true power of balance and place it in a single mortal man. A pillar of stability that was so easy to break.

"You must unite what has been set asunder. Only then will the Scion of Balance be armed for his true endeavor."

She didn't tell Raziel what to do. She had no right to give orders to him or to Kain: she never had. All she would do, ignorant child that she was, was mess things up again if she tried. She would be Moebius' pawn no longer.

She had faith that Kain would succeed where she had failed.

And so the true service Ariel performed for her successor, the true service she performed for the one who embodied the force she should have served all her life and death, was to give him what he needed and get out of his way.

Her death had paid for her crimes in life. Now, she would pay for her crimes in death. Apologies were meaningless to balance. She would give him his vengeance and return to the soon-righted wheel to be reborn in a world where there was something worth children having faith in.