(Great thanks goes toAnanke and his fan fiction, the Latter Days from which I am drawing the writing style with Kain's VOs. I recommend reading it)

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"Perchance, I am a fool.

Knowledge of the future and of the path of destiny…did these things make me arrogant and presumptuous? In the end, what difference could I make?

I have forfeited much in my long pilgrimage back and forth through history and now, I stand on the precipice of the final journey… The journey I have longed to embark upon for countless centuries was set to begin.

Raziel had given to me the fortuitous and divine healing I had been pursuing all along without ever knowing.

False gods and exiled demons abound in my way to their folly.

I am the disruptor, the pebble in the pond…I am Kain…the child of destiny."

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A misty haze filled the deep and dark stretches of the swampy TermogentForest. The rolling, stale blanket of white carpeted the trees so badly it was impossible to see beyond a few feet. The air was cold and clammy and still, without a hint of a breeze to blow away the fog. The smell of rotting vegetation gently hung close to the ground.

Animals came out nervously to forage for whatever food they could find in this dark place, but darted back for cover instantly. Something was moving through the woods, something terrible and something powerful. It moved through the trees like a wolf, leaping from branch to branch, never touching the stagnant pools that formed around the roots. It moved like lightning, swift and agile and untiring.

With one final, twisting leap, it cleared the trees and came out onto a rocky outcrop. In the dim light, the silvery white mane down its back could be seen. Slowly it padded to the edge of the rock face and gazed down into the valley below. From this vantage point, the distant edges of the forest could just be seen. But closer still were the peaks of a large house, all but hidden within the dense canopy of evergreens.

With a sigh, the creature sat back on its haunches and let out a soft howl.

Slowly it began to change, its front limbs becoming powerful arms. Its fur receded, replaced by tough, leathery skin and the mane became long, snow-white hair tied back behind a head that sprouted a crest of horns just above the eye ridges.

Kain shifted his body back upright and then stared down to behold this place again in his true form, scanning everything he could see with his eyes for telltale signs of danger.

Here, in this valley and surrounded on all sides by lethal water, was the derelict mansion of the Vampire, Vorador.

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"Secluded, far from civilisation, in the darkest reaches of the Black Termogent Forest, Vorador had lived as most Vampires of his esteemed age had lived: in isolation. Not that Vorador had been alone here, for he had gathered to himself a private court of Vampire and Human thralls to serve him, many of whom he took for concubine brides. A symptom of just one of his more unsavoury habits."

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Kain frowned, gazing out at the massive panorama before him and squinting at the sunlight on the horizon. The sun no longer burnt him, having long outgrown that weakness, but his eyes remained sensitive to the light of day. To shade his eyes he looked down again at the tips of the hidden mansion, styled it seemed to resemble the trees around them so much so that from a distance the mansion might be invisible.

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"Here I returned, seeking that which lay before me… My true role as Scion of Balance in the ancient prophecy spoken by my ancestors. Vorador, beyond all else, had been a scholar of many a forgotten lore, and within the dusty and fungus-ridden tomes of his libraries I hoped to find forgotten clues to direct me."

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He paused then and knelt, peering down more closely at the trees. There was definitely movement out there, clumsy movement that no forest creature could manage but rather indicated the presence of Men. He sniffed the air and then flared his nostrils at the smell.

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"But all was not well, for the unmistakable charnel house stink of Vampiric death hung in the air. Moebius' Vampire hunters were no doubt nearby, waiting in the swamps for any straggling fledglings that might have escaped their fires.

Their master, Moebius the Time Streamer, was now finally dead for good and their days were numbered. Even so, right now they constituted a nuisance. I would prefer not to have them press their interference in my business."

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On his back, the Soul Reaver hummed, almost seeming to sense his thoughts and indicating its hunger for the soul of the next foolish creature to cross their path. Kain smiled dryly before reassuming the guise of the wolf, the perfect form for navigating the swamps and staying above the lethal pools of water that remained perilously hidden by the canopy. With the enhanced acrobatic skill this form offered, Kain landed on the branch of a tree farther down the rocky face of the short cliff and then carried on, nearly flying through the dark trees.

By now in this time, the Pillars had fallen and the corruption of the land had begun in earnest. No place was this felt more than here in this dark, decrepit marsh where the smell of rotting corruption was almost like the stench from the corpse of Nosgoth itself.

Dropping down on a bare patch of earth, illuminated by a shaft of sunlight coming down through the trees, Kain sniffed the air. The scent of death was closer now, and then he saw its source. Nearby, sticking up erect was a wooden stake hammered into the ground. Hanging from this stake was the unmistakable hourglass banner of Moebius' Vampire purge. Above the banner, the stake stuck up through their eye sockets, were the putrefying remains of two Vampire skulls.

Kain snorted his wolf form's feral nose in distaste and carried on, leaping again into the trees.

The first time Kain had come here he had been young, a fledgling, about in search of a means to kill the Guardian of Conflict, Malek the Paladin. The Oracle of Nosgoth, Moebius in disguise, had directed him here to the ancient Vampire, Vorador. Vorador had given to him his ring, saying that if he required assistance the ring would summon him to battle.

Kain had put that ring to good use in Dark Eden, summoning Vorador to confront Malek while Kain pursued the fleeing Druid, Bane and Sorceress, DeJoule. He had kept the ring after that as a memento and had at some point even taken to wearing it as an earring.

The trick he had used to navigate these swamps before had been to float in mist form, but this technique was slow and ponderous and Kain preferred to simply leap forward this way.

He had much to do and was impatient to begin. For the first time, hope stirred in his breast and he clutched it tight to himself. It spurred him on and made him speed his journey. Such a gift Raziel had given him.

Suddenly he stopped, ears pricking forward. Pausing on a branch, he listened intently and heard the sound again. Sliding down the tree, he padded on soft paws through the thick grass on one side of a foul-smelling stream. From here, he could see figures moving on the far side.

"Nowhere to run, traitor!"

There seemed to be about half a dozen of them. The speaker was a big man, with well-developed muscles and a scalp lock, a style favoured by the hired men from the East who had come to the Central plains with the promise of good pay and easy kills.

He and his group, Vampire hunters all, were threatening another man who was backed up desperately against a tree. He was a lot smaller than those around him and wore a light robe with a hood to hide his face.

"I am no traitor!" The cowering man spat back, his voice wavering. "I do what I must."

"Oh, do you, now?" A smaller Vampire hunter asked. He had the same angular features that marked men from the far East. "Let's let him swing."

They seized him and while one of their group hung a rope from a tree, the hunters amused themselves by stabbing him with their daggers in their victim's arms and legs.

Grimly, Kain changed back into his normal form and watched as they wrapped the noose around his neck and hanged him. The man struggled weakly, kicking with his bleeding legs before he became still and his arms fell down to his sides.

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"While I had not forgotten Humans were capable of killing other Humans, it seemed strange to witness this mob lynching. Perhaps I had spent too long being witness to the murders their kind committed against mine that I had not thought about them being capable of such cruelty to each other."

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With a frown, he looked over at the corpse. Hanged out on the tree and in the light he could make out the robe it wore in more detail.

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"I recognised the marks on the unfortunate man's clothing as belonging to an old sect of Humans who had had the sense to worship Vampires. It would seem Vorador had made full use of them if they resided here in this swamp."

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With a quick motion, Kain drew the Reaver. Its empty eye sockets blazed brightly in anticipatory hunger and as the hunters poked and prodded the swinging body with their swords and pikes, Kain launched himself across the stream. He caught them completely by surprise, flying into their midst before they even saw him.

The big man turned to look down but then he let out a sharp grunt, eyes wide with astonishment. The Reaver was buried deep in his chest and it screamed, devouring his very soul. With a sharp kick, Kain knocked him over backwards and he collapsed to the ground.

One of the smaller men turned and saw Kain. He cried out in alarm, reaching for his sword. Before he could draw his blade, the Vampire reached out and telekinetically lifted him from the ground.

One sharp gesture and the Human's rib cage broke open, shattering outward with a bloody spray of gore and bone fragments.

Kain drank it all down, summoning the blood to his lips…letting it fill him with the strength he so enjoyed. It flowed into him, restoring spent energies from the long journey here.

"Die, Vampire!" A voice from behind him yelled and, glancing back over his shoulder, Kain saw the hunter.

He slid aside just in time to avoid an arrow as it shot past. The archer stood not far away in the act of reaching for another arrow out of his quiver. A telekinetic bolt right to the face had him sprawling on the ground, clutching at his nose and mouth trying to stem the flow of blood and collect his shattered teeth.

The next hunter to charge at him wielded a sword and smelt of various vintages of liquor. He was so drunk he missed Kain completely. All he had to do was grab his head as the Human lumbered past and the momentum broke his neck.

All of these Humans had the smell of alcohol on them and here and there were discarded bottles on the ground.

"How fortunate." Kain remarked to himself as the remaining hunters tried to surround him.

One hunter tried to catch him from behind with his pike. Kain spun out of the way of the oncoming slash and, one free hand on the hilt of the Reaver, sliced the man in half from the crotch all the way up to the neck. The two halves of the body fell apart to either side with a gruesome splat.

The two remaining hunters, recognising their peril, tried to stab at him with their own pikes from a distance. Kain, however, easily avoided their swipes, sliding low and bringing the Reaver across with him sharply. The blade severed the first hunter's legs and the Human fell screaming in pain and horror onto his back.

Kain stood up, reversed the Reaver in his hands and brought the noise to an end by driving the blade straight down through the man's head.

As the Reaver sang its song of hunger and death, Kain turned to face the last one. Even in his half-drunken state, his face was pale and filled with horror. He trembled where he stood, backing away pace by pace.

"You were so eager to kill a moment ago, weren't you?" The Vampire asked, spreading his lips in a grin that deliberately showed off his fangs. "Then come…and see if you are so keen to die as well."

Wrenching the Human towards him telekinetically, Kain grasped the screaming Human in one hand and then sank his teeth into his neck. Fresh blood flowed down his throat, replenishing his energies again. Kain drank and drank, draining the Human and did not stop until he felt himself fully restored. Once he was satisfied, he tossed the body aside to land face-down in the stream.

"Apparently not." He said into the quiet aftermath and walked off, leaving the bodies to slide into the mud.

The walls that marked the outline of Vorador's estate lay not far way, choked with creepers and thickly growing vines. Parts of the walls had crumbled as the ground beneath their foundations was too waterlogged to support their weight any longer. The main house, set in the centre of this compromised defence, was dark with its many windows filled with shadows.

Yet they were not motionless. Arriving at the outer wall, Kain paused to watch the house for a moment. Every now and then, he caught signs of movement. Had the hunters infested the place…? No. The figures he caught sight of occasionally looking out of the windows all wore robes to cover their heads and faces.

Coming down into the main courtyard, Kain approached the house not by stealth but openly, allowing anyone who might be inside to see him. Coming upon the main door, he saw in the window directly above a Human face staring down. The figure disappeared as soon it became aware that it had been seen.

-0-

"To my surprise and chagrin, the mansion was far from empty. With their master gone, the servants had taken over and established themselves well to take advantage of that which had long been denied them: the privileges of domination.

In an odd way I supposed this was representative of the dilemma facing both Vampires and Men."

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