The Vampires were becoming scarcer and their raids for fresh blood less frequent. Up until about a few weeks ago, the norm had been to expect an attack on the Citadel at least three times every day. Now days would go by without even a sighting. Vampire hunter patrols were attacked only a few times in the later evening and only by lesser, fledgling Vampires.
The change from the status quo, which had persisted for thousands of years, began to worry the governing council responsible for administrative affairs in the Human Citadel. While fewer Vampire monsters outside their walls was certainly something to celebrate, it meant that something was happening out there that they did not understand.
Scouts had reported back the sighting of a new creature not long ago; a blue, wraith-like being. Their scouts had sworn that they had witnessed this creature fighting and killing wandering Dumahim and rotting Melchahim both. Some of the lower classes were even half-convinced that the creature was some sort of angel sent from heaven to slay the Vampires.
The council had taken no official position on this creature and sure enough, the supposed 'angel' had apparently vanished with no further sightings. Instead they began to send probing search parties farther and farther afield from the Citadel. As time passed they grew more confident and an expedition to the Sanctuary of the Clans was organised.
They knew, of course, that the Vampires had abandoned the structure and it was only lightly defended by a few feral Dumahim. But the retaking of the Pillars of Nosgoth and the humbling of the seat of Kain's empire would give hope to the masses.
They had to travel through the old Razielim territory to get there, which the hunters found to be completely abandoned. Not even a single fledgling Vampire rose to stop them as they marched south and came upon the Sanctuary. The tattered banners of the clans, even Raziel's, fluttered from the battlements as they approached.
The capture of this castle proceeded without any major mishap, the only barriers in their way being a few rusted portcullises. Once they were inside the inner courtyard, they were set upon by a few deranged and half-starved Dumahim. The Vampires were incinerated by a blast of a flamethrower before they got near the group.
The large stone door to the throne room proved to be a more stubborn barrier to them, but those of them skilled in alchemy were able to rig up a gunpowder charge to the door. The explosion shook the entire castle and sent the many carrion birds nestled around the palace flapping and squawking up into the air.
As the hunters advanced inside, they became the first Humans to set eyes on the Pillars of Nosgoth for generations. Kain had forbidden even Human servants within the throne room and now Humans had forced their way inside.
The state of the Pillars was terrible to behold. Stories told in the Citadel had spoken of them as pure, white marble and the foundation of the world itself. What was before them now was anything but. Little more than a set of faded grey slabs of rock piled around the basalt throne.
"Send word back to the Citadel." The expedition leader said, giving orders to a small squad of hunters. "Tell them that we have taken…" Before he could finish speaking, a loud groaning noise filled the air around them. Like the low moan of a dying animal. Slowly all the hunters turned to look at the Pillars, and at the throne from which that strange noise seemed to be coming from.
The throne turned from black to grey, cracks running over its surface before it broke apart, collapsing into rubble that scattered across the stone base of the Pillars. Then, one by one, the stumps of the Pillars followed suit. Each one of the nine Pillars grew unstable and crumbled, their rubble collapsing collectively into a huge heap of stone.
The Pillar of Balance in the centre remained standing for a few moments longer, and then it too burst apart.
And when it did, Nosgoth itself trembled like a wet dog. The ground heaved across the entire world in one instant of tremendous upheaval. The Pillars had long ago stopped maintaining the world's balance and had had only one function left. Their preservation of the Binding.
The last Guardian was gone and as corrupt as he had been for them, they had drawn strength from him for this task. Now that he was gone they could no longer maintain even their own integrity.
An already weakened Binding had been dealt the final blow.
The sky overhead darkened, the clouds of smog put out by Kain's smokestacks growing near black. Then their undersides began to take on a faint, greenish tinge. That colour grew brighter and brighter until the sky itself seemed to be on fire with an aurora of green light.
All over Nosgoth this light could be seen. Humans of the Citadel and the Vampires of the clans alike were witness to its radiance. Nowhere was the light brighter than in the east, where the long lost ruins of Avernus were hidden.
The fiery emerald aurora pulsed with energy over that place and when that energy had built up enough, it leapt out in the form of lightning. Massive holes were torn in the ground around the half-buried ruins of the city, holes that looked down into the very heart of hell itself.
And thus were the Hylden finally set free. With the Pillars completely destroyed, they no longer needed a gate to sustain their existence here in Nosgoth. Their long campaign through the streams of time had borne fruit and they were at last…at long last…liberated.
En masse they marched, ran, stumbled and jumped for the safety of Nosgoth, their entire civilisation migrating. One Hylden, standing on the earth of Nosgoth, looked down at the dirt beneath his feet.
"The…the Binding is…" He began but stopped. He gulped and closed his eyes. "I…I can't bring myself to say it." He admitted, shaking his head.
Another of his kin, older with an inch of height on the first laid a sympathetic hand on his shoulder.
"Do not sully this tremendous moment, cousin." His kinsman advised him, his raspy voice doing its best to sound sincere. Around them, countless Hylden advanced in a stream from the open demon dimension into the valley of Avernus, something they had awaited patiently for eons. "Say it… Let it be official in your mind and heart."
The younger nodded and opened his eyes to look up at the grey sky.
"The Binding is gone. The restraints upon us have collapsed." He declared over loud for the benefit of those around him.
"The Pillars no longer bind us to that place." The older added in jubilation.
The joy of the Hylden was infectious, travelling around their number as they coursed through the open rifts. Small celebrations broke out in places with much cheering and ecstatic yelling. Some of the Hylden were working, helping to ship various materials through the holes as well. Materials they had gathered in their strange other world that would be useful in their grand migration back to Nosgoth.
The chaos of noise was interrupted by a resounding blast of some deep instrument, like a horn being blown. All heads turned to observe the top of a small, rocky outcrop of boulders where several Hylden were gathered.
"All silence for the words of the High Priest Ishtar!" The Hylden holding the carved out demon's horn proclaimed in a bellowing voice. He stepped aside and another strode forward to take his place as the crowd of their people grew silent.
The priest was wearing a scarlet cloth garment that hung down the back along his ridges to his ankles. Elaborate golden jewellery hung from his hands and frill, chains of silver connecting to the bodice of tight leather cut from demon hide.
"Brothers, sisters, cousins…" He intoned. Like all the Hylden, he had a rasping voice, yet he carried it well enough as he began his sermon. "Let this be a moment of celebration and a renewal of our fellowship and our faith."
Ishtar waited until the half-muted cheer of agreement died down from his people.
"The Keeper has delivered us out of hell itself and our enemies have withered and died while we remain strong. Join hands and let us offer up our prayers in thanks for this miracle!"
He drew his hands together and those around him did the same, bowing their heads. Seeing this display of piety, the entire Hylden race clasped their hands together in prayer.
"O, holy Keeper." Ishtar started, still in a loud voice. "We owe You much for our deliverance. You cared for us just as You promised and guided us home. We pray that You look after the soul of our fallen General who gave his life against the last Guardian so that we might see this happy day."
The crowd repeated each word he said, tens of thousands of voices joined together in commune.
Ishtar allowed for a profound moment of silence before he straightened, turning to look down south across the length of the Avernus valley to the horizon beyond. This world was dead, grey and corrupt but it was paradise compared to the realm they had escaped from.
"Our family has endured and we are rewarded." He said, face twisting into a wide grin. "Now we shall colonise Nosgoth once more."
The Necropolis of the Melchahim was a place few hunters dared go. The Melchahim were the most feared of all the clans, not for their strengths or their numbers, but for their hideous practise of taking the skins of their victims to replace their own.
Centuries ago a town called Steinchenchroe had stood here, but after a pestilence had depopulated the region it had been made a memorial for the dead of Nosgoth. Kain had taken it over during his rise to power and it had become a burial ground for the Vampire soldiers of his armies who died in battle. When the collapse of the empire began, the Melchahim moved in to use the dead here for sources of skins to wear and corpses to raise as more of their own.
With the death of Melchiah, and every other clan leader, the clan was in disarray and chaos. The Vampires of Nosgoth were now little more than feral beasts and without the reigning influence of their leaders, they were mindless animals. Like the Dumahim, the other clan Vampires were spreading out from their traditional territories, becoming nomadic.
There were a few Melchahim who had not left the Necropolis yet, and one of them was scurrying around the tall gravestones in the northwestern section of the city of the dead. Its skin was rotting again and it needed a replacement set before it could attempt to leave to look for better hunting grounds. Its pack would not wait forever and it needed to find a good skin quite quickly.
Suddenly a grave it was kneeling next to shook, the earth over the interred corpse trembling for a single instant with the dirt trickling off to either side.
Its attention drawn to it, the Melchahim began to shovel dirt out of the grave with its claws. It cared not for the strange disturbance, merely for the opportunity for a skin. The skins of the long dead did not hold up as much as those of a fresh kill, but the Melchahim would settle for this until something better came along.
When it finally came across a corpse, it began to scrape away the dirt to pry it loose from the earth. The Vampire was quite unprepared when the corpse hoisted itself up out of the grave with a sudden lurch, its arm lashing out to grab the clan Vampire around the throat.
It staggered back in alarm, dragging the corpse up out of the earth trailing stones and dirt.
"I…I hnnngggggur!" The corpse moaned, the words barely intelligible as its jaw dropped off. The free hand drew back and then slammed forward directly into the Melchahim's chest, piercing through to stab directly through the heart and emerge out its back.
The Melchahim stared with jaw agape at the being who had impaled it, watching it change before its eyes. The hair re-grew out of its scalp, raven black down both sides of the head. The canines in its mouth elongated and became sharp and pointed, as did the ears.
The fingers on the hands fused together and became bone-like talons, the hands wrapped by old cloth that formed up along the arm almost to the shoulder. Across the shoulders and up to the jawless mouth formed more cloth, covering up the gaping hole where the jaw had been and resting over the tip of the nose. Across the wrap was the upside-down double symbol of the lost Razielim.
The frame of the body was now more skeletal, with the ribs showing and a spine held together by exposed muscle and sinew down to the hips. Slowly, the colour spreading, the skin changed from a putrid green to a deep sea blue. As the blue became dominant, two flaps of membranous skin erupted out from the back like wings, flowing in the faint breeze.
"I awoke to a feral existence, savage and mindless…unable to force the simplest thought through my fragmented mind."
The Melchahim fell backwards to be rent apart by the creature's talons, sliced through the fragile flesh to the organs within. The blue being ripped the Vampire apart, cleaving through it almost completely. The feral Vampire collapsed, sliced in two before it even hit the ground, its blood seeping out to stain the earth.
As it died its essence, the soul, began to fade from its body, luminously pulsing up into the air.
The un-interred creature, however, was ready and drew its cowl down, a powerful inner light pulsing out from that gaping maw. The soul quivered, trying to get away before it was sucked into that light. As its energy was absorbed, the blue creature's eyes began to glow with renewed power.
"The only static and constant thing in my head was a single concrete fact. My name."
Nosgoth was once again beneath his feet, the familiar Nosgoth… A land where life was rare and the hour was late.
"I am Raziel."
The gothic journey continues as Raziel, walking Nosgoth once again, must carry on where Kain left off in the upcoming sequel, Soul Reaver 3.
Hope you all enjoyed Blood Omen 3. Yes, I leave it on a cliffhanger because, well…I'm evil. So you all have to wait a few months until I get the time to really get into the sequel. I appreciate all the feedback I get, especially from detailed reviews. So please by all means post plot suggestions when reviewing this story. In fact, I really encourage it.
Watch my user name for the first chapters of Soul Reaver 3, coming sometime this spring.
Kain's last line to the Elder God in chapter 30, 'To talk with my enemy.' This was a cut line from the end of Defiance that I had to include.
Shield of Raziel-Divus. Originally Raziel was intended to have a shield in Defiance but this was cut. The description of it was taken from the fan concept art at the Lost Worlds.
Resurrection of Vorador. I pinched it. Sorry, it has to be said. I once read a very old fanfic and I stole Vorador's resurrection method from it. I added my own spin on it, though, so it's…semi-unique.
The Keeper: I would like to note that the Keeper is not my creation but rather that of my best friend Stefanie and she granted me permission to use him. All rights reserved to her. Check her out on her DA, Taleea, for images of the Keeper in her gallery.
sancrosanctus - highest of holy
divus - the god-like
nefastus - the unholy one
Fanum-Divus - holy place
Mors mortuibus - how the dead die (a line cut from Blood Omen 2)