The large, engraved double doors swung open with a loud familiar creaking; permitting entrance to the ancient buried device that was the Chronoplast chamber. This place housed a machine that could bend space and time to the will of its user. Moebius' smaller chambers were pale imitations in comparison to this marvel of chronological engineering.
Since Kain had found it, Raziel supposed that he had kept it in good condition to preserve it for when he needed it most. In his absence, the chamber had a thin layer of dust settling over the arcane machinery that puffed out as the door swung inward.
Raziel stepped forward, his eyes going immediately up to the far side of the chamber and the focus of the entire device; the very portal that led back or forward through time.
It had been through that very portal, he could now recall, that Divus had cast the near mortally wounded Kain; to float into the ether of chaos that exists beyond causality. He caught himself there, realising this was not the first time he had referred to his past incarnation as simply Divus. He must not forget that the two of them were not two separate people but rather one and the same. He must not forget, lest he be doomed to repeat those sins of his previous lives, human and vampire both.
Beside him, the Seer seemed solemn and contemplative as she surveyed the room her eyes noting the state of the many dials that ringed the walls of the chambers many tiers.
He tried to use her real name, Damkina, when thinking of her but she had been simply 'the Seer' for so long that it seemed too odd in his mind.
"My father is…" She began unexpectedly and then paused as if to check her words. Raziel turned to look at her. "…was, the last king of the Hylden." She looked him directly in the eye. "You knew him as Hash,Ak,Gik."
Raziel was silent as he digested this, deciding what merit he should give to its implications.
The daughter of the entity responsible for the corruption of the Circle of Nine was something of a strange potential ally indeed and it did nothing to bolster his confidence in her trustworthiness. But he supposed that she was at least being truthful about it, coming out and telling him to his face rather then omitting it from their conversation.
"He came to power believing that Ba'al Zebur the first guardian of the pillar of balance, killed his father; my grandsire, in cold blood." The Hylden woman carried on explaining. "He was filled with wrath for what the vampire had done and so pushed the war aggressively against the winged zealots." She spoke without rancour but from the twitch at the side of her mouth Raziel could tell that her neutrality was forced. This he could forgive her for, as the Hylden species as a whole had no reason to forgive the vampires for starting the ancient war.
"But you see, I knew the truth." Her tone became low, almost indistinct. "I knew that Ba'al and my grand sire, Ashar, had not been enemies but allies; striving to find some way of giving our people common ground on which to build."
Raziel turned to look at her a sidelong glance but did not interrupt her narrative
"My grandsire had been killed by Ba'al, not in an act of murder, but at his own request. He died so that his blood might give birth to an artefact that would protect his kin and ensure their survival. The Nexus Stone itself."
She shook her head.
"I tried to tell my father this but he would not listen to me. For my even having considered it he declared me a traitor and had me shunned, ignored by my people even if I were to walk amongst them."
The blue wraith pondered just how much of that story was true and how much was a story spun to induce sympathy.
"If that is so, why do you think they will even look at you now, never mind let you lead them?" He asked, striding out into the very centre of the room and looking around him.
The Seer smiled and laughed once, following him.
"Because they have never been without a strong leader or set of leaders before." She explained. "My people, despite our great advances in science and technology, are not free thinkers. We have always followed a ruling elite and without that elite, there is chaos."
For that the Hylden woman appeared quite pleased, something she had expected to happen evidentially.
"They will be willing to let anyone, even one shunned such as myself, restore order." And there of course was the intention behind her willingness to help him find Janos, despite Audron having been the one to lock her away in the Eternal Prison. With the heads of the houses the only ones who knew where he was being held, it was almost a certainty that Raziel would track them down and that those confrontations might become violent.
Apparently she could see the train of thought in his eyes and turned to speak to him directly.
"My people have been blinded by the poison of hatred for eons." She said and her voice was firm, confident and insistent. "It has to stop. If using you to ensure this means I had to deceive you into murdering my opposition then I apologise." Then she straightened, standing proud and tall with her chin held high. "But I do not regret it in the least."
A long moment of silence past between them, Raziel's attention now directly on her stern and unwavering face. The dust around them continued to shift, drifting lazily to settle back down to the ground.
Eventually Raziel drew in a breath and put his hands on his bony hips.
"There are many similarities between you and Moebius." He said flatly and the Hylden woman stiffened with an indignant look on her face. "You both lie, you both mislead, you both misdirect and you both use others for your own purposes." Here he stopped, looking down at the floor between his feet.
He had come to a decision about her. Moebius had hid his intentions from him easily enough, but not his character. Raziel had known him for a snake the moment he had set eyes on him.
The Seer was not a snake.
"But unlike Moebius, you do it for the benefit of others and not just out of despicable self interest."
On many things the Seer was a mystery to him, but of this he was quite certain he had judged her as a being of integrity.
At this seeming blessing the Seer brightened perceptively, smiling on the world full of great good will. He was after all, her messiah.
Deciding that now he had to get down to business, Raziel jerked his head up in the direction of the lifeless gate at the back of the room; waiting to be activated again and open a rift in time.
"Now, let us go drag Kain's fat out of the fire."
The seer set to work at once, clearing the controls of dust and moving the large levers into place; the machinery around them responding with resonating clunks.
As she works, Raziel tried in vain to determine how the Chronoplast worked. He was able to follow the clockwork that operated the levers easily enough but the energy they were building up seemed to come from nowhere.
The massive armillary like structure high above them seemed to be channelling it somehow but the means it used to accomplish this escaped him.
Something occurred to him then as he watched the events unfold, this time without a battle distracting him.
This chamber was of neither ancient Vampire nor Hylden construction and it was highly unlikely Moebius built it if they had not. Rather he had applied his symbol to the structure when he had claimed it.
But if this was truly the case, then who had built this device?
"Divus threw him into the ether, the void between and outside of time." The Seer said, sliding a lever to the right on the middle tier. "It is a realm of no place and no time."
Raziel was not a good enough philosopher to debate with her on matters of quantum mechanics and so he made no comment on that. "I know of how to set this machine so that you can follow him."
That however caught his attention.
"Even if I find him in this realm, how am I to get out again once I do?" He asked, coming up the stairs to where she was working.
With a grunt of effort she pushed the lever into place and it responded with a resonating clunk, the symbol to which she set it emitting a faint glow. All around them the Chronoplast sputtered and groaned, the energy beginning to build with a resounding hum. Above them the armillary was beginning to turn, slowly at first as it began it process of charging power.
The seer turned to him and smiled.
"With this." She held out her hand to him, palm up. Above her hand there was a short illumination, a parting glow and then there rested in her grasp, improbably, the Nexus Stone.
Raziel recoiled from it, backing up several steps in his alarm. "You needn't fear." The seer assured him quite quickly. "Only one with knowledge of its enchantment can invoke its power to hurt you. I have never had an opportunity to even study it until now."
She held out the stone to him and he stared at it as if an instrument of doom. Could he take it? What would happen if he so much as laid a finger on it?
"How did you get that away from Vorador?" He asked instead.
Around them the chamber was beginning to buzz with power, the low groan of building power.
The seer took his hand and then gently placed the stone into it. Raziel shivered at the contact, still expecting his physical body to explode but nothing happened, he even held it for a few moments staring at it.
"He gave it to me." The Hylden woman said. "It is, after all, my birthright." He looked up at her with a quizzical expression. She shrugged. "Vorador and I have something of a cordial history."
Since Raziel did not have any pockets he used its jagged insect leg like edges to clip it onto his clan drape, as he had seen Ishtar do. It seemed very out of place on his ruined form and carrying it made him feel intensely uncomfortable.
"When you find Kain, give him the stone." The seer advised, looking up at the armillary overhead. It was spinning faster and faster, almost ready to discharge its bolt to the portal. "He will know how to use its power to open a gateway back to the material world."
It was; he was forced to admit, a good plan. There was however one obvious flaw in it.
"If I do not find Kain, you leave me stranded with an artefact I can not use." He said, tapping the jade gem in the centre of the jewellery. He had no notion of how to use its magic and even if he did, he was fairly sure using it would invoke that same draining power and possibly kill him.
"Then I suppose you will just have to be sure that you do find him." Was all she said in reply, before the armillary erupted forth its bolt of energy. It crackled through the air like a writhing snake before impacting the portal and stirring it to life. The gateway elongated, pushing out before collapsing in on itself again; folding back into a tunnel of light. The last time Raziel had seen it opened, the portal had been a soft white. Open to the ether, it was blood red and seemed to him to be like looking down the throat of hell.
"You'll just have to trust me on this." The seer said and the stepped aside, leaving the path clear for him to proceed.
Raziel looked between her and the gate for a moment and then with solemn purpose, began his way up the stairs.
"And so I advanced towards the unstable portal, purposely moving step by step towards a gate that led to oblivion, literally."
The portal hissed and spat at him like boiled water, its energy breaking off into the air around it. Raziel faced it down savagely. He had burned once already in a vortex and was not about to be intimidated by theatrics of another.
"Kain had once asked me, if he was had been hidden on the underside of hell would I have thrown myself into oblivion to pursue him? The irony of this moment was almost palpable. For now I was doing exactly that, not to hunt him down and kill him but to save him."
Tentatively he put a hand forward towards the open rift. Then suddenly there was a suggestion of light off to one side, a faint white glow and he turned to look. When he did, his eyes met those of the ghost who had been with him since he had awakened.
"Raziel!" Ariel began, her ghostly hands reaching out to him. She was right there, inches away from his own face.
He did not recoil or even move, he just stood there looking at her.
"Ariel?" He began slowly, sensing her presence there as surly as if she were flesh and blood beside him.
The ghost relaxed her shoulders, a relieved expression passing over her face. Once again her face flickered back and forth from its restored perfection to the scared bone of corruption. Her long copper hair flowed out behind her as if drifting in water.
"Finally, you can understand me." She said and her voice was less sound as it was though spoken into his own mind. "It has taken many weeks but I have persisted in trying to make you aware of my presence."
He thought back to all the times she had manifested before him, either to guide him or even defend him against serious injury. For a long time he had thought himself hallucinating, an effect of his long imprisonment within the blade of the Reaver. Gradually he had perceived her presence to be more and now it was confirmed beyond all doubt.
"Then it has not just been my imagination? You actually are here with me?" He asked with his thoughts, touching her spirit with his own.
"With you, within you, around you." She added and as if her words unlocked understanding he could feel her, her soul was inside his own. He could actually feel it how that she was taking to him directly. The intrusion was not painful but felt more like a fusion, a welding together like two pieces of iron were made one on a blacksmiths forge. "We are bound together by the pure spirit I offered you in the forge."
That he recalled all too clearly. The spirit forge, now long since buried in the rubble of the ancient citadel, had summoned the souls of all the past balance guardians to culminate in the ultimate element; spirit. The avatar for this force had been the last of them to die, Ariel herself.
The experience of that power passing through his body to enter the Reaver and purify it had been one of the most transcendent experiences he had ever had.
But had she remained there with him, standing there alongside him as he drawn into the sword? The mere idea left him stunned.
"The experience had left me exposed to everything you have done, all your actions laid bare before me for my scrutiny." She said and there was no measure of censure in her voice. "I have seen everything you have seen, heard everything you have heard and felt everything you have felt."
Her projected image, possibly a form only he could see, let her head tilt up to stare off into space.
"I did not think it even possible experience a bound with another soul this strong." Raziel straightened in apprehension.
"Then have I denied you peace?" He asked. "After you were so long a sentinel of the pillars?"
The spirit of the former balance guardian let out a sort, derisive breath in a sigh.
"So long as that parasite that calls itself God awaits for the dead in the underworld like a hungry animal, no one can have peace." She said and Raziel knew that to all too true. The Elder took the souls of those that died, drained off the energy of experience they had accumulated through their lives and sent the spirits back to be reincarnated; like a fisherman casting out his net again.
But even as she spoke he came to another conclusion.
"You were the one who kept me sane." He said, speaking aloud. "You held me above the tide of madness all throughout my imprisonment in the sword."
"What else could I do?" Ariel asked, almost sounding aggrieved. "Watch you suffer for an eternity, unable to even look away?" She shook her head and then looked down the portal before them as if considering the wisdom of crossing that boundary. "Regardless of what some may think, I have a conscience Raziel and I could not do that. Not after I came to know you so well."
Raziel had never once had someone he had called a partner, or a companion. Janos had been a supporter yes but no one had stood by him step by step; until now. He had not needed such companionship before and would have spurned it had anyone offered, but her presence with him had done more than just benefit him in overcoming tasks and hardships but her provided him with a measure of mental strength that he would never had had on his own.
Her spirit turned her head to look at him directly, her face now restored and her pale violet eyes were on him.
"And I want to carry on helping you stand, free of the circle of destiny." She looked down, drew in a deep breath and then looked up again. "If you will have me?"
Raziel stared at her.
"I said nothing. Instead I reached out and offered her my hand, a repetition of that same gesture I had made when she had purified the Reaver. That touch had bound us once before and now it did so once again. With her by my side, a partner I had had without ever knowing, I willingly stepped through the door into nothingness."
The paths of Raziel and Kain intertwine once more before the gate of heaven, coming soon; Legacy of Kain: Absolution
More of an open end this time around? Hmm, yet and I like to end this one on a pleasing note. Once again, stay around for the upcoming sequel Absolution. And now, mostly likely that won't be the end either. This story go on long time!
I intend the do the following; a return to Meridian, the plight of the werewolves, the nature of the Scion of Balance explained, a return of Umah and the fall of Divus. Any of that sound good?
So please, my reviewers I have questions for you that I would love for you to answer;
1) What places from previous games would you like to see revisits? (willendorf, dark eden etc)
2) Any one have theories on how the Elder can either be defeated for good or killed?
Note: Just to make it clear, the Ariel summoned to the spirit forge at the end of Defiance was the Ariel from the time of clans and Kain's empire; meaning that if Raziel was to go back to the pillars her spirit would still be there as it had not yet been summoned. (PARADOX)
Babylon references: All Hylden in this story were named after gods from Babylonian mythology; Ishtar, Marduk, Shamash, Damkina.
Sally: Anyone who's read my earlier LOK fanfic will know her. I revised her concept and put her back in. Original, aren't I? Will there be other revamped stuff from my earlier work in this ongoing series? More then likely.