AN: This is a re-uploaded version of an old story called "Please Forgive Me." I've added a lot, so I thought it would be best to start with a clean slate.

This story covers my interpretation of a major plot event in Soul Reaver 2 and a key moment in Nosgoth's history, from the perspective of the man at the center of it all. Massive spoilers lie ahead. If this warning does not concern you, hang on for the ride!


Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.
- Christian Hymn

Nosgoth, 500 years before the Pillars' corruption
The Sarafan Stronghold

The first warning came by falcon. A horde of demons was approaching the Sarafan Stronghold. Within minutes the barracks came alive with activity. The warrior inquisitors, the highest ranking members of the Sarafan Order, gathered in the bowels of the Stronghold to formulate a plan of defense.

There was no time to search for the Head Inquisitor. The Second openly cursed his superior's tardiness. This time no one chastised him. The Head Inquisitor's behavior was highly disgraceful to his title and status. Slaying Janos Audron did not grant him the authority to disobey Grand Inquisitor Malek or any other member of the Circle. Raziel had committed a grievous breach with his absence, but until this threat passed his punishment would be delayed.

They had three priorities: the first, of course, was to defend the Circle of Nine - the Guardians of the Pillars. Their second, though equally important priority was to keep the Heart of Darkness safe from the hands of evil. This unholy relic was recently recovered from an expedition to the north led by Head Inquisitor Raziel, a trophy torn still-beating from the chest of the legendary and contemptible vampire lord, Janos Audron. Along with the Heart of Darkness, an unusual flamberge sword had been recovered. Although no one yet knew the sword's purpose it was obviously very powerful, for the vampire protected it with his life.

Once the Conflict Guardian had finalized their plans, he sent Warrior Inquisitor Dumah to find the Head Inquisitor and deliver his orders, along with a stern but brief chastisement.

Dumah sprinted up the stone stairs and down a long corridor toward Raziel's quarters. He threw open the door. Under different circumstances he would have knocked, but he was irritated and in a hurry. "Raziel! We're under attack..."

His voice trailed off as Raziel bolted up from his chair, throwing it to the ground, his pallid face streaked and wet. In an instant his countenance exploded into anger. He howled, teeth bared like an animal, "Close the damn door!"

Leaping, Dumah knocked the door closed behind him. As he turned around Raziel backhanded him hard. Spittle flew from his curled lips. "Imbecile! How dare you barge into my quarters!?"

The blow threw Dumah off balance. He collided with the wall. Pressed against the barrier, holding his wounded cheek, he dared not mention Raziel's absence in the barracks now. He would rather be scolded by Malek than suffer the Head Inquisitor's wrath. "I'm sorry, sir! W-we're very short on time. The blue demon has returned, sir, and he has allies. They'll reach the Stronghold in less than an hour. We need you to help defend the Heart."

The Head Inquisitor's chest heaved and a hollow gasp escaped his parted lips as he backed away from Dumah. He rubbed the back of his right hand, poorly disguising the trembling, unaware or uncaring, eyes far away. "I suspected this..." He steadied himself with great effort and squared with Dumah. "Listen to me. Forget Malek's orders."

Dumah could not believe what was happening. Head Inquisitor Raziel was famous for his temper, but in all their years fighting side by side Dumah had never seen him so livid - or so afraid. "But -"

"I said forget them! Gather the others - Turel, Rahab, Zephon, and Melchiah - and go and protect the Circle. That is where you are needed. I must face this demon alone."

Now Raziel told him to defy an order from Grand Inquisitor Malek, leader of the Sarafan Order and Conflict Guardian of the Circle of Nine? This was madness. Dumah frantically searched Raziel's eyes, paralyzed with fear. Behind Raziel he noticed some of the Head Inquisitor's things strewn about the floor, including several of his favorite books, which he had always kept in exquisite condition. Dumah swallowed to moisten his dry throat. "Has Moebius told you this?"

Raziel hesitated, his lips barely moving. "Yes. Yes, he has."

They both knew what this meant. As Guardian of the Pillar of Time, Moebius was omniscient. He knew the future better than Dumah knew his own past. Now he understood why he found Raziel crying.

Dumah straightened cautiously. "With all due respect, sir... we brought the Heart here together. We should all -"

Before he could finish that thought, the Head Inquisitor pinned him against the wall with his elbow in his neck. "Do not defy me, Dumah! You and the others must stay as far away from me as possible. That thing will kill us all. I am the only one who can stop it so there's no damn point!"

He wriggled, gasping for air. As Raziel loosened his grip he managed to croak, "But Raziel -"

"It isn't worth losing all of you! The Heart of Darkness was my quest, my responsibility! You and the others are to protect the other members of the Circle. I will guard the Heart alone. That is my penance. If you question me again - so help me - I'll break your legs if I have to. Is that understood?"

Dumah could hardly speak. Finally, he managed to murmur, "Yes, sir."

Raziel released him and backed away, gasping for air. Despite his rank and volatile personality, Dumah had always considered Raziel a friend. An imperfect friend, but a friend nonetheless. Before he departed, he turned and added, "May the Pillars protect you."

Raziel's heart was still pounding when Dumah left him. He towered stoically over the room, taunt and menacing. The implications of his subordinate's departure registered sluggishly. He was alone. As silence enveloped him the facade began to crumble.

He spun slowly around and hurled himself toward his writing desk. He grabbed for the quill - knocking over the bottle and spilling ink across the wood and parchment. He cursed sharply and fumbled with the bottle until his fingers were all black. Using a spare piece of parchment he cleaned up the mess and dabbed his fingers, but the dark stains clung to his skin like ugly bruises. Only a little ink remained for use. He dipped his quill in it. Trembling, his hand hovered over the paper.

In less than twenty years he had ascended from a mere squire to the Conflict Guardian's right-hand, second in command of the entire Sarafan Order. Together, he and Malek had ushered in the golden age of the Sarafan. With his four loyal companions, Zephon, Rahab, Dumah, and Turel, and the aid of his friend, Warrior High-Priest Melchiah, Raziel had sent countless vampires and demons back to the pit from which they crawled. He had slain the great and terrible Janos Audron, putting an end to the greatest terror Nosgoth had ever known. How could he have accomplished so little that he found himself with nothing to say?

Words without form yearned to escape his creased brow. There would be no final will and testament. He was estranged from his family; he did not care for them and they were indifferent to him, for he had dedicated himself so thoroughly to the Sarafan Order that not a word had passed between them in over a decade. He had no lovers, only affairs, and he was unmarried without children. Whosoever found this note would know him only by his rank. He should try to make his last words noble. When he tried to imagine what Nosgoth would want to hear from the Head Sarafan Inquisitor on the night of his death he felt utterly pathetic.

But he needed to write something. All his life he had felt like he needed to say something. He never took the time to figure out what it was.

Perhaps it was the blaring silence that coaxed his quill to move. The quill scratched the parchment as tears blinded his eyes. He blinked them away, unable to wipe his face, and stared at the three words scrawled there by an unsteady hand. The tear drops released their hold on his chin and splashed beneath the words with a bitter pitter-pat.

Was that truly all he had to say? Was this the best he could do, after sacrificing so much for the righteousness he coveted? He almost crossed them out.

But he couldn't do it. Nor could he write the truth: that it was his blind ambition and foolishness that led the blue demon to the Stronghold. He swallowed hard and gasped as he wiped away the tears. "Dear God, please forgive me..."


Black and gold armor clinked as Raziel marched toward the Stronghold's chapel. The Heart of Darkness had been sealed at the top of a tower and the swiftest way to reach it was by going through the chapel. By fate's cruel hand, it was his charge to protect it unto death.

He carried his helmet under his arm. The helmet was decorated with golden wings and a flowing orange tassel. Handsome and proud, this armor made an ironic costume for a funeral. Crimson cloth shown through the chinks in his armor. On his plankart, a lion's head painted in gold let out a roar. The curved blade jutting out from his right gauntlet, which he had used to open the chest of Janos Audron, was freshly cleaned and sharpened. His pauldrons, forged in the style of phoenix wings, only served as cruel reminders of the death that awaited him. The short sword hanging from his hip beat out a grim tune against his thigh as he marched down the hall.

In his darkest hour, he prayed that his soul would live on upon some higher plane than this where God would reward him for his righteousness.

As Raziel stepped through the chapel doors he recoiled in horror. Second Inquisitor Turel and all four of their fellows stood within the chapel in a semi-circle, led in prayer by Melchiah. He charged toward them as quickly as he could in his heavy armor, shouting, "What is the meaning of this!? Turel! I sent Dumah to you with an order! You should be guarding the Circle of Nine - the fiend is nearly upon us!"

"You're one to talk about following orders," Turel growled. He had long since stopped addressing the Head Inquisitor with the respect due to him. "I received your order from Inquisitor Dumah, but Moebius overruled it. We're here under orders from the Circle to assist you in guarding the Heart of Darkness. After your absence, it shouldn't surprise you that the Circle doubts your resolve."

"Moebius?" Raziel breathed, disbelieving. He cast a questioning glance at Dumah.

"It's true," Dumah said. He sounded equally confused, but he was trained to obey orders. They all were.

Raziel's heart pounded against his breast plate. He felt light headed. Why would Moebius knowingly order them to their deaths? "No... This can't be right... Are you sure that order came from Moebius?"

"He delivered it personally," Turel assured.

"Are you alright, sir?" Seeing Raziel's pallor, Melchiah stepped closer, concerned. His expertise in white magic earned him the rank of Warrior High-Priest. Whenever one of them was injured, be it physically or spiritually, Melchiah was the first to offer assistance.

"I knew this would be a bad night..." Zephon murmured. His beady brown eyes flickered over the group. Zephon was not given to quiet, might even be considered the most talkative of Raziel's subordinates, but he had a keen sense for when things were about to go array. Even Turel began to look uneasy.

"Y-yes, I'm fine," Raziel stammered. He looked over his men, all of them staring at him with perplexity and unease, unaware of the terrible danger he had set upon them. Now was his last chance to save them. "In all the years we've fought together, I've always led you truly, haven't I? I know Moebius's authority is greater than my own but you must believe me, you are all needed with the Circle tonight. If you stay here the consequences will be dire. I will handle this task alone."

"You think you know better than the Time Guardian?" Turel huffed. Those who questioned Moebius's judgement usually regretted it.

"This has nothing to do with him!" Raziel snapped. The mere mention of that man infuriated him. They had all been betrayed.

"Sir," Zephon said, addressing Turel. "Perhaps we should listen to High Inquisitor Raziel. He has a point."

"Would you defy the Circle's authority, Zephon?"

"No, sir." He stepped closer to Turel, lowering his voice so that they could speak privately. "However, none of us is more reverent of the Circle than Raziel. Given his friendship with the Time Guardian, we should give his concerns serious consideration. He would not contradict Moebius without reason - or unless he has lost his mind." Rahab murmured his agreement.

Melchiah spoke up so that all could hear: "Regardless of our orders, we cannot abandon the High Inquisitor to face this evil alone. His blood would stain all of us. Am I right?"

Dumah and Zephon reluctantly nodded their agreement. Warrior High-Priest Melchiah did not technically outrank them; although his position in the priesthood was equivalent to Turel, his authority governed spiritual matters, not tactics. Turel blocked Melchiah with his pole arm.

"We are honor-bound to serve the Circle. That includes you, priest." He now turned to address the group. "If we were ordered to protect the Circle then we would do that; but as we have been commanded to defend the Heart of Darkness, this is where we shall make our stand. We have no place questioning the Circle's judgement."

Turel's words were clear. It did not matter if the Circle ordered them to their deaths; if the Circle commanded it, it must be good.

But they did not stand here tonight merely by the Circle's orders, for it was Raziel's lone ambition which led to the capture of the Heart of Darkness and his companions' doom. Turel, Dumah, Rahab, Zephon, Melchiah: their lives were at risk all because of his orders. Perhaps he could not convince Turel, but the others might still heed his words. "My friends, I beg you listen to me. You must get out of here before it's too late. Agh!"

All at once the six Inquisitors covered their ears, reeling from the psychic cry of the Mind Guardian, Deimos, as he screamed for aid from Malek and the Sarafan. Flashing before his eyes, Raziel beheld the image of an unholy, green monster - a beast so infernal as to strike fear into the hearts of even the most seasoned Sarafan Inquisitor; the vampire Vorador, here, within the Stronghold's very walls! Only Janos Audron was more depraved. As the vision faded the six of them slowly came to their senses.

"By the Pillars..." Rahab gasped.

"Raziel was right! We must get to the Circle right away," exclaimed Dumah, quickly putting on his helmet.

"Aye friends, to arms! We'll claim another vampire's heart tonight!" Zephon cheered.

This should not be happening. No one - not even Moebius, who knew all, warned him that there would be a second attack on the Stronghold tonight. Raziel's concern for the Circle was only meant to be a convenient excuse to keep his subordinates out of harm's way. He had no idea they would be in real danger.

Raziel reeled with revelations. It was inconceivable that Moebius would be unaware of Vorador's attack. To send Raziel and his companions to their deaths was one thing, but to allow his fellow Guardians to fall? Why would Moebius do this? Had he gone insane?

Before Raziel could recover from the shock, Turel had already taken command of the situation. "You four protect the Circle! I'll stay here to guard the Heart with Raziel."

Melchiah touched his shoulder, startling him. "I'm sorry, Raziel. The Circle will need me."

He hastily removed Melchiah's hand and ushered him along. "I understand. Go, quickly!"

They raced from the chapel, leaving Raziel and Turel alone. As Raziel watched them go he mapped out the quickest path to the Circle's chamber from the chapel in his mind. His jaws painfully clenched as he saw the precious minutes dying. They would never make it in time to save the whole Circle.

"How did you know this would happen?" said Turel in wonderment. He spoke quietly, already resigned to the Circle's fate.

Raziel's gauntlets rattled, clenching his fists. Mere minutes ago he would have called Moebius a trusted friend, but now it appeared he had been deceived all along. He burned with rage and humiliation. He dreaded to lose what little respect Turel had left for him by succumbing to emotion again. "It doesn't matter."

Turel's armor clanked as he stepped in front of him, forcing him to meet his eyes. "I want answers."

"In death, you will find them." Turel took a small step back. Raziel smiled coldly, for he meant it only as a statement of fact. "Not I, Second. That blue demon we encountered in Uschtenheim is coming to kill me and steal the Heart of Darkness - and it will tear through you and anyone else who stands in its way to reach us. We... are all... going to die."

Turel furrowed his thick eyebrows. "Is that it? I was called to give my life in service to Nosgoth and the Circle - as were you. That is why we joined the Order."

Raziel looked away, defiant. If Turel thought him a coward for having greater ambitions than a noble death, then so be it. Turel scowled, but he let it pass. "You still haven't told me how you knew what would happen tonight."

"How does anyone know the future?" he said, mocking Turel's ignorance.

The Second Inquisitor was no fool. He knew about Raziel's longstanding friendship with the Time Streamer as well as anyone. As a servant of the Circle, it was unprofessional of him to forge bonds with the Guardians he was sworn to protect. Turel believed that Raziel would be tempted to use Moebius's power for his own gain. He refused to give him the satisfaction of admitting so. He could see the gears turning behind Turel's grotesque forehead, but he knew that the Second would never be able to unravel the entire truth on his own. Turel gave a hard sigh. "Will the Circle survive?"

"I don't know."

"And the Heart?"

"The demon will not have it, but he will have my life in exchange. And yours."

Turel was silent for a moment. He nodded in acceptance. "I see. So you tried to alter our fate..." He looked at Raziel and his eyes suddenly came into sharp focus. "No... there's something you're not telling me. How long have you known about this?"

Again, Raziel was obstinate. He did not know what had given him away; it may have been the redness in his eyes, the faint tightness under his lip. It hardly mattered. There was nothing Turel could do to him now. For a moment he thought Turel would lunge at him, but the Second's stare merely intensified. All the pieces were coming together in his mind. "You knew this would happen... and yet you still sought the Heart of Darkness? What have you done!?"

"Do not pretend you would have acted any differently in my position," Raziel growled.

"We are not gods, Raziel. If I was in your position, I never would have asked to have my fortune told. It is not our place to meddle with destiny. You should never have associated with Moebius in the first place."

Raziel tired of Turel's criticism. "What does it matter now? Our time is almost at an end. You should get out of here before it's too late."

Turel shook his head gravely. He put on his helmet, faceplate up. "I'd rather die a martyr."

"You would rather die than take my place as Head Inquisitor?" The title did not matter to him anymore. He only brought it up because it might convince Turel to save himself.

Turel only scowled. "No, but I doubt there will be a Head Inquisitor after tonight."

He closed his visor. The sound of metal clicking sounded like the chop of a guillotine. Raziel knew Turel was right. Come morning, whatever remained of the Circle would not forgive them for their failure. At least he would not live long enough to bear the shame. Better to die in battle than live and be dishonored.

Zephon's high pitched wail pierced the walls of the Stronghold like a banshee. His screams came from the courtyard. The demon must be close now. Turel readied his pole arm. "Get to the tower. I'll hold off the fiend."

"Don't be a fool! You can still get out!"

"And die a coward? Not likely. Now, go!"

It was no good. Even now at Death's door Turel refused to budge. Raziel scowled as he marched past him.

The ingrate barked, "Raziel!"

He turned, impatient. "What is it?"

"If we somehow survive this night, I'll see to it you face your just punishment."

Without reply, Raziel put on his helmet and quickly made his way from the chapel to the tower. The screams of his companions followed on his heels. The entire stronghold was in chaos. By the time he reached the tower door Dumah and Rahab had fallen, too. He never heard Melchiah's dying scream, but with so many others dead Raziel dared not hope the priest would survive.

The lowest chamber of the tower was a large circular room upheld. Each level was supported by columns extending from the floor to the roof. Behind a sealed door on the other side of the chamber stood a staircase leading to the upper levels, where the Heart was stored.

Inside the tower's lowest chamber, Raziel heard the clanging of steel as Turel faced the blue demon. Clutching his sword in both hands, Raziel held it to his chest like a cross and whispered a prayer in the form of a hymn: "Swift to its close... ebbs out li-ife's little day... earth's joys grow dim... its glories p-pass away... change and decay in all around I see... O, Thou who changest not - abide with me!"

The words were cut from his throat as he heard Turel's dying scream. He whirled around and backed from the door into the middle of the room. His comrades were slain. The Circle decimated. The Stronghold itself, long thought to be a holy sanctuary against the undead, rended and bathed in Sarafan blood. The foundation of his very existence crumbled beneath his feet. The vastness of the tower smothered him completely.

Now Raziel heard the footsteps of the blue demon drawing nearer. Words could not express the hatred and rage he felt toward this demon. Although it was Moebius who ordered his comrades to their deaths and left his fellow Guardians unprotected, the Time Streamer's betrayal seemed inconsequential before this crime against nature. He straightened and gripped his sword so tightly that it seemed to fuse with him.

The door swung open and the blue demon stepped into the tower chamber without fanfare, as if it too sensed the finality of this confrontation. From a distance, he had followed the footsteps of this creature into Janos's cowardly retreat, using it as a guide to lead him and his inquisitors to the infamous vampire. The demon was even more grotesque than he remembered.

Its body resembled a cadaver stripped of flesh. Muscles, a curious shade of blue, appeared somehow preserved but still flexible. Where he expected a stomach he saw only a spine wrapped in muscle and nerves. Ribs protruded from its cadaverous chest and long, thin wings of flesh hung from its back like a cape. The glow of its unholy white eyes pierced its wild black hair. A cowl marked with white lightning bolts, soiled by blood and dirt, obscured the lower half of the demon's face. He dared not imagine what horrors lay beneath the mask.

Demons, vampires - they were all the same; plagues on Nosgoth and mankind. This creature had no right to exist.

Nearly a decade ago, he had used his friendship with Moebius to convince the Time Streamer to tell his future. Although Moebius foretold that he would attain a high rank within the Sarafan Order he also warned that he would die before his time in battle with a blue, winged monster. For this reason, Raziel had hunted down Janos Audron.

This demon was apparently a familiar of Janos. By following it into Janos's lair, Raziel and his men were able to gain access to the ancient vampire and kill him once and for all. It was not until Raziel returned to the Sarafan Stronghold and informed Moebius of his 'triumph over fate' that he learned his mistake. It was not Janos who was destined to destroy him. It was this fiend. And by bringing the Heart of Darkness here, Moebius foretold, Raziel had unknowingly led his true killer to the Stronghold, where it would take its vengeance on him and his men. Now all of these misfortunes had come to fruition.

When he saw what weapon the demon held his body quivered with rage. That serpentine blade was unmistakeable. The vampiric skull on the crossguard erased any lingering doubt. Somehow, the blue demon had stolen the flamberge sword he and the others had recovered from Janos's lair. His lips curled in disgust. "So, demon, we meet at last. You've slaughtered my brethren and now you've come for me. You'll find I'm not such easy prey."

The demon spoke: "I don't want to kill you - but I will if I must. Return the Heart to me and we can end this now."

It offered him mercy? An insult. Raziel brandished his sword in a challenge. "Do not mock me with your deceptions. This is where your rampage ends. I'll make it mercifully quick."

"As you did for Janos?" quipped the demon.

Such loyalty among the wicked! Raziel could not help but laugh. This all seemed like a sick joke. "No, that beast had eluded me for far too long. It would have been a shame to end him too quickly. Tell me, did you come all this way to avenge that filthy parasite? You're a righteous fiend, aren't you?"

The demon's bright eyes turned to slits. "Apparently I am."

"No, demon. You and your master are abominations and nothing more." He smirked, recalling his triumph over Janos. Honestly, he should feel proud. It was not his fault that Turel and the others refused to listen to reason. Although he died tonight, his legacy would live on eternally through the tales of his greatest conquest, the legendary Heart of Darkness.

This demon appeared to have a soft spot for its master. Very well. He would make it suffer. "It's ironic, really... the 'great' Janos Audron turned out to be no challenge at all, thanks to you. Did you hear his cowardly screams when I tore the black Heart out of his carcass?"

Raziel watched with a widening grin as the demon flinched and its eyes boiled over with rage. He blocked the blue demon's charge with his sword, but the blow sent him stumbling backward and he almost fell. The sword the demon carried was a bastard sword, a two-handed weapon, yet it wielded the blade like an oversized short sword. The demon's unusual technique was not for lack of skill.

The demon's gnarled wings rippled through the air as it lunged at him like a savage wind. Although the demon danced as if weightless its strikes landed on him like thunderbolts. Raziel's sword arm throbbed with every blow he parried. His muscles frayed. He could not keep up with this. As the demon raised its sword, Raziel braced himself.

Steel exploded in his ears as he slammed into the ground. The blade attached to his gauntlet hit the floor on its edge, causing it to chip. As he rolled onto his knees a bolt of agony cut through his side. He hissed and looked down. Although this armor was forged to withstand demons and vampires alike, it proved no match for that demon's sword. His chest plate was dented and cleaved. Blood seeped through his fingers as he covered the wound and struggled to his feet, using his sword for support. Standing a few feet away, the demon bided its time like a vulture. Strangely, there was not a drop of blood on its sword. "Get up, Raziel."

Hearing his name spoken from the mouth of that fiend sent a chill through his bones. Something in that voice seemed to be mocking him. A cruel imitation. The demon was intentionally drawing this out. He raised his sword. His blood dripped into the chinks of his armor and formed a pool on the ground. "You'll regret giving me the opportunity!"

Unleashing a battle cry, Raziel swung at his foe. As the sword sank into the blue muscle Raziel yelped in triumph. His voice died out with a gasp as a bright blue substance spouted from the freshly made wound. This was not blood! Before he could process what was happening the creature attacked, shoving him backward and knocking off his helmet with a sweep of his sword. Spinning from the blow, Raziel staggered backward until he found his balance, a deep cut running from the corner of his eye across his brow. Sweat dripped into his eyes from his soaked black hair. As a drop of blood slid down his nose, the reality of the situation slowly dawned on him. It was exactly as Moebius said. There was no point holding back.

Gripping his sword in both hands, he attacked the demon without restraint. His vicious battle cries echoed off the walls of the tower. Sparks flew from their colliding blades, shrieking steel rang in his ears. The blue monster blocked and parried his attacks almost effortlessly. Toying with him.

The battle seemed to go on for eons. Blood coated his face in rivers, flowing freely from the deep cut he received when the monster knocked away his helm, and his armor cooked him like an oven. Every breath he took ripped at his lungs. The air scratched at his throat like dust. Again and again he brought his sword upon the monster without avail. His bones rattled from the impact of their swords. If he was lucky, maybe his arms would fall off.

There was no where to run. Everywhere he turned the blue demon was upon him. But he needed to destroy it. Even if his heart exploded in his chest, only he stood between this beast and the Heart of Darkness. Raziel gathered all of his strength into a final attack. Numb with pain, he lifted his sword and lunged at the right moment. There could be no escape from him this time. All of a sudden the sword leapt from Raziel's grasp with a violent crack as the demon stepped aside. The hilt shattered the bones in his hands. Raziel did not even have breath enough to scream. He staggered like a drunk, emitting a hoarse gasp. Somewhere beyond his darkening eyes the sword clanged and tumbled across the ground. It might have been miles beyond his reach.

He felt his body sink into his sweltering armor as the demon lifted him by his collar. His vision swam with blood and sweat and fatigue. He could barely stand, let alone defend himself, even if he still had his sword. Inches from his face, the monster's eyes glowed with white flame. Time stopped.

For an instant, Raziel thought he saw something familiar in that demon's gaze. Its eyes blazed with a hatred so similar to his own. Despite looking death in the face, through the deepening haze of exhaustion, his mind registered a faint connection with this... being... this thing... Never before had he faced an opponent so in tune with his every move. It was almost flattering. No, it was hideous.

The pounding in his ears slowly ceased. Something felt wrong. As his hearing returned, he heard the demon say, "I... renounce... you."

Then Raziel felt it. His eyes lowered. All he could see was the skull-like crossguard of the flamberge pressed against his plackart, as if to deliver a kiss. The blade pierced the golden lion's head between the eyes. Blood seeped into the steel. Yes, that was his blood, yet impalement not hurt the way he always imagined it would. He could almost ignore the pain. Instead, his attention was drawn to the way his blood crawled onto the blade, attracted to it like worms to a carcass. How fascinating. It was as if the sword itself was devouring him.

No... No!

No no no no NO!

This could not be! The blue demon was supposed to die at his hands! He could not die now, not while it still stood! He had to defend the Heart!

The monster's vile face morphed into a phantasm as his vision faded and distorted. He tried to slash the demon's throat with his gauntlet blade. His arm lifted, horizontal with the ground. No matter how he screamed within his mind, he could not make that broken limb move an inch further and it soon fell limp. Even breathing became difficult. He swore he could feel the sword draining the blood from his body with a will of its own. He tried to curse at it but his throat seemed no longer to exist. One by one he was losing pieces of him.

Fortunately, he was accustomed to that by now. The truth was he lost himself a long time ago. He could not say when. Somewhere out on those killing fields where dead vampires lifted their stench into the air and the banners of the Sarafan Crusaders waved in the decomposing heat lay the body of a boy, barely yet a man, with dark hair and blue eyes, who probably should have known better. He wondered if anyone cared. As his body slumped off of the blue demon's sword he seemed to fall forever, drawn by the hand of Death into oblivion.

Yet this was only the beginning.

AN: Yep, I've altered the ending dialogue somewhat. I wanted to put my own spin on it while keeping it as close to the game as possible. For one thing, in the game Inquisitor Raziel calls wraith Raziel "vampire" even though it's stated early on that Raziel's appearance is "more demon than vampire." I suppose Moebius could have told him that Raziel was a vampire but I don't see why he would give Inquisitor Raziel that information.