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Prologue: A Farewell To Innocence
The bloodlust was no longer upon me. The Pillars of Nosgoth provided for their own.
The Pillars sit in the glade below him, grey, crushed and defeated, rising from the dais like dry flower stalks or broken twigs, all-too-thin, all-too-weak. The grass around the dais is still green, the trees in the surrounding forests have not yet lost their leaves, and the smell around is positively verdant; but, to one who can sense it, the corruption of the lands is as sure, as heavy, as certain, as the stench of death.
The Pillars of Nosgoth, raised aeons ago by my vampire ancestors, were purported a barrier restraining their ancient enemies, the Hylden, from Nosgoth. The Hylden, inevitably, eventually broke out of their numinous prison. Led by a powerful sorcerer, they brought the Pillars down, having first poisoned the minds of the nine Pillar Guardians. I had been one of the Nine; and as all the others, I, too, fell to the taint.
He turns his attention to the two figures on the dais. The female silhouette hovering over the platform, he knows well enough, having had to endure her whines and complaints over literal millennia. The male—
The male, young, pale, predatory, feral, feasting, surrounded by heaps and mountains of gold, jewels and corpses that fill – spill out of – the dais; smeared with blood; wasting blood as he tears off a young man’s head and feeds on the sacred liquid gushing from the neck, spraying it on the green grass and the white marble—
That is he. Or, in any case, a younger version of him.
From the half-crouch, intent, he eyes his younger self. For one moment more, his eyes linger on the sword as he calculates whether it would not be, after all, worth it to try to disrupt the flow of history and destiny one final time.
It really isn’t.
The Hylden, however, were, too, nothing more than pawns.
The bat form comes to him easily, instinctively. As he flies over the glade heading north, the fledgling starts from his meal; and so he almost thinks that he has been noticed. But even if the young vampire has, indeed, seen something, he has already dismissed it; and, intent on returning to his feast, has turned his back on him again. The easy comfort and innocence of childhood.
‘Twas the tired refrain of my existence: for Nosgoth to regain her innocence, the Pillars must be restored. Unfortunately, Ariel’s stale ditty also happened to be correct. I, the Scion of Balance, now carried in my blood and soul the means to fulfil my destiny. But I had neither right nor entitlement to the Pillars of this age. My fate – my Pillars – awaited me in the waste land of the latter days.
So, how do you like it? I kind of like it. A/N 0.P.:
- “for Nosgoth to regain her innocence”- as per Defiance (Kain at the Pillars): “I could restore the world, perhaps. But never again could I give Nosgoth back her innocence”; hence, a possible alternative for this line: “for Nosgoth to be restored, so must be the Pillars”.
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I like it a lot! This is really a great read, more subtle in execution and lasting long after the last word. Well done!
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Oh, so you enjoyed it? You enjoyed it.
Cool. Have some more.
The first thing is that little quote that shows up from time to time, like in Blood Omen
in the intro and in Soul Reaver
at the end. Now, Moebius is, sadly, not here to give it, and I'm not smart enough to invent one anyway, so let's crib one from another famous bastard instead:
[The one who attempts independence without constraint] enters into a labyrinth, multiplies a thousandfold the dangers which life brings with it in any case, not the least of which is that no one can see how and where he loses his way, becomes lonely, and is torn piecemeal by some minotaur of conscience. Supposing one like that comes to grief, this happens so far from the comprehension of men that they neither feel it nor sympathize. And he cannot go back any longer. Nor can he go back to the pity of men.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
(Nietzsche is infinitely quotable in the context of these games. Seriously. "Verily, I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they had no claws."
? 100% Nietzsche.)
Anyhow. This particular quote is pretty ominous, isn't it?
The second thing is some... ehh, let's call them "game mechanics":
1.: Return to a Dying World
The Chronoplast has, as always, delivered him in time.
The Chronoplast has, as always, delivered him in time; he, in return, expressed his gratitude by destroying it, smashing the delicate instruments into unrecognizable, irrecoverable pieces and collapsing the main chamber and all the side portals into nothingness. Anyone attempting to travel through time to this moment onwards would simply not find the exit gate; what would happen to them is beyond even his ken. Perhaps, he thinks with mild amusement, they would suffocate, caught within the bedrock.
Destroying the machinery carries with itself a danger; he cannot himself henceforth travel through time. But the risk of some servant of the Wheel interfering with his plans is far greater.
Nevertheless, the cave of the Chronoplast must still carry with it some modicum of time magic, because it is only after he emerges to the surface that he fully experiences the enormity of his crime.
How ironic. And how predictable.
He staggers. He has not felt so weak since— That time in Meridian that had happened- not happened, possibly.
Returning to the dead land had been a… calculated risk. The Pillars, in the intent of their creators, were symbiotically bound both to their Guardians and to the land itself. After their downfall, symbiont turned parasite, the Pillars began to ravage instead of foster the energies of Nosgoth. And now, their hunger turned on the last pure source of power in the land. On me.
One might call this poetic justice. For though it may have been the Hylden who had orchestrated the Pillars’ destruction, the one who would make the final decision to doom them – and the one who had made it – had been, ultimately, me.
Fortunately, I had never been one much for poetry.
He sees it, in the corner of his eye: a layer of unmoving indigo, almost black, haze.
These eldritch pools had only started to show in Nosgoth shortly before my prior departure. Torn away from the universal flow by the malfunctioning Pillar of Energy, trapped, the very forces of the land stagnated.
How undignified, that a returning king’s first act should be to claw for sustenance like a base scavenger. Yet, in the end, if the taste did not kill me, it could only make me stronger.
He approaches the pool. The dead energy rises to greet him; he feeds. Nosgoth tastes of death, corruption and decay; it is repulsive, as repulsive as the blood taken from a long-dead corpse.
Now, to the Pillars.
Weakened as he is, he prefers not to fly or teleport to the Sanctuary; there is no telling what changes occurred to the land in his absence, and whether his memories of its location are at all correct. He will go on foot, past the Ash Village.
- Another Nietzsche quote! Paraphrased this time.
- No time travel. File under: "not smart enough".
- So, when you made the games, you worked in symbiosis and parasitism as a huge theme. The Guardians and the Pillars, Raziel and the Reaver, the Elder God being called out as a parasite... It kind of makes sense to continue in this way, doesn't it?
- A bit of a retcon with those glowing energy bits that you worked into Soul Reaver
after they had first appeared in Blood Omen
. Oh well.
- Finally, I'm still torn on the last line of 1.1.. It simply asks for the addition of "Or justice."... except this wouldn't be true, would it? In 'reality', the more veracious line would be probably something like "The verdict on justice was still out."
So, this much so far. Hopefully this is enjoyable!
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