Ariel (Legacy of Kain)

Raziel (Legacy of Kain)

''See Raziel (disambiguation) for other meanings of Raziel.

Raziel is a fictional character, an anti-hero that appears in the Legacy of Kain series of video games, specifically Soul Reaver, Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance. The character, voiced by Michael Bell, is a soul-devouring wraith (referred to as such in Defiance). As the games progress, Raziel's history is revealed in reverse. Before becoming a wraith he was a vampire and before that, a holy priest of the Sarafan Order.

History

Human Life

Raziel was born between 520 - 550 years before the first Legacy of Kain game. At some point, Raziel became one of the Sarafan Warrior Priests. He, along with four of the other six Sarafan Lieutenants, Turel, Dumah, Zephon, and Melchiah, stormed the mountain retreat of Janos Audron and slew the ancient vampire. Before heading back to their stronghold, Raziel and his allies removed Janos' heart, known as the Heart of Darkness, and the Reaver, the Ancient Vampires' holy weapon.Having returned to their stronghold, the culprits, along with their fellow Sarafan Rahab, were confronted and slain by a wraith who, unbeknownst to them, was Raziel's future self.

Vampire Unlife

Approximately 1,000 years later, Kain raised the corpses of Raziel, Turel, Dumah, Rahab, Zephon and Melchiah as his Vampire sons.
Once risen as Vampires, the six retained no memories of their lives as Sarafan inquisitors. Over the next thousand years, Raziel and his brothers served under Kain as his lieutenants, each siring vampires and forming their own vampire clans in their bid to use their authority to conquer Nosgoth in Kain's name. After a millennium of service, Raziel grew a pair of wings after a period of accelerated metamorphosis, accomplishing this feat ahead of Kain, who by tradition had always evolved new vampiric features first. In an act that appeared at the time to be motivated by envy, Kain punished his eldest son's insolence by ripping the bones from his wings and ordering Turel and Dumah to cast Raziel into the Lake of the Dead.

Wraith Shadow-life

After plummeting into the Abyss, Raziel found himself in the lair of The Elder God, who convinced him to hunt Kain and his brothers down and seek revenge.
Now a creature of the Spectral Realm, the alternate reality of the dead, he had lost the old taste for blood and instead sustained himself by devouring the very souls of his victims. Seeking revenge, Raziel systematically killed his brothers (Turel could not be found) and, along the way, confronted Kain who resided inside the ruined Sanctuary of the Clans where the ruined Pillars of Nosgoth stood.

After making his way inside of the sanctuary, Raziel encountered Kain inside his throne room. Judging from his presence at the seat of the throne and the calm voice he used upon greeting Raziel, Kain was apparently expecting his arrival. During their battle, Kain shattered his weapon, the Soul Reaver, against Raziel's right arm. The ancient blade, once said to be indestructible, passed into the Spectral Realm where its spirit bonded itself to Raziel, becoming a symbiotic weapon: a wraith blade. After the battle, Raziel was confronted by the spectre of the dead Balance Guardian, Ariel, who had been observing the world from the shadows after Kain's fateful decision at the end of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain.

Understanding that Ariel's hatred for Kain was as terrible as his, if not greater, Raziel formed an alliance with the former guardian in order to defeat a common foe. Afterwards, the throne room served as a sanctuary where Raziel could regain his health and receive advice from Ariel if he was uncertain of what to do next, much like the Elder God's chamber in the underworld. During his journey, Raziel discovered the Tomb of the Sarafan where seven sarcophagi lay empty. Inscribed above each sarcophagus was a name, all of which bore the same names as Raziel's brothers and himself (including Malek, another of the Sarafan lieutenants who had lost his body due to the work of Mortanius in the opening of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain). Raziel, shocked and astonished to discover that he and his brothers had lived for a thousand years as the very thing they had despised utterly as humans, became incensed in his hunt for Kain.

Seeking to avenge both his execution and his blasphemous desecration, Raziel tracked Kain to the Oracle's Cave which concealed the entrance to the lair of the long-dead Moebius the Timestreamer. Raziel journeyed deeper inside the abandoned underground lair, eventually reaching a huge, ancient time streaming Chronoplast Chamber where Kain was waiting. During their battle, Kain managed to activate the old Time Streaming Device located inside the chamber and slipped into the past using a star portal.

Raziel followed him through the portal immediately. Upon arriving in the past, he was greeted by Moebius himself, who Raziel initially showed great hostility against, remembering Kain's tales of the treacherous and manipulative guardian. Raziel attempted to cut the Time Streamer down with the Soul Reaver, only to have it disabled by Moebius' staff. In spite of Raziel's threats and distrust, the Time Guardian appeared to have a sympathetic yet confident exterior, which caused Raziel to begin questioning the credibility of Kain's tale about the Time Streamer. Moebius revealed that he knew Raziel during his time as a Sarafan and that they were even allies, a thought which Raziel dismissed and replied with a snide remark.

It appeared that the ancient Time Streaming Device's destination was the Pillars of Nosgoth, but Moebius managed to pull Raziel out of the time stream and into one of his own Time Streaming Chambers inside the old Sarafan Stronghold, which served as a base for Moebius and his mercenary army. The two formed a fragile alliance in order to hunt and kill Kain, who was still waiting for Raziel at the Pillars. Raziel made his way out of the stronghold and to the Pillars of Nosgoth with haste and, upon arriving, was greeted by a rather calm Kain. Raziel prepared to strike down the ancient vampire, but stayed his hand when Kain asked him to listen to what he had to say. Looking on in horror, Raziel watched as a scream rang across the world and the Pillars cracked and turned black.

They had arrived at the very moment of Ariel's murder at the hands of the possessed Mortanius, at which time the Guardian Nupraptor, maddened by the loss of his beloved Ariel, drove the entire Circle of Nine to insanity with his telepathic assaults. Raziel's resolve began to waver during Kain's explanation, after learning of the possibility that Kain's destiny was rigged to produce horrible outcomes regardless of the choice he was forced to make at the end of Blood Omen.

If Kain sacrificed himself, the Pillars would be restored, but its true Guardians, the Vampires, would be extinct. And if Kain refused the sacrifice, the Pillars would be forever damned. Kain convinced Raziel that there was a third option, a way out of the dilemma which was orchestrated for him, which he referred to as "the edge of the coin" (Kain viewed his choices as the two sides of a coin, while the third option would present itself if the coin landed on its edge). Raziel, with a diminished resolve, was intrigued by Kain's explanation, and allowed him to escape.

After his conversation with Kain, Raziel began to explore the land beyond the Pillars in order to find clues about his and Nosgoth's past and, once again, encountered the Elder God residing in a partially flooded chamber directly beneath the Pillars. Their reunion, however, showed that Raziel no longer held the same high regard for his old benefactor as he did in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, even going as far as to question the entity's reason for wanting Kain dead.

The Elder God, displeased with his "creation's" change of plans, urged Raziel not to stray too far from the path he had taken until recently. Raziel ignored the entity's warnings and proceeded past the Elder God and through the underground ruins. He ascended, eventually surfacing in the Termogent Forest. As Raziel journeyed through the swamp, he encountered the Vampire Vorador, who stated that only the Ancient Vampire, Janos Audron, could answer the riddle of Raziel's destiny. Later, Raziel met with Kain within the Sarafan Stronghold.

Kain elaborated on his journey back in time as a fledgling vampire, when he slew the young King William the Just who would later become the Nemesis, a tyrant bent on controlling all of Nosgoth. Kain explained that this event had inspired the people to turn against the vampires who had murdered their sainted boy-king, triggering Moebius' renewed vampire purge which left Kain the sole surviving vampire in Nosgoth upon his return to the present.

He also informed Raziel that they had arrived at the place of Kain's death, the moment he had seen in Moebius' time portals upon which Raziel was ordained to kill Kain with the Soul Reaver. However, Kain urged Raziel to stay his hand. As he refused to slay Kain, time itself warped and distorted, finding a way around this change in history. Kain departed again, and Raziel continued traveling back and forth through time and started uncovering the secret past of Nosgoth, much to the dismay of the Elder God and Moebius.

Eventually, Raziel found his way back to a time when Janos Audron lived, and proceeded to explore Janos's Retreat, where he met the Ancient Vampire. However, before the Vampire could give him the answers he needed, the five Sarafan lieutenants, led by Raziel's human self, stormed the Retreat, killed Janos, stole his heart and departed with the physical Soul Reaver in tow. Raziel chased the Sarafan back to their Stronghold. There, he found and took up the Reaver and used it to kill the Sarafan, including his human self.

After the battle, the Reaver riled with the blood of the lieutenants and lacking anything else to feed upon, turned on Raziel. As he began to fade away, being absorbed into the blade, Raziel discovered a terrible truth: his soul was the insatiable parasitic entity imprisoned eternally within the Blade.

Before the Reaver could devour him, Kain stepped in and interrupted the fateful moment by wrenching the Reaver from Raziel's chest. This event utterly distorted history, changing Raziel's and Kain's destinies. It was the edge of the coin Kain had gambled everything upon. After the Reaver failed to devour him, Raziel was destroyed, but his immortal nature forced him back to the Elder God.

He was drawn to one of the God's subterranean lairs (beneath the cemetery where the human Kain had been buried) where he spent 500 years, refusing to serve the dark deity out of fear that he would still end up imprisoned in the blade. As punishment, the Elder God removed the planar portals that had allowed Raziel to enter the Material Realm. Eventually, Raziel did leave to try and find a way to defeat his fate, soon discovering that he could return to the Material Realm by possessing a fresh corpse and shifting its matter into his own form. Along his journey, Raziel discovered evidence that showed that he was not, as he thought, the Champion of the Vampires, but the Champion of the Hylden, the Vampires' enemy.

It would later transpire that he was in fact both prophesied champions as he both freed the Hylden and would later equip the Scion of Balance (Kain) with the means to see the 'true enemy' (the Elder God). Upon seeking advice from Vorador, Raziel went to Avernus Cathedral to seek the Heart of Darkness in the hopes to revive Janos with it.

Deep under the church, Raziel met his hideously devolved brother Turel, who had been drawn here from the distant future by the Guardian of Dimension and a worshipper of the Hylden, Azimuth. Turel was being periodically possessed by the Hylden, posing as a God to receive constant meals of blood from his human worshippers. Raziel released Turel from his imprisonment as a vessel of the Hylden by killing him and devouring his soul.

He then met the Necromancer Mortanius who told him the location of the heart before departing to meet his fate at the hands of the younger Kain at the Pillars of Nosgoth. Mortanius had used the heart to grant Kain his vampiric unlife. Finally, Raziel confronted Kain in the chapel of Avernus Cathedral. This seemed to be the prophesied battle between the Champion of the Vampires and the Champion of the Hylden, which would decide the fate of Nosgoth.

At the end of the battle, just before he could be defeated, Raziel ripped the Heart of Darkness out of Kain’s chest and blasted the shocked Kain with telekinesis, who fell through a portal into the Demon Realm. Raziel then returned to Vorador's Mansion where Janos’ body lay preserved and restored the heart to him. Janos, shocked by the events of the 500 years he had missed, took Raziel with him to the Citadel of the Vampires.

Here Raziel descended into the Spirit Forge. (Throughout his travels Raziel had acquired various enhancements to the Reaver, via forges created by the Ancient Vampires. Except for the power of the light and dark forges which he acquired separately; the power of each elemental forge was guarded by a pair of the souls of the original vampire guardians, whom by defeating provided Raziel with new, permanent enhancements for the Reaver blade.) However, unlike the other forges, the Spirit Forge's power was guarded by souls of every balance guardian that came before Kain.

When Raziel activated it using every elemental mode for the Reaver he had gained, its power was transferred into all of Kain predecessors; the previous balance guardians, and by allowing the Reaver to devour their souls, this power was then transferred into the Reaver as its final enhancement; thus the Spirit Reaver was forged. As Raziel returned to Janos in the council chamber, the Pillars of Nosgoth fell and the Hylden Lord was able to take over Janos’ body. Raziel fought the Hylden-possessed Vampire, but lost and ended up, once again, a prisoner of the Elder God in the Spectral Realm, this time beneath the Spirit Forge.

A short time later, Kain (who was alive due to his nature as the Scion of Balance) made his way to the Spirit Forge where he killed Moebius, who was reporting to the Elder God at the time after being resurrected following his recent death at the hands of the younger Kain. After Moebius died for the second time and crossed over into the spirit world, Raziel impaled his ghost with his wraith blade. The wraith blade cleared Moebius' vision and, for the first time, he saw the true face of the god he worshipped. Raziel devoured his soul and pondered the advice he had been given.

It was then that Raziel realized what he had to do. Using Moebius' body, he shifted back to the Material Realm and tricked Kain into impaling him with the Reaver. Kain, shocked by what he had done, tried to free Raziel from the blade, but Raziel finally met his destiny and entered the sword willingly, preventing himself from becoming a deranged captive soul.

The purified Spirit Reaver rejoined with Kain's fragmented soul, healing the gaping wound in his chest and purifying his sight. It is important to bear in mind that Raziel alone entered the Reaver Kain was carrying thus transforming it into the Soul Reaver, whereas the Spirit Reaver was dispersed into Kain himself. Kain then saw the Elder God for the first time and realized that it was his true enemy. He fought briefly with it and fled when the Spirit Forge began to collapse.

Razielim

The Razielim, sometimes known as the Razelim, are Raziel's clan, his brethren, created from his vampiric energy.

Raziel's position as the strongest of Kain's lieutenants also offers his clan more power than that of his brethren Dumah, Melchiah, etc.

We see nothing of the clan during the Legacy of Kain series, although Raziel himself speaks of the act of genocide which must have befallen them when he enters the sanctuary of the Razielim clan, and when he speaks of the 'unconscionable' act of genocide with Kain.

Since the clan vampires tend to evolve in a manner similar to their Lieutenant leaders it is also possible that the Razielim clan vampires may have grown wings, like Raziel before his execution. This could be inferred during the dialogue between Raziel and Melchiah when Melchiah refers to an "upstart inheritance". Possibly the evolution of the Razielim before Kain evolves (a forbidden event in Kain's Empire) could have caused the genocide which they apparently suffered.

Destiny

Raziel was always destined to become the Soul Reaver. As the Reaver Raziel would be passed around until it reached the fledgling, Kain, in Avernus. Kain would then keep the Reaver until the moment when it is shattered, unleashing the wraith blade from within that would then be fused with Raziel. Eventually when Raziel became the Soul Reaver, the wraith blade was to be left behind in the Spectral Realm, but this destiny was changed in Defiance. Kain adjusted this destiny, by ensuring that Raziel transform his future self into the Spirit Reaver. Thus though Raziel ultimately ended up becoming the Soul Reaver in "Defiance", his future self was freed when it became the Spirit Reaver to be bonded to Kain to purify him and become his weapon with which to defeat the Elder. Thus with the reshuffling of history his final fate was that of the Spirit Reaver, now being bonded to Kain.

Characteristics

Personality

Raziel is a very upstanding and moral character (and, thus, he rarely questions his own actions and their consequences, since he believes they are always good and moral), with a strong inherent sense of noblesse oblige; however, the conditions and situations he finds himself in (almost never of his own making, unlike Kain) rarely lend themselves to unambiguous ethical judgments and he often ends up doing the wrong thing for the right reason (unlike Kain who generally does the right thing – mostly for his own, often evil, reasons). As a mortal man, he engaged in the systematic extermination of countless Vampires in his fanatical quest to rid the world of his perception of evil.

As a Vampire he helped Kain establish his empire, under the controversial belief that Vampires deserved (as a higher form of life, and thusly "knowing better") to rule the world. He became The Soul Reaver, the state he found himself in after being "betrayed" by Kain and his brethren, then "saved" by the Elder God, by being thrown into the Abyss, a swirling vortex of water (Its depth is such that it could almost be described as endless although its exact depth is not known for sure) he stalked Kain and massacred his former brethren, prevaricating that he was not only exacting vengeance, but just settling the balance of existence.

Ultimately, most of his actions turn out to be in some way flawed and generally immoral in the logic or lack thereof in their formulation, as he often finds himself the willing or unwilling pawn of those around him, for good or (mostly) evil. His systemic redemption is found only in his final act, one of self-sacrifice, his only action dually motivated by good intentions and with arguably good consequences. This puts him in harmonic opposition to the character of Kain (though he sacrifices himself not only to escape his curse of infinite death/rebirth cycle or to help defeat "the true enemy", but also for Kain - to whom he pledges allegiance), whose behavior is characterised by viciousness, manipulation and the belief that every person and thing is utterly expendable, but whose actions generally turn out to be right, because he defies those around him, most of whom turn out to be directly or indirectly in league with evil.

Kain proudly admits his actions are motivated by lust for power and revenge (but he truly was predestined to become a tyrant, only in a quest for survival and because of Nupraptor's curse, at his birth), while Raziel unrelently claims his sole motivation is a desire to save the world and that he is solely guided by morals. Kain devises witty schemes out of cruel calculations, while Raziel is more impulsive and only thinks about his own actions after he has committed the irreparable. Raziel unrelently switches from one master (often a manipulator) to another (Moebius and the Sarafan, Kain, the Elder God, Ariel, Janos Audron, Kain - again, Raziel is either being lied to or being told half-truths or being told what they think the truth is), while Kain only follows orders when they suit him and never trusts anyone (not even his only love Umah, the female Vampire who cared for him during his comatose sleep in Blood Omen 2).

Powers & Abilities

While Raziel was a vampire he possessed the usual vampiric abilities that all of Kain's descendants have; limited telekinesis, inhuman strength, speed, agility, reflexes, physical resistance, and a healing ability. He also had his own Dark Gift that some believe to have been flight or his physical abilities enhanced to unknown levels.

When Raziel became a wraith his vampiric physical attributes still remained (aside from the healing ability), but he had gained a new power, the ability to will himself into the material realm (with the aid of a portal) and back into the spectral realm. As Raziel traveled Nosgoth and killed his brothers, he gained new abilities from consuming their souls; from Melchiah he gained the power to phase through gates in the spectral realm, from Dumah the power to generate a band of constricting energy (in later games he no longer has this power), from Rahab he received immunity to waters burning affects on vampires, from Zephon the ability to stick to rough surfaced walls in the material realm (which evolves as times goes by and because of this in "Defiance" Raziel can 'wall-crawl' in the spectral realm as well).

Deep within the burial tomb of the Sarafan, Raziel encountered a Turelim (his brother Turels offspring), after he defeated him, he gained the power to project telekinetic force blasts (since he and the Soul Reaver are connected, he could fire these force blasts through the Reaver as well). In the spectral realm, after he was defeated by Kain during their first meeting, Raziel bonded with the spirit that had been trapped within the Reaver, which had become a wraith blade. In Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver once the fire forge has been used on the wraith blade, the sword can be re-imbued by any fire source at anytime (however he loses this ability in later games due to it not being canon with the storyline) and in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 there are more elemental forges for the Reaver but they too aren't permanent enhancements although they are (more or less) apart of the storyline. In Legacy of Kain: Defiance the blade has 9 permanent forms, thanks to elemental fonts created by the vampire guardians for the Reaver itself:

  • Spectral Reaver - projects a blast of spectral force into the surrounding area
  • Material Reaver - projects a blast of material force into the surrounding area
  • Dark Reaver - covers Raziel in darkness
  • Light Reaver - blinds surrounding opponents with intense light
  • Water Reaver - freezes surrounding opponents
  • Earth Reaver - causes the ground to shake, turning the opponents within the area into stone
  • Fire Reaver - projects fire into the surrounding area
  • Air Reaver - projects intense wind into the surrounding area
  • Spirit Reaver - purifies the sight of others and is the most powerful of any of the Reavers

Reception

He is ranked ninth on EGM’s Top Ten Badass Undead.

References

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