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Nosgoth

Nosgoth is a fictional realm that serves as the setting of the Legacy of Kain series. The world was created by Denis Dyack in 1993, and has since been expanded upon by the following games in the series. The history of Nosgoth is described as extremely vivid and intricate; there is a span of over two thousand years between the earliest era depicted and the latest.

As the majority of the games take place in the same limited area, it is unclear whether Nosgoth is the name of the entire world, or a region. Generally, the term Nosgoth is used to refer to the conceptual setting overall.

Geography

Nosgoth is regarded by characters in-game as a dying world, and each game in the series depicts different moments in the transition of the land from abundance to desolation,though in a non-sequential order. These periods are described in chronological order below.

Time periods before Nosgoth begins to decay are used as settings in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance. The landscape is diverse, including mountains, forests, plains and wetlands, and the climate appears to be temperate, similar to that of northern central Europe; the seasons are shown to change.

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, showcases a large area of Nosgoth while employing a similar variety of geographical features as the earlier period. However, the world is afflicted with plagues, haunted by dark creatures, and assaulted by madmen. Major human cities include theocratic Avernus, and Willendorf, a kingdom that wields power across Nosgoth, in the central areas. In the west the city of Coorhagen has been wiped out by plague, and in the northeast are lands controlled by the warmonger known as the Nemesis.

Soul Reaver 2 depicts a period one hundred years after Blood Omen, in which the decay has accelerated. Rain falls persistently and the landscape is populated with mutant creatures and demons. All human habitation encountered is ruined and unused, and death is everywhere.

Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain, set 300 years later, describes areas to the south of those seen in the rest of the series. The events of the game occur in Meridian, a large coastal city known as the capital of Nosgoth, and its environs. The city is experiencing an Industrial Revolution brought on by the technology of the Hylden. Ecologically, the world is quite frail. What can be seen of the countryside is an arid desert-like environment, with little flora or fauna remaining.

Roughly one thousand years later, in the period in which Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is set, the collapse of Nosgoth is nearly complete. Vampires choked the air with the smoke from massive furnaces, blocking out the sun in support of a vampiric empire, but that empire is waning. Towering cities and structures are inhabited only by occasional scavenging vampires. Humanity is nearly extinct, hidden in a heavily fortified citadel. The world is barren and lifeless, with a rocky landscape.

Cosmology

The Circle of Nine is the name that refers to the order of sorcerers whose duty it is to guard the Pillars of Nosgoth. As there are nine Pillars, there are nine guardians at any given time. Guardians are endowed with limited immortality (e.g. infinite life span, though not invulnerability) and given magical powers related to the Pillar they serve. Should a guardian die, their place will be taken by a person who is born at the precise moment of the previous guardian's death.

When the Pillars were raised, the original nine Guardians were vampires. Since vampires could no longer reproduce, a result of the Hylden curse, they would turn any new human guardians that were called to serve into vampires. This tradition continued until Moebius and Mortanius, who had been called to serve as Guardians of Time and Death, revolted against them and claimed the Pillars for humankind.

Inhabitants

Nosgoth is inhabited primarily by humans, but they unwillingly share the land with a vampire minority. Additionally, other sentient species have existed in Nosgoth before recorded history - Ancients and the Hylden. Nosgoth is also the home to the enigmatic Elder God.

Ancients

The Ancients, also known as the Ancient Vampires, are a blue-skinned winged race who populated Nosgoth in times long before the Legacy of Kain series in which they are found chiefly take place. While they are otherwise relatively human in appearance, they possess blue skin, golden eyes, large wings and three-fingered hands that distinguish them from humans.

The Ancients were worshipers of the Elder God, and believed its doctrine of a pre-fated world. The Ancients eventually tried to convert the other chief race on Nosgoth at the time, the Hylden, to their religion, starting a war that proved devastating for both races. To end the war, the Ancients banished the Hylden to another dimension and raised the Pillars of Nosgoth to seal the passages between the two realms. Before the banishment could be completed, however, the Hylden cursed their enemies with sterility, a thirst for human blood, and immortality.

The Ancients and their history slowly died out over the ages, and the only one to survive long enough to be seen in the games was Janos Audron, who commissioned and guarded the Reaver, a weapon intended to be used by a prophesied hero who would restore the Pillars to the vampires.

Vampires

The Vampires are an immortal race who have populated Nosgoth throughout the events of the Legacy of Kain series in which they are found. Strongly similar to the traditional portrayal of the vampire, there are a number of defining characteristics which render their race unique. Vampires "evolved" from a race known as the Ancients, after their rival race, the Hylden, forced the curse of immortality and bloodlust upon them. Notable vampires throughout the series include Kain, Vorador, and Umah. Vampires have many known weaknesses, such as sunlight, fire, water (which has an acidic effect) and impalement.

Unlike traditional vampires, the species in Legacy of Kain has numerous means of propagation. While never explicitly seen to turn humans into vampires by the 'traditional' means of biting them, it is quite possible that they are capable of doing so. Another means of vampiric imbuement involves use of a relic known as the Heart of Darkness and necromantic rituals.

Descendants of Vorador

The vampiric descendants of the vampire Vorador harness their inner strengths and manifest these powers as 'Dark Gifts'. Every vampire possesses their own unique Dark Gift, and other Vampires can effectively steal these Gifts by killing others and drinking their blood, as performed by Kain throughout Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain.

The descendants of Vorador constitute both the race of vampires descended from Janos Audron, Vorador and the Ancients, and the race created by Vorador himself following his supposed resurrection some time after the events of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. The vampires were massacred by the rising Order of the Sarafan, a sect of crusaders who strongly opposed vampirism. In the times during Blood Omen, a large portion of the vampire race dwells within the Termogent Forest regions.

After Vorador's apparent resurrection during the unchronicled events after Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Vorador uncharacteristically joined Kain in his conquest of Nosgoth. Vorador had the strength to create other vampires, and thus was instrumental in Kain's plans. Together, they raised a second vampire horde. This second race survived for centuries, despite being fervently hunted by the renewed Sarafan Order and its advanced technological Glyph Magic. They continued to exist up until the downfall of the Sarafan Lord, after which it is assumed that Kain, in his continued attempts to dominate Nosgoth, disposed of them before attempting to raise his own vampire lineage.

Descendants of Kain

The vampiric descendants of the vampire Kain are less diverse than their predecessors. As Kain was not a descendant of Vorador he began an entirely new heritage of vampirism upon founding his empire. Due to the corruption in Kain's soul, the vampires descended from him literally 'evolve' over long periods of time into grotesque forms. There are six known clans of vampires, each of whom take on traits highly similar to that of their father Lieutenant, rather than developing new traits of their own.

Hylden

The Hylden are traditional enemies of the Ancients, first introduced in Soul Reaver 2, where the protagonist Raziel saw murals depicting them in the subterranean chamber under the Pillars of Nosgoth, as well as in the Reaver forges. Ancient history depicted them as the bitter enemies of the winged Ancients, the original vampires. They were similar to the Ancients in power, but "different in method and intention." Both wanted dominance of Nosgoth, and warred for a thousand years to claim it. The Ancients won the war, banished the Hylden to a demonic dimension.

The history of the Hylden in Nosgoth is affected by the plot of the games, which uses time travel a great deal to affect the course of recorded history. In the original timeline (post Blood Omen 1, which itself had history being changed), the Hylden were utterly defeated without Kain even truly learning of their existence. The events of Blood Omen 2 and Kain's memory of having experienced those events were only brought into existence at the end of Soul Reaver 2, when Kain saved Raziel's life, thus allowing him to resurrect the ancient Janos Audron, whose blood was required to open the Hylden Gate, a portal between the Demon and Material Realms. After using Janos to open the Gate, the Sarafan Lord then used his powers to draw other Hylden into the Material Realm.

Sarafan

The Order of the Sarafan are a group of warrior-priests dedicated to the eradication of vampires. Their crusade ended about 500 years before the start of the first game. The symbol of the Sarafan was similar to an eagle with outstretched wings. In the games, many Sarafan have been shown, but only seven have been named.

The name of the order was taken up again seven hundred years after the original order was disbanded by a mysterious entity known only as the 'Sarafan Lord'. In contrast with its benevolent appearance, the order was really concerned with the conquest of all of Nosgoth at which point they proceeded to instate a dictatorial rule over the land. This Sarafan Order shares nothing with the original save its name and desire to destroy the Vampire race.

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