Kain - Legacy of Hope
I defy the tyrannous stars.
Hope and the Legacy of Kain may seem like strange bedfellows, I grant you. But from the series very first moment, the ugly, sadistic death of the Balance Guardian Ariel, heralded by the anguished scream of the newborn Kain. Believe it or not, even here the ever present undertone of hope is being expertly crafted into this grim, gothic tale. Don't believe me? That's understandable, especially from those familiar with the series. Particularly the later revelations of the truly disturbed machinations that lead to all of this happening in the first place.
But look a little deeper still, very deep down, down to one key moment. Itself even more grim and, seemingly, more disgusting. I am, of course, referring to Kain's choice. Sacrifice himself, to be applauded for generations as the greatest hero of Nosgoth, the man who single headedly brought balance back to the world. The Balance Guardian who sacrificed everything in the most selfless display of true dedication to his very purpose for living.
The final act of indignity.
Or do something even greater, and doom everything to death and decay.
How can that be the better choice? How is that even possible? Surely the first option, that has to be the one I'm talking about. Right? But let me ask you. If that was the case, how could hope be the key factor, the driving force behind the entire series? Stop. Think for a moment. Think like Kain.
Look beyond the immediate. Look beyond, beyond even the far future. Kain did something else. He realised, in the moment of his choice, that the decision he made affected everything. The immediate, the future, the past. The beginning and the end. Everything. His 'selfish' act was a far greater sacrifice than the loss of his own life. That one, ugly, desperate act of defiance cost him everything. His life, his humanity, the entire planet. His very soul.
The machinations of fate.
But he, as the true Balance Guardian that he was, he gave freely. Seeing beyond the scorn, beyond the hatred, before the death and decay. The greatest sacrifice for the greater good. Remember, “they do not belong to them Raziel. They belong to us!” The vampires. The living embodiments of the nine pillars of Nosgoth. But there was a problem that arose, over time, as vampires developed increasing difficulties in how they begot their progeny.
So much so, that they were no longer able to do so at all. They too had become corrupted, long before the decay of the pillars. Unfortunately, that part of the story is far more difficult to access as, like Kain, our fragile hope (that the series will ever reach a conclusion) has been repeatedly dashed by delays. There's a delicious irony in there. Especially now, with the announcement of the Free-to-Play, MOBA style Nosgoth. Something that many fans are railing against as being an ugly slap in the face. Need I remind you, that Kain’s own choice was not one he made lightly. If Nosgoth falls, how will we ever see resolution?
But I digress.
Kain's hope persisted, even after he had lost the ability to appreciate it himself. Hope too, was something he had sacrificed in his selfishness. Though, as I'm sure he would agree, that was not such a terrible loss. At least, not at the time. It was not until the closing moments of the series’ fifth instalment, Defiance, when he was struck so powerfully by its sudden return. It was not until then that he realised the full gravity of the sacrifice he had made. There is only one thing more crushing than having your hope taken from you.
The fragility of hope.
Getting it back.
Seeing it return when you knew, truly knew, precisely how fragile it was. That most bitter, terrible illusion. The one thing that can make even the most dejected of souls rise above every obstacle and overcome all odds. That disgusting, beatific beast that can drive the most innocent of souls to doom an entire planet to death. All in the desperate belief that once, just once in the history of all things, if even only the faintest possibility. One time, just once, the coin will land on its edge. So look back now, see that first act of brutality in light of everything else this epic tale has taught us. Look again at what the corruption of Kain, at what the very instant of his birth has truly caused. The dark machinations of Moebius, intended to further his own goals and elevate his own position had instead given rise to something even more powerful. The vampire Kain, the Balance Guardian, the destroyer of Nosgoth, and its ultimate saviour.
By taking the selfish path, by refusing to relinquish his role and allow the wheel to turn, Kain was laying the foundation of something greater than himself. The corruption was already there, he had not caused it. He had exacerbated it, yes, accelerated it to unimaginable levels. But it had always been there. The turn of the wheel would not have changed that. Rather, it would have dragged it out. Perpetuating an eternity of minor torments. Surely, dooming everything, tearing it all down, you see now, how that was the better choice. By destroying everything, Kain had crafted an opportunity for renewal. The ultimate turn of the wheel.
Does hope truly conquer all?
But with death comes new life. New beginnings. Nosgoth was doomed to death, languishing in the final throes for millennia. A heart-breaking thought. But better a millennium, better ten millennia, a billion, better any finite number, than endless suffering. That was Kain's hope, whether he knew it or not. His one, last, desperate grasp at fulfilling the duty he never asked for. No longer was it a matter of restoring balance. The balance was not present to begin with. But now, now everything was dead and destroyed, now that there was that chance, that hope of rebirth. With that came the faint glimmer of a possibility that next time, next time might be better.