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Overview 

Kain is the titular character in the Legacy of Kain games. His role in the series has switched between a protagonist and antagonist, known for his god-like powers, arrogance and his manipulative nature. He is voiced by Simon Templeman throughout the series.
 
Once a nobleman, Kain became a vampire to avenge his death and restore his human form. In his quest for vengeance, Kain inadvertently ruined the land of Nosgoth and became its vampire ruler. To rectify his mistakes and restore the land, he created the wraith Raziel, who is the only creature to posses true free will. Kain's manipulation of Raziel is the central plot in the Soul Reaver series. 

Characteristics

Kain is known for his arrogance and clear disregard for authority throughout the series. He has a short temper and is easily angered. A theme which runs strong in all his dialog is fatalism and rants about free will. Kain is destined to be the Scion of Balance and thinks of himself as a God. But unlike many other traditional video game anti-heroes, Kain is very wise and posses a good foresight when it comes to important events. Though betrayed early on in his vampire life, Kain has matured over the following centuries and has become quite manipulative himself. He is known for bending the truth to suit his arguments and manipulates Raziel to fit his own agenda.  There is a hint of sardonic humor in some of his dialogues.
 

Appearance

In most games, Kain is portrayed as being green skinned with large vampiric fangs and a long, silver-blonde mane. He starts out with normal 5 fingers which turn into 3 birdlike claws over the millennium. His skin is almost stone like and is impenetrable to normal attacks. He usually wears the wraith armor he acquired in Avernus Cathedral during the first game and carries around the Soul Reaver on his back. Kain wears his clan's symbol with pride over his right shoulder in bright red colors.

Kain unleashing the Reaver

Powers

Kain's powers have varied across different games. In Blood Omen, he had the ability to blend into mist, turn into a wolf and leap across great chasms, telekinesis and many more. Due to his near fatal wound at the hands of the Sarafan Lord in Blood Omen 2, Kain lost most of these powers but developed new ones when he consumed the souls of his former lieutenants in that game. For example, he absorbs Magnus's soul which allows him to set objects on fire. In Soul Reaver and the following games, we see that Kain has evolved over the last thousand years. He can now turn into mist at any time, making it easy for him to pass through lock doors and giving him great dexterity during combat. He can turn into a flock of bats to travel great distances. His power of telekinesis is completely realized now and he can throw enemies and objects around at his whim. Being an age old vampire, Kain has developed incredible physical strength.

In addition to all these powers, Kain wields the Soul Reaver which can be imbued with various elemental powers of its own. 
 

Scion of Balance  

We know that  Kain was the first Vampire in over a millennium to take up the role of the Balance Guardian and  the entire franchise is centered around Kain trying to fulfill his role as the Scion of Balance. However, it is never made discretely clear what that term really means. So when asked during an interview, Amy Hennig explained who/what the Scion of Balance is :
 

 The Scion of Balance is the figure who is destined to return the Pillars to vampiric rule, the one who was prophesied by the ancient Vampires. Kain is both, whereas the other Balance Guardians were not.

 

Kain's Story  

Precursor to Blood Omen

 
Ariel was the Balance Guardian before the events of Blood Omen. At the start of the game, we find out that she was betrayed and mysteriously murdered by Mortanius while he was under the influence of a Hylden . The repercussions of her death were expertly calculated as it sent her love, Nupraptor - Guardian of the Pillar of Mind, into madness. Since all the Pillar Guardian's are symbiotically connected, Nupraptor's madness corrupts the entire Circle of Nine, including Ariel's successor and the newly born Balance Guardian, Kain. The corruption has a destabilizing effect  on Kain and in turn, sends the Pillars and the entire Nosgoth into a state of decay. This alters the intended path of history where Kain was to become the Scion of Balance and bring the Pillars back under vampire guardianship.
 

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain
Kain as he appears in Blood Omen


We are introduced to a young and ambitious Kain in Blood Omen. In normal life, he was an arrogant nobleman in King Ottmar's court. While on a mission, he was ambushed and assassinated in a plot to destroy the Circle of Nine. Enraged and lost in the spectral realm, he blindly accepted an offer by the necromancer Mortanius to avenge his death. Upon resurrection, he realized that he had been betrayed and was reborn as a vampire.

Seeking a cure for his vampire curse, he visits the Pillars of Nosgoth. There, the ghost of the Balance Guardian Ariel tells him that his fate is tied to the Pillars and that he must kill all the Pillar Guardians to free it of the corruption and regain his humanity. During his quest, Kain comes across Moebius The Timestreamer(posing as an Oracle)  who warns him about the impending invasion from the north by the armies of the Nemesis (a king formerly known as William the Just). After this meeting, Kain meets Vorador who acts like a mentor to him. Vorador tries to help Kain embrace his dark gift and stay away from human affairs but Kain refuses to listen and continues with his mission. He faces the other Pillar Guardians,including Malek in Dark Eden. Struggling against his brute strength, Kain summons Vorador to distract Malek and uses this oppurtunity to kill the other Guardians himself.  
 
Thanks to Moebius' advice, Kain decides to venture into Avernus Cathedral next where he finds the infamous sword, Soul Reaver. He also comes across a time streaming device. Sensing his chance to fix Nosgoth and the pillars, he uses the streaming device to travel 50 years in the past. With Moebius's advice still ringing inside his head, he decides to change history by killing the young king William before he became the Nemesis. On facing William, he finds out that both of them were armed with the Soul Reaver. The existance of 2 Soul Reavers in the same time period create a temporal distortion powerful enough to change the course of history. Kain shatters William's blade and murders the boy king before he can ravage Nosgoth.

On returning to his own timeline, Kain finds out that he had been tricked by Moebius who used William's death to ignite a genocidal crusade against the vampires. William died as a martyr saint and Kain becomes the author of his own species extinction. Following Vorador's public execution, Kain was the last surviving vampire in all Nosgoth. For his betrayal, Kain kills Moebius and returned to the Pillars to consult Ariel. While hiding there, he finds Mortanius in argument with Anacrothe (another Pillar Guardian) over the Pillar's purpose. After the argument turned into a fight, Mortanius transforms into a demonic entity and kills Anacrothe. Kain emerged from the shadows and warns the demon that he too must die if the Pillars are to be restored. To his surprise, the demon laughs it off and informs him that it was the plan all along and Kain acted like a willing pawn. It is revealed that both Mortanius and Ariel hid Kain's true identity as the Pillar Guardian of Balance. Kain kills the possessed Mortanius and finds that Moebius's plan had worked. Kain was left with only 2 choices - to kill himself and end the vampire race to save Nosgoth, or refuse the sacrifice and destroy the Pillars and Nosgoth in the process. Either of these choices denied Kain the chance to fulfill his true destiny as the Scion of Balance and return the pillars to Vampire Guardianship. (See Blood Omen 2 for details about Kain's predicament)

The canon ending shows Kain refusing the sacrifice and embracing his dark gift. Most of the later games in the series revolve around Kain trying to find a 3rd path out of this dilemma created by Moebius.


Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2
Kain feeding in Blood Omen 2


In Blood Omen 2, we find out that Kain refused the sacrifice and lead an army with the intent of conquering all Nosgoth. But his conquest failed as he was betrayed by his own lieutenants and defeated by the Sarafan Lord at Meridian. Along with his kingdom, Kain also loses his signature sword, Soul Reaver, to this Sarafan lord. After the defeat, he was left unconscious for two centuries as he recovered from his wounds. Upon waking up, he finds out that surprisingly, he still has friends in this world. Umah, an operative of Vorador's vampire clan - The Cabal helps Kain in regaining his powers and in his quest to establish a vampire rule over Nosgoth. (Vorador's presence in this timeline was supposed to be explained in Defiance but it never made it into the game. It was possibly due to the paradox created at the end of Soul Reaver 2. It is also possible that Kain resurrected Vorador). As he regains his former strength, Kain kills his former lieutenants who betrayed him. He also frees his greatest warrior at the time, Magnus who was horribly deformed and living out a pitiful existence. During the course of the game, Umah tries to betray Kain by delivering him to the Sarafan but Kain sees through her betrayal and murders her.

On his adventures, one of the Sarafan's captive creatures tells Kain that the Sarafan Lord is not human at all and is infact a Hylden, vampire's eternal enemies. Unaware of the Hylden's true intentions at the time, Kain continues on his quest for revenge. He stumbles upon a mysterious entity known simply as the “Mass” - used to power a Hylden device. Kain destroys this mass and discovers that it was the ancient vampire, Janos Audron who had devolved into that state upon centuries of imprisonment. Janos tells Kain about the history between the Ancient Vampires and the Hylden, how the Hylden affected the once noble Ancients with a predatory bloodthirst and turned them into vampires. He informs Kain about how his refusal to sacrifice himself shattered the pillars, which were used as a prison to hold the Hylden back in the demon realm. Once a few of the Hylden broke through, they created a device to sustain themselves in this realm and Kain must destroy this device to sever the connection and banish the Hylden once again. It dawns on Kain that all the events leading upto now - Ariel's assassination, his resurrection as a vampire and damning of the pillars were expertly orchestrated to this end.

Armed with this information, Kain assaults the Hylden city and faces the Hylden posing as the Sarafan lord. During this battle, Janos Audron intervenes to help Kain but is swept aside and banished to the demon realm. Enraged, Kain destroys the device and kills the Hylden lord. He reclaims the Soul Reaver and goes on to conquer all of Nosgoth.


Kain on his throne

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver


Set about a thousand years after the events of Blood Omen 2, Soul Reaver shows a very different Kain. He is now the ruler of a failing empire and has raised six of the Sarafan warrior priests as his vampire lieutenants, Raziel being the strongest of them all. Kain and his lieutenants have created various clans, which occupy all of Nosgoth. Kain's empire has pushed humanity to the brink of extinction. The combination of his clans and the pillar's corruption have made Nosgoth almost lifeless.

The game shows that Kain has evolved over the last millennium. And so have his lieutenants. But when Raziel develops wings before him, Kain casts him into the Abyss. The apparent reason at the time was jealously but as we find out in later games, Kain knew about Raziel's true destiny and sought to change his own fate by using Raziel as his pawn. After Raziel returned as a wraith, Kain knowingly took the decision of attacking him with the Soul Reaver, thus destroying the physical blade. This left a wraith version of the blade in the spectral realm which Raziel picked up. This wraith blade coiled itself around Raziel's arm, becoming his symbiotic weapon.

Raziel discovers the truth about his origins (as a Sarafan priest) and seeks vengeance for the unlife Kain forced upon him. After murdering all his former brothers, Raziel purses Kain into the chronoplast chamber, where he is told that “their futures are predestined” and that “free will is an illusion”. Kain questions the Sarafan crusade's true purpose and tells Raziel before escaping that this is not how or when it all ends. The ending implies that Kain has been using the timestreaming chambers for a few centuries, to visit Nosgoth's past and future. This gives us a small insight into the game he is playing.

Kain escaping through the time portal

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2


Soul Reaver 2 follows right where the last game left off. Kain goes into Nosgoth's past, some 30 years before the events of Blood Omen. He meets Raziel at the Pillars, right at the monumental moment when Ariel is murdered and the Pillars are corrupted as a young Kain is born. Kain was destined to be the Scion of Balance, the one who would restore balance by bringing the pillars back under vampire guardianship. But Moebius's plan had denied him the chance to do so. Calling their tale crude and ill-conceived, he tells Raziel about the choice he had to make as a young vampire, comparing it to the two sides of a coin. Kain was hoping that someday that coin would land on its edge. He hoped to resolve his and Nosgoth's dilemma with a third option and Raziel was the key. He urged Raziel to give him another chance and discover the truth behind the Sarafan crusade's motives.

Later on, Raziel and Kain meet again – this time at the tomb of William the Just inside the Sarafan Keep, where the Soul Reaver is stored. Kain continues with his rants on fatalism and informs Raziel how they were supposed to meet here at this time. He retells the tale of his youth, about how he was coerced by Moebius to go back in time and slay the young king. Kain reveals how Moebius made sure both him and William were armed with the Soul Reaver at the time of their confrontation. The presence of two Reavers at the same time and space created a paradox, strong enough to divert the course of history and lead to the crusade against the vampires. He then hands Raziel the Reaver, and soon it overcomes Raziel as he is propelled towards Kain. Kain tells Raziel that he is destined to kill him here, at this time. Raziel exercises his free will and refuses to go through with the murder thus altering the course of history. Irritated by the whole event, Raziel walks away to continue his quest to find Janos Audron.

Kain follows Raziel to a hundred years into Nosgoth's future and informs him that Janos Audron indeed holds the answer to his destiny. With some luck, Raziel manages to travel five hundred years into Nosgoth's past, at the time of the Sarafan Crusades. Raziel finally finds the reclusive Janos who reveals that Raziel is the prophesied hero who is destined to be the savior of the vampire race. He believes that the Soul Reaver was created to be wielded by Raziel (this is the destiny that Kain had intended for Raziel). At this moment, Janos is ambushed and slain by Raziel's Sarafan self. He claim Janos' heart, christening it the "Heart of Darkness" and takes the Soul Reaver with him (This heart would later be used to resurrect Kain).Overcome with a sense of self loathing, the wraith Raziel renounces his Sarafan self and embraces the role Janos had set out for him - a vampire champion. He pursues the Sarafan into their keep, finds the Soul Reaver inside the stronghold and uses it to slay his former brethren – leaving behind corpses for Kain to resurrect later on as his lieutenants, including Raziel's own human self. 
 
In the game's tragic ending, the wraith blade leaves Raziel's arm to join its physical twin and the conjoined blades turn on their wielder. A revelation dawns on him – the Reaver was never meant to be a soul stealing weapon, the soul devouring entity trapped inside the sword was Raziel himself (This was the reason the Reaver shattered when Kain tried to strike him down previously). As his soul hovered both inside and outside the blade, Kain pulls the blade out to save Raziel from his doom. This action creates a paradox and changes the course of history and is responsible for the events in Blood Omen 2. With his new memories, Kain realizes how they had walked right into the Hylden's trap and warns Raziel of the future as the wraith slips away into the spectral realm.


Legacy of Kain: Defiance


Kain as he appears in Defiance

The game picks up from the ending of Soul Reaver 2 as Kain is searching for Raziel after saving him from the Soul Reaver. He infiltrates the Sarafan Stronghold to question Moebius, who guides him to the old Vampire Citadel near the Pillars. While there, he finds various murals portraying the Hylden and Vampire champions locked in a duel. This leads him to believe that he is destined to be the vampire hero while Raziel is his Hylden counterpart. However, in reality, Raziel represents both the champions due to his free will.

As Kain explores the Vampire Citadel, he finds murals depicting the Ancients praying to a god (who was actually the Elder God himself). This worship was the reason of the conflict between the Hylden and the Ancients. Further into the Citadel, Kain stumbles into the Elder God posing as a Vampire Oracle. He "helps" Kain and  teleports him 500 years in the future to Raziel, who is in search of the Heart of Darkness inside Avernus Cathedral. Kain travels to Avernus to seek out the wraith. On meeting him, Kain tries to reason with Raziel and reveals that he is the only being in Nosgoth who truly has free will. Kain warns him that Janos cannot be raised since great harm will come of it. But Raziel doesn't heed his advice and in his blind rage (possibly due to the Hylden's influence) tears the “Heart of Darkness” out of Kain. Having claimed what he needed, he banishes Kain to the demon realm, believing him to be dead.

Kain, however, is still alive and comes across the demonic Hylden race while in the demon dimension. (In the game, no apparent reason is given as to why Kain is still alive, the common theory is that he lives because he is the Scion of Balance and that the heart of darkness still beats somewhere). He fights his way back to the Vampire Citadel to seek answers, only to find Moebius there, conversing with some invisible entity. He slays the Timestreamer one last time - for all eternity. While in the spectral realm, Raziel finishes the job by consuming his soul and releasing it to the “Wheel of Fate”.  
 
When Raziel impaled Moebius with a purified Spirit Reaver, the Timestreamer finally saw the God he worshiped so dearly. He makes Raziel realize that he is destined to purify Kain with the Spirit Reaver. He reanimates Moebius' corpse. As a reflex reaction, Kain leaps forward to impale him with the Reaver. As Raziel completes his transformation, Kain realizes his mistake and tries to take the Reaver out but Raziel refuses to let go. He reveals how his soul is fated to end up imprisoned inside the Reaver. As he gives in, he tells Kain" I'm not your enemy, not your destroyer. I'm, as before, your right hand - your sword, ". Raziel ends up being part of the Soul Reaver blade. This sacrifice purifies the physical Reaver and Kain's soul. The corruption that had taken over at his birth was cured and he was finally able to see the Elder God, the true enemy of the vampires all along.

Armed with the purified Soul Reaver, Kain defeats the giant squid like creature and leaves it buried underneath the ancient Citadel. In the epilogue, he reflects upon Raziel's sacrifice and how in a final act of redemption, he left Kain a gift far greater than the sword that now held his soul – the first bitter taste of that terrible illusion - hope.

Quotes

 
[At the start of Blood Omen] - Vae Victus -- suffering to the conquered. Ironic that now I was the one suffering. Not anything as pedestrian as physical pain. Rather the cruel jab of impotent anger -- the hunger for revenge. I didn't care if I was in Heaven or Hell -- all I wanted was to kill my assassins. Sometimes you get what you wish for. The Necromancer Mortanius offered me a chance for vengeance. And like a fool, I jumped at his offer without considering the cost. Nothing is free, not even revenge.

[The ending of Soul Reaver] - Eternity is relentless, Raziel. When I first stole into this chamber, centuries ago, I did not fathom the true power of knowledge.  To know the future, Raziel... to see its paths and streams tracing out into the infinite...  As a man, I could never have contained such forbidden truths... But each of us is so much more than we once were...  Gazing out across the planes of possibility, do you not feel with all your soul how we have become like gods?  And as such, are we not indivisible?  As long as a single one of us stands, we are legion... 

Our futures are predestined - Moebius foretold mine a millennium ago.  We each play out the parts fate has written for us.  We are compelled ineluctably down pre-ordained paths. Free will is an illusion.

[At William's Grave during Soul Reaver 2] - Raziel :I understand only this Kain, that you and Moebius have impelled me to this moment, simply means that i can trust neither of you. I don't know who's pulling the strings, but it no longer matters, because I'm cutting them. I set my own course from here.
Kain: If only it were that simple.
Raziel: Your fatalism is tiresome, Kain.
Kain: And profoundly ingrained, Raziel. You must understand, our presence here doesn't alter history. You and i meet here because we are compelled to, we have always met here. History is irredeemable. Drop a stone into a rushing river, the current simply courses around it and flows on as if the obstruction were never there. You and I are pebbles, Raziel, and have even less hope of disrupting the time-stream. The continuum of history is simply too strong, too resilient.

[ Defiance Prologue] - Given the choice, whether to rule a corrupt and failing empire; or to challenge the fates for another throw - a better throw - against one's destiny... what was a king to do? But does one even truly have a choice? One can only match, move by move, the machinations of fate... and thus defy the tyrannous stars.

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