In the centuries before Kain's birth, the land was protected by an oligarchy of sorcerers known as the Circle of Nine. These guardians were sworn to serve and protect the Pillars of Nosgoth, the ancient edifice towering over the earth as a manifestation of the mysterious power that preserved and gave life to the land.
But the Circle was infiltrated by dark forces, and Ariel - the Balance Guardian - was cruelly murdered. Her assassination sent psychic shockwaves throughout the Circle, and in their derangement the remaining sorcerers turned their powers to dark purposes, poisoning the land with their sorcery and abandoning the Pillars to stand like silent, decaying sentries.
Into this dying world Kain was born. The son of an aristocratic Nosgoth family, he lived the privileged life of a nobleman, never realizing his undiscovered destiny - that he was marked from birth as Ariel's successor, fated to take her place as the Guardian of Balance.
Ignorant of his destiny, the ambitious but directionless Kain roamed the land - during one fateful journey, he was ambushed by brigands and murdered, cruelly impaled on his assassin's sword.
A Dark Covenant
Plucked from the brink of oblivion by the Necromancer Mortanius, Kain awakened in the underworld, still transfixed by his enemy's blade. Tormented by his hunger for vengeance, and heedless of the spiritual cost, Kain recklessly accepted the Necromancer's offer of revenge - and rose from his tomb to discover that he had been resurrected as a vampire.
Kain quickly tracked down his assassins and exacted his bloody revenge. With his vengeance and hunger sated, he sought only a cure for the vampiric curse that afflicted him. Guided by Mortanius and the spectre Ariel - now bound helplessly to the decaying Pillars she once served - Kain hunted down each of the corrupt sorcerers now poisoning Nosgoth. Only with their deaths could the Pillars be healed - and only by restoring Balance would Kain be released from his vampiric curse.
At first reluctant to live the horror of an existence blighted by a thirst for human blood, Kain soon adapted and discovered, within his darkened soul, a growing disaffection for humankind as he embraced his newfound immortality.
During his journey, Kain discovered and claimed the Soul Reaver, an ancient soul-devouring blade, and stumbled across - not so coincidentally - a time-streaming device created by Moebius, the Guardian of Time.
Against the counsel of the ancient vampire Vorador, Kain found himself embroiled in human events, caught in a bloody battle between Ottmar's Army of Hope and the ruthlessly advancing armies of the Nemesis, from the north. As the tide of the battle turned, Kain used his only means of escape - the time-streaming device, which swept him nearly 50 years back into Nosgoth's past.
Hoping to alter the course of Nosgoth's history, Kain assassinated the young King William the Just, who would become the diabolic tyrant known as the Nemesis. After sating himself on his victim's blood, Kain returned to the present - only to discover that his murder of the beloved King had ignited a genocidal war against vampires, led by the Time-Streamer Moebius, himself.
Upon his return, Kain witnessed the future that he had wrought - and the final, triumphant act of Moebius's cold-blooded mob. Vorador, the last of the era's vampires, is guillotined and his head held aloft for a cheering, bloodthirsty crowd - leaving Kain the sole surviving vampire in Nosgoth.
The Fateful Dilemma
As his quest brought him full-circle, Kain confronted the destiny that Mortanius and Ariel had hidden from him - that he was the Balance Guardian, and that only by sacrificing himself could he restore the Pillars. Ariel presented him with a final, climactic decision - sacrifice himself to heal the land, but ensure the extinction of the vampires; or refuse the sacrifice, and seal the world's corruption.
Revolted by the machinations of the human sorcerers and alienated from his former humanity, Kain chose the latter path - opting to rule the world in its damnation rather than commit himself to oblivion. This apocalyptic act completed the Pillars' destruction - the mighty columns toppled as Kain sealed their ruinous fate - and damned Ariel to ceaselessly haunt the dilapidated Pillars she once served. Until the Balance is restored, she can never be released.
Kain concluded with the epiphany that Vorador was right - that vampirism is not a curse but a blessing. That vampires are dark gods whose duty it is to thin the human herd.
With intentional irony, Kain established the ruined Pillars as the symbolic seat of his new empire, and the unrestored Balance Pillar as the base of his throne. In an act of calculated blasphemy, Kain raided the ancient tomb of the Sarafan, a fanatical order of warrior-priests once sworn to eradicate the vampires plaguing Nosgoth. From the desiccated corpses of these long-dead knights, Kain raised his six vampiric "sons" to become the Lieutenants of his fledgling empire.
But the Pillars, Kain ultimately realized, were more than just a human edifice - the health of the Pillars was tied inextricably into the health of the land. With the Pillars left unrestored, corruption seeped slowly into the land like a poison, turning his empire into an irredeemable wasteland.
Rather than evolving slowly over time, vampires experience periods of accelerated metamorphosis, entering dormant states from which they emerge transformed.
When Raziel, first among Kain's Lieutenants, revealed his latest evolution - a pair of bat-like wings - Kain responded with an act of seemingly egotistical sadism. Tearing Raziel's newly fledged wings from his back, he ordered Raziel to be cast into the Lake of the Dead, where he would burn forever in the roiling Abyss.
Raziel tumbled endlessly into the murky depths, his flesh dissolving as he burned with white-hot fire. After an eternity of torment, Raziel's ruined body came to rest - and as the pain receded, he realized that he had not only survived the descent, but had been delivered to the very seat of the Underworld.
Like Kain before him, Raziel was saved from the brink of oblivion by a mysterious benefactor - a preternaturally ancient god dwelling in the depths of the Abyss, who transformed Raziel into a devourer of souls, and released him back into the world to take his revenge.
Raziel, now the Elder God's fledgling angel of death, resurfaced to discover that centuries had inexplicably passed since his execution. Kain's empire lay in ruin, and Raziel found himself assailed by the degenerate offspring of his former brethren, who had long-since devolved into monstrous forms.
Undeterred by these revelations, Raziel pursued Kain across Nosgoth's blasted landscape, galvanized by a hunger for revenge, and a relentless new thirst - not for the blood of humans, but for the vampires' apostate souls.
Kain, however, had other plans for Raziel. Seemingly unsurprised by Raziel's miraculous return, Kain baited Raziel along the course of his single-minded vendetta, channeling him into battle with his mutated brethren, and into a fateful confrontation at the Pillars, wherein Kain raised the Soul Reaver against Raziel.
The ancient blade, believed to be indestructible, shattered when Kain attempted to strike Raziel down. The soul-devouring sentience captive in the blade was thus released, and binding itself to Raziel as a wraith-blade, became his symbiotic weapon.
Kain seemed not stunned but strangely satisfied with this shocking outcome, and lured Raziel further into Nosgoth's northern wastes, leading to their final confrontation in Moebius's long-abandoned Chronoplast chamber.
Driven by the fatalistic visions revealed by Moebius's devices, Kain activated the time-streaming portal that would propel him and Raziel centuries into Nosgoth's past. Free will, Kain feared, might only be an illusion - but he knew their fates were intertwined in ways that Raziel had not begun to fathom.
Swept back into Nosgoth's early history, Raziel began to unearth the secrets of his past - How his coming was foretold by an ancient race, Nosgoth's original Vampires, who forged the Reaver for their champion, as the weapon of their salvation. How he himself slaughtered the Sarafan lieutenants, and was his own murderer, and how he thus became the catalyst not only of Kain's future empire, but of his own dark destiny.
And finally, how he was fated to become the ravenous spirit imprisoned in the Soul Reaver blade - that this was, and always had been, the hellish cycle of his destiny. The wraith blade, he finally understood, was his own soul, twinned and bound eternally to him.
His motives still a mystery, Kain sought to change history by preventing the blade from consuming Raziel's soul. But Raziel, nearly obliterated by the Reaver, realized that he could never escape this terrible destiny - Kain had merely postponed it.