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Cornered in the Stronghold

Raziel has pursued the Sarafan to their Stronghold, resolved to avenge Janos Audron's murder, recover his heart, and reclaim the stolen Reaver.  Charging through the Stronghold's corridors, Raziel finds himself at a dead end, in an antechamber off of the cloister.  The Reaver is here, laid out across a basin in the center of the room.  Raziel stops short.

Raziel V.O.

Suddenly and inexplicably, I discovered the Reaver, suspiciously laid across my path.
Again, I sensed nothing of that ‘temporal distortion,’ the peculiar sense of displacement I had felt when I encountered the Reaver in William’s chapel.
Cornered here with the blade, I suffered the same nameless dread that I had experienced when Janos first presented the Reaver to me.
I felt at once repelled by the blade, and yet overwhelmingly compelled to seize it.

Suddenly Moebius and the Sarafan Malek appear in the doorway behind Raziel, cutting off his exit.  He’s been trapped.  Wheeling on them, Raziel summons the wraith-blade – but Moebius has arrived bearing his staff, and as the orb flares, the wraith-blade flickers and dies.  Moebius intends to stall Raziel long enough to drain his reaver energy (thus forcing him to take up the Reaver that’s been laid out for him here, despite his misgivings).
Moebius's demeanor has changed dramatically since their last encounter.  Gone are all signs of the sniveling, pandering magician – this Moebius is cold, focused, and completely in control.

So, Raziel – here we are, finally.
You have no choice but to confront me now – and I am not so foolish as I’ve let you believe.
We have business to conclude.

(extremely angry)
You knew I would lead the Sarafan to Janos, you vile bastard!
You’ve been orchestrating my every move!

(just laughs)

My destiny is an amusement to you?

It was fun, while it lasted.

Raziel takes a threatening step forward, and Moebius motions to Malek –

I think not, Raziel.
Malek, do not let this creature leave.  He poses a danger to the Circle.

Malek steps in front of Moebius, brandishing is pike

Poor, deluded Raziel... did you somehow imagine you had the guile to change history on me?
I’m the Time-Streamer – I knew your every intention before you did, you imbecile.

Suddenly, the sounds of a far-off disturbance echo through the chamber.  Screams, terrified cries for Malek, and the unmistakable laughter of the vampire Vorador as he mocks the Guardians reverberate through the stone corridors – this is the same moment in history where Vorador infiltrated the Stronghold to take his revenge on the Circle (also for Janos’ murder).

(in the distance)
Call your dogs – they can feast on your corpses!

Lord Moebius, there is trouble within.  The Circle is under attack –

(completely cold; focused)
Hold fast, Malek.
This one is the real danger to us.

Raziel backs slowly toward the basin where the Reaver is laid out.

What are you trying to concoct here, Moebius?

You toxic creature – did you imagine I’d simply allow you to run loose, corrupting everything you encounter?

I admit that I’ve underestimated you to this point, Moebius – but it’s a mistake I won’t repeat.

With his wraith-blade completely drained by the presence of Moebius’ staff, Raziel has no choice but to take up the Reaver.  He grabs the hilt and advances on Moebius and Malek.

This is the moment Moebius was waiting for –

Wrong again, Raziel.
Moebius and Malek back out of the open doorway.
Now, Malek!  Bolt the door!

Raziel rushes forward, but the portcullis slams down just as he reaches the door.
Turning back toward the chamber, he contemplates the Reaver now clutched in his grasp, and realizes that he has no choice but to press forward into the cloister.

Raziel V.O.
Using his staff to disable my wraith-blade, Moebius effectively disarmed me, leaving me with only one choice of weapon.
And yet I confess, it was not the lack of options, but blind rage that made me take up the Reaver – in my fury, it felt as though my hand had acted of its own will.
And now that same hand clutched the hilt with unyielding strength – and I felt a constrained tingling, a remote but palpable sense of longing as the disabled wraith-blade tried vainly to embrace its physical twin.



Raziel comments that he cannot put down the Reaver (it won’t let him)

Raziel V.O.
Now that I had taken it up, the Reaver and I were inescapably joined.
The harder I tried to release the blade, the more tightly my hand gripped the hilt, as if possessed of its own will.


Raziel comments that he cannot drop to spectral while carrying the Reaver, and he can’t summon the wraith-blade, because it’s been disabled by Moebius’s staff

Raziel V.O.
The Reaver exerted some mysterious power over me...
It sustained my energy, enabling me to prolong my physical manifestation indefinitely.  In fact, bonded to the blade as I was, I could no longer shift into the spirit realm at will.
Nor was I able to summon the Reaver’s twin, for my wraith blade had been disabled in the confrontation with Moebius.


As Raziel enters the cloister, he is confronted by the first two of Janos’ murderers, who have apparently been dispatched to confront him here.

Come to take your revenge, demon?

Back to hell with you!

Raziel looks upon his former brethren with disgust, relishing his advantage over them.


Raziel V.O.
I recognized these two as my former brethren... in life, as Sarafan; and in unlife, as Kain’s vampire ‘sons.’
Melchiah and Zephon, the weakest of Kain’s brood... These bastards had no idea what future lay in store for them – how they would become the very thing they so despised.
The Reaver hummed with ravenous anticipation – Janos had called it a ‘vampiric’ blade, endowed with the power to drain its victims of their lifeblood.
I was eager to see what the Reaver would do to these two...

The battle ensues, and the two Sarafan fall easily before the power of the Reaver.  With his former brothers-in-arms lying dead at his feet, Raziel revels in the intoxicating power of the Reaver.

Raziel V.O.
As Melchiah and Zephon fell before my blade, I felt the Reaver’s blood-thirst as keenly as I ever had when I was still a vampire.  I could sense the boundary between us dissolving – the Reaver was consumed with my rage, and I was intoxicated by its bloodlust.  The blade had a vitalizing effect on me – my physical energy no longer decayed over time, and the wounds inflicted by my foes healed almost instantly.
The Reaver had made me invincible.

Raziel proceeds to the nave of the Stronghold’s main Sanctuary, where he discovers Rahab and Dumah waiting for him.

Have you come to reclaim the monster’s black heart?

You’ll have to get through us, first.

Raziel readies the Reaver eagerly, savoring his newly-discovered role in their ultimate destinies.

Raziel V.O.
My former brethren Dumah and Rahab confronted me next – this all seemed so elegantly choreographed.
Exhilarated by the Reaver, I was drunk with revelations...
I could finally appreciate the delicious irony of Kain’s blasphemous, private joke – and I reveled as I colluded with him across the centuries.
For it was I who put these bastards in their tomb – thus providing the corpses for Kain to raise as his vampire sons a millennium from now.

Upon defeating Rahab and Dumah, Raziel proceeds to the choir of the Sanctuary. Here, finally, Raziel is confronted by Turel, alone – his former second-in-command, both as a Sarafan and vampire.  Turel advances on Raziel with self-righteous contempt –

Get back to the pit you crawled from, demon!

Raziel V.O.
And here at last was my brother Turel, who along with Dumah would bear me into the abyss without questioning Kain’s command.  So dutiful and righteous, even as a vampire... I guess some habits die hard.
The vampire Turel had eluded my vengeance; the Sarafan Turel would not.