Avernus cathedral, also known as The Great Cathedral of Avernus, was the focal point of the city of Avernus and the centre of worship for the religion of the inhabitants. Unknown to most, the catacombs beneath the cathedral were home to a different type of worship, that of Hash'ak'gik Cult. The Cathedral was a playable location in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and Legacy of Kain: Defiance.
The history of the Cathedral is murky at best; there were Ancient Vampire and Hylden ruins on the site and the catacombs were possibly once the site of a Hylden stronghold, as the walls had murals depicting past events from the Hylden point of view.
The matriarch of the city and owner of the cathedral, Azimuth was instructed to use a time streaming device she had stolen from Moebius to bring Turel back from around 2000 years in the future. Turel, possessed intermittantly by various other Hylden was then used an impressive mouthpiece by the Hash'ak'gik cult to command their human followers, eventually seducing key members of the Circle itself and allowing the Hylden to possess Mortanius so that they could use him to murder Ariel and set the Corruption in motion.Kain first visited the Cathedral in Blood Omen when he went after Azimuth to cleanse the pillar of dimension. Advised by Ariel that he would have to "rise and fall and find [his] salvation in between" Kain travelled to Avernus to find the city in flames and being attacked by Demons, but none of the devastation outside touched the Cathedral, which was apparently the source. Kain entered the Cathedral to find that it was split into three realms which were navigated between by teleporters: Alongside the normal Cathedral interior was 'heavenly' realm which was decked with bright cloud imagery; and a 'hell' realm which was dark and foreboding with a bloody, skeletal theme (this was later revealed to be the Catacombs.) Hidden inside the catacombs, Kain found Hash'ak'gik's altar and his first clue as to who was responsible for the corruptiuon of the pillars.
In the 'heavenly' realm Kain found and claimed the legendary Soul Reaver Blade, before descending into the 'hell' realm to find the Wraith Armor, both of these items would come in useful against Azimuth who, when confronted, summoned Demons to combat Kain. When he was within range, a single strike of the Soul Reaver was sufficient to Kill Azimuth. Claiming her pillar token; her Third Eye Pandant ; along with the time streaming device she had stolen from Moebius. Kain immediately realised what Azimuith had been intending to do with the device, but did not realise that she had used it already, or why it was his salvation (it would later save him from the battle of the last stand.)
In Defiance, shortly afterward, Raziel, on the advice of Vorador arrived at the cathedral looking for the Heart of Darkness so that he could resurrect Janos Audron. Raziel found the Ancient vampire ruins and was able to enter the Earth Forge and imbue the Wraith blade to become the Earth Reaver. This allowed Raziel to pass through a portal and enter the 'hellish' Catacombs, where he found evidence of Hylden involvement in the secret religion of Avernus and their side of the Elder Wars and 'dual champion' prophecy. Now virtually convinced he was the Hylden champion, Raziel ran into Mortanius who was worshipping Hash'ak'gik along with a group of cenobites, curious to see the entity, Raziel was telekinetically dragged into the pit with it to find that it was his monstrously (d)evolved brother, Turel. Battling with possession by the Hylden, Turel needed blood to gather the strength to get rid of them, not aware that Raziel was no longer a creature of flesh and blood, he attacked his brother but was defeated.(finally gifting Raziel the Amplified Force Projectile ability) Raziel got the chance to talk to Mortanius, intermittently possessed by the Hylden Lord, who told him that he had placed the Heart of Darkness inside Kain to turn him into a vampire in the first place, believing he was creating the vampire champion. The Elder Kain, however, had travelled through time, worried about what would happen if Raziel found the Heart and followed Raziel inside the Cathedral. As Raziel left, he found Kain entering the Cathedral. Supposedly fulfilling the prophecy of the champions final battle, Raziel attacked Kain and won, tearing the heart out of Kain and leaving him to die before returning to Vorador's Mansion to bring Janos back to life.Kain would later wake in the Demon Realm, finding himself in Turel's pit assailed by demons. He was able to escape and return to the Material Realm and after battling his way out of the Cathedral, Kain returned to the Vampire Citadel, feeling the pull of the Spirit Forge .
Design and LayoutEdit
The Cathedral of Avernus is split into several dimensions due to Azimuth's sorcery and Kain is frequently required to pass between them as he progresses through the Cathedral. The initial area of the Cathedral is effectively mirrored in the first 'alternate' dimension Heaven area, with the layout resembling a selection of small square and rectangular rooms joined by doors and Teleporters that led to different realms. Most of the details of the Cathedral were reduced to bare rooms with creme walls and with floors resembling cloudy skies in the heaven realm, while The Wall buttons were made of a material like stained glass and the Black fire mages of the Material Cathedral were replaced by Giant demons.
Hash'ak'gik's altar was a secret area within Avernus Cathedral, visited by Kain during the Blood Omen era. It was a perverse, occult shrine to the god Hash'ak'gik, and contained battle artifacts and a tome recounting his commands to human worshippers. The altar could be visited in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain.
In the first timeline, while exploring Avernus Cathedral in his search for Azimuth, Kain discovered the Soul Reaver and the Wraith Armor, but these were not the only curiosities he could uncover within its nooks and crannies before confronting the Dimension Guardian. At the north-east end of the Cathedral's main hall, near the public altar, a well-hidden door led to the uppermost balcony of the Hell realm. The balcony led to one adjacent passage - a stone corridor containing many battle artifacts, which, when followed, culminated in a second, much darker shrine.[BO1-C8]
The shrine room was gory and chaotic, and it contained a blood-stained tome which read as follows:
- "And Hash'ak'gik spoke to the world, and all who heard trembled.
"Bring me your first born, and shed their blood on the altar of the world, so I might take nourishment from them.
Do this without question, or suffer my wrath for eternity."
And its will was done."
- ―Hash'ak'gik's altar[src]
The floor of this altar room was decorated with a demon-like image, but Kain had yet to recognize its significance.[BO1-C8] When he confronted Mortanius at the end of his quest, he realized that the Death Guardian had been possessed by a malevolent entity - an entity which, through him, had orchestrated the death of Ariel and the corruption of the Pillars. As he died, Mortanius's body was transformed by the entity, taking on the shape of the monster depicted in the shrine's image. It was the "Unspoken" which Ariel had warned him to be wary of; he defeated it handily.[BO1-C12][BO1-C2]
When Raziel later visited the Avernus Catacombs in the fourth timeline, he discovered the truth behind Hash'ak'gik and his worship.[DEF-C9] Hash'ak'gik was a pseudonym forcibly used by Turel, his vampire brother from the Soul Reaver era: Azimuth, a devout worshipper of the Hylden, had summoned Turel back through time using a time-streaming device stolen from Moebius.[DEF-C9] The Hylden were an ancient race whose banishment in the Demon Realm was sustained by the Pillars of Nosgoth; they and the Unspoken were one and the same, and they were capable of possessing creatures in the Material Realm to do their bidding.[DEF-C11]
The entity behind Hash'ak'gik and the possession of Mortanius was the Hylden Lord, a leader among the banished militants. Turel, in his devolved state, was trapped, and utilized as the mouthpiece for the Hash'ak'gik cult; periodically possessed by various Hylden, he was used to command the cenobites of Avernus, thus facilitating the downfall of the Pillars, which would eventually give rise to Kain's empire. The words in the tome which Kain had discovered implied that it was all a cyclic phenomenon; Turel had taken part in Raziel's execution under Kain's command, and his order to his disciples that they "shed their [first born's] blood on the altar of the world" to sustain him appeared to emulate the fate which would befall his brother in the distant future.[DEF-C9][SR1-C1]
The passageway leading to the altar area was very dimly-lit, and was wrought from stone spattered with blood. The altar area itself was a grim sight, shaped to resemble a jaw (with teeth for walls), and decorated with skull imagery. Innumerable real skeletons filled pits on either side of the trail towards the altar itself, with a few skulls, ribcages spilling over onto the walkway. Nine toppled marble pillars were also strewn around the rubble-laden room, possibly lending suggestion to the ultimate intent behind the Dark Entity's plan.[BO1]
Before Crystal Dynamics obtained the Legacy of Kain intellectual property, Silicon Knights had different plans for what they described as the "Blood Omen series". Although these plans would not come to fruition, their next game, 2002's Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, focused very heavily upon a grimoire dedicated to a dark god and found in a secret room - the Tome of Eternal Darkness. It seems possible that Hash'ak'gik's altar was originally intended to serve as a "teaser" for a potential sequel to Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, and that this concept was absorbed into Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem when Silicon Knights lost control of the Legacy of Kain IP.
It is unclear whether the tome on Hash'ak'gik's altar was supposed to relate to the Dark Scripture in Legacy of Kain: Defiance. The maroon, leathery covers of the tome and the Scripture greatly resemble each other, but they were discovered in what seemed to be very different areas of the Cathedral.[BO1-C8][DEF-C9]
NotesEditIn the catacombs in Blood Omen, there is a candidate for Malek's corpse which resembles the one seen in the opening video far more than does the one Malek identifies in his bastion ; there is also also a dark altar dedicated to Hash'ak'gik, this altar contained a depiction of the Dark Entity (the Hylden Lord ) as he was seen at the end of Blood Omen - this led many fans to believe that Hash'ak'gik and the Dark Entity (the Hylden Lord) were the same. The situation was shown in Defiance to be much more complicated with Turel actually representing Hash'ak'gik for the religion followers (and the words of the 'bloodstained book ' can certainly be applied to Turel), though the entity behind the plan is still the Hylden Lord it now seems more likely that the cult was not named after him. The 'Dark scripture ' Raziel uses to summon the portal to the catacombs may well be related to the blood-stained book seen in Hash'ak'gik's altar room . In the Cathedral in Blood Omen, Kain was attacked by many Priests who wielded magic, it is likely these were the same people who were dressed in masks as Cenobites when worshipping Hash'ak'gik. Just before Azimuth 's battle the 'normal' Cathedral also contained a large stained glass ceiling which depicted the battle between Vorador and Malek.The 'heavenly' realm of the Cathedral has yet to be seen again in the series.
Like a lot of Blood Omen, Avernus ' geography does not exactly match that shown on maps. This is especially noticeable in Avernus' case as the outside of the Cathedral can barely fit into the space given for the entire city, let alone considering the internal layout. This could be considered canon however, given that Azimuth the Planar, Matriarch of Avernus, was guardian of dimension and could presumably have manipulated this effect with her powers.
It seems curious that Ancient Vampire and Hylden relics would be seen so close to each other. It has been theorised that Avernus and It's Cathedral may have been built on top of one or both, though for what purpose remains unclear.
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