- "The Pillars of Nosgoth... pristine, whole, and uncorrupted.
I had never beheld them in this undefiled state – yet something profound and indelible resonated within me at the sight.
And there, waiting at the very heart of the Pillars, was the canker that was destined to destroy them."
- ―Raziel — Listen (file info)[src]
The Pillars of Nosgoth were a landmark, and the focal point of the entire Legacy of Kain fiction: the "mythological and geographical hub" of the series and the land of Nosgoth itself. The Pillars were one of the main locations visited by Raziel in Soul Reaver 2, consisting of the Pillars clearing and nearby passageways, the location was featured as a main area on maps and was encountered as a playable location in all of the eras visited in Soul Reaver 2.
Reaching infinitely into the sky and deep into the earth, the well-being of the Pillars was inextricably tied to the spiritual and physical health of the land. From their genesis before Nosgoth's recorded history, the nine Pillars were represented by an oligarchy of immortal sorcerers known as the Circle of Nine. Each Pillar, and their respective Pillar Guardian, was assigned to a principle: Mind, Dimension, Conflict, Nature, Balance, Energy, Time, States, and Death.
The Pillars were corrupted by the machinations of "dark forces" in the pre-Blood Omen era, and they later collapsed when the Balance Guardian, Kain, refused to sacrifice himself to restore them in the Blood Omen era. His decision had implications for Ariel, the specter of his murdered predecessor, who was thereafter condemned to haunt the ruined stumps of the Pillars indefinitely. However, the dire ramifications of their fall extended far beyond one individual. As long as they remained unrestored, corruption seeped into the land like a poison; they were inexorably linked to the redemption of Nosgoth and both Kain and Raziel would ultimately attempt to restore them.
- Name: The Pillars of Nosgoth (SR2)
- Category: Soul Reaver 2 major locations/Mythological and geographical hub/Recurring location
- Game: Soul Reaver 2 (2001)
- Introduced: Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (1996)
- Architects: The Ancient Vampires
- Ownership: The ancient vampires (before Nosgoth's recorded history)
• The Circle of Nine
• Kain's empire (Soul Reaver era)
- Status: Ruined (Post-Blood Omen era)
- Features: The Pillar of the Mind
The Pillar of Dimension
The Pillar of Conflict
The Pillar of Nature
The Pillar of Balance
The Pillar of Energy
The Pillar of Time
The Pillar of States
The Pillar of Death
et al – see also:
• The Pillars of Nosgoth
• The Shrine
• The Pillars of Nosgoth (BO1)
• The Pillars of Nosgoth (SR1)
• The Pillars of Nosgoth (Defiance)
• The Sanctuary of the Clans
• The Subterranean Pillars Chamber
- Inhabitants: • Ariel/• The Elder God/• Kain/et al.
- Appearances: • • • • • •
- "These were the Pillars so familiar to my blighted eyes. But now that I had begun to learn their true significance, I regarded the Pillars' destruction with a new, enlightened sense of horror. And I questioned now whether Kain’s simple refusal – his mere ambition – could truly have caused such devastation. I felt that some darker influence was at work here...
As I approached, I discerned the spirit of Ariel – bound here now for more than a century."
- ―Raziel — Listen (file info)[src]
As with other titles in the series, the Pillars of Nosgoth were the main geographical and mythological hub of the land of Nosgoth and the Pillars area was represented by the main Pillars clearing which contained the the nine Pillars, the pillars dais and nearby battlement entrance; as well as the surrounding grassy passageways including an unusual Shrine nearby.
The Pillars were first mentioned in Soul Reaver 2 early on in A Reaver in Time as Moebius alerted Raziel to the fact that Kain awaited him at the pillars in the Pre-Blood Omen era, displaying a brief vision in the viewing basin of the Circle's gathering-room of the Sarafan Stronghold.[SR2][SR2-C1] After leaving the Stronghold and Great Southern Lake, Raziel would travel to the pillars himself, passing a mysterious Shrine before arriving at the Pillars clearing in Decision at the Pillars to confront Kain. However instead of the expected battle, Kain explained the events surrounding the Corruption of the Pillars as he and Raziel witnessed them and was able to persuade Raziel that he had a way out of his dilemma hidden in Raziel's presence there. After Kain teleported away, Raziel was able to progress beyond the Pillars and find a passage in the Spectral Realm which led away to the Subterranean Ruins - where Raziel would discover the Subterranean Pillars Chamber and the Elder God residing there.[SR2-C2]
The background story of the origins of the pillars were investigated for the first time in the series here, as Raziel discovered murals from the period Before Nosgoth's recorded history in the Subterranean Pillars Chamber, appearing to depict the raising and very origins of the pillars themselves - though the Elder derided them as "lies".[SR2-C2] Later, as Raziel progressed through Nosgoth he would uncover several sealed elemental forges, each attuned to a different elemental power and each containing further murals illustrating ancient events. In the Swamp Raziel uncovered the Dark forge, imbued the Dark Reaver and met the Vampire Vorador[SR2-C3] before he returned through the Subterranean Ruins to the Pillars area and passed back through heading to the Light forge in the banks of the Southern Lake, where he imbued the Light Reaver.[SR2-C4] In these forges Raziel discovered further murals illustrating the ancient history of the Ancient Vampires and Hylden and their monumental war - and role of the raising pillars as one of the final acts of the war, serving to seal the Binding and ensure the banishment of the Hylden to the Demon Realm.[SR2-C2][SR2-C3][SR2-C4][SR2-C6]
Raziel would return to the Pillars area again some time later as he investigated the Nosgoth of the Post-Blood Omen era in A Fateful Meeting. Like much of the rest of Nosgoth in this period, the area was under attack from various Demons infiltrating the Material and Spectral Realms. Defeating the Demons and various Demon hunters, Raziel would face the first Gas demons nearby the Shrine before progressing to the Pillars clearing where he met with the specter of Ariel and debated Kain's culpability for the Collapse of the Pillars; eventually ending up defending Kain's action to her. When Raziel attempted to leave via the passage to the Subterranean Ruins, he was confronted by his first encounter with a Fire demon before he was able to progress down to the ruins and another meeting with the Elder in the Subterranean Pillars chamber.[SR2-C5]
When Raziel arrived in Nosgoth's early history in On to the Past his goal was to reach Janos Audron's Retreat, however he could optionally head the opposite way, in which case he would encounter the victims of the Sarafan Vampire purge at the Pillars clearing and comment on their crusade, before being confronted with the first Sarafan warriors outside the Pillars battlement, instead of the usual encounters in the Swamp.[SR2-C7] Heading onto Janos's retreat and the meeting the Ancient vampire himself, Raziel discovered that his former human self and the other Sarafan warrior inquisitors were responsible for the death of Janos and the theft of the Reaver and the Heart of Darkness.[SR2-C8] Pursuing the Sarafan back to their stronghold in Blade of Vengeance, Raziel passed through the Pillars area for the final time. On this occasion under assault by various Time-displaced Demons, Raziel would be confronted by a final epic battle with three Black demons at the Pillars clearing, before heading back to the Lake and Sarafan Stronghold.[SR2-C9]
Design and LayoutEdit
The Pillars area in Soul Reaver 2 had the appearance of a set of grassy clearings and lightly wooded passageways broadly leading north and west away from the Great Southern Lake towards the Pillars clearing itself and on to surrounding Subterranean Ruins beneath, encompassing an area in South-western Nosgoth, indicated on maps to be just north-east of Ziegsturhl and south-east of Nachtholm as well as roughly west of the Southern Lake itself.[SR2]
The trail to the Pillars began along one of the passageways leading away from the Lake and the beginning of the Pillars area itself was roughly marked by a stone archway crossing the trail at a kink in the passage. From here the passageway led west then turned south and west at another kink before the trail ran into a small stream crossed by a modest wooden bridge (with a hidden Fire Reaver font under the bridge). After crossing over the stream, the trail curved but continued to head northwest, running alongside the the river upstream until the stream and passageway opened up into wider, more open surroundings at Ariel's Shrine.[SR2]
The Shrine itself was a large stone construction in the open air, decorated with metal that made it reminiscent of a set of balance scales raised on a stepped plinth above the floor and set into a rocky outcrop to the south of the area. Behind the shrine a small cobbled path led a short distance before breaking off in front of an obelisk and waterfall beside a large rock formation. Two trails led away from the obelisk, with the first - initially used to enter the area - heading east back downstream to the bridge, stone-arch and lake. The second trail from the Shrine led around the rock formation, rising and bending to emerge in an open area at the top of the waterfall. Crossing the river atop the water fall led to a small area with a checkpoint and a Dark font. Upstream the river entered a large open roofed cavern containing a larger waterfall (the source of the water in the Shrine area) and a wooden staircase leading up to a ledge containing an Air font. In most eras a wooden bridge crossed the room to an opening in the rock which led into a smaller channel which headed east before curving round in a wide 'U'-shape back west. At the end of the curve, the trail turned and widened again, presenting a small open promenade leading northeast to the battlement entrance to the Pillars of Nosgoth - a fortified gatehouse-like structure protecting the main entrance to the Pillars clearing, which could be opened with a lever positioned outside.[SR2]
The main Pillars clearing was presented as a large open rectangular space surrounded by low cliffs and trees, and dominated by the pillars themselves in the center of the clearing. In the southwest a large staircase led upto the battlement entrance, decked by a wide stone banister and topped with several smaller battlement merlons and two metallic globes at the bottom of the staircase. The pillars dais was positioned at the center of the clearing, roughly circular in shape with the Pillar of Balance at the center with an extension at the top containing the eight other pillars arranged into a semi circle (in order the Pillar of the Mind, Pillar of Nature, Pillar of Conflict, Pillar of Nature, Pillar of Energy, Pillar of Time, Pillar of States and Pillar of Death - each marked with an individual rune design). The dais was surrounded by several of the small decorative pillars seen throughout the area and was decorated with an ornate circular design composed of arcane symbols with three prongs at approximately the one, five, seven and nine o'clock positions - with the two lower prongs each extending beyond the circular design to two small set of stairs leading down to the floor of the clearing. North of the platform the clearing ended at a set of large rocky outcrops and cliffs, one lower section in the northeast was blocked by tall rocks and was inaccessible but a similarly much lower section in the rocks was visible to the northwest which changed into a staircase in the Spectral realm and led up to the ledge above and route beyond.[SR2]
From the high ledge above the Pillars clearing north of the pillars, the initial chambers leading to the ruins passed westward through a series of rocky tight dark twisting passages with occasional tall grasses before opening out into a wider rocky canyon which curved towards the south, descending through several minor rocky 'step terraces' to the large mural door positioned almost directly west of the Pillars, which led into the Subterranean Ruins.[SR2]
The in-game World map for Soul Reaver 2 depicts the Pillars area as expanse roughly south of Nachtholm and Nachtholm Cove, east of the bottom of the Lake of Tears, southwest of the Swamp and northwest of the Great Southern Lake and Sarafan Stronghold, encompassing an area surrounding the Pillars clearing and expanding to the east. As with other areas, this represented a simplification compared to the in-game layout, which showed the Shrine passages and area heading south away from the pillars before turning east, indeed beyond the pillars clearing itself, few if any of the passageways seem to be indicated on the map as within the pillars area. In addition the in-game map will continue to represent Raziel as in the Pillars area (or "????" if the Pillars clearing has not yet been reached) from roughly the stone-arch at the borders of the Great Southern Lake until the ancient vampire mural at the start of the underground section of the Subterranean Ruins, despite the furthest extent of these areas visually appearing to belong to other areas according to map outlines.[SR2]
As the Pillars area was seen in all three eras visited by Raziel in Soul Reaver 2 there were also many subtle differences observed between eras. When Raziel first encountered the area in the Pre-Blood Omen era, much of it was covered in grass and decorated with the banners of the vampire hunters and impaled vampire corpses. The Shrine had two impaled corpses on the plinth and several of the features of the shrine appeared highlighted or embossed, with bloodstains apparent on the shrine construction. The trail leading to the Lake was also covered in banners and impaled corpses, with a small decorative pillar placed at the bend of the river. Banners and impaled corpses continued above the waterfall heading upstream, where another small decorative pillar was at the end of the trail leading around the large rock formation. In the cavern, the upper bridge to the pillars was complete in this era, heading straight across the top of the chamber, over the river and waterfall heading into a high cave opening leading to the pillars, itself decorated once again with corpses and banners. The Pillars battlement door was opened by a lever and decorated by banners, whilst inside the clearing was also decorated with banners and corpses. The pillars themselves were initially seen as pure white but quickly deteriorated into their corrupted state, turning grey, corroding and cracking. The passageways down to the Subterranean Ruins contained occasional tall grasses and a small set of carved stone runic symbols on the floor.[SR2][SR2-C1][SR2-C2][SR2-C3]
In the Post-Blood Omen era grassy verges were replaced by bare rock, with many decorative pillars, banners and corpses missing entirely. The Shrine appeared duller, with grey replacing previous brown and brass-like coloring of the shrine, and two torches placed on the plinth. The obelisk behind the shrine had toppled allowing access to the top waterfall area, with the second trail blocked by large rocks. In the top cavern, the bridge had fallen in several areas and had to be jumped across. At the battlement the banners and lever had gone replaced only metal torches and empty holders. Within the pillars clearing, the battlement stairs had partially degraded and were flanked by torches, the circle of decorative pillars were joined by several taller metallic torches and the pillars themselves had fallen as a consequence of the Collapse of the Pillars, with several lying in pieces around the clearing. Beyond the clearing the tall grasses were yellowing and apparently dying and the stone carvings had been moved.[SR2][SR2-C5] In Nosgoth's early history the grass had been iced-over in many places, with impaled vampire corpses and banners returning (this time of the Sarafan), though less frequently seen than those in the Pre-Blood Omen era, and only one of the decorative pillars present. The Shrine construction appeared much brighter in this era, colored with many light browns golds and whites. The obelisk stood and the second trail was clear, but in the cavern the upper bridge was yet to be completed; with the final crossing missing and requiring the use of an Air plinth to reach the opening leading to the Pillars. At the battlements Sarafan banners now flanked the entrance and a single corpse was impaled next to the lever, which was not present, with only the empty holder there and the doors requiring pushing to be opened. Within the clearing, the Pillars were once again pure and complete, though the smaller decorative pillars were now joined by several impaled corpses and Sarafan banners. Beyond the clearing the tall grasses were much paler green and the stones were blank - the carvings apparently yet to be added.[SR2][SR2-C7][SR2-C9]
In comparison to other Pillars areas, due to differing layouts and approaches only the Pillars clearing itself could arguably be said to be consistent between titles, though several features were different. The general appearance of the Pillars and their platform remained largely consistent throughout all titles but the surrounding area was seen to change somewhat: Most noticeably, the Soul Reaver 2 pillars area features the debut of the newly designed pillars symbols using a set of abstract rune symbols to represent each individual pillar, differing drastically from the icon symbols of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and the simple colored bands of the Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver - these symbols would continue to be used to represent the pillars throughout Soul Reaver 2, Blood Omen 2, Legacy of Kain: Defiance and the Legacy of Kain: Defiance comic. Taking place millennia before the Soul Reaver era, the area lacked the Sanctuary of the Clans construction seen in the previous Soul Reaver incarnation and the pillars instead appeared much more similar to the previous Blood Omen incarnation, though the Soul Reaver 2 version was hemmed in by low cliffs as well as the heavy treeline seen in Blood Omen and bore a heavy battlement entrance to the south that was not seen in any other title. The Blood Omen Teleporters to the southeast and southwest were also absent from the Soul Reaver 2 area and were not seen in further titles, while the entrances to the east and west, later seen in the Defiance area were not present, though the northern entrance (leading to Vorador's Mansion) may be related to the taller rock covered passage in the northwest of the Soul Reaver 2 area. The Soul Reaver 2 area also allowed the pillars to be seen in all three states: initially upon arrival in the Pre-Blood Omen era and later in Nosgoth's early history, the pillars could be seen in their pure uncorrupted state, after meeting Kain in Decision at the Pillars, the Pillars would be seen as corrupted and corroded for the rest of the Pre-Blood Omen era, and would be seen in their collapsed state for the duration of the Post-Blood Omen era.[BO1][SR1][SR2][BO2][DEF]
From the Stone-arch passage ("Pillars1")
- The southern passage leads south to the Lake exit passage ("Lake4") and the main 'outer' lake area ("Lake2") for the Great Southern Lake, Sarafan Stronghold and Light Forge (SR2).
- The northern passage leads over a bridge and along a stream to the lower Shrine area ("Pillars1")
From the Shrine area ("Pillars1"/"Pillars2")
- The southeastern trail leads along the stream, over the lower bridge and through the arch formation to the outer Lake trail ("Lake4")
- The northern waterfall and western trails in the lower shrine both lead to the upper shrine area ("Pillars2")
- The western trail and southern waterfall in the upper shrine both lead to the lower shrine area ("Pillars1")
- The northern cavern leads to the upper bridge and a trail heads east to the pillars entrance ("Pillars3") and onwards to the Pillars of Nosgoth ("Pillars4")
From the Pillars clearing ("Pillars4")
- The high northern ledge (stairway in Spectral) leads through a twisting narrow Passage ("Pillars5") and a wider terraced route ("Pillars6") down to the entrance to the Subterranean Ruins ("Pillars7")
- The southern battlement entrance leads south through a twisting passage ("Pillars3") and down through the upper bridge to the upper Shrine area ("Pillars2")
As with other recurring areas, when approaching the design of the iconic Pillars area in its heyday, development was heavily influenced by the appearance of the area in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. Art Director Daniel Cabuco elaborated:
As Such, many of the features of the area make intentional reference to those seen in Blood Omen. Along with the general appearance of the environment, the Pillars clearing was the most obvious sign of this, with the Pillars of Nosgoth themselves and their platform reproduced and fully realized[SR2], with one major change: the pillars symbols - previously shown as gameplay related icons in Blood Omen[BO1] and simple colored bands in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver[SR1] - have been redesigned to more abstract rune symbols. Several different symbol placeholder designs for the symbols are seen in Soul Reaver 2 promotional material, before the team settled on the designs that would continue to be used throughout the rest of the series. Explaining the changes, Cabuco commented:
- The area generally considered to fall within the Pillars area are listed in Debug menus under the overarching "Pillars" level entries, and with the area appearing in all three eras, the entries have alternatives for each era, with the ordinary entry relating to the Pre-Blood Omen era, whilst in later eras these are modified with the addition of a "B" to denote the Post-Blood Omen era and "C" to denote Nosgoth's early history. The individual room areas are listed as "Pillars1" - the section from the stone arch/first bridge to the lower Shrine, "Pillars2" - the upper shrine and bridge area above the small waterfall, "Pillars3" - the twisting passages and pillars battlement gateway and "Pillars4" - the main Pillars clearing itself; the initial rooms leading away from the Pillars and down to the Subterranean Ruins are sometimes considered a part as well, and these are identified as "Pillars5" - the high ledge and tight twisting passages and "Pillars6" - the wide open curved route and mural door.[SR2]
- There is some dispute among sources as to the exact limits of the Pillars area in game. At its smallest extent, the World map entry for the area only highlights the main pillars clearing ("Pillars4") as comprising the pillars area. In game however, the areas interpreted as being in the pillars area when playing (or "????" if the Pillars clearing has not yet been reached) comprise much wider surroundings, with all of the areas from roughly the stone archway at the edge of the Great Southern Lake, through the Shrine and upto the main pillars clearing ("Pillars1" to "pillars4") counted as part of the pillars area; similarly the passages leading from the pillars clearing down to the Subterranean Ruins ("Pillars5" and "Pillars6") are highlighted as part of the Ruins although the game will continue to interpret the location as the Pillars area until Raziel enters the underground part of the ruins complex at "Pillars7". At the widest extent, Debug menus and Bonus materials list the Pillars area as encompassing everything from "Pillars1" to "Pillars12", putting the Shrine, main pillars clearing, Subterranean Ruins and Subterranean Pillars Chamber as all a part of the Pillars area.[SR2]
- Several small stone runic carvings can be seen on the floor outside the main entrance to the Subterranean Pillars Chamber (in "Pillars6"). They appear as blank stone tablets in Nosgoth's early history, suggesting the designs were carved some time afterward. The three pieces also subtly vary in their positioning. Any meanings or significance associated with the carvings is entirely unknown.[SR2]
- Subterranean Pillars Chamber
- Pillars of Nosgoth
- Pillars of Nosgoth (BO1)
- Pillars of Nosgoth (SR1)
- Pillars of Nosgoth (Defiance)
- Soul Reaver 2 Official Site - The Pillars (preserved at Dark Chronicle)
- Soul Reaver 2 Bonus Material - The Pillars at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- Soul Reaver 2 Bonus Material - Promotional Art at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)