After slaying his former assassins, Kain believes his quest to be at it's end. But he hears the voice of the necromancer Mortanius, saying:
"Tis not over Kain. These fools were merely the instruments of your murder, not the cause. Look to their masters. Look to the Pillars, and gain way to the Fortress of the Mind..."
Proceeding, he reaches a sign, heralding his arrival at the town in which he was slain.
Well, this looks familiar...
Blasted barkeep! Turned Kain out into the rain, and then to add insult to injury, his almighty counter thwarts Kain's attempt at revenge. What a cruel world this is.
Further exploring the town, Kain discovers... some Flay cards, hidden away in random citizen's bedrooms?
As an aside, you can actually drink the blood of the occupants of these beds. Finger lickin' good.
As we pass the town and continue on, Kain reflects on his situation:
"The Necromancer had offered me no warning as to what my resurrection would entail, and yet I must confess, in my haste, I had not sought one. Was his gift a curse? I would seek the Pillars for an answer."
Before long, we spot the Pillars themselves, in the distance.
"The Pillars of Nosgoth. Even in life, few sights have moved me such as this. I marveled that such beauty should grace our dying world."
Teleporting to the pillars on one of these handy runes, we encounter...
Ariel, whom we witnessed being murdered in the intro movie. Cue cutscene:
Nupraptor, your madness has shattered our dreams and blinded you...
Keep your distance or I'll send you back to Hell, spirit!
There is nothing left of me to fear, vampire. I am only a shadow of my former self... Ariel, the Balance of the Circle of Nine. Even so, I can provide the answers you seek.
I seek only a cure.
There is no cure for death. Only release. You must destroy the sorcery that is now poisoning Nosgoth. Only then will you realize peace.
The Nine of the Protectors of Hope were sworn to use their powers to preserve our world. Now these pillars have been corrupted by a traitor.
My murder at the hands of this beast drove my love Nupraptor mad. Now he spreads misery and pain among the Circle, crumbling the very foundation of Nosgoth. You must restore balance. You must right the Pillars of Nosgoth.
I care not for the fate of this world.
Then for yourself Kain... Beware the Unspoken...
And with this cryptic warning, Ariel disapears.
As Kain leaves the Pillars, he reflects on his conversation:
"Nupraptor, with his blind act of vengeance threatened to destroy all of Nosgoth. Each Circle member was bonded to the Pillar he served. The Pillars reflected the mental state of their servants, and as the minds of the Circle degenerated and descended further into dementia, the Pillars crumbled. To restore them, each member of the Circle had to die, and the artifact that served as their link to the Pillar had to be returned. Only when all the Pillars were restored, did Ariel claim my curse would end. And so my hunt for Nupraptor began."
We emerge from the teleportation rune in another area of the forest...
...and discover Guise of the Bat, and a Bat Beacon. This ability allows us to take the form of a swarm of bats, and fly around Nosgoth to these pillars, shortening our journey immensely.
"In bat form, I can travel great distances with ease. From my vantage in the heavens, no region of Nosgoth is forbidden to me."
Yeah, except, you know, every area without one of these big fucking pillars.
Proceeding, we arrive at a temple with this mural on the floor: These areas are the source of Kain's spells, abilities and equipment throughout the game. Each features one item and promotes it's use, kind of as an introduction. Observe:
Can't see shit...
Procure the Light spell...
"While it is true that natural light weakens a vampire, magical light can have many uses indeed."
Invoke it's power, and...
Exiting the temple equipped with our new ability, we proceed down the path...
...and come to yet another cave, offering yet another nifty ability...
"My lupine form enables me to move like lightning and leap over obstacles barring my path. But the guise of the wolf brings with it its own kind of hunger and rage."
Wolf form lets us jump - something we couldn't previously do, which is convenient, because upon taking it, a strip of spikes blocked our path out. However, it constantly drains mana - so it can't be kept up forever.
This is the form selection panel - there's one for spells and items, too - it's very easy to use, and in general, a rather innovative way to handle this sort of thing, for it's time. You simply hit a key - F2 through F4 for forms, spells and items, then press the directional arrow corresponding to the one you wish to select. You can move them around on the panel via another window, so when you have more then 4 items or spells, you can load the ones you want to have ready.
Eureka! Now we can leap over obstacles and, once we leave the cave...
...up cliffs. Handy, that.
At the top, we're presented with a number of ways to go, but I'm going to take a detour to the left, first off, where I discover this interesting cave!
With this interesting architecture! As I enter, Kain explains the situation:
"One must be wary in dealing with the Spirit Forges. The Wraiths and Shades that inhabit them offer items beyond mortal dreams, in exchange for a sampling of your blood. The Wraith Smiths forge their items with forfeit souls."
These Spirit Forges play a much larger role in the series during the games when the player controls Raziel. More on that later. For now, they offer Kain a large number of items in exchange for an offering of blood.
If we had access to some, citizens' blood works marvelously. In their absence, however...
...Kain's will do.
You can see, looking at the red vial on the right (my health bar!), that it took out a sizable chunk. This poses a large problem.
Before we take care of that problem, we can activate this beacon.
When we use Bat Form, now, we see this map: The two stone-looking things, one of which is outlined in red, are the beacons we've activated. Further, we can always fly to the Pillars - they're big enough to be seen from way off. These will become far more useful later in the game.
Next time: We run around collecting more grisly abilities. This game is great in that it really showers you with them, unlike some games with similar gameplay [cough Zelda cough] which spread them thin.