Ariel is a recurring character in the Legacy of Kain series, appearing in every title with the exception of Blood Omen 2. She was Kain's immediate predecessor as the human Guardian of the Pillar of Balance. When Ariel was murdered by the Dark Entity (who possessed Mortanius to commit the deed), the discovery of her corpse - led her lover, the Mind Guardian, Nupraptor to descend into madness, thus causing the corruption of the Pillars. After her death, Ariel's specter was bound to the corrupt Pillars of Nosgoth, which she haunted for many centuries afterward.
As a specter, Ariel acted as a guide to Kain throughout Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, setting him on his pursuit to restore the Pillars, guiding him throughout, and eventually revealing his true role to him. During the events of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, she fulfilled a similar role for Raziel, assisting him in his quest to destroy Kain and restore Nosgoth. She also appeared as a supporting character in both Soul Reaver 2, and in Legacy of Kain: Defiance, in which her spirit was finally restored, released from its eternal limbo, and consumed by the Wraith Blade.
- "Forever am I bound, hope abandoned, my spirit tethered to this place...
What destroyed the Circle could not touch me. For I was newly dead, and beyond harm's reach.
I alone was spared the descent into madness, and Kain alone was spared the pain of death.
When Nupraptor's poison seized Kain even in the safety of the womb, much more than just his destiny was lost. All of Nosgoth lost Balance.
Consider us now... both of us less than we once were.
I, pure but insubstantial; and Kain terribly real, but corrupted."
- ―Ariel — Listen (file info)[src]
Nothing Left to Fear
Ariel was born to serve the Pillars as Guardian of Balance at some point in the centuries of Nosgoth's early history and, along with the immortality gifted to her by her role; Ariel's "magic influenced the regulation of the other magic in Nosgoth" and her magical prowess was only "rivaled that of her beauty". At some point, Ariel became romantically involved with fellow guardian Nupraptor (Guardian of the Mind) and the two embarked on a controversial relationship, of which other guardians may have disapproved. The Cult of Hash'ak'gik seducing the Circle of Guardians behind the scenes, led to the Dark Entity being able to possess Death Guardian Mortanius and he was able to use the Necromancer's body to murder Ariel, stabbing her as she performed her duties. Nupraptor was first to discover Ariel's corpse and suspecting the involvement of a 'traitor' guardian, Nupraptor descended into a grief-fuelled madness, which led him to turning his phenomenal psychic powers against the pillars and the guardians themselves - setting off the Corruption of the Pillars.
Like the previous Balance Guardians, Ariel's soul was her Pillar Token and as she died, it returned to the Pillar of Balance and Ariel's successor as Balance Guardian, Kain, was born. However, the corruption of the Pillars had to some degree 'frozen' the usual process, and Ariel was trapped at the Pillars (greatly disfigured as the flesh on half her face had been stripped off, exposing her skull) and unable to be spun back into the Wheel of Fate, until 'balance' was restored.
Locked in Eternal Limbo
Thirty years later, Mortanius led Ariel's successor, the young vampire Kain, to the Pillars and Ariel (believing she would be freed if balance was restored) persuaded Kain to take up the quest to eliminate the corrupted Circle of Guardians (ambiguously offering him "release" when the quest was completed), directing him first to her lover Nupraptor. Throughout Blood Omen, when Kain returned to the Pillars, Ariel was on hand to offer advice and hints about guardians he would face, though she kept him ignorant of his true destiny.
Whilst Kain was away on his quest, Ariel was approached by the Wraith Raziel (for the first time from her perspective but not from his). Raziel had come to the Pillars seeking Ariel's guidance regarding the Vampire Vorador, but Ariel was clearly suspicious of Raziel, believing that he was the Hylden champion. The two briefly debated Ariel's counseling of Kain, before Ariel told Raziel the location of Vorador's Mansion, deep in the Termogent Forest. Ariel hoped that Raziel and Vorador would "molder there together until the end comes".
By the time Kain's quest was completed, "Moebius's mob [had] done it's work" and Vorador had been killed, leaving Kain as the last Vampire in Nosgoth. As Kain finished the last guardian Mortanius and defeated the Dark Entity, he saw that there was still one pillar remaining to restore - the Balance Pillar. Ariel materialized and Kain finally realized that he was Ariel's successor as Balance Guardian and the final corrupted pillar guardian remaining; and only with his death would Nosgoth be restored. Ariel offered Kain his final climactic decision; to sacrifice himself to heal the land (but ensure the vampire's extinction), or to reject the sacrifice and rule the land in its damnation. Kain chose to reject the sacrifice, shattering Ariel's hopes of her release, and damning the Pillars to collapse.
Ghastly Past, Insufferable Future
Ariel was still bound to the Pillars a century after their collapse, when she was approached again by Raziel (from his perspective this was before their meeting in the Blood Omen era). This time Ariel was despondent, lamenting her fate and bitterly angry at Kain for his decision to abandon the Pillars (consciously keeping her imprisoned). Raziel was unusually forced to defend Kain's actions as the two debated his guilt and the role of the dark forces behind the corruption, but taunting her about the possible "eternal" nature of her imprisonment pushed Ariel too far and she retreated to the Spectral Realm (apparently unaware that he could follow). Raziel impatiently followed, continuing to taunt the trapped and terrified spirit, with cruel accusations. Unable to gain any useful answers from her, Raziel wearily relented leaving Ariel behind at the Pillars and once again hinting at her the possibility that she was "merely at the threshold" in terms of her imprisonment.
The Threshold of Purgatory
Ariel would remain bound and restless at the Pillars for over a thousand years; bearing witness to the rise of Kain's empire and the building of the Sanctuary of the Clans around the pillars. Ariel would still be imprisoned there as Kain's empire devolved and the vampire clans scattered. When Raziel returned from his execution in the Abyss as a wraith, he sought out Kain at the Sanctuary of the Clans and there he found Kain apparently awaiting him, after a short battle Kain easily defeated Raziel, striking him with the Reaver, shattering the blade and sending Raziel back to the Spectral Realm.
In the Spectral Realm (along with the Wraith Blade) Raziel found the spectre of Ariel (this was their first meeting from Raziel's perspective). Ariel explained her imprisonment to Raziel, holding Kain's "blind ambition" responsible for her eternal imprisonment. Realizing that they both "shared a common foe", Ariel offered to help Raziel; in a similar vein to her behaviour to Kain in Blood Omen, she would act as a guide providing hints to Raziel whenever he returned to the Pillars. Ariel's final hint to Raziel, directing to the Chronoplast, was (aptly enough considering the events of Soul Reaver 2) "Be wary, Raziel - those blind with rage are by destiny ensnared". When Raziel retreated through the Chronoplast into the past, Ariel was left in the 'wasteland' Nosgoth.
Rendered Pure by Spirit
At the climax of Defiance, in the Blood Omen era, Raziel activated the Spirit Forge, which called the souls of all the Balance Guardians for "the final baptism of the blade" - The Spirit Reaver enhancement. Ariel represented the former Balance Guardians to Raziel; finally appearing restored and with the "veil" of her own prejudices lifted. She explained that"to restore balance the sword must be rendered pure by Spirit" and when Raziel reached out and gently grabbed her hand, Ariel's soul, "united with the souls of [her] predecessors", was consumed by the Wraith Blade 'releasing' her and gaining Raziel the Spirit Reaver. As she faded Ariel gave Raziel her last piece of advice "You must unite what has been set asunder... only then will the Scion of Balance be armed for his true endeavor" - words which would later help Raziel see his own destiny.
Ariel's murder drove her beloved Nupraptor, the Guardian of the Mind, insane with grief. In his madness, he unleashed a telepathic shockwave throughout the Circle, and tainted the remaining Guardians with his derangement. Corrupted, the sorcerers turned their powers to dark and poisonous purposes, and abandoned their guardianship of the Pillars. Symbiotically bound to the Guardians who served them, the Pillars absorbed the sorcerers' corruption and fell into decay.Ariel is fated to be bound eternally to the Pillars as a disembodied spectre, until Balance can be restored. She failed to persuade her successor, Kain, to sacrifice himself in order to heal the Pillars. His refusal condemned the Pillars to an eternal stasis of near-collapse, and damned Ariel to ceaselessly haunt the dilapidated Pillars she once served. Until the Balance is restored, she will never be released.
Ariel's murder drove her beloved Nupraptor, the Guardian of Mind, insane with grief. In his madness he unleashed a telepathic shockwave throughout the Circle and tainted the remaining Guardians with his derangement. Corrupted, the sorcerers turned their powers to dark and poisonous purposes, and abandoned their guardianship of the Pillars. Symbiotically bound to the Guardians who served them, the Pillars absorbed the sorcerers' corruption and fell into decay.Until balance can be restored, Ariel is fated to be bound eternally to the Pillars as a disembodied specter. She failed to persuade her successor, Kain, to sacrifice himself in order to heal the Pillars. His refusal causes the Pillars to an eternal stasis of near collapse, and damned Ariel to ceaselessly haunt the dilapidated Pillars she once served. Unless the Pillars are restored, she will never be released.
The repercussions had been expertly calculated. Ariel's murder drove her beloved Nupraptor, Guardian of the Mind, insane with grief. In his madness, he unleashed a telepathic shockwave throughout the Circle, and tainted the remaining Guardians with his derangement. Corrupted, the sorcerers turned their powers to dark purposes, abandoning their guardianship of the Pillars. Symbiotically bound to the Guardians who served them, the Pillars absorbed the sorcerers' corruption and fell into decay.Into this poisoned world, Kain was born – Ariel's destined successor as Balance Guardian, rendered incapable of fulfilling his destiny as long as he, too, is infected by the spiritual poison that has corrupted the Circle. Now a disembodied specter, Ariel is cursed to haunt the Pillars until Balance is once more restored – her fate, and the fate of all Nosgoth, lies in Kain’s hands.
In the original version of the Soul Reaver storyline, Ariel was intended to have 'died' in a similar manner to that shown in Defiance; once Raziel confronted Kain in his mountain retreat, Ariel (who, like Defiance, had been somehow moved away from the Pillars) advised Raziel, that the Wraith Blade was not powerful enough by itself to strike Kain down and required the soul of another Balance Guardian to complete the task - Raziel then struck Ariel down, gaining the Ariel Reaver and enabling him to kill Kain; Ariel's sacrifice, shown in the Chronoplast Visions in Soul Reaver was eventually played out in a less confrontational manner in Defiance's Spirit Forge.
Despite exposing many aspects of the cut Soul Reaver content, the alpha versions of Soul Reaver do not explicitly feature the sacrifice of Ariel, although the lines are present in its voice test. The voice test does contain other Ariel voice samples which show that at one point a much more hysterical crazed sounding Ariel was considered but ultimately discarded.
Concept Art by Ritual Entertainment artist Richard Gray (who worked for Ritual at the time of the development of Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy) shows a female face disfigured on one side, which greatly resembles Ariel. The face is however disfigured on the wrong side (Ariel is always shown with her left side disfigured).
Ariel's face disfigurement is not elaborated upon; it was apparently inflicted during her murder.
Ariel's attire varied slightly in the series. In Blood Omen, she appeared with white bandages wrapped around her body, a look which returned later in Soul Reaver 2. In Soul Reaver, Ariel's clothing was a black, charcoal colour as opposed to the usual white/ light grey, possibly to highlight the corruption of the wasteland and her long imprisoment at the Pillars. In Defiance, she had a white dress with a hood and her face appeared more mutilated than in the other games.
She was vengeful, manipulative and secretive, often offering cryptic hints and guidance to only those, who she thought were worthy of her time. After her death, she naively believed, that Kain could set her spirit free, however when he refused the sacrifice instead, she spited him for this decision. Sometime before or during the events of Soul Reaver, she accepted the inevitable fact, that she was eternally bound to the Pillars, refering to them simultaneously as her home and prison. Ariel was only able to accept and see the truth after she got reunited with the old vampire Guardians during Defiance.
As Balance Guardian Ariel role was primarily a regulatory one, influencing the powers of the rest of the Circle of Nine. She may also have her own abilities, but they are unknown although she is described as "a powerful sorceress".
Ariel means "Lion of God" or "Altar" in Hebrew and is commonly used to refer to an Archangel associated with healing or wrath. At some point in the development of Blood Omen, Ariel was known as "Adonathiel"*. Ariel is also the only Blood Omen era guardian (aside from her successor Kain) that does not have another 'title' they are known by.
Ariel's age is not conclusively discussed in the series, but since it is known that a Balance Guardian was killed by Vorador in Nosgoth's early history, Ariel cannot be older than 500 years at the time of the events of Blood Omen (it is not clear if Ariel was born as a direct successor to this guardian, or years later after the death of another).
The exact interaction between Ariel and Kain in Kain's empire is unclear; though as she was bound to the Pillars in the Sanctuary of the Clans (Kain's throne room), it would seem unusual if there had not been at least some interaction between the two in this time. It is possible that Ariel's confused recollections may have inspired Kain to find a 'third way' out of his dilemma. Either way, by the time of Raziel's visit to the Sanctuary of the Clans in Soul Reaver, Ariel seemed to have suffered somewhat at the hands of Kain's vampires, asking if Raziel was "another of Kain's creatures, come to taunt this bound spectre".
Ariel is believed by many fans to have been summoned from beyond the Soul Reaver era of Nosgoth's history by the activation of the Spirit Forge and brought back to the Blood Omen era; this is because Ariel's meetings with Raziel in Soul Reaver and Soul Reaver 2 (which Raziel himself refers in Defiance) cannot occur if it is the 'native' Blood Omen era Ariel that is restored.
It is unclear throughout the series how much Ariel remembers of her meetings with Raziel (presumably her long imprisonment could effect her memory) and this is further complicated by Raziel meeting Ariel earlier and earlier every time. Ariel could remember Raziel in Soul Reaver 2 and this could explain her fearfulness; though by the Soul Reaver era, she seems largely to have forgotten Raziel although her final hint at the end of that game may suggest otherwise.
Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy
The martyred Guardian of Balance
|The Guardian of Balance
Nosgoth's early history–pre-Blood Omen era