- "Reputed to have been ripped from the chest of the greatest vampire to have ever existed, Janos Audron, the Heart of Darkness restores vampiric unlife. Life is precious, Janos discovered – as it was torn throbbing and bleeding from his own body."
- ―Kain — Listen (file info)[src]
The Heart of Darkness was a legendary artifact believed to possess the power to restore Vampiric unlife. It was reputed to have been ripped from the chest of Ancient vampire Janos Audron by the Sarafan in Nosgoth's early history inspiring many tales and relics into the Blood Omen era.
The Heart would become a vital object in the final stages of Soul Reaver 2 as Raziel sought to recover the heart and use it to restore the murdered Janos. This objective would continue for Raziel in Legacy of Kain: Defiance - prompting the revelation that Mortanius had used the heart to turn Kain into a vampire. Armed with this knowledge, Raziel would confront Kain, apparently killing him to recover the heart and use it to revive Janos.
- "His reign of terror ended when the Sarafan finally hunted him down and tore his throbbing heart from his still-living body. This relic came to be known as the ‘Heart of Darkness’, and was supposedly imbued with the power to restore vampiric ‘unlife’. The Sarafan therefore guarded it carefully, lest the Heart fall into the hands of their enemies."
The Heart of Darkness and the legend of Janos Audron were first mentioned in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain.[Blood Omen] Kain first described the legend shortly after emerging from his grave and finding his first Heart of Darkness objects, recalling how the heart had been torn from Janos's body at the hands of the Sarafan and was believed to have the ability to restore vampiric unlife.[Blood Omen/2] Kain often used similar relics to restore his Blood level and revive him if his health was completely depleted (similar to traditional 'extra-lives').[Blood Omen][Blood Omen strategy guide][Blood Omen manual (Windows)]
The legend of the heart would be revisited in Soul Reaver 2,[Soul Reaver 2 strategy guide (Prima)] initially recounted by Raziel when he encountered a stained glass window depicting Janos's murder and the extraction of the Heart of Darkness in the Sarafan Stronghold.[Soul Reaver 2/1] With Raziel seeking the truths of his own destiny and told by Vorador that Janos had the answers he sought,[Soul Reaver 2/3] Raziel traveled into Nosgoth's early history, desperately seeking to reach the Ancient vampire before the Sarafan arrived.
Raziel eventually met Janos at his aerie but his ascent through the retreat had opened the way for the Sarafan commanders (the human Raziel, Turel, Dumah, Zephon, and Melchiah) to reach Janos[Soul Reaver 2/8] and he was powerless to prevent Janos's murder and shocked to discover that his former human self was personally responsible for the act and the extraction of the heart. As the Sarafan retreated taking with them the Heart of Darkness and the Reaver, Raziel vowed to recover the heart - realizing that if the heart was imbued as reputed, he could use it to revive Janos. Raziel pursued the Sarafan to their stronghold and recovered the Reaver, but was unable to find the Heart of Darkness, which remained hidden.[Soul Reaver 2/9]
- "And finally, when all these debts had been paid, I would reclaim Janos Audron’s heart from their filthy, unworthy hands. If the heart was truly imbued with the power to restore vampiric unlife, its highest purpose was clear to me... I would restore the heart to Janos, and thus undo the vile crime committed by my abominable former self."
The Heart would return as a quest item in Legacy of Kain: Defiance[Defiance][Defiance strategy guide] and was a vital part of Raziel's chapters in the events of Blood Omen - with Vorador taking Raziel to the corpse of Janos and confirming that by restoring the Heart of Darkness, Janos could yet be raised to provide the answers he sought. Vorador affirmed that he had tried many times previously to recover the heart, but it had been hidden too well by their enemies. Believing that Raziel might be the only one who could find it, Vorador directed him to the last known location of the heart in Avernus Cathedral.[Defiance/8]
Exposing the dark secrets of Avernus Catacombs, Raziel was able to interrogate Death Guardian Mortanius, who revealed that he had used the heart to turn Kain into a vampire and hidden it inside him - replacing Kain's own heart and creating the Scion of Balance of the ancient prophecies.[Defiance/10] Shortly after Raziel confronted Kain believing they were enacting the prophesied champions battle.[Defiance/11] With Raziel's rage fueled by the Hylden he angrily tore the heart from Kain's chest and blasted him through a portal to his apparent demise. Taking the heart back to Vorador's Mansion, Raziel was able to use it to revive Janos.[Defiance/12] Ultimately this allowed Raziel to imbue the Spirit Reaver at the cost of the Hylden Lord taking Possession of Janos[Defiance/12] and taking him to begin the Hylden plans.
- "'Woe to the conquered' - I have found the Heart of Darkness. And you - go to oblivion."
Though not always directly observed, the heart has been present throughout much of the history of Nosgoth. Due to the use of time travel, the heart has a looped chronology, much like the Soul Reaver blade. The known history of the heart is as follows:
- Before Nosgoth's recorded history - The Heart of Darkness is present as the Heart of Ancient Vampire Janos Audron.
- Nosgoth's early history() - Janos Audron is murdered by the Sarafan,[Blood Omen/2] his heart is eviscerated by the commander Raziel (accompanied by his comrades Turel, Dumah, Zephon, and Melchiah).[Defiance/8][Soul Reaver 2/9] The stolen organ was taken to the Sarafan Stronghold and on to Avernus Cathedral, where it was christened as "The Heart of Darkness".[Defiance/8] Believing the heart had the power to restore vampire unlife, the Sarafan and their successors guarded the heart carefully ensuring it did not fall into vampire hands.[Soul Reaver 2/1][Defiance/8]
- events of Blood Omen() - The Heart of Darkness was eventually acquired by Mortanius who used the heart to resurrect murdered nobleman Kain as a vampire, replacing Kain's own heart.[Defiance/11] Kain was unaware that he possessed the Heart and despite initially using symbolic representations of the artifact to restore his health,[Blood Omen] he never searched for the heart itself.[Defiance/11]
- Era following Blood Omen () - The heart remained inside Kain for several centuries through his rise to power, including the vampire-Sarafan war, battle of Meridian and the Death of the Hylden Lord.[Blood Omen 2]
- events of Soul Reaver () - The heart remained in its place for two thousand years after the Collapse of the Pillars and into Kain's empire. After executed lieutenant Raziel returned as a wraith, Kain lured him through the Chronoplast taking the heart back in time with him.[Soul Reaver]
- Time Travel () - The heart remained with Kain, traveling through time several times and eventually reaching the events of Blood Omen, during the events of Legacy of Kain: Defiance.[Soul Reaver 2][Defiance/9] With Raziel having learnt of the location of the heart from Mortanius and needing it to restore Janos, Raziel confronted Kain in Avernus Cathedral and after taunting him with the location of the heart, ripped it from the chest of his former master.[Defiance/11] Raziel returned the heart to Janos's body, enshrined within Vorador's Mansion, and brought the ancient vampire back to life. Shortly afterward however, Janos was Possessed by the Hylden Lord.[Defiance/12]
- Era following Blood Omen () - For the next four centuries, the heart remained with Janos, back in its original body as he was possessed, imprisoned and used to further the Hylden plans.[Blood Omen 2] At the climax of Blood Omen 2, it was dropped into the Hylden Gate along with Janos and sealed in the Demon Realm.[Blood Omen 2/11]
- "This relic had come at so high a cost -- my blood offering for the answers I sought from this enigmatic corpse. It was the price of my freedom, for which Kain had paid with his life."
- The Heart of Darkness seen in Soul Reaver 2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance ultimately derives from the Heart of Darkness objects used by Kain in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain during his fledgling years. These symbolic relics were used by Kain as a means to restore lost Blood and revive himself immediately when he was felled in battle. They were found throughout Nosgoth and their initial appearance was accompanied by dialogue regarding the legend of Janos Audron which implied that they were the heart of Janos.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/2][Blood Omen strategy guide] According to Amy Hennig however these were not the actual heart, but merely "representations of the relic", while deleted dialogue from Blood Omen suggests they were actually the hearts of Janos' victims.[Blood Omen/Cut content] A Spirit Forge for the Heart of Darkness artifacts could be found on a sealed path between Uschtenheim and Dark Eden, with a secret backdoor present from one of houses in Uschtenheim - labelled as "Janos Audron's House" in some sources.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/7][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- According to developer interviews Kain managed to survive without the Heart of Darkness, apparently due to "his nature as the Scion of Balance". After the removal of the heart, Kain is no longer vulnerable to the effects of Moebius's Staff[Defiance/13] - with it implied that the staff itself effects the hearts of vampires.
- In Defiance, Vorador implies that the state of the heart is linked to that of Janos corpse, commenting that while the heart still beats "the body will remain preserved".[Defiance/8]
- Like the Soul Reaver, the Heart of Darkness has a long history that paradoxically loops due to time travel, meaning that when Kain meets Janos in Blood Omen 2 there are two Hearts of Darkness present, from different points in its time-stream. Unlike the Soul Reaver this meeting appears to have no associated distortions or potential to alter history.[Blood Omen 2/7][Blood Omen 2/9][Blood Omen 2/11]
- With the Heart of Darkness used as the heart of Janos through the entirety of his existence and as the heart of Kain for virtually all of his vampire existence, the Heart of Darkness can be considered to have be present (although unseen) in all Legacy of Kain titles.[Blood Omen][Soul Reaver][Soul Reaver 2][Blood Omen 2][Defiance]
- The Heart of Darkness artifact is labelled in textures as in Soul Reaver 2 as "janheart" and in Defiance as "janheart" and "janos_heart" - all of these textures are identical. A corresponding 'lock' texture in Defiance is included in files labelled as "janos_heart_lock" but consists mainly of effects and does not include the textures of Janos himself which are counted as a character model. Curiously the 'lock' textures also include an image which appears to be the cut Blue Chalice.[Soul Reaver 2][Defiance]
- Like the other quest items in Defiance, the Heart of Darkness appears in the secret "artifact1a" room.[Defiance]
- Question and Answer with Jen, Richard and Kyle at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln) Cite error: Invalid
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- Question and Answer with Amy Hennig at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln) Cite error: Invalid
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- SK: The Complete Guide To Legacy of Kain - The Secrets! (page 8 of 9) at Dark Chronicle
- Moebius's Staff at DCabDesign (by Cradlis), post #2 (by Daniel Cabuco)
- The Artifact 1a Room at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)