- "You must seek Azimuth the Planer at the heart of Avernus.
Three instruments await you, to aid you in your quest, but first you must rise and you must fall and find your salvation in between."
- ―Ariel — Listen (file info)[src]
The Hell area was one of the several supposed dimensional realms that divided the cathedral of Avernus in the events of Blood Omen as Dimension Guardian Azimuth attacked her city. Visited by Kain in the Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain chapter Defeat Azimuth, the area consisted of much 'hellish' imagery and acted as something of a dungeon for the Wraith Armor.
After defeating the triad of Pillar Guardians at Dark Eden in Threaten the Circle, Kain was directed by Ariel to Avernus and Dimension Guardian Azimuth and cryptically advised that "Three instruments await you, to aid you in your quest, but first you must rise and you must fall and find your salvation in between."[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/7]
Travelling to Avernus in the chapter Defeat Azimuth, Kain discovered that the city had been overrun by Demons originating from the Cathedral. Entering the building Kain discovered that Azimuth had split the internal area into several dimensions, with the regular Material Realm joined by a murky alternate dimension and subsequently another two areas - the cloudy Heaven dungeon and the fiery and skeletal Hell area.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8]
Pushing his way through the Cathedral, Kain was periodically teleported to the alternate dimension and back again before reaching the Heaven dungeon and following a rising "Stairway to Heaven" until discovering a chamber containing the Soul Reaver blade along with a angelic statue. Soon after Kain was able to enter the Hell area, which descended down through a series of 'hellish' underground chambers populated by Demons and the Undead with numerous blood-spattered corpses and tortured victims. At the bottom of the Hell area, Kain was able to recover the Wraith Armor.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8]
Design and Layout
The Hell area, in contrast to the previous Heaven dungeon, began in the regular Cathedral surroundings and descended into a more 'hellish' scenery - regular flooring was replaced by uneven tiles, and dingy underground environments bearing skeletal and spiky motifs along with a number of bloody rooms, corpses, gory remains and tortured humans - a frequently seen chamber featured a deep lava filled pit with various wooden bridges that Kain was forced to cross several times as he slowly descended into the realm. As with the Heaven dungeon, much of the area was surrounded by Shooters.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
The realm could be divided into fifteen brief areas, linked by a central descending shaft:
- The first area was a small square room bearing a save altar flanked by stained glass windows on the back wall. A door in the north east corner led to the next area.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- The second area consisted of a longer corridor leading north and looping round in a rough 'n' shape, with the area mostly populated by mages and Black mages and the occasional horned shooter. Initially the path headed north, then turned east between two spike pits before turning north again and passing a rotating blade before heading up to a wall button flanked by two spike pits which opened a door to the east. This room was a large two tiered rectangle with a rows of spike pits along the northern and southern walls - preventing direct access to two switches on the back wall, which could be activated with Energy Bolt to drop a bridge across the southern spikes and lower a stairway allowing Kain to descend to the lower tier where a floor mural of the Wraith armor was positioned in the center along with a Cerberus and a blood beaker. A switch disguised as a chain in the northeast opened a passage over a spike pit in the northwest, allowing Kain to reach the switch that opened a door in the south leading to the next area.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- The next area was the first of the 'true' hell areas, featuring a sharp change of environment to a blood splattered, skeletal area with jagged tiles, skeletal themes and corpses strewn around with Undead enemies, many Chained humans and an notable increase in shooters. The first chamber was populated by Cerberi and several shooters and featured three tiers, with the first a reversed 'L' shape connecting to a stairway which led to the second square tier containing a skull shaped switch and a blood beaker. A stairway in the south led to the lowest rectangular tier containing a green magic sphere and a rune triangle, with an exit opened by the previous switch in the west.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- The next area was Kain first view of the main descending shaft - a deep chasm with lava at the bottom from which a number of wooden bridges and skeletal remains could be seen. Kain was positioned on the second bridge down and needed only to cross the bridge - evading or confronting a sword-bearing Red skeleton on the way - to return to the rooms of the hell area.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- The next area was again populated by Cerberi and numerous shooters began as a corridor heading west before descending a stairway south to another wider western corridor which met another staircase overlooking a balcony and a lower square tier to the south. Kain could collect a blood beaker from the balcony before descending the staircase and afterward drain a chained human before pressing the star/shield-shaped switch on the northern wall and exiting via the eastern doorway.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- The next area began as a small wide corridor heading eastward before turning north into an area with several Liches as enemies and shooters. From here the path headed east with a captive and a star-switch on the northern wall. A stairway amid a balcony to the south led down to a lower area with a blood beaker and a magic sphere flanking the switch-opened door in the south.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- The next area was a large roughly square area with three tiers. Kain began at the top tier on a wide balcony along the northern wall that overlooked the tiers below. Fighting off the Cerberi and Liches that attacked, he could descend using a stairway to the south to reach the square second tier where more liches awaited along with a blood beaker. Passing through and using the stairway to the south, Kain could descend to the bottom tier where could activate a skull-switch on the northern wall and drain a nearby captive before following the path east, then northward and draining the captive in the north before using the switch-opened door in the east.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- The next area was a corridor heading eastward where Kain was immediately confronted by a necromancer and its Shadows. A staircase headed down to the south after a short distance nearby a captive.Below the stairway was positioned the first of two exit switches. The path the headed east to another southern staircase with a switch beneath and a green magic sphere beneath, before the path headed back westward to a final blood beaker alongside the exit door.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- Kain next emerged in an 'n' shaped room populated by more shadow summoners and shooters. Beginning in the southeastern corner next to a Heart of darkness artifact the passage led north to where a stairway led up to a higher level, the passage then headed west, passing a skull switch and a captive before descending southwards down a staircase to a southern exit on a lower level which was opened by the previous switch.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- The next chamber was populated by Lich summoners and began as a corridor heading north which emerged as a balcony on the western side on a larger room. The balcony headed north before turning east where a southern staircase led down into the larger room below. Passing a green magic sphere at the bottom of the stairs, the path turned back around the bottom of the balcony in a 'J' shape before heading back northward and passing a rotating blade on a skull-topped pole. At the top of the room the corridor turned eastward, passing a captive to the north and emerging as a balcony along the north of another open room, with a blood beaker at the far eastern end. A stairway led south to the room below with a switch positioned at the bottom of the stairs which opened the exit doorway in the south. A green magic sphere was positioned opposite the skull switch, with a Blood beaker below it to the south, to the east of the exit door.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- The next room was home to a number of Lightning spitter Demons and began as a corridor heading eastward to a stairway overlooking a wide rectangular area below with a switch positioned on the eastern wall at the bottom of the stairs. The rectangular room was divided by a large chasm which was bridged with the use of the switch, leading down to another vista to the south where a flay artifact was positioned along with another southern stairway which descended to a narrow corridor heading west. A blood vial was positioned on the far eastern end of the corridor and after a short passage westward the room widened into a rectangular room which opened northward with a switch positioned on the upper eastern wall and the corresponding exit door opposite on the western wall.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- The next room was a 'c' shaped room populated with ogre demons and spread across three tiers with several staircases descending down through it. Kain began in a wide corridor heading west, which proceeded to an overlook and a staircase heading down to the south into a small square area. In the south of this area was a blood beaker and another overlook-stairway heading south to a lower level. A switch was positioned on the western wall below the stairs along with an orange magic sphere, while the main corridor headed east to a blood beaker and the exit opened by the previous switch.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- The next area was a roughly reversed 'C'-shape and was populated by Giant demons. The room began at the southern prong as a wide corridor heading east with a captive and a rune triangle on the northern wall, before reaching a balcony overlooking an open area below, along with a staircase heading down to the south. Beneath the balcony a switch was positioned on the western wall, before the passage rounded the bottom of the balcony in a wide 'J' shape and headed northward to where a large chasm crossed the room - which was bridged by the previous switch. Following the wide passage north to an orange magic sphere in the top-right corner, the room again emerged as a balcony overlooking a lower area to the west. The balcony itself turned westward to where a captive was positioned before descending a stairway to the south into a narrow strip along the bottom of the room below. Following the strip west, the room widened into a square area beneath the balcony where a switch was positioned on the northern wall along with a heart of darkness artifact and the corresponding exit door on the western wall.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- The final chamber of the hell area was a large square area obviously excavated from the bare rock and earth and with a notable dinosaur or dragon-like fossil or skeleton exposed along the northern wall - and several other, more human skulls and skeletons visible around the room. Two impaled bloody corpses were seen in the bottom corners of the room and at the heart of the chamber was a large set of golden symbols arranged in a circular pattern flanked by two dark pillars. Chains attached to the top of the pillars suspended a skeleton between them in the middle of the pattern below - greatly resembling the place of the Malek's execution seen in Welcome to Hell. Behind the grisly altar was positioned the Wraith Armor in the arms of a demonic bloody figure or statue along with a teleporter that led back to the main cathedral and a confrontation with Azimuth.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen strategy guide]
- The Hell area is listed in the official guide under the heading "Highway to Hell" - presumably referencing the AC/DC track of the same name. The guide has for the most part has used sequential numbers for indoor and outdoor areas to refer to rooms in order of encounter. The Hell area is one of the few places where this system is ditched - allegedly because of the difficulty in providing a comprehensive map that can link together. Instead the rooms are labelled as "Hell" and then numbered 1-11, with "Hell01" encompassing the first three areas until the descending shaft is reached - and the rest following sequentially broken up by the descending shaft. The descending shaft itself is not included in this system and is only briefly mentioned in text in the first few entries (and not referred to at all in the collection of the secret at the altar of Hash'ak'gik). One apparent mistake is seen here, with the "Hell08" label not used and the "Hell07" label instead used twice in a row in an apparent error.[Blood Omen strategy guide]
- Avernus is one of the largest areas in the game and is listed under several different map designations in files. The main area of the city and its interiors are labelled under "Map 0035", the regular Cathedral interior is "Map 0036", the Heaven dungeon is "Map 0037" and the Hell area is "Map 0038" - with the final areas of the Cathedral listed under the "Map 0005" designation used for bosses (specifically "Sect 11", "Sect 02" and "Sect 13"). Most of the Hell area itself is listed as "Map 38" - with "Sect 43" referring to the initial save altar, "Sect 44" referring to the area with Spike pits, floor mural and the mages, "Sect 53" referring to the first true 'hell' area with the Cerberi, "Sect 32" referring to the second wider area with cerberi, "Sect 42" referring to the third 'n'-shaped room with the Liches, "Sect 41" referring to the fourth tiered stairway chamber with the tiered balconies, cerberi and liches, "Sect 63" referring to the fifth chamber with the descending stairways and the necromancers, "Sect 62" referring to the sixth 'n'-shaped chamber with the Shadow summoners, "Sect 51" referring to the seventh chamber with the Lich summoners and rotating blade, "Sect 54" referring to the eight chamber with the Lightning spitters and the chasm, "Sect 61" referring to the ninth tiered chamber with the Ogres, "Sect 64" referring to the tenth chamber with the Giant demons and the chasm and "Sect 65" referring to the final chamber with the Wraith Armor. "Sect 52", "Sect 71" and "Sect 72" all refer to different sections of the main 'descending' chamber. The actual order of rooms encountered is: 43>44>53>52>32>52>42>72>41>>71>63>52>62>72>51>72>54>52>61>72>64>52>65. The secret altar of Hash'ak'gik - whose entrance is in the main Cathedral but passes through the hell area before reaching the altar itself - is actually listed separately under its own Map 0009" designation.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8].
- The Central 'descending' chamber of the Hell area conserves memory by using several exact copies of the same room which appear to be exactly the same but each only contains active elements in the areas immediately around the player. Three copies of the map are used, coded as "Sect 52", "Sect 71" and "Sect 72", with the top level (secret) horizontal bridge, second horizontal level, first vertical, fifth horizontal level, seventh level and bottom level (crossing the lava) all relating to "Sect 52", while the third horizontal, second vertical, sixth horizontal, and eighth level (crossing the bottom tile bridge) all relate to "Sect 72" - only the fourth horizontal bridge (with the zombies) is linked to "Sect 71".[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8] Similar tricks are used in areas such as the ruined area of Avernus town and the Spirit Wrack Dungeon.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen/9]
- The Developers' level select uses the label "HELL" for the Hell dungeon under the "OL7" designation that relates to the Defeat Azimuth chapter. The labels "AVCL", "AVCI" and "HEVN" under the same entry relate to the Cathedral, City and Heaven area respectively. Additionally the the "AZ" designation under "BOSS" can be used to reach the Azimuth boss battle and the Secrets ("SECR") entries numbered "38" and "82" to "86" all lead to areas inside Avernus - only "38" is positioned inside the Cathedral and it links to the passage leading to the altar of Hash'ak'gik, which - although passing through the top level bridge of the Hell 'descending shaft' on the way to the altar - is not counted as part of the Hell area proper, instead featuring in its own sub-section map area.[Blood Omen]
- The final chamber of the hell area notably features the apparent remains of an excavated dragon or dinosaur skeleton buried within the area. Several textures and illustrations throughout the series have featured dragon or large reptile-like creatures, but this is the only evidence that they may really have once existed in Nosgoth.[Blood Omen/6][Soul Reaver 2/6][Defiance/3][Defiance/8][Defiance/12] Later interviews also hint at excavations beneath Avernus uncovering great secrets, with those found by Azimuth and Mortanius particularly linked to the rise of the Hylden.
- The final room also bears a resemblance to the area where Malek was punished by Mortanius in the initial cutscenes of Blood Omen[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen/1] - the skeleton chained between the posts is referred to in the official guide as Malek's remains, however the guide also claims the remains in Malek's Bastion as his - as does Malek himself.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen/4][Blood Omen strategy guide] A similarly appearing area with a golden circular floor symbol and nearby pillars is also seen nearby Turel's pit in the Avernus Catacombs in Legacy of Kain: Defiance and used as the place of Raziel's meeting with Mortanius.[Defiance][Defiance/10][Defiance/13] It is unclear if the areas were literally intended to be the same area or just similar chambers.[Blood Omen][Defiance]
- It is ultimately unclear whether the hell area is intended to literally be Hell - which clearly exists as a concept within Nosgoth - although the presence of various Undead and demon enemies along with the skeletal, bloody and torture theming may bolster its claims and may also imply some overlap with the Demon Realm.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8] The presence of an alternative afterlife distinct from the Spectral Realm and the Elder God's Wheel of Fate has been hinted from the beginning of the series with mentions of "Heaven" and "Hell",[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/1] with confirmations of the Elder's "false god" demiurge status also hinting at alternatives to the Wheel.[Soul Reaver 2/5][Defiance/13] The original script and artwork of the Archons debut in Legacy of Kain: Defiance made it explicitly clear that Souls in the Spectral Realm could ascend to another plane - potentially heaven - but this is less clearly communicated in the final scene.[Defiance][Defiance/2]
- Like the other "realms" of Blood Omen, it is unclear how the hell area relates to the realms in later games. Presumably the 'ordinary' Material Realm is the same but it is ultimately unclear how the heaven, hell and 'alternate' realms of Avernus in Blood Omen relate to the Spectral and Demon realms seen later in the series. The different realms could conceivably be themed areas or represent as few as three or as many as six different dimensions in total - the Material Realm, 'alternate' realm, Heaven realm, Hell realm, Spectral Realm and Demon Realm - depending upon how the Avernus area are interpreted.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Soul Reaver][Soul Reaver 2][Blood Omen 2][Defiance]
- The Hell area could also be considered to represent the same location as the Avernus Catacombs seen in Legacy of Kain: Defiance - with both representing somewhat similarly designed underground areas beneath Avernus Cathedral that are populated by Demons and their worshippers and were similarly skeletally or hellishly themed. It too was unclear how it related to the rest of the Cathedral, appearing to be underground but only entered via portal - some of its area also bore particular resemblance to those in the hell area.[Defiance][Defiance/10][Defiance/13] [Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Defiance][Defiance/10][Defiance/13] The secret altar of Hash'ak'gik in Blood Omen - which is entered from the main Cathedral but passes through the top of the descending chamber of the hell area on the way to the altar room - is noted by Chris Bruno as being placed in the Catacombs, but it is unclear if this implies the entire hell area is in the catacombs or just the altar itself.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8]
- The Hell area features perhaps the most diverse cast of enemies in the game. Along with the usual Chained humans, enemies include mages, Black mages, Cerberi, Red Skeleton axemen, Red skeleton swordsmen, Red skeleton knights, Liches, Zombies, necromancers, Shadows, Lich summoners, Lightning spitters, Ogres and Giant demons. In addition a number of enemies can be seen as corpses in the level including Dandy throwers, Men-at-arms, Wenches, Scimitar swordsmen, Brigands and Blue peasant swordsmen: perhaps most perplexing of these is the presence of two prominently placed corpses of Vampire hunters (Blood Omen) men, who are only seen as part of Vampire hunters in the Second timeline and are not ordinarily seen before the timeline change made by Kain in Stranded in Time two chapters later.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen/10]
- Avernus Cathedral contains perhaps the largest collection of religious themed imagery in the series, with no other building approaching its size or significance.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/8][Defiance][Defiance/10][Defiance/11][Defiance/12][Defiance/13][Soul Reaver][Soul Reaver 2][Blood Omen 2] The content and practice of the religion is not elaborated upon but superficially seems to bear a number of parallels to Medieval European Christianity.[Blood Omen][Defiance] The introductions of the Hylden and Ancient vampires and their conflict later in the series may suggest a basis for this religion potentially implying that early humans may have worshipped the previous races - like the Feral humans of the Vampire Citadel - with this developing on the mainland into an organized religion.[Soul Reaver 2][Blood Omen 2][Defiance][Defiance strategy guide] Thus the demonic imagery seen throughout the Hell area may be based upon the appearance and beliefs of the Hylden and their demon and Demon Realm associations.
- Avernus Cathedral and Catacombs at Dark Chronicle (by Ardeth Silvereni).
- Spectral Realm
- Demon Realm
- Avernus Cathedral
- Avernus Catacombs
- Defeat Azimuth
- Soul Reaver
- Map Survey at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln).
- Blood Omen Developers Level Select Page at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln).
- Question and Answer with Amy Hennig at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- Various art and plot questions at DCabDesign (by Dubiel), post #11 (by Daniel Cabuco)
- Chris@Crystal's Greatest Hits at the Eidos Forums (archived at the Square Enix Forums) (by Divine Shadow/Chris Bruno).
- Warp's answers from Amy at the Eidos Forums (archived at the Square Enix Forums) (by Warpsavant/Blincoln/Amy Hennig).
- Avernus Cathedral and Catacombs at Dark Chronicle (by Ardeth Silvereni).