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"This edifice was clearly not crafted by human architects. As the figure beneath the balcony silently attested, these were the aeries of winged beings.
Undoubtedly, I stood before the mountain refuge of the legendary Janos Audron – but the entire sanctuary lay in ruin, collapsed under the force of some ancient cataclysm.
As I suspected, the Time Streamer's deception ensured that I was centuries too late to unearth anything of consequence here."
―Raziel — Listen (file info)[src]

Janos Audron's Retreat, also known as Janos Audron's Aerie, was the mountainside fortress and home of the infamous Vampire Janos Audron, situated in the mountains north of Uschtenheim and playable as one of the main locations of Soul Reaver 2. The ruins of Janos's Retreat were first discovered by Raziel whilst seeking evidence of Janos in the Era following Blood Omen and later, after travelling to Nosgoth's early history he was able to enter the fortress, ascending through it to meet with the ancient vampire a short time before his demise in the final stages of the game.


Raziel discovers the ruined retreat in the Post-Blood Omen era

"After my long journey, I finally stood on the threshold of enlightenment. For here was Janos Audron's mountain retreat, intact and unblemished. The upheaval that would one day topple this ancient edifice had not yet occurred. And while I had no certainty that Janos still lived, this scene boded well – for I presumed that the collapse of the retreat must have followed the ancient vampire's demise.
There was only one obstacle: how to reach the balcony suspended at that maddening height, so far beyond my reach?
For this was the architecture of winged creatures, and the tattered ruins of my wings were of no use.
I would need to devise some other means into that mountain..."
―Raziel — Listen (file info)[src]

Though legends of the Janos Audron and the Heart of Darkness were mentioned in Blood Omen - relating how Janos preyed on the villagers of Uschtenheim until his death at the hands of the Sarafan[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/2][Blood Omen/7][Blood Omen/Miscellaneous] - the lair of Janos himself was not encountered or specifically referenced until Soul Reaver 2 where the retreat was a significant playable location and one of the main areas on the map, shown as encompassing a small area north-east of the village of Uschtenheim.[Soul Reaver 2]

Raziel enters the inner sanctum in Nosgoth's early history

When Raziel recounted the legend of Janos upon viewing a mural in the Sanctuary area of the Sarafan Stronghold in A Reaver in Time he noted that "he lived high in the cliffs of Nosgoth’s northern mountains, and preyed mercilessly on the defenseless villagers below".[Soul Reaver 2/1] Later meeting with Vorador in Through the Swamp Raziel was persuaded that Janos Audron was the key to his destiny,[Soul Reaver 2/3] but was unable to press north towards Uschtenheim until he arrived in the Demon-infested Era following Blood Omen in A Fateful Meeting, a century after the collapse of the Pillars. Passing through the ruins of Uschtenheim, Raziel commented that "If there was any truth to the old tales, the lair of the infamous vampire could not be far away" and proceeding further into the northern mountains beyond Uschtenheim, Raziel found the ruins of the high aerie shortly after, overlooking a wide Water-filled Canyon - though much of the external structure had collapsed, a large winged sculpture was still visible beneath a high balcony attesting to the winged nature of its architects. After briefly conversing with Kain beneath the aerie, Raziel followed a passage further into the mountains[Soul Reaver 2/5] where he discovered the nearby Air Forge and was able to imbue the Air Reaver[Soul Reaver 2/6] allowing him to gain entry to a ruined Time Streaming Chamber in the Swamp to return to Nosgoth's early history.[Soul Reaver 2/7]

Raziel and Janos survey Nosgoth from the balcony in his chambers

After arriving in the Swamp Raziel returned to Janos's retreat in Vampire Interview finding it still "intact and unblemished" in this era. Using an entrance in the Spectral Realm beneath the base of the retreat Raziel was able to enter the structure through a submerged passage, finding the entire mountain was hollow, and being designed for the winged Ancient vampires, its dizzying heights prevented access to those not gifted with flight. The high balconies of the retreat provided a large vertical puzzle requiring Raziel to use all of the Reaver enhancements he had previously gained to gradually ascend the level of the retreat by creating a number of Bloodstone bridges (and significantly blasting open a cracked opening at the base of the retreat in the Material Realm) to finally reach the highest level and Janos' balcony chambers. Finally meeting the "priest-like" Ancient vampire, Janos tried to give Raziel the Reaver blade, but their meeting was interrupted by the attacking Sarafan commanders who had taken advantage of Raziel's handiwork to breach the retreat, armed with Moebius' staff.[Soul Reaver 2/8]

The death of Janos

Janos teleported Raziel to the nearby Fire Forge chamber, where Raziel was able to imbue the Fire Reaver[Soul Reaver 2/8] and return to Janos' chamber just in time to see his former human self-murder Janos and rip out the Heart of Darkness. The Sarafan brothers quickly fled taking The Reaver and the Heart of Darkness with them. As Raziel left the retreat it collapsed entirely, forming the ruins that Raziel encountered in the Nosgoth's future.[Soul Reaver 2/9]

Design and Layout[]

"The mountain's interior was hollow, I discovered, and graced with soaring architecture unique to its creators.
As with the outer facade, these balconies and galleries could only be reached by those gifted with flight.
With only my ruined wings to carry me, this towering labyrinth seemed impassable... while the object of my quest lay just beyond my grasp.
For here, suspended at the apex of the chamber, was the threshold that surely led to the great vampire himself.
I didn't know whether Janos Audron was the monster depicted in the Stronghold, or one of the noble creatures memorialized among the ruins of the ancient vampires – and I didn't care.
Demon or angel, he alone held the key to my destiny."
―Raziel — Listen (file info)[src]

In Soul Reaver 2, Raziel approached Janos's retreat from the south, from a series of passages beyond Uschtenheim that eventually reached an open lake-like expanse of Water overlooked by Janos's retreat. The area immediately outside the retreat was dominated by the unnamed lake area, with several platforms dotted across it (some of which contained ruins of staircases hinting at larger constructions bridging the lake in ages past) and a rocky passage in the west led up to a higher platform. Alongside this, three small 'mini-aerie' constructions were placed at accessible heights around the outside of the lake - two in the northeast and north west contained Reaver fonts while the third in the south led down a small staircase towards the Uschtenheim area. The retreat itself was built into a rocky protrusion in the north of the area, with a high domed balcony (Janos's chamber) decorated by a large winged sculpture beneath, apparently carved into the rock.[Soul Reaver 2] When Raziel first arrived in the Era following Blood Omen, the retreat itself was ruined and collapsed (with none of the internal rooms of the fortress present) and the area was much darker, lit by numerous metal lanterns. With the retreat inaccessible at this time Raziel was forced to use the western platform, where in this time period the cliff face had eroded through and led up through a twisting series of passages and Scalable walls towards the west to a 'mini-aerie' and plateau containing the facade of the Air Forge.[Soul Reaver 2/5]

On his return to the retreat area in Nosgoth's early history the area was much brighter and covered in a dusting of light dusting of snow and the lake iced over, with several holes in the ice leading to the water below. Sarafan banners and impaled vampire corpses were frequently placed on the platforms and 'mini-aeries' throughout the area and in this era the retreat was intact and unblemished and could be entered, though the platform to the west now led into a sheer cliff-face with the Air Forge area inaccessible. Initially Raziel would enter the retreat by using a spectral opening hidden underwater at the base of the retreat (not present in the Post-Blood Omen era), which led north through an arched corridor decorated with strange winged depictions, arcane symbols and a bloodstone-like material up to a circular opening above which led into the first of the main open chambers inside the hollow mountain.[Soul Reaver 2/8]

Surfacing, Raziel found himself in a large square chamber with many of the floors and walls were iced over save for a few open balcony areas and occasional red stained glass windows. The chamber had three distinct tiers and an open square roof, dominated by a two-level octagonal tower construct with a tiled roof in the center of the chamber: The water entrance occupied a circular space in the center of south of the chamber, with a checkpoint positioned slightly north of this and a filled Blood basin in the bottom of the level of the spire construct; a Blood chalice was positioned on a small pedestal in the center of the northern part of the chamber but was protected by a Sentry eye on the north wall. An icy patterned rug led out east and west from the bottom of the tower, joining ramps on opposite sides of the room which led up to open balcony sections in the second tier of the eastern and western walls - the balconies both led southward around the outside of the chamber and along the southern wall meeting in the center where a modest bridge led to the top level of the tower and the second empty blood basin; a small room containing an Air Reaver font was placed in the second tier of the northern wall above the sentry. An opening next to the bridge in the south of the second tier led down a twisting snowy passage to a Cracked surface at the outside of the retreat, allowing Raziel to imbue the Wraith Blade from one of the nearby Dark font and return inside to bypass the sentry and recover the chalice. Using it to transfer Blood from the filled to the empty basin above, Raziel was able to summon the first bloodstone bridge, which led from the second basin up to a high third opening in the northern wall. This led down several long straight corridors containing the same arched depictions as the underwater entry, with the highly polished ice flooring; these initially led west beofre turning north into an long corridor, west into another long corridor, then south down a stepped ramp into the second and larger of the retreat's main 'hollow mountain' chambers - the inner sanctum.[Soul Reaver 2/8]

The Inner Sanctum was similar in appearance to the previous open chamber, but on a much larger scale with five distinct tiers built into the mountain itself and rising above several arches to a circular opening in the roof. The chamber was large enough to accommodate many open balconies on different levels and four octagonal towers at the center of the area, each with a tiled roof above four levels. At the summit of the chamber on the southern wall was the high balcony leading to Janos's chamber, with another large winged sculpture (identical to the one outside the retreat) descending below the balcony - to reach this level Raziel was required to use the abilities of several Reaver enhancements, utilize various Emblem keys and ultimately construct several Bloodstone bridges to ascend to the top of the chamber (spawning Air plinths as he rose through the chamber). The ramp entrance descended to the bottom of the chamber from the northern wall into another icy patterned rug leading south between the towers passing a Light font to the west and heading up a ramp to a bridge on the second tier between the two southern towers passages from both towers led over bridges to an open balcony at the south where the first filled blood basin was positioned along with two Blood chalices. Another bridge crossed at this level leading to the empty basin in the northeast tower, or leading west beyond the northwest tower to closed emblem door leading to an open balcony on the west. By firing Reaver bolts at the nearby hanging Light crystals Raziel could drop the glass bridge allowing access to the balcony where a Greater thrall held the Emblem key to open the door. With all hazards cleared the basin could be use to provide bloodstone bridges to a small alcove containing an Air font and up eastward to the third tier and an open balcony along the east wall containing two chalices and two Cracked doors adjacent to the towers, with an open space between providing a view to two light crystals dropping a bridge between the eastern towers. Proceeding through the second cracked door Raziel could cross a bridge heading west across the room connecting with the two southern towers. At the southeast tower Raziel could head north across the dropped light bridge allowing him to reach the next basin in the northeastern tower, partially protected by a sentry above the eastern balcony, which provided a bridge to a Dark font in a small alcove in the northern wall. Returning to the southeast tower and southern bridge Raziel could follow the bridge passed the southwest tower and on to a small room in the western wall at the end of the bridge, protected by a sentry, where a Greater thrall held an emblem key. With this key, Raziel could cross a bridge from the southwest to northwestern tower and open the emblem door blocking access to the northwest tower and, with all hazards cleared, activate the next basin creating a bloodstone bridge leading up to an open balcony along the northern wall of the fourth tier, blocked at each end by emblem doors. The balcony provided a view to two light crystals which dropped the bridge between the northern tower but were initially blocked by a small cracked air icon. Another bridge led from the northern balcony to the outside of the northeastern tower but was blocked, however two small platforms leading east could be used to reach an open eastern balcony where a greater thrall could be confronted to gain an emblem key to open the nearby door and a view was provided to the last (swinging) light crystals dropping a bridge between the eastern towers. Cutting the corner on the other side allowed Raziel to reach a western balcony and the last greater thrall and open western emblem door clearing the way to activate a blood basin in the western balcony, providing a bloodstone bridge to the northwestern tower. Here, Raziel could cross the previously activated light bridges to a bridge between the southern towers, where the final blood basin could be filled creating a bloodstone ramp to the fifth level balcony in the south and Janos's chambers.[Soul Reaver 2/8]

Behind the large wooden double doors, a corridor zigzagged south-west-south before reaching another set of (hand activated) wooden doors, which led into Janos private chambers. This room appeared much more 'homely' and 'warmer' than the surrounding areas with none of the ice seen in other areas and several lanterns positioned around the chamber as well as an open fireplace. The room consisted of a large broadly rectangular chamber with an arched roof, a bench in the center and an open balcony to the south overlooking the lake below. Along the eastern wall several bloodstone constructions were seen along with depictions of the Reaver and the Reaver itself was placed in an icon marked box here; immediately to the south of was a large basin filled with Blood and two sculptures resembling goats. The western wall of the chamber contained several bookcases but was largely dominated by the open fireplace and chimney, with a depiction of a bearded figure above the mantelpiece (somewhat resembling other similar unexplained figures in the textures of the retreat) and the fireplace itself flanked by two busts of Janos Audron himself on small plinths. To the north lay the entrance leading to the main inner sanctum, but stairways in the northeast and northwest led up to a passage above leading north into the Fire Forge, an open chamber decked with many sculptures and stained glass windows where Raziel would gain the Fire Reaver.[Soul Reaver 2/8][Soul Reaver 2/9]

The Soul Reaver 2 World map shows Janos's retreat as encompassing a roughly semi-circular area north-east of Uschtenheim, east of the Air forge and directly south of the Fire forge (with both forges marked only by simple symbols), though many of the features around the retreat area are also slightly inconsistent when compared to the in-game layout. The world map depicts a canyon heading north out of Uschtenheim which forks with branches heading north-east to the retreat and north-west to the Air forge. The external lake area south of the retreat, where the split occurs in-game, is not present though a similar small lake (apparently fed from the Lake of Lost Souls) is positioned slightly north of the split and west of the area marked as Janos's retreat on maps. To the north-west of this lake a mountain could be observed flanked by the marked areas for the Janos retreat and the Fire forge (to the south and north respectively). With the fire forge at the center of the in-game retreat it seems that the retreat area on the map only includes the outline of the external facade of the swamp. The directional clash may also be explained by the possibility that Raziel climbed above the canyon and fork depicted on the map in the area beyond Uschtenheim and continued north through the area in uncharted paths. The map also continues to list Raziel as in the Uschtenheim area until he enters the Air Forge or Janos retreat, and likewise continues to list him as in the retreat until he enters the Fire Forge. Because of clashes in the in-game layouts in the between the areas north of Uschtenehim depicted in Blood Omen and Soul Reaver 2, the location of Janos's retreat in relation to Blood Omen locations remains unclear - though candidates include areas on the higher cliffs north of the western Uschtenheim and bypass and south of the passage to Dark Eden and within the Uschtenheim map area, northward on the high cliffs dividing Uschtenheim and the bypass area.[Soul Reaver 2][Blood Omen][1][2][Blood Omen strategy guide][Soul Reaver 2 strategy guide (Prima)][3][4][5]

Era Comparison[]



From the lake outside Janos's retreat ("Janos7")

  • The southern passage leads through several mountain passes ("Janos6" and "Janos5") to Uschtenheim ("Janos4") and onwards to the rest of southern Nosgoth.
  • The western passage (accessible only in the Era following Blood Omen) leads up through several mountain passes to the ("Janos8" and "Janos9") to a door leading into the Air Forge entrance chamber ("Air1") for the main Air Forge.
  • the underwater northern opening (accessible only in the Spectral Realm in Nosgoth's early history) leads through a submerged passage ("Janos17"/"Janos171") surfacing in a small pool in the smaller of the hollow mountain rooms ("Janos11") - a corridor at the top level of this room ("Janos12") leads to the inner sanctum ("Janos98").
  • the ground-level northern opening (accessible only in Nosgoth's early history through a Cracked door on the inside) leads up through a series of bending snowy passages ("Janos15" and "Janos16") to the second level of the smaller hollow mountain room ("Janos11") - a corridor at the top level of this room ("Janos12") leads to the inner sanctum room ("Janos98").
  • The high northern balcony (accessible only in Nosgoth's early history from the inside of the retreat) leads to Janos's chambers (counted as part of "Janos7") which contains a high sealed doorway leading into the Fire Forge ("Fire3", "Fire2" and "Fire1") and a low doorway leading through a corridor ("Janos14" and "Janos13") to the top of the inner sanctum room ("Janos98") - a corridor at the second level of this room ("Janos12") leads to the smaller hollow mountain room ("Janos11")


  • In Soul Reaver 2 dialogue, the retreat is given a variety of similar names, generally naming Janos ("Janos's" or "of Janos") and giving a term for the structure, including "lair",[Soul Reaver 2/5] "aerie",[Soul Reaver 2/5] "mountain refuge"[Soul Reaver 2/5] "sanctuary",[Soul Reaver 2/5] "mountain retreat",[Soul Reaver 2/7] or simply "retreat".[Soul Reaver 2/7] The only term definitely used to describe the structure in stage directions and the World map is "Janos Audron's retreat",[Soul Reaver 2][Soul Reaver 2/7] though the alternative "Janos Audron's Aerie" (an aerie being the nest of a bird-of-prey) is also recognized by fans due to the "Ruined Aerie" title in the Dark Chronicle listings.[Soul Reaver 2/5] Under Soul Reaver 2 Debug menus, Janos's retreat is listed under the wider "Janos" area which covers all the areas north of the swamp, with the exception of the Air and Fire forges. There are minor discrepancies between the debug menu entries and game files, with the areas in and around the retreat generally listed as: "Janos7" - the lake beneath the exterior of the retreat and Janos's high chamber, "Janos8" - the passage away from the lake to the Air Forge, "Janos9" - the area outside the entrance to the Air Forge, "Janos11" - the internal smaller 'hollow mountain' chamber, "Janos12" - the corridor between the two 'hollow mountain' chambers, "Janos13" - the top balcony and start of the corridor to Janos's chambers in the larger 'hollow mountain' chamber, "Janos14" - the rest of the corridor leading to Janos's chambers, "Janos15" - the bottom of the snowy passage leading through the ground-level exit of the retreat, "Janos16" - the top of the previous snowy passage connecting to the small hollow mountain chamber, "Janos17"/"Janos171" (files/debug listing respectively) - the submerged passage leading from the lake to the small hollow mountain chamber and "Janos98" - the main body of the larger 'hollow mountain' chamber. Each room is given a separate entry for each era, with the unaltered names (or "Janosa" in files) referring to Nosgoth's early history and names amended to "JanosB" to denote the Era following Blood Omen. Because of era differences "Janos8" and "Janos9" exist only in the Era following Blood Omen, whilst the rooms "Janos11" to "Janos98" only appear in Nosgoth's early history (as does the main body of Janos's chamber, although counted under "Janos7"); debug listings for each area only appear under the time-period in which each is present. The debug menu crashes on attempts to open "Janos8" and "Janos14", while "Janos9" is also unstable, it can occasionally be loaded - all can be checked through game files.[Soul Reaver 2]
  • In the legends of Janos from Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain there is no mention of Janos' retreat[Blood Omen/2][Blood Omen/Miscellaneous][Blood Omen/7] and when he reaches the Uschtenheim signpost in Blood Omen Kain discusses Janos, commenting that "Here, in this quaint pastoral village of Uschtenheim, that dark enemy was born." - clearly suggesting that Janos was born in the village;[Blood Omen/7] additionally the central-east house containing the secret entrance to the Heart of Darkness artifacts spirit forge is noted as "Janos Audron's house" in the Secrets section of Silicon Knights Blood Omen FAQ, The Complete Guide To Legacy of Kain.[6] Given later plot developments and the identification of Janos as an ancient vampire, the notion that he was born or lived in Uschtenheim seems to be unlikely and probably incorrect[7] - though it is possible these mistakes may be somewhat justified in universe, as with the ancients extinct and forgotten, the Humans of the era may have assumed was born human and turned as was typical of the vampires of the age; additionally the name "Janos's house" may be intended to reflect the nature of the artifact gained at the spirit forge, rather than the residence of the legendary vampire.
  • The canyons between Uschtenheim and Janos retreat in Soul Reaver 2 notably contain a number of small, unusually designed 'mini-aerie' balcony constructions, many of which are too high to reach in the usual course of gameplay, but are nevertheless solid and playable.[Soul Reaver 2][8] Uschtenheim likewise features high locations apparently removed during development with the roofs of the village appearing to form part of a complicated jumping puzzle along with many solid ledges in the cliffs above the surrounding areas[Soul Reaver 2][9] The intended destination of these platforms is ultimately unknown, though it is possible they may have connected to each other, linked to the (similarly removed but partially present) ruins above the swamp or even led to a deleted Reaver forge. When questioned about the cut playable areas and unused platforms nearby, Daniel Cabuco responded: "there were supposed to be these updrafts that Raziel could use to boost his glide. But we never got it working in a way that didn't cause horrible game breaking bugs".[10]
  • Janos's retreat is notably dominated by two large sculptures of winged beings, presumably depicting Ancient vampires; with the identical figures both placed beneath the external and internal (inner sanctum) balconies leading to Janos's chambers.[Soul Reaver 2/8][Soul Reaver 2][Soul Reaver 2/5][Soul Reaver 2/9] The figures, like a similar depiction in the Dark forge,[Soul Reaver 2/3] bear a remarkable resemblance to a winged Kain and given the developments of Legacy of Kain: Defiance it is possible that these more generally relate the ancient vampires artistic interpretation of Scion of Balance figure, in a similar manner to later depictions in the Spirit Forge.[Defiance/12][Defiance/13]
  • The interior area of Janos's retreat notably contains several subtle references to the nearby Fire Forge. Blood basins, Blood chalices and their stands have several Fire Reaver symbols hidden in their designs (most noticeable in texture files). The inner sanctum area also imitates the usual forge structure with a large multi-layered puzzle with a single overarching goal, containing only Shade and Thrall enemies - in this case four Greater thralls, each carrying red Emblem keys (previous forges also used themed coloring or design for emblem keys).[Soul Reaver 2/8][Soul Reaver 2]
  • The interior areas of Janos's retreat also contain several interesting design elements and features. Arches were a recurring theme with several throughout the retreat, with several small tiled arched 'window's hinting at the artificial construction of the mountain itself. Typically stone and bloodstone could also be seen in the architecture along with several red stained glass windows, suggesting further areas of the retreat - the architecture also featured several unexplained figures in the textures of several rooms (appearing somewhat similar to the depiction of the bearded man in Janos's chambers. In several areas the polished ice was reflective, though patterns of rugs or other floor covering beneath the ice could sometimes be observed.[Soul Reaver 2/8][Soul Reaver 2]
  • The large 'inner sanctum' room contained several unusual and somewhat unique designs for puzzle elements. Along with the Blood chalices, Blood basins and Bloodstone bridges seen previously in the retreat, several established puzzle elements were given a slightly different spin, with 'Cracked Ice' doorways and an 'Air icon' as compromised barriers, for the Air Reaver, a different 'Light icon' design for Light crystals (which lowered new light symbol bearing 'drop bridges') activated by the Light Reaver and a strange face on Emblem doors. Additionally, in the course of the puzzle to ascend the chamber Raziel could utilize several subtle clues to the locate of the appropriate empty Blood basin. When each basin was activated, the next would be indicated by a flickering ceiling suspended fire-lamp above the empty basin, with such lanterns containing purple glowing crystals (which bathed areas in a purple light) in most areas of the retreat - those which involved in the puzzle were empty and in darkened rooms until lit by the puzzle and after their use the rooms would be bathed in purple light, despite the absence of a purple crystal; The only exception to this was the final two open brazier dishes at the top of the two southern towers, which remained lit. Empty basins were also marked with blue colored arcane symbols, whilst those that were activated glowed red.[Soul Reaver 2/8][Soul Reaver 2]


See also[]