William the Just, known later in his life as the Nemesis, was originally the benevolent boy-king of a realm in northern Nosgoth during the history preceding Blood Omen. Once described as kind and fair by his contented subjects, William was "corrupted" by the designs of Moebius the Time Streamer, developing into a sadistic despot bent on massacring civilization with his fanatical army - the legions of the Nemesis - and the Soul Reaver.
Hoping to defeat the tyrant during his pursuit of the Circle of Nine, the vampire Kain traveled back in time to William's youth and seized the opportunity to murder the young ruler. He killed William, thus triggering a paradox and creating a new timeline - one in which Moebius had decorated the boy-king as a martyr, igniting a genocidal crusade against the vampire race. William was present only in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, and his occupied sarcophagus appeared in Soul Reaver 2.
- "So this was the tomb of the beloved King William the Just – beatified here as the martyr and catalyst of Moebius’s crusade.
I was reminded of Kain’s journey as a fledgling vampire –
How Moebius coerced him to travel back in history and assassinate William, thus igniting a genocidal hatred of vampires among the citizens of Nosgoth."
- "In my youth, I witnessed William’s rise to power, and his transformation into the ‘Nemesis’ who laid waste to Nosgoth."
In the pre-Blood Omen era, years before Kain's birth, William the Just - the ruler of a human kingdom in the north-east - had originated as a "caring and gentle benefactor of the land", genuinely beloved by his prosperous people.[Blood Omen/9][Blood Omen/10][Blood Omen/Miscellaneous] When Moebius came to his realm, addressing and rallying crowds of William's villagers with hateful speeches against Nosgoth's vampire population, his reception among the commonfolk was rousing enough to ensure a personal audience with the king. In the stronghold of William the Just, the two met for the first time.[Blood Omen/10]
The boy-king was mildly suspicious of Moebius's motives, but the visitor assured him that his only agenda involved "vanquishing [William's] foes". Moebius gifted William the Soul Reaver - an ancient, soul-devouring blade - and other weapons, and warned him of a vampire assassin.[Blood Omen/10][Soul Reaver 2/1][Soul Reaver 2/5] He elected not to mention his role as a member of the Circle of Nine and Guardian of Time, dismissing the manner by which he came to learn of this encroaching killer as knowledge of "no consequence". The duplicitous Time Streamer was, supposedly, acting "only out of concern for your Majesty’s life".[Blood Omen/10]
William dismissed Moebius, but was anxious to speak with him again; Moebius assured him that he would know if he was needed, and would "be there in time".[Blood Omen/10] Thus, William would take Moebius as an adviser, and, over the ensuing forty years, continued to conspire with the Time Streamer. This collaboration changed his nature as the years passed; the "insidious designs" of Moebius gradually transformed him. He evolved from a "kind and fair" monarch into a "sadistic despot and tyrant" - the Nemesis, poised to "force Nosgoth on its knees".[Blood Omen/9]
- "The Legions of the Nemesis are on the march from the north, crushing all in their path. ‘Twas not too long ago that the Nemesis was known as William the Just, a caring and gentle benefactor of the land. But, as his army grew in strength and he himself grew in power, the veil of tyranny fell and one kingdom was not enough. So many cities, so many dead. Willendorf will be sure to follow. The Nemesis must be stopped or all shall be lost..."
As this process continued, William wrought a "fanatically loyal and ruthless army" - the prophesied legions of the Nemesis, destined to "lay waste to the last havens of peace in Nosgoth and bring about the end of civilization". His forces grew in strength, as did his own personal power, at the expense of his innocuous, benign disposition.[Blood Omen/9] By the events of Blood Omen, he "[vied] for global domination and the slavery of right thinking folk", torturing and executing any who opposed him. Freely "beheading, disemboweling, and impaling peasants and warriors alike in their very own villages", he seemed unstoppable. As his infamy grew, it became apparent that "the Nemesis [brought] with him death and strife, pain and misery," and all believed that this would "never end".
Kain observed these grim portents from afar, hearing tales of William's rise to power and transformation as he grew, as did the people of Willendorf and the cities in the west.[Blood Omen/Miscellaneous][Soul Reaver 2/5] By the time of his death and resurrection, though the lives of those beyond the Land of the Nemesis still remained mostly unaffected, much of Nosgoth's populace was well aware of the Nemesis and the "unruly future" associated with his name.[Blood Omen/9] When he visited the Oracle - Moebius under a pseudonym - Kain was reminded of the legions, but during the early stages of his quest to destroy the Circle of Nine and free himself of the blood curse, he paid little attention or heed to this distant threat, preferring Vorador's counsel not to meddle with "the affairs of man".[Blood Omen/5][Blood Omen/6] Eventually, though, as he progressed further east, he was forced to acknowledge, and confront, William's mighty army.[Blood Omen/9]
After restoring the Pillar of Dimension, he was urged by Ariel to rally the forces of Willendorf - the Army of the Last Hope. Walking through Willendorf Castle, he nihilistically "smirked thinking of the carnage that would befall [the court] at the hands of the Legions of the Nemesis... the glorious flames, the inevitable rape and pillage". Nevertheless, Kain exerted his best effort to stop the Nemesis. He recovered the soul of the Princess of Willendorf for King Ottmar, assuaging the King's depression, and inspiring him to fight for Nosgoth's welfare. Though offered rulership of Willendorf, Kain refused this burden. All he needed was Willendorf's army, to "vanquish the Horde that descends upon us from the North". Ottmar agreed, and mustered his forces; the "scourge of Nosgoth" arrived to meet them in the Battle of the Last Stand.[Blood Omen/9]
- "Ironic. By going back in time, and altering the past, you turned William the Just into the Nemesis."
Though spirited, Willendorf's forces were devastated in the fray. Kain participated, comparing the legions to "a black tide", fuelled by "no fervor so strong as that inspired by a madman. The Nemesis armies were fierce and showed no signs of subsiding". Ottmar was killed, begging Kain to destroy William for the sake of the world, but it was clear that "the fate of Nosgoth now lay in the Nemesis’ hands". Kain was cornered, but escaped the battle when the time-streaming device he had earlier collected activated, sending him fifty years back in time.[Blood Omen/9] The battlefield was gone; all that remained was a "damning calm". Stahlberg, a city he had beheld in ruins - its denizens murdered and brutalized by the legions - was, in this era, peaceful, and filled with villagers who spoke highly of their king.[Blood Omen/10][Blood Omen/9][Blood Omen/Miscellaneous]
Kain realized that if he could kill William in this time period, the Nemesis would never come to exist. He seized the opportunity, and overheard, unseen, the first meeting between William and Moebius. Kain was the assassin Moebius had warned William of, but he intended to succeed and change history. Kain confronted "he who would become the Nemesis", wielding his incarnation of the Soul Reaver, from the future, against William's, from the past. The fight was hectic, but Kain triumphed, drinking William's Blood and slaughtering his guards. William's own, earlier incarnation of the Reaver was broken in two by Kain's.[Blood Omen/10][Soul Reaver 2/1] The convergence of two Reavers had enabled him to derail history, and the paradox of William's death resulted in a new timeline - one entirely free of the Nemesis and his conquering legions.[Soul Reaver 2/5][Blood Omen/11]
This altered present was not what Kain had expected, however. Returning to his own time, he found that he had "destroyed a tyrant only to create one far worse". Ironically, William had been martyred by Nosgoth's citizens, serving as the catalyst of a different massacre - a genocidal war against Nosgoth's vampires.[Soul Reaver 2/5][Soul Reaver 2/1][Blood Omen/11] "With their sainted King William dead by [Kain's] hand, the people of the land were consumed by a hunger all their own - for vampire blood." All along, William had been little more than Moebius's pawn; his murder provided the leverage he desired to annihilate the vampire race, leaving Kain its sole surviving member. The Time Streamer had "carefully orchestrated" the entire affair, ensuring that Kain, "the vampire assassin, [had] become the author of [his] own species’ extinction".[Soul Reaver 2/1][Blood Omen/11]
- "Years later, I stumble upon a chance to journey back in history, unaware that the entire affair has been carefully orchestrated by Moebius.
In my wisdom, I seize this opportunity to murder the young king before he can ravage Nosgoth...
...and thereby provide the catalyst Moebius needs to ignite a genocidal war against our race."
Traveling back through time from the events of Soul Reaver, Raziel was able to explore the Sarafan Stronghold during the early days of Vampire hunters.[Soul Reaver 2/1][Soul Reaver 2/Prologue] It was filled with tributes to the vampires' other victims, but the principal memorial shrine was William's chapel. Apparently, Moebius had arranged for William's corpse to be conveyed this far south-west, where it served as an altar of worship. William was beatified in a stained glass mural depicting his final battle, and the broken Soul Reaver lay upon his stone casket like a "holy relic".[Soul Reaver 2/1]
Raziel was somewhat familiar with William's story, having been educated by Kain.[Soul Reaver 2/1] When he approached the chapel for the first time, he felt a temporal displacement, and the Wraith Blade took control of him, embracing the broken Reaver. His own soul energy was drawn into the sword, and its two halves were re-fused; this reconstituted Soul Reaver would presumably end up in the hands of the young Kain.[Soul Reaver 2/1][Blood Omen/8] Raziel later returned to the chapel, where he met the Elder Kain he had long pursued - as Kain was aware, this was the moment of his historical death, at Raziel's hands.[Soul Reaver 2/5]
Kain explained William's original role as the Nemesis, and elaborated that "Moebius propelled William and me together – but ensured first that we were both armed with the Soul Reaver". This precedent inspired Raziel to resist the pull of history as it tried to force his hand, and he made use of his free will, smashing the sword downward. It had only narrowly missed Kain; it was instead embedded in William's sarcophagus, "the impact having fractured the stone". This second paradox, Kain believed, was key to him "[assuming his] role as Balance Guardian and [returning] the Pillars to their rightful inheritors".[Soul Reaver 2/5]
- "...poor William."
- "Yes, these weapons you have provided will see to that. Pray tell, Moebius. What game do you play?"
William was voiced by baritone actor Tony Jay in his brief speaking appearances in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain; some fans of the series considered Jay's voice overly deep to properly represent a boy-king (as the character is described in Soul Reaver 2).[Blood Omen]
It was not directly stated in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain that William wielded the Soul Reaver against Kain in their battle, but Silicon Knights confirmed that he was using the Reaver in the FAQ section of The Complete Guide To Legacy of Kain. As recounted by Kain himself in Soul Reaver 2, Kain is practically required to use the Soul Reaver in order to slay William during their playable confrontation – while he can, at length, be killed with other weapons, the Soul Reaver is, by far, the most effective means.[Soul Reaver 2/5]
- "And the news you bring. A vampire sent to slay me. Where did you come upon such knowledge?"
In Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, the young William was depicted with "evil red armor and black horns", in the words of recurring series artist Daniel Cabuco. His outfit resembles those of his legionnaire soldiers, and of the vampire Kain; he wears solid black and red armor, brown leather boots and gloves, and a horned, spiked helmet. Like the young Kain (but unlike the Elder Kain, Raziel and the Hylden Lord), he is not physically strong enough to swing the Soul Reaver with one hand, instead wielding it with two.[Blood Omen/10][Soul Reaver/6][Soul Reaver 2/9][Blood Omen 2/11] The older William of the Blood Omen era - the Nemesis himself - is never actually seen, and does not overtly participate in the Battle of the Last Stand.[Blood Omen/10]
For his Soul Reaver 2 depiction in the Sarafan Stronghold mural, William was restylized by Cabuco (of Crystal Dynamics). Cabuco rationalized his re-interpretation of the character's visuals as follows: "the original design of William from LOK had him with red armor and black horns. It didn't make much sense, and I spent a few hours trying to think of why a guy called 'the Just' would have evil red armor and black horns. Then it hit me: ROSES! They're red and have thorns, so I restylized the armor to have more thornlike horns and rose designs on it. I just love coming up with visual solutions". In this image, William's youthful face and blond hair can be seen garbed in a mail hood, and his armor is no longer black, but a desaturated, rosy shade of red.[Soul Reaver 2]
Perhaps coincidentally, Little Gidding, a poem from T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets, makes repeated reference to roses; T .S. Eliot's work served as "oblique" inspiration for series writer and director Amy Hennig, and Little Gidding was directly quoted in her farewell message to the Legacy of Kain community. Besides the rose, other symbols representative of William and his kingdom include the falcon (seen on the banners hanging on the exterior of his stronghold) and the bull (seen on the legions' war banners).[Blood Omen/10][Blood Omen/9]
- "Perhaps, perhaps... Very well, then. You may leave me, now. But should I wish to speak with you..."
William makes only a very brief appearance in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, so little can be directly inferred regarding his personality, but his few lines of dialogue suggest a degree of pragmatism and suspicion.[Blood Omen/10] Though quickly convinced of Moebius's supposed good intentions, his gullibility is arguable, as his adherence to the Time Streamer's counsel parallels closely with Kain's.[Blood Omen/5][Defiance/1] Disguise Form dialog evinces that he was genuinely beloved by his people, with various villagers naming his kingdom "the most prosperous land in all of Nosgoth", citing William as "kind and fair" and themselves as "fortunate citizens", and lauding William's low tax policies.[Blood Omen/Miscellaneous] Ariel retroactively considered him "caring and gentle" in his youth.[Blood Omen/9]
As the Nemesis, he is effectively the opposite of his former self in all respects apart, arguably, from his espousal of justice. He is notoriously described as "sadistic" and "vying for global domination", and it is stated that he personally beheaded, disembowelled and impaled many of his enemies, torturing and executing his foes with neither mercy nor remorse, and destroying "so many cities".[Blood Omen/9]
There is debatably some, albeit perverse, similarly in the dynamic between William, Moebius and the Soul Reaver to the real-world Arthurian legends (corresponding to King Arthur, Merlin and Excalibur respectively).
- "Ahhh yes, the Vampire. Moebius told me you would come..."
Unlike many other significant characters in the Legacy of Kain series (such as the Circle of Nine or turned vampires), William never obtains any intrinsic advantages over other humans in terms of power.[Blood Omen] Judging from his legions' genuine fervor and fanaticism as described by Kain, he was apparently a highly-charismatic leader, but the implication from Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain's storyline is that he achieved supreme power as the Nemesis with Moebius's counsel and gifted weapons, as opposed to any more supernatural abilities.[Blood Omen/9][Blood Omen/Miscellaneous] As a youth, he was a very potent and extraordinarily durable swordsman, but otherwise relatively unremarkable in comparison to Kain's other enemies. Ariel notes that "[William] himself grew in power" over time as his army thrived, although - since he is never encountered as the Nemesis - the specifics of this increase in power remain ambiguous.[Blood Omen/9]
Like Kain and the Hylden Lord, William wielded the Soul Reaver for a prolonged period of time. There is a correlation between these three characters, in that they each attempted to conquer and rule over Nosgoth as despotic tyrants; it is unclear if the common presence of the Soul Reaver implies a causation.[Blood Omen 2/1][Soul Reaver/1]
- "‘Tis of no consequence, sire. ‘Twas only out of concern for your Majesty’s life -"
The name William is of old Germanic origin, and literally implies "desire" and "protection" (as in "will" and "helmet"). The name entered the English language after William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066. Its French equivalent, Guillaume, was an early name for the character who was ultimately called Malek in the final version of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain.
William's title, "the Just", implies moral righteousness, corresponding with his later mononym, "the Nemesis". In Greek mythology, Nemesis was the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris - a remorseless incarnation of vengeful fate. "Nemesis" is also synonymous with "archenemy".
- As a "boy-king", William became a monarch early in his life, presumably inheriting power after the deaths of one or both of his unnamed parents (the previous king or queen). Many such boy-kings throughout real-world history are often accompanied by "advisers" who exert a sometimes-corrupting influence; such may be the case with Moebius's corruption of William.
- Given that Kain travels back fifty years into the past, to a time when William is described as a boy-king, the Nemesis is probably roughly between sixty or seventy years old in the Blood Omen era - a respectable age for the real-world Medieval period.[Blood Omen/10]
- The Complete Guide To Legacy of Kain mentions that "in a previous timeline, William the Just was exactly as his title suggested", presumably free of the "insidious designs" of Moebius. Kain himself indicates this before he kills Moebius, saying "ironic. By going back in time, and altering the past, you turned William the Just into the Nemesis".[Blood Omen/11]
- William the Just (boss)
- Legions of the Nemesis
- William the Just at Wikipedia.
- William the Just at Dark Chronicle (by Ardeth Silvereni).
- Miscellaneous Questions & Answers at SK: The Complete Guide To Legacy of Kain (archived at Dark Chronicle)
- The Players at SK: The Complete Guide To Legacy of Kain (archived at Dark Chronicle)
- William the Just at Dark Chronicle (by Ardeth Silvereni)
- William and Kain at spectraljin.com (by Daniel Cabuco)
- The Influence of Literature and Myth in Videogames at IGN (by Douglass Perry), page 3
- A farewell message from Amy at the Eidos Forums (by blincoln)
- Enemies - Guardians and Bosses at the Blood Omnicide site
- Early Character Names at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)