Willendorf's army beckons as the legions of the Nemesis draw ever closer. Kain is right to be hesitant, but he must forge on nonetheless. It is not like he can trust anyone else to give a shit about the land's impending demise anyway.
"With this vague advice in mind, I set forth on the road to Willendorf."
I feel like this line is the writer admitting that there is not any obvious connection between the Nemesis and one of the Guardians. With full context, it is clear to me why the writer lets the game suffer some narrative collapse here, as this final story arc is the most exciting part of the game. You just have to accept the vagueries of Ariel as a springboard and get on with the adventure. But I think the writer has earned a bit of trust at this point.
[Mortanius]: Strange, isn’t it Kain? That one cannot quite accept that which sustains him: you in your death and me in mine. But death cannot reign in a world without life and soon you will find the quest ahead of you is yours and yours alone. I can assist you no longer.
Somewhere amongst the magic scarecrows on the way to Willendorf, there is supposedly this monologue from Mortanius that I missed. I think he is selling himself up a bit, as his assistance has been close to non-existant following the revival. Which was a big deal of course, but he could have said this after we left the Pillars the first time and not much would have changed.
"But Willendorf's days of glory had passed; it was the last bastion against an unruly future."
Up in a small dungeon we can find Spirit Wrack, which is some real filler magic. It functions the same as Control Mind, except it works on monsters. That is all it does and Control Mind was not very engaging to begin with, so I question the inclusion of a second variant of it.
"Of these secrets, I had heard of a tomb that contained an ancient forefather of King Ottmar himself. Within the tomb, a fountain of blood would allow me to cast the most noble of illusions, and gain entry to the city of the Mighty Lion."
The guardsmen of Willendorf have functioning eyes and will not let a corpse through the gates, so seeking out this very convenient blood fountain is our next goal. But I decided to postpone that, as a full moon drew near.
Out in the lake by the Mist Form dungeon, situated inbetween a stone henge, on a full moon, one can find the raddest secret in Blood Omen, if not the entire series.
This is the Lost City, an absolutely gargantuan secret area filled to the brim with ziggurats, cultists, werewolves and treasure. Not to mention a completely unique tileset and a compact yet open design not seen elsewhere in the game.
The closest I can liken it to is Ash Lake from Dark Souls, as they are both unique areas completely hidden from the average player. The difference between them is that Ash Lake provides a unique perspective on the world and is not much of a level, whereas the Lost City is a full level that borders on being non-canonical due to there not being any dialogue associated with it ever, neither in this game nor the rest.
But I can respect a good secret (even if its conditions are a bit obtuse and difficult), especially when the ultimate reward is a series of treasure rooms with 24(!) copies of every single consumable. Suffice to say, there is enough loot here to last you two playthroughs, so if you manage to get in, there is no reason not to have some fun with the remainder of the game.
On that topic, we need to get back to Willendorf and that Beguile form. Which turns out to be the easiest thing in the game, as with Kain's current stock of mana, one can just use the standard disguise while pushing these minecarts to avoid almost all conflict.
"The spell also provides a visage of nobility, for there are many who would easily divulge more to those of highborn blood."
Much like Spirit Wrack, Beguile functions like its predecessor and despite what Kain says, I do not think there is dialogue unique to this form. Smells of cut content and it is not even proper filler, as the quest to enter Willendorf takes all of 10 minutes. Methinks this is the result of development needing to wrap up, which is emblematic of the endgame we are close to entering.
But before that, we need to enter Willendorf, which is pretty huge. Though with our pockets overflowing with items and murder basements becoming a bit passé, the only area of note is the library.
"At the unlikely death of a member, the Circle remains broken for a time, until the Pillars can cull a worthy successor."
"Wherever they traveled strange tales of human possession would follow. Little is known of the god they worshipped."
Being the game's only lore books, these are quite important for later. It would have been cool if there were more to find to expand the world of Nosgoth, but as I have previously established, there is very little material in Blood Omen that will not hold significance later.
The first one explains the mechanics of the Circle, while leaving the Pillars as mysterious as ever. While they can bond with a Guardian and bless them with long life and power, they seemingly cannot have them killed, which is where Kain comes in. Once the last one falls, new Guardians will be chosen and the land can begin to heal.
As for the cult, that is presumably the one under Avernus worshipping Hash'ak'gik. The sacrifice of firstborns is bad enough, but adding human possession to the mix is a recipe for disaster. Not that it is of concern to Kain at the moment, seeing as the defanged Lion of Willendorf awaits just up ahead.
"Proud and self absorbed, surrounded by all the finery of the realm. Secure in their ignorance. As I walked among them I smirked thinking of the carnage that would befall them at the hands of the Legions of the Nemesis . . . the glorious flames, the inevitable rape and pillage."
[Kain]: Out of my way peasant! The stench of the fields hangs over you like a pall!
[Courtier]: The King sees no one! He is in mourning for the princess!
[Kain]: He’ll be in mourning for his kingdom soon.
[Kain]: And so I won my audience, such as it was, with Ottmar. He cared not of the invading armies from the North. Only of the plight of his child.
"To celebrate her birthday I declared a contest. Whoever created the finest doll in the realm would be granted a royal favor. Hundreds of dolls were brought, but the winner was obvious."
"And all he would take in payment was a lock of her hair. Soon after she became like this; a lifeless puppet. Whoever restores her to her former self shall have this kingdom!"
[Kain]: Thus my hunt for the Dollmaker began.
[Kain]: Ottmar slumped on his throne like a rag doll, his beard matted with the tears of his own self-pity. In my court, he would have long since been usurped by one stronger, but in Willendorf they worshipped him, even in his weakness. I wondered what Willendorf would do when Ottmar’s death finally arrived.
"They were busy scouring the lands to the north, in search of the Dollmaker and Ottmar’s daughter. I also learned of a tunnel, which would take me rapidly from Willendorf to the suspected area."
Not the most exciting scene, but it presents a nice dichotomy between Kain and Ottmar. Here we see a beloved hero, probably the most noble character in the series, reduced to a sobbing mess due to the love he has for his daughter. Meanwhile, Kain stops just short of spitting on him for being a pathetic failure of a man who cannot even stand up straight.
It is important that we get a taste of what Nosgoth would be like uncorrupted in my opinion. Makes the current circumstances all the more potent. Ottmar's story feels lifted out of a fairytale, with only a dashing prince to save his daughter missing from from the equation. Alas, it was not to be and the malicious Kain will have to do the deed instead.
The tunnel (naturally, another sewer) quickly takes us up to the snowy region of Nosgoth where the Legion of the Nemesis reigns. They are human like any other basic enemy, but their sheer numbers present a challenge. Unless you cast Blood Shower, of course. Maybe Kain is underestimating his ability to take on an army.
"While I would not weep over lost tomes, I detested the sight of scars left upon the world at the hands of the Nemesis."
Stahlberg is barely standing, as the Legion has gone to work on it, leaving mostly rubble and impaled corpses. Going further north however takes us just outside the castle of the Nemesis, where he has erected this sick statue:
Despite how much of the Legion we have cut through with ease to get here, we cannot proceed inside and have only to continue past it to Elzevir's house.
Elzevir and this whole quest stands out to me as the least essential part of the entire story of the franchise. That is not to say that getting a peek at the Legion and going through a unique dungeon listening to this haunting (and somewhat goofy) track is not a worthy endeavour.
But at the end of the day, he is just an odd goblin-esque puppet magician of a man who attacks people with dolls and teddy bears, completely disconnected from the plot at large. To be fair, the Guardians do not get much more characterisation than he does, but they and more importanly, their connection to the Pillars, remains an evergreen topic within the story. It is not wrong to have a minor filler villain, but in the face of the impending change in focus the series is about to undertake, it stands out. More on this after we finish the game.
[Elzevir]: So, Ottmar sent you to kill me, eh? I can smell him on you - Or is that the stench of the grave?
[Kain]: Dollmaker, I have no time for these games!
[Elzevir]: The soul is mine! I earned it! Ottmar GAVE it to me!
[Kain]: Then you shall earn it with blood!
The battle is over almost as soon as it begins.
The less we think about it, the better.
Now, returning to Willendorf marks the point of no return, as any remaining secrets up to this point will become inaccessible and the game will become aggressively linear. I find it a good place to stop, as the remainder of the game is best experienced with no breaks.
Until then, keep our current quandaries in mind:
As always, Vae Victus!