I have a minor confession to make before we get to Avernus, as I missed a spell on the way there. But given the circumstances, I think you will understand. It has to do with this sign:
"He will come when the moon is full and learn to call death from the sky."
With the translation, it is clear as moonlit night what one needs to do in order to get past that door. It is one of the game's many moon gates, which only opens at night when the moon is full. But due to the way my playthrough shaped up, it was only half moon by the time I got here. And since a moon cycle takes a good two hours, I was in no mood to wait.
Which is a shame, because the Lightning Cave seems pretty neat, going by its page on the wiki. It is one of those secrets that feels special both due to the inane entry requirements and the unique assets. Not only is it full of werewolves (who presumably got stuck behind the moon gate), but there are also some some weird stone structures and it is the only enclosed overworld area as well. The Lightning spell seems really neat to boot:
"With this spell I can call upon the heavens to tear my enemies apart with its explosive power. Oh, how their bodies will rupture as the scything energy rips through them!"
Not to worry though, as mentioned before, I did manage to get access to a much grander moon-based secret through some good fortune, so I will be showing that off later. But before that, Avernus awaits.
"Perhaps there was a way inside from above the chaos that reigned there."
The road there is littered with zombies, wolves and the odd demon, but the actual city entrance seems safe from the big fire in the middle of it. Well, safe for the residents, Kain is not welcome amongst the city's blue guard, so it is best to keep a low profile while ransacking the place. And to no one's surprise, there were people chained to the wall in people's houses here too. Nosgoth never stops being a hub of pain and suffering.
Speaking of pain and suffering, the death gauntlet of Avernus truly begins when you enter the sewer, which is full of water, shades and projectile spirits. I had a really tough time getting through Avernus my first time through and this time went only slightly better. Once you emerge from the sewer closer to the epicenter of the disaster, things look decidedly more grim.
"Once, I would have felt horror; now only hunger remained."
"To his disappointment, he would not find me such easy prey."
The streets of inner Avernus are simply littered with demons. And as if the magic-spewing type up there was not bad enough, there is a poison gas variant and this fine fellow:
"I felt its eyes upon me, eager, hungry, as if it longed to rip my heart out and eat it before me as I died. I laughed as the onslaught began. Perhaps when it was over, it would be the other way around."
These bad boys are more or less the game's beefiest enemies and prime candidates for a good dose of Spirit Death. But they are used sparingly and are not that big of a deal on their own. The problem being that there are like 60 other enemies to carve through as well!
This is the part where the game really wants to eat into your resources. With a healthy helping of attack items (and Energy Banks for multiple castings of Spirit Death), it is possible to stay relatively unharmed, but it is a really stressful time. I suppose putting the player through their paces fully for one area is a good idea, but they could have saved some of it for the remaining bosses.
"Though the city lay in ruins, the Cathedral remained untouched. The demons knew better than to bite the hand that feeds them . . ."
And with that, I think we have sufficient information to deduce what Azimuth has done to this place. As the Guardian of Dimension, she has opened up one too many portals to other realms and the people of Avernus suffer for it. Cleaning up her mess is beyond us, but we can at least cut off the head of the snake.
To get to her, we must alternate between fighting cultists on the ground floor and red demons in the basement. After getting through the city, the cathedral is quite pleasant, there are not even any traps to block the path. There is however, an important secret down the secret door to south here:
It leads to a catacomb feature a unique altar and loads of items to pilfer. But most importantly, there is a book down here, poorly narrated by someone (presumably a developer) using a very silly low-pitch voice filter:
"Bring me your first born, and shed their blood on the altar of the world, so I might take nourishment from them. Do this without question, or suffer my wrath for eternity." And its will was done.
Given the game's general lack of lore books to read, the inclusion of this passage holds importance sheerily through its novel nature. Presumably, after Azimuth opened one too many gates, the autocracy of Avernus found a demon to serve. But we are not here to hunt demons, but the Planer, so Kain leaves Nosgoth's grandest murder basement of all with nary a comment to offer.
He does however react to this stain glass ceiling, which is presented to us mirrored due to the perspective, which I think is neat, especially since Kain is closer to the monster than the man one is meant to relate to.
The inner part of Avernus fulfills our trap quota for the dungeon, as it combines arrow traps and ice floor in that oh-so-popular fashion. It is also a telportation maze (of thankfully limited derangement) suspended in a black void, which I take as a represantation of Azimuth's dimension powers. I think there should have been a freaky swirling background instead of a black void, but something tells me the engine was not built for animated backgrounds.
After besting the labyrinth, a magnificent prize awaits us.
"But its purpose remains - to feed on the souls of any creature it strikes. Kindred, this blade and I."
You have no idea of just how right you are, Kain. You have no idea.
So, here it is, the Soul Reaver, ripped from the pages of the design document belonging to the doomed Too Human. In the context of Blood Omen, it is simply the ultimate weapon, too awesome to use most of the time, as no standard enemy is strong enough to justify its incredible mana cost, which scales with enemy health to deliver one-shot kills. It is also a two-handed weapon like the axes, meaning you cannot use items or magic alongside it.
Which really blows, as without an Energy Bank active (which must be triggered with another weapon equipped), its usefulness quickly fades. As such, I find it more trouble than it is worth. But do not fret, it will become the centerpiece of the franchise in due time.
The last part of Avernus is an awesome descent into the bowels of the earth. Here there is an abundance of skeletons, necromancers, demons and twin-headed hellhounds to keep Kain company. At this point, you can feel the designer running out of steam as there is not much the game can do to slow Kain down. On one hand it is lame that the challenge does not match Kain's power, but he is meant to be so strong at this point and it is nice to not have the pacing die due to a lategame difficulty spike, so I will let it slide.
"The metal exists only partially in the human realm, causing it to fade between tangible and ethereal states."
At the bottom, we find an interesting location from the intro. It is the very spot Mortanius banished Malek from his body, with the skeleton still remaining all these years later. The Wraith Armor we find here is much like the Soul Reaver, stronger than the others, with a heavy cost in mana.
It is more lenient in its cost though and it is getting difficult to keep all of Kain's health topped up, so the extra defense is helpful. One must be mindful of enemies that require magic to defeat however, so as to not end up with neither protection, nor the means to find victory.
[Azimuth]: You wear those trinkets well, Kain. But I do believe that they would look better on me.
[Kain]: The Matriarch of Avernus, the Lady Azimuth: her magical planing skills summoned demons through runes inscribed in human blood.
[Azimuth]: Come to me my children! We shall ravage Nosgoth together!
[Azimuth]: So, little man, have they sent you to stop me? My children shall rip you apart!
The female characters really do not hold a candle to the main male cast, as they sound incredibly camp, Azimuth in particular. I also find it hilarious that Azimuth is so absent-minded that she does not know of the magical artefacts within her own dungeon. Is she even aware that Mortanius held residence here?
The fight is designed exactly as one would assume. She is a mage who can summon demons, so she does just that while pelting Kain with fireballs. They are so numerous that the knockback makes her hard to chase down, but as always, Repel remedies that.
It is a pretty lengthy fight with the Flame Sword, since she teleports away, so by the end I pulled out the Soul Reaver, which ended her in a single strike, fittingly enough. But setting up both Repel and an Energy Bank before equipping the Soul Reaver is very fiddly, so I chanced on the latter and charged her down.
"Once her demonic thralls had been dispatched she fell quickly to my blade."
Beyond the expected token for the Pillar, Azimuth also had a Time Streaming Device, which Ariel explains upon our return to the Pillars.
"The Pillar accepted its offering; thus it was restored."
"Azimuth, not content with summoning demonic thralls, stole the Time Streaming Device in order to gather creatures from other ages as well. Take care of the device, Kain. It will deliver you in time."
[Ariel]: 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 . .
[Kain]: How can one stop an army?
[Ariel]: You must rally the forces of Willendorf; they are the last Hope of Nosgoth.
While the remaining members of the Circle are our primary targets, the Nemesis cannot be ignored. And seeing as he once was a just king before being corrupted by bloodlust, he will make a fine adversary for Kain. Next time, we make our way to Willendorf in search of an army.
Until then, keep our current quandaries in mind:
As always, Vae Victus!