[ Legacy of Kain: The Lost Worlds ]

Hylden Armour Wraiths

article by Divine Shadow



[ Hylden Wraiths [1/7] ]
Hylden Wraiths [1/7]
[ Hylden Wraiths [2/7] ]
Hylden Wraiths [2/7]
[ Hylden Wraiths [3/7] ]
Hylden Wraiths [3/7]
[ Hylden Wraiths [4/7] ]
Hylden Wraiths [4/7]
[ Hylden Wraiths [5/7] ]
Hylden Wraiths [5/7]
[ Hylden Wraiths [6/7] ]
Hylden Wraiths [6/7]
[ Hylden Wraiths [7/7] ]
Hylden Wraiths [7/7]



Five images show different renders of armour, each moulded around a visible human-shaped coloured mesh. The first render (pink mesh) resembles the disembodied Sarafan Armour Wraiths seen in Blood Omen, with more traditional human armour features and a silver and light copper colour scheme.

The second (blue mesh) is similar, with a decidedly feminine shape of similar colour, with the lower parts of the armour shell formed of overlapping metal resembling a mage's robe. On this design, a round emblem is seen on the lower-front of the armour, and looks very similar to the circular symbols on the central dais of the Pillars of Nosgoth. This render does not have any legs or footwear, and appears to be hovering off the ground.

The third render (red mesh) is also feminine, and shifts from the silver and light copper pigments of the earlier images, to being predominantly a dark grey and copper design. More spikes are prominent on this design, and the top of its helmet somewhat resembles the cranial ridges seen on the crown of living Hylden.

The fourth render (blue mesh) is a bulky masculine armour shape dominated by copper spikes. This armour does not appear to have been ever intended for a human occupant, as the spikes actually seek to penetrate into the torso area. The visor on the helmet seems to have a gap in its design for a third eye on the forehead, and the crown again resembles the cranial ridges seen on living Hylden, with two darker demon-like horns at the very peak.

The fifth render (grey mesh) is large and very dark set of spiked armour, with gold trimmings around the chest area resembling an abstract ribcage. The texture is distinct, with some parts appearing like cracked blackened stone. The crown on this armour is now undoubtedly the same cranial ridges seen on living Hylden.

The two screenshots show Kain in battle against the Hylden Armour Wraiths. The wraiths glow with green energy, and in two places there appears to be a skeleton of green electric energy beneath the metal holding the limbs and torso together. The wraiths are armed with a pike, a shorter weapon that is possibly a mace or axe, and an unknown weapon. In one of the images, a pike is shown glowing with green energy, possibly building up energy for an attack.

[ Annotated Image 1 ]
Annotated Image 1
[ Annotated Image 2 ]
Annotated Image 2
[ Annotated Image 3 ]
Annotated Image 3
[ Annotated Image 4 ]
Annotated Image 4
[ Annotated Image 5 ]
Annotated Image 5
[ Annotated Image 6 ]
Annotated Image 6
[ Annotated Image 7 ]
Annotated Image 7


Story Speculation - Young Kain and the Sarafan Armour Wraiths

In Blood Omen, the young Kain is dispatched by Ariel across Nosgoth, to hunt down and kill the deranged Circle of Nine. His first target is the mentalist Nuprator, Guardian of the Pillar of the Mind, and the source of the mental poison that is corrupting the land.

Kain ascends Nupraptor's Retreat, and finds the sorcerer to be a suicidal lunatic protected by Malek, the Guardian of the Pillar of Conflict. Malek is discovered to be a Sarafan Armour Wraith, a metal creature produced by the fusion of a human soul with a vacant armour shell. Malek is ordered to vacate the stronghold by the insane Nupraptor, and invites Kain to end his misery.

Following the destruction of Nupraptor, Kain comes to realise the role of Malek as "shepherd" of The Circle, their formidable and durable protector, and is encouraged by Ariel to execute him.

Kain: Nupraptor was but the genesis. Forever tainted by his madness, the Circle was beyond redemption. For them absolution lay only in death, in me they would find their deliverance. But first I had to defeat their shepherd. Malek, defender of the Nine, lay in a keep far to the north, past Vasserbünde. It was time for me to test the wrath of the Pillar of Conflict.

Ariel: Death in the Circle brings life to the Pillars. For every Pillar there is a token. Only with these shall they be restored. But to reach a warrior, you must first breach his ward. Find Malek and destroy him. Only then will the Circle fall.

Blood Omen

Kain proceeds northwards, and nestled between the mountains he sees the distant Bastion resting on the top of an enormous strut of rock. He makes a passing observation before ascending to its summit via his bat transformation ability.

Kain: Malek's Bastion, perched defiantly on the mountain top, black as night against the blanket of snow. What manner of man would choose a land so harsh and utterly devoid of life?

Blood Omen

Kain discovers the Bastion to be mostly devoid of organic life, and populated by a vast legion of Sarafan Armour Wraiths. Vast machines were generating these metal creatures:

Kain: The towering metal structure gave birth to these wraiths. I could hazard only a guess at its function: fusing the souls of long-dead warriors to their armour so they may do battle once again. Life without blood? What a travesty!

Blood Omen

Kain proceeded to fight his way through the Bastion, finding and deactivating the wraith-generating machines. He eventually discovers an isolated chamber containing a strange power source, a large glass orb floating in the air, glowing with radiant energy. With the flick of a switch, Kain causes the orb to fall from its suspension, smashing it on the hard tiled floor of the Bastion.

Kain: The globe powered the machinery. With its destruction, the deafening shrieks of the machines ceased to echo throughout the bastion. It was now time to silence the machines' maker!

Malek: You try my patience, fledgling! Care to try my blade instead!?

Blood Omen

Kain's invasion of Malek's Bastion resulted in the destruction of the infrastructure manufacturing the Sarafan Armour Wraiths. With the later death of Malek at the hands of Vorador, the Bastion became vacant and of no further relevance to the young Kain's quest. By the time of Soul Reaver, it appears to have been lost to the rigours of history.

[ Nupraptor and Malek ]
Nupraptor and Malek
[ Malek's Bastion in Blood Omen ]
Malek's Bastion in Blood Omen
[ Wraith machine ]
Wraith machine
[ Destroyed wraith machine ]
Destroyed wraith machine
[ Malek and Vorador ]
Malek and Vorador


Story Speculation - The Hylden Occupation

The media from The Dark Prophecy shows us for the first time what happened to Malek's Bastion immediately after the events of Blood Omen. The renders and screenshots strongly suggest that the Hylden invade and occupy the vacant Bastion, and use the infrastructure within to create Hylden Armour Wraiths. The media shows us various locations within and beneath the Bastion, such as the Winged Being Shrine, the Dragon Statue Reaver Forge and the Soul Machine Core, evidencing that the structure is older and of far more significance than its appearance in Blood Omen inferred. The most significant question this essay will explore is this: Why are the Hylden here?

Let us consider what we know of Hylden activity in this era. In Defiance, we see the days immediately before the collapse of the Pillars of Nosgoth. The binding has weakened to such a point that the Hylden can now project their souls from the Demon Dimension and into Nosgoth, to possess corpses, miscellaneous monsters and the temporally-displaced vampire lieutenant Turel. This process appears to be inherently unstable; the occupied flesh becomes quickly "used" and wildly transforms and decays until cohesion is lost altogether. On stronger vessels such as Turel and Mortanius, Hylden possession appears to gradually weaken the host and cause mental and physical trauma, this increasing with severity until death occurs after a longer period. It worth noting that in these two cases, effort was made by the Hylden not to "break" their hosts due to their usefulness to the cause, and therefore while the possession of Mortanius and Turel was intermittent, it was nonetheless prolonged and agonising.

The Hylden used their hosts to facilitate a number of objectives: the use of Turel to command the disciples of the Avernus Hash'ak'gik cult; the use of Mortanius to murder Ariel; the use of Raziel to murder the Scion of Balance; and the use of various revenants to interfere with Kain and Raziel's agenda. The collective goal of these objectives was to play out the Hylden General's "theatre of Grand Guignol" and initiate the collapse of the Pillars of Nosgoth.

When the Pillars did collapse, the moment following the explosion was unexpectedly subdued. There was no gaping rift to the Demon Dimension, no Hylden armies storming into the world, and none of the sudden pandemonium that Janos seemed to fear. The only immediate consequence we see is the Hylden General's ability to permanently project his soul into Nosgoth and take the strongest and oldest host it can find; the formidable Janos Audron:

The Hylden General: This one is strong. Good. My next move requires a more durable host. Mortals are such fragile vessels. Willing or not, you have provided the instrument of our victory.


The master plan of the banished Hylden is apparently still incomplete even with the collapse of the Pillars of Nosgoth. The process of rescuing the Hylden race from the Demon Dimension (as eventually achieved by the time of Blood Omen 2) is confirmed to involve further "moves" of their durable new host. The foothold at Malek's Bastion would appear to be one of these "moves".

Story Speculation - Hosts for the Hylden

During Kain's final encounter with the Hylden General, he reveals that the banished Hylden have achieved some sort of symbiosis with their Demon Dimension prison.

The Hylden General: Our banishment in the demon dimension also ensures our immortality. One day, we shall return.

Blood Omen 2

While enduring the physical agonies and mental anguish of their hellish prison reality, it appears that the Demon Dimension may have somehow absorbed the banished Hylden souls into its eternal storm. The trapped Hylden may have perhaps been rendered utterly incorporeal by this corrosive process, and by the time of the Pillars collapse may simply have no physical bodies left with which to return to the world. The Hylden taking of corpses in Defiance may have been a strategy of necessity, as it was the only immediate way for their spirits to affect the physical reality of Nosgoth.

With the collapse of the Pillars, these incorporeal Hylden souls can now return to Nosgoth, but require durable bodies to inhabit. The capture of Malek's Bastion and the exotic machinery within may be the means by which the banished Hylden begin to return to the world, and eventually re-establish the distorted echo of their former civilisation seen in Blood Omen 2.

Consider the renders, some showing armour of familiar Sarafan design, with others showing metal with Hylden anatomical features such their cranial ridges and rear-shoulder protrusions. One possibility is that when a Hylden soul is bonded to a set of Sarafan armour, over time the shape of the metal distorts to reflect the soul within. Consider the sudden deformities seen in corpses and creatures the Hylden have previously possessed - perhaps this inhabited flesh was too brittle and fragile to transform into a form that suited the Hylden soul within, this causing it to collapse. The transformation of the armour may be a slower variant of this process - initially the Sarafan armour slowly takes on more Hylden-like features, but after a certain point the metal is unable to match the Hylden body shape precisely, and cracks. This idea would suggest that even when bonded to armour, the Hylden soul only has a limited lifespan before the metal fails, and the soul is returned to its symbiosis in the Demon Dimension.

Another interpretation is that vanity is the source of the Hylden anatomical features in the armour designs. It could be that when the first Hylden souls used the Soul Machine to return to Nosgoth, they bonded themselves with the only available vessels, which were the vacant Sarafan armour sets scattered around the Bastion. As these initials Hylden Armour Wraiths are able to set up forges and manufacture more armour for further Hylden to inhabit, they may have purposely altered the design to reflect the nuances of their former bodies.

What is the agenda here? And how to the banished Hylden go from these metal parodies of their former flesh, to the fully organic bodies seen in Blood Omen 2? Perhaps these images can help answer this question:

[ The Builder ]
The Builder
[ Organic pit ]
Organic pit
[ The Device ]
The Device
[ Hylden architecture ]
Hylden architecture
[ The Hylden gate ]
The Hylden gate


These images, of the pure-Hylden known as "the Builder", the organic pit, the vacant boxed flesh bodies, and the descending elevator into the Demon Dimension, could begin to explain how the Hylden were able to regain their organic form. If we consider these observations alongside the Hylden machinations throughout the entirety of the Legacy of Kain, we can begin to put together their master plan.

[ The Hylden master plan? ]
The Hylden master plan?


Story Speculation - The Hylden Armour Wraiths in The Dark Prophecy

It seems likely that Kain would have fought through many waves of Hylden Armour Wraiths in The Dark Prophecy, and eventually delivered their foothold into Nosgoth a crippling defeat with his disabling or destruction of the Soul Machine. Given the eventual second Sarafan crusade that begins in Merdian, it would appear that a significant number of wraiths were able to successfully elude Kain and travel to Nosgoth's capital, directly initiating the events of Blood Omen 2.

It seems likely that Kain may have encountered the wraiths elsewhere in Nosgoth, as the evidenced Hylden industrialisation of Malek's Bastion with their own technology, suggests that they have had some time to expand their agenda. It could be that these Wraith parties are searching for relics of the former Hylden empire, or even attempting to ascertain the location of the Hylden King.

The presence of the boss-battle energy bar in some of the screenshots would suggest that the Wraiths would have had a set "health" value, which would be depleted during battle with Kain. This would suggest that they would be mainly defeated through application of brute force (as with adversaries in Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance) rather than through environment-based hazards (as used during combat with the "evolved" vampires in Soul Reaver).


The screenshots used in this article were gathered from the online portfolio of Jason Muck in November 2008, and were among the very first media discovered from the cancelled game. It is these screenshots that revealed the existence of The Dark Prophecy and prompted the search for more material.

Jason is a former Ritual Entertainment staff member, and was employed as an Environment Artist between January 2004 and September 2005. Jason has recently worked on Red Dead Redemption and its expansions, and now works as a Senior Environment Artist at Big Huge Games. His portfolio is available to view online (as of February, 2012), and relevant screenshots are preserved here for historical reference:

[ Jason Muck's Portfolio [1/2] ]
Jason Muck's Portfolio [1/2]
[ Jason Muck's Portfolio [2/2] ]
Jason Muck's Portfolio [2/2]


It is worth noting that over a year ago, Jason's website was redesigned and one of the released images was removed for reasons unknown. This image was however saved before the redesign and is included in the above screenshots.

Elsewhere on the site, Jason provides us with some insight into his role on The Dark Prophecy and its development timeline:

Environment Artist on Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy - PS2, Xbox, PC CANCELLED

Ritual Entertainment - Jan 2004 - April 2004

Responsible for modeling, texture mapping, and lighting in-game environments while following art direction and maximizing target platform memory limitations.


Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy: Xbox, PS2 CANCELLED

These are screen shots from the playstation 2 version of Legacy of Kain : The Dark Prophecy. It was canceled after about 3 months of production work. These are the levels I worked on including modeling, texture mapping, and lighting. On this project I was not responsible for actual texture creation but working from a library provided by our texture artists. I would then model out the level, create props, map textures, and apply the lighting. All lighting was vertex based and applied in Max.


LEGACY OF KAIN THE DARK PROPHECY: Environment Artist, Texture UVs, Lighting, 2004, CANCELLED


The images showing renders of armour were discovered on the website of an artist who has confirmed that they worked on the cancelled game. The artists' portfolio and accreditations in published games confirms that they worked at Ritual Entertainment during The Dark Prophecy's development. The artist has asked for his name to be left out of the article, and this request has been respected.


[ Page Icon ]