Blood Omen.">
[ Legacy of Kain: The Lost Worlds ]

Soul Machine Core

article by Divine Shadow



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The first piece of artwork shows us an underground area, with a barred doorway positioned on a rocky outcrop. The door has dragon-like shapes on it, and the architecture is nearly identical that seen in the Dragon Statue Reaver Forge. This would appear to be the entrance to the Soul Machine Core complex.

Two pieces of artwork show us what appear to be the upper and lower components of the Soul Machine Core itself. The top (noted by the artist as being the "top unit" and "gear base") is a symmetrical metal device of pipes, cogs and chains, with tubes extending outward on the left and right sides. The lower part of this upper section appears to be surrounded by small rocks or crystals.

The lower component of the core seems to be much larger, and appears to be a drill-like shape mounted between two rocky faces of a giant crevice. This towering structure is suspended in place by six metal struts, each extending from the central device into the cliffs with enough depth to cause visible cracks in the rock. At the top level of this lower component are what appear to be small connecting pipes extending away from the central tower. The tower itself seems get slightly thinner as it extends downwards. There is no scale given for this tower, but there are markings that could be interpreted as walkways and doorways at different heights. Alternatively, these could be simply support girders.

Another piece of concept art seems to detail some of the pipes in this area. It shows us a large thick heavily-corroded horizontal pipe beneath a rocky ceiling. The artist notes that this is a "destroyed vent pipe". Travelling vertically along this pipe are curving thin tubes, which seem to share some design cues with the tunnelling devices seen in The Bridge area. These tubes are labelled by the artist as being "Hylden technology" and are noted as being "very organic".

The next location shown appears to be a small platform suspended above an abyss. The area is a corner-shaped pathway with a strange half-sphere shaped door at one end. Above the door is an emblem previously seen in the Inner Bastion and on one of the platforms in the Hallway Elevator. On the opposite side of the platform is a large statue of a robed figure, with a circular device at his feet. This device seems to be a modified tunnelling device, slightly different to those seen in The Bridge area. Behind the device and robed figure statue is a large wall that seems to curve as it travels into the distance. Horizontal pipes move along the wall at equidistant intervals.

The next area shown is a tall rectangular chamber with a series of steps leading to a wooden doorway. On the lower level is a round raised platform. The design of this platform seems to extend slightly outwards into curved tube shapes, and is again similar to the tunnelling devices seen in The Bridge area.

The final piece of artwork shows us a rocky chamber, with a significant number of cracks on the floor and roof. One corner of this area appears to be a cliff face. There are two wooden doors lit by torches, with their arches following the architectural style of abstract shapes seen in the Inner Bastion area. On the wall between the two doors, two murals of hooded figures are present. The figures tower over Kain and are nearly identical, with the only distinction being that the right figure has wings and the left figure does not.

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Story Speculation

Kain's route through this area seems to be one of ascension. He may have exited the Dragon Statue Reaver Forge and found himself in an enormous cavern. Looking upwards, he might have seen the Soul Machine Core mounted between the rocky walls of a giant crevice, pointing downwards towards some subterranean phenomena that allowed the colossal device to draw dead souls back into the living world.

It is possible that Kain ascended the tower, destroyed the Soul Machine (perhaps by breaking the vent pipes, as seen in the concept art). He may have then fled the collapsing or exploding machinery, entered a teleportation device and materialised in a series of chambers in the Bastion far above. Traversing these chambers, he may have found himself back in the Inner Bastion.

[ A theory regarding progression through this area ]
A theory regarding progression through this area


Deep beneath Malek's Bastion, a series of elevators, caverns, guardians, mines, and a journey through a Reaver Forge, all lead a path of descent to the Soul Machine Core. What is this device? Why is it buried? Who constructed it? What function did it serve for Malek, and what is its value to the Hylden?

Let us consider Kain's visit to Malek's Bastion in Blood Omen. Kain discovered the Bastion to be populated by wraiths, human souls fused to empty suits of armour, metal monstrosities that would attack Kain on sight. Fighting his way through these undead fleshless creatures, the fledgling Kain came upon a number of large devices of metal pipes and glass.

Kain describes them as so:

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, Malek's Bastion.

[ One of the wraith-producing machines in Blood Omen ]
One of the wraith-producing machines in Blood Omen


The devices were generating both the suits of armour and infusing them with souls. Kain proceeded to deactivate all the machines he found, eventually coming across a giant glowing glass orb suspended in a room. With the flick of a nearby switch, Kain smashes the orb.

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, Malek's Bastion.

[ The power source for the wraith-machines after Kain destroys it ]
The power source for the wraith-machines after Kain destroys it


That Malek had such devices in his territory has always been an enigma, and Kain's assumption that the Paladin was "the machines' maker" could easily be flawed. Consider that Malek was a Sarafan sorcerer-priest and Guardian of the Pillar of Conflict. Such roles would suggest he possessed mastery in the fields of combat, tactics and magic. These devices however, are complex feats of engineering and mechanism. The machines' automated resurrection and soul infusion would approach the magical art of necromancy. How did Malek create or obtain these machines?

One possibility would be that other Guardians helped Malek in the machines' construction and function, perhaps the Energy and Death Guardians. This would be unlikely however, as Kain wryly observes during his visit to Dark Eden: "Rarely did a sorcerer condescend to work with others.". So where did these devices come from?

In the essays discussing the various locations in The Dark Prophecy, it has been noted that the Bastion could have been constructed by the Ancients. There are numerous observations that support this: the facility being of far more advanced construction than human structures of the era; the high location being easily accessible to winged beings; the presence of the Winged Being Shrine in the Inner Bastion, the hidden Dragon Statue Reaver Forge buried beneath; et cetera. The suggestion is that the Bastion may have housed the original Ancient Conflict Guardians, and following their downfall the structure fell into the possession of their human successors. Malek therefore did not construct the Bastion, but is simply its latest inheritor.

With this assumed history in mind, we can construct a theory to fill in the gaps.

Miscellaneous theories

The following is an attempt to explain some of the history of the Bastion, the Soul Machine and the reasoning for the current Hylden occupation. It also speculates as to why the builders of the Soul Machine would construct the device in such a specific and awkward location.

The theory includes significant speculation that has been reasoned in other essays, and attempts to expand on other story mysteries such as the origin of the Ancient golems (seen in Defiance) and the presence of the Elder God. There is substantial guesswork here, and the piece is best treated as a highly-speculative (but informed) attempt to fill the gaps in the story and resolve unanswered questions.

  1. The Ancients and the Hylden lived in peace in the land of Nosgoth. The Ancients lived as a race of spiritual pacifists in the north, and the Hylden lived as progressive scientists in the south.
  2. The Ancients sense a crack in the fabric of reality, buried deep beneath the mountains of Nosgoth. They use their advanced magic and engineering knowledge to dig deep underground, and discover the crack is a planar portal into the Spectral Realm, a domain parallel to Nosgoth in which long dead souls rest peacefully.
  3. The Ancients conjure a massive antenna-like structure called the Soul Machine, and mount it in the walls of the crevice above the planar portal. Using this device, they are able to temporarily pluck the souls of loved ones back into Nosgoth, to communicate and learn from. Their use of the Soul Machine widens the planar portal considerably.
  4. The Ancients' use of the Soul Machine and the widening of the planar portal begins to have an adverse effect on the spectral realm, mutating some of the souls within into bestial creatures. These mutated souls become Sluagh, the scavengers of the underworld, and start cannibalising the other souls around them.
  5. The increased activity in the peaceful spectral realm draws the attention of one of its few natives, a tentacled mass that fed on the occasional soul that fell into its domain. The creature is only self-aware to a limited degree, and is attracted to the spiritual noise it can sense through the planar portal.
  6. The tentacled creature approaches the planar portal and observes the Soul Machine through it, and the living material realm of Nosgoth beyond. Sensing the rich souls present beyond the aperture, it forces part of itself through the planar portal and into the living world, existing in a parallel state in the two domains. The creature is entirely unseen by the Ancients and other denizens of Nosgoth.
  7. The Ancients eventually abandon the Soul Machine having detected the damage it was causing to the boundaries between the spectral and material realms.
  8. The tentacled creature, now existing in two parallel realms via the large planar portal, begins to learn from the living world of Nosgoth. It attains consciousness, and realising that it can see through time, a degree of omniscience. It begins to understand the concept of divinity and sees itself as a God. It grows beneath the planet, consuming more and more souls to feed its expansion. Over centuries of growth, it is the unseen dominant life form on the planet. It assumes the title of the Elder God.
  9. Through considerable scientific experimentation, the Hylden achieve biological immortality. Plans are made to offer this advancement to their friends and allies, the Ancients.
  10. The Elder God realises that the Hylden are not dying anymore, and their rich and strong souls are no longer coming to it for consumption. It senses that the Hylden may pass this advancement to the Ancients, and therefore deprive the Elder entirely of the souls of the higher races. For the first time in history, the Elder God communicates with the Ancients of Nosgoth, establishing itself as their deity and explaining their role in its fabricated "Wheel of Fate". It subtly guides the Ancients into rejecting the Hylden immortality.
  11. The Elder God is dissatisfied that the Hylden are still safe from its consumption, and begins to guide the Ancients into seeing the Hylden as heretics who will not submit themselves to God. Tensions rise between the two peoples.
  12. The Ancients are told by their God that war is inevitable, and realise the need for military resources. They decide to use the long-abandoned Soul Machine to infuse souls into stone golems, to serve as warriors. Using their considerable magical capability, the Ancients summon an enormous stone plinth above the Soul Machine, and construct a Bastion on its summit.
  13. The Ancients present the Hylden with an ultimatum: submit to the wheel of fate, or be forced to. The Hylden are defiant, and the Ancients launch their first attack. A wave of soul-infused stone golems led by Ancient generals assault Hylden territory. The Great Ancient and Hylden War begins.
  14. The Elder God gorges itself on the rich Ancient and Hylden souls dying in battle. It prolongs the war for as long as possible, continuing to consume and grow.
  15. Decades into the war, the Elder God discovers the Hylden have begun construction of the Device, a subterranean doomsday weapon that will eradicate the Ancients entirely. The Elder realises that this would deprive him of his pawns, and orders the Ancients to construct a doomsday weapon of their own. The Ancients begin to author a colossal spell that will summon the Pillars of Nosgoth into existence.
  16. The war comes to an end. The Pillars are summoned and the Hylden are exiled. In their final moments, the Hylden launch their biological weapon into Ancient territory, and infect their enemies with vampirism. Ancient society collapses as they are cut off from their valued mortality.
  17. With the Ancients no longer dying, and Nosgoth's human population massively reduced as collateral damage during the war, the Elder God begins to starve. It ceases communication with the Ancients, and is greatly reduced in power and influence. It conserves its energy and tries to work out how to increase the souls in Nosgoth.
  18. After a period of considerable upheaval, the surviving Ancients come to accept their vampiric existence. They live as isolationists, praying to an unresponsive God for deliverance, and begin to feed on the human population of Nosgoth. The Ancient Pillar Guardians try to manage the situation as best they can.
  19. The humans begin to increase in number, develop understanding of magic and advance towards a post-medieval culture. For the first time, they begin to resist when the Ancients come to feed.
  20. Eventually, the Ancient Pillar Guardians are killed in different circumstances. The Ancients discover with horror that the Pillars are now choosing human Guardians from birth. The Ancient known as Janos Audron performs a desperate experiment, sharing his infected blood with a human, producing a hybrid creature. This creature, the first human-form Vampire, adopts the name Vorador. With the understanding that a human can be "turned", the Ancients abduct the infant human Pillar Guardians and raise them to adulthood. At the age of thirty years old, they infect the humans with vampirism, creating Human-Vampire Guardians to continue the precious Ancient bloodline.
  21. This process continues for a number of generations, while the humans reproduce and spread across Nosgoth in significant numbers. With many more people living and dying once again, the Elder God is able to fend off starvation and recover some of its strength. It decides that its hunger is best sated by the large, easily manipulated and very mortal, human population.
  22. Following the death of the Vampire Time Guardian, Moebius is born and is abducted as an infant by the Ancients. The Elder God begins to communicate with Moebius throughout his adolescence, and directs him to plot the downfall of the Ancients. Shortly before the Ancients intended to infect him with vampirism, Moebius and his human Death Guardian ally Mortanius, mount a rebellion and join the humans of Nosgoth. They lead armies to massacre the Ancients and the Vampire Guardians, leaving the Ancients near extinction and the Pillars solely under human guardianship. The era of human domination of Nosgoth begins, and the earliest Sarafan chapters come into existence.
  23. The humans ascend to the Ancients' Bastion and kill the vampire Conflict Guardian. The Bastion is inherited by the human Conflict Guardian successor, and is eventually passed down through generations of guardians to become the Conflict Guardian inherited residence.
  24. The Elder God continues to communicate with Moebius, encouraging the spread and advancement of humanity. Unbeknownst to Moebius, his master is doing this to perpetuate the species as a large and clandestinely-domesticated food source. With so many humans being born, living, and dying, the Elder God is able to feed off the plentiful souls and completely recover from its centuries of near-starvation.
  25. Malek is born, and inherits the Bastion as the new human Conflict Guardian.
  26. The events of Soul Reaver 2 occur. The Sarafan storm the aerie of Janos Audron, and kill the last of the Ancients. An enraged Vorador retaliates by invading the Sarafan stronghold and slaughters six members of the Circle of Nine.
  27. Malek is judged as having failed in his duties to protect the Circle. A wrathful Mortanius suspends Malek in chains in the deepest dungeon of Avernus Cathedral, and tears his soul from his body. Malek's essence is infused into his own battle armour, creating an undead metal wraith creature. Humiliated and stripped of his humanity, Malek returns with his own skeleton to the Bastion, and dresses the remains in rags of his old human clothing as a reminder of his lost humanity. The bodies of the Sarafan inquisitors, executed by a strange blue creature not entirely understood by the surviving Circle members, are treated as honoured dead and laid in a grand Sarafan Tomb. The ambiguity of Malek's undead status prompts the architects of the tomb to treat him as a member of the fallen dead, resulting in an empty grave alongside the corpses. Malek later visits the tomb and defaces his own grave, an act of self-loathing that leaves two horizontal scratch marks across the mural of his own name.
  28. For decades, Malek manages the survivors of the Sarafan order from the Bastion and vampire purges continue. As Nosgoth's vampire populace becomes an endangered species, the Sarafan movement begins to fade into history. Malek adapts to his new wraith senses and slowly begins to detect that something otherworldly exists beneath the Bastion. Leading a team of Sarafan to search the abandoned recesses of the fortress, he discovers an elevator that descends deep underground. The party progress through various areas, discovering the Soul Machine Mine, the Dragon Statue Reaver Forge, and finally reach the Soul Machine Core. Malek begins to understand that as an undead creature, he was sensing the large subterranean planar portal the inactive Soul Machine is directed into.
  29. Malek experiments with the machine, and reactivates it. He substitutes the stone used in Ancient golem construction with metal, and attunes the device to retrieve souls of long-dead Sarafan warriors. He orders the construction of a network of bulky pipes, to carry the energies of the Soul Machine up through the mountain and into the Bastion directly. He then employs lesser sorcerers and engineers to create numerous devices of glass and metal, which with their connection to the Soul Machine Core are able to create Sarafan Armour Wraiths in the Bastion.
  30. The events of Blood Omen occur. Malek is rendered insane due to the corruption of the Pillars of Nosgoth, and is eventually summoned to Dark Eden by Anarcrothe, where he is destroyed by Vorador.
  31. The events of Defiance occur. With the Pillars significantly weakened, some of the Hylden are able to project their souls back into Nosgoth.
  32. Using possessed corpses and other unstable hosts, the Hylden eventually gain access to the Soul Machine Core, and use their advanced scientific knowledge to redirect the tower pointing at the planar portal. Instead of summoning souls from the spectral realm, the Soul Machine is attuned to the Demon Dimension instead, and is used to retrieve individual trapped Hylden souls within. The first of these are bonded to the empty suits of Sarafan armour that are discarded around the Bastion. Eventually, an army of Hylden Armour Wraiths is produced, establishing their first stable Hylden foothold in Nosgoth since their exile.
  33. The Hylden Armour Wraiths begin to construct Hylden technology using the minerals retrieved in the Soul Machine Mine, and fill the Bastion with organic cables (over the Bastion's obsolete and heavily corroded vent pipes), teleportation technology and other devices for an unknown purpose.
  34. The events of The Dark Prophecy occur. Kain assaults Malek's Bastion and destroys the Soul Machine Core by damaging its vent pipes.

Speculative Map

[ Speculative arrangement of this area in relation to others ]
Speculative arrangement of this area in relation to others
[ Speculative progression through the game world ]
Speculative progression through the game world



These images were originally found in the DeviantArt account of Andez Gaston, and was later published on his official blog. Screenshots are preserved here for historical reference.

[ A page from Andez Gaston's blog [1/2] ]
A page from Andez Gaston's blog [1/2]
[ A page from Andez Gaston's blog [2/2] ]
A page from Andez Gaston's blog [2/2]


Andez and his brother Anderson were freelance conceptual artists hired by Ritual Entertainment in 2004 to work on The Dark Prophecy. Andez confirms his work on the game on their joint portfolio blog site, on his individual portfolio, and in image annotations in his DeviantArt account:

Legacy of Kain : Dark prophecy (cancelled game of 04)

while scoping YouTube I manage to run into a video of a project quite familiar and it brought back memories when we were still brother and I had just been hired at a video game company at the time which was still known as ritual entertainment to work on a game that many people knew very well. though nothing came to fruition that project was to be legacy of Kain: Dark Prophecy for the PS2. for those of you interested in seeing some of the character/creature designs click on the link below


Ritual Enertainment-Legacy of Kain: the dark prophecy(cancelled Game)concept artists (ag/dez) 2003-04


Legacy of Kain : Dark Prophecy concept art

concept art done during our time at the company once known as ritual entertainment. for what was supposed to be the final chapter in the Kain series. the game was later cancelled for reasons unknown if given the chance i would work on this again in a heartbeat.-

Legacy of Kain :Dark Prophecy game art(cancelled) the non interesting stuff about game development art. If you're planning to work in games be prepared to do a lot of breakaway concept art and props.

The name "Soul Machine Core" has been used as both the image filenames and artists notes confirm it to have been the designation for this area during development. The artwork and renders were originally published under the filenames kain-gatetomachine, kain-malekmachine, kain-soulmacinegearcomplete_unit, kain-soulmacineupperarea_unit7, kain-soulmacinebrockenventpipes_, kain-soulmachineryareacore and kain-soulmacineexitarea_unit12.


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