The Abyss featured in Soul Reaver. Located in the Lake of the Dead, it was a large whirlpool, surrounded by cliffs and fed by waterfalls. Two flat-topped rock platforms overhung it, and the violently-swirling water appeared to eminate a green glow.
The Abyss was the execution ground for "traitors and weaklings" in Kain's empire. The water burned the vampires as if it was acid, so the death caused by this place was slow and torturous.[1,2]
When Raziel presented his newly-grown wings to Kain and the Council at the beginning of Soul Reaver, he had surpassed Kain's own vampiric evolution. That was unheard of: Kain had always evolved before his descendants. Kain tore the wings from Raziel's back, and for his trangression, Raziel was carried to the Abyss by Turel and Dumah. They threw him in on Kain's orders. Rahab, Zephon and Melchiah were witnesses.[3,4]
As Raziel fell in the depths of the Abyss, "time ceased to exist" for him. It seemed like an eternity of agony, which fostered a "deepening hatred of the hypocrisy that damned [him] to this hell". Raziel, understandably, could not comprehend what he had done to deserve his fate; he had served Kain loyally for a millennium. It appeared that Kain had ordered Raziel's execution because of a jealous whim; Raziel's evolution had challenged Kain's unquestioned superiority.[5,6]
During the descent, his body was ravaged by the water, but Raziel was not utterly obliterated. He became a skeletal, jawless figure with blue skin and muscle. Eventually, he came to rest at the bottom of the Abyss, and it was there Raziel encountered the Elder God for the first time. It claimed responsibility for Raziel's continued existence, saying it had spared him from "total dissolution". Raziel was no longer a vampire, but instead a soul-devouring wraith; a creature of the Spectral Realm that needed to draw matter to itself in order to manifest in the Material Realm.[5,7,8,9,10]
The Elder God initiated Raziel's quest for vengeance against Kain and his former, vampire brethren. Seeing the Sanctuary of the Clans in a derelict state, Raziel realized "centuries had apparently passed" between his execution and resurrection. When Raziel arrived at the Abyss, he noted that "the endlessly swirling vortex" had "remained constant", despite other changes to Nosgoth's landscape. The cliffs gave him his bearings, allowing him to identify the route to his clan territory.[11,12,13]
Kain was not surprised when Raziel returned to seek retribution. When Raziel found Kain waiting for him in the Sanctuary of the Clans, Kain simply said: "The Abyss has been unkind."
Defiance revealed that because of Raziel's "remaking" in the Abyss, he was the one creature in Nosgoth who actually had free will, and was unbound from the Wheel of Fate. This was Kain's terrible gamble, based on his understanding of the Ancient Vampires' prophesies, and the roles he and Raziel were destined to play. Kain had hoped that by executing Raziel, he would have a chance to reclaim his destined role as the Scion of Balance. It was no jealous whim; he had staked everything on Raziel's return. Kain needed Raziel to exert that ability to choose and reshape their "inevitable futures".[15,16,17]
In Blood Omen Vorador said "it would be such a pity to lose [Kain] to the abyss". Vorador couldn't have been referring to 'the Abyss' - as described in this article - as it did not exist as a physical location in that game. Vorador's comment was likely a throwaway metaphor; a fancy way of saying it would be a shame if Kain died. The term 'the abyss' is used as another name for the Spectral Realm or the Underworld in the Soul Reaver Background Story. In fact, most times the term is used, it can be referring to either the whirlpool, or the Spectral Realm/Underworld in general; it depends on how you interpret what Kain and Raziel are saying.[18,19]
The Abyss whirlpool in Soul Reaver appears to be located directly over where the Lost City was in Blood Omen. Amy Hennig (Director and storywriter of Soul Reaver, Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance) has said there is a connection between the two, but at the current time, there is no information as to what that link is.
- [SR1] Raziel: "I, Raziel, was to suffer the fate of traitors and weaklings - to burn forever in the bowels of the Lake of the Dead."
- [SR1] Raziel: "Water scorches like acid, and fledglings are devastated by sunlight's touch."
- [SR1] Raziel: "Some years after the master, our evolution would follow. Until I had the honor of surpassing my lord. For my transgression, I earned a new kind of reward... agony."
- [SR2] Raziel: "And here at last was my brother Turel, who along with Dumah would bear me into the Abyss without questioning Kain's command."
- [SR1] Raziel: "Tumbling, burning with white-hot fire, I plunged into the depths of the Abyss. Unspeakable pain... relentless agony... time ceased to exist... only this torture... and a deepening hatred of the hypocrisy that damned me to this hell. An eternity passed, and my torment receded, bringing me back from the precipice of madness. The descent had destroyed me... and yet I lived."
- [SR2] The Elder God to Raziel: "Kain destroyed you without a flicker of remorse. He tore the soul from your noble corpse, and after you had served him faithfully for a thousand years, he discarded you in the Abyss on a jealous whim."
- [SR1] The Elder God: "You did not survive the Abyss, Raziel. I have only spared you from total dissolution."
- [SR1] The Elder God to Raziel: "You are changed. Your blood-thirst is replaced by a deeper need - you have become a devourer of souls."
- [DEF] The Elder God to Raziel: "You serve me adequately as a wraith, and a wraith you will remain."
- [SR1] The Elder God to Raziel: "These portals are your conduit between the Spectral and Material realms. With their aid, you may gather matter and will yourself to become manifest in the physical world."
- [SR1] The Elder God to Raziel: "Redeem yourself. Or if you prefer, avenge yourself. Settle your dispute with Kain. Destroy him and your brethren. Free their souls and let the Wheel of Fate churn again. Use your hatred to reave their souls... I can make it possible. Become my Soul Reaver, my Angel of Death..."
- [SR1] Raziel: "In the instant between my execution and resurrection, centuries had apparently passed..."
- [SR1] Raziel: "This, at least, had remained constant. The endlessly swirling vortex of the Abyss. My tomb, and the womb of my rebirth.
Though much of Nosgoth's landscape had changed, these cliffs gave me my bearings. My clan territory was to the west - I was anxious to see how my descendants had fared during the centuries of my absence."
- [SR1] Kain to Raziel: "The Abyss has been unkind."
- [DEF] Kain to Raziel: "Because of your remaking, you are the one unbound creature, the one among us all that truly has free will."
- [SR2] Kain to Raziel: "You have the power to reshape our inevitable futures."
- The second Defiance Q&A page at The Lost Worlds
- [BO1] Vorador to Kain: "Good. Take this ring. If you ever need assistance it will summon me. Despite your youthful arrogance, you amuse me, Kain - it would be such a pity to lose you to the abyss. Now be gone!"
- The Background Story, as given in the Soul Reaver Game Manual (UK and US versions)
- Warp's answers from Amy at the Eidos Forums