The Ancient Lore of The Angel of Darkness
Michael Wilson is from West Bromwich in the UK. By day he works for a digital marketing company and by night he’s a blogger, gamer and lifelong Tomb Raider fan! You can find more of his content at http://anovelchapter.co.uk where he writes about books, movies, games and more.
From secret societies dating back hundreds of years to ancient conspiracies to revive a lost biblical race – the Angel of Darkness draws from a huge amount of history, myths, and legends to create the epic adventure that Lara and us as the players go on.
In this article, we will take a deep dive into some of the lore in this game.
Obscura Paintings / Engravings
The Obscura Paintings are the main objects that Lara is searching for throughout her sixth adventure. They are first mentioned right at the beginning of the game by Von Croy shortly before his demise, as he was commissioned to find them for a mysterious client called Eckhardt.
Later that evening and on the run from the police, Lara acquires Von Croy’s notebook after visiting his contact Carvier’s apartment. From the conversation and the notebook, we learn that the paintings are a set of five images painted in the 15th Century with links to alchemy and the dark arts. The paintings also contain a mysterious metallic symbol hidden beneath the painting’s surface. We also learn from Carvier that Von Croy was interested in the dig site under the Louvre as being a potential location for the fourth painting.
As well as the paintings, there are the Obscura Engravings which are sketches of the paintings which are thought to contain encrypted maps to each painting’s secret location. It is only when Lara breaks into the Louvre and Carvier’s office within the art gallery in particular that we learn more about the paintings.
They were painted onto thick wooden bases, like Russian icons. They were believed to have originally been created by the Black Alchemist, Pieter Van Eckhardt, in the 13-1400s as pieces of diabloical art, in which he hid five metallic pieces, that when combined, are believed to form the mysterious Sanglyph or Blood Sign. However, the paintings were later seized by the Lux Veritatis and painted over with religious imagery.
The Cabal & The Lux Veritatis
The Cabal and The Lux Veritatis are two secret societies that have been fighting against each other for many centuries and both have interests in the paintings for differing reasons.
The Lux Veritatis or “Light of Truth” was a 12th Century order of warrior monks who were an offshoot of the Knights Templar. It was their aim to suppress evil, in particular works of sorcery and alchemy, and were responsible for defeating Eckhardt in the 1400’s. They also hid the Obscura Paintings, with the hope of protecting the world from the dark arts contained within by making them lost to history. However, the man they instructed to conceal the paintings, Brother Obscura, double-crossed them and created the five copies known as the Obscura Engravings – each of which contained a map to the paintings’ location.
The Cabal was a powerful alliance of 5 alchemists and sorcerers in the 1300s and 1400s. They were led by Pieter Van Eckhardt who was said to have betrayed and murdered nearly all of them in order to keep their secrets. It is said that after Eckhardt was imprisoned beneath Castle Kriegler, a Lux Veritatis stronghold in Germany, the remnant Cabal and Lux Veritatis continued to fight their brutal war.
During the game we learn that both societies still exist, with Kurtis Trent being the present-day initiate of the Lux Veritatis as his father had been before him.
The immortal Black Alchemist, Eckhardt, was imprisoned beneath the Kriegler Castle for 500 years in a state of living death
The Cabal was active in the Second World War, and after Eckhardt’s escape, continued to operate using the modern Mafia in Paris and Prague as a front for their nefarious schemes. Later, as the adventure moves to Prague, we learn The Cabal controls everything there, and has continued to pursue their sole goal of trying to make themselves immortal. Recent experiments to achieve this have included creating the Proto-Nephilim, with the intention of recreating the Nephilim in a laboratory, which went awry.
We also learn that the final Obscura painting is hidden in an ancient Lux Veritatis stronghold known as the Vault of Trophies, on top of which the Cabal has built their stronghold in Prague. Over time the Cabal tried desperately to get into the vault to retrieve the painting, without success.
The Periapt Shards
The Periapt Shards or “weapons of light” are artefacts of great power, crystalline shards shaped into spearheads that were discovered by the Lux Veritatis in ages past. However, there are no historical records for how they worked. As Lara infiltrates the Strahov fortress and explores deeper into the Bio Research Facility, she bumps into and forms an alliance with Kurtis Trent, who reveals that by stabbing Eckhardt with all three shards there is a chance of destroying the immortal alchemist for good.
Lara wields the Periapt Shards against Eckhardt in their final confrontation
Nephilim / Cubiculum Nephili
The Nephilim are a Biblical race, written about in the Enochian gospels. They were the cursed offspring of humans and angels that were believed to be exterminated in Biblical times, according to Von Croy’s notes. However, there is a prophecy that “through the Golden Lion, the Nephilim will enslave the sons of man and inherit the Earth”.
As Lara progresses deeper into her adventure we learn that there is a single intact specimen of the Nephilim race remaining. The specimen is known as the Cubiculum Nephili, which literally means “sleeping cask” or “chamber”, and is also referred to as “the Sleeper”. This remaining specimen is said to be buried in Anatolia, Turkey.
During a meeting of the Cabal members, before Lara breaks into the Louvre, we learn from Eckhardt that there was a failed attempt to awaken The Sleeper before. In Von Croy’s apartment, Lara reads through his notes and we learn that the Nephilim thrived in Biblical times before disappearing and that they were thought to be able to change their physical appearance.
The Sanglyph or Blood Sign is a mysterious artefact of great alchemic power, linked to the Black Alchemist as far back as the 1400’s. Details are scarce, but during the adventure, we learn Eckhardt created the artefact as part of his pact with the Nephilim. He used it to harvest vital metal essences from his human victims in order to use them to help revive the failing fallen race. When under siege by the Lux Veritatis, he split the artefact into five parts and concealed them within five pieces of dark art, which would later be acquired and painted over by the Lux Veritatis, and become the Obscura Paintings. Only when all five parts are united can the full artefact be formed and be used to reawaken the Sleeper.
Eckhardt’s hellish tool – The Sanglyph
That was just an overview of some of the expansive lore within the game. If you would like to find out more then I would recommend checking out the website of Murti Schofield, lead writer of the game’s story (https://murtischofield.com/). His website is a gold mine of information during the game’s development – from character bios and dialogue to story outlines and gameplay details.
As this is part of Raidercast’s 20th Anniversary series of articles on The Angel of Darkness I also would just like to end mine on a massive thank you to the team at Core Design who created this series which has been a massive part of my life.
One of my earliest childhood memories is playing the first game on the PS1 with my sister (and running away terrified every 30 seconds – I was only 3 years old at the time!) and I can still remember getting The Angel of Darkness during the six week holidays when it was released in 2003.
I have always loved the game’s rich story, especially the Dan Brown, historical conspiracy-theory vibe the game has. The game is also important from a what-if perspective as this game can be seen as a pivotal moment and turning point in the series’s history and personally, I would have loved to have seen the conclusion of this story and the intended trilogy in full.
Find more of Mike’s writing at http://anovelchapter.co.uk