Villains Month: Moebius the Timestreamer

The video game series Legacy of Kain is known for its moral ambiguity and operatic sense of tragedy, and while there is plenty of darkness and evil to go around, most of the characters don’t fit neatly into the realm of villain, especially since anti-hero Kain is pretty despicable himself a lot of the time. So who among the saga’s mighty cast would fit into my list? The answer is the one character who, regardless of all that transpires around him, manages to be a bigger jerk than all the rest: Moebius the Timestreamer.

Moebius is the Pillar of Time, a mystic imbued with magical power over time itself and dedicated to guarding against those who would do it harm. Along with his brethren, the Circle of Nine, Moebius was dedicated to protecting the world of Nosgoth from all that would upset its magical balance. Unfortunately, a series of tragedies occurred which cursed the Circle and drove them all mad, which led them to use their powers to corrupt and damage the world instead. It could be looked upon as tragic that the vampire Kain was called upon to murder them all to reclaim the world’s balance, and for the most part this is true. Moebius, however, was not afflicted as the others were. Indeed, he knew of what would happen to the others and allowed it to take place in order to further his own plans. For all his magical might, Moebius’s greatest talent is that of manipulation. He is capable of whipping crowds into a murderous frenzy and acting as a subtle adviser for the powerful with equal skill. He plays long games against protagonists Kain and Raziel, ultimately allowing them to sow the seeds of their own destruction.

As Moebius tends to lie constantly and keep his plans secret, pinning down his motivations is not always easy. Still, we know that he has a strong hatred for vampires, and is willing to lay waste to several portions of history itself in order to remove them. Certainly his own people have suffered a great deal at the hands of vampires, but given how little he seems concerned with them, as evidenced by the fact that he could have simply stopped the murder which started the entire chain of events and didn’t, it is hard to believe that his motive is justice. It is possible he fights only for his own survival, but given that Kain seems unaware of who he is on their first meeting, and Moebius could likely have just escaped into time or let Malek the Guardian slay the vampire, this seems unlikely as well. My best guess is that Moebius is simply out for personal power, perhaps even rulership of the world. With power over time itself, such a task would be possible. That said, Moebius is aware, as I imagine anyone who studies time would be, that attempting to influence the future is a dubious prospect at best, and his world is filled with enough powerful and hidden entities that overtly flexing his muscles in this regard could very easily lead to his own destruction. Hence, Moebius carefully pits his enemies against each other, whether they be kings, wizards, vampires, or demons, appearing to be their friends each in turn, while ensuring they fear each other enough to fight until all are dead.

It’s a pretty effective strategy for the most part, and in the first Legacy of Kain game, Moebius manipulates events such that two mighty kingdoms, the world’s most powerful vampire (and indeed the rest of the species), and all but two of the other Pillars are dead as a result. Granted, he is not the root cause of the bloody conflict, but he seizes on it, and uses Kain to orchestrate more deaths than anyone else. His plan would have worked if even bigger games were not being played, and Kain had not been called upon for a higher, darker purpose. In truth, the problem with manipulators like Moebius is that once they’re caught, they have to rely on brute force, a task for which they tend to be poorly equipped, whereas Kain is an extremely deadly killer.

Moebius defies death, however, and returns in the Soul Reaver games to manipulate Raziel against Kain. As such, not only is he one of the most effective villains in the mythos, he is certainly the longest-lasting. It takes a particularly amoral and brazen sort of villain to both wreak havoc across all of history as well as play every side in a cosmic war in the hopes of seeing them all fall, and Moebius plays the part most expertly.