Blood Omen-style "hallway lined with chained corpses".">
This area appears to be a long corridor of large grey bricks. A number of the bricks are dislodged and the floor appears to be covered in fallen ceiling tiles. On both sides of the corridor are equidistant pillars made up of abstract symmetrical shapes, with a very similar architectural style to the pillars seen in the Inner Bastion area.
Manacled onto each of the pillars are bloodied corpses dressed in rags. The corpses appear to be slightly rotted, have shaven or bald heads and possess cloven feet. There is at least one corpse manacled separately from the others, directly onto the brick wall. On the floor at the feet of the corpses, there are disorganised piles of skulls.
At the end of the corridor it appears to make a sharp turn left.
The cloven feet of these corpses indicate that they are likely the bodies of vampires, ones who were unfortunate enough to be captured by Malek and his Sarafan wraiths. It appears that some parts of the Bastion may have served as a prison for these captured vampires and other undead creatures, and this would be supported by the presence of barred windows in a number of screenshots and concept pieces.
There would be some benefit to the Sarafan Order in hosting these prisoners. Firstly, they can be tortured and interrogated in a controlled environment, perhaps to ascertain the whereabouts of other vampire groups. Secondly, given that they are all wearing slave rags, the Sarafan may have forced them into servitude during their time in the Bastion, employing their supernatural strength to perhaps operate heavy machinery and other forced labour. Imprisoning the vampires before their execution also gives the Sarafan the opportunity to humiliate their hated enemy, consider that all the corpses are wearing rags and bald - perhaps part of this humiliation was for them to be clipped of their hair and stripped of their clothing.
This corridor could have served as a hall of execution, in which the vampires were manacled to the walls to undergo an agonising blood thirst and eventual death. The design of the area also facilitates a psychological torment, for any vampire prisoners escorted through the corridor will see their comrades in advanced stages of blood thirst, a vision of the horrible fate that awaits them. This vision could tempt the new captives to cooperate with the Sarafan inquisitors for the promise of a quick death. The large pile of skulls would suggest that regardless of whether the vampires cooperated, they would usually end up suspended here to die anyway.
In Blood Omen, we learn in Kain's dialogue that agony and torment can actually be used as resources in the construction of dark artefacts (such as the Wraith Armour). A possible theory is that this corridor (and numerous others not shown in the screenshot), channelled the agonies of the vampires undergoing a slow death by blood thirst, into an area of the Bastion that was constructing weapons for the Sarafan order, and this malleable and directed pain and torment was an intentional part of the assembly process.
We must ask why the Sarafan wraiths were collecting vampire skulls, as some effort has been made to pile them up. Perhaps they were considered trophies, and used in the construction of armour and buildings? Another theory could be this: Consider that Defiance reveals that a number of the Circle of Nine were part of the Avernus Hash'ak'gik cult, which we know engaged in ritual sacrifice. The cult also created a secret altar to their God (as seen in Blood Omen), which was a chamber formed of thousands of skulls and bones. Malek in his mad wraith form could have been part of this cult, and may have offered the vampiric skulls as tribute, as construction materials for the hidden chamber of bones.
The corpses have likely been here for years, probably the last to be executed in the Bastion. As Moebius' mob of Vampire Hunters has commenced a mass genocide of the vampire race over the last few decades, there would have been very few vampires in recent times for the Sarafan wraiths to hunt down and bring to their Bastion. With the recent death of Malek at the hands of Vorador, the capture and torture of any vampires would have come to a complete end.
So, what is this corridor's function in the Bastion, during Hylden occupation? The area is not preserved to the same degree as the Inner Bastion, with misshaped bricks and broken ceiling tiles visible on the floor. It seems likely that the corridor (and the subsequent chambers it leads to) is of no use to the Hylden, and the area is therefore abandoned. The lack of torches lighting the passage would also support this. There may still be perils here though, as the screenshots show us that Kain's blood meter has been somewhat depleted. Perhaps spirits of tortured vampires, or undead creatures formed from the bones and skulls, oppose Kain as he traverses the Skull Corridor?
It seems likely that Kain would have entered this area from Inner Bastion (due to the shared architectural style), and found something here, possibly an upgrade or artefact needed to advance to further areas. It seems that he may have then returned to the Inner Bastion hub.
Comments From Ben Lincoln
Although I think that vampire prisoners could make sense in the context of what we know about The Dark Prophecy, I am going to err on the side of skepticism here and suggest that what appear to be cloven hooves may simply be the closest that the 3D technology of the time could get to showing the division between toes.
Here are a few screenshots from Defiance of what seems to be the same basic male-prisoner-in-leather-kilt model (except that he has hair in Defiance), as well as a female prisoner. Both of them have feet that appear monstrous on close inspection, due to the relatively low polygon count compared to modern games. When viewed from a similar angle to that of the Dark Prophecy screenshots, the male prisoner's feet seem to be identical.
I'm not saying that the prisoners in the Dark Prophecy screenshots are or aren't vampires, just that without more evidence, it seems best to me to keep an open mind.
The images 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:
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, CANCsELLED
Please note that the name used in this essay for the presented locale, "Skull Corridor" has been chosen as a best-guess based on the content of the screenshots. Whatever official name this area may have had if any, is completely unknown.