Chapter 24: Truth
Inspector Weller was aware she wouldn’t be welcomed again in that impressive manor, but that came with the job. If she’d ever cared, that was long ago. So, she ignored the cold look and icy silence of that woman, Lara Croft, when she had no choice but to let her come in again. The reaction of her mother, the old lady, was much more eloquent: she kept her distance, her gaze low, wringing her hands. All that reeked of weirdness. But the look that surprised her the most was that of the girl.She demanded to see her, of course, but nothing else seemed to have happened with her. She simply looked around and saw her sitting at the dining room table, surrounded by some books and notebooks. There was a girl of the same age next to her, a pretty blonde dressed as a schoolgirl, looking sweet and harmless. The inspector already knew that she was Lord and Lady Kipling's daughter, named Catherine, and that she was her best friend. She also knew that the girl had been visiting Anna frequently lately, and that, apart from the comfort and support that was logical in the difficult circumstances that the almost teenage girl was already going through, she was helping her recover the lost time and obvious curricular delay she had experienced in school.And she seemed to be recovering well, both physically and emotionally, although concerning the latter, of course, the inspector wasn’t the right professional to judge. At one point, Anna Croft looked up and suddenly stared at her, as if she’d noticed her presence, even though the inspector had approached without making a minimum noise. The face marks had completely disappeared, and the girl seemed to have recovered the lost tooth without major consequences. Noticing her silence, Catherine Kipling looked up and jumped, frightened, when realizing the inspector’s presence. She smiled and made a reassuring gesture, but the Croft young lady stabbed her with her eyes.She wasn’t welcome. Nihil novum sub sole.Suddenly, the apparent maturity with which she’d been shielding for a while faded and seemed helpless again, childish. “Oh, Dad...”“What?”“I've fucked it up a lot, a lot.”“Can’t be that bad.”“If I tell you something, will you be angry?”“Test me.”Anna sat down again and began to twist the sheet. “The police have been here, and I told them a huge and ugly lie.”Kurtis raised his eyebrows again. “Go on.”“They wanted to know... things. What happened that night.”“So, what did you tell them?” Obviously, truth wasn’t an option in those circumstances.Anna sighed. “Something awful. That you were going to kill yourself...”“...”“... and I tried to stop you, so I grabbed you, then you hit me to let go. Then you jumped.”For a moment, the silence thickened between them. Anna looked at her hands, twisting them, fingers wrinkling the sheet. Finally, she dared to face his father's gaze.But he was not angry. Oh no, he wasn't. “Kiddo...”, he said, smiling, “... that was fucking brilliant.”It stroked to the eye that the wounded man had got better, and how! The last time Weller seen him; he was still comatose at the hospital. Even to her, used to dantesque scenes, the machine’s beep reflecting his vital signs was driving her out of her mind. His own breath, wheezing and strangled by the crushed ribs, was driving her out of her mind as well. And if she took account of what the man must have ached for, had he been conscious, she was sure it would be faster if she started where he didn't ache.But none of that manifested when she finally accessed the room where he was convalescing. He must have been waiting for her, because he looked back calmly. “Mr. Trent.” She introduced herself. “I'm Inspector Weller. There’s no doubt that you’ve already been told about me, particularly by your daughter.”He made a slight nod, without courtesy or rudeness, and made no sound. The inspector kept the distance, sitting in a chair placed near the fireplace. The man still looked slightly emaciated, although not much more could be guessed under the heavy blankets that covered him, except for the medication dropper on the healthy arm. Probably pain medication. “I know you're still convalescent, so I'll try not to exhaust you.” She continued, and resumed her ritual of leafing through her folder, although in reality it was little more than a tic. She didn't need it. “I'd like to settle the investigation about what happened that night here in the library - and let me clarify that your daughter's statements have been, how to say, disturbing.”If Weller expected any reaction on the wounded’s part, she resented it. He stared at her with an expressionlessness that would defy any polygraph. This one’s going to be tough, she thought. One not easy to question, since none of his emotions was translucent to his face. Moreover, the inspector had done her homework and was well informed: she already knew, and not through precisely official channels, that even torture hadn’t broken that man in the past.Luckily, she wasn't a torturer.“Mr. Trent,” Weller cleared her throat, “your daughter stated that the night in question, you attempted suicide by throwing yourself through the library window. Is this true?”“Yes.” He replied, without blinking.“Oh, what the heck?” Anna put her hands to her cheeks, troubled. “It’s disgusting. Dad, I feel terrible, I...”Kurtis silenced her by raising his hand with a calm gesture. “On the contrary, there was little else you could say. In fact, it was the only thing you could say. Nothing else makes sense in that context and with the evidence they will find. Nothing but the truth... and the truth is impossible here, Anna.”She sighed again and lowered her head. A lock of golden-brown hair, her mother's hair, hung in front of her face. “You'll be in trouble. Because of me.”“Let me handle the police. Not my first time anyway.”“You have a plan?”“No plan’s needed for this, Anna.”“What are you going to do?”“Tell the truth, of course.”Anna blinked, surprised. “But, Dad, you just said...”He waved his hand again, gently. The dropper hooked on him reduced a lot his mobility. “They now have a truth, which you told them. That’s the truth I’ll follow.”“Dad, they can accuse you of... of...”“I know.”Inspector Weller raised her eyebrows. To her liking, the questioner had admitted the truth too quickly - and without being upset in the least. “Is it true, then, that when your daughter tried to stop you, and she grabbed you, you hit her?”“Yes.” He admitted again. And then he added. “It was necessary. I had to let go.”Weller took off her reading glasses and looked up. The man was still unperturbed. “And then, you just jumped out the window.”“Yes.”“You’re the father of the year.”“I made a serious mistake.”“Why did you want to kill yourself?” Inspector Weller was like a hunting hound. Once she had caught the prey, she had trouble releasing it. What's more, she loved to keep clenching her teeth around its neck.But that one prey had a very long patience. “I had a bad year.” And then the man smiled.He’s good looking, the inspector acknowledged. He had a special charm, there was no doubt about it. Even under blankets, the body only visible by the muscular torso and arms was what was usually considered desirable by current standards. And his voice was what would be called seductive. But the most disconcerting of all was that none of it seemed done on purpose. The man could not act more naturally.To Inspector Weller these types of men seemed immensely dangerous. Usually they tended to underestimate her, assuming that any woman would surrender to such a splendid carcass. She was good at putting them in their place.But that man didn’t appear to be of that type, although his carcass - if we continue with the simile – was so. He baffled her. Immensely.And she hated to be baffled. “So it seems.” Weller said, returning to action, and leafed through more papers. “Let me express my deepest condolences for the recent passing of your mother, as I’ve been informed. You were also present during the attack at the party that followed Professor Selma Al-Jazeera’s doctoral thesis’ presentation, from the University of Istanbul, is that correct?” The man nodded calmly. “And before that, oh!” She kept leafing through more sheets. “The reports I have tell me about your presence in the most recent conflict of Tamils and Hindus in Sri Lanka, am I wrong?” He calmly denied. Silent hound, this one, she thought. That man wasted no words. “A bad year without a doubt.” She admitted. “However, no matter how bad the circumstances have recently appeared for your family, trying to throw yourself against a closed window, at a low height for dying, seems a bit extreme to me.”Silence. The man kept looking at her with a neutral expression. For a brief moment, the inspector wanted to get up and punch him. Then she dismissed the thought. “Do you know what I have here?” And raised a thin folder. Kurtis immediately recognized the symbol of the Legion. It was impossible to forget. “Your file of the years you served in the Legion. I must admit I’m impressed... at least for the part I was able to read.” Weller opened the folder and showed him the sheets. Many lines were crossed in thick black. “Classified.” The inspector added. “Notice, I’ve not been allowed to access many details about you. Delicate information, they say. State secrets, they say. Classified. Secret. Censored.” She slammed the folder. “Who or what are you, Kurtis Trent?”The wounded man hadn’t flinched in the least, but now a funny spark shone in his eyes. The inspector realized he was making fun of her. If I get up and kick his plastered legs, will it be considered torture? “Mr. Trent, answer me. Seems you’ve had a very complicated life. I'm sure you don't want to complicate it even more.”“You couldn’t complicate my life even if you tried hard.” Again, the man's teeth peeked between his lips. “I simply don’t see what my Legion file has to do with the reason that brought you here.”You want to play foul, huh, you bastard? Let's play. “Just fascinated by censored files.” She quietly put away the folder. “According to this report, you entered the service of the Foreign Legion at age 19. 19! An atrocity. Little more than a teen. But I’ve seen many teens commit horrible crimes. What's yours?”“Not all legionaries enter into service because of a crime.”“19 years old, and you had anything better to do than endure a training worldwide known as brutal to be served as a bait in third-party wars. What kind of boy in the prime of life would want such punishment? What was you running from, Mr. Trent?”“Myself.” The smile had vanished. The inspector blinked, puzzled.“Sometimes, truth’s the only way to win... certain battles.”“Dad, you can't tell the truth to that woman. She will put you in prison.”But Anna didn't know the truth. At least, not all of it. Not the worst part. For his daughter, he was a Lux Veritatis. He’d been, rather. The Demon Hunter. A legionnaire, too. But the darkness was still at bay. The things he had done… as a mercenary, as a double agent, as a hitman… no, Anna didn't know them.And she would never know them, much less from him. There were things he hadn't even told Lara, not out of fear or shame. Lara could be trust, she wouldn’t tremble at the truth. Simply, Kurtis didn't want to talk about it. “Truth will be told, Anna. At least, fragments of it. The parts that inspector needs to hear. The rest won’t matter, kiddo. She won’t be able to prove anything.”“Yourself?” Weller took off her glasses of black paste and rubbed her eyes, tired, trying not to run her makeup as well. “Don’t talk in riddles. What do you mean? What's more, doesn't that bring us back to the key question? Who or what are you?”“Classified.”She pierced him with her eyes, and for a moment, fury rose to her face. But he still didn't smile. “How do you dare…”“What do you want to find out, inspector? What does this have to do with what happened in the library?”“I want to prove that you’re a war criminal. A dangerous man who punched his fourteen-year-old daughter...”“... like any uncontrolled drunk, and worse than that, unfortunately.”“... and shoved his wife against a wall.”For a moment, the man fell silent. From the expression that this time, yes, finally, rose to his face, the inspector knew that she’d hit a nerve. “She’s not my wife.” He mumbled, turning pale suddenly. “And I didn’t shove her against a wall. I pushed her, she lost her balance and fell.”“How long have you been brutalizing your family?”“I didn’t.”“No? What legionaries do on the battlefield? Serve cakes?”“Serve the country. The citizens.” The man breathed slowly. “Risk our lives, expose our bodies to shrapnel and blade, so that others don’t have to fight, so that others don’t have to die.”“Noble as it sounds. Maybe you wanted to become a war hero. Why don't I see any decorations in your file? It’s not even clear why you left the Legion before the required service was completed.”“Classified.”The inspector rose as if driven by a spring and advanced on him. Her nerves got the best of her - but, before she reached his bedside, he stopped her. “Ask Colonel Matthew Kendrick. He served with me in the Legion.”“How?” She blinked, confused. “What?”“Colonel Matthew Kendrick.” He repeated calmly. His blue eyes were still bright, slightly funny. “We’re old friends. He was promoted, unlike me.”She watched him with some mistrust, then returned to her papers and wrote down the name. “Will he tell me what I want to know?”"Whatever he can, inspector." Kurtis smiled again. “Oh, and it may also help to talk to Marty Cruise.”“Who’s Marty Cruise?”“New York forensic police. I collaborated with her the years immediately after I left the Legion. I’d also give you the references of Professor Francis, but unfortunately he no longer lives.”“Will all these people speak in your defense? How convenient.”“I don't have many alive friends left.” Keller would’ve sworn she noticed a melancholic tone in his words, but then he smiled again. “And enemies, none.”She took a deep breath and let the air out slowly. “You’re a bastard.”“And you, who breaks into my room while being hurt, who comes to disturb my convalescence with questions from the past that have nothing to do with what happened almost a month ago, who rummages through personal files to come to insult me and insinuate horrors, what are you?.” Suddenly, the man closed his eyes. He seemed dizzy. “I’m not an abuser. I made a terrible mistake, which won’t happen again. Ask what you want, to whoever you want. You won’t get much. Neither can I say it, nor will those you gonna ask. There are people above you and myself who classified what’s left of me in those files.”A sweat film had formed on his skin. While the inspector quickly picked up her purse and folders with the papers, she heard his breathing getting heavier, choppier. As she approached again, seeing his eyes closed and very pale, she dared to put two fingers on his shoulder. He jumped. He was burning, but the sweat that covered his skin was cold. “Temperature’s rising.” Weller murmured. She felt almost guilty. “I won't disturb you anymore, for now. Will call your wife.”Who won’t be happy to see this, he completed in silence. “She’s not... my wife.”“What would you call her then?” Weller shrugged. And without saying anything else, she left.“You talk about mixing truths with lies, Dad. That’s smart.”“No. I never lie. Remember.”“Lux Veritatis don’t lie.”“That's it.”He was burning.The headache had intensified. He felt like boiling inside. The blankets suffocated him. The sheets, wet with his sweat, seemed to curl up around him like snakes. He felt like drowning.“Should’ve thrown that stupid policewoman out the window.” A raging voice muttered. Lara.“My God, no.” A warm voice whispered close to her. He recognized the priest's voice. Deep inside, Kurtis had to admit that Father Dunstan inspired in him a certain tenderness, some feeling of recognition. He reminded him of Professor Francis, who’d been a priest as well, long ago. Another lost partner. “We don’t need more trouble, child.”“I have to take care of him. Wait outside, please.”Thank you, Kurtis thought, and shortly thereafter the stifling sheets and blankets rose. At least, the priest wouldn’t see him naked too. He was tired of it.Lara was applying cloths soaked in fresh water on his body, probably to lower his temperature - but he barely noticed them. He felt like burning to a cinder."I'm going to kill that inspector." He heard her mumble angrily.He wanted to tell her that she was lovely with that rage. Above all, because he knew that Lara would never get that far. He also wanted to tell her that the inspector had nothing to do with it. He wasn’t that weak.But he’d no strength to speak. The headache intensified. He was burning to a cinder.Anna sighed and dropped the pencil. Then she rubbed her eyes wearily. “Can we quit here? I'm tired.”Kat looked up and wrinkled her perfect nose. “Annie, you've barely done half a page.”“Don't call me Annie.”“Annie makes four pathetic exercises and is already tired. OUCH!!” She shrieked. Anna had thrown the pencil in her face and had impacted - on its end - on her forehead. “Don't do that! You may gouge my eye out!”“No way. I had it well calculated.”Lady Kipling's daughter rubbed her forehead in pain, blurring the graphite stain. But she didn't protest anymore and closed the math notebook. In fact, she was being unfair. Anna was struggling to adapt again to the usual school rhythm, and it wasn't going badly. Before mathematics she’d worked for a long time in other subjects, as she used: fulfilling, but not highlighting.Kat had no intention of pressuring her. She knew the horrors her friend had recently gone through - at least everything she could know. Lady Croft - the daughter - had let her know in her calm and soft voice - curious in such a rough woman, she told herself - and Kat had been delighted to help. While supporting her friend with her traumatic year, her deceased grandmother and her father so hurt and sick, she didn't think about the problems of her own home. In a way, it also helped her.All she regretted was that Anna would soon stop needing evening reinforcement classes. Kat was going to miss them. All she wanted was to spend more time with her. “How’s your dad today?” She asked kindly, while keeping his coloured erasers in her case with leisurely methodology.“He’s a fever.” Anna sighed. “He’s getting worse again.”“I'm sorry. I hope he doesn’t have to go back to the hospital.”“Me neither.” Lady Croft's daughter frowned. “Why do you have so many erasers? One’s enough.”“No. Green’s for the drawing pencil. Pink’s for the regular pencil. This blue one erases the pen. Orange serves me to...”Anna leaned down and took the orange eraser. While doing so, Kat watched her in more detail. The last time she’d seen her, her friend looked much more childish; even when she was already starting to grow. But now she was changed. Much more adult.She’s changed, Kat thought. And not only physically. She was quieter, sadder, more thoughtful. That saddened her. Anna wasn’t the same.“…so?”Kat blinked, confused. “So what?”“What's your stupid orange eraser for, Kat?”She laughed. “Nothing special. I’ve it just for you to throw at me, Annie.”“Well, there it goes.” She pinched her fingers, the eraser was launched, and hit Kat exactly on the tip of her nose.Then Ethan showed up.He introduced himself without warning, without being called. In fact, he doubted that he was gonna be welcomed, considering what he’d been told at the hospital about that woman. But Ethan wasn't very worried about people's reactions. He was more than used to dealing with everything.When he was greeted by an elegant elderly lady - Lady Croft, the mother, she said - he introduced himself as a nurse specializing in rehabilitation and coming from the hospital, at the request of Lady Croft, the daughter, herself, and then it seemed the woman’s eyes lit up. “You may have arrived at the proper time.”“Gotta tell ya something, Dad. It's very important.”He remained silent, watching her calmly. Anna could read Kurtis better than anyone in the world. Better even than Lara. It must be the voice of the blood itself, shouting without sound, the link between them that nothing could break. When he looked at her like that, it meant he was listening. Also, that she could tell him anything she pleased in confidence. “I remember what you told me long ago, before Istanbul. You told me about the secrets and the things we can say or not about... about our abilities. To put at risk those we love.” Kurtis was silent. “Dad, I can't do this alone.”“You won’t be alone. You've got me - and your mother. Even those who also know our secret, who also love you. All of us will support you.”“I need Kat, Dad.”Kurtis blinked slowly. Then he said: “Y’know what you're talking about, right?”Anna looked away at the window, watched the treetops around the manor, which began to sprout again. “Kat’s my friend. You spoke to me of truths, truths that can be said, truths that cannot be said. Dad, something has changed inside me. I'm not the same. I can't be the way I was before. I must start telling lies... and I hate lying to her. I can’t.” Kurtis was silent. “If I tell lies, they won't last me one day. She’s very smart. She already notices something. It won't take long to notice much more...”“Are you asking me permission to tell your friend?”“Oh no. No no no no.” Ethan dropped the thermometer on the bedside table and touched the patient's forehead again. “This is bad, very bad. 42. He should never have passed 39. We must take him to the hospital. Immediately. In fact, one of the reasons why he should’ve never lef...”“What’s the procedure?” Lara rolled up the sleeves of her sweater.“W-how?”“The procedure! At the hospital!”Ethan had been with that woman for five minutes and he was already stressed. But to some extent, he couldn't blame her. In fact, considering who she was...“Are you going to answer me or keep wasting my time?”“A bathtub.” Ethan gasped, pulling away the blankets. “Cold water. And ice.”Lara huffed. “That’s all?”“We monitor cardiac activity. It’s the most effective.”“I can do that here! Put him in my bathtub! The door from here to the side!”The nurse blinked, dumbfounded, and shook his head hard. “We’d need a lot of ice! In large quantities!”“I’ve ice in large quantities, silly!” Oh no, Lara suddenly thought. I will have to apologize for that.“Do you have a gigantic fridge?”“Ha!” She burst and ran towards the kitchen.She looked at him again. Her pristine-eyed glance hardened. And suddenly she stood up, proud as her mother. She was taller than before. She kept growing up in plain sight. “No, Dad. I’m not asking permission. I say I’ll tell her. She’s my friend... my best friend... what the hell, the only one I have. I can’t lie to her. I can't fool her.”“So, why are you expecting my approval?” Anna hesitated. She’s afraid, he thought. As I was. “You think your friend will keep that secret? Will she support you to the last consequences? Will she protect your interests?”“Of course!” She protested, offended. “You know little about Kat. She’s so clever. And loyal. She loves me very much. She’d do anything for me.”“Even die?”Anna paled. She froze.“Sorry, kiddo, gotta be relentless here.” Kurtis' voice was tender and at the same time hard, inflexible. How was he capable of such a contrast? “If you tell her, you place her into this world - and this world’s terrible. You’ll put her life at risk. If the demons come to you and she’s close, she’ll suffer too. She might also die. Are you willing to sacrifice her?”“You were. You trusted Mom.”He paused for a few moments. Then he smiled. “Your mother is... different. Strong. Skilled. Competent. So much that she saved my life, the most powerful of the Lux Veritatis”, he couldn’t help a hint of sarcasm, “and without the least inner power. She had another power. When I saw her, I knew she was different - but not everyone’s like her. Barely anyone’s like her.”The first obvious symptom that Kurtis might not die was that upon contact with the cold and ice-covered water he partially regained consciousness and began to swear as she’d never heard him before, releasing the longest string of profanities Lara had heard in her life.“I’ll forgive you that language,” she murmured, pouring the cold water over the burning forehead and running a wet hand through his hair, “for once. But don’t get used to it.”Beside him, the young nurse was measuring his heart rate and pulse. It was difficult to keep him submerged to the neck and hold him, so he didn’t sink completely. His body was heavy, very heavy. Although it was the best case since the boy, despite his fragile appearance, was quite resistant, probably because of his job. As for Lara, there was no doubt.Kurtis, semi-unconscious, cursed and twisted again.“Be still.” Lara said softly in her ear.“I doubt he can hear you.” Ethan murmured observing the figures of the heart rate monitor. “We’ll have to be like this for a while. He’s weak. If we let him go, he can sink and drown - and we don't want that to happen, right?”“Whatever it takes.” Lara said, although her arms began to feel sore. Kurtis weighed much more than expected, when unable to cooperate.“You don’t have to hold him all the time.” Ethan intervened. “We’ll take turns.”Although it had sounded imperative and Lara had no intention of following orders, the time came when she needed to rest. With the passing of the hours, and the small talk, she began to feel comfortable with the newcomer.At dusk, Kurtis was out of danger.“Kat’s not Mom, of course. But she’s smart, very smart. And her shy stance... well, it's a facade. I know she’s strong too. Not like Mom, but in a different way. Like Aunt Selma, for example - or like Uncle Jean. They love us too. They have supported us.”“Jean has been very lucky, just like Zip - but Putai didn’t. Nor did Professor Ivanoff. Nor even Giulia...” Kurtis broke off for a moment and clenched his teeth. “You remember them? And Selma... you recall everything that happened to her?”Anna lowered her head.“If it hurt you to see her like that, as it hurt me, then you must think that the same, or worse, can happen to Kat. The innocent suffer around us, Anna. They are collateral damage. There always have been, and always will be. But it hurts more when they are people we care about. When you tell her who and what you are, you’ll make her enter the game. Her life will be at stake. Are you willing to risk it? Without her consent? Her safety will depend on you. If you’re not willing to protect her, or to assume the loss when you fail, if you fail, then just don’t. But if you do, assume the consequences.”Lara stopped him as he left through the gate of the entrance garden, towards his car. She began by apologizing for having spoken harshly. To her surprise, the boy blushed and sputtered that it didn't matter, that he was used to it. He's shy, Lara thought. “The manor has many empty rooms.” She offered next. “Among them, several guest rooms. I’ll need your help with him. Stay.”Ethan blushed even more, looked at the imposing mansion, and replied: “I don't think I fit here... it's not my kind of place. Sorry, I prefer to come and go.”Lara shrugged, smiled, and said: “Thanks for your help. You’ve prevented us from returning to the hospital.”He shook his head, said the typical, that it was his job, and hurried away.Without understanding why, Lara began to like that young from that moment.Anna was speechless. Her lips began to tremble. Kurtis hated putting her in that situation. But there was no other option.“What can I do? Send her away from me? Toss her out? Fight with her?”Kurtis was silent. He remembered. “I tried that with your mother.” He acknowledged. “Before you were born. I walked away from her for a few years. I thought I was saving her. But I was weak. I couldn’t live without her. It made me miserable. And then I realized... she’d also been miserable. And she hated me for having kept her away. Because she wanted to be there. She wanted to fight for me.”Now it was Anna who was silent. She looked again at the trees that were beginning to green. Spring was coming.When she went back into the room, Kurtis was awake. He looked around with wide eyes, as if he couldn't recognize the room. A thin film of sweat still covered his skin, but after measuring his temperature, it had dropped to normal levels.“When you’ll stop giving me these scares?” Lara sighed. “Apparently you enjoy making drama somehow. How do you feel?”He tried to focus his gaze, without success. So he closed his eyes. “I had a horrible nightmare. A young lad stripped me and put me in a bathtub full of ice.”“That was me.” Lara smiled, removed the sheet and examined critically the scars of the torso, now tender after being underwater. “The lad wasn’t your imagination, though. His name’s Ethan and he’s the nurse sent by the hospital for your rehabilitation.”“Rehabilitation?” Kurtis frowned. “I plan to rehabilitate myself. How bad is it?”Lara gave another pull to the sheet and uncovered him completely. Kurtis looked down at his legs - then he sighed.“Welcome to the mortal world.” Lara smiled. “They don't look worse than mine, though. In Egypt. After the accident. Putai knew how to fix them very well with only her two hands.” She shuddered to remember that pain. Then she shook her head and tried to distract herself. she didn't want to think about Putai. Not again. “You’ll have much more than I had back then. Only to deal with scars - and I don’t mind. I like your scars.”She covered him again with the sheet, but without adding the blanket. He was still too feverish for it. “New scars for the collection.” She heard Kurtis say. “When the stitches are removed you can lick them.”Lara let out a hiss between her teeth. “Another mention like that and I’ll take a picture of you in a wheelchair for Colonel Kendrick. I think he’ll appreciate it.”“I’m not using a wheelchair.”“How you get out of here, then? Do I show your legs again?”“Please... gimme a break. Never broke them before.”“You have to choose, kiddo. One truth or another. Whatever truth you choose, deal with the consequences. Choose wisely.”Anna lowered her head. “I'll think about it.”...
Chapter 23: Fragile
Lara crossed the hospital corridor at full speed. Some patients and their relatives censored her with their eyes or some derogatory comment when she passed by their side as a soul taken by the devil. She didn’t care, in fact, she didn’t even notice. She pounced on Father Dunstan, who was quietly sitting by the door of Kurtis's room. He was the one who had warned her. Lara cursed herself for being absent, but she’d been taken Anna have her detached tooth fixed again.
“He just woke up.” The priest tried to reassure her. “They are still removing the machines and the respirator. Anyway, he’s very fragile. You shouldn’t...”
Lara pushed the door and entered the room without further ado. The young doctor was leaning over the man who lay on the bed and moved a flashlight over his face. Two nurses were picking up the respirator tube on the machine they were starting to remove. One of them faced her: “Please, you must wait outs...
Chapter 22: Annus Horribilis
Don’t you dare surrender
I’m still right beside you
And I would never
Replace your perfect imperfection.
All the manor’s lights were on. The alarms sounded nonstop, losing their raucous echoes in the blackness of the night.
Lara jumped off the motorcycle as if driven by a spring, not realizing that her skirt got caught on the exhaust pipe and tore the bass of the precious fabric. She threw herself against the entrance doors and slammed them open, unloading all her weight on them and crossing the front yard at full speed.
The front door was open, and, in the frame, she saw her mother, who was leaning, panting, on it. Lady Croft wore a nightgown lightly splattered with blood and, oddly enough, had a dark fence around her thighs.
When she saw Lara, she pointed to the left side. “Behind!” She gasped, almost breathless. “Next to the assault course!”
The British explorer didn’t even s
Chapter 21: Demon
Every return was sad in some way - and that one was the most.
Anna was broken. She looked tremendously tired, but Lara saw beyond that. The girl had simply had too much in too little time. First, the horrible experience of Sri Lanka in summer. Then, from what she’d gathered from Selma, the school year didn’t go well either. And suddenly, in winter, her parents fought seriously, her grandmother revealed her cancer and shortly after, died; she’d witnessed a brutal attack and also got her first period while the Gift manifested strongly in her and turned her in a puppet. They had not even celebrated her birthday nor Christmas, engaged in more urgent matters. For any teenager it would’ve been too much. And she, in most things, was like any other.
For her sake, Lara tried to make the return as painless as possible. So, the first thing was to manage that Niyol flew to England. The girl would recover faster from her sorrow if she could count on the beneficial company of
Tomb Raider Legend: Crashing
The Himalayas stood in watchful silence, their steep, craggy tips thrusting upwards through the dense grey fog. The low-hanging storm clouds that blocked out the midnight sky seemed to balance precariously atop them, growling and snarling ominously like hungry predators waiting for their prey. An occasional streak of lightning ripped them open, a silent flash of blinding white light that momentarily revealed the sky, but the frayed edges always blended seamlessly and rapidly together again.
The stuttered roaring of a plane engine seemed like a faint echo of the sinister thunder, and the mountains impassively followed the vehicles path as it soared through the fog. Lightweight and small for a plane, it was built for speed and shaped accordingly for the best aerodynamics. The outer casing was painted a pale, snowy white. This was a private jet; no commercial airlines logo was splashed noisily across the side, and the main body was s
Tomb Raider - SurvivorJust a girl...
once a student
deserted. On my own
among the unknown.
my life is torn
I am scared
I am not prepared.
Signs "be bewared"
I am warned
How will I survive?
At the end of this nightmare
will I still be alive?
I know this is the place where...
I shall not be mourned.
I am just a girl
Just me, a castaway
hoping to last day by day
To get out, only one-way
This life is torn.
A survivor is born.