A Visit In Surrey
Tomb Raider: The Golden Seal
The first thing she did, before even giving herself time to recover, was come back to the place where she had left him. She was greatly dismayed when she could not find him.
She found the corpse of the abomination that he battled, but at the spot where Kurtis had fallen there was nothing but a large pool of blood, and in the middle of it, his wondrous weapon, the Chirugai. Lara picked it up and when she did, the disc suddenly began to faintly vibrate in her hand and started to pull her away. She arose and turned toward where the disc led her, but then its blades retracted abruptly. Before her awaited looming darkness.
Lara clutched the Chirugai in her hand and smiled. She didn’t fully understand what it all meant, since she knew as little about that strange magic as she did about its owner. Despite this, she knew in her heart that no matter how serious his wound, he was out there still alive, and he was calling for help.
The adventurer went into the darkness, following the lead of the Chirugai, searching for Kurtis Trent.
Chapter 1: A Visit in Surrey
After the ordeal in Prague, Lara returned to her Manor. Winston could see that she was upset and moody, and understandably so; after all, the French police were still handling her as the number one suspect for Von Croy’s murder, since they had no other suspect in the Monstrum case... but it seemed as though she didn’t care about that.
What was she supposed to tell them? That the Monstrum were actually two people, a fallen angel and an 800-year-old alchemist? That both of them were now dead and, even worse than that, she was the one who killed them? Not a very convincing story, but Winston didn’t need explanations. He knew Lara very well and everything she said could be trusted; when it was all said and done, she was far more like a daughter than an employer, and in the past he has heard far more outlandish things from her for him to question her on this. But now she seemed to dwell in another world, spending her days examining that weird star-shaped bladed disc she’d brought with her from Prague, waiting to see if it moved. But the Chirugai was motionless, cold. Since its last vibrations at the Strahov - drawing her towards a possible path - it hadn’t shown another signal. It was dead, and so was its owner – as far as she knew.
Lara refused to believe it. Not because she felt something special for that stranger, well, at least nothing except a little loyalty and maybe some responsibility. He’d entrusted her with the Periapt Shards so that she could kill the Black Alchemist; he’d helped her to escape by covering her retreat...she owed him, at least, some thanks. She had to give him his weapon back. She had to tell him that the Lux Veritatis’ mission was fulfilled, that his greatest enemies no longer existed...
A sound woke her from her thoughts. She jumped off the couch and answered the door before Winston, troubled by age, could reach it. None other than Marten Gunderson, the Cabal Mercenary Leader, greeted an astonished Lara by aiming a gun at her face.
“Leave us, Winston,” Lara ordered while staring down Gunderson.
“Where is he?” the killer asked.
“Your friend. The last Lux Veritatis. He’s not dead, and we need him.”
“That’s not your business.”
“Get out of my house!” She commanded, and went to close the door, but before she could he turned his gun to Winston.
“You’ll speak by hook or by crook...”
Lara didn’t let him finish. As the mercenary was looking at the butler, she kicked him in the crotch. The hefty fellow lost his breath for a moment, so Lara took advantage by struggling with him for his gun and managed to wrench it from his hands. Then Winston hit him on his bare head with a nearby placed candelabrum. Marten Gunderson, commendable mercenary who had been Kurtis’ boss at the Agency, disgracefully fell unconscious to the floor.
“Let me tell you, Miss,” stammered Winston, “I don’t really approve of your latest friendships...”
“What’s going on?” Lara said, unloading Gunderson’s weapon. “Why does he think I know where Kurtis is?”
“I don’t know, Miss, but I’d do something with him, and pretty soon, before he wakes up.”
When Gunderson recovered he was tied to a chair, with Lara scornfully glaring at him and playing with his unloaded gun. Winston watched them with the candelabrum nearby, just in case.
“So,” she said, “I gather neither of us know where Kurtis is.”
“I don’t believe you,” said the killer, showing a nonchalance that didn’t match his pathetic situation.
“Why would I protect him?”
“You know who he is, don’t you?”
“The last Lux Veritatis. So what? The freaks that hired you to do their dirty work for them no longer exist. The Cabal are no more than a memory.”
Gunderson exploded in grotesque laughter.
“What’s so funny?” Lara asked, feeling suddenly annoyed.
“You really think, little fool, you managed to kill Karel?” Lara raised an eyebrow, so he continued. “You killed the Black Alchemist. After all, Eckhardt, my Meister, was no more than a tool in his great plan. Karel’s old...and eternal. His real name can’t be revealed. He’s the last Nephilim, and you can’t kill him. He’s immortal.”
“Then how do you explain that the Nephili are almost extinct, with him being him the last of his kind?”
“In fact, Nephili can only be killed by Lux Veritatis... and that being the case, the Lux Veritatis dies too. If one of the two survives, the other also does. It’s a mystery only they can understand.”
Lara frowned. So Kurtis and Karel were alive. But that meant...
“Yes,” Gunderson answered. “Good and Evil. Each is annulled by the other but at the same time they are each other’s foil.”
“And that’s why you need to find Kurtis? To kill him? You’ll kill your new master too, and I don’t think he’s interested in that outcome.”
“There’s an object which can undo that mutual linkage. Whoever discovers the True Option will be granted the decision to give death to the Nephilim or to the Lux Veritatis, and to decide the world’s fate.”
“And that object is...?”
“Kurtis’ ring. The Golden Seal.”
“And you expect him to just kindly hand over the Seal? I thought you were smarter than that…”
“How much do you want for him?” the killer asked.
Now it was her turn to burst out laughing. “If you intend to bribe me, you’re wasting your time. I’m overrun with money.”
“But you don’t have a clean background, right? Give me Kurtis, and I’ll make the police forget about you. I’ll have your records expunged.”
Lara hated having a stranger know so much about her. “You’re still at a disadvantage.”
Gunderson sneered, and then suddenly jumped towards her though he was still tied to the chair. Lara easily avoided his attack, causing him to fall to the floor again.
“May I hit him, miss?” Winston asked, poised with the candelabrum ready to strike.
Lara was tempted to say yes, but she knew it would be pointless. She took a knife from her boot and cut through Gunderson’s binding. He seemed to consider listening to her before attacking again.
“Listen, I don’t know where Kurtis is. And even if I did know, I wouldn’t tell you.”
Winston smiled. That was his girl! He didn’t know much about this Kurtis, and he was sure that finding about him was only going to spell more trouble, but that man had no right to break into the house and target Lara.
“Now,” she repeated, “get out of my house.”
And she pointed the door with a simple wave of her hand. Could anything be more humiliating? Marten Gunderson himself tossed onto the streets like a naughty child!
“Maybe you’re telling the truth,” he said then, “and you really don’t know where the Lux Veritatis is. But you’ll look for him, won’t you? Now that you know how much is at stake. I’m not fighting you now...but I’ll keep an eye on you. Both me and my men. And when you find him...we will too.”
He left, and then Lara slammed the door with a bang.
“Miss,” Winston interjected, “is it really necessary to find that man?”
Lara sighed. “Yes. Even if Gunderson’s story is only nonsense - and what I’ve seen until now makes me think otherwise - Kurtis is the only one besides me who knows everything that happened. If I encounter serious problems with the police concerning Von Croy’s murder... only he can stand up for me.”
Winston nodded, but in fact he doubted the authorities would pay attention to rants about alchemists and fallen angels. Well, Lara would handle it. She was very clever; she had always been.
“I’ll take the risk. I must find Kurtis,” repeated Lara in a low voice, as if Winston was not there, “but, how?”
Lara spent the next couple days with the Chirugai hanging off her belt, waiting for the slightest sign of movement. She, who had found lost treasures, who had discovered the most hidden places... and she didn’t know how to find a man. Her only hope lay in an object that showed, like a cardiac monitor, the vital constants of the only one able to operate it.
Von Croy might have laughed at her...or no, she thought with sadness, because her mentor had ended up being murdered by a creature that he himself would have written off as mythical in his youth.
Three days after Gunderson’s visit, the Chirugai began to move again. Lara was sleeping when a sudden bang in the closet woke her up. Before asking herself what that was, her natural instinct already reacted: she jumped out of bed, took the gun that was always under her pillow - a personal habit that the pacifist Winston hadn’t been able to break her of - and crouched down. She ran towards the closet and opened it, and there was the blade, open and nailed in the closet’s door, as if trying to escape. She put the gun aside and took the disc. Apparently the weapon noticed her and began to vibrate again, smoothly pulling her arm away and in a different direction. Lara drifted, following its path, until she finally stopped at the manor’s iron gates. She realized it was pointing to the East.
“The East,” she said, looking at the object, “same direction it pointed in Prague...why didn’t I follow it then? Perhaps it’s too late...”
But the Chirugai didn’t seem to agree, as it kept on pulling her and began to cast a slight sparkly orange hue... was it her imagination, or did it’s energy seemed renewed?
The East...what was in the East? While she mentally ran across that direction, she remembered the words of that Cabal’s scientist, Grant Müller, before he sprayed her with insecticide. We already have the last vital element from Turkey here in the Strahov. The only true remaining Nephilim. The Cubiculum Nephili, the Sleeper.
“To the East...” she repeated. “Turkey. The Nephili’s home.”
If it wasn’t there, it hardly could be elsewhere.
“Well.” She smiled. “Towards Turkey!”
And the Chirugai, satisfied, retracted its blades and went still. Its mission, for the moment, was fulfilled.