A Visit In Surrey
Tomb Raider: The Golden Seal
First thing she did, without even giving herself the chance to recover, was to come back to the place where she had left him. Her dismay was great when she did not find him.
She found that abomination’s corpse, but at the spot where Kurtis had fallen there was nothing but a large pool of blood, and in the middle, his wondrous weapon, the Chirugai. Lara picked it up and, suddenly, the disc faintly vibrated in her hand and started to pull from her. She arose and turned toward where the disc lead her, and then its blades closed abruptly. Before there, looming darkness awaited her.
Lara clutched the Chirugai in her hand and smiled. She didn’t fully understand what all that meant, since she knew as little about that weird magic as she did about its owner, but in her heart she was certain that, despite the seriousness of his wound, he was still alive, and he was calling for help.
The adventurer went into the darkness, following the path lead by the Chirugai, looking for Kurtis Trent.
Chapter 1: A Visit In Surrey
She had returned again to the Manor, after her arrival from Prague. Lara was upset, moody, as Winston could see. 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.
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 had 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. He’d heard more outlandish stuff from her, who was far more like a daughter rather than someone for whom he worked. But now she seemed to dwell in another world, spending her days examining that weird, star-shaped blade she’d brought with her from Prague, waiting to see if it moved. But the Chirugai was motionless, cold. Since its last vibration, pointing her a possible way at the Strahov, it hadn’t shown another signal. It was dead, and so was his owner – as far as she knew.
Lara refused to face it. Not because she felt something special for that stranger, well, at least nothing except some loyalty and responsibility. He’d entrusted her with the Periapt Shards, so she could kill the Black Alchemist; he’d helped her to escape by covering her retreat...she owed him, at least, some words. 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 towards the door, before Winston, troubled by age, could arrive. She faced, astonished, no one less than Marten Gunderson, the Cabal mercenary squad’s leader, targeting her at the face.
“Leave us, Winston,” Lara said, still staring at Gunderson.
“Where’s he?” Said the killer.
“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 answered, and tried to close the door, but then he aimed his gun at 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 and managed to snatch the gun from him, after Winston hit him in the bare head with a nearby placed candelabrum. Marten Gunderson, honourable mercenary who had been Kurtis’ boss at the Agency, fell unconsciousness to the floor in a shameful way.
“Let me tell you, Miss,” stammered Winston, “I don’t really approve your latest friendships...”
“What’s going on?” Lara said, offloading the 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 awakes.”
And when Gunderson recovered, he was tied to a chair, with Lara staring sarcastically at him while playing with his useless gun, and Winston watching at them with the candelabrum alongside, just in case.
“So,” she said, “Neither of us know where Kurtis is, I gather.”
“I don’t believe you,” said the killer, showing a nonchalance he couldn’t allow in his pathetic situation.
“Why would I protect him?”
“You know who’s in fact.”
“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?” Said Lara, 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, wasn’t 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 Nephilim 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 both 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 said. “Good and Evil. Each one is annulled by each other, and at the same time they’re complementaries.”
“And that’s why you need to find Kurtis? Killing him? Then you’ll kill your new master too, and I don’t think he’s interested in such a thing.”
“There’s an object which can undo that mutual linkage. Who 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.”
“You expect him to kindly deliver that Seal? I thought you were smarter…”
“How much do you ask for him?,” the killer said.
Now it was her turn to burst out laughing. “If you pretend 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 knowing so much about her. “You’re still in disadvantage.”
Gunderson grimaced, and suddenly jumped towards her, the chair still tied to him, but she avoided his attack. The result was him falling on the floor again.
“May I hit him, miss?” Winston said, grasping the candelabrum.
Lara was temped to agree, but she knew it would be useless. She took a knife from her boot and cut Gunderson’s binding. He seemed to consider listening to her before attacking again.
“Listen, I don’t know about Kurtis. And even if I did know where he was, I wouldn’t tell you.”
Winston outlined a smile. That was his girl! He didn’t know much about this Kurtis, and he was sure that finding about him was only going to give 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,” then he said, “ and you really don’t know where the Lux Veritatis is. But you’ll look for him, isn’t it? Now that you know how much it’s 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’ll do too.”
He left, and then Lara shut the door with a bang.
“Miss,” Winston took part then, “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, apart from me, who knows everything about what happened. If I’ve serious problems with justice concerning Von Croy’s murder... only he could stand up for me.”
Winston nodded, but in fact he doubted the authorities could pay attention to some 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 following days with the Chirugai hanging off her belt, waiting for the slightest sign of movement. She, who had found lost things, who had discovered the most hidden places... she didn’t know how to find a man, and 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 he, himself, would have written off as mythical in his youth.
Three days after Gunderson’s visit, the Chirugai showed some movement 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 off the bed, took the gun always was under the pillow -a personal habit which peaceful Winston hadn’t been able to take away from her- 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 aside the gun and took the disc. Apparently, the weapon noticed her and began to vibrate again, pulling smoothly from her arm in a certain direction. Lara drifted, following its path, and finally stopped when, at the manor’s iron gates, she made sure it was pointing to the East.
“The East,” she said, looking at the object, “same direction it pointed in Prague...why wouldn’t I follow it then? Perhaps it’s too late...”
But the Chirugai didn’t seem to agree, since it kept on pulling her and began to cast a slight orange sparkle...it was her imagination, or it was seemed to reborn?
The East...what was at the East? While she mentally ran across that direction, she remembered the words of that Cabal’s scientist, Grant Müller, before he sprinkled 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 Nephilim’s home.”
If it wasn’t there, it hardly could be elsewhere.
“Well.” She smiled. “Towards Turkey!”
And the Chirugai, satisfied, closed its blades and remained still. Its mission, for the moment, was fulfilled.