Lara met Kurtis sometime later and they sat in the hotel café. All televisions and radios were broadcasting the events of last night: Bran castle had suffered serious fire damage and the police had arrested the suspects Marten Gunderson and some of his accomplices. On the television Professor Ivanoff was giving a statement: “...a great loss for our national patrimony...this terrorist has struck a hard blow to our castle conservation efforts...”
“Do you think others could be implicated?” Asked the reporter. “The suspect in custody has stated there were more participants, one of them a woman...”
“Nonsense.” Ivanoff said. “I saw no one apart from that crazy man and his gang...”
Kurtis lit a cigarette and said: “Well, at least that big mouth of his is helpful for once.”
“In any case, we’re not safe here. The sooner we leave, the better.” Lara said. “What did you want to tell me?”
He leaned back in the chair and looked at her: “I discovered something in the network of corridors under the well: A hidden room with torture instruments. Certainly the place where our friend the Impaler locked up that poor bastard and tortured him to death.”
“Are you sure of that?”
“I’ve seen it.” He said taking a puff of the cigarette. “I guess you’ve already noticed I’m not an ordinary guy.”
Lara raised an eyebrow. “Right, let me do a review: you burst open doors with a hand gesture, you’re able to fall down three flights of stairs without hurting yourself, you made me fly towards a platform at the Strahov, and you own a weapon apparently controlled by your mind.” She tipped her head to one side. “Yes, I’d say you’re positively unordinary.”
Kurtis made a face. “I was forced to be indiscreet. I usually go unnoticed.”
“That’s a virtue.” Lara recognized, “I always try to do so, but hardly achieve it.”
“Well, in your case, it’d be quite difficult to go unnoticed.” He smiled at her.
Lara stared at him. Was he flirting with her? Or he was just being ironic? “And what are you getting at?” She cut abruptly.
Kurtis explained to her what he’d seen when he sent his mind to the past. Lara listened to him patiently and when he ended, she said: “Well, at least Ivanoff told us the truth. But that’s not really useful, since we have no idea what our next step is.”
Kurtis silently thanked her for not asking awkward questions or requesting embarrassing demonstrations of him.
“We’ve arrived at a dead-end.” Lara sighed, and looked at the Golden Seal. Then suddenly, her eyes widened. “Hey!”
“What’s up with the Seal?”
Lara removed the ring from his finger and examined it closer. “It looks different!” And it was true. The square-shaped seal no longer had a map of the Carpathians carved in it. Now there was a different area. “You didn’t tell me the Seal had changed!”
“Lara, I hadn’t noticed ’til just now. Until a few days ago it was nothing more than a common ring given to me as a birthday gift.”
But that could not be a common ring. The engraving had changed, and Kurtis was wondering himself when that had happened. He was so used to it that he hadn’t noticed the transformation.
“What place is it supposed to be now?” Kurtis examined it.
Lara smiled. “Do you recognize it?”
It was a magical place, full of mystery and enchantment, with an insurmountable beauty, where the greatness of an ancient civilization had left its immortal tracks and still continued to fascinate people everywhere. Its legacy was immortal. A place Lara knew very well, and despite the terrible experiences of her past, she uttered its name like she was glad to return. “Egypt, Kurtis.” She said, smiling widely. “Egypt!”
Cairo Airport was packed full of people. Tourists from all over were flocking to enjoy the country’s beauties during its peak season in winter, when the heat of Egypt was bearable. In summer it could reach up to fifty degrees in the shadows, which is reason why the tourists took advantage of this break to make their trips.
Lara and Kurtis were thankful for the large amount of people to draw attention away from them, although they looked exactly what they were: a pair of adventurers riding a superb motorbike through the streets of the capital. The plane trip from Bucharest had been dreadful with Lara having to use a fake ID to avoid suspicion, and they discussed which was the exact place the Seal was pointing out. The star was located at some point near the oasis of Al-Fayoum, made famous due to its Roman tombs and portrayals.
But Lara was sure it had nothing to do with ancient history. That country had so many aspects, and most tourists only knew of that one. What they were looking for was, depending on if it was a Nephilim or a Lux Veritatis’ stronghold, older or newer than the era of the Pharaohs.
“We’ll find out later.” Kurtis said. “Now it’s time to leave this damn place.”
“Wait.” Said Lara, touching his shoulder. “I have a contact who can help us.”
“An old friend.”
Jean Yves had spent so many years settled down in Egypt that it was his home now. He lived in a small, isolated house some point between Karnack and Luxor, but he also had a studio apartment in Alexandria and an office in the Cairo Museum. That day he’d wasted hours arguing with Zahi Hawass about Keop’s pyramid, recently closed to the public for no apparent reason. Nevertheless, the Egyptian archaeologist had refused to negotiate, and the pyramid would remain closed indefinitely.
After leaving the Museum, Jean wiped the sweat of his forehead and waved himself with a newspaper. Even in February you could die of heat exhaustion in Egypt. When he looked around, he saw a pair of tourists parking a motorbike in front of him. The woman sitting behind, disembarked from the vehicle and went towards him smiling.
“Lara!” He exclaimed in his French accent. “It has been a while!”
Lara gave him a friendly hug.
“How did you find me?”
“I hoped you would be here. We must talk, we need your help.”
Jean watched over her shoulder and noticed Kurtis. “Who is that man?”
“Kurtis Trent. He’s with me.”
Jean didn’t have a good impression of Kurtis, but he patted Lara’s arm. “Well, I’m very happy to see you again, and so healthy! Last time you were here...”
“Better if you don’t remind me of that.” Lara snorted.
“Well, it will be a pleasure to help you. Please, come to my office.”
Lara told the whole tale to Jean, but she omitted Karel’s intentions with her and Kurtis’ true role.
“This is our guide.” She said, showing the Seal to him. “Any idea of where this place is?”
Jean examined the ring, frowning. “In fact...that’s Al-Fayoum cemetery.”
“But the star points to a nearby but different location.”
“This area seems to be underground. It will require an excavation. Fortunately, I’m one of Al-Fayoum keepers, so there will be no problem with Hawass. How much time do you have?”
“Plenty.” Kurtis took part. “Karel will patiently wait in the shadows until we discover something. We’re in no hurry.”
The archaeologist nodded. “Well then. Give me a couple of days in order to procure equipment then we’ll start the digging.” He smiled, looking at Lara. “My dear, what kind of messes you find yourself in! Two years ago, you released Seth, and now you fight against demons and fallen angels. You’re unique.”