“Whitman, you bastard” you thought to yourself when you heard the crazy men attack and he suddenly pulled you up to your feet. Lara was right all along, there was definitely something wrong with him, something nor you, nor Reyes, nor Jonah had realized. He had that crazy look in his blue eyes again, the same one when he’d talk about Yamatai being a gold mine. He really is that desperate for fame. But fame, where does it get you? It’s not the same thing as honor and you think that people should strive for something like honor, instead of fame. Fame is something so superficial that you put on yourself, it’s like a mask that everyone adores, not paying enough attention to other things. And honor is a feeling, a feeling burning within you. And it lasts, and it’s worth more than all the money in the world.
Whitman was now dragging you away from Jonah and Reyes, who were battling against the swarms of evil men. You cried, you shouted, you tried to knock some sense into him but he was absolutely deaf. He was deaf to all of your pleadings and reasoning and tears. He couldn’t hear you because he no longer was here, Whitman was in his head, fantasizing how famous he will get, how much money he will have, how he’ll give interviews on various TV shows. He was smiling, you guess he thought about how he’d looked in the newspaper’s. He didn’t care about the crew, he didn’t care about archeology, he didn’t care about people dying and he definitely didn’t care about you. What’s a small sacrifice (your life) to his future fame as the world’s greatest archeologist? But that is not true, is it? He doesn’t deserve this title, Lara does. Lara…
You shiver and then all the feelings wash over you. You can barely breathe, you break into a cold sweat and you have this feeling that you’re either going to pass out or throw up. You’ll never see her again. You will never see that precious human being, you’ll never be able to embrace her. You’ll never get another chance to kiss her. No, no, no. All these thoughts in your head, they need to stop existing. Please, go away. At this point you don’t even care about yourself, what matters the most is that you will never see Lara. No, you need to stop thinking about this, it won’t help. But the twisted thoughts inside your head settle in and you feel as if some dark entity has obsessed you (a premonition?). The pessimistic thoughts in your head got comfortable, too comfortable. But of course, they’ve always been lurking there, hiding just behind the corner when you didn’t let yourself feel bad, when you didn’t let them take over you. You fought against pessimism even if the situations were absolutely hopeless (and now the word “hopeless” doesn’t suit this at all, there are no words for this).
You suddenly feel tired, too tired to walk but your legs take a step after a step almost automatically. Whitman has tied your hands behind your back and is holding you at gunpoint. Maybe that’s it? Maybe you should annoy him to the point where he will fire a bullet straight through your forehead? For a moment you think that it can be your salvation. No Sam, he won’t kill you, they need you, Mathias needs you, Himiko needs you.
Isn’t it just ridiculously funny? That it’s you that they need, they long for, they’e been searching for. That you have the Sun Queen’s blood running through your veins. That you (what they seem to think) are the one. It becomes so funny to you that for a minute you start laughing hysterically. Whitman does so too but obviously because of different reasons. Then the ridiculousness subsides and the reality kicks back in. This isn’t even remotely funny, it’s sad. No, not sad, it’s absolutely terrifying and painful.
You see a figure in the distance, as you get closer to it, you close your eyes. You don’t need to see his face again, you already now who it is.
“Welcome back Sam, we missed you” you hear his low voice mocking you and you open your eyes. Mathias. This is the man who turned your world upside down, who turned it into chaos filled with despair. Even his dark eyes seemed like small black holes. He’s holding something white in one of his hands, a scepter in the other and for a while, all you can think about is the contrast of whiteness of the cloth and the dirt all around you.
“Is it really true? Will I be honored by bringing the new Sun Queen? Whitman asks excitedly, taking off his glasses. Is he really that deranged?
“Of course, people will worship you almost as much as the Sun Queen herself” Mathias says simply. This bastard is such a good manipulator, he can trick people into thinking whatever they want. No wonder that he’s the one who created the Solarii and was their leader, they deserved someone like him.
But Whitman doesn’t care, his grin just widens but then he
pretends to be humble and starts coughing. He cleans off his glasses and puts
them on again.
“Of course, of course” you can hear him say. What a naïve man.
“Now Sam, be a good girl and change into this behind that pillar” Mathias says handing you the white thing (ritual clothes) and pointing to the pillar nearby.
“What if I’m going to run away? You hiss through your clenched teeth. “What are you going to do then?”. Mathias just laughs at you.
“There’s nowhere to run, you can’t run away from this place” he says and you agree.
“But what if I start running?” you ask cockily but you feel that your eyes look scared and betray you. Mathias laughs even more, he really is crazy.
“Then the good doctor will fire a bullet into your body” he says seriously and points to Whitman who is now muttering something to himself. You painfully recognize it as some kind of an acceptance speech.
“You can’t kill me, you need me to get off of this stupid island” you hear yourself say with arrogance in your voice.
“I’m not planning to kill you but if you try something funny, I will shoot a bullet into your leg and drag you to the ritual chamber if I have to” he says looking straight into your eyes. You get a chill down your spine. The worst part of this is that you know he’s not kidding. He will do it, he won’t hesitate.
So you grab the dress and Mathias releases the ropes around your wrists and you start rubbing them with your fingers almost immediately. The ropes have left red markings around your wrists and they hurt greatly. Almost all the time you’ve spent in this island you’ve been restricted of movement, you’re so sick of this. You then angrily go over that damn pillar. You turn around to see where’s Mathias and Whitman, they’d better not be peeking. But both men are looking in a different direction. Thank god, at least they have some decency left in them. You take off your leather jacket and carefully fold it and put it on the ground. You have no idea why are you doing this because there’s no point. You take of your dirty T-shirt and slip into the dress. You take off your jeans and then you put your clothes into a neat pile. You look at your body and it’s really scary how the dress fits you perfectly. It’s cold here, it’s cold being in a dress in the mountains. You start shivering. Stop whining Sam, Lara is only in a tank top and a thin undershirt and she had it worst than you. You think you wouldn’t be able to survive like Lara had, she is such a strong person. She always was and you always have admired her. You wonder where is she now – Lara, where are you? You let out a sad sigh, it hurts so much, it hurts so much inside that you feel like you’ll start crying any minute now. This will be the only time Lara won’t be able to keep her promise…
“Are you done yet?” Mathias asks, clearly annoyed that you’re taking a long time to dress. You peek out. He’s still turned to the opposite direction, it looks like he’s weaving a crown with the flowers he found on the way. You sigh again and your breath hitches. Well, there’s no point in prolonging the inevitable.
“I am” you step out from behind the pillar. Mathias gives you one of his creepy smiles and Whitman just nods. You step closer to them, Mathias then places a crown on your head and ties pieces of cloth on you wrists. Now you’re all dressed for the party.
“Hands behind your back” he growls at you and you comply. There’s nowhere you can run anyway.
Mathias ties them again, picks up the thing he calls a scepter and then pushes you forward. Whitman is right behind you, not even looking at you. You want to curse, you want to scream at him, if it wasn’t for him, you might have had a chance of leaving this place. But there’s no escape now. “No one leaves”.
Then you try not to think about it, but there’s nothing else to think about, everything is so depressing and morbid. When you think about the crew, you think about Grim, and Alex and Roth. How they all have died, how all of their bodies are gone. You’re not even sure if Reyes or Jonah, or even Lara is alive. Maybe they’re all dead by now. And it’s all because of you. Then you start thinking about Lara and how much she’s changed. The fire in her eyes is more intense than ever before and there’s this feeling you get, like she’s no the same person but in a way, she still is. You don’t know how to explain this, even to yourself, all you can do is feel it. And you do. Her body has changed so much as well. Her arms are stronger now, she’s grown a lot of muscles from climbing, her collarbone is ever so supple, her skin has gotten a bit rough from the landscape. Lara is a true survivor, inside and out. And she’s so beautiful. Lara has always said that you were touchy-feely but it’s only because when you looked at her, all you wanted to do was touch her. And you did, you pulled her into hugs, touched her hand, caressed her cheek, tucked the loose strands of hair behind her ears. Anything that could make your body draw closer to her.
You loved Lara. With all of your heart, you never loved anyone like this. When she was sad, you felt sad too and when she was happy, you couldn’t stop smiling. You wanted her in so many ways, and not only her body, you wanted her to be with you, to comfort you, to cheer you up. Lara always did that, you were inseparable; you couldn’t imagine your life without her. You loved her talking about archeology and history, and though it wasn’t really that interesting to you, you’d still listen, because when Lara told stories, they were the best you’ve ever heard. You loved the fire in her eyes, you loved her smile and her lips. But some days were terrible. On those days all you’d ever think was how you want to claim her lips with yours or caress her skin with your fingers. You would then try to avoid her because looking at her was painful, because looking at someone/something you can never have is always painful.
And then she kissed you. On the shipwreck beach where all the lost souls of the island have gathered, she kissed you. You have always imagined it being a bit different, Lara’s lips being softer, her skin being warmer. But then again, who cares, at least it was REAL. That kiss changed everything within you, like she had wiped away the essence of you and then rebuilt it again, making it better, making it stronger. The way she looked at you, her eyes betrayed that she wanted you as much as you wanted her.
But it’s hard, too hard to let her go, too hard to understand that your actions won’t change anything, too hard to accept the inevitable death. You have never felt so weak, so helpless. This is it, the apocalypse. You get closer and closer, you can feel it, your footsteps are getting heavier and heavier and it’s like Mathias is pushing you now. He will find his salvation and you will find death. Then you suddenly stop. Mathias carefully peeks out to identify the Stormguards. Then he turns to Whitman and tells him something about the Stromguards wanting to meet him, to greet him, congratulate him on his success. James Whitman mutters something and then says that he had the experience with dealing with these kinds of tribes in the past. He slowly starts walking towards his doom. And you want to scream, you want to warn him but you can’t, as if you’re lips are sewn together, you can’t seem to let out any noise. Mathias grabs you and then runs past through the Stromgruads.
“Whitman, you fool” you silently whisper to yourself when you hear his last screams (that will forever echo in your ears), Mathias still dragging you forward.