Tomb Raider: War and Peace

Chapter 4

It seems that all of your recent movement has been automatic. All the walking, the running, the fighting. Everything you did recently, there was never put much thought into it. You feel that your brain had finally shut down from too much information and experience. It is still hard to believe that all of this is happening to you. It’s needless to say you don’t want to be here, you want to be somewhere else. With Sam, of course. You’ve always prayed that at the right moment, when it gets too much, you’ll wake up from this bad dream, from this nightmare and will find yourself on S.S. Endurance again. In your cabin, in your bed (obviously). Then you’d slowly walk towards the so called dining room where everyone usually gathers and you’d see everyone happily chatting. You will see Grimm talking to Sam and Roth discussing something with Whitman, Reyes arguing with Alex. Jonah would notice you first and joyfully shout “Little Bird”… But you never did wake up, because this IS reality, this is the truth, there’s nowhere left to hide now.

Your feet carry your endlessly tired body forwards and you try your best to pay attention to the surroundings. But you can barely do that, you can barely see. You have been deprived of sleep for a long period of time (too long), sometimes it gets hard to differ real men from hallucinations. Lara, let’s face it, you’re slowly going crazy. You shake your head a bit. On the other hand, this whole place is insane, there is no logic here. At first you didn’t understand anything, but once you got the hang of it, everything else just became like connecting the dots. Though it doesn’t mean you understand everything entirely, the picture is bigger than you ever expected it to be. So yes, you’ve become crazy enough to understand this island, this Lost Kingdom and its secrets. You never wanted to, but no one asked what you have wanted. This island is a living, breathing thing with its inhabitants; it won’t ever let you go so easily.

Even if you’ll get out of here, the nightmares will drag you right back, the scars will remind you of this place every day. You are bound to it, there’s no exit, there’s no escape. And the faces of Grimm, Roth, Alex… They will never disappear from your head and your thoughts, they’ll be always screaming at you because it was your fault they have died, it was your fault you weren’t strong enough to help them. A while ago you honestly thought that you did get stronger but that’s not true. It’s just self deception. This hurts too much and you have no idea if it will ever subside – the pain of loss, the pain of fault, the pain of helplessness. And then you remember the most important thing right now, a person that gets you going – Sam. Why, Sam? Why us? Lara, you dragged her into this, you should have known, damn it. You should have been better informed, should have studied more, understood more. But you guess no matter what would have been done, you could never imagine that Sam could be related to the Sun Queen (it’s still terrifying) in this way. Still, you only blame yourself.

“Sam, I believe that our karma is really terrible” you whisper to the wind. Maybe it will carry these words to Sam? But no, it won’t. Karma is a bitch, wow can you explain this otherwise? You find love in a hopeless place (it’s more of an acknowledgement) and it’s taken away from you the same minute. This is some seriously messed up stuff, your brain can’t even comprehend how messed up this whole place is. You then think about Sam again, how her familiar smile brightens up the mood and her light touch ignites your whole body. However, you accidentally take a look at your stiff hands. Will Sam truly love a…killer? Something wakes up from its slumber. And the bad thoughts are back again, attacking you, yelling at you and you stop in one place and stand there as if your feet got glued. No, you can’t let this happen again. But your even more weak now, it’s hard to fight against yourself. You stare at these dirtied hands and close your eyes because you can’t take it – you can feel warm blood dripping from them, men are screaming from somewhere nearby, swearing in every language possible. You killed so many of them, mercilessly, easily, without regret, without emotions. How will you ever be able to caress Sam’s soft skin with these hands? These gruesome hands that have taken so many lives and did such terrible things. How could your hands even touch something as innocent as Sam? You’re just like this cursed island – you have killed too many people (though you have no idea if they were really all innocent or not). You snap out of your thoughts, somehow it got really cold. You open your eyes and see that the monastery is in front of you, there are no men here and your hands are clean. What is going on? I got to the monastery already? Why is it snowing again? You can’t believe that you got here so fast. Or maybe it took a lot of time, you don’t know. You can’t really think about these questions because you simply don’t REMEMBER how you got here. You need to rethink about all of this again - did it take a lot of time to get here? Did anyone attack you on the way? You try but you just can’t remember, your mind is broken and it’s not good, it’s not good to be like this right now. How can you save Sam if you’re not even being conscious? What if you accidentally hurt her and you won’t even realize it? These thoughts scare you so much, you can barely breathe. This is not the time to… to do anything except save Sam. Your brain is a mash of past events and present thoughts. No, Lara, stop thinking, you’re thinking too much, it’s unnecessary. And so you try, you just notice that the winds are getting colder.

You see a bridge in front of you and you think that there’s a 100% chance it is going to get destroyed – struck by lightning or blown away by the vicious winds or just… (whatever, it will still get destroyed). You already got used to that - everything that you touch disappears without a trace and you are left with nothing. You run and through your hands that are protecting your eyes you see something fascinating but strange. Fire? You have no idea how can there be fire alongside with this wind but you know better than to questions this island’s logic, you already had this conversation (with yourself). There is no logic here. A huge sculpture of Himiko is right behind the trail of fire and you feel as if she’s mocking you, making fun of you. Of course, it’s fun to see you struggle and fight. Just a little more and she’ll have a new body and you’ll lose the most important person in your life; you can’t cope with that thought so you close your eyes for a second (again). But then suddenly you hear it, something out of the context, someone’s pleas and tears. It can’t be, or can it? Sam? Or are you hallucinating again?

“No, no, please” Sam cries in the distance and you run forward with your eyes closed. “Lara” she shouts from the top of her lungs and your eyes fly open.

Mathias is holding her, Sam’s hands are tied behind her back. What soothes you the most is that it seems Sam is uninjured. That bastard is holding his sharp scepter too close to her throat, as if threatening you. That doesn’t make any sense, he wouldn’t kill her, he needs her for the ritual, so why is he acting like this? Then you realize – it doesn’t mean he still won’t hurt her. You swear, if that man touches Sam, if she will lose even a tiny drop of blood, you will literally rip his head off. Angry, you grab your bow and arrows and point the sharp arrow at Mathias. There’s nowhere to run now, bastard.

“Why are you doing this, Mathias?” you shout. There was no point in asking this, this man doesn’t bend to common sense, he creates his own reasons.

“Do you think that you’re the hero, Lara?” he says coldly and you can feel a chill run down your spine. No, it can’t be. Were you really just playing a hero? Saving everyone just so you could feel better about yourself, more important? And Sam is just a damsel in distress you need to save to win the grand prize…

‘Everything I’ve done I did to survive” Mathias says to you. Survival. That’s the main reason you’re doing this, right? You’re just trying to survive, to be able to live, to breathe. You’re trying to survive and also take care of other people. But then it means that you’re no different that he is. “How many lives have you taken to do the same?” Mathias asks and you feel lost.

It’s painful to think about this. Yes, you did kill a lot of men to survive but they would have killed you if they ever had the chance. But no, this doesn’t justify anything; it doesn’t justify you or Mathias. These killings, some of them were clearly unnecessary but you were scared. You were scared that if you let those men live they will come after you and your friends later. There is a mess in your head and everything seems wrong now. All of your memories are disorganized and scattered in your head and you can’t recall anything.

While you think about this, that bastard pushes Sam towards the fire. What is he doing? They will both die if they step any further. You can’t concentrate but you’re still aiming at him and trying to decide what to do.

“There are no heroes here, only survivors” Mathias says quietly, you can barely hear his voice. You agree with him on this one but like you’ve thought before, it doesn’t justify anything, this way of thinking just makes it easier to accept (and we always choose the easiest way).

They’re slowly going towards the fire, closer to the monastery and you feel scared. There’s no way you can take him down without hurting Sam but they’re slipping away, it may be your only chance. So you try another approach – you don’t think he understands all the odds and they are never in our favour.

“Himiko’s dangerous, Mathias” you try to talk him out of this. “She’s angry, she’s vengeful and she has real power”. Does he think Himiko will let him live? Does the foolish man understand that the selfish Queen cares about no one? The Oni and the Stormguards have killed a lot of the Solarii men, why does he think he’s different? Just because he is presenting Sam to her?

“A mere mortal for a queen?” this sentence echoes in you ears for a while. Mere mortal? “A good trade for our freedom I’d say”. This is not true, Sam is definitely not a mere mortal, she’s not, she’s not…

As if confirming his words, a lightning strikes nearby and Mathias and Sam run while the ground behind the fire and near the stairs to the monastery collapses. Even the fire had extinguished for a moment to let them pass but then continued on burning mercilessly in front of you. You take another look – the fire is still there but there’s no way around it, there’s even no ground to place your feet at. Damn it all. Just damn it. Luck is not on your side, hell, nothing is on your side. You let down the bow and take a couple of steps forward, then back, turn around. You feel sick again. You’re lost, you’re disappointed and confused. Why is this happening? The bow takes its place on your back again and you try to think. Except you can’t, your brain is like a bowl of jelly and it doesn’t help you at all. Desperately, you look around trying to find an entrance, a hole, anything that can help you get in there, to trick the monastery. You then notice a small passage, it’s almost invisible but it’s there and thank God for it. Though of course, getting to the top of the monastery won’t be easy. But it was never easy before, why suddenly it should start being easy now? You sigh. The clearance you had a moment ago has disappeared and you’re almost unable to think again. Shit.

“Run faster, climb higher, be stronger”. You feel as if you’re going to fall apart any minute.

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