This, this isn’t a laughing matter anymore, child games have ended when you first set your feet on this cursed island. And from then on, everything just went more and more out of control, it became absolutely incomprehensible. But there was a sudden moment of clarification and everything started making sense – Himiko, Sam, the fire ritual, the Oni, even Mathias. This is like this lonely constellation of stars in the dark sky. You are tied to Sam, she’s tied to the Sun Queen, the Sun Queen is tied to the Oni and so forth. This is like a ball of thread, you’re just trying to unravel it, to see the beginning and the end of it, understand how it got tangled. Sam is the brightest star in the constellation, she’s the biggest knot in the ball of thread. And those who are involved the most, will get hurt the most. The ugly truth, the fact, that’s scaring me the most.
The Stormguard roars and your skin produces goose bumps, you shiver. This inhuman thing, this beast is on your way (or is the other way around?). You’ve been lucky up until now, always escaping, avoiding the Stormuards, missing them at just at the right moment. But now one is right in front of you and you think that it’s not a matter of luck, it’s just a matter of time. Lara, you have to trust your instincts fully now, they’ll guide you just like they did before. It’s because of them you are still alive, still breathing. When he raises that weapon of his, you swear under your breath and your eyes race from side to side, trying to figure out your next move. Your head is blank, there’s only one word floating around there somewhere and the word is “Survive”. You start running around the small platform that has now turned into an arena, the remains of buildings are burning, everything is engulfed in the flames of fire. The lightning, the dark clouds, the wind, these things make you feel like you are in some sort of a sick movie. But you aren’t.
The Stormguard lunges towards you and you have no other option but to roll backwards and evade the hit. The sound when his weapon hits the ground is terrifying and you shiver once more. This bad, this is going to be difficult. You take out your guns but wherever you look – armor, armor everywhere. You aim for the head, just like you did numerous of times before (maybe it will do the trick again), but the bullets just rebound not even grazing him. The monster attacks you again, with more force and you barely dodge this. Shit, that was close! The wind from the swing let’s you know that the weapon the Stormuard’s holding is extremely heavy and could kill you in an instant; you’d never have the time to even feel the pain. You have mere seconds to observe him before he takes a swing at you again. Come on, come on, think, you need to find his weak spot, his Achilles heel. As you try to run past him, you finally notice, you notice a patch of bare skin on his back. Bingo! This must be it, his weakness.
“Pour forth now, fill up this mortal coil!” you hear somewhere in the distance. That bastard, Mathias. He’s encouraging the Sun Queen, inviting her into Sam’s warm body. How dare he! You need to hurry, you need to shut him up once and for all. All the pain he’s caused, all the deaths, the wounds, the thoughts. You think that even after you’ll kill him (and you will, definitely), you won’t be able to return back to normal. This experience has been traumatizing and you’re not even sure you’ll be able to stop thinking about this tragedy. Getting back will be hard, the only person that might tie you down to the Earth is Sam, she will help you to not lose touch with the reality. But now you have to help Sam.
You take out your rifle and start firing bullets into the Stormguard’s unprotected back – it’s hard to aim with a wind like this. Your mind is cold now, you dodge, you run, you jump, whenever you can you aim at the bastard’s back. You have no idea how much time has passed and how much bullets did you waste but you got tired, really really tired. It seems that all the heaviness in the world suddenly fell upon you at once and you feel as if you’re going to black out. The lack of normal food, sleep, comfort added up and your knees feel weak, so weak. Is this the end?
But you’re not the first one to fall, the Stormguard is. Down on his knees, panting heavily. Lara, it’s your chance, it’s your moment. You gather your strength and run forward, swinging your axe, going straight for the hideous face, knocking the heavy helmet off of his head. But that doesn’t faze him, the Stormguard gets up and grips his weapon tighter. He’s clearly pissed and you’re in trouble. Nobody said it was going to be easy.
“Rise, great Queen” as you look up, you see the Oni behind the Stormguard. How, how did they get up here? An arrow flies past your ear, reminding you that the fight is far from over. What to do? What to do… You need to take out the Oni first, they could seriously wound or even kill you with those deadly arrows and their perfect accuracy, they need to be stopped.
“Fill this vessel with your spirit” you hear as your rifle shakes in your hands, firing bullets into the demons, seemingly killing them. Goodbye and good riddance, bastards. You evade the Stormguard, he might be strong but he’s not fast enough. Again, you aim for the head, now unprotected. He’s angrier than ever, roaring, yelling, the lightning is striking everywhere around you and you can barely see through the dust.
“With the rain, may your soul seep in, filling the vessel” Mathias yells. The rain? You look up for a bit just to see heavy clouds covering the sky. Will the Sun Queen’s soul get into Sam’s body with the help of the rain? It looks like it may rain any minute. Shit, faster, Lara, faster. You need to end this NOW! Your axe flies into the Stomrguard’s face one time, then the second, then the third, the fourth. You are smashing his skull with your axe now, the blood is splattering everywhere around you, contrasting with the snow. He finally dies, with a painful expression on his face, knowing that he had failed his mission to protect the Queen. He is finally dead and you feel fulfilled. There’s not a single drop of mercy left in you, these monsters have taken away all of it (or was it the monsters inside of you?). Your hands are on your thighs now, you’re breathing heavily, resting just for a bit.
“Upon these winds, RISE! RISE!” and your thoughts are back here. It’s now his turn, there’s no one stopping you now. It’s his turn to die, there’s no one protecting him now. No Oni, no Solarii, no Stormguards.
“Here now, your vessel awaits” you hear the voice of Mathias get louder as you run to him. You run past the bridge and see a blue flashing light surrounding Sam and Himiko. Right, now you’re inside of the barrier too and you need to stop the Queen, fast. There’s absolutely no time left, no time.
Sam’s body looks lifeless, just floating there and it scares the shit out of you. Is she alive? You take out an arrow and a bow and aim for Himiko. This madness needs to stop. Enough is enough. The selfish Queen, living through ages, stealing other girls bodies, torturing them, killing them. It’s time for you to die, you had enough for one lifetime. But then you hear a gunshot and the bow flies out of your hands.
“NO!” Mathias yells as you take out your pistol. You aim at him, barely able to hold the heavy pistol but your every single bullet misses him. He then runs up to you and punches you right in the face (his punch being quite weak), you stab him in the back with your pry axe and he tackles you to the ground.
“This ends now!” he shouts, taking the axe from his back, his body is on you as he tries to strangle you with your own axe. A battle ensues and you feel that Mathias is also weak, tired from guarding Sam, sneaking past the Oni, commanding his men, trying to catch and kill you, helping Himiko. He’s out of breath, just like you so it’s a draw for now. After a few seconds you feel the adrenaline surge through your veins and then you’re stronger than him, faster. You swiftly take out his pistol and try to shoot him in the face but he manages to grab the gun right in time and turn it to his side. You shoot him in his left side. He gets off of you from the impact, holding the wound, preventing the blood from flowing out and you slowly get up (because you have no energy left in you). You grip the two pistols in your hands. Finally, finally you can kill him, finally you can watch him suffer. He’s just standing near the edge now, with no more energy left to fight, nowhere left to hide.
“This bullet is for the Endurance” you think to yourself as you fire it into his right shoulder.
“This one is for Grimm” you aim it at his left leg.
“This one is for Roth” you whisper as you plant it into the center of his chest.
“This bullet is for Alex” the bullet flies into his waist.
“This one is for Sam” you aim at his right side.
“And this, this one is for ME!” you aim the pistol at his forehead and shoot. Mathias then falls over the edge, his long and sharp death scream echoing in your ears throughout the mountains. You get closer to the edge to see him still in the air, still falling. Even if the bullets didn’t kill him, a fall like this eventually will. Mathias - no one will miss him, no one will mourn him. Men like him should never exist in the first place. But who knows, maybe he was a good guy once, it was this island that slowly had poisoned him throughout the years, deleting his humanity, taking away his sanity. The real Mathias, he died a long time ago but he didn’t know it.
You turn and see that Sam’s body is floating again and as you take a few steps forward, you understand that it’s difficult to reach the Sun Queen because of the pressure surrounding her. When you get closer to her, you see that the energy is flowing from her to Sam like water, in small waves. Just like in that mural you saw in the monastery. You look at Himiko and then you glance at Sam. Oh god, you hope this works and it’s not too late. You hope you can get Sam back, you have to tell her so many things. You then take out the torch and somehow manage to light it on fire. This is it, this is it! You stab Himiko in the heart (she never had a heart, she was always ruthless).
She screams as the torch burns her clothes, her body. The energy changes, it goes from water to electricity, lightning and you take a step back to not get hurt. After a minute her body bursts into these tiny bits of energy that dissipate into the wind. It’s over, she’s dead, she won’t hurt us anymore. The mighty, the legendary Sun Queen is finally dead.
You fall down to your knees, not caring that this will hurt later but you have to check up on Sam. You pray in your thoughts that she’s alive, she has to be. When you look at her, you see her chest rising and falling meaning she’s alive.
“Sam! Oh Sam, thank god” you mutter and feel as you’re going to start crying any minute. Sam is alive, Sam is alright, Sam is safe, Sam is… Sam. You touch her, try to help her get a bit more comfortable and when your fingertips touch her skin, you can feel your whole body ignite, all the pain disappear.
“Urgg… wha?” Sam whispers, eyes still closed. “Lara, what’s happening?” her eyes fly open and look straight into yours. You feel like you’re going to explode with happiness and joy. There are so many feelings in you, you have so many thoughts but none the rest of it matters.
“Shhh… shhh… I’m here” you say gently to Sam, holding her, enjoying the feeling of her unbearably soft skin. “You’re safe now, it’s okay…”. It is, it is okay, you are finally able to say that it’s okay. You hold Sam’s head and she grasps for your hand. “It’s okay”.
“You saved me… I knew you would” Sam says as she pats your hand. Your promises are no laughing matter, you never make empty promises, you’re not that kind of person. And whenever you promise something to Sam, failure is never an option no matter how impossible the situation may be. And this is the proof of it, the best one you can think of.
“I made you a promise” you reassure her and only then you notice that it’s snowing. It’s cold here, need to move. “Let’s get you home”.
There’s a weird sense of warmth on the top of your head and you look up to see a ray of light peeking from the heavy clouds. Sun? The ray of light expands and the snow stops falling, the sky is slowly getting clear.
Is this the sign of our victory?