Tomb Raider: War and Peace

Chapter 8

You wake up from a terrible nightmare only to see your lover’s face right in front of you. You’re still lying on the ground because you don’t have any energy left in you, the Sun Queen has drained you completely. You can barely think, it is as if your head is absolutely empty. You could hear her, Himiko. When she was trying to take over, she was talking to you in Japanese during the Ascension ritual. Himiko was demanding for you to abandon this body, to disappear. She kept saying that there’s no future for you and that she will make you the most powerful person on the face of the Earth. Her voice was soft and gentle but you could feel annoyance hiding behind it. You kept denying everything she said, ignoring her and it was making her impatient. The legendary ruler of Yamatai, the mighty Sun Queen wanted your body, she wanted to live and for you to die. She wanted to go on, she wanted her legacy not to be over. But it doesn’t matter now, now she’s gone…

“Sam, do you really feel alright?” you hear a very concerned voice. It’s Lara.

“Yeah… I just feel drained” you say weakly and close your eyes because the sun’s light is too intense for you as you were lost in the immense darkness just moments ago. This is unbelievable, one moment you’re dying and the other you are in Lara’s arms. You feel fulfilled but at the same time you feel ashamed, that for one moment you doubted that Lara will save you, that you doubted she’ll be able to.

“Sorry” you hear Lara whisper and you end up feeling confused. Why is she apologizing? What is she apologizing for?

“Sweetie, what are you apologizing for?” you ask her as your fingers stroke her rough hands.

“That I didn’t come earlier, that you had to go through this, that-“

“Lara, please, don’t. You saved me and that’s enough, it’s good enough for me”. You know it’s only the beginning, the guilt will wash over her way too many times but you need to be there for her. In her eyes you see the want to argue but she gives it up. You guess she’s also tired from all of this, you have no idea what did she have to go through on this island. You’re not sure you want to know either, but you’ll have to, to help and comfort her.

“I’m just...” she stops talking when you put your warm hand on her cheek. She looks so pale, so ill, so tired. She looks like a ghost and for a second you wonder that maybe Lara had died during this journey and came back as a ghost to visit you. Or you are just losing it.

“Can you… Can you walk?” she then randomly asks you ands you snap out of the confusion you created in your head.

“I doubt I have the energy left in me” you say carefully. “Just let me lay a bit more”.

“No, no, you’ll catch a cold” Lara shakes her head. “Come on, at least try to stand up”.

Lara helps you up and holds your hands so you won’t fall over. Your feet hurt but you somehow you manage to stand up. You look at her and she smiles at you. But your knees shake and as you start to fall over, she catches you just in the right time. You both sigh in unison. Then suddenly, you feel Lara sweep you off of your feet and she starts carrying you.

“Erm, what are you doing?” you ask, your brain clearly has a slow reaction and comprehend anything right now.

“You clearly can’t walk” Lara says simply as a matter of fact. She then carries you in her arms. It’s so embarrassing… Lara has had it much worse than you, let’s not forget all of her wounds, all of her lack of sleep but she is somehow able to carry your limp body. She really doesn’t have to.
“Lara, you really don’t have t-“

“Oh shut up, Sam” she cuts you off and you laugh a bit because she’s so dead serious and stubborn. If she decided that she’ll carry you down the mountains, she will and you won’t be able to say a word to her, Lara won’t listen. She’s so persistent, you adore it.

So you do shut up. You look at yourself and you feel like a bride that is being carried around. Your white dress (if you can call it that) is floating in the air and you’re humming some melody from years ago. You don’t know why you remembered it, but you guess it has to do something with the fact that your mom used to sing it after telling you stories about Himiko. This song used to remind you of the beautiful and strong Sun Queen, now you’re humming it to show the end of her reign.

Your thoughts then start to kick in. It’s difficult, it’s difficult to be like this. To not let your subconsciousness take over, to try to NOT let yourself understand. You need to stop thinking about this, Sam. But you won’t, of course you won’t. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but one day you will definitely start thinking too much about what happened on this God’s forgotten island. And then you’re going to go crazy. What about Lara? She’ll be in grief, she’ll be shocked, mad, angry. This wasn’t a random fun adventure for you, it left scars, both on your skins and in your hearts. The question is, will you be able to help each other to take it as it is? The truth is like a bitter pill, you have to take it as it comes, you can’t ignore. If you do, the situation will get worse than it ever was.

You have no idea how much time has passed, time isn’t the most important thing on this island (unless there’s a certain ritual involved), it isn’t a priority. Time is relative but you can finally enjoy it, you don’t need to be scared now. You turn your head a bit and for a moment stare at Lara’s face. You still don’t understand how she is able to carry you with her wounds. Is it the adrenaline? The “surge”? Her beautiful face is serious but her hazel eyes are blank. Yes, Lara is doing the same thing as you, she’s preventing her brain from thinking too much. Like you’ve thought before, time isn’t important now, because you try not to notice it. What matters the most is HERE and NOW. Lara sighs heavily and then stops in her tracks.

“Sam, is it okay if we rest a bit? I’m a bit tired” Lara asks dryly and puts you carefully on the green grass.

“Of course, of course, take all the time you need” (time again) you say sympathetically. You hope that when you’ll get out of here, you’ll be able to find someone to treat Lara’s wounds. Her shirt is soaked in blood and it looks terrifying. Lara sits nearby and get closer to her.
“You know” she starts to say and then turns silent. “You know, I thought I’d never see you again…”.

“Lara, you don’t need to-“ you start but she cuts you off. Sam, you know what she wants to say and you know she wants you to listen, so just shut up. You put your head lightly on her shoulder and listen to what Lara has to say.

“Please, just let me tell you how I feel. When Reyes told me that you were taken by Whitman, I, my heart had shattered. Literally. I knew it would happen because I didn’t trust him, but when it really happened I just couldn’t move from the spot. Reyes, Jonah and I came up with a plan but when it was time to go I just sat there glued to the fireplace” Lara says not looking at you. “I was petrified, all the time. I thought that either the Stormguard, the Oni or Mathias will kill you. And later, that I will come too late to save you and will lose you forever. It was so difficult to cope with it, to live with it, to carry it, the burden.” Lara’s voice kept trembling the whole time, she was so vulnerable.

You wanted to say something, anything, but your mind was empty and you couldn’t find the words to say to make her feel better. You knew that even if you came up with something, it wouldn’t help. She was staring blankly at something in front of her and you wanted her to snap out of this, to understand that everything is alright, that she saved you, that you’re here.

“Sweetie, it’s ok, we’re fine” you try, but you understand it’s not enough now.

“No, Sam, we are not, this is totally fucked up. I don’t know how we’ll be able to forget this” Lara turns her head slowly to you. “No one leaves. Even if physically we will get out of here, I will be stuck in here in my mind for a long time. I think it goes the same for you”.

It was weird hearing Lara being so pessimistic, though she was just being realistic. She was talking about the damage that couldn’t be seen by plain eyes. This, the island, Himiko, it was a traumatic experience and you too have no idea how you’ll get over it. But you have to try, there’s no other way. Honestly, it’s too late to give up now.

“Lara, we have each other, we will try to help one another to forget this place” you put your hand on her cold one. “We will have to take the hit eventually; we can’t be running away from it forever, we can’t be running round in circles to avoid it. Problems do not go away if we ignore them, we’ll have to face them” you try to sound warm, encouraging.

“’But not now” Lara stands up.
“Not now” you stand up as well and turn to Lara. She looks as if she wants to say something more but keeps quiet.
“Sam?” she asks you and her gaze and voice automatically soften. She takes a step closer to you and she puts her forehead against yours. “Can we stay a bit like this?”.

The question, its sadness just hits you. She needed comfort, a light touch, a soft embrace, just to feel that things might be ok. Your hands encircle her slim frame. It’s so good just to be able to feel her but it isn’t enough. And then you remember the kiss you’ve shared, it was like a salvation to you. You were able to go on just because you were holding on to that kiss.

“Salvation” you mutter.

“What?” Lara asks but you don’t answer. You just claim her lips with your own. And everything suddenly changed, the sun got brighter and warmer, the grass smelt nicer and Lara’s skin got hotter. The kiss instantly became deeper and more passionate. You could feel Lara spill her every ache, every emotion into the kiss and you took it. You were just kissing her, taking everything in. Lara’s hands started tracing your body and her touches burnt like fire. You don’t care about anything, you’re HERE and NOW, you’re enjoying the taste of Lara’s lips, the softness of her kiss, the strength of her emotions. Sam, you’ll think about other things later.

But now. Now you forget about everything.

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