Tomb Raider: Lilith's Scepter

The Great Goddess

He was suffering. In a very disgusting way – and for nothing.

Giselle bent over the patient’s stretcher as she adjusted the oxygen mask. Her forehead was beaded with sweat. “Come on.” She muttered through clenched teeth. “Breathe, you idiot. Breathe. You’ll be of no help if you die.”

She felt a gentle breeze at her back; a deep fragrance filled the air, and immediately knew her daughter had arrived. She didn’t use the doors to enter and exit - it was easier and pleasant to her to appear and disappear like the angel she in fact was.

The dying man on the stretcher widened his eyes when he saw Bathsheba. Letting out a groan, he tried to reach her.

“He thinks I’m an angel who comes to take him to heaven.” Murmured the beauty, as she read his mind quickly. “He begs me to end his pain.”

“Instead of citing poetry,” The busy doctor growled, turning to the tray material, “save his life. He’s dying.”

“Not true.” Bathsheba replied, smiling calmly. “He’s already dead.”

Giselle turned sharply. It was true - the man was stiff, with staring eyes fixed on her daughter. “You could have saved him.” The doctor said, letting out a sigh of annoyance.

“Oh, mother.” The Nephilim smiled. “You made him suffer enough. You’ve dozens of patients, do you not?”

“Yes, but he’d already completed treatment, and now I’ve to start again. Next time do me a favour, okay? You know your abilities are of great help to me.”

Bathsheba said nothing. Taking the ends of the bed sheet, she covered the body of the deceased. Giselle was taking notes furiously in her notebook.

The Nephilim knew the truth about Giselle’s illegal experiments - true crimes against human rights. But the Cabal gave them coverage and financing. In fact, she was managing to reach further than other scientists constrained by moral or legal scruples. The end justifies the means, that was Giselle’s motto, and of all those who collaborated with her. Inmates suffered, their lives were sacrificed, yes, but progress was priceless. Besides, was Bathsheba not the perfect proof that those experiments had a fair and beautiful end? Among her people, Giselle was obeyed like a respected general or a religious leader. No one doubted her word and those who did weren’t worthy of being there.

But Bathsheba knew - Giselle had been long asking her to cure or extend the life of her patients. She could, as Karel could. A touch of her fingers, a puff of her breath, a kiss from her lips and the pain vanished temporarily, wounds closed or gangrenes stopped their draining. She had the power, since she inherited it from her father. Why not use it?

And Bathsheba, in spite of everything, knew - she was turning into an instrument to her mother. At first she’d consented, fascinated to see that power coming from inside her, which she barely could control. But soon she got tired. So that’s why she’d left the man to die. She was the Angel of Death he’d asked her to be.

The Nephilim was tired, very tired.

She turned around ready to leave, but Giselle took her arm and went out into the hallway. “Have you found out something about the Shards?” The doctor questioned, tidying her short, bouncy blonde hair.

“The British explorer had one of them. But when I went to take it, since as you know she didn’t want to sell it, it had already changed hands. She’s really clever, but it’s only a matter of time. The other one is in the Lux Veritatis’ mother’s hands...but when I went to steal it she attacked and hurt me. I had to retreat.”

“You should’ve killed them. Both of them.”

Bathsheba paused and gave her a cold stare. “Even if you’re my mother, I won’t have you telling me what to do. Lara Croft is not my goal and that Navajo woman is still useful. I won’t kill them...yet.”

“Whatever. But try not let them become a problem for us. You know something about the Lux Veritatis?”

The beauty stopped. Her green eyes were lost in the distance. “That’s…strange.” She muttered. “I can’t see him in the distance. There’s an aura wrapping him around...which hides him from my view. As if he knew I’m looking for him.”

“That bastard can’t hide for long.” Said the scientist, categorically. “You can’t imagine how great my desire is to find him.” And smiled cruelly.

Bathsheba turned and took her mother’s face in her gentle hands. Face to face they seemed sisters...two beautiful twins, so alike and yet so different. “Calm down, mother.” The Nephilim said, stroking Giselle’s forehead. “Hatred and desire for revenge are consuming you. And then you won’t get what you want.”

They heard a cough. They turned and saw Gertrude there, dressed as usual up and down with her long black dress and veil, like a black widow. “Blessed Daughter.” She said to Bathsheba. “Would you want to join this poor old lady?”

When Bathsheba took her arm, the old woman and the young doctor exchanged a cold glance.

“Careful.” Bathsheba whispered. “My mother never liked you, and now less, given the attention you lavish on me.”

“Oh, she’s only jealous. She’s always been jealous. When her sister was alive she was jealous of her success, when Meister Eckhardt was still alive she was jealous of him because he got Meister Karel’s attention. And when both died she still was jealous of anyone who approached to speak with him.”

They went down the hallway and slowly approached the chapel’s area, a place only visited by the old Gertrude to pray, and no one else. She worshipped the Great Goddess. That was hilarious for Giselle and the rest of the team, for whom the Great Goddess was nothing but a distant and lost ancient myth. They believed in science, in Bathseba’s gift.

The altar was placed facing the East, where the Great Goddess was born. Her statue was chairing the altar. Tall, beautiful and naked, escorted by two owls, holding in her hands the exhilarating symbols as her feet sank into the ground like claws. Lilith. The first woman, and also the queen of all demons.

“I was young when initiated by Meister Eckhardt in the Goddess cult.” Gertrude whispered as she took a box of matches. “You’ll be surprised to know that Nephili used to worship Lilith. They believed she was the mother of them all, since she’d intercourse with an angel. Now, only I among all of us keep the worship.”

Bathsheba had heard that story hundreds of times, but she listened patiently. Gertrude, despite repeating herself as the dotty old woman she was, always provided her with some valuable information. Not surprisingly she was the Cabal’s oldest member, after the death of the two Meisters.

Smiling, the Nephilim approached the old lady and took the matchbox out of her hands. Then, leaning toward each of the candles, she lit the wicks by blowing slightly above them. Gertrude looked at her amazed.

“Don’t look at me like that, aunt.” She laughed. “This is just a child’s trick.”

“Your mother and the others laugh at me because I still revere the Goddess! She’s whom you look like. You’re her child; I’m convinced, as were all Nephili born from her. They, your mother and the others, are idiots. They with all their stupid experiments.”

“I was born from a stupid experiment.” Bathsheba replied smiling.

“You were born from Karel’s seed! And he was one of the Ancients, perhaps born in the Second or Third Generation. Lilith’s blood runs through your veins, Blessed Daughter! You’re divine - a goddess. The power that protects you proclaims what I say.”

The Nephilim smiled. Nothing disturbed the sweetness of her face. Since she’d been a girl, in those years, the old Gertrude had taken her with and repeated that over and over again. She’d initiated her in Lilith’s cult, the Mother. And time and again she’d shown her she was more than the beautiful and perfect creature emerged from a risky experiment.

Gertrude came up and gripped her arm. Only she and Giselle could touch her - this was prescribed and ordered. “Listen. Your mother’s crazy. She uses you as if you were a Messiah who came to heal and smooth the road. Healing wounds, lengthen life, only to see her disgusting experiments continued. The answer is not science. The road to Paradise won’t be found cutting members and filling vases with fluid samples. The road to Paradise is you, Blessed Daughter.” She turned abruptly and walked to the altar, before which she knelt and prayed quietly. Lilith’s blurred statue was mixed with the wisps of smoke streaming from the candles.

Free from the old woman’s ramblings, Bathsheba turned ready to leave the chapel, but then Gertrude spoke again: “Don’t you know what your mother is preparing for you?”

The Nephilim stood still.

“Oh, you don’t know because you don’t want to. You can find out what pleases you, Blessed Daughter. You just have to want it. But if you don’t want to, you really can’t.”

Bathsheba took a deep breath, ordering herself to be patient with the senile ravings of this woman. “What about my mother’s plans?”

“There are not very different from Eckhardt and Karel’s plans. They wanted to rise the High Breed up again. Only Giselle succeeded - the result is you. And you, blessed child, you’ll live forever. But only one member isn’t enough to re-breed a race, right? We need more members...we need...children.”

The cheeks of the beautiful woman lit. “You’re wrong, aunt. My mother promised me...”

“Yes. She vowed not to match you with any mortal, so that your blood wouldn’t be tainted. But you know you need to breed, daughter. There’s no race without begetting. Maybe...perhaps she’s looking to create a new Nephilim, a companion for you. Would you like so, Blessed Daughter?” She concluded with a sarcastic twang.

She got the desired effect for her words. Bathsheba went furious. “A partner...a!”

“Come on, my child. There’s nothing wrong with incest. Remember that demons were born of cosmogonist incest, which in the end...”

“Shut up!”

Gertrude stopped. Bathsheba’s eyes burned with green fire. She, who was sweet as a caress, when angry could arouse genuine terror. “Only I’m Lilith’s Daughter. Only I’m the road to Paradise, as you said. There will be no one other than me. I’m the last that will live forever. There can’t be another one.”

The old lady smiled. “Tell her. You can sweep her experiments with your hand, destroy her theory. You can bring us the Paradise. We don’t need the High Breed, Blessed Daughter. You fulfilled all the prophecies. There will be no revival of the Nephili, but the road to Paradise. But...ah! Make your stubborn mother understand.”

The beautiful woman was now pensive. “I know what I must do. My mother must not know anything. I’ll find the Shards, as I found the Periapt. And there’s still something I’ve to find, something which carries the Great Goddess’ name.”

“Yes, my dear, yes...” Murmured the old lady. “We need it; we need the Scepter. With it you can open up the road.”

“The Scepter...”

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