Tomb Raider: Lilith's Scepter

Memories of a Healer

The helicopter and the survivors from Justin’s team met in Romania, near Bran’s castle. Six out of twelve aircrafts had been lost.

“I’m so sorry, Justin.” Lara muttered, casting her eyes by his men.

He shook his head. “I’ll take care of everything. We knew there was a risk and we did it anyway. What the hell was that? Mafia, a cult?”

“Something like that, Justin...but I can’t tell you anymore. You’ve been involved enough. The favour is more than returned.”

“What favour?” Kurtis said then, who was behind her, leaning on a fence.

Justin smiled. “Croft saved my life in a skirmish we had in... Bangladesh?”

“Exactly.” She smiled.

“I promised one day I’d return her the favour of her life.”

“And you did.” Lara added. “Thank you, Justin. Without you it would’ve been impossible.”

The pilot saluted and walked to his aircraft, followed by the rest of his men. Before boarding, he turned and said: “No clue who you are or why you’re this important, Kurtis Trent, but hope you know how to earn all this!”

“Of course.” The Lux Veritatis replied, saluting too. When the aircrafts took off and disappeared over the horizon, he added: “Worth it, Lara?”

“How can you ask that?” She replied, placing her arms around his neck. “I should have come before, Kurtis.” Then she brushed his mouth with her lips.

Suddenly they heard Zip’s voice, shouting full voice from one window on the castle’s third floor: “Geeeez! Someone stop those two! Shame on y’all!”

“C’mon, Lara. Everybody’s looking at us.”

“Nevermind them.” She said, mocking and kissed him harder.

That evening was one of the happiest to remember for a while. Kurtis had returned safe and sound, another Lux Veritatis and Healer, and Radha had been rescued - so there were enough grounds for celebration. For once, Vlad didn’t care to have his place crowded.

Kurtis refused to talk about what they had done to him, and Maddalena didn’t say a word about her rape. Marcus joked about his long stay in prison, dismissively, and Marie remained silent the whole time, clutching her son’s hand. Even when Kurtis joked about him being spoiled, the old woman wouldn’t release him.

Maddalena remained silent and aloof. For some reason, she felt as if she′d nothing to do with that situation. As if an intruder in that plot, as if she was there by mistake. She also said not a word about Sciarra’s death, trying to protect Radha. Despite that, Kurtis had looked at her askance more than once, and although he hadn’t said anything, she couldn’t help but shudder. Something told her he suspected something.

That night Lara and Kurtis made love furiously, almost desperately. It was as if time and the world itself would soon cast over them. Lara felt as if there was a Damocles’ sword suspended over them, which eventually would fall and cut violently, separating them again, perhaps forever. Every time he made love to her - and they were many times, despite their exhaustion - she clung to him fiercely, digging her nails into his skin, scratching him, for over his shoulder she believed she saw that damn Bathsheba, who smiled at her as Karel did once, ready to snatch Kurtis from her arms.

This is all driving me crazy.

At dawn he fell asleep, and then Lara rushed to the bathroom to empty her stomach again - nausea had returned.She looked at herself, naked in the mirror, and touched her belly. Was it softer, slightly rounded? Apart from those ailments, and some painful swelling in her breasts, nothing had changed. Almost three months, and she barely looked pregnant. It was said pregnancy and childbirth features often passed from mother to daughter. She smiled bitterly - that was the first time she thought of her mother in a while. What would she think of that? Scandalous, Lara. No doubt.

Kurtis hadn’t noticed anything. He couldn’t even imagine that. Well, sooner or later she’d have to tell him. Lara just hadn’t reached that point yet.

For a few days, all of them were at peace. Lara decided not to return to England. Surrey Manor was no longer safe, and anyway it would be best for Winston: if they stood away from there, nobody would go back to bother him or put his life in danger - or at least, so she hoped.

They met often at Vlad’s library to discuss. Neither Radha nor Maddalena took part. The redhead didn’t care about that anymore. Often the castle tourists saw her wandering by outdoors or through the courtyard, head down and embracing herself, her splendid red hair covering her face. When a friendly traveller, concerned, approached to ask if she was okay, she raised her head and showed an empty smile, and then she continued wandering. Something was consuming her from the inside.

And it wasn’t because of the rape. In fact, she’d recently menstruated again and therefore the panic of getting pregnant from that monster disappeared. The rest she got over easily. Male brutality had been her daily bread and in that, she was stronger than any other woman.

What consumed her was her uncertain situation. She was in love with a man who didn’t share her feelings. When being a child she’d been taught that love was the enemy of her employment. If a prostitute fell in love, she was lost - no more living, but dying of hunger.

While walking, all of that was spinning around in her head. She’d even thought of leaving prostitution. Now she was an adult and had escaped from the clutches of the madams of Sicily, and also from Monteleone’s claws. Couldn’t she rule her own life? But it wasn’t easy.

If Kurtis had loved her... if that bloody British woman wasn’t in the middle... maybe things would be easier. Maybe he could have loved her, after all. She’d been told stories of prostitutes who had fallen in love with their customers and had left the job forever.

Curse that woman. Curse him, who couldn’t look away from her. Hadn’t Maddalena been told that men were treacherous? Didn’t most of her customers have girlfriends and wives, and yet they went to have her? She would’ve wanted him to be like them, although he despised her.

And so she spent her hours like a lost soul. She didn’t even notice people looking at her.

However, Radha actually felt upset about being excluded from those private meetings. She used to slip to the large mahogany door and stuck her ear to the door. Unfortunately, if she barely understood English, she knew nothing of French, which they used to grant themselves more privacy.

It was the third day when Marcus secretly called Lara. The old man met her in Ivanoff’s office. The British explorer was greatly intrigued by that man, who was like Kurtis but also different.

“Take this, child, it’s for you.” And he handed her a bundle of twisted and blackened sheets, handwritten in an elegant curved letter. Lara took off the rubber that held the bundle and flipped through it. It stank of mildew and was stained. “This is a report I wrote during the months I was a prisoner at the base in Moscow. I estimate that around that time you’d just killed the Black Alchemist and still nothing was known about the Golden Seal and its role. When I have time, I’ll include everything you told me about it.”

“They let you write this?” Lara asked, surprised.

Marcus nodded. “He did - that devilish Karel. He forced me somewhat, but I also wanted to. I guess that’s why I was spared. They used my memories to find out more about their enemy. For months I had it, and sometimes he snatched it from me, read it and gave it back to me. Yes, there was an opportunity to lie but after...” Then his voice broke. “After he punished me, I never did it again.”

Lara asked no questions about the “punishment.”

“Then, when Karel died, I kept the manuscript. Sometimes I hid it in my clothes, sometimes in the corner of my cell. Dr. Boaz doesn’t know of its existence, but Bathsheba does. She laughed and let me keep it. I hid it in a hole in the ceiling, where the water didn’t reach. I want you to read, it’s important for you to know this.”

She nodded. “What’s the report about?”

Marcus smiled, but it was a bitter smile. “About the Order’s final agony. About my last days in freedom and above all, about Kurtis.”

Lara raised her eyebrows in surprise. “About Kurtis?”

“Don’t show this to him. He might become furious. Oh yes, I knew him, though he didn’t recognize me. I pretended not to know him in prison, but, truth be told, I followed his path in the Order since before he was even born.”

So there was a report on Kurtis. Unbelievable. What he never would tell her was there. She could hardly wait to read it. “Thank you, Marcus. Hope my reading may be helpful.”

“I’ve arranged everything for when you’re done, you give it to Selma. She has offered to transcribe it and Zip to file in in his computer. The original should be destroyed.”

Lara nodded. When Marcus left, she went to a couch, laid full length, and swinging her leg, began to read.

Report on the Order in its last days, by Marcus the Healer

The Order of the Lux Veritatis was born in XIII century. Its impossible to pinpoint the exact year, for the older files were destroyed by Pieter Van Eckhardt in assault on Beiruts stronghold in the 70′s. And now, at the beginning of XXI century, we can say - I can say - that we’re over. The Order has died. Our enemies have finally crushed us.

In this cold dark cell where I write, I’m convinced this report will have some meaning. Karel let me write it. I see his cold smile between the bars every time he passes by. It amuses him to see me overwhelmed, so he gave me pencil and paper.Write old man; lets see what you can tell me”. If Eckhardt knows about it, hell set it on fire, as he did with everything that was ours.

But I must do this, even on behalf of my soul. Then, if they want to kill me and burn these papers, so be it.

About the author

I know it sounds pretentious, but I’d like to start this report talking about myself. My name’s Marcus... just Marcus. My surname vanished when joining the Order and I’m proud of it. Brother Marcus the Healer is my name.

I was born sixty-four years ago. My father was a Healer like me and my mother one of the Orders wisest women. I didnt awaken to the Gift until 16 years old and then I joined the service of our community. Since that day there was nothing more important to me, as it should be.

My wisdom and good sense made my brothers love me and at some point my appointment as Grand Master was considered. That made me panic, for I couldnt bear such a high-risk role, which put me in the eye of the hurricane and the first of the Black Alchemists potential victims. However, once the Master is elected, he cant quit. I never got to be it as I was captured on the eve of my appointment. Had Eckhardt seen what I was to become? I dont know. Since then I’ve never known freedom, and a man greater than me took my place - but Ill come back to this later.

Oh Blessed Light... Why dont they kill me? When will this agony end?

However, Im not the main character of this report. I was nearly fifty years old and I’d seen the death of my wife and the growth and sacrifice of my children’s lives when he arrived to the Order. Somehow, his existence foretold me the Orders end as any other fate had. May the Holy Light forgive him.

Concerning Brother Kurtis Heissturm

I must talk about him, partly because he’s everything, partly because Karel forces me to do so. He wants to know his enemy to overcome him. Well, I hope you, my reader, understand I had no choice. Life is all I’ve left, and yet, I desire to die.

Brother Kurtis is the son of the great Konstantin Heissturm and Marie Cornel, his wife. But before talking about the child, I cant leave out neither the father nor the grandfather.

Our Order has always witnessed the birth and death of powerful figures. We all share the Gift, but were not equal at all. First of all, Fighters appear to be advantaged, since theyre not only able to use telekinesis to alter matter, but they are also clairvoyant, they acknowledge the past and future through dreams, visions, and touches, and they can also move their mind to the immaterial plans they want. And because theyre so powerful and dangerous, the training they receive is a hundred times harder.

Healers have the power of healing. We can stop bleeding and prevent infection. We can order the blood to stop flowing, we throw pus out of a wound, we order harmful micro-organisms to stop their activity and withdraw. But we cant completely rebuild a bone or repair tissues, or make intact an empty eye socket, or put a severed hand back in its place. Only the Nephili, cursed be their name, could do that.

By contrast, our sense for wisdom is greater than the Fighters. We interpret their dreams and visions, we give them advice and counsel. Without us they couldnt withstand the heavy burden over their shoulders. They fight and we advise. Yes, were both very important and necessary, but even as a child I always wanted to be a Fighter and shoot down objects, blow up matter and see the past and the future.

Oh, I dont want it anymore. Blessed be the Light who made me a Healer. If born a Fighter, I’d be dead already. What am I saying? All of them have died - both Healers and Fighters, and with them their wives and families.

What do they want from me?

But I mustnt digress. As I say, there were always powerful figures that exceeded the normal average. Gerhardt Heissturm was the first among the Fighters in hundreds of years that showed great power. I remember the Grand Master of the time - in the Light he may rest - horrified to see his amazing psychic powers. He’d only to close his eyes to see everything. All of it. The enemy’s moves, those who’d be born and those who’d die... Gerhardt overwhelmed everyone with his glance. His eyes had a strange grey blue colour, and I, who was a child when he was at the peak of his life, I remember trembling when he looked at me.

His son, Konstantin, inherited his traits. Again, he showed himself as a man of great power. Gerhardt’s legacy, when killed, went to him and multiplied itself. His life coincided with the period of greatest struggle and the beginning of the end of the Order. He gave himself in body and soul to the fight. The woman he chose as his wife was no less remarkable than him, although she didnt have the Gift. When Marie Cornel came to the Order, we all knew she wouldnt disappoint us. She was strong as an old oak. Yes, she was worthy of her husband.

What I would’ve never expected is Eckhardts rage so brutally focused on the fruit of her womb. When we learned she was pregnant – by then I was already an adult and had my own family - we all rejoiced. Undoubtedly, Konstantins son would be as or more powerful than him, since he’d been greater than his predecessor.

Inexplicably, the Black Alchemist forgot about the Order, forgot Konstantin himself, who’d infringed serious damage and attacks against him, and focused all his rage into a single goal: to kill Marie Cornel. Yes, Brother Kurtis was besieged even before birth. But that was our fate... and in him it was multiplied.

We devoted ourselves to protect this blessed woman. She was as brave as the bravest of us. She accepted her fate with a nod and spent her pregnancy fleeing and hiding, hiding and fleeing. Any other would’ve succumbed to such pressure, or perhaps lose their child, but as I said, she was exceptional.

She was... Why do I talk in the past? May the Light see shes still alive. I know she wasn’t among Tenebras crucified.

Brother Kurtisbirth was extraordinary or at least thats what’s been said. Ive been told many times about it - a buzz in the Order, and Konstantin was proud to have it known.

Marie Cornel had given birth alone in the middle of a meadow at night. She’d just fled the town where she’d sought refuge, only a few miles outside a small town in Utah, USA. Two Fighter brothers were with her, guarding her, when a squad serving the Alchemist attacked. They keep them busy as she fled, ran through the prairie and left behind the skirmish, and when the only sounds she could hear were her own breathing and the crickets at night, her waters broke.

She gave birth right there, with a handkerchief in her mouth so that her pursuers couldnt hear even the smallest groan, and cut the umbilical cord with her own teeth. After wrapping the newborn, she put him on her lap and got up and resumed her flight. The Light helped to stop her bleeding and did not leave her to die.

Yes, certainly shes a unique woman.

As usual in these cases, we offered her our protection - when our women gave birth or oversaw young children, we held them in our strongholds. Being the most vulnerable members, they were at the mercy of the enemy.

To our surprise, Marie refused all protection. She felt it was safer to get away from us, for we were what would most attract the enemy. She even fought her husband, who wanted over all to protect both her and the child, and fought us, who thought that every male born was valuable - because, for reasons we fail to understand, women rarely inherited the Gift. But Marie refused shelter in our strongholds. She said it was safer for her and her son to be away from our influence. But our Order follows a very strict discipline, and although we agreed to her wishes - maybe she was right, given the fury with which Eckhardt chases us lately - we never let her completely alone. We always put one or two of ours living close to her place of shelter, at least to inform us. Marie made us promise her son would never see any of us hanging around.

And so it was. At least until four years old, there was no person in Kurtislife apart from his own mother, and a distant and unreal father who he wouldn’t even know until he was seventeen.

I think Marie had harboured the secret hope her son wouldnt inherit the Gift and would never have to know about the Order and the War of Shadows. Its relatable, as the Gift demands a bitter price in exchange, and I guess we all would’ve preferred our children to be normal - whatever this is, rather than ending crucified in the dark.

Unfortunately, Marie’s wishes weren’t fulfilled. Kurtis, at only four years old, had to witness – or rather overhear - how Eckhardt crushed and quartered the Grand Master at the time, who’d sheltered them in his basement. Presumably hed never forget something like that - though of course we’ve never heard him talk of it, nor of what happened at his 10 years of age.

He was indeed ten years old when three Cabal mercenaries broke our protective circle and killed Stevens, the brother protecting Marie at the time. Those savages broke into the house and attempted to rape the mother in front of her son. What happened then can only be explained by a reaction of terror against something he didnt fully understand. Kurtisfear and anguish gathered and imploded in his mind, releasing an energy which destroyed the fragile elements around him – the window panes, and killed the attackers with a rain of sharp objects. For us this signal was more than enough. Kurtis had awakened to the Gift.

Konstantin Heissturm was so proud when knowing this, but even though he wished he couldnt meet him yet. He was now a leader in the war - which sounds blasphemous, but he was more respected than the Grand Master himself, and he was in fact our only hope. Konstantin was an excellent strategist and could stay calm even in desperate times. Much of his coldness and lack of expression, if not all, was inherited by his son. Well, as Gerdhart’s son, Konstantin had exceeded his father a hundred times, and immediately we expected as much as or even more from that child, who suddenly had become a living legend.

But Marie refused, once more, to live with us. A Lux Veritatisstrict training begins at seventeen, we believe its important to advise the child from a very early age, helping him to understand his special condition and to love and master it. Marie didnt let us do that and pushed him away as she could, away from the Order. Was she supposed to be blamed for what happened next? Was it she who instilled a rebellious spirit in Kurtis, that defied all our conceptions and shook the Orders foundations? I wont dare to say so.

Kurtis disappeared at nineteen. It was then when he finally met his father who, rejecting Maries protests, introduced him to the Order. I was then present at the conclave held in Berlin, and I could see him for the first time. No doubt he was a portrait of his father - a tall and strong boy, a stern look, really promising. After undergoing with resignation all the tests we performed on to him, it turned out the Gift was very powerful in him, as it was in his father and had been in his grandfather. We were excited - as soon as we train him, he’d become stronger.

I remember Marie being sullen in those days, walking down the halls of our headquarters. Never seen her so angry. Because of my vicious curiosity, I witnessed an argument between her and her husband. Konstantin said this son was a gift from heaven to help the Order to overcome the crisis and perhaps defeat Eckhardt and free all of us at last.

I recall exactly what Marie answered: “You intend to use him as a weapon! What’s wrong with your Order? Dont you care about the blood of your loved ones? You’ve your new Messiah to be sacrificed for this futile cause, as your father was sacrificed, and as you will be sacrificed too!Then she began to cry and wouldn’t see anyone for weeks. She only allowed her son into her room, and told him all the time: “Run, Kurtis, run away from here. This cause serves only to destroy lives. Dont let them to use you. Run away from here.”

I wont say he didnt try - but he tried too late. He bumped against our defenses, our invisible walls. A Lux Veritatis’ training is long and hard, and discipline is very harsh. Rebels are punished without mercy, and Kurtis was more rebellious than everyone. He was punished when he refused training. He was punished when he didnt answer our questions. He was punished when he tried to escape. He was punished when he attacked his own instructors.

He was a very temperamental boy, with regular outbursts of rage and violence. Unwilling to surrender to our commands, he barely controlled his skills, and once he almost killed one of the instructors. He burst a vein in his stomach just by piercing him with his eyes and the poor lad almost died there, vomiting blood. We saved him at the verge of death.

Although Kurtis was shocked and horrified, and we all were aware he didn’t intend to murder his instructor, he was given the hardest punishment. By then I was a member of the Council and I strongly objected - he was still a student who didnt intend to kill, and if we punished him we’d only manage to gain his hatred forever. But they didnt listen to me.

An attempted murder in the Order is punishable by fifty lashes and being neglected in a cold, dark cell for ten days without food. The whip was packed with small metal pieces, and in the cell everyone was naked and had to stand up since it was monstrously narrow. The reader will understand it was such a cruel punishment for a young boy who couldnt control his immense power.

The elders ordered that Marie mustn’t know that. At that time she lived in a separate block and lived inwardly, and Konstantin had gone back to the war. I refused to be present at the punishment and then I spent four days without talking to my colleagues in the Council. I was very confused.

Finally, I decided to visit him. He’d spent five days in the cell, standing up but leaning on the back wall. His eyes were closed and arms folded across his chest. I felt appalled at his status, the bruised body spotted with clotted blood. The skin had a bluish tone and his lips were purple. It was easy to guess, naked as he was, his state of hypothermia.

Brother...” I murmured.

He couldnt see me through the bars and didnt hear my voice clearly, but he opened his eyes and looked at me. The way he glared at me was enough to read the deepest hatred in it. Are you one of those Council butchers?”

I gulped. I voted against your punishment. Brother, I cant do more to help you. You must surrender and undergo the training.”

Dont want any of your Order or your powers.”

Brother, what Marie said to you...”

Leave my mother alone. Dont need her to tell me anything. I’ve seen with my own eyes. Here you send people to be slaughtered in a war I dont know for a cause I dont care about. I wont be your martyr.”

I didnt know what to say - it was the first time I faced such a brutal vision of what was the Order. Son, even if you dont like it, your psychic powers are too strong. We cant let you go throughout the world without a full knowledge of your skills and how to control them. You’re a Fighter, Kurtis, and this implies a great responsibility.”

I wont use those powers at all. I dont want them.”

If you dont control them, then they will control you. You cant refuse. They will arise in you when not invoked. They will come to your defense when you’re in danger. You must learn to control them. If not, youll be like a walking time bomb. You will be a danger to anyone near you. Surrender!”

He studied me with his blue eyes. Even though blue eyes are a recessive genotype, Gerhardt Heissturm had passed them to Konstantin, Konstantin to Kurtis, and I know the wives of both had dark eyes, which are the dominant genotype. Both Konstantin and Kurtis should have had dark eyes. Could that strange color of eyes be a genetic manifestation of the strongest Gift our Order has ever known?

But I digress as the ailing old man I am. Back to what matters.

If I let you to train me,” he muttered then, “will you leave me alone?”

I shook my head. “Hardly, Kurtis. You’ve too much power. Your skills are valuable to us...”

Im your weapon, right? The Messiah.”

Ah, his grin, his sarcastic grin!

We dont rejoice in the deaths of our brothers. We cry for them. But the cause of the Black Alchemist and the Nephili is something that, if not stopped, will eventually consume the world and end humanity. Now were us who suffer, Kurtis, but if we quit, they will step on us, then mankind will suffer... innocent, helpless people, without a Gift to protect them. That’s why we endure and die. If they defeat us, all is lost.”

He separated from the wall and approached the door. I stepped back. I’m ashamed to admit I was scared - of his blue eyes. He could induce in me a brain stroke, if he wanted. Blessed Light, I was terrified.

Let’s make a deal, you, the fucking Council, and me.” He said, smiling. “I’ll let you do whatever you want with me. Make me become a beautiful suicidal killing machine. And then we’ll talk.” He stepped back and leaned back against the wall, shivering, covered in blood.

I rushed back to the Council and had him released.

From that moment, he didnt object to the trials of training - but certainly we hadnt won. He surrendered with the greatest bitterness to everything we demanded, and we demanded much more from him than from any other Fighter. But as he wasnt any other Fighter, it felt perfectly justified. We realize we were harsh and even unpleasant, and we used his pride to oblige him, since he’d sworn to himself not to show weakness in our eyes, and we knew it. Over time, we made him the best Fighter the Order had ever known so far... or he might have been, if he’d wanted to. We wrote to Konstantin and told him: “Your son has outgrown you.”He was very pleased.

How wrong we were. With every glance, with every silence, Kurtis promised payback. I cant reveal the secret rituals and tests we conducted on our apprentices, and I wont even if my skin is pulled up in strips. The secret is sacred, and I’ll take it to the grave. His coldness and suicidal loathing when facing our challenges somewhat frightened us, but we’d never suspected he counted every day as a step towards freedom and the day of reckoning.

On the eve of his appointment, having successfully finished his training, we told him he’d be immediately sent to the battlefield to devote himself completely to war. We told him he was the instrument of our victory. He just smiled.

That night, for the first time, he attempted suicide. We weren’t expecting such a thing. For us, suicide is a cowardly, shameful, unworthy act. Indeed, very unworthy of him, or the image we’d of him.

Then he tried three more times. He tried to hang himself, then he slit his wrists, and finally we imprisoned him and he broke the lamp bulb on the cell and swallowed the broken glass. This time we barely managed to save him - and he hated us even more for that. Why?

When those suicidal tendencies appeared to be reversing, he began the ritual of consecration. For many of us he wasn’t ready. I literally claimed he was disturbed and was a danger rather than the salvation of the Order. Again, I wasnt listened to. His skills, cleverness and resources were so impressive that too many were blinded to the reality.

He went through the rituals with meekness and let us to tattoo the Sacred Symbol on his shoulder - but the day before going to battle, he disappeared.

If only had been that - but he committed the greatest sacrilege. He killed one of our brothers, a colleague, a Fighter, who tried to stop him. He stood in his way, they fought and he killed him. Then, he fled.

For many of the elders it was a shock. For me, a foretold catastrophe. They blamed Marie, considered an accomplice to the flight. Im ashamed of this because she’d had enough with her inner suffering. We scolded her and she also left after a few days. Nothing tied her to us anymore.

When Konstantin learned of this he disowned his son, in whom he’d pinned all his hopes. Now he’d betrayed and ashamed him

From this point, my information about brother Kurtis becomes scattered. He appeared to be reunited with his mother and sought for her a safe haven. Then, he joined the Foreign Legion, the most disciplined faction in the French Army, where criminals serve in exchange for eluding punishment. Of course, he was extremely smart in doing that, as any personal background is wiped away to hide the legionnaire’s identity. He adopted a false surname, Trent, and I guess he spent those years venting his anger and violence. If death was what he wanted, certainly he didnt find it, and after a while he’d to quit due to “strange events and phenomena that terrified his superiors.”

I know what it was. Demons - at last they had found him, and they will chase him forever. He will be chased until his death.

Then I received news he joined Marten Gunderson’s Agency - a visceral gross squad without past nor future which, to make things worse, went on to serve no less than the Cabal. Kurtis fled shortly after knowing it - fortunately.

From that moment on, I lost his track. I was told he’d decided to avenge Konstantin’s death, but it’s the attempt of a madman. Now that we’re almost all dead, now that he’s alone, his amazing skills will be useless.

My anger is due to my own bitterness, I know. But I cant understand him. Perhaps... perhaps the answer is that brother Kurtis hates himself as much as he hates us. He’s chosen a life of hardship and despair – not much different to what he would’ve endured in the Order. I believe it’s not fair to judge him at this point. Who knows...perhaps it’s us who were wrong. Perhaps that’s why weve lost this war.”

The writing stopped there. Lara looked up, her temples throbbing as if a headache was about to burst her skull open.

So that was it - the reason, seen through the eyes of a close one, of Kurtis’ introversion, coldness and isolation. That was, at least in part, the man with whom she’d fallen in love.

Truth be told, after all, she neither disliked nor hated him - she just saw everything clearer: how close they were, how much they were alike. A life imposed by obligation. A suffocating life anyone would want to escape from.

She, however, never attempted to kill herself. But she was never demanded hard physical training – she chose it freely. She’d never been tortured, nor sent to kill and die for a cause she didn’t believe in. She smiled bitterly.

The British explorer stood, holding the bundle of papers, when suddenly one slipped to the ground. She hadn’t seen it before. After picking it up surprised, she noticed it was a paper crumpled into a ball and spotted with dark bloodstains. She smoothed it a bit and read it. Then she lifted her head and looked around, stunned. Nothing justified the presence of that paper there - it made no sense...

Name’s Kurtis Trent, son of Marie Cornel and Konstantin Heissturm, not Trent because that wasn’t his real name, but a nickname I chose when I decided to disappear from the world and get lost in the Legion.

Y’know, when you join the Legion, you become a killing machine with no past and a future that doesn’t matter, made of steel inside and out and you get to forget you were once something else. The Legion is a refuge for murderers, no matter your background, any atrocity youve committed is cleared by the service you provide, a hard service in the harshest faction of the Army, where just coughing before a superior earns you such punishment to make you lose the urge to cough forever.

But I wasnt a criminal - at least when I got there. It wasnt like the others, I wasnt looking to become the killing machine I became, nor did I enjoy it. I just wanted to wipe my past and leave behind my cursed fate.

I’m the last of the Lux Veritatis, a mystical ancient Order of warriors butchered by the Cabal, that den of rats led by the sadistic Eckhardt. I wont say we were innocent - but they were evil while we were thegood guys”. Or so I was taught. Now I can’t tell anymore.

Was I a coward for escaping from a war in which I didnt want to be, to refuse a Gift granted to me and deny an imposed destination, to seek refuge in the Legion? I dont know what honor is, but I know there’s no honor in dying for a cause that wasn’t mine.

Those five years I spent in the Legion were in vain - those who chased me found me and my harsh superiors shook with fear when they saw what I was or could become. I had to flee again - all life on the run, fleeing from this cursed inheritance, which finds you wherever you go.

From legionnaire I became a mercenary. I committed atrocities I dont want to remember. My poor mother, who sacrificed everything for me, would be ashamed to know. Ironically, who was then my boss and my best friend, Marten Gunderson, would become Eckhardt’s right hand. One of the cruellest ironies of life is that for a long time hed been looking for me without knowing it was me. Before he found out Id fled once more.

And then they killed my father, Konstantin Heissturm, the warrior, who never refused a fight, who sacrificed himself for his Order to the end. I barely got to know him, but for him I took an oath. I was done with denying who I was. I resigned myself to be Kurtis Heissturm, the Demon Hunter.

Seems I wont get rid of this oath until I see Eckhardt dead and paying for his crimes. Not until justice is served.

And I’ve been alone... until now. Someone gave me a helping hand from the other side, a woman as unique as extraordinary. Her cause isn’t mine but she wont hesitate to avenge all of us... including me, who I’m dying over this grid, slowly bleeding while I wait for her return. She wont fail as I failed. In her hands lies the end of it all. My Order and my father will be avenged by an unknown woman...

Shadows dance around me and cloud my vision. This pain is so strong I cant almost feel it. Return Lara victorious to me, Ill show you the way. I’m not dead yet and to die is the last thing Ill do...thats a Lux Veritatis oath!

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