The word that kept blaring in Lara's ears when she was awake.
In her dreams when she was asleep.
In her mind when she was looking for clues for the next trinity commander to hunt.
In her heart when she..
Maybe…she didn't have a heart left anymore.
Or at least that's what she used to think friend Sam had left her because of it,even after all she went through for the sake of her best friend who meant everything to her,the one she became a monster all those Solarii without a second thought,killing every single madman who had dared to touch couldn't bear the thought of having to live without thought that molded her into a killing machine,made her into someone she was still hated Mathias with a burning passion,even if he was dead still dreamt about that,still heard Sam's agonizing screams,she still remembered it all too she wasn't going to forget anytime mind had a twisted way of reminding her who she really was nothing but a psychopath with a bow,who let her arrows loose at everything with a pulse.
The only one who made her feel otherwise was her best friend loved Sam the way she would have loved her sister had she not been the only child of Richard and cared far too deeply to let her go,when they were back home after Yamatai had Sam not…
"What do you mean I make you feel…uncomfortable?" Lara felt her heartbeat become irregular,she couldn't wrap her head around why Sam had said that to her,it didn't make any sense.
"I..look Lara,I know we are best friends and always will be,but after seeing what-"
"N-No please wait,what do you mean by that?I-I risked my life for you Sam,please don't-"
"Lara,It's..not that.I care for you….I really 's just that you need to get yourself together…especially after what happened back there.." She took a deep sigh,then forced herself to hold Lara's gaze "Whenever I look in your eyes,I don't see that shy girl who struck up a conversation with me her first day of uni...the girl who obsessed over history..I know I sound ungrateful but trust me,I'll always be in your debt for saving my life,but you have to get a grip please,you neither look nor sound like yourself anymore..Don't act like you don't have a heart".
Don't become heartless.
Sam cared for Lara,but it was unsettling to see her become something she wasn' trip back from Dragons triangle proved just as didn't talk to any of them,except for the rare times when she decided to join them for seemed distant,and started having nighmares on top of had tried talking to her,to no refused to let anyone aura emanating from her made Sam feel uncomfortable,uneasy,unwelcome.
She understood what Lara was going through though,they both had lost so many ,Grim….Roth.
Roth,who wasn't just a mentor,but a father figure of sorts to had been there for her all the time,taught her everything he it weren't for him,Lara wouldn't have left Yamatai knew this all too wanted to be there for Lara,to be the shoulder she could cry on if she wanted Lara didn't let her in,it was as if she had become numb.
It….hurt Sam,a were best friends,for goodness' the hell was Lara pretending to be okay when she could come to her and talk about it?They both were supposed to be there for one another,that's what friends are for.
With all of her efforts gone to waste,Sam decided to leave Lara let her resolve her problems on her own.
"Sam I promise I'll get better,just p-please don't go please…" Lara knew it would crush her if Sam decided to leave her. "Stay,please,I never meant to-"
"I know Lara,but I..I really think you should go through with this 'll give you time to reflect on yourself" she reached out,massaging Lara's shoulder "And it's not like I'm leaving you forever,I'm just giving you some time 'll help you.I think."
Sam quickly shot back with a tiny smile, "I'm still with you sweetie,give me a call sometime okay?"
Lara forced a smile as well,it didn't quite reach her eyes since her heart wasn't too keen on being left alone by the person she called her sister and her best friend.
"You'll still be around right?I can't do this without you Sam."
"Ofcourse,I ain't an ,most of the time." She chuckled,and took Lara in a surprise hug.A hug that spoke volumes about what they both meant to eachother.A simple gesture that left both their eyes brimming with unshed tears,reminding them that they both were going to get through this without breaking their friendship,without letting go of one would remain friends despite all.
Fast forward a few months,and Lara had begun regaining her essence bit by bit soon after she had started her therapy didn't do much,but something was better than nothing at did help to some had been a tremendous help in this regard,always making sure she had someone she could rely was the only friend she had other than Sam,the only one other than her she confided in at the rare times she let her guard both had found their footing,Jonah never pushing Lara and always respecting her boundries since she was a private person,guarding herself and her introvert,if you will.
But there was always one question that kept popping in her nagging her.
Am I really me?
She tried not to think about it,often busying herself with tracking trinity since coming back home from a whirlwind of an adventure that led to the discovery of The lost city of Kitezh,an year after since she had found out that Trinity had been on her father's tail and was responsible for his death,she had taken it upon herself to avenge him and stop them.
Obsessed or not,she had loved him.
He was her father after wasn't going to let this slide,not after all she had been was going to make them pay,even if she would be called doing so would also ensure Trinity never succeeded in their more families destroyed in the name of a flawed ideology.
She wasn't going to allow this.
After months of tracking,she had found a lead.A trinity member,who went by the name of was leading a few archeological digs in Mexico.
Time to act.
"Okay" she breathed in, "You can do Croft,you got this" She was in the middle of packing her stuff when she heard a knock on her door,maybe it was Winston?
"Sam?Oh my God Sam!" she gasped as she hugged her as hard as she possibly her friend after an year made her feel ecstatic,overjoyed that Sam hadn't given up on her despite the all was not lost.
"How have you been sweetie?" Sam said, pulling away from he,grinning from ear to ear.
"I've been well thanks,what about you?Come on let's-"
"No it's fine really" she glanced over Lara's shoulder to see her clothes all spread out on her bed "Jonah told me you guys were leaving soon for Mexico,so I decided to come and check whether you had learnt how to fold your you clearly haven't"
That got out a chuckle out of Lara,she had missed Sam's (lame) jokes.
"Well,why don't you teach me then?"
"You're a lost cause babe but sure,I still have hope for you" she teased her as she ruffled Lara's hair playfully.
You could tell by the laughter sneaking it's way out of Lara's room that day that their friendship was still as strong as that happened before didn't matter that mattered was that Sam was still always would be,no matter like she had promised.
The next day was no different,except that bittersweet goodbye at the airport that left both of them emotional and teary eyed,like they had binged watched a soap opera with a sad ending.
Cringy but sweet.
Lara was adamant on wiping Trinity off the face of this planet,and once the young archeologist set her mind to something,not a force in this world held the power of stopping her,making her reconsider.
She was a croft after all.
She knew Dominguez was after the Silver box of Ix Chel,and the Key of Chak goddesses belonging to Mayan mythology;
Chak Chel being described as an old lady and representing Chel as a young woman representing life and former being associated with the new moon,the latter with the full moon.
Together as the twins,symbols of duality and the cycle of life and death.
It was fascinating really,Lara would have loved this were she not concerned more about stopping had a hunch that this man could prove to be wasn't going to let him get hold of these else be damned.
She had to stop him before he found find the silver box and the key herself first.
She had to,she wasn't going to let Trinity would stop them.
She absolutely would.
Beautiful,majestic mountains with snow-covered tips,air thick with the scent of summer rain,howling gushes of wind that sent a pleasant chill down the perfect romantic getaway for people who dared to love.
The valley of Kashmir was a sight to behold.
Kassandra had been to many places,almost all of them being breathtakingly none of them compared to Kashmir.A land often called Paradise on earth,but what she saw here was reminiscent of ,even.
Innocent people dying because of a pointless battle between two opposing nations.A battle that reminded her of the war between Sparta and .Cruel.A beautiful land that knew nothing but cruelty.
It's valleys were as pretty as the ones in Lakonia,a place she no longer dared to call home.
She hadn't been there in ,she actively avoided going couldn't stomach the thought of reliving those painful memories again,what getting stabbed in the heart and not dying felt like.
It was where Myrinne had raised her,taught her how to hunt,how to her final resting place was.
Part of her wanted to go though,but she never gave in.
It always reminded her that,
Nikolaos,her pater,had chosen Sparta over her.
That she had failed to save her mater.
Failed to protect Alexios.
That she hadn't been enough.
"You can't protect anyone can you?"
She watched in horror as Deimos slid his blade into Myrinne,with nothing but madness in his no remorse for killing the woman that had tried her damnest hard to bring him back and loved him despite last crumbs of his sanity lost in darkness that was the cult.
Kassandra had tried to convince him to abandon the cult,to stand with his family against were the ones who had poisoned his mind,his heart,tortured him to the extent that he had become death personified leaving nothing but death in his Hades would shudder in his presence.
He wasn't coming back.
He was never coming back…..
The children of Myrinne,of House Agiad,would never be had killed Alexios out of anger,sadness, else was she to do?When her own brother was the one responsible for the deaths of countless many,guilty of killing her friend of killing her was the one who took the people she loved away from her,even if he had been blinded by the cult.
What else was she supposed to do?
She loved him,but he would have killed her too if she hadn't killed him would have done so without so much as a second thought.
Why did the Gods find joy in tormenting her?What did she ever do to them?Or to anyone else?
Aletheia's voice startled had learned to not think about what happened two and a half millenia ago,to suppress her hated how helpless all this made her buried her emotions away into the confines of her head,never to be visited again.
"What is it with you?Can't you leave me alone for a moment?" She had been admiring the view,and Aletheia decided to barge in .
"My apologies,but I've an urgent matter that needs to be discussed."
"What is it now?Another templar?Or let me guess,an assassin?" Irritation palpable in her voice as she put her right hand on her chin,rubbing her scar there with her thumb on often did this when she wasn't feeling particularly nice,or unable to all three of was unreadable, 'd often come here to help the locals as much as she could,had grown acquainted with many of them,and to take in the mesmerizing was still human,still admired mother nature like anybody else would.
"It's bigger than Isu artifacts are in the danger of being 've caught the attention of the Templars,and the Assassins must stop them."
"That won't be the first time they've wanted something that didn't belong to them." She scoffed,inherent losers the lot of fighting over lost artifacts like stray dogs over a bone,fighting for ideals that wouldn't do this world any good practically.
"You must find the Silver box of Ix Chel and the Key of Chak Chel.I suggest you get to work since you don't have much time,I'm afraid." The Isu was right,Kassandra didn't have much time considering the pace both the brotherhood and the order moved at when they were interested in finding something.
Neither of them was better than the had become acutely aware of it in 1755 when she saw the lengths the Assassin brotherhood could go just to retrieve a piece of eden,not caring about what else may of innocents died due to a massive earthquake that hit Lisbon that day the assassin Shay Patrick Cormac himself realized one thing; Nothing is true,everything is permitted wasn't just a simple Assassin was a he had realized after seeing chaos unfold before his own eyes,due to his own to him following a pointless ideology,it becoming the reason he left the brotherhood.
She knew they wouldn't hesitate to kill people in search of the silver box and the were hasty and she knew had seen enough of them to know what their level of patience was.
"Alright,I've been free lately anyway."She tried to casually brush off Aletheia's had powered through all that life threw at her,this time wasn't going to be any different. Except,she had gotten tired now.
She was .Fighting a battle that wasn't hers to fight to begin with.
How long had it been going on now?Two thousand and five hundred years perhaps,when she had been tasked with keeping track of the templars and the assassins,two millenia and a half of unnecessary had walked from one edge of the world to the other,had seen too many people die,too many wars,had seen entire civilizations rise and crumble.
Had been alone all along,was always destined to be.
She knew now that they were looking for the Silver Box and the key of Chak had to protect it,she had to protect the is what she had sworn to do the day she took the staff from Pythagoras,the man she didn't have any fond memories was never there for his daughter yet still expected her to carry his she didn't have a choice either way.
The balance was the only thing she had left to protect now.
"You have to find them both, must."
Her face was cast downward,eyes serious and somber,anguish consuming her body and those foul chain of memories that had reawakened,refused to leave her mind.
"I will." She quietly said as she turned around from the edge of the mountain she had been standing on,ready to do as she was told.
She had no other choice.
All she had to do now was keep going,until the heir of memories would relieve her of her duties.
In a strong,abrupt rush of wind,she vanished into thin was no denying that the staff of Hermes Trismegistus had it's could alter it's appearence into that of a caduceus pendant,becoming more convenient and easier to able to teleport anywhere she wanted was her favorite though.
She arrived at her hide-out,as she liked to call innocuous little house in Mykonos.
It reminded her of Barnabas and his fatherly affection,his unwavering faith in the Gods that almost made him sound naiive, constant reassurance and gentle demeanor that made him all the more dear to her.
She cared for him.
Like the pater she never had.
Something she did not anticipate when she first met him.
"I miss you old man." she muttered to herself,holding a sword given to her by him on her 29th was still razor had taken great care of it,it being the only memento she had of him.
"I wish you were here" her free hand tracing the edges of the sword, "I really do.." her face fell as tears stood ready to crawl their way out of her eyes.
Crying won't bring him back.
It won't change anything.
She put down the sword instantly as if it had cut was no time to get time for all this was gone own life at the mercy of the sands of had to focus.
On her mission.
"Maybe we'll meet again."
She made her way to her bed,clearly exhausted and in need of a much deserved rest.
Laying in bed,closing her eyes only intensified her emotions further.
Mykonos held many things for from feelings of love to guilt and everything in between.
It was where she had had an affair with the rebel leader,Kyra.
She didn't specifically love her,it was just a fling..or so she thought.A fling,that cost a certain Spartan polemarch named Thaletas,his was already in a relationship with him,she did care about him but not as much as she should have,considering he led his help and his men to her so she could rid the Silver Islands of the man who made life there a living hell;Podarkes,who also happened to be her father.
The Gods really did enjoy toying with mortals.
But Kassandra had provided Kyra with her aid as had helped her better than Thaletas could have in his nine lives.
He had found out,confronted Kassandra about it and engaged her in proved fatal for him,of course.
None could match the ferocity of the legendary eagle could have spared him,it's just that she didn't want pompous nature got under her never told Kyra about what happened between the two of knew she wouldn't get a pleasant response since Kyra was hot-headed and Kassandra,well,had murdered him even though she was in the wrong,plain and as well keep it a secret.
Who was going to find out anyway?
His heart might have been in the right place,but his attitude towards particular things and women specially,irked became the primary reason she decided to cheat on always seemed so full of was practically sure after the rebellion,Thaletas would push Kyra to the sidelines,claim all the glory for himself.
Like Kyra would have let that happen.
Kassandra scoffed "I wonder how he managed to get your attention in the first place,Kyra" she still didn't like him, "Maybe you always had a thing for Spartans."
She turned to her side,wanting to the flashbacks to cease.
She needed to wouldn't be able to have lots of it,now that her hands were needed to find them as soon as possible.
The Silver Box of Ix Chel and The Key of Chak Chel.
2 weeks of extensive research and sleepless nights finally came to had found out the Keys location.
At the hidden temple of Chak Chel.
On the other hand,she had also determined that taking it away would trigger natural disasters of unmatched magnitude triggering the cleansing,something she wouldn't allow to that was the case,she only had to find the temple and hide it,camouflage and relatively do all that before the templars or the assassins found it
"That's it to find another Isu artifact" She said to herself,heaving a sigh "Why did they have to create so many of these?Malákes show-offs." She wasn't particularly fond of the good reason had brought nothing but destruction with them,even after eons of them being dead their Isu technology still brought about had little regard for humans and thought of them as being inferior to them when they were still alive,saw them as nothing but objects to experiment on.
A grave mistake on their part.
A mistake that had erased their entire race from existence.
Her caduceus pendant began pulsing with other worldly energy.
"Let's get on with it." She walked away from the edge of her table,ready to to find the key.
In the blink of an eye,here she was.
In a lush forest filtering the first rays of the morning sun,somehow reminding her of Kephallonia.
"I still wonder if leaving Kephallonia was a good idea" she sighed as she started trekking her way through the forest,looking for the closest village or town to stay in for the time it took her to find the immortal didn't mean she was allowed to be reckless,her body still functioned like an average human body minus the aging part.
As she was walking her way out of the forest,treading carefully since she had eyed a jaguar from afar earlier,she saw an eagle perched on a tree in front of her. She stopped for a moment,looking at him intently.
Even though he was only a bird,his presence felt reassuring to if he couldn't talk to her the way a human would,she was still thankful for what she eagle to stay by her side through thick and one she could rely only friend.
This was no time to dwell on it now,he was long gone, "Not now." ,she took a deep breath, "I need to find the key,focus on the key". She often caught herself missing him,specially when she was on a aid proved invaluable to her,always giving her an edge over her if he was sent by Pythagoras to watch over her,she still held the eagle dear.
She arrived at a small town shortly thereafter,talked to a few of the locals of them had a clue what she was talking about,except small bits,if you could call them temple truly was well-hidden if no one knew anything about had found an inn as well,good enough to pass as the temple wasn't going to be easy,but with Aletheia's assistance and her natural talent at things like this,she would find it sooner than anybody else.
She had to.
They had been here in Cozumel for only 6 weeks,but the rate at which Lara and Jonah were moving was incredible,given the odds weren't exactly in their had found out the whereabouts of .He could be the local Trinity cell leader,it was a possibility since he was all over the place.
On a rather busy night,they were observing an on going festivity from the top of a hotel,both of them suspecting Dominguez to be explaining a few pictures with Mayan riddles that spoke of the hidden city of Paititi,the place she thought held the Silver box,to she took in a collapsing Mayan crypt.
Talk about dedication.
"If you hadn't pulled me out of there,I'd still be in there taking pictures"
"You'd still be in there,don't know if you'd be doing much"
It was fun to have him was smart and funny.
"Come on Lara,I'm sure he's here 'd best be on our probably knows we're here too."
" 's go".
They split up to look for was still searching for Dominguez when she bumped into a stranger.
A considerably tall stranger.
Both had been wearing their respective masks,that unfortunately came off.
"I'm terribly sorry sir!" Lara instantly crouched to pick up her mask and the poor mans that had the misfortune of running into her.
"Here,I'm-" She looked up at him and-
It wasn't a man.
It was a woman.
Woman with luscious brown hair,and dreamy hazel hair braided on her left side.
Quite pretty to be didn't look Mexican though.A tourist maybe?
"I-I'm sorry I thought you-"
"It's harm done." Kassandra said as she flashed her a smile.
Lara nodded, "I uh,suppose you're a tourist?"she asked the tall stranger,trying to make the situation less awkward.
"Yeah," identical thoughts were circulating in Kassandra's mind,whoever this girl was,she was certainly easy on the than easy. "Same as you."
"How-how did you know?"
"Your accent." Kassandra spoke as she smiled knowingly.
Lara didn't usually strike up conversations with strangers,but it came naturally to her at the because she thought it fit to at least be polite to the person she accidentally crashed into.
Sam would have been proud of her.
"I your stay"
Kassandra couldn't help but think her familiar long after the young woman had if she knew a password she couldn't crack.
Where have I seen her?
I'm sure I have.
Why else would she feel so familiar?
She kept thinking about it for the next few hours whilst trying to find the temple,ultimately deciding to shove the thought back into her knew the templars were here too,Aletheia had told her about had to be needed to be quick.
She didn't have the time to think about random girls feeling familiar.
She was still trying to find the temple,still planning on how to hide it if templars did actually find it by some miracle,when Aletheia spoke suddenly.
"Keeper,you need to get out of now."
"What do you mean?" her eyes narrowed,confused at the Isu's request.
"The key,it's been taken. "
The ground beneath her started trembling just as Aletheia said that,she could feel the tremors under her feet,almost fell to the 's how strong the vibrations was utterly confused,Aletheia coming in at the exact same time as the earthquake…
This wasn't a good omen.
"Exactly what I just told you,the key has been taken."
"Maláka!Damn those templar bastards all the way to oblivion!I'll be sure to-"
There it was.
Shouts of panic coming from behind her,she turned around to see what the commotion was all about.
Her eyes widened.
Her mouth agape.
A tsunami was heading her everything in its path.
She began running as fast as her body allowed,it didn't matter if her lungs were burning,or if her legs had started to give couldn't until she had found a safe place to teleport to,something with enough weight and height to withstand the tsunami's currents
Run for your life.
She eyed a building from afar,it looked strong enough to survive the ran as fast as she could,her caduceus pendant began surging with energy just as she jumped into the air,teleporting her to that same building in a flash of blinding had been swift enough to not get swept in the current,had reached the building just in from above only made her realize how close she had been to drowning,as she lay down,trying to get her breathing in mind telling her,
All of this was her fault.
She was .
Guilt swept all over her,her eyes clamped shut,her hands balled into tight seeping into her soul.
"Keeper I need you to listen,yo-"
"I've heard enough" she paused for a second,anger palpable in her words, "tell me where-"
"It's not who you think it is."
"Wait." She opened her brows creased.
"Who is it then?" she inquired,forgetting her guilt and anger for a moment.
"The girl you met a few hours took the key,she is an archeologist from what I've gathered."
Kassandra got lost in her 'girl'.The girl who had seemed familiar a while ago.
What in the name of actual fuck?
Was she working for the Templars?
Or the Assassins?
There was no way in hell any ordinary archeologist would have been able to discover the temple of Chak Howard Carter wouldn't have been able to find even in a million years.
"I'll teach that maláka a lesson!" She growled,like a tigress getting ready to pounce on her prey.
Kassandra was alive for thousands of years had made her pricklier than she used to be,tired of pointless hated people who interfered in her it a contract or a grave life-or-death absolutely hated it.
And to think the girl had seemed fairly average….
She needed to find out who this young woman really was,who she was working for before it was too late.
Only the Gods could protect Lara was in for a rude awakening.
A proper,horrific,terrifying awakening.