"In the darkest recess of every human soul slumbers the shadow of evil."

In ages beyond memory, they walked godlike beside timeless rivers in a place where there was no pain and no fear, and where the one unswerving theme of their thoughts was devotion to the Divine Presence.

They would have continued forever in this state of innocence and ecstasy combined, but for the merest hint of discontent that began to fester in the deepest recesses of the heart of one of them; the eldest, and foremost.

Like a seed in winter, the discontent lay dormant long, but gradually grew, taking root also in the thoughts of some of his fellows. For the first time they knew ambition, knew what it meant to hunger for more than that which had been allotted to them. Their dissatisfaction swelling to the point where it would no longer be contained, finally their adoration of the Creator soured and turned to a jealous resentment. They decided to try to usurp His position, and even in the instant the decision was made, they were eternally condemned.

Their fall was swift, like lightning, as has been said elsewhere. Cast out from heaven to wander the lower regions, in their despair they sought comfort, just as mortal men did, in the arms of mortal women. And from these unnatural unions were born the first of an accursed race; the Nephilim.

The offspring inherited the dark aspirations of their fathers as well as their unending lives, and soon they sought to dominate the mortals with whom they shared the earth, their mothers' race. And so humankind took up arms against them, in a war that lasted for centuries. The Nephilim had only ever been few in number, and in the face of such fierce persecution, they dwindled until mortals thought them vanquished altogether. But some lived on in secret, fleeing to isolated enclaves, in remote lands. Eventually, weakened and afraid, they withdrew from the world entirely, retreating into a long slumber beneath the windswept sands of Anatolia.

As they slept, their renown faded from the minds of men, and in later days they came to be regarded only as creatures of myth and legend. But this served their purpose exactly, for humankind could not stand against that which it did not believe existed.

It would take many hundreds of years before they would again be strong enough to rise and rule, but the Nephilim are nothing if not patient. While the world changed above them, they dreamed on in their ancient halls.

All except one...

"You can trust me, Lara Croft."

The words resonated in her head, and she stared deeply into the unnaturally black eyes of the man...the front of her. The enemy, or so she had thought.

She didn't doubt that he had indeed killed Von Croy, her sometime mentor and friend. And she had seen him kill Eckhardt with her own eyes, the life extended by unholy means throughout the centuries snuffed out in a second. Not that Lara herself wouldn't have done the same, had Karel not intervened. Eckhardt had deserved what he got.

She couldn't forget Von Croy quite so easily, despite their latter estrangement. The oddly marked hand Karel held out to her had jolted her fragmented memory, proving his role in the old man's death.

At one time, she would have thought only of retribution and of preventing Karel from carrying out his plans. Lara was under no illusions; she realised that the new world order Karel had in mind was unlikely to be "benign". Yet Lara herself was no longer the woman she had once been. Her premature entombment in the Great Pyramid-and its equally disturbing aftermath-had seen to that. She had always considered dicing with death to be something of a thrilling game, but this time the rules had changed without warning and she had very nearly lost.

The months she had been away felt like a lifetime, and on her return she deliberately disassociated herself from everything she had known before Egypt. Her friends, home, even her tomb raiding, felt as if they had no meaning for her anymore. Now she stood on the verge of an entirely new existence.

The question facing her now, the question burning in Joachim Karel's eyes, was: Are you strong enough to take the final step?

Lara met the Nephili's unwavering gaze once more, and with no further hesitation, holstered her guns and placed her hand in his.

Hi everyone! This is my very first fic to be posted here...I currently have several Tomb Raider fics in progress, and this is actually the most recent one, but I think it'll be the first to be finished because I'm working on it very hard! This story is a continuation of Angel of Darkness, and there have been many of these already, but I wanted to do something quite different. It may seem as if Lara's actions are out of character, but I'm setting out to explore more fully the dark side that she shows in AoD. Therefore, this is best viewed as an AU fic in which she makes some very different choices and gives into that darkness almost completely (hence the title) Having said that, it won't be quite as straightforward as "Evil Lara". There will be plenty of ambiguity, and I don't want to deviate totally from the Lara we know and love, so I'll try to keep her in character as much as the storyline allows! If you read this, pleeease leave a review-it would mean a lot to me -)

Disclaimer-I don't own Lara, Kurtis, Karel or Tomb Raider, I'm just having profit-free fun with them. They're all copyright of Eidos Interactive, who ought to be hung, drawn and quartered for ditching Core Design and the AoD storyline.