Her muscles burned with such an excruciating pain that her brain couldn't even register it. It couldn't comprehend the feeling. All her brain could do was send signals of numbness so that her limbs felt as if they were heavy stones. Bruises and scratches on her skin had been long forgotten. That last jump over a bottomless pit made one of her legs refuse to move, so she dragged it at her side like a rag-doll, making a mental note to start feeling pain in it later. Later... Would there even be 'later' ?
Every breath she took was a ruthless hand forcing its way through her mouth, down her throat while scratching the nails over the soft meaty walls, and then going down all the way to her lungs, taking them in a suffocating, deadly grip, squeezing them mercilessly. The dry air of the desert made her gasp for it desperately, even though at moments, it felt worse than not inhaling at all. Why should she breathe if it hurt so much?
Suddenly, her eyes, her pupils and irises reacted. She squinted at the light... her ears picked up a sound, a familiar voice.
"Quickly, girl! Before it collapses around you!" An accented voice warned when the ground shook beneath her. It was so loud after the eerie humming of all those tombs she crawled through.
A silhouette was standing at the opening of the exit. A shadow of a cane and a hat stood above her. She knew it was over, that it was done, but she wanted to make sure. She couldn't understand where the energy to speak came from, but even if it burned and ached like hell, she needed to ask him, "You bet Werner? No more Seth?" Her lips were as dry as sand and her voice hoarse from desiccated air.
As she spoke the words, her legs started to tremble and her arms reflexively flew up to the wall for support. Was her body giving up on her, or was the ground shaking? She turned to her side and saw big chunks of rock crumbling down from the ceiling, as well as the floor, hurling down into that black pit she had jumped over moments ago. Was that how it looked like when Hell wanted to swallow you up?
"No time! Your hand, Lara!" Werner yelled frantically, "Give me your hand!" His voice was barely audible over the rumbling thunder.
She tried, she really did. Forcing the last ounce of her fading strength, she gave some power to her legs. She ran. She jumped. But the sheer will power and her screaming survival instinct weren't enough to make her weak and abused body obey. The task was beyond its ability.
"Take my hand! I can pull you to safety!" Von Croy's voice was panicked, scared and his face wrinkled with worry.
She would have taken his hand if she could. She would have taken his hand and forgave him everything. Lara was so glad to see his old and familiar face, and she wanted to erase the worry somehow that she glimpsed on it. It wasn't his fault. He was just a proud man and they had both gotten caught up in something that was a bit too big for them.
Lara Croft ran and it wasn't enough. She never took that last leap towards safety. The floor shattered underneath her, the noise deafening her, the bright light of the desert dawn blinding her. For a moment, her body felt weightless, levitating in the air, but then started to fall into the blackness. As if something was pulling her down.
Dust was choking her, as well as falling into her eyes. Her fingers grazed the edge where Werner was standing. All of a sudden, her entire weight was supported by her hand, her battered and bruised fingers.
There was no time. It was over. She was slipping. If this was end, then, so be it, Lara thought. She had saved the world and she had done all that she could.
"Good to see you again, Werner." She barely uttered, gasping for air, her fingers sliding from the edge inch by inch. She knew she would fall. No one and nothing could save her. And why should she feel sorry or pity for herself because her end came? There was no use. If it was his face she would see at the end, she was glad. She tried to assure him that it didn't matter.. She wanted to tell him not to worry, not to be sad for her because she had done more than some would ever in their lives.
She had seen things only few had. She had witnessed all sorts of magic, fought creatures beyond anyone's imagination, faced gods and goddesses, enjoyed all kinds of wonders in this beautiful world. She'd seen it all.
Finally, she couldn't hold on anymore, and she let go.
"Lara, I couldn't leave you!" Werner cried in a desperate attempt to justify himself to her, to make her forgive him in her final moment.
His cracked voice was the last thing that echoed in her ears. He was becoming smaller and smaller as the callous mouth of the pit released the darkness around her like a raging beast. She didn't feel any physical pain and emotions left her like birds fluttering away. And she didn't care. In that last second before she finally touched her rest, in that last moment that lasted like eternity, only one thing sparked through the remnants of her conscious mind. She had always thought that when her moment came, her entire life, all that she remembered would pass in front of her eyes like a sped up film. And now, a slight surprise glimmered in the back of her skull because it wasn't happening.
It was only one thing that sparked as a sign of her life. And it was regret.
She was Lara Croft – famous archaeologist-adventurer, a tomb raider, and she was about to die in an Egyptian tomb nobody else had knew of. The last remnant of a thought was that she would only regret that a part of her story would remain untold, buried, for all time.