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Old 11-01-06, 13:53   #1
starwarsboots
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Default Does anyone remember the "Down Among the Dead" story?

Does anyone remember the story "Down Among the Dead" that was written by Erica Wagner, the literart editor of The Times back about the time when The Last Revelation was about to be launched?

It was split into 7 episodes and written as a supplement to the exclusive The Times level. It was a part of the then-existing Times Microsite.

I was cleaning up my computer recently and found the first 6 parts of it. I started reading it and then discovered that I didn't have the final episode, aaargghh!

Does anyone have it lying around? I would very much like to finish it
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Old 29-08-22, 19:00   #2
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Is there a chance you can shar the 6 parts? I only have 7 part seven and would be interested in the whole story….
Will share you part 7 back then!
Pleaseeee

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Originally Posted by starwarsboots View Post
Does anyone remember the story "Down Among the Dead" that was written by Erica Wagner, the literart editor of The Times back about the time when The Last Revelation was about to be launched?

It was split into 7 episodes and written as a supplement to the exclusive The Times level. It was a part of the then-existing Times Microsite.

I was cleaning up my computer recently and found the first 6 parts of it. I started reading it and then discovered that I didn't have the final episode, aaargghh!

Does anyone have it lying around? I would very much like to finish it
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Old 02-09-22, 07:42   #3
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This was a massive necropost, but I do think things like this are worth preserving.

A quick Google led me to two things.

1: Apparently much of it is an online library, and can be accessed by having academic access.

Parts 1, 4, 6 and 7 are available there.

2: TombraiderArabia has an exclusive with those same parts available here:

https://www.tombraiderarabia.com/202...-lara.html?m=1

I'll post them here for archive purposes, and hope that the other parts can be found. Just dealing with some formatting issues. Please wait.

The author is active on Twitter, and it might be worth someone reaching out to her to see if she still has it?

Edit: Parts 1, 4, 6 and 7 are here now. Have made posts for the missing parts and will edit them in if I can get hold of them. I've tried to get them through the Times Digital Archive, but they're missing many years. Can't get anything between 1985 and 2003.

I've contacted the author via her website in the hope that she might be able to share the missing parts.
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Old 02-09-22, 09:42   #4
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Part 01 , Date: Nov. 27, 1999

Lara was bored. November days in London weren't really her style - it had been too long between adventures. In this first of seven episodes, ERICA WAGNER, the literary editor of The Times, launches Lara on a perilous journey across three continents to the heart of the greatest Egyptian mystery of them all. Now read on...

Lara rounded the corner and - just as she'd suspected - the thug was waiting for her. She felt the adrenaline rush up into the roots of her hair as he lunged at her, swearing, but she feinted, drawing from behind her the lead pipe she'd kept concealed. She swung it at him with all her force, but he was fast, too, and managed to dodge away: in the blink of an eye she was staring down the barrel of a gun. Everything slowed: she could see his finger tighten on the trigger, and she heard the shot he fired, point blank, at her chest.

"Bloody hell," Lara grumbled, pushing her computer keyboard to the side of her desk. What rubbish these computer games were. Anyway, she had better things to do. In front of her was a mountain of papers, books and files - she was sifting through them, trying to decide what the topic of her next book should be. Scott Had It Easy: An Antarctic Escapade? Barrelling through Borneo? Nothing seemed quite right. She got up and made herself a cup of coffee; looking out her kitchen window at the garden of the house st retched out below her. The leaves were just starting to turn; her beloved roses had closed and fallen, gone to sleep for another winter. This was always the time she wanted to get out of England, not sit at her desk.

Well, there might be one way...she picked up the letter she'd left lying on the table the day before. It had come - regular as clockwork, as it did every year - from her godfather Jeremy, the man responsible for so many of her adventures. Each year he took her travelling, the price of her ticket always the same. She had to solve the puzzles he set, which revealed their starting point. It could be anywhere in the world and the test was always exacting.

Now the first of his puzzles lay before her; it wasn't hard for Lara to summon up the interest, but her concern about her next professional move still hung over her. She wasn't a girl any more, after all; and she had to earn a living - all this tomb-raiding was one thing but it wouldn't pay for the upkeep on this place. She sighed and sipped her coffee, and heading back to her desk nearly tripped on a book that had slipped out of a not-exactly-orderly pile.

Treasures of the Cairo Museum.

She knelt. She'd forgotten she owned it. She leafed through the pages, Jeremy's clue still in her mind; the conjunction of the two was serendipitous.

As she gazed at stone and gold, at lapis and alabaster, it almost seemed to her that she could smell the dust and bustle of Egypt. She closed the book quickly. She'd had an idea.

The original copy of the letter no longer existed; the archivist had explained to her that once it had been set in type, it would have been thrown away. It had appeared in The Times in March, 1923. "Death comes on wings to he who enters the tomb of a pharaoh," the novelist Marie Corelli reminded the paper's readers - avid for news of what would be revealed in the recently opened tomb of the boy-king, Tutankhamun. She claimed the admonition could be found in an ancient Arabic text in her possession; but all the same her warning might have gone unremarked had not Lord Carnarvon, patron of the tomb's discoverer, Howard Carter, died just a few days later. The Curse of the Pharaohs!

What rot, Lara thought to herself as she looked carefully through the boxes the archivist had set in front of her. In 1922 The Times had paid Pounds 5,000 for exclusive coverage of the greatest archaeological discovery of the century. News from the Valley of the Kings arrived "by runner to Luxor" in those days; Lara sighed a little, wondering if life before e-mail and modems wouldn't have been rather more exciting. With its thick brick walls and small barred windows, the archive was quiet as a tomb on this rainy London afternoon.

She knew it was cheeky, just showing up. Luckily her uncle, who she hadn't seen in years, but never mind - had been up at Oxford with the Editor, reading classics. She'd met him a few times and thought he'd seemed all right. Sitting on a fat sofa in his low-lit, low- ceilinged office, she had a feeling he didn't know what to make of her. Still, he'd let her into the archive. Before she left she wandered over to his bookshelves and pulled off a volume of Xenophon in the original Greek which, she noted, had once belonged to "The

Times Intelligence Service". Definitely, those were the days. She rattled off the opening paragraph for him; her Greek wasn't as rusty as she'd thought.

That, at any rate, made him smile.

Death comes on wings to he who enters the tomb of a pharaoh. She sat with a pencil between her teeth, wondering where all of this was leading her. The archivist popped his head round the door. "You all right in there?" She started.

"Yes, fine thanks," she said. "But is this all the material?" Somehow, curse or no curse, she hadn't found what she was looking for.

"I think so," he said. He seemed a nice enough fellow, Lara thought. He'd told her he was new on the job; been there six months. Lara couldn't have stuck it, shut up in dusty offices all the time. He counted the boxes in front of her.

"Hang on," he said. He went into the back, and after a few minutes returned with another, smaller than the others, made of wood, not cardboard. "Funny,"

he said, "I thought it might be part of that lot." There was a small label on the front, neatly written in black ink in an ol d-fashioned hand: '1923' was all it said. "I've not been through it, though." He bent and blew dust off its lid. "Looks like no one has, or not in a while, anyway." He smiled at her.

"There you go, then." He left the room, shutting the door behind him. Carefully, Lara opened the box, setting the lid on the table beside her.
Inside was a mass of papers, unsorted, yellowing. All the other boxes had had their contents neatly divided into folders, tidily arranged. In truth, when she'd seen them her heart had sunk; she couldn't believe she'd find anything really new in such pristine order. But this... Carefully she began to sift through the material: much of the handwriting, she could now tell, was Howard Carter's; occasionally she saw the failing signature of Lord Carnarvon. Mostly it was accounts: there were columns of figures and names of photographers, journalists, news agencies. Among the papers she spotted something else, hidden near the bottom of the box. It was a little handmade notebook. About three inches by four, made of thick heavy paper and bound with waxed twine, its cover was stained but unmarked. The first page was blank. On the next page some numbers; confused sums. Then a sketch or two: details, it looked like, of jewellery or statues. A Horus eye stared out at her. On the next page, Carter's writing again, this time cramped and hurried. She began to read:

They say this is the most important archaeological find ever to have been made in Egypt; perhaps anywhere in the world, and certainly I know that to be true.

And yet I am still quite certain that there is more - of greater importance still, that is possible. And what I have found so far might well lead me on to the next, if I could only - "How's that?"

The archivist. Her heart was pounding. Slowly she closed the little notebook; it almost fitted into her palm.

"Fine, fine," she said quickly, trying not to sound out of breath. "It's, um, more of the same, you know... accounts, ledgers, that kind of thing."

"Not too exciting?" Lara smiled, unconvincingly, she was sure. "Not really." The archivist shrugged. "Well, you know where I am if you need me," he said.
When he'd gone, Lara hastily rearranged the papers from the box, piling them back in. They'd never miss the notebook. Well, t hey wouldn't, would they? It had been sitting here all these years, not doing anyone any good - she was the one who should have it, she could do something with it. Grinning, she slipped it into the inside pocket of her leather jacket. She felt better than she had in months.





The next instalment of Down among the Dead will appear on Saturday December 4. The story will run until the New Year.
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Old 02-09-22, 09:43   #5
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Old 02-09-22, 09:43   #6
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Old 02-09-22, 09:44   #7
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Part 04 , Dec 18th 1999

Lara finds herself in Egypt on the trail of the tomb's lost treasures. Having discovered a notebook which might lead her to her goal, Lara showed her discovery to Egyptologist Dr Alvin Blackmore. But Dr Blackmore has suddenly died, and pages from the book have gone missing. In this fourth espisode, ERICA WAGNER's tale follows Lara to Luxor... LARA DIDN'T WASTE any time. She left Cairo as soon as she'd arrived, dozing on the train down to Luxor. She crossed the river to the West Bank, nearer to the Valley of the Kings, and found a room in a grotty little guesthouse. She dropped her bag, and headed off to the Hilton. It was early evening now, and the day had begun to cool.

Conscious of being in a Muslim country, Lara had changed into long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt; she'd wrapped a scarf around her hair.

At the entrance to the hotel the doorman gave her a suitably imperious nod but at least allowed her to pass; a blast of damp, air conditioned air chilled her as she paced up to reception.

"Yes?" inquired the concierge. It was only then that it occurred to Lara to wonder whom she should be asking for. But there was only one name she knew.
"I'm here to see Dr Blackmore," she said, recalling the last time she had used those words and wondering what she would find this time. "I believe he's expecting me. My name is Lara Croft." "Yes, Miss Croft," said the sleepy-eyed concierge. "You will go upstairs. Room 611, if you please." Lara passed through the ornate lobby - all pale marble and gold - and let the lift enclose her. The hotel seemed very quiet, a few people sitting downstairs on cream leather sofas, nothing more - although she knew this was the height of the tourist season, after the worst of the summer heat had passed. At the sixth floor she got out, and found her way to Blackmore's room. Well. Time to discover what was really up. She knocked on the door.

Silence. She knocked again. "Hello?" she called. Still silence. She tried the door handle and to her surprise, the door swung open.

If, in Blackmore's office, she hadn't been certain of the look of a rifled room, now she was in no doubts. The room was empty and nearly dark; when she tried a light switch nothing happened; the power must have been cut. But pulling a small torch from the pocket of her jacket she cast its beam around the room to reveal drawers that had been flung out of their chests, the wardrobe door wide open, a delicate escritoire plundered - the room was awash in expensive socks, acres of rumpled broadcloth, torn papers and books.

Stepping softly in the thick pile carpet, her heart in her throat, she saw the pages of a glossy magazine ruffle in the breeze: a window was open. When she peered out of it, she saw that it led down a white-painted iron fire-escape, obviously how the intruder - with Blackmore as his captive, she supposed - had escaped. Where could he have gone? Could he know where the tomb was without her half of the notebook? It was just possible. What could she do? As she stood, wondering, the beam of her torch caught a matchbook resting on a low coffee table that was bare of anything else; in the havoc of the room it could only look deliberate. She picked it up. The Ibis, it said; nothing more. She slipped it into her pocket, closed the window, left the room and headed downstairs. The concierge gazed listlessly at her as she walked out of the lift. "Thanks," she called, brightly, and made as if to head out the door. No need to tell him what she'd seen. The last thing she needed was to be questioned by the Luxor police, heaven help her. "Oh -" and stepping back towards the desk pulled the matchbook from her pocket. "Know where this is?"

The man nodded and gave her an address, not far from her guesthouse. He even drew her a little map and she headed off into the maze of Luxor's streets. She walked back to the Nile ferry, then stood on its deck, thinking hard. Whoever was behind all thi s clearly felt the risks entailed in the enterprise were worth it.

She remembered what she'd read of Tutankhamun's headstrong young widow, herself the daughter of Akhnaten and Nefertiti. The boy-king - whose own death, in any event, was still mysterious - had been succeeded by his vizier, Ay. Perhaps Ankhesenamun had married him, perhaps not: in any case, she had searched for another huband of her own choice, writing to the Hittite king, Suppiluliumas, asking him to send one of his sons for her to marry. "They say you have many sons and if you send me one of yours, he shall be my husband...

I shall never take a servant of mine to make him my husband." Lara recalled thinking, as she'd read those last lines, how easy she'd found it to imagine the relationship the widow must have had with the wily vizier, many years her senior, her ruler and yet s till - in her proud royal eyes - her servant.

Ankhesenamun's disappearance from the scene after that Lara couldn't help but find sinister; and wondered what her tomb - if indeed this was what everything was leading to - would reveal.

At last, Lara found what she was looking for and her ruminations ended abruptly. Down the dark alley, a battered neon sign glimmered ahead of her:

IBIS. Around the name a bird's beak curved. This was the place. Just as well; she was thirsty now, and hoped she could get a beer. She pushed open the door and went in to the bar.

Clearly this wasn't happy hour. The bar was quiet, except for the vague noise of an old black-and-white television in a corner; the click of chess pieces as two old men bent over a game opposite. She could hear sand scratch beneath the soles of her boots. She ordered a beer from the lugubrious barman and settled herself down near the back door. Something, she was sure, would come up.

"You a stranger in these parts?" Lara turned her head towards the voice, more slowly than her alarm would have had her do. "Who wants to know?" she asked casually. The stranger stood over her, a handsome man, younger than she was, she guessed, in a whit e linen suit and an old Panama hat, which he now removed with deference - or mock deference, Lara couldn't be sure. "Would you be the sheriff in these parts?" Lara lifted an eyebrow and stared into the stranger's black eyes.

"Not at all, my dear," the man laughed. Now she heard he was as English as she. "How do you do? Name's Haggarty, Blade Haggarty." Haggarty - the name on the Post-It. The contact who had betrayed Blackmore? Lara felt certain of it.

"And you would be -" "Emily," Lara said quickly. She didn't like this Blade one bit. She knew she had a tendency to snap judgments; a tendency, she reminded herself silently, which had saved her life on more than one occasion.

To be fair, his pale suit didn't look like he'd recently made a hasty exit down a fire escape, but you could never be certain. "Well, Emily; what brings you to Luxor?" He grinned at her with white teeth.

"Just a tourist," she answered.

"Interested in the tombs? "I guess." She thought of the word to describe the expression on his face. Leering. Ugh.

"Perhaps I might - show you around?" he offered genially. "I'm practically a native now, you know. I'm with Reuters, by the way. A hack, you might say. A bit of a lonely hack." He winked. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

"Thanks, but no thanks," she said. She put a few coins on the table and checked her watch. Something wasn't right, and she thought it would be best to cut her losses. "My, is that the time? I am tired. I'm afraid I must leave you. It has been a pleasure," she said. She pushed back her chair and headed out the back door, into the alley at the side of the bar. She knew she shouldn't have the second she'd done it - in at the back, out at the front - but it was too late. He'd followed her, and blocked her path.

"Don't leave me so soon, Miss Croft," he hissed. "I couldn't bear it." In the blue dark she could just make out the dull gleam from the barrel of his gun.

Could she reach hers? It would be no good. She imagined the explosion in this narrow canyon of old brick. Bad idea. Her last battle - sitting in front of her computer screen - flashed through her mind. This was never a problem in those wretched games.

"Give me the notebook."

"What notebook?" she asked coolly.

"Don't play coy with me, Croft," he snapped. "You won't live to regret it."

"Where's Blackmore?" "Oh, we're asking the questions now, are we?" Haggarty sneered. "I don't think we're in a very good position to do that, dearest Lara, do you?"

"Why did you ask my name if you knew it?" she inquired evenly. "I wanted to hear you lie. You're quite good at it, I think." "You'll find I'm quite good at most things."

He didn't see it coming, her right foot out the darkness, kicking the gun out of his hand. It spun away, far out of his reach and hers, but he didn't hesitate - he lunged at her, tackling her to the ground by virtue of his superior weight and height.

It was more than that though - Lara fought to free herself but he was damn strong; he had her arm pinned to her side and she could smell the drink on his breath, his rank sweat. She snapped her teeth, trying to bite him, but he jerked away and laughed.

"Oh, Lara, I just can't wait to see what else you're good at," he growled. His full weight was on top of her and now he brought one hand up to her throat.

She felt it close around her windpipe and now she thrashed in desperation; at this rate she wouldn't be conscious for much longer. The light of blood-lust was in his eyes; victory so close it made him lazy - Lara was just able to squeeze her arm behind her back to the knife she always carried, nestled snugly in the small of her back. Her fingers curled over the haft just as the world began to grow grey.

His eyes opened wide with surprise when she thrust the blade into the base of his neck. He didn't even groan. A gout of black blood drenched his white suit and she felt its warmth through her shirt. His grip relaxed and she was able to roll out fromunder him.

She searched through his pockets. Ah - his wallet. And sure enough, when she shook it, out fluttered the missing pages of the notebook. Lara made her way out into the alley. When she finally found herself under a streetlight, she squatted on the pavement and had her first good look at the notebook since she'd taken it from the archive. Could she figure it out by herself? Well, now she'd have to. She had no choice.




The next instalment of Down among the Dead will appear on Christmas Eve. The story will run until New Year's Day.
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Old 02-09-22, 09:44   #8
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Old 02-09-22, 09:44   #9
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Part 06 , Dec 27th 1999

Down among the dead VI Thanks to the notebook she discovered at The Times, Lara has found a lost tomb in the Valley of the Kings
- a tomb she is certain is that of the widow of Tutankhamun. Lara's Egyptologist contact died in mysterious circumstances and s he herself was nearly murdered. But now, in the sixth episode of ERICA WAGNER's tale, Lara finds herself before the very door of the tomb.

Clay seals. Broken once, it looked like, but then sealed again not long after; a cartouche of hieroglyphs was clear in the dr ied earth. Sweat ran into Lara's eyes and stung when she blinked but she hardly noticed that or the ache in her back or the searing pain in her ribs. She'd been digging for nearly three hours and now this - how had she found this? She thought of Carter, digging, year after year, begging for money and then suddenly - well, she supposed, he could just as easily have found Tutankhamun sooner rather than later. But Lara knew this wasn't luck. She was meant to find this. Whoever had stolen the pages from the notebook had found this place and brought her here to - what? Lara's fear vanished in the excitement of this discovery. Her heart beat hard in her chest. She folded her spade carefully, put it back in her bag, and stood before the door. She did not recognise what she felt, at first: then she thought it might be reverence.

The clay crumbled easily beneath her hand. The doors of the tomb swung open with an ease that frightened Lara; they made no noise, as if they might have been oiled the night before. Once through the doors she found herself in a long stone tunnel, cool as a cave; she shivered as her sweat began to dry and drew her torch from her belt. Twenty paces: a second set of doors, more clay seals. Sh e peered at them, shining her torch on them and thinking of the centuries and centuries they had been in the lightless black. A shudder ran over her scalp and through her shoulders and she remembered how someone had told her once, when she was a girl: that means someone 's walking over your grave.

Again, she broke the seals. No way to go but forward. Again the doors swung open and when the jackal-headed man lunged at her, she screamed. "God damn - "

The blackened wood of the statue, dried out for aeons below the surface of the desert, cracked when it struck the stone floor. Anubis, the god of the mortuary, had stood guard over the tomb for all this time; Lara had practically walked into his arms. Pulling herself out from underneath him - the figure was nearly as large as she was - she shone her light on his finely carved face, his long eyes leafed with gold. Beautiful and still he lay beside her, his ears cocked, it seemed, attentively. Her heart thumped. His gaze did not meet hers. Only a statue. Lara rose and walked on.

An antechamber, piled with grave goods. Boats, beds, bottles; alabaster, ebony and gold. Lara had to remind herself to breathe as she picked her way through the objects, some of them smashed and jumbled. The resealing: someone else had been here, a long time ago. What ancient breath was in her lungs? The air smelled dryly of dust and old wood.

The walls of the first room were white, washed with lime, she guessed. But then behind another door - more seals, don't pay any attention, Lara told herself, just get through the door - everything was different. Here the floor was nearly bare, and it was easy to place her feet: but the walls crawled with figured paintings and inscriptions, clear as on the day they were written.

"Fear and tremble, you violent ones who are in the storm clouds of the sky. He split open the earth by means of what he knew on the day when he wished to come there."

Then she saw it. As she shone her torch into the chamber its little light caught on a rounded shoulder of stone. Shining; black as basalt. All around were stone blocks, smashed, as if they had been broken with a sledgehammer: the remains of a square outer coffin, smashed by the thieves who must have been here before her. Lara blinked, looked again, made sure. What had happened to those thieves? She suddenly couldn't help but recall Corelli's Gothic curse. Somehow the calmness of her dismissal of it in the tranquility of The Times's archive would not return to her. All the same she made herself walk towards the sarcophagus. Lying down it stood as high as her chest; she had to stand on tiptoe to peer into the stone face.

It was wide and impassive, unreadable. And yet the features, it seemed to her, were surely feminine; there was a delicacy about the mouth and eyes, even - Lara thought - a certain sadness. She shone her light around the rim of the sarcophagus, and almost instantly saw the cartouche she barely believed she would ever see.
Ankhesenamun. She smiled in the darkness: but then caught sight of the great emerald scarab set into the breast of the great coffin. Lara put out her hand to touch it. Oddly, it seemed almost warm against her fingers. No, it was warm: she touched the sarcophagus
then the scarab, back and forth a few times. She was not imagining that. Under her fingers, too, she could feel scratches in the stone,

as if someone had tried to claw the jewel away and been interrupted. Was this the jewel the notebook had spoken of? What was its power? Lara's innate scepticism poured from her like sand from a glass. It was hard not to believe something, faced with this. She reached her hand out, ready to try to take the jewel, when she heard a familiar, chilling click behind her. "Not an inch farther, M iss Croft; not if you have any affection for the back of your head."


The final instalment of Down among the Dead will appear on Saturday January 1
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Old 02-09-22, 09:45   #10
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Part 07 final Jan 1st 2000

In the Valley of the Kings, Lara has discovered the lost tomb of Ankhesenamun, Tutankhamun's widow. She has done so without t he help of Egyptologist Alvin Blackmore, whose mysterious death in London left her in the lurch. Standing before the queen's sarcophagus she discovers another tomb-raider pointing a gun at the back of her head. This is the concluding episode of ERICA WAGNER's tale.

Lara froze. She could feel the gun trained on her; it was like being stared at, but worse. She'd have no chance to reach for her weapon. She could only stand and watch as the hulking figure of Alvin Blackmore emerged from the darkness behind to stand facing her over the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun's queen.

"Well done, Lara," he said. "Even if I did have to help you along those last few yards to the tomb. Still, I couldn't bear to deprive you of the pleasure of discovery. And really, these days, I'm far too old for all that digging."

"I guess you didn't have a heart attack," Lara said.

"Healthy as a horse, my dear, healthy as a horse!" He laughed - it echoed around the tight stone walls of the chamber - and slapped a meaty hand on his broad chest."Never been fitter. And all the better for seeing you - for the last time."

"It won't work, Blackmore," she said.

"What won't work? Of course it will. You stole Carter's little notebook, of that I'm certain: and you wouldn't have taken it i f anyone had been aware of its existence. So now there are two of us who know about it - Haggarty I was willing to take a risk with because I figured you'd do away with him, and I'm grateful to you for not letting me down. But really, once I'd seen what was at stake, I couldn't let you go running around raising a ruckus about it."

"So why not kill me straight away? Why bring me all the way out here, let me find the tomb?" "Like I said, I wanted you to have some fun before you went, Lara. Mean to do otherwise, don't you think? But I wasn't about to murder the well-connected Lara Croft in cold blood in London. A most unlikely death for you, that would be. But if Lara Croft died in a rockfall while on the trail of one of Egypt's last hidden tombs - why, that would make perfect sense. No one would dream of asking any awkward questions."

"I suppose not," Lara admitted.

"It's a pity, really. I like you. I admire you. You're pretty sharp, if a little naive. But then I suppose you couldn't resist Ankhesenamun's promises either. The kind of thing to make a person throw caution to the winds, don't you think?"

"Looks like it," Lara said."Then you believe it - the promise of eternal life?"

"Well," Blackmore said."There's no harm in trying, is there? And anyway - even if it's all crap, you saw the treasures that were outside. I've never been a subscriber to the dour philosophy that money and fame can't buy you happiness. I've always found - at least where the former is concerned - quite the opposite to be true."

"Your sister's got your number, you know. She said nothing was ever enough for you."

"Cornelia? You spoke to Cornelia? Dear Cornelia. How was she? I would say - you must give her my regards, but it's too late for that now." Blackmore grinned, and keeping his gun trained on Lara, reached out for the jewel set in the sarcophagus. His voice trembling with excitement, he recited from the last page of the notebook that had been in his possession.

"Whomsoever shall claim the jewel set in the widow's breast shall find that Re never sets on him, nor on his generation," he intoned."Life eternal shall be his, just as the Nile rises and ebbs eternally in its mighty bank." And he reached out, curled his fingers around the emerald and lifted it from its place.

Instantly it burned with a white light; so bright that Lara could see the bones in Blackmore's hand. His face blazed with it, lit and shadowed by the unearthly light. Lara began to shake, but held her ground, and when she spoke her voice was almost as firm as she'd have liked it to be."You never saw the last page, did you, Blackmore?"

"What?" His eyes were on fire; he seemed filled with something inhuman and terrible. "Whomsoever shall claim the jewel set in the widow's breast shall find that Re never sets on him, nor on his generation. Life eternal shall be his, just as the Nile rises and ebbs

eternally in its mighty banks. For he who is worthy, this reward will come; for he whose soul falls heavy in the scale, the r etribution of the gods will surely follow."

Later, when Lara would try to explain what happened next, she would find her usual facility with words deserting her. How to describe it - she'd written it down, over and over, and then crumpled each effort and thrown it in the bin. The pictures had come off the walls. They had peeled themselves away and rushed at them - not as she'd imagined the falling statue of Anubis moving but reaching out with stretched arms and blazing black eyes, their flat shapes made flesh.

Horus, hawk-headed, one-eyed, just and terrible; Osiris, the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt on his brow, bound as a god to rule over the dead; his sister wife Isis, her fierce face streaked with the grief of her loss. And behind them all a figure so awful that Lara felt the air punched out of her lungs to look at it.

Man or beast, impossible to tell - the head of some animal out of a nightmare, great teeth, fiery eyes, slime and foul breath: the stench of the dead. It was this figure that seemed to lead the charge as the creatures turned on Blackmore and tore him into a dozen pieces. The stink of burning human flesh filled the dry air of the tomb.

Lara would have trouble making up her mind whether to include the next detail in her story - she fainted. What she remembered next were shadows turned to spiderweb, to a nest that bound her and held her and bore her out of the tomb, leaving her stretched out on the sand in the desert air. When she opened her eyes she saw - or did she dream it? - the beast-head of Set looming over her with a warning before fading into mist.

Death comes on wings to he who enters the tomb of a pharaoh. The hot desert sand cradled her head. Lara sat up. Her rib ached worse than ever, but she could stand. In the distance she saw the film of smog that showed her where the city lay; she turned towards it and began to walk. Well, she'd certainly have something to tell Jeremy when she met him at the place his clues had led her to. She wondered if he'd ever outsmart her... but perhaps that wasn't the point. She quickened her pace through the desert heat. She really was looking forward to seeing him.


The End.
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