Treachery


by

Rachael Perkins






22 JUNE 2004 – CROFT MANOR - SURREY

Croft Manor mostly remained in serenity; barely touched besides the settling dust. Most rooms held treasures far older then the mansion itself. The walls, proudly presented hung maps and photos of civilisations thought buried with the decaying of time uncovered by Lara on her travels.

Lara Croft wore her classic outfit comprising of a pastel green-blue vest and a small pair of walnut coloured shorts with matching leather boots, which much to her displeasure all felt slightly tighter then her memory of it a few years ago. She skipped downstairs, her brown hair swaying softly behind her. “Winston have you prepared the extra room. I just got news Alistair’s plane has just landed.” Lara inquired, placing her phone down in the charger at the bottom of the stairs.
Zip looked up from his computer monitor; a raised eyebrow expressed his confusion in the conversation. Lara acknowledged it.
“Alistair Fletcher is a friend of mine, he helped me collect information on a variety of artefacts. He has agreed to join our team to give me constant support and information on artefacts for the price of a bedroom and study… and Don’t worry Zip, your job isn’t under threat...Yet” She smirked, Zip nodded slowly, his gazes slowly retreating back to the monitor, although not completely content with the idea of a stranger in the house.

Lara’s smiled faded as she saw an envelope resting on the oak table beside the fireplace. Picking up the letter Lara studied the handwriting on the address, but couldn’t identify it. She ripped open the edge and reached inside. The envelope was filled with newspaper articles and sketches. Pouring them on the desk, Lara shifted them around, looking at them with studying eyes. Her lips twisted in concentration “The Staff of Treachery.” Lara realised, sliding them back into the package quickly, they crease slightly as she did so. She ran upstairs clutching the package tightly. Ignoring the shared glances and shrugged shoulders of Zip and Winston.

THREE HOURS LATER– CROFT MANOR - SURREY

Sunlight streamed into Lara’s bedroom. The air was crisp and chilled as it blew through a nearby open window. Lara sat on her bed, her legs crossed beneath her. Boxes piled up around the room. Several papers strewn over her bed. The air drifted around her in peaceful tranquillity only disrupted slightly by the sound of scuffling papers.
Winston edged open the door, his intervention causing the collapse of several boxes. He picked them up careful and stacked them. He shuffled toward Lara; she looked up having not noticed his entry.
“Lara, please take a break.”
“I will….soon. But I found these boxes in the library. They’re journals from my father; he kept records of a powerful artefact. I believe someone is going after it. According to the articles in the envelope I received, the sudden archaeological dig in Egypt conveniently coincides with the time written on the door of Seth’s tomb, 24th June 2009. The day that Seth called The Day of Peril”.
Winston smiled briefly, a saddened look in his eyes, he rolled up his coat sleeves and shifted a cardboard box off Lara bed and sat down beside her, his face wrinkled with concern.
Lara looked up from her papers, smiling reassuringly at her friend. Her eyes sparkled with kindness “Winston. Please, I know what I’m doing. I’m going to be finished soon. I promise.”
The butler nodded and scuffled out of the room. Lara watched him leave, touched that he had thought of her and her wellbeing. She slowly turned her attention back to her father’s journal. The pages were delicate and crisp with age, carefully she turned the page. Her eyes lit up, a broad smile creeping across her face.
“It’s a good start.” She cheered, her hand grabbed a nearby mobile phone and pressed eagerly the numbers on the dial pad.

23RD JUNE 2004 – CENTRAL LONDON

Rain poured hard down on Central London. The small winding roads glistened in the pitiful sun light which seemed eager to burst through the darken clouds. Lara opened up her umbrella and retreated under it, she had experienced hard rainfall like this recently in Paris; however Lara longed to forget the experience. She also hated the British weather especially since she couldn’t enjoy the view of her recently designed garden.

She faced down, looking at her feet, letting her memory lead the way. Her mind pondered over what her father had written in his journal. She recalled the phone call and remembered the fear in her friend’s voice. As she approached the British Museum, she looked up. Her hand dived into her coat pocket, and withdrew her Museum pass. The front entrance of the museum rested on eight stone pillars, and surrounded by two gardens. She showed the security guard the pass, before entering the staff entrance.

Following the passageway past the different departments following the path as it veered under tunnels and around sharp bends. Keeping an ear out for approaching trucks carrying artefacts. After a brief walk Croft smiled and approached the door pressing the code on the key pad. She held her breath and relaxed as the door made a reassuring click. Then pushing it open she preceded up the staircases her footsteps echoing.

At the top of the staircase was an old door, its green paint flaking off revealing the muddy brown undercoat. She knocked, leaning on the frame with her shoulder, happy to see a familiar face answer the door.
“Lara! How nice it is to meet you again.”
Lara smiled, and nodded. “I’ve missed you too Arthur.” She shook his hand. The employee stepped back, and invited her in.
She sat at a small table in the staff room, the yellow glow of the room violently bright and intimidating. Arthur placed down two cups of tea on the table and sat down, interested in Lara’s appearance.
“You haven’t visited us here in a few years. Still raiding tombs?” He queried.
“I wouldn’t want to do anything else.” She smiled briefly. Her face slowly became serious as she unzipped her backpack and withdrew the sketch of the spear.
“I was sent this yesterday. I remember my father talking about it, he said it was the…”
“…Sceptre of Treachery” Arthur finished. He placed down his cup of tea and picked up the image, cradling it between his wrinkled hands. His face even more serious. Lara looked up and nodded.
“You know of this?” She questioned. Arthur placed the photo down carefully.
“I hope you’re not going after this Lara. Some artefacts are meant to be left buried...” He sighed. “The Sceptre of Treachery dates back to the Ancient Egyptians. It is a powerful artefact that once in possession by someone is the most deadly weapon that ever existed. Seth the Egyptian God of Chaos created the sceptre, but he had no idea of the power it would wield. He then imprisoned it in his tomb, to prevent people retrieving it.” Arthur straightened his back. “And there we shall leave it, forever. Your father tried to find it. The journey killed his best friend and he decided the risk was not worth it.” Lara nodded.
“I believe someone dangerous is going to Egypt to obtain the artefact and their reason isn’t to discover if it exists.” Lara informed him. She picked up the parchment and slid it into her journal. “I have to go. Someone is warning me or…I don’t know yet, but I need to go.”
Arthur nodded, and stood up.
“It’s good to see you again Lara.”
She smiled and hugged him. Arthur watched him leave the room. She picked up her mobile phone and dialled her Manor. She smiled as Zip answered.
“Zip I’m going to Egypt. Please make the usual arrangements.”

24TH JUNE 2004– CROFT MANOR – SURREY

Lara zipped her backpack up and slid it on, grabbing her coat from the back of the sofa. She fixed the headset to her ear and ran through the basic sound tests which revealed the gadget was working correctly. Turning to Winston who decided to stand next to the fireplace.
“Right, I’m ready. I’ll be in contact when I hit Giza. ” Lara informed before turning and leaving her manor.

Outside a large helicopter touched down on the gravel at the end of the driveway. Lara smiled and ran towards the pilot, her boots crunching and grinding the pebbles below.
“Hi Lara” The pilot greeted, sliding open the side door and holding out his hand. She took it and pulled herself into the cockpit.
“Bradley, it’s good to see you.” She took off her backpack and placed her bag and coat around the back of the passenger seat. She sat down, took out her journal and slid out the sketch from one of the back pages.

Bradley was a quite man who used his brain more then his voice; Although he didn’t lack confidence. His friendship with Lara had grew since they met each other several years ago. He had light brown hair which glistened in the sunlight and a pair of twinkling eyes that were always soft and kind.

Bradley closed the door and looked over her shoulder, interested in the new challenge.
“This is what I’m looking for. It’s called Sceptre of Treachery; it’s one of the world’s most deadliest weapons. It was created by Seth who realised its power and trapped it in a tomb.”
Bradley slid himself into the pilot seat and angled himself so he faced the wheel, brushing his brown hair aside.
“So one of your “lets go save the world” moments”
Lara laughed and slid on her rose tinted glasses. “Absolutely.”
He put the key into the ignition and turned it. The plane juddered into action.


SIX HOURS LATER – GIZA – EGYPT

Egypt had always held such tranquillity in Lara’s mind. The location seemed to glow with beauty and grandeur. The Rhythm of a million tourist’s feet clamping upon the soft sand weaved between the pyramids with sparkling energy. Egypt had always been Lara’s favourite escape from England, and away from the stressful and groggy atmosphere of London.

The helicopter touched down just outside the Tomb of Seth. The sand flinched from the wind created by the whipping blades on the aircraft. Lara looked outside of the window, and smiling she closed her journal which had new drawings, translations and writing from her journey and placed it at the front of her back pack. Croft stood up and thanked Bradley.
“And you’ll be here to pick me up.” Lara reminded.
He nodded and opened the door for her. “Just remember where we’ve parked.” He joked, opening a can of chilled Cola and sipping it slowly, he watched as Lara turned to walk to the tomb.

The tomb was much more impressive then Lara remembered. Her feet shuffled in the scorching hot sand, leaving indentations in it as she walked. She straightened her Legend outfit; as long as she didn’t get lost in the desert she was fine. A white shall wrap around her shoulders, protecting her from Egypt’s unforgiving sun. When she was near the tomb she slid off her backpack and withdrew the ankh from the front pocket. She looked at it, her mind cast back to 1999. She reassured herself that she would never have to go back to the tomb again. Reluctantly she placed the artefact into the shaped slot and stepped back. A huge stone door slid revealing a staircase disappearing into the tomb’s darkness. Lara grabbed her sleek metal torch and placed a pack of extra AAA batteries in her belt pocket, and placed her shall into the front pocket of her leather bag next to her journal. Croft turned on the camera on her backpack strap, the images would be able to transmit to her manor. She tapped her torch on and progressed into the heart of the pyramid. The ancient mechanism on the door suddenly activated closing it behind her. She touched her headset activation button and heard the last part of Zip’s conversation
“I’ve arrived and entered Seth’s tomb. Is your camera picking up any of this?” Lara asked turning to a wall inscribed with hieroglyphics.
She flinched as Zip’s reply can back as static. Turning it off she sighed disapprovingly “Fantastic.”

The staircase led into a room, lit by wooden torches, already lit. If she was lucky the camera might still be able to pick up the images. The walls were inscribed with hieroglyphics; Lara shone her torch towards them.
“Imprisoned, for the good of the world, it remains in captivity, when unleashed it will kill the world.” Lara cocked her head slightly, flashing her torch light over the other walls. “Seth was the Ancient Egyptian God of chaos. It doesn’t make sense…Unless…Unless he lost it. That would make sense. He created it, but then it was stolen from him, and when his physical presence died, it was buried with him deep in his tomb because people feared coming here because of the curse. I presume whoever brought it here engraved the hieroglyphics referring to the sceptre…Genius.”
Lara smiled. She followed the compacted passageway to an open rooms.

The room seemed dark to begin with. The cold air seems to whisper around her. Suddenly as if noticing Lara’s presence, the wooden torches, burst into flames, revealing a deep pit either sides of a thin stone walkway. Lara placed a foot on the walkway and proceeded with caution. Outstretching her arms as balance. She walked slowly to the middle. Her breathing becoming more rapid. Gripping her torch tighter, she angled it at the right wall.
“This is where the writing stops.” She looked down, straining to see into the darkness.
“Perhaps.” She muttered to herself, kicking a rock over the side. She grimaced as she heard an almost silence tap as it hit the bottom. Lara grabbed the end of the grapple and fixed it to the edge of the walkway. She tugged at it making sure it was a strong link. Closing her eyes Croft jumped off the opposite side from the hook. She felt a tug around her waist where the rope was and as she opened her eyes she found herself levitating over the darkness, lowering herself down slightly. One had on the grapple, the other holding her torch tightly.

After several minutes Lara came to rest at the bottom of the pit. The room was dark. She moved her torch around the room. The walls seemed close and tight together, fixed to them were hundreds of spikes on either side. She stood up slowly trying not to brush past them. The torch light revealed a gruesome sight, a group of skeletons mounted on the trap; their bones obviously shatter at the impact. Lara shuddered, and tried to look away. The end of the room didn’t look that far. She progressed down the tunnel. Lara carefully placed one foot in front of another, suddenly the ground fell slightly underneath her left boot. She closed her eyes, muttering under her breath. Time seemed to slip behind slightly as Lara judged what to do. She decided to run as fast as she could, ducking her head as spears and poison darts swiped past her head by millimetres. The spiked walls began to close in around her, fast. Lara saw the end, just metres away from her. Leaping just outside the trap she managed to miss the spikes by only a few seconds.

Lara bent down on the ground and rested her head on the floor, trying to catch her breath. She grabbed her torch that had fallen centimetres away and pushed herself off the ground. Shining the light deeper into the tomb. The passageway seemed to close into a tight crawl space. She groaned, untied the water bottle from her belt and sipped it slowly letting the water slip down her burning throat.

AN HOUR LATER – GIZA – EGYPT

“Bloody hell!” Croft exclaimed, as she stood up straight again. She breathed deeply; pleased to receive a generous amount oxygen. She forced herself to walk on down the tunnel, gripping the rubber handle of her torch for dear life. Her empty water bottle (which was tied loosely to her belt) slammed against her thighs.

The ceiling was held in place by four dominating pillars. The walls were covered in deeply engraved hieroglyphics. (Etched by slaves in the slow progression of time). A door splitting the room from the tunnel Lara had just exited was supported by a series of ropes, tied into a clever mechanism. In the middle of the room the sceptre hovered over a stone plinth. Lara stepped slowly towards it, her hand reaching towards it.
“I wouldn’t take it if I did believe it would be misused.” She reassured herself. She reached out and took the sceptre by the handle.

From centimetres away from her head she heard a gun click and the sound of heavy breathing.
“Turn around slowly Ms. Croft.” A familiar voice insisted. “Hand me the sceptre, slowly.”
Lara handed the sceptre slowly, still facing ahead. She quickly reached for her signature pistols and turned around.
“Bradley!” She exclaimed, her voice shaking with anger.
They aimed their weapons at each other’s faces.
“I don’t want to shoot you Croft.” Bradley reasoned.
“I’m not leaving here without the Sceptre.” Lara argued. Her voice stern and clear.
Bradley laughed. “I can take you out in blow. Don’t think I wouldn’t. I would prefer not to, but if you leave me not choice.” He tightened his grip on the handle.

Lara brought her leg up and kicked his throat. Bradley stumbled backwards in pain, dropping his gun and the sceptre. She had to act fast; she couldn’t miss an opportunity. She slid both her guns into their holsters, and withdrew her boot knife. With professional accuracy she threw it. It sliced through several ropes supporting the huge stone door. Lara quickly turned back to perform an elegant swan dive, grabbing the sceptre as she rolled through the doorway. Lara straightened just in time to see Bradley recover from his shock; he made a lunge for the door, which closed just before he reached it.
“The Sceptre of Treachery is dangerous. If you had obtained this Bradley, you would have inadvertently destroyed everything searching for your goal of power. I on the other hand have no dreams of power or wealth.”
She tied it to her backpack.
“I have both already” She informed her friend, smiling as she finished.


THE END


NOTICE: This story is a work of fiction. Lara Croft, her likeness, and the Tomb Raider games are all copyright of EIDOS Interactive. There is no challenge to these copyrights intended by this story, as it is a non-sanctioned, unofficial work of the author's own. Entry for the 4th Village of Tokakeriby Tomb Raider Story Competition, 2009.