‘I need some tea, and to leave this study just now. Come, Bronte.’ The two walked downstairs and sat in front of the newly reconstructed hearth.
‘We will sit here on this sofa. It survived the devastation done by the doppelganger, Natla’s drone. I am grateful my parent’s portrait father commissioned years ago is still here as well. This was one of my favorite places to relax when I was a child. I would stare at the painting of my parents and wonder what they were doing after they posed for it. I wondered where they would go, and how happy they must have been. I always felt they could see me. I always felt warm whenever I looked at it. After they died, it was more important than ever before to keep it where it always was, as if they never left. Therefore, I would never forget what they looked like, and never forget them.’
Bronte sat stiff and tensed, His eyes never left her face while he sat beside her absorbing her every word.
‘I can understand, Lara. You feel closer to your parents when you see the painting. It brings good memories. I do understand.’
Her full lips pulled into a line of arrogance, and her eyes narrowed in anger. ‘You are thinking all of my unrest, and upset is from a painting? I have known you for a year; in fact, you came into my life under the capacity of my physiatrist upon my return from the last mission. You do not have a history with my family nor me. You do not know me!’
‘I am trying to understand you, Lara. Why you have such vivid nightmares. I want to stop your torment, and give you those answers. I am here to help,’ said Bronte.
‘Listen to me, Bronte.’
He nodded, and she continued.
‘Natla told me she used my father to obtain her goal.’
His mouth fell opened wide, and his knuckles went white from his hand pulling into a tight fist. ‘Why bring her up? She’s dead.’
Lara shot him a stare that fell onto his fist and then his narrowed eyes; her harrowing eyes stopped his breath. He remained silent.
‘Listen to me! She told me she used me as well to obtain the same goal.’
‘Yes, but all that is over. You know your mother was turned into a Thrall, as you said. You know Natla’s dead. You know she killed your father. Why not let go of this now, Lara? You are driving yourself mad!’
Though his words where from concern, at least that is what she thought, they angered Lara.
‘Bronte! shut up and listen to me – or leave!’
Winning his silence, Lara continued.
‘Something is not right. Everything happened so fast. All of the searching, years of research, all of the areas of exploration. Nothing fits properly. Bronte, I have been to many ancient worlds, I have seen things that would frighten the strongest of minds, and each time it happened, I knew everything belonged, I knew things were in their places. However, something is missing, something doesn’t fit, and I have been troubled by this for a while. Ever since the last mission began. Ever since the Mediterranean sea.’
Bronte’s cheeks were flush, and his mouth adapted a crooked, tight-lipped appearance. One could say he seemed worried.
‘What are you talking about, Lara?’ he said with a subtle quiver in his tone.
His eyes became round with the name. He drew a deep breath and picked himself up from the sofa to stand in front of Lara. Lara’s line of vision remained on his every move.
‘Natla’s trickery! She had powers and was an Atlantian god.’
‘A ruler, not a god.’
Lara’s words were snuffed by his interruption. Her face froze as if she was a sculpture.
‘Excuse me, Bronte, why would you correct me, and say she was not a god? You don’t know her — do you?’
There was a long pause, and then he sat next to Lara again. His striking blue eyes narrowed with his furrowed brow.
‘No, I, I am only repeating what I thought I heard you say about her. Know her? No, no,’ he paused again with an unbroken stare. ‘I do not know her.’ He looked down at his lap, anywhere to remove his vision from her probing eyes. Eyes that find the truth faster than imaginable. Eyes he needed to gaze into completely focused.
‘She made the Thralls in her realm and many other abominations under her control. She performed an elaborate plan with Amanda and tricked my father and I for years using my mother as the bait for him to press on, and me as well. However, he found something. She knew he did, and she was threatened by his discovery. She killed him to keep something away from someone. It isn’t only that though. It is a lot larger than what I have said.’
The tall man closed his eyes and sighed.
‘How vast, Lara?’
‘It is the underworlds themselves. In my searching, I went to several; each one had Norse ruins in there. Yet, something didn’t feel right about them. Something was always out of place, and it wasn’t until I arrived in the Arctic that I recognized something. The symbols all matched with Natla’s world. They were the symbols I saw on the first mission I was on when I discovered her island and her nightmarish collection of beasts she created for her army. She needed something from one of the underworlds and used me to believe my mother was in there. She hated me anyway because I was the daughter of one of her enemies. She devised a profound plan to make me think I was heading to Avalon, but I was really uncovering something else. I was working for her unknowingly, so she could gain control of the world, and plunge it into ruin, in order for her to rule over everyone. That s what the mechanism that she claimed was part of the Norse legend would have done. I am thinking it was not really Avalon, I am beginning to think it was not even a Norse underworld. I think it was a place her own people created and something she knew about. I even think it could have been part of Atlantes.’
Only a gasp escaped Bronte’s lips. ‘Are you sure you are not wanting this to be true? Are you sure about any of this, Lara?’ he said with that underlined quiver in his dulcet notes.
‘You can never be 100% sure, but this has some very odd overtones I cannot ignore. And, why are you so nervous all of a sudden, Bronte ?’
All he did was drop his vision to his feet and start fidgeting with his hands he slipped into the deep pockets of his trench coat.
‘Now, let me explain a few things. The Norse ruins were seemingly old, but something about them seemed wrong. It is hard to explain, however, I have been around ancient objects, dwellings, cities and much more, and they have a feel to them that none of these so-called Norse ruins had. Also, the Norse underworld was ruled by Odin. They lived in Asgard, Valhalla was a hall where the Vikings were lead by the Valkery to drink and eat their fill before the enormous battle that would be the end of all things, as they knew it.’
Bronte’s eyes lifted and met hers with a quizzical brow. ‘How do you know the legend was real? Legends are based in fact, Lara, but questionable things are said through the centuries that change legends into something completely different from what it started from.’
‘Precisely! The Norse underworld was not a tangible place where you can walk, drive or fly to it. It was their answer to heaven. You cannot walk, drive or fly to heaven either. Nothing was as if the legend ever happened. My father had a theory. He was thinking the Norse legend was somehow connected to Atlantis, He was not sure how, and he only thought of this because of another idea of where Atlantis could have been, or where the people may have gone. However, a legend has facts behind it, to catapult it into existence.’
Bronte seemed troubled. His long fingers searched in the depths of his coat pockets for something to manipulate something to hold onto, to stop his heart from racing. He needed to feel as if he could stop from falling off a cliff! His face became pale, and his eyes narrowed in anxiety.
‘What is wrong, Bronte? Are you feeling sick?’
‘No, no, maybe a little indigestion,’ he coughed out his words, holding his hand over his mouth in an effort to quell a deep cough. ‘Go on, Lara.’
‘Perhaps Natla’s friends the other demy gods that captured her in the beginning for punishment due to her out of control behaviour, maybe they were part of this place she lead me to, and she lied about its real name. Maybe the real Avalon is yet to be discovered.’
He stood up in haste and faced her, his eyes looming downward into her face.
‘Demy gods? Maybe just Kings. I doubt they were really gods. I doubt Thor was too. I think Natla was a delusional woman, and you became her pawn. I think she had a power you didn’t understand, and she could have been from anywhere. Maybe you are clinging to something so desperately you cannot see the real truth, Lara.’
‘Well, you certainly have your own underdeveloped opinions, Bronte, so I will ignore that. I believe Natla devised this plan to play into my father and I’s background in archaeology. However, to created an interest for my father to become involved she made it look as if he was hunting artefacts from an underworld that would lead to my mother.’
‘Possibly, but, Lara, what are you thinking of doing with all the unsettled ideas you have about what you believe happened? I don’t think you should reopen any of this.’
Lara sat up from the sofa, and stared him directly in the eyes. ‘You are telling me to dismiss all of this, then?’
‘You should move on. You may not understand what you are saying. There are things involved that need to be put to rest.’
‘Why are you so adamant for me to drop this? I thought you would listen, and help me?’
‘I don’t know. I am tired, and need to go home. All of this has me quite nervous.’ He put his hat onto his blond head, and turned to walk to the door. Before he opened the heavy, oak door, he turned on his heel to face her. ‘Leave this alone, Lara. Stay out of trouble.’ With that, he placed an unsteady hand upon the brass knob and disappeared behind it. Lara was perplexed with his attitude. She remained still, her eyes fixed on the door where his swishing coat swept behind. His heals resonated against the stone driveway, as he got into his car and drove away.
“Will you be taking dinner in the library this evening, Lady Croft?’ inquired her butler. His tall, slim frame stood poised in wait of her answer. She took in a small gasp and turned to see his before her.
‘Really, you startled me. I must find you noisy shoes so you shall not frighten me in the future.’
The elderly man bowed to Lady Croft, as she left the room in a huff. However, she looked back for a few moments. ‘Yes, I shall take dinner in the library this evening. However, when you serve it, wear louder shoes. I am at my wit’s end. I do not need the added fright from you coming in on silent feet to give me a shock.’ She abruptly stalked from the room, up the stairs, and into her bedroom. The old man nodded in recognition of her orders and left for the kitchen.