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Following the example of the CG comic artist Epoch and his ongoing “Clara Ravens” saga, among others, I’ve decided that when I want to write more kinky fantasies of the Tomb Raider type, I’m no longer going to use Lara’s name. From now on, these tales will star another character instead by the name of Marion Glaive, also known in her universe by the half-admiring and half-condemnatory title the Stealer of Secrets. Sure, she remains obviously and undeniably analogous to the Tomb Raider, and thus derivative, but is meant as more an homage than a parody. Plus my particular version of Croft, from the very beginning of this series, has always born only a loose and sketchy relationship with the source. Those differences have widened considerably further since her (admirable) reboot, and continue to do so as the new take evolves (I’m quite pleased with the recent casting announcement for the next cinematic effort, yet the protagonist of my tales will continue to look like Angelina Jolie inside my head, more than anybody else). Also I’ve never used any of the other characters from her games/comics/movies/etc … In perfect honesty, I must confess I’m not actually very familiar with the “Real” Lara, so to speak, and the majority of her official, canonical adventures, her established history and lore. Instead I’ve always just ran along with the central surface notion in my own shadowy fashion—at least as I perceive her, or choose to, extrapolating and catering shamelessly to my own dark whims and quirks. I believe this version of my own, twisted as it is, or perhaps even hopelessly corrupted (one’s mileage varies), has developed and flourished far enough at this point to take on a more-or-less independent, individual existence, as we progress forward.



A flyspeck of an island in the Aegean.

Looks lifeless and dreary from the sea, merely another tall jumble of sun-scorched rocks. Climb up them, however, and you’ll discover hidden patches of pleasant greenery here and there in the middle. Not big enough to call valleys—no more than nooks.

The whole island is swiss-cheesed with narrow, winding canyons and caves. It has no name, for it isn’t big enough or interesting enough for anyone to have ever given it one. Today that’s changed. Except Marion Glaive doesn’t want anyone else to know yet. Maybe not ever.

In one of those caves, there is a strange inscription. Two crooked lines of unreadable script. Its symbols are unique, thus the writing is untranslatable. That’s not the best part—nor the weirdest part. The inscription cannot be copied or recorded. Rubbings don’t work, nor photographs—nothing shows up when you try—nor simple transcription by hand. As soon as you finish copying down one of the symbols, the markings vanish from your paper. Doesn’t make a difference if you use a pencil or a pen, or even, believe it or not, your own blood. Marion has proved this by attempting all three methods.

As to how this trick works, well … God knows. Or rather—far more likely, in the view of someone as secular as herself, nowadays—no one does.

Yet Marion recognizes the writing. Which is not to say she can read any of it. Only that she’s seen another sample of the stuff, several years ago. In the ruins of an ancient city that no longer exists. Her father had called it Zania. She doesn’t know if that was the real name, or something he made up himself.

The city, or something within it, wasn’t happy about being found. That’s her theory, anyhow. For Zania disappeared. Somehow it erased itself from the world. Utterly. And it took both her parents with it, when it did. She isn’t sure anymore what part of this world these events took place. The fact she was there at the time, just outside the edge of Zania before its departure, makes no difference. As a delightful special bonus, it wasn’t only the location itself that vanished. All records of the place vanished as well, everywhere throughout the world, including mental ones. All human memory of the long-lost culture had been wiped (not that there had been much to begin with), save a few severely distorted fragments in Marion’s head.

Until today. She’s finally found another surviving, vindicating trace. This dinky inscription in a dinky cave on a dinky Grecian isle. Dinky as it is, it’s nevertheless the first tangible evidence she’s laid eyes on that she’s not nuts—that what she thinks happened to her parents really happened. That she didn’t imagine the whole business as her therapists have been telling her for ages—as in fairness they’d been obliged to tell her, in the face of her circumstances. She would never have believed the story if anybody else told it to her.

It happened, though. It did happen! There was a Zania, once upon a time, somewhere in the world. Her parents had not willingly, yet pointlessly abandoned her. Zania just made it seem so, to protect itself.

Whoever they were, those Zanians, whatever they were, they weren’t perfect. sıhhiye escort They weren’t all-powerful. They hadn’t successfully scrubbed themselves from her brain, or from the planet, hard as they tried. They’d left behind at least one physical trace outside of her skull. And she’d found it!

Only it wouldn’t let her take any pictures of it or so much draw the damn thing.

What would it do if she cut the whole thing out of the wall in a big slab? Could she beat the thing’s paranormal defenses that way?

Worth a shot. She’d have to try and see. Not today, though. She’d need more tools. Lots more cable, too. The slab would be damned heavy, dragging away.

Tomorrow then.


Scrambling around in caves is filthy work. Especially on a Greek island in the height of summer. The passage with the inscription in it had only a four foot clearance. All the muscles and tendons in her shoulders and the back of her neck were howling, when she got out of there. Her knees and thighs and ankles hurt almost as bad. No, scratch that—every bit as bad, she decided. And so much gray dust had plastered itself to her skin and clothing, and all through her hair, that she must look like a ghoulish subterranean monster, or at best an animated statue, brought to life by magic.

There was a waterfall at the inside end of this narrow defile, along the opposite wall, curved inward where the gap pinched shut. Not much of one, not loud. It was quite tall and wide, and yet lightweight, wispy and whispery; its source up top was probably only an inch or so deep. The shore where her boat awaited was in the opposite direction, a five minute walk over the gravel. Marion didn’t turn that way. She went toward the fall. Staggering slightly as she did, thanks to the pins-and-needles in her legs and her feet. She shrugged off her pack as she went and let it thud to the gravel behind her. And then, without a pause, without thinking about it, she tugged her shirt off over her head, and then her sports bra.

What the hell. The fall was too great a temptation to resist. She was too hot and filthy. Thirst was another motivator. She had her canteen, obviously, still two-thirds full, yet the fall looked far more appealing. The water in her canteen would be warm and taste like plastic. The fall would be pure and icy and wonderful.

She was safe on this nameless island, sheltered from the sun if not the heat by the tall black sides of the defile. Nobody lived on this rock, nobody could see her, nobody was gonna come along and catch her while she showered. She took off her gunbelt and her boots, her socks and her shorts and her knickers. The waterfall and the shallow pool beneath it had smoothed the gravel, thankfully, in this segment of the passage. The other part wasn’t passable without shoes on—the gravel through there, far more jagged, would mutilate bare feet, if you were stupid enough to try.

Marion wondered where the pool drained to. You’d think the fall would form a stream to fill the bottom of the defile, flowing to the coast. But somehow it didn’t. Another cave opening, no doubt, that she couldn’t see. Tiny cracks.

With her eyes shut, she ducked under the fall, as much as was possible—it was too thin to douse her all over all at once—and scrubbed herself clean. But not in a rush. No need to hustle. She took her time and indulged herself. The water was ice cold, like she’d expected. If water hit you in your shower at home like that, you’d squeal your head off and jump out of the tub. Here it felt glorious. Exquisite. Exactly what she needed. She gasped and sputtered for a moment—only an instant—then sighed and shivered, sighed again, in a more drawn out fashion, and after that she laughed, and her laughter was equally breathless and drawn out. Then she bent over and got busy. With both hands, Marion rubbed herself all over, every part of her body from her scalp to the arches of her feet. Massaging herself as much, or perhaps more, than merely washing. Languid as a queen, she kept at this for more an hour. Never opening her eyes the whole time. She sung to herself, softly. A silly Taylor Swift song, of all things. She didn’t know all the words, so made up her own when she needed to, or just filled-in with humming. “Wildest Dreams” was the name of it, or at least she assumed that it was, from the chorus.

She masturbated and made herself come. Same as when she stripped and started this shower, it wasn’t something she consciously decided to do. It seemed to happen by itself, in the middle of rinsing her crotch. Despite the protection of her shorts and underwear, grit from the caves had managed to get on her vagina as bad as everywhere else, and even inside it a tiny bit, unless she only imagined the sensation. Necessary or otherwise, she spread her sex wide open with her fingertips and bent backwards far as she could stretch while still staying upright on her feet, tandoğan escort thus allowing the waterfall to enter her down there and cleanse her inside, and sooth those extra-vulnerable, extra-sensitive surfaces. Her fingertips assisted the process. It felt quite nice. Quite marvelous. The pressure of the water and her fingers, working in concert, deeper and deeper. It felt so nice she didn’t realize—wasn’t in fact capable of realizing—what was going to happen next until after it occurred. Which was the triggering of an orgasm. Her legs went rubbery and she almost fell over. She bumped her head on the rock wall behind the fall—not too hard, luckily. In a funny way, that stinging, dizzying blow managed to combine with and extend/enhance her climax, or seemed to.

“FuuhhHHUCCK!” The exclamation echoed up and down the defile for a moment or two. “Uck!” – “Uck!” – “Uck!” That was somewhat amusing.

She opened her eyes, for the first time since starting her shower. She turned inward to stick her face through the curtain of water. She wanted to look at the rock she’d just bashed her head on. A rather pointless impulse—yet most of us react in the same fashion, after hitting our head on something. We are compelled to investigate what we just smashed into. We want to see how big and nasty it was. We want to see if we left any impression on the spot, or if there’s any blood …

What Marion discovered was a doorway. Not a natural opening—this had been shaped by people. It was arched, symmetrical. There were grapevines carved around the edges. It was on one of those grapevines she’d biffed herself a second ago—which was irritatingly ironic, considering that if she’d been standing another inch to the side, her head would have tilted and juttered backward into the clear space of the doorless doorway during the throes of her orgasm, and she wouldn’t have hurt herself at all. Then again, she might never have taken notice of this mysterious, provocative door. Waiting for her behind the curtain the whole entire time she was showering. Barely hidden, yet she knew she might easily have managed to miss it and walk away after the shower completely oblivious to its existence, too wrapped up inside herself, too distracted with her physical indulgences. She would probably have just pranced off from this place without a backward glance once her shower was finished. Hell and Jesus, she’d bet money that was how things would have ended, if she hadn’t bashed her noggin on the doorframe and given herself a good cause to pull her nose out of her arse and take notice of it, like a sensible explorer and scientist.

Pretty embarrassing. Hardly her finest hour.

Imagine if somebody had decided to spring on her from out of that opening … Some hungry, slavering monster … Lovely thought, right there. She’d have been slaughtered without ever knowing what had happened.

Nobody was there, in reality. She could see stairs going up. She could see a glimmer of daylight from the top. The stairs must lead all the way above the top edge of the defile. They’d probably come out right next to the brook or creek or rivulet that fed the waterfall which hid the doorway. Or pretty close to it, in any case.

Marion went up there. She didn’t hesitate. She didn’t bother putting her clothes on first. It wasn’t a long climb, or didn’t look to be. The tops of the stone steps were smooth and evenly cut, not too steep; they weren’t dangerous to walk on, they wouldn’t hurt her bare feet or make her trip and fall. She was just going to dash up there for a moment or two and take a quick peek around. She wouldn’t need her clothes or her weapons—plus she didn’t want to take her stuff through the fall and soak all of it. Marion didn’t bother drying herself off, either, before she started up the steps. No point. She was just going to get drenched again when she came back down.

She did twist and wring her braided hair out as much as possible, over her left shoulder as she padded upward … She hadn’t bothered undoing the braid when she washed—would have taken too much time, not so much undoing it but redoing the whole damn thing afterward. Of course inevitably it had loosened by itself quite a bit under the fall. As she wrung it out, she was also retightening its coils.

She walked on the balls of her feet, and didn’t rush, pausing for a moment or two between each further stride, her head tilted to listen. She was being cautious, trying not to make much noise. All the water dribbling off her body and from her hair mostly defeated this idea—her own little individual rainstorm splashing and pitter-pattering behind her down the steps. All those sounds were amplified and echoed by the closeness of the tunnel.

Marion felt foolish. She knew she was being reckless, doing what she was doing. Possibly a better word for it was idiotic. She responded to this realization with stubbornness. She would not tunalı escort retreat. She would see through what she’d started, idiotic or not. She’d go to the top of the stairs and see what was up there. So what if she was completely naked and sopping wet? What would it matter? What was the big deal?

Nobody could see her. Nobody lived on this island, or at least nobody was supposed to. She was safe. Perfectly safe and secure, naked or otherwise.

Maybe. Probably. Whatever.


From the brightness of the daylight she had expected the stairs to bring her outside on the clifftop. That didn’t turn out to be the case. Instead she found herself in a large round chamber, nonetheless quite well illuminated at present by skylights. They were a trio of smooth shafts in the rock overhead, like slanted chimneys, with no coverings, no glass or shutters. They appeared to extend a fair distance further upward—indicating she was still a good way below the top of the ridge. The doorway she came through was an open archway matching the one at the bottom behind the waterfall. Across the chamber—on her left and a little below, not straight across—there was another portal, except it was square-shaped and wider and it was sealed shut. It had been bricked over. She could see that the surrounding walls, and the ceiling as well, had once been decorated with frescos. Now little detail remained to be discerned, save vague traces of yellow and violet; time and weather had severely faded and scoured them from the surfaces. A shame.

A tall statue stood directly in front of her on a broad pedestal. It was a robed figure with both its arms lifted high, and its back was to Marion. From the other side of the thing, Marion herself and the doorway she’d just used would be blocked from sight. In fact it was positioned so close to the opening that only with difficulty could she squeeze around the side of it, scraping one of her knees against it in the process. At its forward base were half a dozen curved steps, much wider and shallower than the steps she had ascended in the tunnel, and they were strewn with white flower petals, old and dried, and filling the room with a sweet scent. They were not ancient, however. They’d been lying there on those steps for weeks or at most months, not centuries … There was no filth in the chamber, no cobwebs.

People knew about this place. Modern people who had visited relatively recently. Despite the decayed state of the frescoes, Marion sensed that this place was cared for on a regular basis.

At the bottom of the steps, and in the very center of the room, it had a bronze basin, fashioned very wide and shallow—more of a platter than a bowl—polished bright around the edges, although in the middle it had suffered a great deal of corrosion, darkened and cracked. Marion went down the steps and hunkered on her haunches to peer at the thing, and she nudged the rim slightly with her toes. There were no inscriptions on it, far as she could see. It was heavy enough that the little shove she gave it with her foot didn’t shift it at all.

“Hmm,” she said. She’d been half-expecting, with a faint thrill of dread, to find bloodstains inside the basin. Since there weren’t any, she realized she was vaguely disappointed. Hard to say why. Ridiculous morbid tendencies.

With a snort, she straightened up again and faced the looming statue. And immediately got rather a shock.

The face of thing—it looked like her! An almost perfect likeness. Its hair was braided the same as hers, too. How bizarre.

It could only be coincidence, obviously. And didn’t mean anything. No reason to flip out. Just one of those funny things. Damned eerie, in any case.

It was dressed in white robes—actual clothing, she realized, not part of the carving. It also wore several shiny necklaces and bracelets upon its raised arms. Cheap trinkets, when she inspected them closer. Costume jewelry. Nothing worth snatching, had she been so inclined.

Longer she peered at its face, the resemblance to her own lessened quite a bit. It wasn’t all that much like her after all, not in the fine details. Which was comforting and not really surprising. At first sight, sure—the kinship was striking. But it was superficial. Didn’t hold up under prolonged scrutiny. The browline was much too slanted, and the mouth was too pinched, compared to hers, too thin-lipped and with not enough chin. The statue also had breasts that were damn near twice as big as hers. Marion was very well-endowed in the torso department, no sense denying the fact, yet not like that. The statue’s boobs were plain absurdities.

If it was some sort of fertility deity, that would justify the exaggeration.

“Hmm,” she said again, frowning over the idea with her hands on her hips as she pondered. Was this a statue of one of the Olympians? She was in the Aegean, after all. It could be a Hera or an Aphrodite, or else an Artemis or a Demeter. Yet it had none of the usual classical indicators she was familiar with, in order to allow an immediate and definite identification. Which was puzzling. Each of the Olympian goddesses had her own distinct traditional symbols. This figure didn’t have any of them. So if she wasn’t an Olympian, who was she instead? What other belief system might she belong to?

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