Murti Schofield, the writer for The Angel of Darkness, recently worked on Kurtis’ journal for Tomb Raider: The Dark Angel Symphony. The journal is available in physical and digital versions and can be bought here.
As part of his work on the journal, Murti came across his previous character research as well as wrote more background on the characters.
This is the first part of those notes.
Mogau Nanuaat Madura Vasiley is the character I always saw as the lynch-pin of both of the follow on AOD games. Her back history is interwoven with many of the central characters in AOD and she is pivotal to what happens as Karel reforms the Cabal and sets out to re-establish the return of the Nephilim Race in The Lost Dominion and Dreams of Resurrection.
Morgau was mentioned once in some preparatory notes back in the early days of AOD but I never had the opportunity to develop or share what my thinking was for her. Now, I can.
Her part of the unwritten story leading up AOD in Paris and Prague is essential even though she doesn’t appear. Her involvement with Lara and Kurtis comes later and, I think, promises truly epic scope for exciting tales to come.
Using Morgau’s back story, as well as that of Lara & Kurtis I now have chance to lay out some over arcing concepts. It always intrigued me why Lara Croft may have become the kick ass heroine she is. I wanted to examine the mega-myth of what could bring all these extraordinary human beings together. And now I have the chance to re-examine the notes I made at the time and expand on them with ideas that have occurred since.
Some of this material is introduced in the 20 Years of TR book but there is so much more.
And I have to say it will be a huge relief to finally put it into the public domain and let go of it once and for all. How did the Chirugai come into Kurtis’ hands? How was Konstantin Heistuurm murdered? Has Lara suspected that there is more in her past than even she remembers? What was Kurtis/Vance Renner up to after his stint in the Legion? Was there only ever a single Chirugai? What grotesque secrets does the much underused Rouzic keep in his grisly Hall of Trophies? When the lifelines of so many unique individuals are interwoven throughout a story that spans centuries does anyone really know what is happening – or is everything merely chance? Does Janice work as an Agency recruiting officer and have a past even her clients are unaware of? What is the true significance of the names on the Knights’ pedestals in AOD? What is the Assassin’s story? What is a Nephuman and have they figured in history before without us knowing?
I scribble hundreds of such questions and ideas down when laying out the map for AOD and now it’s finally time to answer some of them. Not all, but some.
What the fans and detractors care to make of it is entirely up to them.
From this point on it’s out of my hands.
I don’t think I will be taking Lara, Kurtis, Karel or other AOD characters any further myself. Of course I’ve welcomed the chance to refamiliarise myself with them all and am still incredibly excited by how they took on a life of their own.
The continuing story potential with the AOD material is vast – the Cabal, the hopefully ‘regenerated’ Lux Veritatis and so on. So, if anyone wants to take these ideas further I wish them well and dedicate this final offering from my notebooks and thoughts of 16x years ago to the many fans who have kept the flame bright and unflagging over the years. The energy and enthusiasm of AOD fans is what makes it great for me.
ECKHARDT AND BREEDING
KURTIS & LARA AS PRODUCTS OF ECK’S BREEDING COMMUNITIES (?).
- The long term story arc for both Kurtis and Lara would be fascinating to explore if they were the contemporary results of some obscure branch of Eckhardt’s breeding community experiments from the 1300s onwards. It would explain some of their outstanding qualities and drives.
- Obviously the Lux Veritatis and other family trees could believably have ties with improved bloodlines branching off from Eckhardt’s improved humans experimentation.
- I’ve long felt that some deep shadowy part of Lara’s past, as yet undisclosed, might link her to some ancient historic forces that have been battling in the shadows of mythic & recorded history. She might be more deeply tied into the ancient and archaic world than has ever been hinted at before. And that, of course, was the starting point of AOD, taking Cappadocian angelic myths and the idea of ancient beings. But what if the links to her own genetic past (and that of Kurtis) were to be explored.
- After returning from his meeting with the Nephilim in 1345 with the promise of 100x years of extended life he forged ahead in his attempt to create a Nephuman bloodline capable of becoming incubation vessels for the emergence of the neo-Nephilim. Many improvements were bred into his human stock. Strength and cognitive abilities would be enhanced as well as many other desirable human traits.
- Once the ‘improved’ human stock began to exhibit stable signs of endurance and vigour Eckhardt would introduce sample individuals into the population at large to ‘seed’ a wider genetic pool. The development and improvement of such seeded bloodlines would be closely monitored and selected individuals exhibiting the qualities he sought would be reintroduced back into his more closely controlled breeder communities. This would more rapidly enhance and advance his genetic pool, his ‘…crucible for the flux of vitality and transcendent celestial potential.’
- Generations on there would be extraordinary individuals appearing in the world at large but it would be almost impossible to keep track of every emergent exemplar. The Lux Veritatis would be constantly on the look out to recruit families with outstanding abilities or potential as warrior mystics. They would watch and nurture any specials and Kurtis’ family tree could be one of these promising branches, a line traced back to one of these ‘lost’ Eckhardt breeder-batches.
- Lara too could easily be a twentieth century product of a family line with roots deep in the dark days of medieval genetic transmogrification. There would be a certain cosmic irony there.
- The coming together of Lara and Kurtis in Paris could have been chance or possibly the culmination of circumstances manipulated from the shadows regions by an ancient agency of a malignant and undying force. To be explored…!
NB Reference Philip Jose Farmer’s Wold Newton Universe where he creates a common point of origin, a bllodline, for such eternals as Tarzan, Doc Savage, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Nathanial Bumpo (Hawkeye of Last of the Mohicans), Dr Syn, Bulldog Drummond, Sherlock Holmes, The Spider, James Bond et al. Also Warren Ellis’ Planetary for reinterpreted & revitalised heroes of yore.
Further to the follow on game:
- Explore the bloodline of new character Morgau Vasiley, daughter of the renegade LV Mathias Vasiley as a part initiate into LV skills and know how. She will have gone to the dark side and can go head to head with Kurtis wielding similar weaponry and abilities in ding-dong smash ups! Yeah! Reference document on alternate LV Chirugai-like weapons.
- See document on revised last meeting between Lara, Kurtis and Karel at the end of AOD. As a kick off for game II this is one of those, ‘Oh, so you think you know what happened at the end of AOD huh! Well…get THIS!’ For a precedent, see how the third Bourne film fits almost completely into the tiny gap between Bourne’s leaving the rail station in Moscow and turning up in New York to have it out with Jessica Landy.
Clearly this all needs more thinking about and some timelines drawing up but the depth it gives to both L and K promises many exciting & worthwhile story possibilities.
“Flectere si nequeo superos, acheronta movebo.”
“If I cannot move the gods then I will stir up Hell.”
Oath sworn by Régis Limoux (Karel’s identity during the 1300’s to 1400’s) after being caught up in, and barely escaping, Eckhardt’s murderous treachery in destroying the First Cabal in 1368 and repeated in 1888 when Karel joins the Cabal as a being of human origins (though not quite of course).
FINAL CONFRONTATION SCENE BETWEEN LARA, KURTIS AND KAREL.
What we witness is an epic Joseph Campbell moment of revelation for our heroine. Lara has a Road To Damascus moment of empathic understanding about Joachim Karel as he battles for survival and finally lies broken and dying. This is the defeated King Lear, Chingachcook last of the Mohicans, the remorse-filled Othello, the crushed and dying Arthur, Beowulf expiring at the conclusion of his last great battle. It is the essence of every archetypal climactic moment of every great heroic saga. Nations will mourn. The Earth will weep. Dreams will wither and die. Nations will pause and become reconciled. Couch potatoes will choke on their TV dinners. (sob!)
Why? Well let’s see.
REVISITING THAT FINAL SCENE IN AOD
In the final confrontation between Lara and her AOD nemesis she has finally had her eyes opened to the nature of what this last Nephilim has been trying to do for his race. “All we’ve ever been trying to do is survive.” He spoke the truth. She sees this now. In his terms and in light of what his race has suffered at the hands of a treacherous and violent humanity over the millennia his actions and methods are perfectly understandable. The realisation shocks Lara to the core especially as it throws an unattractive light on her own inflexible behaviour and limited perceptions. Humans, she is forced to admit, are barbaric and a deeply flawed race.
She has at last come to grasp what is going on here, the tragic grandeur of a lone survivor, last of his race fighting for the life of his near-extinct species.
In the last scene:
Lara, Kurtis and Karel have been battling it out and after a prolonged head to head slugfest the two ‘heroes’ gain the upper hand. They have managed to breach Karel’s defences and Kurtis has pressed home the advantage. Kurtis is proving the more indomitable and his rage is merciless.
With the full rallying of his considerable abilities and empowered by vengeful wrath he is taking the wounded Karel apart. Righteous fury consumes the young Lux Veritatis. This unholy creature, this embodiment of evil, this monstrous abomination will pay for the slaughter of his father and every LV adept and elder throughout history.
The intensity of Kurtis’ fury blinds him to everything except annihilation. And for the first time in her life Lara realises what this says about human nature, herself and a life spent in violence. She undergoes a total and profound cognitive shift and it nearly obliterates her.
Karel falls and Kurtis is about to deliver the final shattering blow when Lara intervenes attempting to spare Karel at the last moment. But things go wrong. The very air is being ripped apart by the colossal assault of etheric and physical violence. Lara herself is mortally wounded and despite her sacrifice Karel too has received his death blow. And he knows it. The two of them lie entangled in the wreckage of this last titanic battle with Kurtis standing over them stupefied by what has happened. He is still gripped by the battle-trance his body trembling from barely contained passions. He is totally unable to comprehend what Lara has done. He stares horrified, stunned and completely immobilised.
The crushed body of Karel stirs and the broken Nephilim peers up into Kurtis’ face, his eyes hooded by agony. His breathing is laboured but he manages to rally his thoughts and speaks,
“Son of Humanity I am finally dead. By your hand. Which is as it should be. All things end that do not transform and there can be no more transformations for me. You have seen to that.”
He spasms. A coughing fit shakes his broken frame. He groans. His head drops to the floor but he struggles to continue speaking,
“Some dreams may outlast our bodies even when they are dust and I have carried such a dream as might shake the world, young Lux Veritatis. Alas my dream will not survive the finality of ashes. It will die with me. But I have birthed a new thought, a hope – that something be salvaged from the destruction that our twin races have created. So I lay a charge on you.”
He raises an unsteady arm and holds it palm up in Kurtis’ direction as if offering a gift.
Kurtis cannot tear his gaze away from the dying Nephilim but is unable to speak. Confusion has robbed him of the ability to move or think. The Nephilim’s body is coming apart before his eyes. And yet Karel is hanging on. Karel raises his agonised face to peer directly at the young warrior and his words penetrate deep into Kurtis’ brain, directly, mind-to-mind.
“Son of Eve – return to the world. Remember your roots and rediscover your true self. Revive and remake the Lux Veritatis into what it was meant to be. It was a noble endeavour once. Restore your Order to the light. Make of it a beacon instead of something rancorous and without grace. Then, for the sake of all races, something meaningful may be salvaged from all…this…”
His arm moves weakly to embrace the destruction around them including the inert form of Lara.
More dialogue – yatter, natter, yammer, banter – but the outcome is that Karel, last of his race, uses his remaining strength to drag Lara back from the pit, imparting the remaining dregs of his life force to her crushed body. Karel disintegrates into dust scattered by the hurricane that suddenly roars into existence.
Some time later Lara comes to …
…and from that point on begins to seriously examine the grave robber life she has pursued.
Kurtis returns to the salt plains of his birth in Utah to recover with the aid of his mother Marie Cornel-Heissturm. He needs to rethink and realign his life especially with regards the Lux Veritatis.
Lara goes back to the desert, to Putai, and goes into retreat, embracing the stillness and purifying simplicity of the furnace landscape. This part of her journey is finished. Another tale is ready to be told.
Solve et coagule. Dissolve/destroy and reform – alchemist’s axiom.
Karel: “We have committed crimes, each and every one of us. Repugnant, indefensible crimes. Against nature and ourselves. Unforgivable. Deplorable. And the price has been paid by endless generations of peoples. Entire races. What is left from this carnage? Nothing but the ashes of my people and the degradation of yours.”
“From this I go into the final darkness unremarked and unmourned.”
“Carry the dream. Pursue your true path.”
Karel of course is far too sinewy and resilient a cookie not to have planned ahead for all possible outcomes. The hurricane wind, far from scattering his constituent atoms to oblivion herded them to where they could be gathered and conveyed to a reinforced subterranean regeneration chamber. There, in a cryo-sarcophagus of ancient construction his physical components were painstakingly reconstituted and his regeneration proceeded according to his carefully laid plan. This guy thinks in centuries not from moment to moment like mere mortals.
From this sleeper state he will re-emerge revitalised, his shape shifter powers restored his dream undiminished. It is time for the next step in bringing the Golden Lion to Earth. First the long running Breeding Programme must be stepped up to create more Nephuman progeny. The Morgau youngling will be a good start. The path to fulfilling the Dream of Resurrection is going well.
KURTIS CHRONOLOGY AND BIRTHLINE
1954 – Kurtis’ grandfather Gerhardt Heissturm is hunted down and killed by
Eckhardt and the Cabal. Kurtis’ father Konstantin, age 21, inherits his father’s Lux Veritatis role as Adept. From this point on Konstantin is a target for the Cabal’s murderous attacks trying to totally eradicate the Lux Veritatis. There are only a few surviving Lux Veritatis Adepts and these wage a constant war with Eckhardt and the Cabal. The world at large knows nothing of this ‘Shadow War’ fought in the dark corners of history.
1966 – Konstantin, age 33, meets an American Navajo Indian specialist on Shamanism and the Way of the Warrior on a lecture tour of Europe, Marie Cornel. She gets caught in the crossfire of a Cabal assault against Konstantin but proves to have unexpected innate powers that enable the attack to be defeated. ‘Things’ happen between Konstantin and Marie Cornel (go on, guess – this is the 60’s). She returns to the States.
- Marie Cornel’s father was one of the U.S. Marines officers who worked with the Navajo Code Talkers during WW II, which explains her area of specialist interest and her tribal links to the Chumash and Tongva peoples of pre-European California. These tribes had an ancient understanding of the Watchers Of The Land.
1969 – On a Lux Veritatis mission against the Cabal’s forces Konstantin arrives in the US. He looks up Marie Cornel. Whilst visiting the Anasazi ruins of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico they get attacked and have to wipe out a contingent of Cabal agents. Shortly after that Konstantin and Marie get secretly married in a desert tribal ceremony. For the next few years they move back and forth between the States and Europe.
1972 – KURTIS IS BORN 26/06/72.
Konstantin takes Marie to a secure Lux Veritatis bolthole beneath the Utah Salt Flats and Kurtis is born. As soon as they can travel Kurtis and his mother go into hiding whilst Konstantin makes return trips to Europe to help in the ‘Shadow War’.
1975 – The whole family return to Europe. Kurtis is 3 years old. They move around a variety of Lux Veritatis safe houses in ancient stronghold sites throughout Europe and the Middle East. There are many close calls with forces of the Cabal and Kurtis begins to learn about life lived on the run from a dreadful pursuing darkness.
1976 – Kurtis and his mother spend a year in Scotland in hiding whilst Konstantin fends off a particularly vicious campaign to wipe out the last elders of the Lux Veritatis. The battle centres on the underground cities of Anatolia in central Turkey where Eckhardt appears to be holed up. But it is an elaborate trap. Only six LV Adepts survive apart from Konstantin.
1988 – Kurtis age16 undergoes the most intense stages of his Lux Veritatis initiation under the remaining six Adepts. His father is absent for several years on covert missions for the Lux Veritatis.
1991 – At age 19 Kurtis rebels and runs away to join the Foreign Legion. He wants no part of the ‘Shadow War’ which has devastated so many lives and left only three of the Adepts besides his father alive – if his father is still alive.
He changes his family name and tries to stay hidden within the Legion for five years, just long enough to qualify for French citizenship. He is repeatedly assaulted by bizarre occult eruptions from the shadow worlds. Weirdness dogs him wherever he goes. He can’t shake the grim legacy of his family’s brutal history. He gets nicknamed ‘Demon Hunter’ within the Legion.
1996 – Kurtis leaves the Legion after too many inexplicable events that can never appear on official Legion records and usually involve grisly casualties. He begins freelancing with a variety of mercenary and semi-legal agencies. Word reaches him that his father is still alive but he is unable to reconcile the differences between them. He never sees his father alive again.
2001 – Konstantin is finally cornered and murdered by the Black Alchemist Pieter Van Eckhardt and members of his Cabal. Kurtis’ mother Marie is in the States at the time. Only through being betrayed and tricked into thinking that Marie was in danger was Konstantin separated from two talismans, the Periapt Shards that were his only real defence. Kurtis finally gets his wake up call on receiving these two talismanic items from his mother and he goes after Eckhardt on a vengeance mission.
Kurtis also inherits a Lux Veritatis Blade the Chirugai. This terrifying discus like weapon was forged generations ago from meteorite alloy and like most Lux Veritatis secrets can only be properly used and controlled by someone trained to it. Kurtis is now the only living LV initiate…as far as is known…
…“No, there is another” […to be read in the voice of Yoda.]
Morgau Vasiley is the daughter of Mathias Vasiley of Prague, but she doesn’t materialise until game II. She too has undergone LV initiate training and will emerge as a wild card protagonist in future games – possibly the spin off Kurtis game…to be decided.
2002 – Kurtis crosses paths with Lara Croft in Paris and they team up in Prague to combat the Cabal and Eckhardt.
Events of the Dark Renaissance unfold in the first game [actually the Angel Of Darkness].
KURTIS KAREL LARA MORGAU and ANTARCTICA
Game II kicks of by revisiting the ending of AOD, after events at the Strahov, where we all thought we knew the fates of Lara, Kurtis and Karel. Well think again. (See document which revisits the final scene of AOD and puts a new light on the entire concluding scene between Lara, Kurtis and Karel).
KURTIS survived and managed to crawl into the relative safety of the Vault of Trophies. There he went into a protective toxic coma and later, much much later, escaped making his way back to the place of his birth at Utah Salt Flats where his mother & family tribal elders took him in whilst he convalesced.
Later, onboard a Nato transatlantic convoy, he met up with an old buddy from the Foreign Legion and heard disturbing rumours about disquieting events in the Languedoc region of southern France. Kurtis had once followed a trail which led him to believe that a Lux Veritatis Bloodline Room might be located there. There had been some possibility that it might also have been located in Castle Kriegler, hidden away beneath its ruins in extensive catacombs and tunnels but Kurtis’ money was on the ruins of Montsegur.
Kurtis decides to go and check out the rugged region around Carcassone first. This blood soaked landscape is where the Cathar/Albigensian ‘heresy’ was so brutally suppressed around the time that the Knights Templar were also persecuted and scattered. Beneath the fortress of Montsegur, deep in the quarried subterranean quarters, is a massive vaulted door protected by occult seals and slumbering, deadly guardians. Inside there are vital clues to where the Lux Veritatis hid the last two Nephilim Sleepers.
There were always three Sleepers and Karel wants the remaining two Nephilim Uyuyanlar to continue his unchanged dream of reviving his near extinct race and set it in dominion over the dark age that is looming. Everywhere on the planet there is war, slaughter and strife and amidst such all consuming chaos his great shadow-plan has every chance of gaining ground before coming to anyone’s attention – until it is too late of course.
LARA meanwhile, has been recuperating with her once-mentor Putai in the heat and isolation of the desert landscapes of North Africa (El Hawa, Lara of Arabia). She too picks up rumours and signs of Nephilim-Karel’s survival and has begun tracking his moves as tries to recover his strength and powers.
Karel is in action again. He has hunted down the only other living descendant of a Lux Veritatis initiate, Vasiley, and tortured her into translating the unbreakable LV code of the Sleeper Scrolls. The name rings a bell, Morgau Vasiley. It emerges that Mathias Vasiley, the murdered dealer in Prague, was a rogue Lux Veritatis initiate expelled from the Order in the 1950’s for degenerate behaviour. He should have been terminated by the Order but disappeared and re-emerged decades later with a new identity and a daughter tutored in basic LV skills. The unfortunate Morgau never had the true training that made Kurtis unique and when she came to Karel’s attention she suffered terrible treatment, which left her mutilated and unhinged. Whatever, the end result was now that Karel had the Sleeper Scrolls at least partially translated and subsequently knows where the last two Sleepers are hidden – or are likely to be hidden. Lara has to go after Karel and scupper the Nephilim Shapeshifter’s plans, again.
For Kurtis the clues at Monsegur seem to indicate that the Sleepers are back at one of the ancient original sites in Anatolia, Turkey and Karel, along with the pain-slaved Morgau, hightail it to the Cappadocian plains and the Gőrėme valley.
LOCATION CAPPADOCIA – TURKEY.
Eckhardt planned and built a base here once on an ancient site but never got to use it before he was incarcerated beneath Castle Kriegler. (It’s weird, deep and scary and of course ideal for our heroes to bash the living daylights out of creepy abominations). Time for intense subterranean action in the underground cities of Anatolia – Nevşehir, Kayseri, Kaymaklı Derinkuyu and Niğde along the Gőrėme valley.
[ See other documents on possible final scenarios.]
THE NEW CABAL
Gunderson and Rouzic the Illusionist are reassembled by Karel posing as Eckhardt. The Cabal survivors presume Karel perished at the Strahov and have no idea he was a Shapeshifter or a Nephilim. They get introduced to the three replacement Cabal members by Eckhardt who explains to them all about the two remaining Sleepers and why he needs them.
The LV Scrolls that were part translated by Morgau put the site of the last Sleeper in a sunken Nephilim complex in a huge underground lake. Cabal forces are sent ahead to secure the location and assemble a massive submersible platform (a huge lunking steam punk contraption) to access the Sleeper at the sunken site. It also comes to light that the other Sleeper was destroyed in a Lux Veritatis action decades ago, so this really is the last one. No mess ups this time.
Gunderson and Rouzic are antagonised by the new Cabal members. Bitter rivalries are blossoming already. This is not a collection of easy going personalities and mutual venom and infighting is rife. The newcomers are mocked as inadequate and Gunderson says that running the Anatolian-Sub operation is what Karel used take care of so well. Pity he’s dead.
Not so, says Eckhardt and morphs into Karel giving everyone the conniptions, especially the newcomers. Shit! What have they let themselves in for? They are all pretty scary individuals in their own right but this takes some adjusting to.
Karel goes on to explain how things are going to be, promises them wonders and victories and gives them their orders. He’s lying of course but what do they know.
LOCATION – ANTARCTICA BASE
Towards the close of WWII, when the misdirected Allied bombers were bombing Castle Kreigler and unknowingly setting the monstrous Eckhardt free the Nazi Kommand was looking to re-establish its power base in places as far flung as Argentina, the Himalayas and remote Scandinavian regions. But the most ambitious bunker base was located in Antarctica. (imagine what fun could be had with Nazi-Nephilim….wow!)
Various branches of what had once been Eckhardt’s breeder programme back in the 1300-1400’s have survived and have continued in various remote parts of the world. Some of these obscene experimentations were carried out under the guise of the 1930’s and 1940’s concentration camps. As the thousand year Reich began to implode large shipments of equipment, research data, materials and personnel were shipped off to their remote Antarctic base in the ice-locked mountain ranges far beyond reach. This had been under construction since the 1930’s and by the end of the war was complete, ready to receive the results of the Dunkle Welten Programme (Dark Worlds) into its bunker complex.
So, guess where Lara and Kurtis are going to end up…? Yep.
For precedent see:
Genesis by W. A. Harbinson.
At the Mountains of Madness by Lovecraft