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Uncharted - The Fortune Below

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“Shit-” Rafe cursed, burning his tongue as he sipped his cup of coffee. He held the back of his hand up to his mouth and opted to wait and drink it at work instead. Grabbing a napkin from the counter, he strolled out of the cafe and onto the sidewalk.

As he opened the door, Rafe’s ears were immediately struck with the cacophony of the city. He made his way down the street, casually observing those he came across. A mother pushing her child down the sidewalk in a stroller, an elderly couple walking their dogs, a group of friends laughing and chatting outside of a shop. Rafe smiled softly to himself as he continued down the sidewalk towards his destination.

While the walk from his flat, to the coffee shop, and to his work was relatively short, it always took a lot out of him, especially after the events of the previous year. Having a large pile of heavy treasure fall on top of you in a burning pirate ship was never good for the body or the soul. Rafe was (somehow) living proof of that. And he was left with more than a few scars and less limbs than he had when he first walked on that damned ship.

Some Shoreline soldiers found him like a drowned rat but still, somehow, alive. They brought him to the shore and to a hospital, hoping to swindle some more money out of him, but that didn’t happen. He had been in a coma, and the men eventually left him there. For four months, he didn’t wake, until one day, he just did. The doctors had explained what they had to do and the treatment he got. They had to amputate both of his legs around the knee, as they both were almost pulled off his body from the weight of the gold and damaged beyond repair. And there was a lot of scarring from the burns that had required skin grafts. The scars trail up the right side of his body and the right side of his face. The doctors didn’t bug him about what had happened after the first time they asked and he refused to answer. He was given the option of a wheelchair or prostheses, and Rafe went the latter route, as he had the money and preferred being able to walk. It was… a lot to take in, but Rafe took it surprisingly well. He went to his physical therapy with no complaint (despite the pain) and dealt with all of the poking and prodding from the doctors. After surviving what he did, he desperately wanted to turn his life around.

The months that followed were difficult. His lung capacity was not as good as it used to be, all thanks to the lovely smoke of the burning ship and practically drowning. Then phantom pains and the feeling of phantom limbs. He felt like he could still move his toes like he used to, as if his feet were still there. Then there was the pins and needles feeling, like when your leg or arm falls asleep. It also took him a bit to trust putting his weight on the prosthetics. The doctors would have him alternate at first, seeing his worry with putting his weight on both. Eventually he worked up both the strength and courage to walk on both. It felt like a step in the right direction, and he was actually proud of himself. Despite the pains and feelings he still gets, he’s happy. He sometimes forgets he doesn’t have legs and when he wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or something along those lines, he almost falls out of bed.

After getting out of the hospital, he needed to kill Rafe Adler. He wanted a new life. He managed to get a death certificate, having him reported dead. He liquidated his company, not wanting anything to do with it any longer after it had been thrust upon him by his father, created a new identity (and bank account of course, he wasn’t just going to let go of all his money). Rafe isn’t sure what got into him. Whether he thought the irony funny, or for some reason was inspired by those stupid Drakes, he ended up taking the surname Avery. Rafael Avery. He likes to think it was the former, as he doesn’t want to even think about the Drakes for as long as he lives.

Eventually, he moved to London. He visited often as a child and sometimes as an adult for business. As he was fairly familiar with the area and wanted to be far away from the Drakes and their cohorts in America, it seemed like the best option. He didn’t necessarily need a job, as he had enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life, but he needed some direction in his life. He was surprised with himself as he managed to get a job at a library, just named the British Library (he wishes they had been more creative).

As if right on cue, Rafe had finally arrived at his work, hurrying inside to escape the cold and finally drink his coffee. He greeted the person running the head desk with a nod and rushed back to the employees room to ready himself for the work day.

***

“I’ve got a job!”

Nadine glared at the man across from her, not appreciating how loud he was being so early in the morning. Chloe rubbed the ex mercenary’s back sympathetically and tuned in on what Sam had to say.

“Well, don’t leave us hanging. What’s the job about?” questioned Chloe. Sam let out a sheepish laugh.

“W-uh, I don’t have much on it yet, admittedly, but-”

“Then why call a meeting if you don’t have shit, Drake?” Nadine scowled at the man. The man in question put his hands up placatingly. The two hotheads have been getting better at talking to each other and actually consider each other friends (though neither will admit it), but that didn’t mean Sam wanted to bug Nadine when she was tired and annoyed.

“I mean, we still have to do some research, but lately I’ve been looking into Arthurian legends,” he began, “Y’know like, King Arthur and all that. And I’ve come across the story of an old kingdom called Lyonesse. It’s said to be the place for the last battle of Arthur and Mordred!” He waited to see the two’s reaction, but there wasn’t much. “Ah, guessing you guys aren’t too familiar with that, huh?”

“No, not really our place of expertise,” Chloe purred, glancing over at her partner, “But, sounds interesting. What happened to it?” she asked. Sam grinned.

“See, that’s the crazy thing! It’s said that around the year 1089, an insane storm struck the land and it all fell into the sea. Only like, one dude survived and he rode away from the city as it collapsed into the ocean.”

“So, like Atlantis?” grumbled Nadine.

“Uh-I guess? Huh, I didn’t really think of that.” Sam rubbed the back of his head, “But it’s supposed to be somewhere in the UK, and I thought it’d be worth looking into. I will warn you that there’s no guarantee we will get anything out of this, but I’m bored and tired of being shot at by some power hungry asshole,” he shrugged. “So, what do ya say? Sully can give us a ride so we don’t have to pay for plane tickets or anything, just a place to stay at while we're there.”

The two women looked at each other, as if they were having a conversation in their heads. Nadine sighed and Chloe grinned and nudged her with her elbow.

“Yeah sure. Sounds like fun!”

***

Rafe adjusted his glasses, rereading the binding of the book and placing it in it’s designated spot on the shelf. He moved the cart down the aisle, lost in thought.

“Rafe! Hello,” a soft voice laced with an Italian accent spoke from his right. He turned, smiling at the man in front of him.

“Hello, Jericho. How’s the research been going?” he gestured to the books in his hands, “Any new things about the city of lions?” Rafe had become interested in the tale of the lost Kingdom of Lyonesse, and one day Jericho had come by the library in search of books about the city. Rafe, being dubbed the Lyonesse expert of the library, had assisted the archeologist with his research. They’d grown to be friends since then.

Jericho shrugged slightly, fidgeting with a strand of hair from his afro. “Nothing that new. And even if I did, it’s not like there’s anything I could do about it,” he side eyes the books in his hands and checks the time on his phone. He mumbled out a curse, “Ah, I have to go,” he smiled in apology, “I have, uh, a meeting with a friend, and I need to go check out these books.” Rafe nodded in understanding.

“No worries, next time you come by, let's talk for a bit. Maybe we can pick each other's brains and figure out some more theories,” he gave the man a thin smile.

“Right! It’s been a while since we’ve sat down and chatted,” Jericho smiled back, “Anyway, it was nice talking Rafael. Arrivederci!”

“Bye Jericho.”

The two men waved goodbye to each other and Jericho left Rafe alone with his books. He mumbled softly to himself.

“Back to work...”