Level 1

Shadow of the Cat -- Backplot
Lara Croft, adventuress nonpareil, having just survived an apocalyptic battle against the last of the three ancient rulers of the fabled continent of Atlantis, is now piloting a yacht away from the former location of the island continent. Huge plumes of smoke, caused by the huge explosion that has consumed the island of Atlantis, billow up from the sea.2

As she speeds westward across the Mediterranean Sea, her thoughts repeatedly return to the strangely beautiful cat statues that she came across in the city of Khamoon. It's a shame I had to leave Egypt so abruptly3, Lara thinks to herself, I would have enjoyed spending more time examining the artifacts there. Unable to take her mind off of those statues, she changes course, southeast, towards Egypt. Ahh well, I haven't anything else on my agenda today, Lara smiles to herself.

Back in Egypt, Lara contacts the Egyptian government and with their help, she leads a team of archaeologists back to the ruined city of Khamoon. Upon entering the city, she finds one of the beautiful statues. She runs her hand along the finely carved statue. Even in this dimly lit cave, the jewel encrusted statue still sparkles after so many centuries.

"I cannot help noticing your fascination with that statue," Professor Nassar Malik, the head Egyptian archaeologist, nods to Lara.

"Yes," Lara smiles, "It is beautiful." Not looking up from the statue. Malik, feeling a bit ignored, smiles and walks away.

As the day wanes, Lara leads the archaeology team back to the surface to return to their camp site. With a sigh, Lara turns to Malik and asks, "Well, I think you should be able to find your way about the city now? I think it's time I should be heading home. This dig seems to be in capable hands." Lara scans the camp site and waves to a few of the other archaeologists.

"Leaving us so soon?" Malik asks. "We would be terrible hosts if we let you leave here empty-handed," Malik begins to smile. "Surely you'd accept a little souvenir as a token of our appreciation." Malik waves to a couple of the crew, who haul up a large object wrapped in a tarp.

Lara's face begins to brighten, as her hand slips one corner of the tarp aside. "Nassar, you mustn't," she whispers "This belongs to Egypt."

"Without you we would not have known that these ruins existed at all. I have already spoken to my government, and we would like to present this statue to you for your private collection," Malik announces in a stately voice.

Lara graciously accepts the gift and the crew loads it into her rented Land Rover. She says her goodbyes and climbs aboard.

"Be careful driving back to Cairo," Malik cautions, "for some reason, this region is experiencing particularly severe flooding this year and several of the roads are washed out. In fact, I'm afraid we may not have much more time to spend at this site, because the flood waters may even reach here." Lara nods in acknowledgment.

Driving away, she glances at herself in the rear-view mirror. Goodness,she thinks, I can certainly use a good washing and a cup of tea.

Lara finally returns to her home in Surrey, England and places the statue in the gallery in her basement. She climbs the steps and turns off the lights. She steps out of the stairwell and locks the door behind her.

A Second Look
A few weeks later, Lara finally finds the time to take another look at her latest acquisition. The cat statue's haunting stare beckoned Lara to examine it more closely. Barely visible on the statue's back are tiny inscriptions and hieroglyphics. Quickly deciphering the portions of the text that she could recognize, Lara discovers there is more to this statue than its beauty.

Lara transcribes the hieroglyphics and brings them to her library. She consults her collection of archaeological texts and learns that, among inhabitants of the Khamoon region, there was a powerful religious sect that promoted the worship of cats. They revered the cat as a diety and sculpted many images of cats. This included a marvelous giant cat statue whose size rivaled the ancient Colossus at Rhodes4. However, the existence of this monolithic statue had always been considered a myth by archaeologists. To Lara's amazement, the cat statue that she brought back had a faded inscription describing the approximate location of this giant statue.

Furthermore, the inscription on the statue documented that, although the waters of the Nile overflow its banks yearly, once every several hundred years the flood waters are so violent that the resulting flood would reveal huge portions of the city of Khamoon that were hidden beneath the sands of Egypt. Could it be... Lara's heart begins to pound with excitement as she recalls the floods she encountered in Egypt just weeks ago. Lara does the math in her head, converting from the dating system the ancient Egyptians use to the modern Gregorian calendar. How convenient. Apparently this year will be one of those flood years.

Always the archaeologist, Lara embarks on an expedition back to Khamoon to see if its ruins still exist. She is puzzled that such a gigantic statue could hide so long from mankind, especially these days with sophisticated geographical surveying satellites. Even finding the ruins of such a structure, would be significant. She arrives in Khamoon just at the end of the flood season as the waters that had swollen beyond the banks of the river Nile are starting to slowly recede.

Curious, Lara perplexes. the landscape of this entire area has completely changed. If I weren't following my maps so carefully, I'd swear this wasn't the location of the entrance to Khamoon. Strangely, the original entrance to Khamoon appears to have been sealed. Night is rapidly approaching as Lara searches for another way in. She climbs the nearby cliff face and drops down into a large opening that leads to a large trapdoor in the ground. Hmm... I'm certain there wasn't a door here before...

  1. The backplot provided is a fabrication of the staff here at the Tomb Raiders Traveler's Guide. The "official notes" for these levels as given by Eidos Interactive and Philip Campbell, the level designer are as follows:

    In the TWO EXPERT LEVELS of "Shadow of the Cat" Lara returns to the city of Khamoon to discover the secret of the strangely beautiful cat statue, and sets off on a new adventure following the trail of the cat to it's deadly and mysterious conclusion.

    "The cat statue discovered in the original game triggered off a series of ideas - what if Lara returned to Khamoon to investigate?....what if the ruins had become flooded?.....what if the cat statue actually pointed the way to an undiscovered tomb - dedicated to the legendary Egyptian cat-goddesses? - we developed a story with a very strong cat motif, in murals, in hieroglyphics, benevolent cats that guide, malevolent cats out for your blood! Puzzles were developed based on the Egyptian interpretation of the 'nine lives of the cat' - so you KNOW that you're not going to have much luck with Seth's room!" -- Philip Campbell

  2. Our story picks up at the end of the last full motion video sequence in the original Tomb Raider.

  3. Recall that Lara was under fire from Natla's henchmen, and had to quickly stowaway on her ship before Natla got away.

  4. One of the "seven wonders of the ancient [European] world"