A beaten and disoriented Nathan Drake awakes in a tattered train seat. He looks around the car in confusion, then glances down to see a bullet wound in his stomach and his hands covered in dried blood. His head rolls back as the pain hits him, and he notices that snowflakes drifting outside the window appear to be falling...sideways. Right on cue, his seat jerks and violently detaches from its mounting, hurtling him downwards through the vertical train car to hang above a dizzying drop over a mountainside.
After an agonising climb to safety above, Nate lurches through the wreckage, finding an ancient-looking golden dagger amongst the debris and recalling the events that led him to this place.
Six months prior to the train crash, Nate is found at a beachfront bar where he encounters Harry Flynn: an old acquaintance and sometime partner in crime in the shadowy world of black market antiquities. The British thief has a client willing to pay a substantial sum for him to procure an item inside the Istanbul Palace Museum. Nate is skeptical, as they both knew two others who died at the hands of the museum's extensive and overzealous security force; he himself barely escaped the building during a previous illicit out-of-hours visit.
Flynn insists that he requires Nate's assistance to make the theft, and introduces a third conspirator: Chloe Frazer, an Australian he describes as an expert getaway driver. He explains that the commission is a clay oil lamp, a seemingly unremarkable artifact inside the museum's Travel of Marco Polo exhibit. Nate initially dismisses the item as worthless, and Flynn's benefactor a collector with more money than sense, but an oblique revelation in a document written by Marco Polo changes his mind. Polo's fleet left China with 600 passengers aboard 14 ships, loaded with treasure from the great Kublai Khan. It landed in Persia a year and a half later, diminished to one vessel and 18 survivors. Polo documented every detail of the expedition - but never disclosed the fate of the missing ships and travellers, even on his death bed. Nate speculates that the lamp contains a hidden message from Polo, revealing the fate of his lost fleet, undoubtedly laden with treasures of incalculable worth. Finding this, the trio believe, is the true purpose of Flynn's unusual assignment and quickly agree to screw Flynn's client over and claim the treasure themselves.
Later that day, Nate is awakened in his hotel room by a knock at the door, and opens it to find Chloe standing outside. Chloe, unbeknownst to Flynn, is an old flame of Nate's; though Nate ended their previous relationship, she bears him no rancor. When Chloe recognised the scope of Flynn's commission, she decided that Nate would want to be involved. She suggests that they complete the heist, find Polo's lost ships, split the treasure three ways - and then abandon Flynn to elope.
Nate, Chloe and Flynn enter the sewer system beneath the Istanbul Palace Museum. Chloe departs to deactivate the floodlights illuminating the tower where the Polo exhibit is held, leaving Nate and Flynn to infiltrate the main building. After several close calls with the security personnel, the duo reaches the exhibit. With an apology to its long-dead owner, Nate smashes the ceramic lamp to find a weathered scroll, seemingly lacking any legible details, and pieces of a strange residue. Flynn is distraught, but Nate has a hunch. Identifying the substance as resin, the latter lights a piece - and the room is suffused with an eerie blue glow as it burns.
In this light, the previously blank scroll is covered with Latin script and a map. Nate, translating, learns that Polo's fleet was hit by a tsunami, and carried inland to rest beside a mountain somewhere on the west coast of Borneo. As Nate translates, Polo's words attribute this misfortune to an unusual source: "It was as if the ocean itself sought to throw off the terrible cargo we carried from Sham-bah-lah - the curse of the Cintamani."
Nate is astonished: "My God, Flynn - Marco Polo found Shambhala. Shangri-La. If they were carrying the Cintamani Stone, it might still be there."
As Nate prepares to follow Flynn out from the tower, the former is betrayed. Left stranded in the exhibit, Nate is helpless as Flynn shoots display cases, triggering a cacophony of alarms. Claiming to simply want Nate out of the way for a time, but clearly enjoying the upper hand, Flynn chides his horrified partner: "You think I didn't know about the ships from the beginning? Any schoolboy could've figured that out. Face it, genius. You've been played". Though Nate makes a valiant attempt to escape, he is cornered and arrested by the Turkish police.
Three months later finds Nate in a filthy, cramped cell of a Turkish prison, amusing himself with a shadow puppet recreation of Flynn's betrayal - with a carthartic twist. As the Nate puppet draws a gun and shoots the Flynn puppet in a new fantasy denouement, his show is interrupted by a shadow falling across the wall. He turns to find Victor Sullivan standing outside the bars, the latter having arrived to bail out his old friend at great expense...but is significantly less overjoyed to cast eyes on Chloe.
Sully explains that Chloe contacted him about Nate's predicament, though Nate is less than willing to believe her claims she wasn't involved with Flynn's betrayal; however, he is forced to put his resentment to one side when Chloe and Sully inform Nate that Flynn and his client Zoran Lazarević, a former Serbian KGB agent turned Eastern European warlord, have found Polo's lost ships in Borneo, though they have yet to find the Cintamani Stone. This "Buddhist holy grail", as Chloe describes it, is a perfect raw sapphire worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Because Chloe possesses insider knowledge and unrestricted access to Lazarevic's camp through her continued association with Flynn, the trio concoct a plan to snatch the treasure for themselves. Lazarevic has paid enormous sums to collect Polo's lesser-known journals, and has pursued the Cintamani Stone for many years. These documents, Chloe tells Nate, can be found in his command tent at the Borneo excavation site, protected by dozens of men from Lazarević's private army. She will engineer a diversion; the rest is up to Nate and Sully.
In a swamp pockmarked with excavation sites, the petrified remains of Polo's fleet protruding from their open graves, Nate and Sully prime explosives laid by Chloe at the camp's perimeter. Reconnoitering the command tent through binoculars, Chloe's hidden microphone providing an audio feed, they observe Lazarević - a tall, powerfully built Eastern European in black combat gear - and quickly get an impression of their adversary as he castigates Flynn for his lack of progress, then coldly executes an employee accused of theft.
Sully activates the detonator, and a series of explosions rock the jungle to the south of the command tent. Lazarević and his men pour out to investigate, allowing Nate to slip into the headquarters. While Sully watches over him with a sniper rifle, Nate deals with the remaining guards and ransacks the extensive collection of documents. He's impressed by what he finds: "Man, this Lazarevic guy isn't screwing around, Sully," he enthuses. "You should see all this stuff. He's got files on every expedition to find Shambhala - all the way back to the 1600s."
Reading a journal written by Marco Polo, Nate learns that he truly believed the tsunami to be divine retribution for the "dreadful cargo" carried by his ships, but that he purposely left the Cintamani Stone in Shambhala. He also writes of a "golden passport", a detail that Nate doesn't understand. Lazarevic, Nate decides, is seeking to retrace Polo's journey back to Shambhala because the Stone must still be there. Contacting Chloe, Nates learns that Lazarevic's men have failed to find a single body in the shipwrecks and concludes the missing passengers must have fled to higher ground. Escaping the returning soldiers, Nate and Sully climb the mountain that overlooks the camp.
Nate and Sully meet with Chloe at the entrance to a hidden mountain cave. Inside they encounter hundreds of skeletons, with one salient detail leaping from the macabre scene: each corpse has inexplicably blackened teeth. Lighting a piece of resin and placing it in a torch, Nate discovers the shadows of past slaughters: there is blood everywhere. This, the three speculate, was the site of a massacre - and the passengers appear to have killed each other. Following a bloody trail, they reach a room in which a single skeleton clutches a lacquered box in its arms. Inside, they find a gilded Phurba: a Tibetan ceremonial dagger. The cloth it is wrapped in is a crude map, accompanied by a short message.
"Between Greater India and the province of Tibet," Nate translates, "lies a field of exquisitely finished temples, hundreds of gilded spires stretching as far as the eye can see. In all these many temples, only one conceals the secret path to Shambhala - and that path shall only be revealed to the pilgrim who bears the golden passport."
At the last line, Chloe raises the Phurba in acknowledgement: it must be the "golden passport". The field of temples, Sully comments, is now a city in Nepal. With their next destination settled, the group departs...but encounters Flynn accompanied by Lazarević's soldiers. Chloe holds the protagonists at gunpoint and hurries to present Flynn with the map to conceal her subterfuge, but artfully leaves the dagger in Nate's possession. After helping her friends to escape as they are escorted back to the camp, Chloe tells Nate to meet her in Nepal. Sully decides this is becoming too dangerous for him and chooses to back out of any further adventuring, before he and Nate jump off a cliff to escape capture by Lazarević's men.
Nate arrives in a war-torn Nepalese city, and is astonished by the devastation that awaits him. Chloe comments that the region has teetered on the brink of civil war for some time; Lazarevic simply needed to fan the flames. In the ensuing chaos, he and his army are tearing the city apart with near impunity as they seek the temple documented on the map found on Borneo.
After surviving fraught encounters with Lazarevic's mercenaries, Nate is reunited with Chloe. He speculates that the emblem on the ceremonial dagger will correspond to another on the temple they seek - they just need a high vantage point to scan the city. Chloe suggests a nearby hotel. After a perilous ascent to the roof of the ruined building, Nate scours the urban sprawl and finds a temple marked with the symbol of the Cintamani Stone. Unfortunately, over the mercenaries' radio network, they overhear Lazarević ordering his men to sweep that section of the city for them.
After a protracted battle with a helicopter gunship, Nate is briefly separated from Chloe. As he walks through the side streets he is astonished to encounter Elena Fisher, accompanied by her cameraman, Jeff. She is in the region to obtain footage of Lazarevic, who she describes as a fugitive war criminal who NATO erroneously believes to have perished in a bombing raid. She intuitively suspects that Nate is somehow caught up in these events, despite his attempts to be evasive - and then Chloe arrives, confirming her suspicions.
Nate insists that they must escort Elena and Jeff to safety. Though amused by his discomfort at the meeting of the two women, Chloe is extremely reluctant. "You don't always have to play the bloody hero, you know," she remarks, a little bitterly. "Just...dance with the one who brought you, all right?" Nate, however, refuses to budge and as Lazarević's forces attack once again, the four fight their way across the ravaged city to arrive at the temple.
In the temple courtyard, Elena questions Nate about his motives, and he offers an honest account - much to Chloe's annoyance. Elena is nonplussed: "So let me get this straight - you're competing with a pyschopathic war criminal for a mythological gemstone?"
In turns amused, incredulous and resigned as she listens to Nate's explanations, Elena offers an insight into the brutal warlord's intentions: "This just doesn't add up, Nate... Lazarević can't be after the money. He doesn't need it. You're missing something."
Leaving the newcomers just inside the temple entrance, the protagonists enter the main chamber where they find a massive statue: perhaps the same wrathful deity depicted on the ceremonial dagger. Nate aligns four of its six hands into the correct position, then experiences a brainwave: the Phurba dagger is a key! Sliding its triangular blade into a slot on the statue's chest, they unlock a hidden entrance.
As they enter the subterranean tunnels, Nate notices a relief of a tree on a wall, which he finds strangely incongruous. After some further exploration, Nate opens a hidden shaft leading to a domed chamber. Placing the Phurba dagger in a slot, Nate and Chloe gasps as the central floor area is revealed to be composed of thousands of tiny rods. These undulate and rise to form a relief map of a mountain range. A single beam of light from the roof above highlights a precise spot. Nate is excited when he recognises the location. On a map depicting a Himalayan mountain range stolen from Lazarevic's camp, Nate compares the peaks, and marks the correct spot with an X. At that moment, Chloe's radio bursts to life with the chatter of Lazarevic's approaching forces, causing her and Nate to fight their way back to the surface.
In the courtyard outside, Nate finds Elena frightened but unharmed - though Jeff is bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound. Chloe stridently insists that they can do nothing for him, and that they make good their escape, but Nate is resolute. With Lazarevic's forces swarming from all directions, Nate half-carries the dying cameraman as they flee from one skirmish to another.
The group reaches a dead end: an apartment where the only exit is a 15-foot drop to the alley below that Jeff could not possibly survive. Nate gently props the cameraman against an overturned table. A panicked Chloe pleads with Nate to leave him behind, to escape before it is too late... and then they hear the sound of footsteps pounding up the stairs outside.
Chloe desperately levels her gun at Nate and Elena as Flynn bursts in, flanked by mercenaries. A flicker of recognition registers on Flynn's face; he finally understands Chloe's deception, but nonetheless pulls her towards him. Nate and Elena, outgunned, drop their weapons. Flynn orders that Chloe be taken away to safety. As she leaves, Lazarević strides into the room.
Seemingly unimpressed by his adversary, Lazarević takes the Phurba dagger from Nate's belt, regards it briefly, then hands it to his burly lieutenant. His gaze alights on Jeff. "Did you carry him all the way from the temple? Shame" intones Lazarevic flatly, drawing a handgun to execute the cameraman with a single shot before holding Elena at gunpoint, recognising her as the reporter dogging him for weeks, before demanding Nate tell him what he discovered in the temple.
Nate attempts to bargain for Elena's life: without him, he tells Lazarevic, the Serbian cannot find the entrance to Shambhala. A cursory search, however, reveals the map that Nate is carrying...with his hastily scrawled X making a mockery of his attempted negotiation. Lazarevic strides from the room with both map and Phurba dagger in his possession, leaving Flynn to kill the prisoners. As he gloats, Elena seizes an opportunity and staggers him with a full-blooded punch to the face. With Nate, she leaps from the room into the alley below, and both run for their lives...
After escaping their pursuers, Nate and Elena take a moment to catch their breath. Nate reflects on Flynn's orders when Chloe was escorted away - "Take her to the train" - and surmises that Lazarevic's personal army must be heading for a nearby rail yard. Elena is less than impressed that Nate wants to rescue Chloe after she turned on them, but Nate points out that if Lazarević finds out Chloe double-crossed him, they both know what he will do to her and Elena reluctantly agrees to help.
On arrival, they observe Lazarevic's men loading gear into the cars of a waiting train, and Flynn hustling a reluctant Chloe on board. The sheer numbers ranged against Nate, and the sudden departure of the train, forces abrupt improvisation. Riding in a 4x4 after a timely rescue by Elena, they draw alongside the train, allowing Nate to jump on board. Steadily fighting his way over and through the speeding train, Nate overcomes incredible odds to reach Chloe's car. There, he encounters Lazarevic's right-hand man, and the two engage in a savage fistfight. After seemingly besting this brute of a man, Nate retrieves the Phurba dagger from his belt, then incautiously turns his back. The antagonist, having swifty regained his wits, grabs the exhausted Nate and begins to strangle him. A gunshot rings out - and we see Chloe, pistol raised, as the henchman falls dead to the floor.
Nate stumbles towards his saviour, then notes that her gun remains trained on him. "Get off the train, Nate" she says, quietly. "I never asked for any of your bloody heroics". Chloe refuses to leave with Nate, still angry for his earlier insistence on helping Elena and Jeff, risking her life. "Well, good luck with Flynn!" he barks angrily, turning away. "You two deserve each other"
Nate's ire dissolves rapidly as he turns, exasperated, to reason with his old friend and sometime flame. As he begins to speak, another shot rings out - and Drake staggers from the impact. Chloe's eyes widen with horror as blood spreads across Nate's abdomen and a malevolent voice snarls from behind her "You just don't know when to quit, do you?!". Flynn steps forward from behind her, gun raised. As the malign Brit pursues the gravely wounded Nate, Chloe desperately attempts to forestall the killing shot; Flynn throws her off and orders Lazarević's men to kill the injured Drake. With soldiers arriving from the opposite direction, Nate lies propped against a seat, desperately scanning his surroundings for a means of escape. His eyes alight on a collection of propane tanks... and with nothing to lose, he fires.
The explosion rocks the train, decoupling it from the cars containing Flynn, Chloe and the main body of Lazarevic's forces. The forward section continues along the tracks, while Nate's section derails. As the tumbling wreckage ploughs into a snow bank, he blacks out.
Revisiting the opening scenes of the story, Nate escapes the train car and retrieves the Phurba dagger. When Lazarević's forces arrive to search for him, Nate summons every last scrap of willpower to defeat them, then slumps into the snow. As his vision fades once again, he sees the silhouette of a mysterious figure striding towards him...
Nate awakes on a bed in a cozy Tibetan house. Groaning as he attempts to sit upright, he instinctively reaches for the wound on his stomach - but finds it healed. Though neither Nate nor his saviour Tenzin understand each other's language, they infer meaning through gestures and tonality. The latter escorts the former through his village, framed against the spectacular backdrop of the Himalayas. Inside another house, he is reunited with Elena, who throws her arms around him in relief. They are taken to meet Karl Schafer: a German in his nineties, but with the bearing of a much younger man, clothed in traditional Tibetan attire. He greets Nate warmly.
"It appears you and I have much in common, Mr. Drake," says Schafer. "Seventy years ago, I came here just like you - carried into the village, near death, the last survivor of my company. I was hired to lead an expedition into Tibet, to find the entrance to Shambhala. What they really wanted was the Cintamani Stone."
Though Nate insists that he has no desire to continue his pursuit, Schafer is powerfully persuasive: Lazarević must be stopped. "Some of the most fearsome rulers through history have possessed only a fraction of the Cintamani Stone," warns Schafer, "men like Tamerlane, Genghis Khan. If a mere sliver could bestow such power, what would a man become if he possessed the Stone itself?"
Nate is doubtful, but Schafer insists that he accompanies Tenzin to the cave where the remains of his expedition can be found. After a perilous climb through an ice cave high in the mountains, Nate and Tenzin begin to find evidence of Schafer's expedition, but fail to discover the "proof" that the German spoke of. Nevertheless, deep inside the cave, a hideous yeti-like monster - its apelike body covered in coarse hair, a skeletal visage crowned by massive curled horns - bowls Tenzin off his feet and roars, revealing a mouth full of jagged teeth. Nate fires on the creature with a Luger pistol found on the corpse of a mummified, long-dead German. Though shot several times and stabbed by Tenzin, the duo cannot kill the creature, and succeed only in driving it away.
Further into the cavern, they ascend a stone staircase to reach arcane ruins presumable belonging to a long-lost civilisation. Tenzin and Nate activate massive ancient mechanisms as they travel through the imposing caverns, eventually opening a secret chamber. Inside, Nate finds several frozen bodies, with a cursory examination revealing that each one died from gunshot wounds to the head. They are all dressed in 1930s-era mountaineering garb. This, Nate concludes, is the final group from Schafer's expedition.
Tenzin finds a book on one of the dead; its cover, warped and stained with age, depicts a tree in the shape of a T. Tenzin taps it quizzically, and Nate identifies it as the Tree of Life. Nate regards the chamber more closely, and sees the Cintamani Stone everywhere, each time held by a seemingly demonic figure somehow anointed and transformed by its power. Inside the book, images depict powerful characters holding it aloft, bathed in its aura, as they lay waste to those who oppose them. In addition, he finds the symbol of the Ahnenerbe, a Nazi backed archaeological organisation and guesses that Schafer killed his expeditionary team mates to stop the Nazis getting their hands on the Cintamani Stone.
Bestial howls fill the cavern. Nate and Tenzin rush to escape to the surface as the unearthly creatures hunt them. As they look down to the valley below, they see Tenzin's village in flames...Back in the village, Nate meets briefly with a panicked Elena, who explains that Lazarević has tracked them here; ordering her to help keep the villagers safe, Nate and Tenzin then rush to find Schafer and Tenzin's daughter. Aiding the villagers in their defense against Lazarevic's mercenaries as they search, Nate and Tenzin work together to first evade, then destroy a tank as it devastates the settlement. With the attack apparently repelled, an overjoyed Tenzin is reunited with his daughter. However, the reason for Lazarevic's sudden departure soon becomes clear: he has claimed the Phurba dagger and taken Schafer hostage.
Nate and Elena leap into a truck to give chase; they barely escape with their lives when an explosion sends their vehicle careening over a cliff edge. Viewing the road ahead through binoculars, Nate sees Lazarević with Schafer outside a long-abandoned cliff-side monastery.
Nate and Elena continue their pursuit, tracking Lazarevic's company through the ancient monastery, while eliminating or evading those left behind to stop them. They eventually find Schafer near death, having been tortured and left for dead by Lazarević. Schafer confirms he killed the others of his expedition, fearing the consequences if the Nazis had claimed the Stone for themselves. Schafer tells Nate that the monastery hides the secret path to Shambhala and, with his final words, pleads with him to recover the dagger, find and then destroy the Cintamani Stone before Lazarević claims it. Nate remains cynical, but is swayed by the sheer force of the German's conviction.
Nate and Elena separate, with the former pursuing the Phurba dagger, heading towards a tower in the monastery where Lazarević was headed and the latter seeks the hidden entrance. On his way to the dilapidated tower where Lazarevic, Flynn and Chloe are located, he observes scenes of slaughter as more ofthe horned beasts he encountered earlier massacre Lazarevic's men.
Entering the tower via a hole in the wall, he eavesdrops as Lazarevic lambasts Flynn for failing to find the entrance. Fortuitously, Flynn leaves to speak to Lazarevic as he stalks from the room, leaving Chloe with the Phurba. As soon as the coast is clear, Nate drops down to confront the Australian. Though reluctant, she surrenders the ceremonial blade to Nate.
Nate and Elena reconvene to open a secret entrance beneath a tree in the courtyard, before entering the subterranean tunnels beneath the monastery. They arrive in a circular chamber,but, poised to open the entrance to Shambhala, find themselves helpless to resist as Lazarevic and his men pour in. Nate takes one of Lazarević's men hostage, but the warlord shows supreme indiffference for the lives of his men, calmly killing the hapless soldier without a second thought. Nate refuses to co-operate with Lazarevic, stating that he won't find Shambhala without Nate and that if they harm Elena, Nate will give them nothing. Unfortunately, Lazarević has already thought ahead and has Flynn drag in a captive Chloe, having figured out she was a mole. Though the villain attempts to toy with Nate, engaging him to choose between rescuing Elena or Chloe, Nate loses patience with the Serbian's theatrics and reluctantly opens the way forward.
In the caverns beyond, the path lies open - and then a mechanism activates, rotating the stone bridge to prevent further passage. Nate is sent with Flynn to restore it to its previous position. The two trade barbed comments as they negotiate the hazardous tunnel, hostility dripping from every insult and riposte. After realigning the bridge, though, they are forced to fight side by side as the horned monsters attack again. Armed with just pistols, they can only briefly deter the creatures from their relentless assaults... but then Lazarević enters, and calmly kills them with powerful incendiary blasts from his shotgun.
Lazarevic strides over to a horned creature and grabs its jaw, pulling its head back. All present are astonished as he rips a mask aside to reveal a human face: it is a man clad in a costume, his teeth stained black in the same manner as the skeletons encountered in Borneo. "Scarecrows," Lazarevic laughs to himself. "Guardians to frighten trespassers."
As Lazarevic's men open the gates to Shambhala, they are greeted by an incredible vista. The valley is framed by snow-capped peaks, but the ancient city that lies in the basin is awash with verdant greenery. The villain is satisfied, but unmoved by the beauty he beholds. Though Flynn risks his life to rescue Chloe, threatening to withdraw his support should she die, the warlord rounds on Nate and Elena. But before he can execute them, his murderous focus is disturbed by a sudden rain of arrows cutting down several of his men. Shouting and whooping in an indecipherable tongue, a band of giant, heavily muscled Guardians - the men who, outside, occupied the horned suits - pepper the crowd with their primitive weapons. In the unfolding chaos, Chloe savagely elbows Flynn aside with a sharp blow to the nose, then escapes with Nate and Elena to the city below.
The three push further into the ruins, where Nate discovers pockets of the blue resin encountered throughout the journey. He identifies it as sap deposited by the tree roots; when shot, it creates a blinding flash, causing nearby roots to retract. Chloe advises them to get out while they still can, but Nate and Elena refuse; they intend to stop Lazarević before he can get the Stone. After pinpointing their destination, they fight their way to a distinct pyramidal temple in the distance through both the Guardian's and Lazarević's men.
Inside the temple, they find the enormous Cintamani Stone set in a stone pillar resembling a tree. Nate immediately senses that something is wrong, and then experiences a tumbling sequence of revelations. The Stone is not a sapphire, as Marco Polo believed, but amber: fossilised resin, once tree sap. Nate rushes outside, his companions trailing behind in confusion. "How could I have missed it?" he berates himself. "There's not actually a Stone - it's the resin. The sap - from the Tree of Life."
And then, they see it: the tree in the courtyard below. Looking around it, they realise that it has grown rampant with age, its roots penetrating every part of the crumbling city. They observe Lazarević approaching the Tree of Life. Nate lowers his binoculars in shock as he intuits the warlord's intention. "Oh my God - the black teeth," he exclaims. "The black teeth, on those Guardian things...and the bodies in Borneo. They ate resin, and it changed them somehow". Chloe asks if he believes that is what Lazarević intends to do, and Nate bluntly asks if she wants to find out.
A sneering voice behind them causes them to spin, as Flynn emerges from concealment, sarcastically congratulating Nate on his deduction. He is wounded, bleeding profusely from several gunshot wounds; seemingly Lazarević had had enough of his failures. He slides his back against a pillar to slump to a sitting position, his strength waning. Elena rushes to his aid, and attempts to reason with him... but Flynn is unmoved, snidely taunting Elena as he produces a grenade, its pin removed. With a final parting quip, he allows it to drop to the ground. Nate and Chloe are merely bowled over by the blast, but Elena is badly injured.
Nate fights Lazarevic's men to clear a path for Chloe to carry Elena, and the three reach a bridge leading to the exit. There, Nate insists that Chloe escape with Elena... and returns to confront Lazarević. Chloe begs him not to, but Nate insists the danger of what Lazarević might do with the sap's power is too great a risk.
Nate descends into the chamber beneath the Tree of Life, the tree's roots descending as columns from above. At the center of the chamber, below the main trunk, is a pool of luminous azure sap. Beside the pool stand Lazarević and his remaining men. The warlod cups his hands into the liquid and drinks deeply. He becomes rigid as the elixir enters his body... then relaxes. His eyes flash with a luminescent glow as Nate, astonished, watches the scars covering his face and arm spontaneously heal. Lazarević looks thoughtful, then calls out: "Drake!"
Sensing that the opportunity for a surprise attack is passing, Nate pops out from cover and fires three rounds into Lazarevic's chest, the latter flinching momentarily - then shrugging off the inconsequential injuries. Desperation is followed by a flash of inspiration, and Nate fires into the azure pool. It explodes in an eruption of blue-white flames, consuming Lazarevic and his men.
Spared the force of the blast, Drake exhales in relief as he looks down at the broken corpses, but Lazarevic's limbs begin to inexplicably twist and straighten. He rises unbowed - and seemingly immortal. With Lazarevic impervious to bullets, Nate survives by shooting pockets of resin, repeatedly engulfing his crazed adversary in blue flames as he is stalked through the chamber. In this protracted and vicious encounter, the warlord appears more determined to brutalise and humiliate his opponent than kill him outright. As the battle reaches its climax, the chamber ablaze as the Tree of Life enters its death throes, Lazarevic slumps bloodied but defiant to his knees. He taunts his adversary to deliver the coup de grace, but Nate declines... then backs away carefully as the furious Guardians pour into the chamber, tearing the warlord to shreds as they are consumed by the spreading fire.
As the Tree of Life dies, the entire valley is convulsed by tremors as its roots retract, pulling the city apart. Nate, though bloodied and bruised, makes a desperate sprint to safety. Reunited with Chloe and Elena, the three survive a last encounter with an enraged Guardian before escaping to the monastery above. Exhausted, Nate lays Elena down gently and kneels beside her. She is pale and unconscious as the distraught Nate holds her close, pleading with her to hold on while Chloe looks on with grim sympathy. The scene fades...
Back in the Tibetan village, Tenzin congratulates Nate after holding a funeral for Schafer; his reply in his friend's tongue suggests that time has passed since the escape. Chloe approaches to stand with Nate, and enquires if he truly loves Elena, though it is clear she already knows the answer. Chloe accepts Nate's feelings for Elena, advising him to tell her that before taking her leave. As Elena emerges from the house she's been recuperating in, helped by Sully, who after lamenting the lack of any riches to show for their escapade, sets off in pursuit of Chloe, much to Nate and Elena's amusement. The two pay their respects at Schafer's grave, where Elena expresses her belief the old man would be proud of what Nate did. They stare out over the beautiful Himalayan panorama, and share a kiss before Elena teasingly asks, on a scale of ten, how scared Nate was that she would die. She is not impressed by his answer.