Lana Cameron had been in her final year reading for an MA in Linguistics in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at Edinburgh University when she was raped at a student party on St Leonard’s Street on the south-western fringes of Holyrood Park.
Until that night in early May – only weeks before her Finals – she had rejoiced in university life. It was a long held ambition of hers to live in Edinburgh, a city which she first found intoxicating during teenage visits from Dumfries with her mother. She became a model student, immersing herself in lectures and tutorials, reading hungrily in her room in Hall. An already fine distance runner who had represented Scotland at the European Youth Games, she joined the University Athletics Club and pounded out laps of the cinder track in the sharp air of countless dawns.
In her third year she was awarded a place on the Erasmus Exchange Scheme to spend twelve months at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She fell in love with Greece. The golden light that touched everything. She became fluent in the language. She trained under the Mediterranean sun and spent endless balmy evenings feasting on fruit and wine. She met a man named Andreas who was reading Ancient History and he shared with her the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman remains around the upper town. They strolled in the harbour, hiked in Seich Sou forest, swam in the Thermaic Gulf at Peraia, ate bougatsa for breakfast and dwelt over meze in the tavernas of Ladadika.
She could have lost herself in Thessaloniki, but from the other side of the continent, she felt Edinburgh clawing her back. Her fourth year was spent focusing on her dissertation, becoming Secretary of LangSoc by popular demand, and researching a career as a translator. Andreas had inspired in her an appreciation of history and architecture, so she reconnected with Edinburgh through a new love of its twisted dark past.
Now, as Lana walked down the Mount towards the Scottish Academy and Princes Street, her pony tail swinging and her boots clicking on the paving, she struggled to analyse everything Radspakr had said and to understand how her life had taken such a calamitous turn and washed her up in that room beneath the road, listening fearfully to the Lord Adjutant of the Valhalla Horde.