Chapter Twelve

As the sun rose the next morning to light the great Fortress of Shadow, the fifty ships sailed out of the harbor, full to the brim with mages and warriors from Kunath-Loch. The sailors on board the ships were busy making sure the great armor and weapons were in the best shape possible to make sure that chaos did not destroy them. A high-order mage on each ship would cast a magical "bubble" over the ship as soon as they arrived at the City. The ships were to disembark behind enemy lines, thus trapping the Trickster and his minions.
Then, one of the ships was to move back and drop Mercury, Garrett, and Cray off near the entrance to Karath-Din. The rest of the ships would assault the Trickster from the sea. They had the benefit of surprise, but, if Garrett and Mercury were not successful in their quest for a means to destroy him, the Trickster could still emerge victorious over the powers of shadow and light.
Powered by magic as well as wind, the ships advanced faster than their normal counterparts. The Master Mage had estimated it would take them about one day total from the time they left, meaning they would arrive in the middle of the night. This was fine, as the surprise and confusion of the Trickster's minions would be greatly augmented. After all, the shadows of the night were the element that mages of shadow thrived on.
Meanwhile, however, everyone was sleeping. They knew they would probably not see another night during which to sleep for a long time. Mercury and Garrett, however, were used to not sleeping for days on end. They stayed up late, reviewing what they would do, how they would do it, and what they should look for.
As the night approached, they went on the deck to ready themselves for the arrival. All the mages were awake and ready to disembark and hold the Trickster off as long as necessary. Cray was informing the leaders on how the City and its surroundings were laid out so that the attack could be carried out as swiftly as possible. Without the benefit of Mordak's communications with the Keepers, however, they could not know where the Trickster's current position was.
When they neared the fighting, however, the flashes of bright magical light and the large, bright moon showed them exactly where the fighting was happening and where the camps had been set up. Mercury and Garrett observed what was happening until the Master Mage came next to them.
"How much has he taken?" he asked.
"The first fourth of the City has fallen," Garrett said. "Eventually, the last stand will be made in the Old Quarter. The Trickster doesn't know what is there; he's never explored it. This attack from the back, however, should decimate his forces. His home, the location of the Maw of Chaos, is outside the City, beyond even the Old Quarter. The Hammerites would never let him take that."
"Where do you think he is camping?"
"As close to his lines as possible. The Trickster doesn't like to waste time…"
The Mage said nothing more after that. He only watched as the ships sailed by the site of the fighting, invisible to the two great opposing forces. Finally, the call to land came. The fifty ships anchored at nearly the same time, throwing out ropes and plants for the unloading. The Trickster had but one advantage: he was near his portal, and so had endless supplies. One of the mages' plans was to attack quickly and destroy the portal, thus cutting the Trickster off from all supplies.
The mages disembarked, over three thousand of them. Fifty, an insignificant number, were going to set up camp. The rest immediately headed towards the nearby fighting. Soon, Garrett could see flashes of light where the mages of Shadow were coming into the action. The ships left for the City before the Trickster had realized what was happening.
Garrett and Mercury walked to the steering wheel, where the captain was directing his ship. Only Garrett knew where the entrance to the Lost City was located. The captain was under orders to follow Garrett's instructions on how to arrive to the letter, something that understandably made him a bit mad.
Garrett was in the middle of asking the captain to turn when the wind blew his cloak off his head for a moment. Garrett continued talking out of habit, but a brief squeeze of his arm by Mercury told him he had not been the only one to notice the problem.
"One moment," he told the captain after he had finished the instructions. "I want to see the fighting again." He gestured to Mercury and they both moved to the handrail.
:"So," Mercury asked, "how did Mordak get on here?"
"I don't know…" Garrett replied. Those were the last things they said before hearing the tinkle of breaking crystal in front of them and breathing in the toxic gas. Mordak sighed a little before pulling them into the brig. Then, he directed the ship back towards the City, away from the entrance to the Lost City of Karath-Din.

Mercury came to first, and, looking around, realized with a groan exactly where he was. Garrett stirred beside him, and Mercury searched with bleary eyes to see where he was tied down and what he was tied down to. Garrett awoke beside him, and a groan told him he had also realized where they were. Finally, Mercury saw the rope tying his hands to his feet, and the other rope tying the first one to some sort of metal bar.
"Lock picks are pretty useless here," Mercury said.
"Yeah," Garrett agreed, "but a good thief always carries a dagger with him." A blade came out of Garrett's sleeve, and he sawed the rope in half in the space of a few moments. Mercury murmured something jokingly about Garrett being a smart aleck, but Garrett only smiled. He stepped over to Mercury and untied his bonds, releasing the thief so he could rub his blood-deprived hands.
"My primary weapon was the dagger until I came here. I left mine with Marco for safekeeping. I'll keep that in mind, though." They quickly slipped into the shadows, hoping Mordak wasn't going to look for them anytime soon.
When Garrett emerged on deck, however, his heart sank. The ship was in the middle of an all-out attack against the Trickster's forces. It was also in a position from which it was impossible for the two thieves to swim to the entrance of the Lost City. They would have to steal a boat, something that would be very difficult with Mordak onboard.
"We have to find a way to get rid of Mordak for long enough to get off," Mercury commented grimly. "Other wise, the City is basically doomed." Garrett said nothing. Instead, he moved towards the steering wheel. No one was there, but Garrett clearly had a plan in mind.
Mercury followed him past the steering wheel to the bow of the ship. Garrett was looking at the water, obviously thinking about something to do. Suddenly, he turned around, crept into a shadow, and began to move towards the center of the ship, where a dark shape stood among the others who were firing the great cannons of the ship.
"We're going to have to knock him overboard," Garrett whispered. The others'll be too busy saving him to realize what we're doing." Mercury just nodded and followed Garrett. With a brief push, Mordak fell into the sea below. In seconds, all the mages still onboard the ship were leaning over the edge, trying to see and help their fallen "comrade."
Meanwhile, the two thieves untied a boat and lowered it to the water below, where they began to row towards the tunnels of the Lost City of Karath-Ding, heading directly into the gloom of the dark, dark night that had offered the Mages of Shadow cover and protection.

Onward to Chapter THIRTEEN -->