As they tied the boat into the old Mechanist dock,
Mercury went ahead to the bay door they had installed.
"Garrett," he called. "It's open." Garrett acknowledged the information with a grunt as he finished tying the boat to a spare wooden stake. He came up the passageway, slightly panting. Together, they walked through the doorway and into the depths of the dark caverns.
Garrett looked around him, then walked forward through the tunnel, sword out. Mercury followed, also ready for trouble. A little further on, Garrett turned left through an opening in the cave walls. As Mercury followed him, he saw it opened into a gigantic cavern, which apparently had a building in the middle of it.
"Where did that come from?" Mercury asked.
"The previous occupants left it behind," Garrett replied.
"Previous occup Oh!" Mercury said as his brain made the connection. They walked into the building, which had been outfitted with Mechanist banners, but it had clearly been abandoned for a while. Garrett stepped through a few doors, each time emerging with a weapon to add to their arsenal.
Finally, they exited the building and its area with a map acquired within. Mercury noticed that part of the Lost City that remained accessible was fairly small, and that no more than a day or two should be necessary to look through every crevice of the cave chain. So, with that in mind, the two thieves set out to search Karath-Din for any evidence of information on the destruction of the Trickster.
There were a lot more buildings left standing that Mercury had though would have remained so. The ground sloped in many places, and most buildings were half buried. Certain areas were covered in lava, and the area was replete with ramps that had apparently been erected by the Hammerites and Mechanists.
They were walking through Site 9, according to the map, in the broad light of lamps and torches that had been positioned in various spots around the room. They had passed through all of the others, and this was the last area before they reached the exit. Mercury's overtaxed hope was running out, and his eyes were getting tired. The two thieves had been down there for two days, and had not slept at all during that time. Garrett was telling Mercury this was the last place they had to search when he froze. Mercury looked up, following Garrett's gaze. In front of them was a tall woman, like any other except her arm looked like a tree.
"Ummm Garrett? What the hell?" Mercury commented. Garrett, however, was still frozen. His eyes were going over the scene over and over again. His mouth opened for a moment, closed again, and his hand squeezed the hilt of his sword spasmodically. Finally, he managed to get a word out.
"V Viktoria?" he stuttered. Then, all of a sudden, he recovered. His hand stopped squeezing his sword and, instead, pulled it out. "I thought you were dead," he told her. "Apparently, I was wrong. The question is, are we still united on one side, or does your loyalty lie with the Trickster still?" The figure snarled in a menacing way and Mercury's black Keeper sword was also unsheathed.
"I lie with the only one who can get rid of the Hammerite Order!" she yelled.
Garrett's sword wavered for a moment.
"Soulforge? What speak you of?"
"You are a creation of the Trickster!"
"He sent me here to stop the real Viktoria, whom he revived only to find out she had turned against him! She ran here. She will die here!" Suddenly, a perfect replica of the creature in front of them leaped out from behind them. The Viktoria in front of them gave a terrible cry and leaped at the "evil" Viktoria. Garrett began to attack, but he couldn't discern who was who. Finally, he leaped in anyways, trusting his instinct.
Mercury took a deep breath and followed, attacking where Garrett attacked, trusting Garrett's instinct as well. Finally, one of the Viktorias gave a great scream. Then, she collapsed and disappeared in a burst of light. Mercury and Garrett stopped slashing and stood there, panting, looking at the other Viktoria.
"My dear thief," she said. "I can always count on you being in the right place at the right time, can't I?" She stepped forward.
"Proof," Garrett growled, pointing the sword at her. "Give me proof that you're Viktoria." Viktoria smiled.
"Always the careful one Garrett." She lifted the sleeve of a torn shirt above here left wrist and turned it towards them, showing them a cut that had left a scar. Garrett, apparently, took that as proof that Viktoria was not lying and put down his weapon.
"Viktoria, I thought you were dead," Garrett said. "Did my eyes deceive me at Soulforge?"
"Faithful thief, did my death disappoint you? Yes, I see it did. You believed I was invincible. Alas, it was not so. I died in deed. By that time, however, I saw that my original beliefs in chaos were wrong." Garrett laughed. "Before I go on, perhaps you should explain to your friend who I am," Viktoria suggested, catching Mercury's bewildered face. Garrett glanced at him for a moment.
"Yes, yes, good idea. Viktoria was a friend of the Trickster's when I banished him. Several years later, about three years ago, we met again. While following a lieutenant of the City Watch, I ran into an exchange of notes between her and a Pagan man. The Pagan man was hurt badly by several Mechanists awaiting him outside the very graveyard we've been frequenting so much. I followed him through the portal - the same one we've been using - into the Pagan Forest. There, I found that the Mechanists had killed all the Pagans in the forest. In a rage, I returned the favor and killed all the Mechanists in the forest."
"A rage?" Mercury asked. "You were in a rage?" He laughed.
"I usually don't get sentimental, but I already had something against the Mechanists and this pushed me over the edge. Anyway, following the Trail of Blood left by the injured Pagan, I found my way through another portal and, eventually, to Viktoria. Instead of killing me, she enlisted my help to destroy the Mechanist leader, an insane man named Karras. Eventually, we discovered a plan to destroy the City, the typical thing I prevent. However, Viktoria went to Soulforge Cathedral, Karras's stronghold, to try to stop him. Eventually, to make a long story short, just as I arrived, she died. And then I got rid of the bad guy, as usual. Now that Mercury's up to date, Viktoria, would you be kind enough to continue?"
"Yes, of course, Garrett. After you saw me die, 3 years went past. Then, the Trickster returned. He revived me, only to find that I no longer supported him. I fled here, where his power is weakest. As you have seen, he sent a replica after me. With your help, I got rid of her. It's as simple as that."
"All right," Mercury said, "that's a nice summary of the events. Now, can we start here so we can go home as soon as we can? Because I would really like to get some sleep and some decent food "
"Yes, we should begin searching," Garrett said.
"Searching for what?" Viktoria asked.
"We're looking for some ancient scrolls with information on how to destroy the Trickster. But only we can see it, for reasons I don't have time to explain right now. So, just wait there, Viktoria, and we'll get looking. I'll let you know when we're through so we can go."
The two thieves began heir search looking through the lighted edges of the room and the undersides of the sundry objects left behind by the Mechanists or the Hammerites during their stay. Finally, they started the exhaustive search of the shadows and darkened areas. Corner after corner, room after room, they searched for the scrolls. And, when they were almost done, their search was rewarded.
Mercury cried out in excitement as the small roll appeared in front of his eyes as light came into contact with it. He brought it over to Garrett, who immediately took it from Mercury's hands and unrolled it. Mercury peered over his shoulder to read.
"The Trickster has destroyed this place. Only two things are left. A cave system that I am in and the New Quarter, left on the surface on the North-Eastern side. Slowly, the valley between here and the plateau is filling with water. I have stored the information on his destruction in the New Quarter, but I can't find it. The Hammerites and Keepers are thriving and so, unfortunately, are the Pagans. But I am dying. I will do so here, where all these memories lie hidden, deep within the earth.
Master Mage Arkanelum"
Garrett finished reading shortly after Mercury and met his puzzled gaze with one of his own. The reference to the "New Quarter" was nagging at Garrett's mind. He was thinking aloud.
"New Quarter New Quarter hmmm New Quart The Old Quarter!" he exclaimed all of a sudden. "Mercury, isn't it possible that was the "New Quarter" back then could eventually have changed in name to the Old Quarter?"
"It isn't only possible, it's quite probable," Mercury replied excitedly. "You know where the Old Quarter is?"
"Of course. It has a lot of haunts, though "
"You'll see when we get there," Garrett replied evasively. "Viktoria, let's go." Viktoria emerged from the entrance tunnel, where she had been waiting, and quickly followed Garrett. They climbed a tall rock wall to a large opening that led to the boat. Viktoria got on first, followed by Garrett and Mercury. Once they had shoved off shore, they urged the boat forward with their paddles, heading quickly toward the mainland behind the Trickster's lines. The sounds of war became louder