by Fongyee Long

It was like a nightmare that refused to end. One would think that being a thief was having it easy - what else is more difficult than stalking your target when they least expected it? I would hate to burst the bubble, buddy, but let me tell you that thievery, although pays rather well if you can pull it off, can be something that will haunt you even in your darkest nights. I know, because I was the greatest thief alive... Alive, what an unnerving word, after what I had gone through:

Grasping the Eye and escaping the haunted Cathedral was an easy job. No haunt nor ghost nor zombies can deny me of anything that I ever wanted. After all, I am the best - even the Keepers paled in comparison. I'll wager that I could steal from under their very nose if I put my mind to it. I have stolen the Talismans from their hiding place after all. Who else can claim such a heist?

Viktoria! Oh Viktoria. I had never expected such betrayal. I thought she was my friend. Perhaps I am just another fool. They call me Foolsie. What an irony. Damn her and that bastard, Constantine. I shouldn't have let my guard down after he had offered me his precious sword. I thought he was being generous – ha ha! And now I am cursed with it. I wish I could cast it into the eternal flame that had engulfed the Lost City. But I could not! The sword had its power over me. I could not bear to cast it away although I detested myself for holding its cold, steel hilt. Its will is stronger than mine. What had become of me? A slave to steel and metal? And that, my friend, is the biggest insult to someone of my profession. Slave to metal. Urggh! It sent shivers down my spine every time I think of it. Perhaps it was that drink that Constantine offered me? The foul and yet sweet tasting ale.

I would not like to go further into what happen that night when I delivered the Eye. It was a painful experience. The pain of being used an a pawn is far greater than what they had physically inflicted upon me. I was so helpless. Caught like a fish in a net and being left to die. Seems to me that whoever I worked for ended up in a mess. Even myself. Look at Cutty or the guy I bought the lock picks from. Look at what Viktoria and Constantine had become. Look at me! I'm a goddamn Troll now! One eyed Troll. Mutated. I am not much different from those zombies and haunt which I have always bettered.

It was a blessing to have members of the Keepers coming valiantly to my rescue. Or was it yet another irony? An added salt onto a wound that will never healed? But why? Why did they free me? Why not let me rot in my prison? After all, I humiliated them by stealing the sacred Talismans. Once they have freed me, they disappeared and left me alone in Constantine's mansion. What happened to them? Are they more skillful than me in avoiding contact or is this another hidden agenda in which I am, again, just a pawn? And what was it that we heard? The growl and the approaching footsteps.

I looked around me right after the Keepers disappeared from the room. I was still groggy and could not focus my thoughts and view properly. All I could make out is that I was still in the study. I have no idea how long it was since I lost what is most dear to me. The constant inhuman hum that lingered in the mansion still continue to haunt me. The deep bass sometimes had me gritting my teeth in an attempt to stop myself from shouting out in anger. I can’t get it off my mind just like I could not get the sword away from me. I started towards the door. That was where the Keepers flee through after they freed me.

The incoming footsteps was now gone. Maybe it was just one of those guards passing through the door. I tried the knob. Damn the Keepers! I was right then. They have freed me but had kept me locked in the room without any tools. No lockpicks, no shit! I collapsed. I was tired of the whole thing. I could not take it any longer. My knees had no strength. I could not walk properly. My view are rather disoriented now. It will take some time to get use to. As I felt my way around, I found a gas arrow and some of my equipment behind the table where Constantine sat – my blackjack, a few other arrows and of course my bow.

There was a brightly lit enclave on the left side of the room, something I did not notice before. Normally, I would have kicked myself if I missed such an obvious exit. But this time round, I am more forgiving. Excuses? Maybe. I have no choice. I am desperate. This is not the time for self punishment, nor self consoling. I needed to escape. That is my sole objective now and there is no point in reprimanding myself.

Perhaps this is not a good time to tell what happened in the caverns under Constantine’s mansion. It was a hell hole, a place worse than Underworld - a place where horrifying creatures spawned. Creatures I would not have imagined. And I had seen a lot of different creatures before: from mindless zombies to fire elementals to those two-horned creatures with crab-like hands that was spawned by the Keepers. If you think that is terrifying, wait till you see what Constantine had as his pets. Surprisingly though, the tailed-sword-bearing fiend is able to speak proper Common Tongue. I suspect that they were once normal humans being succumbed by the Tricksters.

The caverns were worse than the Bonehoard but I managed to find my way easily. Maybe it is because of what had happened to me. It toughened my heart and my resolve. Besides, I was not able to focus very well so I ended up resting a lot in the dark areas, studying the creatures and shivering with chill at the thoughts of the torment those folks must have gone through to be transformed into such horrifying beings.

Once I found my way into the mansion, I had a shock. The mansion was not like how it was the last time I visited. Creepy plants started growing in places I once knew: The bar, the stairways where I once creamed a guard. I am beginning to suspect that the mansion I broke in was not Constantine mansion as he claimed it to be. I think that sword that he claimed was his may not be true as well. Damn sword! My life started to crumble the moment I picked up that job. I cast the thoughts away. That was another story. I had to look for that long corridor that will bring me to the front door.

Finding the corridor was easy right after I found the bar. But it was heavily guarded. There were these new frog-like creatures that will jumped around and explode upon impact. I hated them as much as I hated Spiders. Man, I would have preferred the mindless zombies to those eight legged horrors.

After a few noisemaker arrows to distract their attention, I pumped in a few gas arrows and jumped out of the front gate into the garden. Escape is indeed sweet! I welcomed the cool air. Thankfully, the gates were never locked. But this had me thinking for some time. Was it one of Constantine’s scheme to allow me to escape so that I can see with my own eye what he had done to the City? Or was it another one of the Keepers’ agenda? I guess I will never know.

Reaching home, I nursed my wound and mapped my revenge… a visit to the Hammerites would have irritated Mr Trickster further. I smiled cruelly.

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