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Karath-din, referred to by the Mechanists as the KD Site and by others often as simply The Lost City, was an ancient city and the capital of the Precursor civilization. This city was originally built in the same location as The City, but was buried underground by some kind of natural disaster. After The City was built, the ruins of Karath-din were left to crumble beneath the city and were largely forgotten, remaining known to only a few groups of people.
Karath-din was home of the ancient culture known as the Precursors and is an example of the peak of their civilization. At its zenith the Precursor civilization had made great advancements in crop cultivation and other technologies, including autonomous artificial lighting complete with advanced (presumably motion) sensors. After the destruction of the city, it was left partially destroyed; a maze of caverns connecting the larger chambers. Most of its buildings lay in ruins or buried beneath lava, however the most significant buildings remained largely intact.
After its destruction, Karath-din eventually became home to various creatures, such as burricks, spiders, and (in Thief: The Dark Project only) Craymen. The great number of lava pools and rivers seemed also to attract Fire Elementals which could be found in the Lost City in large numbers as well.
During The Metal Age, the Mechanists visited Karath-din, possibly to acquire Precursor Masks for the creation of Masked Servants, but more likely in search of the ancient Cultivator needed for Karras' plan. To aid in their efforts, the Mechanists drained off some of the lava flows, rerouted cave passages, and excavated many of the structures which had previously been partially or completely buried. They also eliminated all life which was not human using canisters of rust gas.
The Lost City was divided into several different areas and facilities:
The library was an impressive building located in the North of Karath-din which served as the central archives. After the destruction of the city, Burricks took up residence in this building. Cave-ins eventually left the library as the only passage from the city to the outside world.
When the Mechanists entered Karath-din in their search, they named the library Site 9. They set up numerous machines here, as well as sleeping and working quarters. It appeared to be a significant work station in their operation in Karath-din.
The Residential DistrictEdit
The residential district was a large area in the east filled with homes. Many of these buildings were in a severe state of disrepair by the time Garrett entered Karath-din. Lava had filled the streets in many places throughout the residential area. Notably, one of the main roads leading from the central area had been completely filled.
The Mechanists divided this area into two separate sites, namely Site 8 to the east and Site 7 to the west. They set up work stations in both sites, and most notably covered up the lava in Site 8. As the main entryway for Mechanists was through the residential area via the docks, the square here was used as a central reference point.
The market was the central area of the city. It was gated on the north and south ends. Though likely a gathering point for the townspeople in its heyday, the movement of the earth eventually rendered it mostly unusable. It suffered significant collapses and was filled with lava on both the north and south ends.
The Mechanists cleared out the lava and much of the rock in this area to allow easier access to the various research sites.
Located in the southern end of Karath-din was the great theater. Various performances were given here, sometimes using masks which, in the time of The City, became highly sought-after commodities by collectors of antiquities.
The theater was decorated with an earth motif, and the stage area had a large fresco of an earth deity, suggesting the theater may have been dedicated to an earth god. It had a large entry hall, which, in Garrett's first visit, had begun to fill with lava. By the time Garrett returned, the theater's main hall had suffered a significant cave-in, with a large amount of dirt and rock having fallen in through the theater's once open ceiling.
The Mechanists named the theater Site 2 and filled it with machinery. They also excavated the theater's south entrance, which had been filled by a cave-in long ago.
The Burial GroundEdit
This was a large complex of buildings located in the southeastern reaches of the city. It consisted mainly of several square structures, all of equal size, height and spacing. These were decorated on the inside with motifs of the elemental deities and probably once contained the bodies of wealthy citizens. At the southern extremity was an underground crypt which housed the mortal remains of Emperor Va-Taraq, the penultimate emperor of Karath-din and the Precursor civilization.
The emperor's tomb was designed to keep intruders from desecrating the body of the emperor, and as such included the classic stone portcullis, propped open with a wooden beam, a nearly impassable lava pit, a false burial chamber, and a pressure-activated ceiling booby-trap. Writings indicate that the tomb was filled with "all manner of things which are pleasing to serve him in his nether days", indicating a belief in the afterlife.
The Mages took particular interest in the tomb. They were probably included in TG as part of their search for the Talisman of Water only to find that the storyline had been altered since they received word of its whereabouts.
By the time the Mechanists entered Karath-din, the tomb itself had been cut off from the buildings in front of it. The Mechanists named the nearby area Site 4 and installed a series of catwalks and a mine cart rail system.
The Emperor's ColosseumEdit
In the southwest of Karath-din lay the Colosseum, a massive structure used to put on gladiatorial fights for the entertainment of the emperor and citizens of the city. In the center of the colosseum was an arena, originally fitted with a moat over which magical fires, or possibly Fire Elementals, floated. Naza, a visitor to Karath-din from a small village, commented that the structure was larger than her entire village. The colosseum was decorated with a water motif and contained a fresco of a water deity, and as such was likely dedicated to the water deity.
When Garrett first visited the Lost City, the colosseum was still mainly intact, though some of the stands and the western end had been covered with rock. By the time the Mechanists arrived, however, a massive collapse had filled in the entire arena and lava had begun to enter the building from the lower level.
This was the tallest building in Karath-din, located on its westernmost extents. It likely acted as a beacon or a watch tower for the defense of the region to the north.
The tower survived the destruction of the city remarkably well and, with the exception of a collapsed staircase on one floor and part of the outer ledge, remained entirely intact. The Keepers used the tower as a hiding place for the Talisman of Fire.
When the Mechanists arrived in Karath-din, access to the tower had been completely cut off. The fate of the tower itself is unknown. The Mechanists named the area near the entrance Site 6.
The Great Temple-PalaceEdit
The great Temple-Palace of Karath-din was a specialized temple or temple-complex that served as the home of the emperor. It also acted as as a sanctuary for those fleeing the devastating upheaval that led to the city's destruction. Beneath the temple-palace was an archival vault of some kind, used for the storage of sacred texts, including those transferred from the library in times of strife.
The temple-palace is one of two significant structures shown on the map that are not canonically identified. One of these, depicted as three conjoined towers sheltered by a female deity, lies in the inaccessible north-west extremity of the city. The other, a large symmetrical building in the eastern extremity near a body of water, was excavated by the Mechanists in T2. The Mechanists used this building as their base camp, and connected it to the rest of the city with a raised walkway which they built over the lava.
The Temple of N'LahotepEdit
This was a mysterious temple dedicated to N'Lahotep. Sacrificial offerings to the earth deity were performed here.
This temple is one of two structures that are not canonically identified. One of these, depicted as three conjoined towers sheltered by a female deity, lies in the inaccessible north-west extremity of the city. The other, a large symmetrical building in the eastern extremity near a body of water, was excavated by the Mechanists in T2. The Mechanists used this building as their base camp, and connected it to the rest of the city with a raised walkway which they built over the lava.
The Mechanists had two additional excavation sites, namely Site 1 and Site 3. Site 1 was a pit located north of the library, while site 3 was a very large pit located south of the theater.
At some time before the terrible calamity, a Precursor named Va-Taraq was crowned Emperor. He was the penultimate Emperor of the Precursors. Ancient writings found suggest that Va-Taraq was the most generous and kind emperor in Karath-din's history. During his time the Precursors lived in harmony and prosperity. When he died he was buried in a tomb filled with riches, and the people were in deep grief. His son, Va-Toran, was his successor, but unlike his father he was a greedy man. This lead to serious concerns made by some of the Precursor's institutions about the future of Karath-din.
The Destruction of Karath-dinEdit
During the reign of Va-Toran, the city began to be rocked by earthquakes and possibly volcanoes, as descriptions in ancient writings describe fire raining from the sky. Despite its extent, the devastation did not come unannounced; the librarians relocated their books to an archival vault underneath the Great Temple-Palace to protect them from "the angry and fiery breath of the earth" but made no immediate attempt to take refuge there and the emperor noted, but gave no evidence of concern for the shaking and "crying" of the earth and sky. The Precursors tried to appease their gods with sacrifices, but the disaster continued until it consumed their civilization. The city was eventually swallowed up by rock and lava, destroying many of its buildings, though leaving a surprising number of them intact. The city was never evacuated, and all the inhabitants were either killed or forced to flee.
The Lost City was of great archaeological and cultural value as it represented the way of life of the Precursors. Because of this, even a single Precursor artifact was worth a substantial amount on the market in The City. Those were just a few reasons to explore or plunder Karath-din. However, because of the lack of knowledge of the Lost City and the hazards of the area, expeditions were very limited.
The Lost City was rediscovered by the Keepers, and after exploring the Lost City, they decided to use it as a hiding place for the Talisman of Fire (and the Talisman of Water in Thief: The Dark Project). Their expedition was successful to some extent, but it ended disastrously with the death of the expedition's members, as most of them fell prey to the Fire Elementals.
Afterwards (in Thief Gold only), the Hand Brotherhood made a few expeditions to Karath-din and recovered some valuable artifacts. Although it was their aim to assemble all four talismans, their investigations do not appear directed solely toward this aim. Oblivious to Garrett's arrival, they did not reach the Temple of N'Lahotep in time to retrieve the Fire Talisman.
The Most significant expedition occurred during The Metal Age, when the Mechanists came to the city in search of Precursor Masks. They carried out significant excavation work such as clearing out previously blocked roadways and doorways and redirecting or entirely removing lava flows. They also built numerous walkways, set up a vast array of machines and modern lighting, and occasionally destroyed old buildings which were in the way of their operations. Their use of Rust Gas seems to have rendered the entire area devoid of all other forms of life.