On Life, Death, and All Manner of States in Between (Part 3)

Michael O. Varhola

Arabasz’s sword following in a much more satisfying rendition of Lion Deigns to Strike, which severed vampiric head from quickly-disintegrating shoulders.

After some stomping of feet to put out flames, considerable splitting of skulls to halt the disorganized, disgusting, and painfully slow approach of the tide of dismembered undead that had lost the right to be called either crawlers or shamblers, as well as scanning — magically and other wise — to ensure a certain level of personal safety, the trio made their introductions. The lady, named Tula, of all things, thanked both Arabasz and Selenius, although in entirely different ways and at entirely different times, for saving her from the vampire. Arabasz thanked the lady, several times and in a number of rather imaginative ways and places, for not killing him. And Selenius thanked them both for stopping the vampire from grappling him, for it is widely known that wizards do not commonly practice advanced grappling techniques like Monkey Steals the Peach.

When Arabasz heard that the lady was new to Kos City, and low on funds after long travails, he offered to split his current wage if she would join him in safeguarding Selenius while the wizard finished his gravening. This was accomplished just before sundown, and the three walked together out of the gloom of the Necropolis. Because Selenius did, in fact, bear some affection for the younger Arabasz, he lagged so that the younger man might demonstrate his moves, martial and otherwise, for the lady’s amusement. When the two implored weakly that he accompany them on their quest to slay several flasks of a fine Falernian at the Four Winds Bar, Selenius feigned not to hear them, and continued on toward his home full of repugnant tomes.

It should be mentioned at this juncture that Selenius, while an excellent wizard, an adequate scholar, and a rather poor grappler, was not a particularly methodical person. Thus, he had many piles of many books from which many bookmarks projected at sundry points. In one of these books containing a treatise by a nameless cleric of Apollo was a most unfortunately placed bookmark. A few days prior to Selenius’s mastery of the Black Emerald he had been reading this very book very late one night, when his advanced years required that he set it aside in favor of sleep. Because of his rather cavalier attitude to study, and to