Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 1

Michael O. Varhola

Read "Return to the Necropolis: Prologue"

Time passed quickly for Paros in the months following his return from the necropolis and he was occupied with any number of things. His main focus, of course, was establishing his alchemy shop in the decrepit townhouse he had bought on Lead Street, along the vague line between the lower end of the mercantile district and the sprawling slum quarter.

To many this might not have seemed like an ideal address but, as a member of the Guild of Beggars, Guides, Locksmiths, and Exterminators, it was a better location for dealing with the sorts of customers with which he had the closest connections. He was, indeed, a rogue first and an alchemist second (and, to some extent, also a serviceable locksmith). For those operating at the highest levels of this art, the goal was to master the transformation of one sort of matter into another, and any of the other abilities they might gain in the process were simply side effects. To Paros, however, mastering these side effects was the point of the pursuit, and he produced powerful acids that could dissolve metal, liquid that erupted into fire upon contact with the air, and other substances that could be of use both to himself and sold to other adventurers. If he ever learned to transform lead into gold it would be purely by accident and he had many ways of obtaining wealth that were not dependent upon a lifetime of academic study.

Even with the acquisition from the necropolis of a laboratory full of alchemical equipment, however, establishing his new premises and making them both livable and presentable was more work than Paros had imagined. He could already tell that his locksmithing endeavors would languish and that he would have to pursue them purely for personal purposes or in response to the rare lucrative commission that might present itself to him, rather than as even a cover business.

His love life had also become ... strange. The ghost of the beautiful Koan lady who had attached herself to him when he was looting the tomb in which she had been interred sometime before the Great Cataclysm still haunted him and was prone to make her appearances at the most inconvenient times. These included occasions when he was attempting to entertain or encourage romantic interaction with one or another female acquaintance; the very possibility that