Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 12 (Day 3)

Michael O. Varhola

Read "Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 11"

It was more than six hours before Kidna, who had taken to frisking in the stream of the Styx, saw the Dwarves coming back down the passageway, and she quickly slithered over to hide in the shadows near the secret door. The party had almost given up hope of seeing them again at all that day and had wondered if something might have befallen them or if they had decided to camp somewhere in the catacombs. Presumably, if the Dwarves were just going to wherever they had cached the stolen loot and loading up their backpacks with as much of it as they could carry, they would have returned in an hour or two at most, so this delay was mystifying.

"Finally!" Parthenia said to Paros from where the two of them lurked hidden behind the half-open secret door. "Dwarves move pretty damned slowly." Having received the signal from the preternatural serpent that the marauders were on the way back, she pushed the door shut and, along with the rogue, readied herself for the battle to come.

With some reservations, the party had determined that the most effective way of striking the miscreants would be by surprise and from two directions and they had laid the groundwork for this accordingly. While the two who could cause the most damage from a sneak attack to the rear of the Dwarven party waited below, the two spellcasters, Pumayo and Selene, sat in the hall of statues above. They had barred the doors leading out of the temple to prevent anything from happening upon them while they waited there alone. Normal conversation had not gone very well, as neither of them really seemed to understand anything the other was talking about, but Pumayo prided himself on his cosmopolitan nature and would not accept defeat quite so easily. He had finally engaged her in a word association "game" that seemed to amuse her adequately and, while he could not be sure whether or not she had learned anything about him, gained some additional insights into the way her mind worked. She did, indeed, as Paros had said, have "other ways of knowing."

Pumayo sensed when Kidna spotted the Dwarves and immediately ceased his wordplay with Selene and signaled to her that the time had come. The four companions were concerned about just how formidable the Dwarves might