Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 16 (Day 5)

Michael O. Varhola

Read "Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 15"

Paros felt something press against his mouth and fresh air blow into it, causing him to open his eyes in surprise and see, floating in the water beside him, a figure that it took him a few seconds to recognize as Pumayo. He was holding up to Paros's mouth the magical lapis lazuli bottle they had found in the Anemoi tomb a few days earlier and, as the rogue exhaled through his nose and then sucked in a fresh draught of air, he scrutinized the wizard. With his fleshy features and dark, spindly body, Pumayo was suggestive to Paros of a humanoid frog, all the more so because he now had large pulsing gills on each side of his neck, webbing between his fingers and broad, flipper-like feet; his turban had evidently come loose in the water, revealing two small, dark horns projecting from his head. His familiar snake Kidna swam past behind him, its own tiny gills throbbing. Paros felt lightheaded and disconnected from what was going on around him, and half wondered if the appearance of phantasmagoric figure before him was the product of a hallucination.

Pumayo looked Paros in the eyes and then pointed and, when the rogue followed his gesture, he saw Selene standing there, her hair billowing out around the base of her Corinthian helmet. Her face was red with the strain of holding her breath and Paros understood when the wizard pulled away the bottle and held it to the mouth of the Half-Elven woman, allowing her to take a couple of solid breaths from of it. Pumayo then shifted over to Parthenia, who looked far calmer than she should have considering the circumstances, and let her avail herself of its magical stream of air. The wizard apparently did not need to use the bottle himself and seemed to be breathing as naturally as if he had been a fish.

Desperate as the situation still was, especially as none of the adventurers knew what lay beyond the door before them, Paros no longer had to struggle against a sense of overwhelming panic and resumed work on the lock. Pumayo gave him a fresh dose of air every thirty seconds or so and, while it was not a pleasant experience or something he would be able to do indefinitely, Paros was now sure he would have the time