Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 17 (Day 5)

Michael O. Varhola

Read "Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 16"

Once he was through the doorway, Paros could see by the light of his flickering sunrod that the submerged passageway proceeded about ten feet and then turned into a stairway that led upward. He pushed through the water the stairs and then began to slowly tramp up them, not waiting for another gulp of air from the bottle, his heart slamming in his chest and the blood banging through his head, hopeful, step after step that deliverance was at hand — and was relieved when he breached the surface of the water some ten feet up the stairs!

Paros gulped and gasped air into his strained lungs but kept stumbling up the stairway, not wanting to impede the others from coming up into the open themselves, but he reached a small landing right after and sat down, spent. Soon after, first Selene, then Parthenia, and finally fish-Pumayo and Kidna straggled up through the water and collapsed onto the stairs below him.

Once they had caught their breaths and rested a couple of minutes, the party members stood and continued up the stairs, which turned to the left and went westward after the landing. The party ascended an additional ten feet or so and came to another small landing, at the end of which was a heavy-looking padlocked wooden door in a style that seemed somehow incongruous with the rest of the surroundings. Paros searched it, declared it free of traps, and then without too much effort removed the padlock and opened it.

Before the companions stretched a long chamber that appeared to be widest at the end they were at and gradually grew narrower toward its far end, some forty feet away. The floor was covered in wooden planking and the walls were similarly paneled, and a dozen large chests were lined up along the walls, six on either side of the chamber with space for several more. At the center of the wall opposite the door, where the room was only about ten feet wide as opposed to the twenty or so at their end, the party could see what appeared to be an altar and, standing upon it, a colorful, life-sized stone statue of a naked, bearded man holding a trident in one hand and a conch shell in the other.

"It looks like the hold of a ship!" Pumayo said.