Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 3

Michael O. Varhola

robes of Asiatic cut that Paros had seen before and, as he had previously, the rogue found himself looking with a combination of mystification and pleasure at the patterns on it. These were embroidered into the cloth with different sorts of metallic thread and could be perceived either simply as asymmetrical two-dimensional images or as depictions of symmetrical three-dimensional solids (and, the more that could be perceived as both by an observer, Pumayo had once told him, could be taken as a measure of their intellect). This outfit was completed by a pair of pointed shoes, a cloak, and the wizard's requisite turban, and complemented by a leather girdle replete with pouches of various sorts and sizes and a standard adventurer's backpack.

What caught Paros's eye more than anything, however, were the two large brooches, each somewhat reminiscent of a shield. One served as a clasp for the wizard's cloak and was metal, round, and slightly concave and emblazoned with a bulls-eye in its center, while the other, which appeared to be carved from wood and covered with fine leather, was affixed to his robe and about four inches high and half as wide. Paros felt it might be indiscrete to inquire as to whether these items had more than a decorative significance and, when Pumayo noticed his companion scrutinizing them, he smiled broadly but volunteered no explanation.

Paros himself wore a dark gray tunic, a fine suit of armor fashioned from pieces of heavy black leather reinforced with steel studs, and supple, soft-soled leather boots, and had rolled up in his backpack a hooded woolen cloak. He carried upon his hip a superior short sword, one of the broad, fish-shaped blades of local manufacture widely known as a "sword of Kos," and was further armed with the best dagger and light crossbow that he could afford. His most useful items, however, were his various toolkits and alchemical substances, and he carried these in a series of custom-made pouches, haversacks, and hidden pockets.

There was moderate traffic on the road, most of it heading in the party's direction early in their journey and a little coming from the direction of Zipari as they approached the large village to the west of Kos. About halfway toward it they stopped at a crumbling, uncared-for herm on the left side of the highway near where a rutted, forsaken road headed up into the