Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 3

Michael O. Varhola

arrow knocked in it, Paros and Pumayo both carried loaded crossbows, and Selene opted for her shield and morningstar, ready to turn any undead they might encounter. They made their way through the overgrown paths between the rows of mausoleums and other funerary architecture, especially alert as they passed by dark, open entryways, or places where the ground had collapsed, revealing underground areas connected to various tombs. Barbaric Parthenia shuddered and was especially glad that it was so early in the day and that they still had several hours of daylight. They had learned the hard way the folly of trying to spend the night aboveground in the cemetery and recalled the nightmarish ordeal of having been trapped in a mausoleum and besieged there by countless numbers of the walking dead. They now knew, ironically, that the safest place they could be overnight was in some part of the catacombs that they could secure — ideally, like the embalming chamber, one that had more than one way in or out in case they had to make an escape.

Soon after the companions reached the wide path that led up the side of the hill to the temple, crossed the grass-covered paved plaza in front of it, and came to the stairs leading up to the age-greened double bronze doors. Like the gates to the cemetery itself, they, too, were ajar. Exchanging glances with each other, Paros and Parthenia split so that one was to either side of the door and then advanced up the steps toward it. When they made it to the top, Parthenia slung her bow over her back and drew the long, two-handed sword from her back, while Paros carefully examined the entryway and the other two kept watch. Satisfied that there were no traps or other hazards present, he signaled the Elf and each of them pushed open one of the doors.

Wan light filtered through the bronze-grated clerestory windows that ran along the top of the walls to either side of them, dimly illuminating the long hall and the eight statues that stood on pedestals along the walls, four on either side. Nothing penetrated the darkness of the doorway at the far end of the area, which they knew led down into the catacombs. While Parthenia stepped into the temple, Paros gestured to the other two that they should come and join them.

Once inside,