Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 3

Michael O. Varhola

the companions held their traditional debate as to whether or not to close and bar the doors behind them; they had originally intended to but, now uncertain whether anyone else was present, were not sure if this was the best or not. They finally decided to close the doors to discourage undead or wildlife from entering the building but to forego barring them, so as to not alert anyone else of their presence.

"Attend!" Pumayo said portentously once this was accomplished, reaching into the folds of his robes and drawing forth a hand entwined with his ebony-scaled horned viper. "This is Kidna and she is my friend. She is smart and will not molest you, so do not be alarmed by her; it will be to our to our benefit if I can allow her to roam free." Parthenia, Selene, and Paros all looked toward the serpent, the women especially apprehensively, but all nodded their assent as the wizard set the creature on the floor and it slithered off into the shadows behind one of the rows of statues.

Paros looked up at the statue of Hermes Psychopompos, he who conveyed souls to the land of the dead, and studied the bronze likeness of a well-formed man holding a small, child-sized person. As someone devoted to the fleet-footed god, he had regretted his failure to make offering to Hermes on his previous visit and had resolved to do so this time. Stepping up to the idol, the rogue retrieved from his haversack a generous ball of myrrh and one of the tinder-twigs he had recently crafted, scratched the latter item against the rough stone of the pedestal, and then, when it flared up, used it to light the piece of incense. He then placed the smoldering sphere of resin in the metal dish set into the pedestal in front of the statue, spread his hands, bowed his head, and prayed to the god to grant him fortune and protection during his venture into the catacombs.

Pumayo, meanwhile, had walked to the far end of the hall and stopped before the archaic, somewhat crude statue of the three-faced woman that the party had been unable to identify during their previous visits to the temple but who the wizard recognized immediately.

"Hecate, goddess of magic," the swarthy man said, kneeling before the pedestal upon which the statue stood. He proceeded to pray