Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 4

Michael O. Varhola

Read "Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 3"

On the landing they knew to be halfway down the flight of stairs they paused so that Pumayo could peruse the bas-relief of dread Thanatos, god of death, depicted as a handsome winged man armed with a sword. Paros had wondered whether the wizard would seem apprehensive during their first descent into the depths together but he seemed to be coping just fine and, as Pumayo regarded the carving, might even have been smiling slightly (although it was, admittedly, a little hard to tell whether his misshapen mouth was twisted into a smirk or something else).

Alert for danger, the party continued down the stairway and, as Parthenia stopped on the last step to scan the room, Paros stepped up beside her for a clear look as well. He took a foot-long iron rod from his haversack and scraped its gold tip on the stone of the wall beside him and, as he did, an unwavering light brighter than that of a torch illuminated the "chamber of the Styx." Immediately, Paros could that that it was not as they had left it and the first thing that struck him, with some panic, was that the sundered statue of Achilles, which they had battled here during their first visit to the necropolis, was gone!

Then, even as his jaw dropped and he drew his sword in alarm, Paros spotted something that in part alleviated his concerns: in the far right corner of the room, in the stepped pool filled by water from the stream that flowed across the room, the rogue could see a pair of stiff metallic legs sticking up in the air, his own dagger jammed into one of its heels. Perplexed, he and Parthenia looked in the direction of the secret door on the south wall of the chamber and north toward the narrow passageway that led off in that direction and, satisfied they were alone, walked over to the pool. Pumayo and Selene followed them down into the room, the former looking around in open interest and slowly following his two companions over to the edge of the water.

"It looks like someone picked it up and dumped it in there!" the wizard said, leaning forward to touch the leg of the upended construct.

"Careful!" Paros cried fretfully, causing Pumayo to momentarily recoil and then, smiling, reach over to the