Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 4

Michael O. Varhola

the floor.

The party continued the rest of the way up the passageway to the door that led into the embalming room, which Paros had made a point of locking the last time they were here. As they approached it, they could see not just that the door hung ajar but that it had been smashed open and that fragments of splintered wood lay scattered on the floor. To Parthenia, it looked as if a heavy shoulder had been applied with great force to the door high along the edge with the handle. 

Inside, the party was presented with a scene of devastation. On their previous venture to the laboratory they had left dozens of pots, jars, and other containers behind, not because these were worthless but because they simply had no room for them on their already-overloaded cart. Whoever had most recently visited this place, however, had apparently not thought such implements would be useful in any way and the floor was covered with fragments of crockery, chemicals and herbs that had either lost their essence or were too bulky to carry away, and the remains of other items. On the east wall of the room, the iron door that led into the empty mausoleum and thereafter to the outside was not open but was no longer bolted. 

"Who would do this?" Paros asked in despair. As disturbing as the spectacle was on the face of it, the implications were even more troubling; something destructive and probably very unlike the four companions in most fundamental ways had been here and might well still be nearby or coming back. At the least, this haven had been compromised and would not be safe to use as a base of operations, as they had intended. 

"This might be a clue," Pumayo said as the party spread out into the room, stepping over the remnants of things that had been trampled underfoot and pointing to a spot on the wall where something had been drawn large in charcoal. It appeared to be a cross of sorts, with three short arms, left, right, and down, the fourth and uppermost one curving into a rounded hook. 

"As might this ..." Parthenia said, running her hand over something that had been gouged into the wood of one of the work tables in the room. Pumayo stepped over to look at it for himself.

"It is Dwarven