Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 5

Michael O. Varhola

Read "Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 4"

Paros, Pumayo, Parthenia, and Selene gathered on the banks of the little stream and peered up the ten-foot-wide ceremonial passageway into the darkness beyond. Parthenia touched the ram-skull amulet hanging around her neck for reassurance, and Paros and Pumayo followed her example, and then the companions waded across the stream to its west bank. Out of the corner of his eye, Paros could see the wizard's familiar slither into the water and neatly swim across it, and recalled the belief held by many that snakes in cemeteries were the reincarnated spirits of warriors who were buried there. He had no reason to think, however, that this strange-looking serpent was anything of the kind.

Once on the other side of the mini Styx, the party adjusted its formation somewhat, with Parthenia and Paros leading side-by-side and the other two following in like manner five feet behind them. Paros could make out the faded frescoes painted in three-foot-high bands on the walls to either side, and recalled how much more vivid they had seemed to him last time he had seen them, when his life force was daily being diminished and he was being transformed into one of the shades that would forever haunt these gloomy passageways.

In short order the companions came to the large chamber where they had battled the three-headed skeletal dog, finally defeating it on their second attempt and using Selene's clerical powers to completely destroy its remains and prevent it from rising up again. Paros and Parthenia halted and surveyed the room. It still contained the scattered bones and wrecked remains of gear from the party of tomb raiders that had perished here however many years before, as well as the bronze statuette of a maiden that Parthenia had used to batter the skeletal hound — which the barbarian resolved to retrieve if she once again needed to battle a similar monster — but they could not tell if anything had been disturbed or not. They also did not notice any movement in the dark mouths of the corridors to the left, right, or ahead of them — the main trunks that led into the various sections of the catacombs — so they moved westward across the open space and into the passageway directly across from them. 

Secondary passageways began to lead off to the left or right as adventurers