Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 8 (Day 2)

Michael O. Varhola

Read "Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 7"

Selene and Paros both noticed the hideous, sickening stench of corruption at about the same time but, before either of them could react to it, a humanoid mass of cold flesh, fangs, and talons slammed into the priestess. From the corner of her eye, Parthenia had seen something erupt out of the open vault and shoot across the hallway, landing hard on Selene's back and driving her to the ground. As it grappled with her, the gray-skinned undead monster sank its teeth into the side of the priestess's neck, causing her to scream in fear and agony — and then, abruptly, to go limp and collapse to the floor. 

Horrified, Paros drew his sword and began to advance on the monster and, as he did, felt his breakfast shoot up into his mouth and then erupt past his teeth, spattering on the floor and dripping down his neatly-trimmed beard. He staggered forward and slashed weakly at the emaciated monster, the taut, withdrawn flesh of its face giving it a somewhat canine aspect. 

Parthenia, fearful that she might accidently strike one of her companions if she fired an arrow into the melee, dropped her bow, whisked her greatsword from its scabbard, and leapt forward into the fray. As she approached the ghoul-thing, however, she, too, was overcome by its stench, and staggered as if struck by an invisible hand, vomiting as she did. 

Snarling, the creature squatted in a defensive position near Selene, glancing hungrily at her but wary of the two sickened adventurers advancing on it with their blades. They could not easily flank it, as if either of them tried to get to the other side of the creature they would be exposed to its vicious attacks, so they simply advanced on it side-by-side. Now that they were able to look at it, they could see it was more-or-less male and that the only thing adorning its naked form was a pectoral made from wedges of red gold, smaller toward the outside and larger toward the middle, each set with a small bloodstone. Hanging from the mouth of the vault from which it had leapt were the shredded remains of the funerary robes in which it must have been buried. 

Paros lurched forward and slashed at the creature again with his short sword and this time managed to connect with it, although