Return to the Necropolis: Chapter 8 (Day 2)

Michael O. Varhola

not to great effect; its flesh was hard and rubbery and the wound he inflicted oozed a little but did not actually bleed or seem to cause much discomfort. As Paros withdrew Parthenia lunged forward, slashing with the keen, narrow blade of her great two-handed sword, but the ghoul ducked low to the ground, neatly evading the attack and passing under the whistling blade. It then leapt like a dog straight at Paros and slammed into him, knocking him to the floor and snapping at his face and throat; the rogue managed to drive his sword up between himself and the monster and tried to push the monster away with his free hand, but could feel its rotting charnel breath bearing down on his face. 

The Elven woman pressed her attack, leaping forward in a berserk rage and grasping her sword like a giant dagger, one hand on the hilt and the other on the ricasso, the leather-wrapped area at the base of the blade, and thrust the weapon straight down toward the creature's back. The weapon pierced the tough gray flesh of the monster's upper back, toward the left side, and the enraged barbarian pushed down hard and rammed the blade right through it by about six inches, narrowly missing the rogue pinioned beneath the monster. It screamed in rage but continued to tear at Paros with its talons and to bite at his face, even as he tried to get the tip of his sword into contact with it so that he, too, could impale it. Before the rogue could, however, he felt the filthy claws tear into his arm — and then, even as he felt the hot agony of his flesh being shredded, he sensed his blood chill and his limbs grow heavy, and, like Selene, slumped limp on the floor, paralyzed and helpless.

Parthenia stepped back, wrenching the long blade from the ghoul with a jerk. As she did, it pounced at her, clawing and snarling, its talons seeking flesh unprotected by the ancient bronze breastplate that protected her and its fangs snapping at the opening in her crested Corinthian helmet. Screaming in rage, she began to slam the pommel of her greatsword into the monster's head and back as it tore at her, clutching the hilt in one hand and the ricasso in the other. There were a number of sickening crunching sounds as