'Swords of Kos: Necropolis' Chapter 1

Michael O. Varhola

Following is Chapter 1 of  Swords of Kos: Necropolis , a fantasy novel written by author Michael O. Varhola and published by Skirmisher Publishing LLC. 

Paros could only venture a guess as to how many graves the forsaken burial ground in the little valley before him contained. North to south, it ran about a half mile and, from where he stood beside the wrought-iron fence that zigzagged along its eastern edge, it stretched about a quarter mile to the base of the hills that surrounded it. The rolling, broken ground of this unkempt area was heavily overgrown with grass, vines, copses of scrubby little oaks and brushy gray-green juniper, great clumps of flowers in every color, and probably every other sort of vegetation native to the island of Kos. Obelisks, statues of patron deities, and other stones marking the gravesites of families and individuals lay broken and tumbled amongst the rampant growth, and mausoleums of every size were interspersed throughout. 

Paros did not know the extent to which this place had been looted over the century since it was last known to have been used but there were undoubtedly hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of graves that had not yet been pillaged. And they were not even the object of their quest, which was marked by the small, columned temple of black marble that he could see halfway up one of the hills at the other end of the cemetery. And there was no telling what else might be hidden within this wild, desolate place. ... 

A firsthand look at the necropolis revealed the truth of much of what Paros had read about it. He noted, for example, the placement of the largest and most elaborate tombs and cenotaphs upon the highest and most attractive spots which, he recalled, had been claimed by the most prominent families, leaving less desirable ones to lesser clans. Paros could also clearly see the chaotic nature of the cemetery, which corresponded to the flow and features of the natural terrain rather than any prevailing central organization; pockets of the place had been laid out on grids, circles, or other patterns, but much of this had been undone or obscured by a century of wild growth and decay. At some point — some hundreds of years after people had begun using the place as a burial ground and perhaps a century-and-a-half before Paros and Parthenia arrived at it — the priests of Hades Polydegmon, “He Who Receives Many,” arrived and built the dark