The dank smell of fetid water and decaying flesh assailed their noses from the slight breeze coming from the passageway. It no longer sloped downward, but stretched forward into darkness, a single point of faint light in the distance.
"Well, I'm guessing this leads to the new 'god' they must have." BA wrinkled his nose. "I can kill that, can't I?"
Vic slipped his left hand into the lining of his vest and pulled out two pieces of linen. Soaking them both in water he gave one to BA and tied the other over his face, covering his nose and mouth. "You can kill any gods we run across, with prejudice." Vic grinned, the corners of his eyes crinkling. "And even though you won't need help, I'd be delighted to assist you."
The two brothers turned off their lights and five minutes of stealthy travel brought them to a murky pool and the source of the rancid odors. A large crocodile, easily fifteen feet long, lay dozing at the edge of a pool, which glowed with light coming from a slight opening below the surface of the water. The crocodile's eyes were closed, and its chest moved up and down evenly. The crocodile was pure white, from its nose to the end of its tail. It lay in the shallow end of the water, small ripples splashing quietly against the scales. Various decaying bodies littered the small cavern floor.
"I thought we had to go through the rooms in the book and drop through the hole in the floor of the jail cell," whispered Vic.
"Guess we bypassed that," BA whispered back, as his eyes scanned the ground near the crocodile. "You notice anything odd about all those corpses?"
Vic looked silently for a moment. "Yeah, they all look like cattle. Not a human in sight." He looked at the many bones. "Some of the bones are a good size though."
BA nodded, then touched Vic's arm, pointing near the edge of the water, on the other side of the massive beast. "There's a knife by the water. I think I can get to it. It's better than the pieces of bone lying around." He kept his voice low so that only Vic could hear him.
Vic nodded, dimly visible in the low light. "I see it. That light from the water is coming from outside. If I were a betting man..."
"You are," whispered BA, grinning.
Vic shook his head, also grinning. "... right. If I were a betting man, I'd say that light is from the pool where they make the sacrifices."
"So a way out?"
Vic made a low noise in his throat. "Yes, back through the village, but that's not an option. We're in the god's cave, so if we go through that uphill passage to the left we should get out on the glacier ledge."
BA nodded. "Right. And from the ledge, over the chasm and back to the plane."
"First things first. I think we need to get rid of the god."
BA grinned broadly. "Finally, something to make this adventure worth the time." Reaching into his pants pockets he drew out his fingerless leather gloves and slipped them on.
BA slipped past his brother and moved toward the knife, crossing the bone-strewn cavern floor as silently as a shadow. As he stepped in front of the great beast, he stopped, frozen in his tracks.
Two giant yellow orbs stared at him unblinking. Almost casually the large reptile opened its massive jaws. Its breath smelled like rotting meat and BA was glad for the covering over his nose and mouth as the beast rumbled deep in its chest. It moved toward BA, its feet scrabbling on the rocks making loud clicking sounds.
"Well … crap," said BA von Crapp.
Next part, next Wednesday.
Author commentary (if I have one)