The snaked raised up and tasted the air with its tongue, dropping the rat as its black eyes focused on Zanevon. It slithered closer. Zane clenched his right fist and jerked backwards as if pulling an invisible string. A wisp of sparkling, translucent mist came out of the snake and whirled around Zane's fist until it dissipated. The snake dropped with a thud to the tunnel floor. Zane paused to quell his panic. He kicked the snake carcass with his boot, testing for life, and found none. He held up his lantern and located the dead rat. He picked up the wet, limp form with his right hand and brought his lips near the rat's mouth. He sucked in his breath and something like dark smoke withdrew from the little carcass. He exhaled into the tiny form and it wriggled to life. He set it down on the stone lip just above the waterline. It scampered off into the darkness. Zanevon smiled another brief, wry smile.
He continued his journey through the sewers, following the twists and turns of the main passage, then veered into a succession of several smaller side passages before stopping at a narrow ladder covered in black mold. He looked up. The top of the ladder disappeared into the gloom. He was at one of the deepest points in the sewer, at least sixty feet below ground. He extinguished his lantern and climbed up into daylight, emerging into a narrow alley that opened across from a neglected hovel with boarded windows. A dingy sign out front hung askew from a weathered pole and displayed a caricature of a grinning skull with a jagged red line across its forehead. The Cracked Skull Tavern. In the snowy gutter beneath the sign lay the body of a man.
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