Alluxus gave the rope wound tightly around his waist two hard pulls and his companions stopped lowering him into the pit.
The thief hung suspended in darkness, his torch only giving off a small pool of illumination.
Two tugs for stop, one for go and three meant "get me the hell out of here", he hoped he wouldn't be needing the third.
Leaning forward, careful not to up set the rope harness too much Alluxus peered at the walls of the shaft.
His torch offered only meagre light but in its yellow flame he could just make out the ancient mural that covered the walls, worn smooth by the passing of eons.
"What's wrong, Fingers?" a gruff voice barked from above where his companions waited.
"We don't have much time," the voice of the swordsman Drul came again.
The party's sorceress Isparla had said she'd cast a spell that would silence the loud clanking and groaning of pulley system but the crypt creepers still didn't risk staying exposed on the streets of Oxy for too long.
A patrol of temple guards could easily chance upon the group feeding a rope into a big gaping hole in the middle of an alley way.
But Alluxus ignored the muffled growling of his comrades as he wiped centuries worth of dust and grime from the wall revealing art work that had never seen the light of day.
Early Uritian work, probably he mused, tracing his his finger along the flowing runes.
Some sort of warning?
Leaning back so that he could take in the full picture he spotted first a feline-like foot in the far edge of his light source and then gasped as he discovered the entire picture.
Above he could hear the angry muttering of Drul and the female wizard.
Metres below street level the thief hung in wonder at what he had discovered.
Before him a beautifully worked mural of gold leaf and other wondrous paints depicted a great lion-man creature attempting to bring down a warrior kitted out in golden armour.
The picture had faded horribly and much of the lion was gone but the image was unmistakable.
"We've certainly found it - this is it," he shouted.
"What?" came the muffled reply from above.
"This is certainly the tomb of Ralj the Pious. We're going to be rich very shortly."
But deep below Alluxus could hear something stirring, a rapid slithering sound emerged in the darkness as something was awoken by all the commotion.
Alluxus looked down nervously as the sound became louder.
Above him, his companions ignored his frantic, repeated tugging on the rope.
"What? Have you been reading again, Fingers?"
Alluxus the thief
Weapons: sword (d6), daggers, Crossbow
Languages: Lemurian, Sorceric.
Boons: Blind Combat
Alluxus was born Alluxus deStan, eldest son of the Lord deStan, a wealthy noble of Oxy.
All of this changed when he was five. The deStan family had been locked in a cold war with another one of the city's noble houses, the Ricol for close to a decade and finally Lord Hassid Ricol found a way to bring his rival down.
A "loyal" retainer of the deStans, allowed the Ricol swordsmen into the family villa one stormy night.
Aided by hired killers and magic the Ricol family fell on their rivals, overpowering the men at arms and dragging every member of the family out into the courtyard for execution.
Alluxus' father, mother and five siblings were beheaded in the courtyard along with several cousins, hangers on and men at arms. The Ricol's sword arm was red to the shoulder that night as he personally saw to the slayings.
However Alluxus' wet nurse swapped her own son with Alluxus so that the young peasant boy was hacked in two by the Ricol while the young noble scion was spared and sold into slavery with the remaining servants and retainers.
Heartbroken at what she had done the wet nurse hurled herself on Ricol's sword moments after her son's death.
But now the pampered boy was a slave, sold to slavers who sold him onto the salt mines of Carage on the edge of the Phut plains.
Most five-year-olds would have died within weeks but Alluxus was helped by a former thief by the name of Lance, sold to the mines when he was caught lifting a merchant's purse.
Lance first taught the lad to survive and later how to walk without making a sound, how to pick a pocket or a lock and evade traps.
By the age of 15 Alluxus and his new friend had planned their escape. Sadly before they could break free Lance caught the flux and died, forcing the teenager to escape on his own.
He returned to the city of his birth where he lived like a rat - thieving for food and living in bolt holes, abandoned buildings and the streets - until a kindly old street scribe took him in.
Sensing Alluxus' wit and keen intelligence he taught the lad the trade until the lad was old enough to branch out on his own.
Things were not to be - by his 22nd year the would-be scribe had found that going straight was not as easy as he thought.
Now he once more travels the Thieves' Highway above the city streets and delves into ancient crypts and temples to make his living.