Consecrated Ground

Gabriel looked back toward where the door of the Chapel was, but the light was blocked by a large figure.  Backlit, all the young man could see was the silhouette of the creature, its shoulder’s almost as broad as it’s torso was tall.  The figure raised its head to howl, and the Paladin knew by the canine-like shape, what he was dealing with.

Unarmed, Gabriel panicked for a moment before remembering the axe hanging from his belt.  He managed to get it unclasped and into a half decent ready position before the werewolf leapt at him again.  He braced his axe arm against the ground and felt the hot blood seep out of the creatures arm as it landed upon the blade.  It snarled and snapped at Gabriel’s face, the drool dripping onto his nose, but the teeth closed on air.

Gabriel thought he was imagining things, but when the weight lifted off of his chest, he realized that the beast had indeed been knocked aside by something else.  The young man sprang to his feet, unsure of who his savior was, but thankful nonetheless.  He looked around for his sword and shield and noticed them by an opening in the stage, where the lectern had once stood.  There was a man standing near him, smiling, so Gabriel tossed him the axe and then dashed for his other equipment, managing to pick the shield up by its handle, but did not slide his hand through the extra support strap.  The sword fit easily into his other hand and he came up into a crouch facing where he had seen the werewolf flung.  In the second he stood there, the top of another head peeked up through the opening in the floor.

“Get down,” Gabriel shouted, as he uncoiled his legs and made a leap of his own at the flying creature that was about to tackle his earlier savior.  He managed to intercept the werewolf and both forms landed with an audible oomf, the larger, hairier form managing to break the smaller one’s fall.  The hot and heavy air clung in his chest, making it hard to recover.  Gabriel took a deep breath and pushed himself off the ground.

As the two forms rose, Gabriel struck out with his shield, connecting with the beasts lupine skull.  Another snarl met the Paladin as it shrugged off the blow and lashed out, tearing the shield from Gabriel’s hand.  The next moment, his axe bounced off of the beasts head and clattered to the floor.  Both Gabriel and the werewolf looked at the figure that had thrown the weapon, who shrugged.  Gabriel focused a second quicker and managed to get his sword to bite into the unwounded arm of the creature, cutting through the sinew that held the clawed hand in place and sending it spinning into the distance.

The beast let out an unearthly shriek as blood sprayed out of the flailing wrist.  Its eyes red, it zeroed in on Gabriel and came in with its remaining hand leading.  It managed to grab ahold of the young man’s hair and pulled his face toward the open jaws.

Gabriel could feel the warmth of the beasts breath and could smell its last meal.  Not wanting to end up a snack, he lashed out with one of his feet, sending himself sprawling, but connecting with the werewolf’s stomach, losing a patch of hair as the creature was jerked backwards from the force of the kick.

Gabriel slipped in the large pool of blood as he tried to get up, but no attack came.  Looking towards where he had sent the werewolf, he could see its shape huddled on the floor, the blood still pumping out of where its hand was once been attached.  The young man cautiously approached the beast, who growled and feebly lashed out with its good claw, which Gabriel easily avoided.  Quickly stepping inside the creature’s reach, Gabriel stabbed the beast in the center of its chest and watched the final light wink out of its almost pitch black eyes.

He reached out and closed the two eyes and turned to find the man who had earlier saved him helping others out of the open trapdoor in the pulpit.  “Are you the folks from Garinth?”  Gabriel panted.

“Aye we are, did they send you to find us?”  The man called back over his shoulder.

Gabriel thought about how to explain the situation to these people.  He realized that their families were almost all dead and they had nothing to return to.  He did his best with the telling of the tale, and soon, the four women that had come out of the hole were crying, as were the two children.  The five men remained stoic, but Gabriel could see their quivering lips.

Gabriel checked himself out, but except for a small scrape on his shield hand and a couple of bruises, he found that he was in relatively good condition. “How are all of you holding up, what were you doing down there?”

One of the children, a girl about half his age, told him that they had hid in the basement to get away from the monsters.

“And then we couldn’t get out.  Do you have any water?”

Gabriel produced a water stone and filled a basin that one of the other survivors uprighted with clean water.  All eleven of the survivors crowded around, complaining of how dry their throats were and how hot the air was for so late in the year.

“What is this place?” Asked Gabriel as he produced a few more stones and brought a stonelight into existence.

“It was a temple dedicated to Rianna, she was the Goddess of the forests and all of its creatures in the old religion.”  One of the men said, “if you go down below you will see depictions of her.”

“Yeah,” the girl that spoke earlier said, “the pictures are pretty.  Butt the dead thing down their smelled bad.”

The building creaked in what Gabriel hoped was the wind, and the air seemed even thicker, the walls even closer in.  “What dead thing?”

“I think it was a werewolf Master,” said the man who had saved him from the other dead Plague victim.

The End

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