Gabriel floated the stonelight until it hovered a mere inch from the ground in the chamber below. Seeing nothing hostile, he descended the ladder, axe handle in his mouth, sword loose in its scabbard, shield properly strapped to his arm. He breathed a heavy sigh of relief as his feet touched the ground without getting knocked off the ladder.
He found himself in a room almost as large as the chapel about, the walls covered in various paintings. A hallway led off from what Gabriel figured was the back of the building. On closer inspection, the pictures revealed a woman, who Gabriel figured to be Rianna, tending to various animals, including wolves. All of the images seemed to take place in a forested area. One of the pictures seemed to call out to him.
The image consisted of three panels, looking kind of like a story. The first panel had what looked to be a werewolf kneeling before Rianna in what appeared to be a glen, a small stream in the background. The second panel was much like the first, but there was a circle of stones above the werewolf’s head. The final image depicted a man kneeling in place before Rianna. Gabriel was unsure of what he was looking at, but could not get the nagging feeling that he was seeing something important out of his head.
The oppressive feeling was even stronger below ground, and the air seemed to get thicker as he made his way back toward the hallway. Cautiously, he walked down the hallway, and found that after about fifty feet, it made a sharp turn and continued another fifty feet or so before abruptly ending. Three doors lined the left side of the hall, and he approached the first one, the air burning in his chest. The door itself was large and made out of wood, a small slit at the bottom and a barred window at about eye level. Sending the stonelight in through the window revealed a small room, maybe ten feet on a side. A human looking skeleton hang from the far wall, shackles and a long piece of chain tethering it to the wall. Thankfully, it did not stir when the light fell upon it, so Gabriel moved to the next room.
The door to the second room was similar to the first, but the inside was much different. The floor of the room was bare, where there had been long rotted straw covering the first. Two of the walls held crude drawings, one looked to be a study much like the one in the Rectory, and the other wall had a lighthouse sitting on a peninsula overlooking a bay drawn on it. Gabriel pushed on the door and heard, more than felt it open, the hinges groaning from lack of use. Gabriel approached the drawings and realized that they were not actually drawings, but had been etched into the stone walls. Looking at the lighthouse, Gabriel thought he could hear seagulls in the distance, but knew it was his mind playing tricks on him due to the tough time he was having breathing.
The last room contained the beast that the little girl had spoke of. It was chained to the wall, much like the skeleton in the first room. Its skin hung loose about its body, the hair thin and gray. At first Gabriel was weary of the beast, but then realized that the girl had been correct, it was dead. Gabriel opened the door, which swung silently on its hinges. Gabriel approached the werewolf, sword in hand, and poked its outstretched feet with the tip of his blade. He jumped back, half expecting it to lash out at him. When it did not move, he approached it and could barely breath at all.
Gabriel searched his mind. He knew that Father Meinos, or Lear, or possibly Cailin, had told him something about werewolves who did not get their proper burial, something about them being trapped on where they had died. It occurred to Gabriel that the oppressive force he and the others were feeling was coming from the dead beast. Reaching out, he tried to remove the creature from the manacles. It was so thin that the hands just slid out and the creature just slumped to the ground.
Gabriel traversed back up to the Chapel where he found the people he had rescued still milling about. He pointed to two of the larger men and told them to bring the dead creature up and set it outside on the barren earth. They began to protest, but a sharp look from one of the woman set them straight.
“Sorry Master,” she said.
“Don’t be too sorry, I understand. If you others will help me get the one I killed outside too, I will begin to release them to The one.”
The other three men began to collect the body from the blood slick that lay beneath it and carried it outside.
“Don’t forget its hand,” Gabriel called after them. He turned back to the apologetic woman. “When everyone is back up here, I want you to return to town and let Father Craig know that I will need his Atwans here. Make sure to tell him there are two werewolves.”
“Craig has returned? Did he bring everyone with him?”
“Everyone that went, yes.”
She began to weep, “Then there is hope.”
“I am sorry, but I have to ask, did you know who either of them was?”
“We think the one you killed was Corey, he fell ill shortly after Ezekial did, the other one, I have no idea, but it looks like it had been down there for a long time.
All pieces of both bodies outside, the group of survivors said their thanks and their farewells and headed up the road, back towards Garinth and Gabriel set about his preparations.
He anointed both bodies with oil like Lear had shown him to, and sprinkled a packet of fresh herbs over each of them, and then, before setting them on fire retrieved a fang from each. The tooth came out of the forgotten beast easily, but Gabriel had a rather difficult time pulling the fang from the werewolf he had killed. It finally out, he set the two beasts on fire, and despite the heat from the flames, the air immediately seemed a little cooler and his laboring breath came easier.
When Craig showed up almost two hours later, the bodies were almost completely burned to bone and ash, and he had finished the etching of Corey’s tooth and had signed his name onto his Scroll of Remembrance. He had done as much as he could with the other corpse and the air was finally cool again and his breathing was as easy as it had ever been.
“Well met young Master,” Craig said as he approached. “I hear that you killed two werewolves?”
“No, I only killed one, the other one was haunting this place. It was already dead, shackled in the basement. I just released him to The One.”
“Ah well, the one Thanks you then.”
“I don’t know his name, do you have any ideas?”
“If I have to guess, this was Boz’s son, Thatcher. If he was alive, he would thank you.”
Gabriel finished the Rites, and the next morning after digging the fangs back up, broke his camp and headed toward Garinth.