By The Gods

Gabriel realized that indeed, he was ready to fight werewolves.  He quickly ate and made sure that all of his supplies were full.  The temple had plenty of herbs to restock all of his satchels.  He looked his ink over and decided that he would not need to refill it for a long while.  His final check was for the alcohol that was used to help the bodies on their way to ashes.  He filled a pair of flasks and strung them to his saddle, hoping that it would be plenty.

He then went looking for Renault and found him on the other side of the town, using a small knife to carve something out of a piece of wood.  “Are you ready?”

“Almost,”  Renault made two more strokes with his blade and then sheathed it.  “Aye, I am now.”  He then placed the whittled piece of wood into a small pouch that hung from his belt and untied his horse from a nearby tree.  “I will meet you on the road toward the chapel,” he said to the unmounted Gabriel.

Gabriel ran back to where his horse was waiting and grabbing the reins, the young man and his mount met Renault at the appointed spot.

Craig walked up as they departed and waved to the two Paladins as the rode out of sight.

The two rode in silence for a few minutes until Gabriel broke it.  “Have you ever heard of Rianna?”

“She is the old god.”

As they approached the chapel Gabriel had rescued the townsfolk from, he tried to draw Renault out.  “What do you mean, what do you know of her?”

“They say she granted boons to her followers in the way of allowing them to become part animal.”

“Like the werewolves?”

“Actually, I have heard it told that they Plague was her last curse before The One locked her in Avanhal.”

“You mean The One and her fought?”

“Hundreds of years ago, yes.”

“And the plague is a result of this fight?”

“That is what I was told, but it is all legends now.”

“And she is locked in Avanhal now?  Where is that?”

“Like I said, this is all stories I was told growing up, I don’t believe any of it.  And I am not sure that Avanhal even exists.”

“Oh,” they had passed the chapel, the earth still scorched where Gabriel had released the two werewolves to the One.  “So do you think that has something to do with why they attack every ten years?”

“What do you mean?” the question hung in the air for a moment, but before Gabriel could respond, Renault caught the meaning. “Oh, I guess it is possible that it is part of the curse.”

“I have so many questions for Father Meinos…”  Gabriel realized what he had said and hung his head.  “I hope he’s alright.”

“Yeah, so do I.”  Renault’s tone was sullen.  “Look ahead.”  He loosened the scabbards on both of his blades, and slowed his horse down, Gabriel doing the same as the rounded a bend and saw a group of about two dozen buildings that had been previously blocked by the woods that lined the road to their right.

“Renault, don’t die here, I still have more questions for you.”

“Thanks Gabriel,”  This drew a smile, the first one the younger Paladin had seen the older man flash since he had arrived in Garinth.

The two Paladins entered the small settlement in silence.  The first thing Gabriel noticed was how silent everything was.  He dismounted, and Renault followed, and they tied their horses up to a post that was outside the first building.

Gabriel looked through a window and was greeted by a thick layer of dust.

“Anything?”  Renault asked from nearby, where he was looking in through another piece of glass, also frosted over with a thick coat of grime.

“No, I am going to go in and look.”  Gabriel said as he rounded the corner to where the door was.

Gabriel drew his sword and readied his shield before he threw open the door, causing the dust on the ground to kick up.  After he had finished coughing and the dust had settled, the younger man found himself in what appeared to be a room similar to any he had ever been in, a small cot in a corner.  The only difference, at least in the quick glance that Gabriel gave the room, was that the stove was clay whereas the ones he was used to were made out of iron.  Declaring the room empty, he left it and found Renault standing guard outside the door.

The second building was much the same as far as the windows were concerned, but they had found the door open.  The room looked to have been ransacked by some animal, broken pots were all over the ground and the only table was tipped on its side.

The third room showed a more recent inhabitant, or at least more recent evidence that someone had been by.  A footprint appeared in the dust that covered the floor, but there was no other evidence of anyone living there.

As they walked to the fourth building, a howl, which was taken up by many more lupine voices, escaped from further into the small set of structures.  Gabriel took off running and rounding the corner of the last of the buildings, encountered a scene he had not ever expected to see.

A ring of werewolves, Gabriel could not count how many, they were moving so much, surrounded a single man.  Throwing caution to the wind, he charged, foregoing a battle cry for the element of surprise.  His sword bit deep into one a werewolf covered in dark brown fur, its torso partially concealed by what appeared to have once been a light brown tunic that was covered in what looked to be dried blood.  Its own blood mixed quickly on its tunic and it fell away, revealing Gabriel’s first real glimpse at the victim of the attack.

A man in his mid thirties, a trimmed black goatee above a polished steel breastplate looked back at him.  He nodded his approval and launched himself at one of the werewolves in the undulating circle.

The End

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