Gabriel looked around at the toppled and broken furniture that littered the foyer of the Rectory. A chair had been smashed to pieces and was now sitting in a pile in front of the stairwell, the hay from the cushion strewn about the room.
As he stared in disbelief at the wonton destruction, a loud crash from upstairs brought him back to reality.
Gabriel drew his sword, wishing he had remembered to grab the crossbow from his saddle, and, slipping his arm into his shield, began to creep up the spiral stairwell. At the top was a long hallway line with three doors and opening into a large windowed room that overlooked the small courtyard that Gabriel had once trained in.
Silently, Gabriel stalked down the hallway to the first door, which had been smashed in, pieces of the portal still hanging from the hinges. Sticking his head around the corner, the view was much the same as the foyer had offered him. A large sitting room had been destroyed, straw, wood, and stone decorations broken and carelessly tossed into every piece of free space.
A loud growl came from the next room, causing the hair on the back of Gabriel’s neck to stand up. Gabriel slinked down the hallway as quietly as he could and found the door, much like the first door, had been smashed off of its hinges. Loud grunts were coming from inside the room now, as well as the sound of things being smashed, and when Gabriel peeked around the corner, he saw what he had been afraid of. Standing in the middle of the room stood a large, werewolf with fur so dark, he thought it was black at first. Hanging in shreds from the gaunt body of the beast were the ceremonial robes that he had last seen Father Meinos in.
Gabriel could not help but let out a shocked gasp, and the creature spun, looking the young Paladin in the face. He thought he saw a glimmer of recognition there, but the beast kicked out, sending pieces of a broken bench flying at him. Gabriel ducked back around the corner and watched as the wood smashed into the opposite wall before, shield leading, he jumped into the doorway to meet the creature that had once been Father Meinos.
He was rewarded for his jump when the werewolf plowed into him, its arms outstretched, and crushed him against the same wall the the wood had been dashed against. All of the wind was expelled from Gabriel’s lungs as the beast took a step back and swiped out hard with one of its legs, the powerful muscles sending the foot directly into his jaw.
The young man felt something crack in his mouth, but tried his best to ignore the pain and lashed out feebly with his sword, knicking the werewolf’s forearm, causing it to bark at him in rage. The noise drew Gabriel’s head up, and again their eyes met. The glimmer of recognition still existed and the creature stumbled back a step. This presented an opportunity for Gabriel who shoved off of the wall, his shield braced in front of him, and smashed into the beast. His head was pressed against the backside of the shield, which jarred his face even more as he connected with the creature, causing it to snarl and regain its focus. It tried reaching around the shield to get at the young man but could not reach until it shifted from the side of the shield to the top. Gabriel screamed, an action that caused him great pain to begin with, as the werewolf dug its claws into his scalp.
Gabriel fell backwards in an effort to get away and whimpered as a chunk of his hair, as well as a large piece of flesh, came loose from his skull. The creature charged again but was stopped forcefully as Gabriel got his shield back into place at the last minutes, sending a jolt of pain up his arm, but also causing the beast to stagger momentarily. Recovered, Gabriel advanced upon the still foggy creature and lashed out with his blade, pulling back at the last minute and causing a small red line to open in the creatures chest. Eyes connected again and Gabriel staggered back under the force of what he saw there.
Howling, the creature threw itself at Gabriel again, the shield managing to keep the beast at bay. Shifting his grip on the sword, the young man connected across the werewolf’s temple with his weapon’s pommel, jarring his other arm, but also causing the beast to pause a moment. Gabriel swung again with the pommel and connected, the eyes of the beast going glassy before shutting.
He pushed the now limp body off of his shield and rolled it onto its back. Looking it over, the Paladin watched as the creatures chest still heaved, each breath drawing a rasping sound from its throat.
Crying, Gabriel looked around the room, looking for a way out of the situation when his eyes fell upon where the werewolf had been standing when he had interrupted it. A book lay open on the floor, the images within looked familiar to Gabriel from a few feet away, and drew him closer.
Knowing what must be done and fighting back the pain in both his scalp and his jaw, Gabriel withdrew all twelve of his stones and set them around the fallen creature. After this had been done, Gabriel collapsed onto the floor, feeling he was going to need all of his energy for what he was about to do. Concentrating despite the pain, Gabriel started with the Air stones, causing all twelve of the rocks to gently float and begin circling the werewolf. This action began to drain him and he felt his eyes getting heavy. He then shifted his focus to the water stones, causing water to rain down on the creature, washing it clean. The pair of cuts he had managed to score on the beast had already stopped bleeding, the water exposing the pink flesh through the coarse fur, which, once he was finished, was actually dark brown. Gabriel could no longer keep his eyes open and was having trouble finding the energy to keep his body upright. He concentrated upon the fire stones to help bring back the lively spirit of the once human Father Meinos, burning away the Curse from within. His body had gone completely limp, Gabriel’s head pounding from the energy he was using as well as his broken jaw. The young man could hear things cracking through the sobs he knew were coming from his own lips but could not find the energy to open his eyes to see what effect he was having upon the body. His final act was to use the earth stones to make his work permanent.
This done, Gabriel tried to open his eyes, but could not, all of his energy spent. His last memory was of the sound of the form in front of him stirring.