"Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below ;
But nothing drear can move me :
I will not, cannot go." The Night is Darkening Around Me, Emily Bronte
Whitely stepped out of the building, his fear matched only by his anger which burned with such an intesity that it shocked even him. Yet his mind was concentrated on one point which his legs carried him to... the edge of the cliff.
All about him, animals screamed to be heard. Insects chirruping in a mass crescendo. Owls hooted, calling him to stop, to go back. He would not be stopped, he would not go back.
There was nothing to it. He feared death greatly, he feared what it would hold for a man like him... even worse was the fear of what the creature might do to him that prayed on sin. But this was his only chance to start afresh.
Soon came he upon the clifftop, looking down upon the sight. He glanced over the edge, down to the distant floor. He swayed sickeningly for a moment before steadying himself, yet part of him wanted to fall.
He heard a twig snap behind him. He whipped round to meet his assailant head on. There would be no hiding from him. His hatred radiated in heated waves towards the creature, almost luring it out. But whatever it was remained in shadow except the eyes which were black and bloodshot. It was tall, so tall it dwarfed the poor man whos knees buckled at the sight and he fell to the ground in fear and frustration. For he could not look away. His mind was brought back to the night of the theft. The time he hit his sister and took her money. The time he shared a bed with his brother's wife. So angry and ashamed was he at himself that he could not do anything. A dark shadow gripped his mind, something strange was happening to him that he could not comprehend, as if his soul was being taken from his body.
But through the red mist of pain and malevolence, a cold, steel determination came through.
"You murdered my friend, you destroyed him and ended my life. GO BACK TO THE HELL FROM WHENCE YOU CAME!"
He quickly raised the gun and shot. The bullet hit the side of the creature who ran towards him. It grabbed him and hoisted him up. He fought hard, squirming and faintly batting at the arm and shoulder that grabbed him. The thing punched him once in the stomach and he stopped moving. It punched him again and he winced. Blood trickled from his mouth. A final punch and there was no movement at all.
The thing threw his body away and left.
Whitely fell to the ground, his blurred vision taking in nothing but the light of the moon. It was only a reflection of light, not really light at all, just as Brakkens hope had been only the vague reflection the hope which Ward had offered him. His hand moved to the pocket, then to his chest. His whole world was shaking as the darkness closed around him, engulfing him till he could see nothing, feel nothing. Nothing.
One single motion shared by many. The inhabitants of the Tavern awoke from a bad dream. Then collectively, each knew exactly what had happened though each to a different degree. Some stayed in bed to endure a fitful sleep, others got up and left their rooms to move downstairs, knowing something wasn't quite right.
They met in the main room. The door was banging against the wall, the wind howling threateningly. Rain pounded down onto the floor, soaking and flooding the wood. There was lightning in the distance followed by the inevitable boom of thunder. Nothing was visible apart from the faint outlines of the trees. Then from the gloom, there appeared running, a hooded figure. He stumbled into the building, panting. He pulled down the cowl, a sombre, sorrowful look on his face. He glanced at their faces, understanding dawning. They had all stood there, as if awaiting his arrival.
"There has been another death," the Forrester anounced.
"Just as I had gathered, yet it intrigues me why you are out late, woodcutter..."
"It's Carpenter, John Carpenter and-"
"Are you accusing him of murder?" The Lady said outraged.
Brakken smiled victoriously, mischief evident in his eyes, "that is all," he nodded, as if excusing himself from the dinner table. Carpenter stared meaningfully at Eventide, then quickly looked away.
"Let us go, while the body is still whole and intact, untouched by the scavengers of the night. Oh, and bring a spade," he led the way for a reluctant party who had gathered their travel-ware in the face of such a maelstrom as to challenge even the wrath of God.
It was only soon when they came hence upon the body of Whitely. Such a terrible sight, for his clothes about the heart were ripped, his bones apparently caved in and severely bruised. The Lady moaned in despair, the rest looked upon the sight in great sadness. Immediately, Carpenter got to work, hacking a small grave into the ground. Once he had finished, the other men grabbed his limp body and placed it into the hole.
At one point, a man stepped forward and brandished from and inside pocket of his long coat, a bible, "I am a servant of the Lord, follower of God, let me offer this poor soul a prayer if nothing else," the rest nodded silently, crossing themselves, "very well, forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God of his great mercy to take unto himself the soul of our dear brother here departed, we therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto his glorious body, according to the mighty working, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself."
"Oh what is the use," Wood cried out, "are we not all doomed, are not our days now numbered?" he broke off angrily from the line, "the demon will kill us all, everyone of us are subject to it's merciless hands!"
"Quiet down man and stop your pitiful wailing!" Carpenter snapped, "this is no time for despair, this is the time of which we must act to put a stop to this villainy," his face lighted as the thought crossed his mind, "yes, we must fight the very thing that would have us cower as dogs in the face of the cruel hand of the master," his voice rose, happily he tried to rally them, "we shall strike tomorrows eve, when the moon first gives light. We shall hunt the hunter and kill the killer... and we shall be victorious!"
"You think it is as easy as this?" Wood scoffed, "you think that the demon shall stand and let us have our way?" Wood looked out at them all, "this is a servant of the Devil, Lucifers spawn, and such we shall be victims to it's evil ways-"
"That is how the Devil would have you think, my child," spoke up the clergyman, "'The Devil himself, which is the author of confusion and lies' you should remember that Lucifer did not attempt to defeat God with the head of a lion but that of a snake, his forked tongue uttering gifts of power, but there is hope, 'submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.'"
"Then so we have it," Carpenter called, "tomorrow indeed we shall fight in the name of God!"