Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The plot thickens

Trask woke late again the next morning. He had been awake late into the night trying to organize the meager facts at his disposal into a coherant whole. Finally, he had drifted off into a fitful sleep haunted by strange dreams. He came down to the common room, ordered his breakfast and considered the strange sense of forboding that had weighed on him since he came to Eppstein. The note had said he was in danger but he was used to that. This was something else. There was something uncanny about this whole district. The sooner he wrapped this business up and returned to Ardoberg, the happier he would be. While eating his breakfast, Trask casually observed the others in the room. The landlord and his daughter were trying too hard to act as if nothing was amiss but the other two men were more interesting. They appeared to be lingering over their coffee at the other end of the room but they were clearly here to keep an eye on him, and were doing it badly.  The pair were young, wore swords and were dressed in a shabby rural imitation of gentlemen of fashion. he had noticed others like them the previous day swaggering around the village market square in ones and twos. He considered amusing himself by confronting the men but decided it would serve his purpose better if he seemed not to notice their observation mission.

At midday Trask made his way through the market square to the back of the church. There he found the landlord's daughter, a burly monk and a small dark man. Before Trask could speak the monk usered the group through the back door into the church. The monk bolted the front door and then strode back to the group beaming a cheery welcome. It occurred to Trask that this was the first smile he had seen since entering Eppstein.

"My name is Brother Michael, and I am most pleased to welcome you to our town, Captain. (My God, thought Trask, what kind of accent is that?) We are faced with a dire situation and we can use all the help we can get.  My order, The Irish Christian Brothers, has a unique mission. The Devil's servants are many and he seduces them to his service by tempting them to embrace occult practices. These soldiers of Satan take many forms. My Order is dedicated to hunting them down and destroying them. This benighted corner of Europe seems to be a center of such activity, and so, well, here I am. Magda, (nodding toward the landlord's daughter) you have met. This gentleman is Bottoni. He comes to us from the Vatican. He has slain more of the Devil's disciples than any other man I know. Mother Church sends him to help resolve particularly difficult situations, and I fear our situation is particularly difficult."
Trask looked at Bottoni. The man was slightly built. His clothing was plain and practical, but of a high quality, and his manner was formal. The most striking thing about the man was his eyes. They were dead, like those of a soldier who had seen too much. Such men killed easy and died easy. He would be useful in a fight but would bear watching lest his recklessness put them all at risk.
Brother Michael spoke again, breaking the reverie Bottoni's apearance had sent Trask into.
"The troubles of this unfortunate town began when the Mayor married an impoverished noblewoman from back in the hills. We know now that this woman was one of the Devil's servants and she lost no time in seducing her new husband into the occult. This woman is a werewolf, a human who can change into a wolf. A werewolf is no ordinary beast. They are much larger and more powerful, and they thirst for human blood. The murders in this area were certainly done by this daughter of the devil, and now she and her husband have vanished into the forest along with several of the young men of the town who were drawn into her wicked practices. We must hunt down and slay this woman and her followers before her cult spreads."

Trask was bemused by this eccentric Irish monk and his tale of monsters and devils. He didn't doubt this woman was a bad one who had drawn her husband and a few of the local bravos into a life of brigandage, but he seriously doubted that she could turn herself into some sort of monsterous wolf. He had heard such tales when he was in short pants and he even had heard foolish adults repeating such nonsense, but he had never in all his travels seen such a thing. Still, the disorder had to be suppressed. The group spent the afternoon discussing ways and means. With the Mayor gone, there was noone in a position of authority in the town. The mayor's wife, when she had been in residence, had exercised quite a lot of influence on the young men of the town. The swaggering young buffoons with swords at their hips were her admirers. Life had been increasingly difficult in the town since the mayor left and these young bullies had filled the vacuum left by his departure. Trask wondered if the pair watching him at the inn were in contact with the Mayor and his wife.    


1 comment:

  1. Ah yes, the "children of the night" . . . well, we shall just have to wait, won't we?

    -- Jeff