The Lost Letters of Brother Gabriel
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In Dijon, I discovered one of the knights, telling stories in a tavern of his courageous feats, poisoning the crowd with his lies. Flaming rage filled me once more, and that night I let myself become a demon again. I stalked the knight on his way home from the town’s square and killed him, and the tavern wench who hung on his arm, before he could speak another lie to anyone.
In Amiens, I tore the flesh from the man who laughed outside the church and said he enjoyed the smell of burning traitors, but only after I killed his son in front of him.
The third man must have heard of the others’ fate, for he fled to Venice before I could find him in Amiens as well. He must have supposed himself safe from a wolf in a city surrounded by water. I left his body in a canal.
I have punished many others who I have encountered in my journeys. Alas, the worst murderer of them all continues to elude me. I know he hides behind his unholy robes, seeking refuge in monasteries, cowering from the stories of the demon-wolf who seeks to destroy all the men who took part in the slaughtering of the Greek Christians.
I swear this to thee, Katharine: I will not rest until he pays for what he has done. If I cannot follow my Marie to heaven, then I will drag Father Miguel to hell with me.
No matter where he runs.
Oh, Katharine, what have I done?
I do not know why I write to thee now. Thou wilt never see this letter. Not unless the angels themselves were to light it to thee on their wings. Alas, no angel would dare to come near a demon as horrible as I.
Why did I not stay away?
When I heard Miguel had returned to our village, that he was living like a fatted pig on the hill overlooking the cottage I once shared with Marie, I should never have gone after him there. I should have fled as far from home as possible, stayed away from even the thought of seeing thee.
I should have known I wasn’t strong enough. I let the wolf force me home to our village. It told me I must finally take my vengeance against Miguel. Alas, I realize now it was not Miguel that the wolf wanted me to find.
It was thee, little sister.
When I came to our village, I wanted to go straightaway to destroy Miguel and leave before anyone recognized me. Only, the wolf in my head prodded me to go see thee first. It knew my heart and how badly I longed to be home with thee.
I thought I could watch thee from a distance so I could know that thou were happy in thy life with Simon Saint Moon. The wolf assured me it was what I must do if I were ever to rest.
I stood at the edge of the forest and watched thee pick sweet herbs from thy garden. Thou hadst grown so much in the last few years—from a girl into a woman. Thy hands were strong, and thy face was fuller and softer; I realize now from becoming a mother. Seeing thee was not enough. I wanted to embrace thee, and swing thee around in the air like I used to when we were young. I wanted to feel human and loved again.
Yet it was the love I felt for thee that frightened me. The wolf recognized that feeling and wanted me to kill thee. I could feel it writhing in my heart, under my skin. I fought with its howling cry for thy blood in my head. For every step I took farther back away from you, the wolf prodded me two steps forward. I prayed that thou hadst received my letters and the silver dagger, and that thou would know what I was, and what to do, if thou didst see me.
At one moment I thought thou didst see me at the edge of the forest, or maybe thou didst only sense the danger near thee. I watched thee straighten up and look into the forest, thy gathering basket clutched in thy hands. Then thou didst call out, “Doni, Doni, go into the house, my boy,” and I saw the toddling child for the first time. I watched his tiny feet as he followed your order and went into thy cottage with a small cloth doll, like the kind Marie happily made in anticipation for our own babe.
My heart felt like it had been ripped out by anger and grief as I remembered the child that should have been mine before Marie was taken from me. The child I would never have now.
A flaming pain overtook my body and I fell to the ground. I fought the beast, tried to keep it at bay. Alas, I knew I had lost the battle when a great howl surged through my body and everything went murky inside my mind.
I imagine thou didst not have enough time to run from thy garden to thy home when thou didst see the giant wolf lunge out of the forest. I seem to remember thy screams for Simon to keep Doni safe.
I awoke in the forest some time later. Blood painted my arms. Blood that smelled like sweet herbs from thy garden, and knew what I had done.
I am so sorry, Katharine. Thy love for me was the only possible cure to rid me of the curse of the demon-wolf, and now that thou art gone like Marie—as was the wolf’s greatest desire—I will be trapped in its claws forever. I wish only to die now, so I can receive my eternal damnation for what I have done to thee.
If thou findest my Marie in heaven, tell her I am not coming for her—if she does not know already what I have become.
I have forsaken my promise.
My Dearest Katharine,
I do not know why I write to thee again now, for I know thou art still gone. Yet I do so, for I hope it will help me feel human. That is the reason I still sketch thy and Marie’s faces in the dust each morning—so I don’t forget who I am.
I am not sure how many years have passed since I wrote thee last, for I do not age anymore, and time feels uncertain to me now. I have lived alone in the hills for all these years, as far from humans as possible. I forage for food, and have sworn off all acts of violence—even hunting game—and try to force myself not to dream of dismembering Father Miguel. I lock myself up on nights of the full moon so I do not go looking for him, and I do nothing that would give the wolf any freedom. I will not risk losing control ever again—not after what I did to thee.
I travel into the nearest town only once a month, during the new moon—for the wolf is weakest and easiest to keep at bay when the moon is absent from the night’s sky. If only I could find a moonstone to help control the beast at all times. I long to have a life again. A family. I hate to be alone; the seclusion drives me mad. Alas, I cannot risk being close to anyone.
I fear I will never know love again….
A fortnight has passed since my last note, and everything has changed—because of thee, my beloved sister.
Often, when I make my monthly trip into town, I see a woman in the marketplace. She is a slave, with a particularly cruel master, yet she carries herself as if she were a queen, or perhaps a priestess. She has long, dark curling hair that reminds me of thee, yet her eyes are the most peculiar violet color. I know, for she is the only person in town who dares to look me in the eyes. Everyone else skirts around my disheveled form and treats me as though I have some terrible plague—which, in a way, I do. Whenever this woman looks at me from over her master’s wares, it seems as though she knows who I am—what I am.