The Lost Letters of Brother Gabriel
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I then recoiled from her, afraid the emotion her touch had triggered would cause the wolf inside of me to react. Only, the warm pulse emanating from the stone in my hand seemed to push the wolf away.
“What is this?” I asked.
“A moonstone,” she said.
I gasped. “How did you know?”
“The spirits speak to me,” she said. “Katharine told me what you needed.”
I could not help the tears that flooded into my eyes, for I knew she spoke the truth.
“There is an Urbat pack that lives just beyond Gevaudan,” she said. “Take this moonstone to the alpha, and he will grant you admission into their ranks.”
“So this is not for me?” I did not know if I would be able to ever let the moonstone go. It pulsed with a hope that I had not felt in years.
The woman’s master approached us, shouting at her to get back to work.
“I have more stones, back at my master’s home. I have blessed them myself,” she whispered. “My master plans to sell me at market in a month’s time. I will not be back here until then. Return and free me on the night of the next new moon, and the stones will be yours.”
Oh, Katharine, can I believe that thou art the one who sent this woman to me? That thou truly told her what I need? That thou hast not forsaken me?
I will go straightaway to find this pack of Urbat wolf-men and seek their help. Perhaps I will not be alone forever.
I have found a family, Katharine.
At least I hope that shall be the case, if I can bring the rest of the stones to them.
I thought the pack was going to cast me out at first, or kill me for my trespass. The alpha, an ancient Urbat named Conall, had no interest in my offer of the moonstone. If it had not been for his grandson, Sirhan—who looks to be a young man but is more than a century and a half old, as he tells me—I would most likely not be alive now. Sirhan is the one who understood the value of the stone and spoke on my behalf. Handing over the moonstone to the pack elders was the hardest thing I have done since I left home all those years ago. I feel a void and cold, without it in my pocket at all times. I do not know how I will bide my time until I can get a new one.
Sirhan will travel with me to procure the rest of the stones from the slave woman. If I can bring them back to the pack, they will accept me as one of their own. With the moonstones, perhaps I can reclaim a life not haunted by the demon-wolf inside my head.
I can live once more….
I found him! I found Father Miguel without even seeking him out. Sirhan and I encountered a band of travelers on our way back to the village where I met the slave woman. Many soldiers guarded a carriage in the party so ornate it looked fit for a king. Our curiosity got the better of us, and we followed it for some time—only to discover that it was no king borne upon those gilded wheels but that murderous hypocrite, Miguel.
He is old now, but still just as vile. He threatens peasant girls unless they join him in his carriage, even though he still claims to be a man of the holy cloth. Seeing him, even from a distance, has awakened the beast inside of me. It calls for his blood, to avenge everything that has happened to me—to thee.
We have reached a fork in the path, Katharine. Miguel’s caravan heads east, but Sirhan and I must travel west now to make it back to the marketplace to free the slave woman and get the rest of the moonstones. If I do not find her by the new moon, she will be sold away.
Alas, tonight may be my only chance to stop Miguel.
I know I said I would not give in to the wolf again; however, I do not know if I am strong enough to walk away.
It is finished, Katharine.
I went to Miguel’s carriage last night when his guards were passed out in drunken slumber from the wine Sirhan provided for their merriment. I pulled the door open and yanked a young girl out of Miguel’s filthy hands and told her to run.
Miguel swore and started to shout at me to leave, until he saw my face. His eyes grew large with fear as he recognized me, and sweat beaded on his forehead.
“Brother Gabriel,” he stammered, trying to cover his piglike body with his discarded robes. “How did…?”
“Did thou think I would never find thee?” I said, and grabbed him by his throat. “I found the others, did I not? I made them pay for their sins, so why not thee?” I had no weapon other than my bare hands, but we both knew I didn’t need one. I could tear him apart in a few quick movements.
Miguel began to cry. He begged and pleaded and swore he would change his ways. I knew he was lying.
Alas, as I stared him in the eyes, I saw that no matter how vile he was, he was just an old man. A man I was about to murder. The wolf in my head wanted me to do nothing more than finish Miguel off, to satisfy my lust for his blood.
That is when I knew that I could not do it. I had suppressed the wolf for so many years, that I knew I could not let it free now. Even with a new moonstone, there would be no turning back for me if I gave in to the wolf at this moment. Brother Gabriel would truly never exist again.
I left Miguel in a sobbing heap on the floor of his carriage. I walked into the forest, fighting every howl of my inner wolf, forcing myself not to turn back and kill Miguel.
When I found Sirhan in the woods, he asked me what had happened.
“I could not do it,” I told him. “I cannot kill ever again—even a wretch like Miguel.”
“Then let me do it,” Sirhan said.
“What?” I asked.
“Run,” he said. “Run west as fast you can. Find the slave woman before it is too late and get your moonstones. I will take care of Miguel so thou can be free of him at last, and then I will meet up with thee again.”
I ran, Katharine—faster than any human has possibly run. Yet I could still hear Miguel’s screams, even though I was miles away. They sounded like the screams of those women and children in that fiery church—only this time I was not compelled to stop them.
For what Sirhan has done for me, I will forever be in his service.
I ran through the night and into the morning and found the slave woman before she was sold to a new master. I freed her from her chains and carried her into the hills, escaping the guards of the slave auction. When we were safe, she handed me a small bundle of stones that pulsed with heat. I held them to my chest and let every awful feeling in my heart wash out of me.