Being midnight, Sunday, the fifteenth day of February, Anno Domini One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy-Six, atop the belfry of the Cathedral of Vyones…
Emboldened by both faith and fear, Bruyant shouts and runs at the beast, propelling his staff toward its snout. The end splinters against the pavement as the wolf steps back, snarling and shaking itself as if calling on malign enchantments learned in the pits of Abaddon.
Fearful for the priest, Marcel dashes forward, the end of his staff smeared with the foul jelly. He stabs it at the beast, who gives a quick leap aside to evade it.
Pierre looks to the clerk. “Julien! Quickly!”
Julien sways for a moment, dazed, then howls. “Philbert of Ximes! There shall be no canonization for thee this time!” With two mighty leaps, he is next to the beast.
Stunned, Pierre shakes the cobwebs from his head and rushes forward into the crush in the corner, slicing his knife upward to slice at the beast’s belly. Its thick hide turns aside the blade. The merchant curses.
While Cyon’s concoctions are famously efficacious, perfection is the province of whatever divine force exists in the cosmos. The wolf explodes into motion, its slavering jaws carving a chunk from Pierre’s leg. He stumbles and reels, yet pulls himself back to his feet. Two staffs and a sword converge on the beast, but it whirls aside and latches onto Bruyant’s shoulder. The priest screams once and falls to the floor. Rivulets of blood stain his robes.
Reaching toward a corner bracket, Pierre grabs a torch and thrusts it against the beast. Something sizzles, and the odour of burnt fur and flesh fills the belfry. The wolf leaps back, and Julien quickly slashes his sword across his gut. The beast turns toward him, fury in its eyes, before it sways and collapses.
On the ground, the wolf shakes uncontrollably as the metamorphosis reverses itself, hair vanishing beneath skin and muzzle retracting into the cranium. Soon the still, naked form of Breschau lies on the flagstones, a man once more.
Marcel shakes himself free from the shock and staunches Bruyant’s wound as best he is able.
After a moment’s silence, three shouts are heard simultaneously.
A soldier’s cry echoes from below. “The beast! The beast is in the tower! Follow me, men!”
Julien steps forward with hatred in his eyes. “Thou hath made me a murderer, foul bishop! Now, thou goest back to hell!” He raises his sword for the coup de grace.
Bruyant sits upright, aghast. “This man breathes!”