Averoigne PBEM II:37, in which the Beast Is Disposed Of

Being just past midnight, Sunday, the fifteenth day of February, Anno Domini One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy-Six, atop the belfry of the Cathedral of Vyones…

“Julien, do not!” shouts Bruyant.  He senses the friar at his side tense and rise.  Heedless of the merchant’s cries, Bruyant draws himself to his feet to grab Julien’s arms, to throw himself over the body, to do anything…

Steel flashes.  A tearing and snapping reverberates through the chamber.  The beast of Vyones is no more.

Pierre, who had been limping toward the stairs, muttering under his breath, turns back and grimaces at the carnage.  Bruyant is ineffectually grasping the arm of Julien, still pushing the blade into the corpse.  Both of their clothes are spattered with blood.

Marcel looks towards Pierre, who hobbles to meet the approaching guards. “Delay them.”

The merchant grunts.  “My thoughts exactly.”

The friar walks over to the beast with his staff, and, with a gentle touch, pushes back Julien’s sword arm.  Using his staff for leverage, he shoves Breschau’s body through the aperture beneath the bell.  Its arm strikes the metal, tolling its own funeral chimes as it falls against the stones.  The companions cover their ears as the sound reverberates through the chamber.

Once it has stopped, Marcel takes the sword from Julien’s nerveless hand.  “The Beast is dead, my friend.  Let the killing blow be shared amongst us all.”  He tosses it after the body.  After a few second, a sound like a glass ornament breaking can be faintly heard.

The guard’s feet tramp on the stone stairs.  They are close now.

Marcel sketches the plan to the others.  After a short while, he cannot tell whether what he is saying registers with Bruyant and Marcel, and resolves to discuss this again later.  He takes Julien’s shoulder.

The wild gleam leaves the clerk’s eyes.  He looks at Marcel in confusion.  “I think,” he says, “this is when the cathedral collapses.  We must escape.  Must we?”

Marcel pats his arm.  “Yes, yes, we must escape.  This way, now.”  He gently leads his friend over to the stairs, where Pierre is already talking with the guards.

Bruyant stares down through the hole beneath the bell.  Far below, a crowd is gathering around a bright red spot on the flagstones.

Later tales will vary greatly as to what exactly was witnessed in the Cathedral that day.  The most reliable, and most accurate, accounts claim that whatever had fallen from the belfry was so mangled it could not have been identified as man or beast.

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Published in: on January 11, 2009 at 10:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

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