Ah yes, the final post at last! To some of you
it may seem to end a bit abrupt; that's because I can't
tie up the loose ends of the Dietrich-Lilian subplot
since (as I noted in a previous post) I somehow
forgot to build it sufficiently before I got here!
I'll take care of that when I turn this rough draft
into a final version. But at least the story makes sense.
I'll let this draft "sit" for a while, so I can go back and
read it with a fresh mind before I start the revision.
Eventually I'll turn the final version into a book.
The white wolf’s lips curled into a snarl
as he slowly inched toward the trembling Chase.
Chase began to scramble away, crablike,
unable to do more than that in his growing panic.
“This cannot be!” he roared, his voice cracking
from fear. “Your life is forfeit to me, hound!
The avenger can never survive the battle;
a price must be paid. The rules were determined
long ago. You have no right to ignore them!”
The wolf’s growling slowly transformed into something
resembling human speech, though barely
understandable. “The priest,” it growled.
“The priest is dying. He will die soon.”
“Humanity is fragile,” Chase sneered. “Many have died.”
The wolf’s lips curled upward in what might
charitably be called a smile. “He is the summoner.”
At that Chase’s face went white. “The PRIEST?”
he screamed. “You were summoned by the priest?”
“The summoner may not be touched,” the wolf growled.
“You have disturbed the balance.
A price is demanded of YOU.
The rules were determined long ago.
You will not ignore them. Vengeance is mine.”
Chase’s terrified screams were consumed
by the wolf’s ghostly baying as it launched
into its final attack. It echoed throughout
the hellish world Chase had created.
The flames dimmed briefly before exploding
around the wolf, the priest, and the girl—
first erupting into a whirling inferno, then
once again taking the form of a warehouse…
a burning warehouse.
Suddenly Dietrich was human again, on all fours,
naked. He glanced back and saw Lilian,
the priest’s head cradled in her lap.
“We must get out of this place!” he called,
and scrambled to her side. Together they managed
to get the priest to his feet and half-drag him
into the main entry. There Dietrich saw Chase’s coat
and slipped it on, then the three stumbled into the street.
Already the townsfolk were running toward
the tobacconist’s shop with buckets of water.
Dietrich and Lilian collapsed to the ground
with Benedict, desperately crying for help.
“Don’t bother,” the priest rasped. “I am done.
Forgive me, Dietrich. I have been a poor friend.
My only excuse is that I didn’t know the curse
would fall on you. I merely sought revenge
against Chase for my brother’s murder.”
“Father, there is nothing to forgive. I would have—“
Benedict gently raised one hand and pressed
his fingers to Dietrich’s lips. “I know.” His voice grew faint
as he took Lilian’s hand and placed it in Dietrich’s.
“Care for each other, and I am content.”
He smiled and breathed his last.