Dom Lunasea whistled himself over the bridge toward the abbey, ready with his toolbox in his hand to assess the work to be done in the crypt for the priest.
Coming up the hill he stopped in his tracks at the sight before him; a cur of a dog snarling and snapping while a great black horse reared up, the rider struggling to control both animals with his black cloak billowing in the sudden squall of darkened skies and wind.
A flurry of angry words were exchanged and a young man brandishing a sword stepped protectively in front of the priest. The priest’s ordered Dom to find the tavern-keeper, Karissa, and move her into the church. Then it was over. The man and his near-wild beasts were gone, chased off by the impetuous youth. Only confusion and fear were left in his wake.
Dom watched as Fr Bernard and Karissa showered each other with concern and care, a softness he’d not seen in the priest before. As he listened to their talk, it seemed that the priest and the girl were convinced the man was a demon, trying to destroy the church and the village.
A scowl crossed Dom’s face. “The silly girl is scared of shadows,” he thought. But when priests start seeing demons and warlocks in every passing stranger, the burnings aren’t far behind.
He shook off the memories as he escorted the woman back to her home. Not a word passed between them on the road. She was still shaking and on the verge of tears as she slipped inside the brothel.
Returning to the abbey, Dom found the priest in the church, pacing and muttering. His face was tormented as he bemoaned his fate – yet another celibate battling his vows against his own body’s needs and blaming the devil for temptation.
Dom managed to distract the priest from his worries long enough to show him the work he needed for the crypt; a gate at the top of the dizzyingly steep stairs. The priest flitted down them light as a butterfly, while Dom clung to the walls, his legs wobbling under him as the dank close air filled his nostrils. With only a hint of light glowing off the marble tombs, the priest’s soft spoken words caught in the roaring sound inside Dom’s head, thundering loud, he felt his chest clamp tight and stumbled half dragging himself up the stairs, bursting out the crypt into daylight. Had the night passed so soon? The priest, a slight smile on his face, bid him a good morning and drifted back to his rooms leaving Dom wheezing to catch his breath, jaw agape, slumped against a worn lichen-covered headstone.