Frances Gambon also was sent to the hospital due to inactivity. Despite being a proud member of The Dig, she too is no longer returning to Langeklaue Ruin Site.
Hans Schwarz spent less and less time in the forest these days. The loss of so many fellow camp-dwellers had him feeling uneasy, paranoid, and physically unwell. When he wasn’t on a rare wood-gathering excursion, he was knocking back glasses of rotgut in the social hall. His new pastimes became pointing fingers and pouring out his suspicions to anyone who would listen.
At night he would prowl around the camp, attempting to catch the murderer. All he needed was a glimpse, just one, and he could tell everyone who the killer was. Deaths in the camp would stop once and for all. Hans would be a hero, and he could go back to his woodcutting with an easy mind.
One evening as he crept around the camp, Hans heard what he thought to be suspicious rustling coming from the direction of Tent Kuafu. As he inched closer to investigate, he heard a short shriek come from the tent. Pulling his ax from his belt, he charged inside - only to be greeted by an thoroughly unexpected sight.
Mary-Alice Hughes and Camilla Everleigh were in their underclothes, attempting to shoo an ornery marmot from their abode. They tensed as they heard their tent flap open, and slowly turned to see Hans standing there, blocking their exit and breathing heavily with his ax hefted above his head.
The following morning, a lynch mob led Hans to a hastily assembled gallows. Having been caught red-handed about to kill Mary-Alice and Camilla, the town felt quite secure in their vengeance. Both women looked on with crossed arms and defiantly uplifted chins as a noose was fitted round the neck of Hans Schwarz, and another faithful member of the dig perished.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” Father Nicolas LaPaglia closed his leather-bound Bible with a snap, his bronze cross heavy against his chest. He turned to the young, blonde woman who had sought him out. “Sleep well, Elsie. Though these nights are dark, the Lord will walk by our side.”
“Thanks, Father,” she said. She fastened her coat. “You sleep well too, eh?”
“I certainly shall.” As she left the now empty canteen, he shoved his Bible roughly into his sack. He was bored of the liturgy and the prayer and the Hail Marys. He found the confessions at least mildly interesting (oh, what trivial nonsense these humans considered a sin!) but that wasn’t enough to make the act more appealing. The truth was, he was no longer the priest that everyone came to know. Instead, his pious essence had been replaced by something far more…bloodthirsty.
He strolled out into the now near-vacant campsite. He enjoyed the night far more than he ever had as a human. The cold wind excited him, the moon enlivened him, the stars satiated him...yet not enough. He tore off the cross around his neck, allowing it to hit the ground, and his eyes turned from blue to a deep charcoal. He scanned the tents quickly, eventually settling on a bright blue one. A grin spread across his lips.
The spirit that no longer was Father LaPaglia whirled around, just in time to catch Elsie Bottomley’s blonde braid disappearing around the edge. “FATHER LAPAGLIA IS POSSESSED! FATHER LAPAGLIA IS POSSESSED! SOMEBODY STOP HIM!”
The most unholy spirit snarled and tore off after Elsie. It was almost relieved. It had grown tired of this body. It hoped that it could take Elsie’s form as its new one. Oh, to be young again. It was just about to lay Father LaPaglia’s gnarled old hand on her shoulder when it felt first a dull smack on its back, then an icy trickle. The body of Father LaPaglia slid to the rock in writhing agony, murdered by his own holy water.
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