Home > Curse of the Bane (Wardstone Chronicles #2)(13)

Curse of the Bane (Wardstone Chronicles #2)(13)
Author: Joseph Delaney

I had plenty of time to look around. The cathedral seemed even bigger on the inside, with a high roof and huge wooden beams; even the slightest cough seemed to echo for ever. There were three aisles - the middle one, which led right up to the altar steps, was wide enough to take a horse and cart. This place was grand all right: every statue in sight was gilded and even the walls were covered in marble. It was worlds away from the little church in Horshaw where the Spook’s brother had gone about his business.

At the front of the central aisle stood Father Gregory’s open coffin, with a candle at each corner. I’d never seen such candles in my life. Each one, set in a big brass candlestick, was taller than a man.

People had started to drift into the church. They entered in ones and twos and, like me, selected pews close to the back. I kept looking for the Spook but there was no sign of him yet.

I couldn’t help glancing around for evidence of the Bane. I certainly didn’t feel its presence, but perhaps a creature so powerful would be able to feel mine. What if the rumours were true? What if it did have the strength to take on a physical form and was sitting here in the congregation! I looked about nervously but then relaxed when I remembered what the Spook had told me. The Bane was bound to the catacombs far below, so for now, surely, I was safe.

Or was I? Its mind was very strong, my master had said, and it could reach up into the presbytery or the cathedral to influence and corrupt the priests. Maybe at this very moment it was trying to get inside my head!

I looked up, horrified, and caught the eye of a woman returning to her seat after paying her last respects to Father Gregory. I recognized her instantly as his weeping housekeeper and she knew me in the same moment. She stopped at the end of my pew.

‘Why were you so late?’ she demanded in a raised whisper. ‘If you’d come when I first sent for you he’d still be alive today.’

‘I did my best,’ I said, trying not to attract too much attention to us.

‘Sometimes your best ain’t good enough then, is it?’ she said. ‘The Quisitor’s right about your lot, you’re nowt but trouble and deserve all that’s coming to you.’

At the Quisitor’s name I started but lots of people had begun to stream in, all of them wearing black cassocks and coats. Priests - dozens of them! I’d never thought to see so many in one place at a time. It was as if all the clergymen in the whole world had come together for the funeral of old Father Gregory.

But I knew that wasn’t true and that they were only the ones who lived in Priestown - and maybe a few from the surrounding villages and towns. The housekeeper said nothing more and hurriedly returned to her pew.

Now I was really afraid. Here I was, sitting in the cathedral, just above the catacombs that were home to the most fearsome creature in the County, at a time when the Quisitor was visiting - and I’d been recognized. I desperately wanted to get as far from that place as possible and looked anxiously around for any sign of my master, but I couldn’t see him. I was just deciding that I should probably leave, when suddenly the big doors of the church were flung back wide and a long procession entered. There was no escape.

At first I thought the man at the head was the Quisitor for he had similar features. But he was older and I remembered the Spook saying that the Quisitor had an uncle who was the bishop of Priestown; I realized it must be him.

The ceremony began. There was a lot of singing and we stood up, sat down and knelt endlessly. No sooner had we settled in one position than we had to move again. Now if the funeral service had been in Greek I might have understood a bit more of what was going on because my mam taught me that language when I was little. But most of Father Gregory’s funeral was in Latin. I could follow some of it but it made me realize I’d have to work a lot harder at my lessons.

The bishop spoke of Father Gregory being in Heaven, saying that he deserved to be there after all the good work he’d done. I was a little surprised that he made no mention of how Father Gregory had died, but I suppose the priests wanted to keep that quiet. They were probably reluctant to admit that his exorcism had failed.

At last, after almost an hour, the funeral service was over and the procession left the church, this time with six priests carrying the coffin. The four big priests holding the candles had the harder job because they were staggering under their weight. It was only as the last one passed by, walking behind the coffin, that I noticed the triangular base of the big brass candlestick.

On each of its three faces was a vivid representation of the ugly gargoyle that I’d seen above the cathedral door. And although it was probably caused by the flickering of the flame, once again its eyes seemed to follow me as the priest carried the candle slowly by.

All the priests filed out to join the procession and most of the people at the back followed them, but I stayed inside the church for a long time, wanting to keep clear of the housekeeper.

I was wondering what to do. I hadn’t seen the Spook and I had no idea where he was staying or how I was supposed to meet up with him again. I needed to warn him about the Quisitor - and now the housekeeper.

Outside, the rain had stopped and the yard at the front of the cathedral was empty. Glancing to my right, I could just see the tail of the procession disappearing round the back of the cathedral where I supposed the graveyard must be.

I decided to go the other way, through the front gate and out into the street, but I was in for a shock.

Across the road two people were having a heated conversation. More precisely, most of the heat was coming from an angry, red-faced priest with a bandaged hand. The other man was the Spook.

They both seemed to notice me at the same time. The Spook gestured with his thumb, signalling me to start walking right away. I did as I was told and my master followed me, keeping to the opposite side of the road.

The priest called out after him, ‘Think on, John, before it’s too late!’

I risked a glance back and saw that the priest hadn’t followed us but seemed to be staring at me. It was hard to be sure, but I thought he suddenly seemed far more interested in me than in the Spook.

We walked downhill for several minutes before the ground levelled out. At first there weren’t many people around but the streets soon became narrower and much busier, and after changing direction a couple of times we came to the flagged market. It was a big, bustling square, full of stalls, which were sheltered by wooden frames draped with grey waterproof awnings. I followed the Spook into the crowd, at times not far from his heels. What else could I do? It would have been easy to lose him in a place like that.

Hot Series
» Vampire Academy Series read online
» Crossfire Series read online
» Fifty Shades trilogy read online
» Kate Daniels Series read online
» Black Dagger Brotherhood Series read online
» Cassandra Palmer Series read online
» Rosemary Beach Series read online
» Sea Breeze Series read online
» Too Far Series read online
» Shatter Me Series read online
» Thoughtless Series read online
» Marriage to a Billionaire Series read online
Most Popular
» Drawn into Love (Fluke My Life #4)
» Nightchaser (Endeavor #1)
» Right Where I Want You
» Tangled Like Us (Like Us #4)
» Be the Girl
» Playing for Keeps (Heartbreaker Bay #7)
» If I Only Knew
» Vengeance Road (Torpedo Ink #2)
» 99 Percent Mine
» Free (Chaos #6)
» Work in Progress (Red Lipstick Coalition #3
» Moonlight Scandals (de Vincent #3)