may see you.â
Brother Napier stepped from the shadows. He wore hiking clothes, tattoos and piercings, and looked like any young man who prowled the Parisian streets.
âYes, Brother Napier,â Brother Gaspar inquired.
âI did not mean to bother you while you were at your letter,â the younger monk stated.
Brother Gaspar put his pen in the inkwell with slow deliberation. âBut you have.â
âFor good reason, master.â
âWhat is it?â
âThe woman has found something.â
âYes, master. She found La BÃªteâs cave.â
Angry and frightened, Brother Gaspar surged to his feet. He leaned on the desk and his arms trembled. âIt canât be.â
Kneeling in supplication, Brother Napier held up his hands. Sheets of papers containing images rested on them. âIt is true, master. I saw the cave myself. But only for a short time. The earth closed back over it.â He looked at Brother Gaspar. âI saw it, master. I saw the Beast of GÃ©vaudan. The stories were true. â
Of course they were, the older monk thought. Otherwise we would not all be trapped here.
Rounding the desk, Brother Gaspar took the papers from the young monkâs hands. He stared at the pictures. They showed the young American woman on the mountaintop and apparently running for her life. Other pictures showed motorcycles chasing an SUV.
âYou saw La BÃªte?â Brother Gaspar asked.
âWas itââ he hesitated ââalive?â
âNo. It was dead. Very dead. A warrior killed it.â
âA warrior?â Excitement flared through Brother Gaspar. The old stories were true. The knowledge offered validation for all the years he had spent at the monastery. âHow do you know a warrior killed it?â
âBecause he was still there.â
âHe was dead, as well?â Brother Gaspar doubted the man could have been in any other shape, but just knowing the story was true and knowing all the arcane things connected with it, he felt compelled to ask.
âYes, master. It looked as though he and La BÃªte had fought and killed each other.â
Brother Gaspar felt the air in the cave grow thicker than normal. âDid you examine La BÃªteâs body or that of the warrior?â he asked.
âI did. But only for a short time. The cavern was shaking. The earthquake was still going on. Luckily, I got out before the cavern closed.â
âYou could find this place again?â
The young monk nodded. âBut it would do no good, master. The earth has sealed the cave tightly.â He paused. âPerhaps a quake another day will reveal it again.â
âWe will watch for this, then,â Brother Gaspar said. His hand caressed his throat. âWhen you looked at the warrior, did you see anything?â
âYou mean the necklace?â
Brother Gasparâs heart beat sped up. âYes,â he replied in a hoarse whisper.
The necklace was the greatest secret of them all.
âThe American woman carried a necklace from the cave,â the young monk said.
âYou followed her?â Brother Gaspar asked.
âAs far as I could,â the young monk agreed. âShe was pursued.â
That announcement poured ice water into the old monkâs veins. âHow did they get there?â
âThey followed the woman. I only happened to be in the mountains when I saw her with the old man.â
âWhat old man?â Brother Gaspar was alarmed.
âI do not know, master.â
Brother Gaspar went through the sheets of pictures. âIs he in these?â
âSadly, no. I thought I took his picture, but when I developed the images, I found I had not.â
Brother Gaspar, whose life had been so