A plague for the Paladin

Growing up under the guise of Church of The One, Gabriel becomes a Paladin, a Champion who begins a fight with the plague bearers, werewolves who strike out at the surrounding towns. He seeks there source and finds it, but at what cost...

Gabriel sat on the ground, crying.  He was but four years old and his mother lay dead in the next room, prostrate upon her bed.  His father was dead too, lying in the street outside the door, unless the plague priests, the Atwans, had already picked the body up.

His sister, two year old Annabel, was sick too, she had been up all night coughing.  Gabriel had given her the last of the thick syrup that his mom had given him when he had been sick, but it had not seemed to help.  She now was resting in the bed they shared next to where there parents lay.

A loud knock on the door to the two room shack caused him to jump.  Answering the door, he found a pair of Atwans standing over his father's corpse, another pair about to grab his father's feet.

“Is there any one else inside with the plague?” A scraggily looking man, his priestly robes covered in mud, asked.

Gabriel stared, eyes wide, tears at their corners, and nodded.  The scraggily looking man, and his companion, a tall, broad shouldered door of a human being, pushed past him as the other two dragged his father away.

“In here,” the unkept man said as he beat the other into the shared bedroom.

“My sister’s not dead!” Gabriel shouted, running to the room where the larger man had just scooped her up and threw her over a shoulder.

“But she will be soon,” coldly said the first Atwan.  “Your mother is though.”  He left the room and returned with the other two priests from outside.  The same two priests that had unceremoniously dragged Gabriel’s father away now grabbed ahold of his mothers ankles and pulled her off the bed.  A loud thud sounded as her head bounced off the floor.

Gabriel began to cry again at this and was surprised when, after everyone else had left the hovel, the large Atwan came back in and set his hand on Gabriel’s shoulder.

“She can’t feel it.”  He said, trying to comfort the young boy.  “I’ll be back around later if you are still here.”

*****

Later in that same day, the priest, who he now knew as Cailin, had come back and taken him to the temple, where he stayed in a room with three other boys for a fortnight, food being brought every morning and every night.  The Atwan had told him that it was in case he was sick, he was not allowed to go near anyone.  Of the four boys, he was the only one that made it out of the quarantine.  The other boys had died less than a week in, Atwans coming to take the corpses away, ignoring him completely.

After the fortnight was over, Cailin had taken him out of the room and bathed him, something that Gabriel had only known when it rained.  The water had been scented with cedar, for luck Cailin had said.  He had also squeezed some milkweed into the water and finally sprinkled a few rosemary leaves into the bath.  When he was finished, the water had almost been black it was so filthy.  Thusly clean, Cailin had brought him new robes, a brown dyed linen, a smaller version of the robes the priests of the temple wore, which Gabriel promptly put on.  He had then been fed.  It was the same grue he had eaten for the previous fortnight, but somehow, in the freedom, it tasted better.  During the cleaning and feeding, he asked repeatedly about his sister, but each query was met with a shaken head and a downturned eye.

Cailin had taken Gabriel under his wing and trained him in the ways of The One.  Gabriel had grown up with fleeting memories of his parents, but a day had not passed where he did not think of his sister, prone as Cailin had scooped her up and taken her to die with the rest of the plague-ridden.  His heart still jumped every time he encountered one of the females of the temple, hoping that someone else had taken her in, and they would re-unite one day.

The End

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