Gabriel’s days continued like this, weapons training in the morning and more training with the stones at night for a whole year. Master Lear spent most of the training teaching him about balance and motion, not about the weapons themselves. If Gabriel asked, he got the same answer he always got, in due time. He worked hard to master the exercises that Lear taught him, hoping that one day, the time would be now. His education with Father Meinos went quite the same. He had spent weeks learning about how to master and control the fire, and how to put it out without draining him.
He had learned about the cost of using the stones after the first few days.
Father Meinos had left Gabriel practicing with the fire and water stones. What he was doing inside, Gabriel did not know, but so long as he continued practicing, the Father did not mind. He had gotten up early one day and gone out with the kids to get the hay with them. He offered to help them if they brought an extra bale of hay to the Rectory. He ended up hefting all five bales on to the wagon, and helping pull on the second trip, which they brought three bales to the stable on. It had paid off though.
That afternoon, after Father Meinos had left him to his practicing, Gabriel dragged the extra bale of hay into the fire pit, and concentrating, struck the two fire stones together. With an audible whoosh, the bale had become ash almost instantly, but the fire had caught his robes on fire. Panicking, he had screamed and Father Meinos had come running. Amongst shouts of “You idiot,” and “Stupid,” they managed to get the fire out without too much harm to Gabriel. Afterwards, Gabriel had felt extremely tired, and when he commented on this fact to Father Meinos, he had been told that the stones drew their energy from their bearer.
The next day, Lear woke him up extra early and had him muck out the stables as punishment. This had tired him out even more. On top of that, as an extra punishment, Lear had pushed him extra hard in his balance training, having him wear chain mail armor for the first time.
The mail was a little too large and fairly heavy. Lear had needed to help him put it on, and once it was on, it was a struggle to stand up. Lear started that morning with an exercise meant to improve his agility.
“Dodge these,” he said as he lifted a large leather-bound ball and threw it at Gabriel. Gabriel had no time to move and the ball caught him square in the chest, knocking the wind out of him. “Come on, you can do better than that.”
Gabriel got up and was moving before the ball was even in the air. It still clipped his shoulder, the mail dampening some of the impact.
“You are getting there, get moving.” Another ball flew, hitting him in the legs and knocking him to the ground, face first. “If you are going to keep falling, maybe we need to get you a helmet!” Lear taunted.
Gabriel stood up slowly, sore and worn out and managed to dive out of the way before the next ball came.
“Good. Go ahead and get out of that armor. You’re done for the day, at least with me.”
He had gone to visit with Priest Varin, the temple’s doctor, who had told him in no uncertain terms that he was lucky that the bruises were the only punishment he had received.
“But, between you and me,” he added, “every Paladin I have ever seen trained does it.” A sly grin crossed his face. “You know, the last one that Lear trained almost burned down the temple. He had been trying to help out the boys in the kitchen, so he created a torch for them to carry around. As he was bringing it to them, he ran into the baker and dropped it out of sheer fright. They had to replace two of the support beams in the back of the kitchen because of him.”
“What did they do to him?” Gabriel asked cautiously.
“Oh, he got the same leather ball treatment that you did, but they made him wear plate armor!” Varin was grinning from ear to ear as he told Gabriel to run along.
After having left the infirmary, Gabriel headed to the Rectory, intent on apologizing to Father Meinos. As he approached, he could hear three voices coming from the courtyard he normally practiced in.
“Of course he is reckless, he’s just a boy!” Cailin was saying.
“You had the same problems with Renault ten years ago Meinos, at least Gabriel had the sense to mess around out doors.” This came from Lear.
“Yeah, but still, he is very unsure of himself. A Paladin needs confidence.” Meinos responded.
“What do you mean?” Lear asked.
“Well, he is still working with the fire stones first off.” Meinos said.
Gabriel stood still and was silent as could be as he reached into his pouch and withdrew one of the air stones. Silently he concentrated on causing the air to stir enough that a loose log on the pile in the courtyard would fall off. He was reward when he heard the thud of the piece of wood falling to the ground.
“Are you sure about that?” Cailin asked.
“He has yet to ask, or show any kind of interests in the other stones.”
“Well, have you given him any other directive than working with the fire stones? It sounds like he is just following orders. He is a stubborn sort, just the kind we want for a Paladin.” Lear stated.
“Why do I have to be a Paladin?” Interjected Gabriel.