Gabriel walked into the smithy, still heady on the thought of becoming a Paladin.
“Ahh, Gabriel, I didn’t expect to see you until tomorrow.”
Gabriel thought the smith, an ox of a man known as Drisbin, was joking for a moment, but the look on his face relayed no hint of humor. “What do you mean Drisbin?”
“Lear put in the order for me to get the ore for your Dai’sana earlier today. I figured you would start work on it tomorrow. The ore will be here in the morning.”
“Oh, yes, then probably tomorrow. I have not been told what my plans are yet. All I know is that I am to become a Paladin.”
“And a right good one I suspect. Here, I make these for all of the trainees.” Drisbin handed Gabriel a Star of the One, forged out of a black metal, a deep crimson ruby set at its center.
“I can’t take this.”
“I bet you said the same thing to Jameson, and I am going to give you the same reply he did. You’re not a Paladin yet. Besides, consider it a pre-payment.”
“Why does it feel like everyone is in on my training and future but me?”
“I had this same conversation with Renault ten years ago. This is what I told him. The training of a Paladin is a big deal. When someone survives the plague the way you did…”
“Wait, I didn’t have the plague, my sister did.”
“You spent the fortnight in the chamber didn’t you?”
“Yeah,” The memory of that those fourteen days stuck in the room with the other sick boys caused him to shudder.
“That was the room they took you to die Gabriel, the act that you survived meant, at least to The Church, that you were meant for something better.”
“But I…” The memory of him coughing up blood as he sat in that room in excruciating pain came rushing back to him, blocked out all these years. Gabriel faltered, catching himself on the large iron anvil that the smith did most of his work on.
Drisbin reached out to prevent Gabriel from falling, but retracted his hand quickly when he saw that the boy had caught himself. “Gabriel, you were meant to help the Church, either by being an Atwan, or by being a Paladin. Go now and enjoy your last night, we will see each other again soon.”
“But what about what you told Renault?” Gabriel tried to regain control of the conversation.
Gabriel draped the Star around his neck as he left the smithy. He had forgotten exactly what he had gone in there for, but it sounded like he would have time to get it taken care of when he remembered.
He then went to the leatherworker, where he found a young woman of about twenty-five, scraping a flat bone against a large sheet of leather. Looking up, she recognized Gabriel. “You can’t be here yet.”
“I figured, but I am here. I need to buy some leather and some lace I guess.”
“What for?” The girl asked inquisitively, the look on her face reminding Gabriel that he was still just a young boy.
“I’m to be a Paladin, and I will need to make my own ritual pouches.” He stated matter of factly.
“Silly boy, that will come in time. It is part of your training. You are much like Renault, he did the same thing. They give you a free night and you go about preparing to be a Paladin.” She chastised him playfully.
“You knew Renault? Tell me of him.”
“Ah, it was many years ago, he was still younger than me, about twelve or thirteen maybe. He was tall and spindly, his arms were no where near the size of yours. But we can discuss all of this later”
Gabriel was proud of the strength he was developing in his upper body. All the hauling of the melons was beginning to pay off, and now, as she mentioned his arms to her, he realized that the clean up was part of the training too. “So what should I do then,” he asked.
“Well, first take this,” She handed him a large satchel, the Star tooled into the soft leather. “Use that to hold the smaller pouches you are going to make. Now go down to the tavern. Don’t let them talk you into drinking the Dogleg, it is foul stuff.”
He smiled and thanked her, intent on trying the Dogleg. He had never had ale before, but they would not deny a Paladin, would they?
He walked straight to the tavern and upon opening the door was greeted with a round of cheers. His eyes adjusting to the light inside, he realized that most of the town had turned out. The only faces he did not see were his friends and teachers from the church, but they rarely left into temple, let alone made it into the tavern.
Gabriel raised his hand in a feeble attempt at hello, unsure what to make of his newfound fame.
His eyes darted around searching for the source of the voice, finally setting on the smiling face of Gavin, the taverns owner. Gabriel made his way through the crowded common room, hands clapping him on the shoulder, and congratulations given rom everyone he bumped into.
“Gabriel, how goes it?” Gavin greeted him, as he finally made it to the counter the tavern’s owner was sitting at.
“I don’t know sir. Well I think. I was told to try the Dogleg.”
“I bet you were.” He laughed, “Let me get you one of those.” Gavin walked back to a large cask, and taking a glass from under the counter filled it up with a thick, dark colored liquid. Returning to the bar, he set the drink down in front of Gavin and reached into the pocket on the spotless apron he wore. Setting down a small pouch, he told Gabriel “This is for you, may it bring you luck. I found four of them when I was building this tavern. I have mine upstairs, and I have given one to each of your brethren before.”
Gabriel made to open the pouch.
“Not in here.” Gavin cautioned.
Gabriel nodded and slipped the pouch into a pocket, his hand touching the soft leather of the other pouch he had been given that night. He then took a sip of Dogleg, and almost spit is back out. The look on his face must have been telling.
“Ah, that stuff grows on you. Take a smaller sip next time. Let it sit in your mouth a moment before swallowing.”
Gabriel did as was told. The liquid was thick as syrup, and initially as bitter as syrup was sweet. But, holding it in his mouth, the flavor changed, a dark chocolatey flavor replaced the bitterness, and he swallowed.
“Much. Thank you.”
“Go out there and talk to them. They want to meet the next Paladin.”
Gabriel reached for his coin purse, intent on paying for the Dogleg, but Gavin waved him off. “This one is on me, or someone else will pay for it before the night is over, don’t you worry.”
Gabriel took his glass of ale and began making rounds, the same people who had congratulated him on his way in, congratulated him again, and his shoulders became sore from all of the hands hitting them.
He had two more glasses of Dogleg and didn’t remember making it back to the temple.