Lear took another turn at speaking.  “Gabriel, the Atwans prepare the dead and the dying so that they do not make the transition to werewolves.  You hunt the ones they don’t get to in time.”  He paused to let the notion sink in.

“You mean I fight werewolves?  When Renault came back, is that what did that to him?”

“Yes, he had been attacked by a pack.  By his account, he killed five of them before the sixth did that too him.”

Jaw open in awe, Gabriel asked the only question that came to mind.  “He killed five of them?”

“No, he killed all six, the last one cut him up some.”

“He had his stones didn’t he?  Why couldn’t he have just healed himself?”

“Do you remember how spent you felt after lighting the hay bale on fire?  Using the stones takes energy, energy your body needs to heal.  Small cuts and bruises are one thing, but as bad as his wounds were, he was lucky he made it to us in time.”

“So how do I kill a werewolf?”  The thought was beginning to excite Gabriel.

“Just like any other man, but it is not the killing them that is the problem.  If you do not dispose of them properly, they just come back,” Lear said, a smile upon his face.

“Why are you smiling Master Lear?” Father Meinos asked, using the retired Paladins official title to show that he was irritated.

“Calm down Father, I just asked these same questions of my mentors.”

“What do you mean, dispose of them properly, and is there a way to cure them?” Gabriel asked, drawing the focus back to him.

“No, there is no way to cure them.  And you dispose of them in much the same way as we do the bodies of the plague victims, and if you are near a Church, Atwans will even come out to collect the final remains.”

“What do you mean final remains?”

“One of the steps of final purification is to burn the body.  The ashes are then committed to the ground in the orchard, and a new tree planted to signify another rescued soul.”

“Rescued soul?  Why go to all of that trouble for werewolves?”

Cailin interrupted the conversation that Lear and Gabriel were having, laying a hand on the boy’s shoulder.  “Remember, the werewolves were people once too.  They are tortured souls that are trapped in the bodies of those foul beings.  Besides, it’s not just the werewolves we commit to the orchard.  Any plague victim that dies and we successfully rescue them from becoming one of those terrible beast gets a tree as well.”

“You mean my sister is out there somewhere?  Do you know where?”

“Yes, we do know there, and we will take you there soon.  Right now, unless you have any further questions, Lear needs to take you to start working with Drisbin.  By chance do you have the pouch that Gavin gave you?”

Gabriel patted down his pockets before remembering that he had on fresh robes.  He sprung up and ran to the room where the bath still stood, the scents somewhat muted, but still assaulting  to his sense of smell.  Grabbing his old robes, which he realized were dusty, he could not remember the last time he had changed them, he rifled through the pockets.  Panicking when he came up empty, he rand back into the room he had been sitting with his mentors in.  “It’s gone,” he said frantically.

“Calm down,” Cailin said coming out of the room that Gabriel called his own.  “Here.”  Cailin draped the Star necklace over his head, the symbol coming to rest low on his sternum.  “You’ll grow into it,” he commented.  He then handed Gabriel the a coin purse that was fuller than he remembered it being.  “I dumped the coins that Jameson gave you into yours,” Cailin stated, noticing the stare the pouch had earned.  Next he handed the large leather bag, folded in half, to Gabriel, who took it.  “That will hold all of our satchels well.  Take good care of it.

Looking closely, Gabriel had time to admire the craftsmanship that went into the Star that adorned the bag.  Not only had it been expertly pressed into the leather, but a darker dye had been used to cause the Star to look like it was coming out of the leather.

Finally, Cailin handed over the small leather pouch that the tavern owner, Gavin, had given him.  Undoing the drawstring, Gabriel upended the small sack and let a small item drop into his open palm.

Lear let out a sharp breath when he saw what it was that Gabriel held.  “That is flawless, it will go great in the handle of your Dai’sana.”

Gabriel looked at the gem, a deep crimson ruby to match the one that was in the pendant he now wore.  The gem was a perfect tear drop shape, the point looking sharp enough to draw a spot of blood if it was drawn across the skin.

“I went to get the materials for my pouches and the Dai’sana last night, but no one would let me have them.”

“We knew you would try.  Renault did so, and so did Sarin.  It is how we really knew you were ready.”

“But will they help me now?  I mean if I go and talk to Drisbin, he said the ore I needed would be in, do I get to start making my Dai’sana?”  The three men could sense the excitement beginning to rise in Gabriel.

“I don’t think so, let us go see what Drisbin has in store for you.” Lear said, smiling at the other two men as he guided Gabriel by the shoulders out the door.

The last thing Gabriel heard before he left, was said by Father Meinos, who had turned to Cailin.

“He’ll do fine.”

The End

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