The next week was spent making horseshoes. Gabriel would begin the day by drinking as much water as he could stomach, and then sweating it out as he fed and stoked the fire so that Drisbin could make shoes for the coming spring. Every night he would return to the temple where he would find a bath drawn and waiting for him, scented with basil and hyssop. After cleansing his body of the thick coating of soot, he would go out into the yard and work through balance exercise that Lear had taught him. Finally, he would end the day, after his evening meal, with practice with the stones. He had mastered the control of the fire stone, or at least he thought he had. He could create a flame in the size he wanted and make it last as long as he expected to.
The effort with the water stone was coming along as well. He was capable of putting any fire he created out, and had begun to experiment with other uses of the stone.
Gabriel was in the inner courtyard of the temple. The benches in the area, as they normally were, were unoccupied, and he decided that it was time to test an idea he had had with the water stone. He began by focusing on a piece of ground where, for one reason or another, grass had failed to grow. He then pictured the dirt taking on a richer color as water seeped up into it, turning it to a thick mud. Concentrating hard, he found that he did not even have to slam the water stones together, that it was enough just to hold them.
Reaching out to touch the dark colored ground, he felt the moistness and decided to push his experiment further. He scooped a couple of handfuls out of the earth, forming a small bowl about as wide as his hands were long a,d about half as deep. Focusing on the hole, he envisioned it filling up with water clear enough to drink. The next thing he knew, a small trickle of water came out of a spot on the side of the hole and continued to expand until a ring of dripping water was flowing into bowl he had created. Looking closely, Gabriel could tell that the water was clear when it first came out, but it quickly turned brown as it settled into the bottom of the bowl.
A cough behind him startled Gabriel, and as quickly as the water had sprung to life from the ground, the earth had reclaimed it as it seeped back in. Turning, he came face to face with a smiling Father Meinos.
“I don’t know how it is that all three of you picked the same spot to play with the water stone.” He laughed. “It’s all right. You got further than Sarin did. All he got was the mud, and then made a larger patch of mud. Of coarse, that place had grass back then. Then Renault had worked his magic on the earth. He had started with his fire stones though. First, he created a tall fire, dancing in the wind like the blades of grass that it consumed. Then he had used the water to put it out, and then made a pile of mud, much as you did. What he did instead is what baffles me. He used the water stone to move the mud back into the hole. I like your approach, you could have drank that water.”
Gabriel took the compliment and smiled. “Thank you Father. When you have time, I would love to hear more about those two. I am sure they made some mistakes I can avoid.”
Father Meinos chuckled, “Yes, they made there fair share of mistakes. You could learn a lot by listening to my stories. BUT, how are you going to learn from your mistakes if you don’t make them.”
“I see. Thank you Father, I will bear that in mind.”
“See that you do.” Father Meinos nodded, still smiling and began to walk out of the courtyard. As he got to the doorway, Gabriel hear him mutter under his breath. “Next the boy will try to make it rain.”
The thought had not occurred to Gabriel, and when he was certain that Father Meinos was no longer nearby, he scooped the earth back into the small pit he had made, patting it down with his hands until it was smooth. He then began what he though was needed to make it rain over the small patch of mud.
In his mind’s eye, Gabriel pictured a dark storm cloud rolling in and pouring water down upon the earth beneath it. He had closed his eyes to help with the vision. Soon, he began to feel water dripping on his head, and opening his eyes, he looked up, to see the same storm cloud he had envisioned, blotting out the sky, even with the roof of the temple. A small clap of thunder followed a lightning bolt that singed the hair on the back of his neck. The rain drops were beginning to come at a faster pace and some were soon rivaling the size of the elemental stones themselves.
“I really need to watch what I say near you,” Father Meinos said, rejoining Gabriel in the courtyard.
“I’m sorry Father. I guess I got carried away.”
“I would say you did. Now be quiet while I fix this.” Meinos reached into a pouch tied to the rope he used as a belt. His hand concealed, Gabriel felt a slight wind stir, and watched a stray leave begin to circle on the ground. Before his eyes, the storm cloud began to drift off in all directions, and in a matter of moments, the rain was gone, the only evidence being the soaking pupil and his master.
“I’m sorry again.”
“Enough, go on, after that you’re going to need your rest for tomorrow.”
The next day, when he arrived, the fire was already stoked and Drisbin had a new hammer and set of steel pigs laid out on the large metal anvil.