Gabriel made it back to the temple as the supper bell was ringing and he managed to eat hurriedly before seeking Father Meinos out.
“Father,” he said, running up behind the old man who was walking down an alley towards the Rectory.
“Ah, Gabriel, what can I do for you?”
“Father,” Gabriel thought carefully about his words, trying not to sound too eager. “I worked with Clarice today, she started teaching me to make pouches.”
“Good, I suppose she wants the herbs so she can treat the leather?”
“Yes she does, but,” Gabriel paused, unsure of the reaction he was about to prompt.
“When I was brought in, the other boys in that room, they all died, right?”
“Yes, you were the only one to survive from that years plague. Usually three or four men and two or three women live once contracting the plague. Oh, she was asking about her brother, wasn’t she.”
Gabriel looked down at his feet. “Yes Father, she was.”
“I will find out where his ashes are. It will be back near where your sisters are. I assume you would like to take her?”
“I was hoping to. Yes.”
“In two days time then. Now, back to the herbs. Do you remember when you used to help Cailin harvest them? I’ll tell you what, you come with me and I’ll make you a list.”
Gabriel followed Father Meinos back to the Rectory. Gabriel had not previously noticed how slow that his mentor moved, but decided to ask about it. “Father, are you feeling ok?”
“Yes I am Gabriel, just feeling a little old. I walked too much today, come on, let me get you that list.”
Father Meinos wrote up a list of the herbs that Gabriel needed to collect, and separated them into the different rituals. “You will need these to collect the herbs.” He handed the young man a trio of small, non-descript leather bags. “Now go on, before they put out the torches and you have to do this by stonelight.”
“Ahh, it takes a little bit of concentration, but imagine one of your fire stones glowing it was so hot, putting out enough light to fill the room, and then use the air stone to make it float. Just remember that the fire stone will be that hot, so either let it cool, or drop it into some water before you touch it.” Meinos smiled at Gabriel, happy to have imparted such a helpful trick to the young man.
“Thank you, I had not thought of that.”
“Most people don’t. Something else to consider is the absence of the elements.”
“What do you mean?” Gabriel mouthed the phrase, absence of elements, feeling too dumb to have repeated it out loud.
“We will go over this in more detail over the next few weeks, but if the fire stone allows you to summon fire, does it also allow you to put it out? Or the air stones, they allow you to summon the winds to carry things, but can you still the winds with them as well?”
“I had never thought about the stones that way.”
“Well, consider it, but anyways, be gone.”
Gabriel was full of new questions about the stones, but saw the tired look in his mentors eyes. “Thank you sir.” He left the Rectory and proceeded to the large herb garden that the temple kept behind it. Oil lamps were placed on poles throughout the garden, casting enough light for Gabriel to see clearly what he needed to pick. He was a bit disappointed but did not see the need to test the new trick that he had been taught. He pulled the list out of the pouch he had set it in and looked it over for the first time. Basil, lotus petals, and aconite were the first three items on the list. He found the basil easily and the lotus petals were nearby. He grabbed a large handful of each, thinking about their significance, and what they could possible be used for.
He remember Cailin had taught him that basil encouraged strength and helped with the cleansing process. The lotus petals, if he recalled correctly, were strictly for the dead. He remembered that they helped release the departed to their union with The One. The final item on the list was called aconite, but everyone he knew called it wolfsbane. He knew that it could help ease suffering during the transition from life to death, at least spiritually. For the first time though, Gabriel wondered where the wolfsbane name had come from.
He found the blue flowering plant and carefully picked a few, making sure to keep the roots in tact. Stripping the roots from the plant, he placed them into the same bag as the previous two herbs had gone.
The second part of the list contained four items, woad, charcoal, oak galls, and iron scales. He had collected these before to make black ink, and new where to find the woad and picked it rather quickly. The oak galls would be in a basket, having been picked recently. For the third item, he went to the the kitchen and grabbed a small piece of charcoal from the bin that was kept near the fires. Gabriel stuffed it into the same bag that he had shoved the woad and galls into and spent a moment wondering where he would find the iron scales. The thought that he was going to work with Drisbin in the morning finally occurred to him and he resolved to pick up the scales then.
That last chore for his pouches done, Gabriel went to find the ruby that Gavin had given him. When he arrived at his room, he dug through the drawer that contained his clothes and came upon the small leather pouch and its familiar bulge. He loosened the drawstring and dumped the gem into his hand, again falling into it flawless depths. He gently set the ruby back into the bag and, pulling the drawstring tight, set it down on the lone table in his room, next to the pouches of ingredients he had collected.