Gabriel had slept soundly that night. He had dreamt of taking Clarice out to see the tree that marked where Thomas lay. Dreamt of creating a marker like he had for his sister’s tree for Thomas. The note that Father Meinos had left contained directions to Thomas’ tree, but also made a note that three trees down in the same row was Gabriel’s sister. He could not wait to get out there, now with the chance of seeing where she rested again.
He awoke and rushed through getting dressed and forgot to eat he was in such a rush for he day to get going. As he got into the town, he realized that he had forgotten his morning meal and walked into the tavern, where Gavin was sitting quietly at the bar, a knife in one hand and a block of wood in the other.
“How can I help you this morning?” He asked, setting down the shape he was carving.
“You remember that Dogleg you offered me last night?”
“Yeah, but you’d have to be out of your mind to drink one this early.”
“No, this morning I ran off without eating, do you have some porridge or a chunk of bread I might have instead? I am sorry for asking, I know you are kind of obligated to give it to me now that I’ve asked.”
Gavin laughed at this, “No, I don’t mind, after you shut those two up last night, a meal is the least I can do for you. They had driven almost everyone else off with their bickering. Let me get you something.” He went to a room off the side of the bar and returned a few moments later with a small bowl of porridge, a chunk of bread, a few slices of bacon, and a bright red apple. “Here you go.”
Gabriel’s eyes went wide at the sight of the meal laid out before him for breakfast. “I can’t possibly eat all of this. Thank you.”
“Well do your best then.”
Gabriel did, he had started with the bacon. The fat had just begun to crisp, it was perfect. The porridge was a little on the warm side, so he let it sit for last. The bread was leftover from the night before and a little dry, but the flavor was still good, especially after he tried to dip it into the porridge. He put the apple in his pouch to save for later and finished the rest of his porridge before thanking Gavin again and leaving the tavern, making a beeline for the smithy.
“Morning Drisbin,” he called out as he walked in.
Drisbin was working hard on another set of horseshoes, but looked up long enough to nod at Gabriel. “Get over here and heat the blade up as hot as you can. Let me know when it’s done.” He resumed working on the arches of metal.
Gabriel put on his apron and a set of thick gloves and stuck the blade in the forge with a pair of tongs and then spent all of his energy keeping thoughts of his upcoming trek to the orchard at bay. Finally the blade was white hot and he shouted at Drisbin. “It’s done.”
The smith stopped what he was doing and grabbed a barrel full of ashes and motioned for Gabriel to drop the blade in it. Gabriel released the Dai’Sana’s blade from the tongs, and it fell into the ashes, completely submerged.
“Ok, come back tomorrow and we will see if it is ready for grinding. I have been working on a hilt for you now that I have that Ruby.”
“When do I get to see it?”
“I should be done in a day or two, I will show you then.”
“Ok, thank you, I will see you in the morning then.”
“Oh and Gabriel, good job with the calf last night. You made the right decision.”
“Thank you, I had thought I did, and that was all Lear said he did, was try to make the right decision.”
“You did good.”
“Thanks, bye, I have more good to do.” The thought of seeing his sisters grave again spurred him onwards, eclipsing the idea of bringing Clarice to the orchard.
He almost ran into the store’s door he was running so fast, but got it open just in time, the whole building shaking from how hard it swung inwards.
“Gabriel, there you are,” Clarice wore a dark dress, probably on of her best by the look of things. She had made sure that her hair was up and brushed. She was even wearing jewelry. Not used to seeing her dressed up, Gabriel took a moment for it to come to the realization. He had been so focused on the fact that he was going to be near where his sister was that he had forgotten how important this day was for Clarice. He recovered the look of shock on his face quickly, but not quickly enough.
“I feel like I have almost done you wrong Clarice, I am sorry.”
“What do you mean Gabriel?”
He explained to her how close Thomas was to his sister, and how he had spent the morning giddy to get to the orchard for his own selfish reasons. “I guess I turned this nice deed into something for myself. That does not seem very Paladin like to me.”
“Do you still want to take me?”
“Oh yes, you should not have to suffer because I am selfish.”
“Then it appears to me that you are not as selfish as you think young Master. Let us go, and if there is time enough left in the day, we can visit your sister as well.” She picked up a bunch of flowers that Gabriel had not noticed, and, taking Gariel by the arm, left the shop and was steered in the direction of the orchard.