Gabriel decided to go see Clarice and work on his pouches, and when he arrived, she made an announcement that drove his decision even further home.
“Gabriel,” she began excitedly, “I’m going to have a baby!” Her grin filled her face, and her eyes shown with a light he had not ever seen, even after showing her Thomas’ grave.
“Congratulations,” he smiled back, unsure of what else to say.
“I am so excited.”
“I can see that. Clarice, can I say something?”
“What silly boy?”
“Remember who I am,” Gabriel wanted to be angry at her for calling him a silly boy, but her giddyness was contagious, and he found himself smiling again. “I promise that I will do my best to protect your baby.”
“From what, oh,” She realized what he meant as soon as she started her sentence.
“Then we better get you ready, the sooner you are out there hunting them, the sooner my baby will be safe.” She took a large flat piece of metal and started to pry the lids off of the first barrel, which was sitting where they had left them a few days before.
“Grab those tongs and reach in and pull out the rock.”
Gabriel did as he was told and pulled out a rock, black as night. “This must be from my ink pouch. Do I need this?” he nodded towards the rock, and once she had shaken her head no, he tossed it onto a pile of other rocks that Clarice used for the curing and soaking process.
“Now grab the leather.” Reaching into the barrel again with the tongs, he felt around and after a couple of tries, finally grasped the edge of the leather that was floating around in the bottom of the barrel.
“That looks good,” Clarice nodded as he pulled out a pitch black piece of leather. “Secure it to this rack here so it will dry.” She took a small square made out of four pieces of wood down and handed it to Gabriel. “Wait, don’t touch it, use these.” She handed him a paper of soft leather gloves with stained fingertips. “Otherwise the color takes forever to wash off.”
“Thanks.” Gabriel put on the gloves and began to stretch the leather onto the rack, using some pins that Clarice handed him to keep it in place.
The two of them then took the lid off of the second barrel and fished the ten pieces of leather out of it. It came out a deep crimson color, almost the same color as the rubies Gabriel had recently come to possess. Clarice watched as he stretched the leather out over more racks that she handed him.
“What’s next,” he asked her.
“Well, we need to dump the water out of these, and then clean up any puddles.”
Gabriel tried to push the first barrel by himself, waving Clarice off when she started to push, but after a moment of grunting and exerting himself, gave up. “Come on, I thought I could do it myself.”
“Wait, I am going to put the lids back on them so we don’t make a mess.” Clarice said, and did so, using the flat piece of metal to hammer the lids back into place. “Lets do this,” she said leaning into the barrel.
Gabriel did the same and soon the barrel was sliding towards the door, and as it entered the doorway, it hit a bump and tipped over out into the street. While the barrel was on its side, Clarice grabbed the metal blade again and popped the lid off, flooding the immediate area with red liquid, which quickly ran down the slight slope of the street.
After Gabriel was certain it was empty, he grabbed it, set it upright and brought it back to a corner of the small shop. Clarice then helped him push the other barrel to the doorway and managed not to accidentally tip it over, instead opening it and carefully tilting the barrel, the blackened water mixing with the red as it pooled in the ruts in the roadway.
Gabriel then exited the building, careful not to stop in any wet spots, and grabbing a shovel that was leaning against the shop, started to throw dirt from a nearby pile onto the puddles.
“Done, I will see you tomorrow.”
“Wait Gabriel, Lear sent a messenger and told me to send you home with this,” she handed him an almost square piece of metal, almost a foot on a side.
“What’s this for?”
“I don’t know, he just said to bring it back with you.”
Gabriel took the piece of metal back to the temple, carrying it under his arm. As he walked through the temple’s gate, he heard his name called, and turned to see Cailin walking up to him.
“I’m sorry Gabriel.” Cailin said as he finally stood face to face with the young man.
“I know you are, walk with me, I need to see Lear again I guess,” Gabriel held up the piece of metal as an emphasis to this last bit.
“Ah the Rite of Vision. Has the old man told you what each part of the Ancient Trilogy means?”
“Ancient Trilogy?” Gabriel asked.
“Yes, you have learned two of the three Rites that you perform once the body has been taken care of. The Rite of Keeping is for you to have something from each man or woman you have saved. They Rite of Remembrance is for history to remember them. And the one you are going to learn today is called the Rite of Vision. It is so everyone you see has the chance to know and remember the ones you have saved.”
“And I am to do this on every werewolf that I kill?”
“Yes, you conduct the ashes back to the closest church, and you complete each of the three Rites.”
“Who started the rites?”
“That will be a history lesson for another day. Don’t ask Lear though, he knows his version of history, but his versions of the origin of the Paladins is a bit rusty. When you tell things enough times, eventually something gets out of line.”
“Thank you. Thank you for all you have done Brother Cailin. I understand why you did it.”