A Paladin's Understanding

The Rite of Vision was simple according to Lear.  “Using mud from where the body lay, you write the fallen’s name on your breastplate, or should you run out of room, on your shield.  If you need to use your water stone to make the mud, do so.  Remember, you want the earth damp enough to write with, but not so wet that the mud just rolls off the metal.”

“Ok, I got it.”

“Do you?  Show me,”

Lear had met him in the hallway shortly after Gabriel had left Cailin and directed him outside to the stable yard.

“Using this?”  Gabriel held up the piece of metal that Clarice had given him.

Lear nodded.

Gabriel reached into his pouch and after a brief second, withdrew one of the stones and began concentrating on a dry patch of the ground nearby.  Slowly, the ground began to take on a darker tinge.  Gabriel concentrated a few seconds longer, until the water had just begun to appear on the ground.  He dropped the stone back into its pouch and stuck his finger into the mud and began to write his Lear’s name on the flat surface.

A look of horror appeared upon Lear’s face and he shouted “Stop!”

Gabriel did stop, halfway through the ‘A’.  “What’s wrong?”

“Don’t you ever conduct any of the rituals for someone that is alive!” Lear said harshly, the look of fear still upon his face.

“Why not?”

Lear shuddered, at the thought.  “They die.”  Was all Lear would say.

“What do you mean, they die?”

“They die.”

“Well, then, couldn’t you use it to stop the werewolves?”

“The Ancient Trilogy was put forth by The One for those to come back to the One, it does not apply to those that do not believe.”

“Oh.”  Gabriel reached into his stone pouch again and conjured enough water to wash the name off of the metal plate.  He then dampened the earth again and wrote another name.

“Much better, thank you for your understanding.”  Lear was visibly relieved and his smile had begun to return.  “Ok, now take your earth stone and make it permanent.  Just concentrate on the mud never washing away, and it will stay.”

Gabriel did as instructed and watched as the mud took on an even darker look, almost appearing black against the silvery metal.  He ran his hand over the lettering which had turned as smooth as the metal it was written on.

“Go ahead and use the water stone to try and wash it off.”

Gabriel held the water stone and soon water was dripping from the metal plate, but the word stayed fast.

“You did good.  I am sorry I barked at you a few minutes ago.”

“I understand.”

“Gabriel, can I ask you something?  Why did you choose that name?”

“Can I tell you later?  I have something I need to do now if we are done.”

Lear had an idea of what the young man was going to do and smiled even wider.  “Go ahead.”

Gabriel took the piece of metal and left the temple, walking slowly, going over what he would say in his head.

When he arrived at the door, dusk was just beginning to settle, and Gabriel hesitated before knocking on the door.

“We’re closed for the night,” came a shout from the other side.

“I know,” Gabriel shouted back.

“Gabriel?”  Clarice opened the door.  “What are you doing here?”

“I came to give you this.”  Gabriel handed the sheet of metal to Clarice.  “I thought you might like it.”

Clarice took the metal plate and held it up to the light.  Before she could say anything, she was crying, running her hand over the word, Thomas.

“Why, why’d you do this?”

“It was part of my lesson tonight, and I had to use someone that had passed.”

“Why did you not just use your sister.”

“You know I was going to at first, but then I got to thinking about what Lear had told me about the scroll and his brother.”

“What do you mean?”  She looked at him quizzically.

“Cailin took two limbs off of my sister’s tree to make a scroll for me to use as a Paladin yesterday.  And you know at first, it really made me mad.  But Master Lear told me that they had done the same with his brother’s tree too.”

“You mean they chopped down Annabel’s tree?”

“No, they just took a couple of branches.  The tree will live on, I saw the trees they took the wood for Renault and Sarin’s scrolls and they are both still alive.”

“Ok, then what did Master Lear tell you?”

“He said ‘this way I always had a piece of my brother with me.’”

“He is right you know.”

“Yeah, I know that now, but originally the thought that they had harmed Annabel’s tree made me mad.  But this morning, when you told me that you were pregnant, I got thinking about that child.  And if you had another, or even what if you did not survive the next plague.  Is it fair to that child for the church to raise them?”

“These are big thoughts for such a young man,” she said, not calling him a boy as she usually did.

“I’m a Paladin now, whether I like it or not.  I mean, I want to be a Paladin, but I have to consider that the plague is coming.  Who will it take this time?”

“Don’t think like that.”

“But I am a Paladin, my job is to fight the plague, but I don’t think I can stop it, it will always claim more people.”

“Gabriel,” she was still crying.  Clarice, still holding the metal plate, pulled Gabriel to her and held him.  “Please don’t let my baby die,” she began chanting in a low whisper, her head buried in Gabriel’s hair.

“I will do my best Clarice, I’ll do my best.”

The End

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