The temple was eerily silent when Gabriel arrived. The few people he did run into avoided his stare and hurried away when he tried to question him. He looked in the Great Hall, where he expected to find a few people, and although food was laid out, it looked not to have been touched.
He wandered down a hall towards the armory and found that the room was almost completely barren. One of the tables lay on its side and all of the sword racks were empty. The only weapon that seemed to remain was an axehead that lacked a handle.
Next, Gabriel headed towards the Rectory and found that building too silent and empty. Finally, he went looking for Cailin, and after searching the stable yard, found that most of the animals, with the exception of one horse, were gone. A page of about ten years old approached him.
“Master, are you ready to leave?” The boy said, his voice squeaking.
“Leave, leave for where?” A look of bewilderment passed over Gabriel’s face.
“To fight the werewolves, of course.”
“Where!” The question was more of an exclamation.
“To the south, Master Lear left shortly after high sun. He said he left you a note and he thought you would follow. That horse in there was left for you.”
“A note? Where?”
“In your quarters sir.”
Gabriel felt odd that a boy not much younger than he was called him sir, but quickly dismissed the feeling as he ran back towards his room. Throwing open the door, he spied a folded piece of parchment on his bed.
By now you have heard that the werewolves have struck early in the town of Aericinth, a day’s ride south of here. I have taken the Atwans and some of the remaining priests to try and stave off this threat. Take the time to finish your pouches and your Dai’Sana should be finished now. I have left armor for you as well. Cailin is leading the Atwan’s and Father Meinos has come with us as Holy support for everyone. We will finish your training if there is time here. In the pouch on your pillow are the herbs for the one right we have not discussed. Divide these between each of the crimson pouches you created and when the time comes, we will go over what you are to do with them. If you look in Cailin’s room, you should find a silvered scroll tube, inside is the parchment for your Rite of Remembrance.
May the Star guide you and The One watch over you,
Gabriel looked further up his bed and saw the pouch that Lear had mentioned, as well as a chain mail shirt. He re-read the note three more times in hopes that he would find some other hint there, some answer to the questions he had. Why had the Werewolves struck early. Why did they only strike every ten years.
Gabriel tried to put those thoughts in the back of his mind, so that he could focus on the rituals he had already learned. He went over the Ancient Trilogy in his mind, hearing Lear’s voice as the steps were explained to him. He reviewed them over and over, afraid that he would make a mistake. Soon, Lear’s voice had lulled him to sleep.
He awoke the next day and made sure that all of his provisions were ready, grabbing some extra bread for the road, as well as a hunk of salted ham. He put this in a small leather sack that he stuffed into the tooled bag that Clarice had given to him. He then then took the inkwell from the stand in his room, and a piece of charcoal and poured the ink into the vial that he had been given, and tucked both items into the pouch and then the pouch into his sack. He then went to Cailin’s quarters and grabbed the scroll case. Opening the tube, he pulled out a rolled piece of blank yellow parchment. He gingerly placed it back into the case and went back to his room where he added it to his ever expanding pack.
Gabriel then went to see Drisbin who was outside waiting for him. “Here is your Dai’Sana. May you not have to use it.”
Gabriel took the offered knife, looking over the plain brown leather sheath, nodding in approval. He then pulled the blade out and looked it over, the smooth mirrored finish showing a disheveled looking young man back.
“Gabriel, remember, you need to go into battle with a clear mind. A single distraction could spell your end. May The One watch over you.”
As Gabriel walked through the town, just as they had done the night before, people avoided him. Despite his internal feelings, he felt that he should try and at least appear confident, so he greeted everyone as they walked by him, trying to show that the situation was handled and there was nothing to worry about.
At Clarice’s shop, Gabriel worked silently to finish his herbal pouches, the only words exchanged with Clarice, a curt “Hello.”
His pouches finished, he made to leave, and Clarice grabbed his arm. “Good luck,” was all she said, a mournful look in her eyes.
Back at the temple, Gabriel finished putting together his pack and donned his armor. He slung Lear’s shield onto his back and sheathed the longsword on his hip. Pulling on a pair of heavy leather gloves, he grabbed his pack and headed to the stable.
As he waited for the horse to be readied, Gabriel thought back to what had brought him to where he was. He vaguely remembered his bout with the plague, followed by the years of chores for the church, and then more recently his training, guidance and tutelage under the three men, Cailin, Lear, and Meinos, all so that he could ride off and be their champion.
But, he thought as he mounted the horse, he was not just their champion. He was the champion for Clarice the leatherworker and Drisbin the smith, for Gavin the tavern keeper, and Jameson the farmer. For all of the people he passed on a daily basis, who now looked up to him and called him Master. Gabriel kicked his heels into the horse and rode off with his head held high. He would be their champion.