Sarin took the revelation in stride, having already spent all of his anger on Renault.  “I knew it would happen sooner or later.  The old man was reckless, thought he was just as good as Master Lear was.”

“But Master Lear is a Paladin,” Gabriel protested.

“Aye, he is, and a fine one too.  No, Meinos did not hunt the beasts, but he had to go everywhere Lear did and try to help.”

Renault looked up from where he had been fidgeting, “He must have known the risks.”

“He did, and he believed that even if he came down with the Plague, he would bounce back.”

“He might,”  Gabriel’s tone betrayed what he really thought, that Meinos was a lost cause.

“So, Renault,” Sarin prodded, “Do you at least remember the Rites?”

“Yes sir,” the younger man said, deciding it better to show some deference.

The three Paladins spent the rest of the morning in different stages of the Rites, all pitching in at the beginning to sort out the pile of dead werewolves that had been in between Gabriel and Sarin.  After getting his four beasts splayed out and burning, Gabriel sat back and watched as Sarin took time ti thank each of the beasts for the fight it showed in life.  When he had finished saying something over each of the fallen, he returned to the beginning of the line of fallen beasts.  “May you each show the same spirit and fight that you shown me in The One’s never ending battle with Rianna.”

Gabriel wanted to interrupt the Rites then, but decided to err on the side of caution and went about finishing his four, and soon had Renault standing over him.

“Did you know any of their names?” he asked as Gabriel pulled out his Dai’Sana.

“No, I was just thinking about that, should we go ask Sarin?” Gabriel nodded toward the oldest of the three, standing stoically watching the werewolves bodies as they were consumed by fire.

“Would you, I am not sure he likes me.”  Renault requested meekly, his head hanging as it rocked from side to side.

“Give him time, you did not meet under the best of circumstances.  For either of you.  And he hasn’t even acknowledged that I am a Paladin, let alone called me anything other than ‘boy.’”  Gabriel spat the last term, causing the fire to jump a little.

“Well, here is our chance,”  Renault looked up as Sarin approached both of them.  “Do either of you know who these Cursebearers were?”

It was the first time that Gabriel had heard the called Cursebearers, but with all he had heard in the last day, the name made sense.  “No, we don’t, we were just going to ask you.  We both came from Garinth.  These, Cursebearers did you call them, attacked and almost wiped out the entire town, so they may know who they were.”

“Thank you Gabriel.  Is Garinth passed the old temple of Rianna?”

“Yes it is.”

“How is old Boz and his son?”

Gabriel hung his head and held out his Necklace of Remembrance.

Sarin did not even bother taking the Necklace.  “Boz must be devastated, that is his second son that the plague took.”  Gabriel watched as the older Paladin reached into his shirt and withdrew his own Necklace, showing a fang with the name ‘Geoffrey’ etched on it to the other two Paladins.

“Sarin, I am sorry.” Renault started.

The older Paladin held up his hand.  “It is past, you came through and at least neither of us had to save you.  Maybe the fight will come back to you.  It never returned to Boz after they took Geoffrey.”

“May I ask you something Master Sarin?”  Gabriel began, using the more respectful title of the man who was more than twice his age, “What you said over the dead, about them fighting the never ending battle with Rianna.  What did you mean?”

“Oh, that?  It’s something I heard another Paladin say and I liked it.  It has something to do with the old tales that Rianna and The One used to be lovers until they had a fight and The One locked her in Avanhal.”

“But you don’t believe it?”

“What, that the Plague is her curse?  No, like I said, those are just old tales that used to be told.  Besides, that fight would have taken place hundreds of years ago, you don’t think one of the sides would have won if they were fighting?”

Gabriel was not so sure, but he decided to let the subject rest, “I guess you may be right, I was just curious.  Let us finish and hopefully we can find their names from the people of Garinth.”

“I will be done shortly, I will ride forth and summon the Atwans, and also see what I can find.”

“Thank you Renault.”  With that, he turned and walked back to his still burning corpses.

“Well, that could have gone much worse.”  Renault smiled and left to see to his own corpse.

“Yes it could have,” Gabriel said to no one in particular, and began to carve the date into each fang with his Dai’Sana.  Absently he followed this by writing the date onto his scroll.  He could not get the thought of a fight between the two gods out of his head.  He had never seen a depiction of The One, but he imagined that he was an older man with hawklike features, facing off against the natural beauty he had seen in the old chapel.  What if the Plague really was a curse, he thought.  Gabriel wished he was with Cailin, who would at least hear him out.  The smoke had almost stopped billowing from his four corpses when he realized a voice was talking to him.  His eyes focused and he saw Craig, a smile upon his face.

“You need to have that cut looked at,” He reached out and touched Gabriel’s cheek, causing the young man to wince.  He had forgotten about the slash he had received so early in the fight.

“I got it,” Gabriel waved the new Father off and took out one of each of the stones in his pouch.  As he focused on the four elements and the healing of his wounds, Gabriel could not help but think about the panels he had seen of the werewolf and the man kneeling before Rianna.

The End

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