Gabriel opened his eyes and found himself staring at a stone wall, its lone window open to a cloudy blue sky, the smell of a coming snowstorm wafting in. At the bottom of his line of vision rested his sword and shield, propped against the wall. They young Paladin was laying on his side in what appeared to be his own room in the temple. As he rolled over, he was greeted by a voice he had never expected to hear again.
“Nice of you to rejoin us Master Gabriel,” Father Meinos sat in a chair beside his bed, looking far older than he had, but looking less wolf-like.
Gabriel made to say something, but the old man raised his hand.
“There will be time for questions later, you have been out for three days. It was stupid what you did back there, but thank you.” His tone was warm and the smile on his face was genuine, but Gabriel sensed something behind it and said so.
“While I was that, thing,” he scowled as he said the word, “I could hear her call. She said the Curse would be lifted if we only saved her.”
“Who?” Gabriel croaked, his throat dry.
Father Meinos offered him a cup of water, which he took and drained.
“The Goddess Rianna. I always knew the legends to be true, and now I know.”
“So the Plague is actually a Curse?”
“Brought upon us by the jealousy of our God.” Father Meinos’ head sank, his chin touching his chest. Gently shaking his head, he added, “And we have blindly followed him.”
“So, what are we to do?”
“You need to eat and regain your strength. Healing me took a lot more out of you than you realize.”
Gabriel thought back to the fight and remembered his broken jaw. He reached up to touch it and winced at the pain.
“For that I am sorry, Varin was able to mend the bone, but the healing takes some out of the one that needs it and you had nothing else to give.”
“And after I regain my strength?”
“The Goddess said you are to be one of her champions.”