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KnightDisciple

Intrigue and Accusations on the Emerald Isle (IC, Solo)

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Ireland, Countryside

Mid-9th Century

Gabriel groaned, his head and neck still throbbing with deep, dull pain. He tried to sit up, before flopping back down, teeth clenched as the pain sharpened.

"Oh dear. You shouldn't be trying to get up yet! You're lucky to be alive, and moving won't do you any good."

He tried to look around for the source of the melodious voice, but the light just hurt his eyes. Then, his head and shoulders were lifted onto something soft. The voice was closer now.

"Let's see...hm. Nothing broken now. Just bruises. You're lucky you threw your arms out and rolled with that impact. We wouldn't be talking otherwise."

"Yeah, well, I tend to get hurt a lot. A guy learns how to take a few licks when that's the case."

"Your opponents lick you?"

"No, it's just an expression. It means I know how to take injuries. Hey, wait a second. It doesn't hurt any more?"

"Good. My gift isn't' the strongest, but it seems to do well with repeated applications."

"What do you mean by your gift?"

Gabriel's vision was slowly coming into focus, the blurriness keeping him from seeing details, but he now knew that his head was not resting on a pillow. Instead, it lay in the lap of a woman, one likely around his age, from the sound of her voice (among other hints). She seemed to have dark brown hair that almost reached her waist. Her voice was soft and friendly.

"I have the gift of healing in my hands. I have always had it, though it has slowly grown stronger as I have grown older."

"You know, if getting hurt means beautiful women take care of me, maybe I should "accidentally" hit the ground more often."

The sentence had left his mouth before he could really think it over. The woman's laughter only deepened as he blushed a bright red.

"My my, you almost match your hair, good sir."

"Wait..Where are my clothes?"

"Clean and folded in the corner of our humble abode."

"Our?"

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"Myself and my two sister live here. My name is Brigid. My sisters are Enya and Noreen. Each of us has our own special gifts. Mine are the healing arts; Enya can control fire, earth, air, and water, and Noreen has powers over the minds of others. In brief, at any rate. They should be home any time n-â€

Brigid was cut short as two women burst into the room. Gabriel's vision was clear enough now to see that these three were actually identical triplets, with only their hair color setting them apart. Of the two newcomers, one had hair as black as the feathers of a raven, while the other's hair was red, though a somewhat darker shade than Gabriel's. Before the displaced hero or his healer could say anything, the redhead began to speak.

“Brigid! Hurry! The townsfolk are coming! They've got some damn fool idea in their head that we're witches, the darkest of sorcerers, or some other such thing! They've got weapons and torches! We'll be lucky if they don't kill us right away!â€

“While Enya said it more forcefully than I would have, she is correct. I believe I have found the source of the troubles of the last year. Which is the reason we are suddenly being attacked. At least, that's my theory.â€

“Sisters, we must stay calm. I do not think fighting is our best option, not with the dark forces we fear lurking about. We must-â€

Suddenly, all four occupants of the home heard shouting outside. Brigid frowned.

“Good sir, it may be best if you sleep for a while longer. Your wounds will heal, and they may think you are a “victimâ€, instead of an accomplice. Which may yet be our key to living through this...â€

“What? I can help!â€

“No. It is better this way...â€

“Gabriel. My...name..is...â€

And just like that, the man from the future was asleep, the soft glow around Brigid's hands fading. Her sisters walked over to stand next to her, even as she gently placed Gabriel's head on the pallet. Just before the door came crashing inwards....

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Gabriel awoke on an uncomfortable wooden bench. He was alert much more quickly this time; it seemed he'd essentially recovered from his injuries and their aftermath. At the moment, he seemed to be in a small, barren room. He was wearing simple pants, a loose white shirt, and soft leather shoes that almost felt like slippers. He grimaced a bit at the rough nature of much of his clothing.

“Thank the Lord for modern underwear.â€

With that proclamation of faith, he stood and walked to the door. While made of fairly thick wooden planks, it was nonetheless unlocked. Raising an eyebrow in curiosity, Gabriel strode forth into the hall. Now that he was out of the room, he could faintly hear voices. Slowly, he followed them, before he finally emerged into what seemed to be a decent-sized church sanctuary, filled with people.

It was just that, instead of a joyful worship service, there seemed to be an angry trial going on. The three sisters were in chains on a raised platform that, on most any other day, would have been where the priest shepherded his flock form. Today, it was apparently the site for a rather vicious-sounding trial.

“-and who knows what horrible things they did to the innocent man lying near death in one of the spare rooms in this very church! Why, they may have-â€

“They nursed him back to health after he took a nasty spill. All very above board and on the up and up.â€

The whole place turned to face him, shock evident from everyone but the triplets, the angry man who had been speaking, and two of his associates. The latter three just looked angrier.

“How do we know he wasn't-â€

“Wasn't “bewitched'? Is that what you're going to ask? Well, it's a good question, at least in theory. But what proof would you take?â€

One of the older men in the audience spoke up.

“Speak the Lord's Prayer. If you're bewitched, or otherwise in league with the Devil, you won't be able to finish it.â€

Gabriel grinned and nodded, before he solemnly spoke.

“Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, just as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen.â€

The whole lot had bowed their heads during the prayers, even the triplets. All except the angry accuser, who Gabriel had carefully watched. Something was off with the man, but he couldn't tell what, not yet.

“So. What do these three women stand accused of, specifically? Since the “bewitching the new guy†charge is out.â€

“Well stranger, why should we tell you?â€

“They're the ones that dragged my fool self inside after I hit the ground hard. Pretty sure they helped me heal up, too.â€

There were murmurs and nods in the crowd; clearly the triplets were fairly well known. So these people had only just been stirred up against them. Interesting.

“Hmph. Well, they stand accused of heresy, witchcraft, consorting with the faeries, and working against the village itself! They did something to cause the priest and all the others who work here in the church to fall into a strange slumber. The elder monk, Peter, has passed away because of it!â€

“How do you know it was them?â€

“They're witches!â€

“Proof?â€

“They have strange abilities!â€

“That's not a “witchâ€, not really. Besides, didn't Sampson have strength beyond mortal men? Didn't the prophets perform miracles in their day? Mind you, that's not the ultimate decider. If you're going by the Scriptures, those in the Old Testament are focused on people who call up evil spirits, practice the foulest of magic, and so on. Basically, people who explicitly call upon Evil. What you're saying is that anyone outside a vague definition of “normal†is evil. Considering Christ was a man who was also God, that's dangerous ground.

So. We've established they have abilities that most mortals do not possess. That's all fine and dandy. How are they accused of heresy, and all those other things?â€

It was clear from his confident tone, and the way he'd strode to the front, standing opposite the impromptu prosecutor. He'd made himself the defender of these three.

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“Ah, good sir...â€

“Gabriel, if it's alright with you....â€

“James. I'm the one who make sure we try to stick to the rules, such as they are, around here. I just wanted you to realize...If they're found guilty, you'll share their fate. You have to convince those five men over there, and to a lesser extent, the whole crowd.â€

Gabriel saw the five elders that James had indicated. He then nodded towards the prosecution.

“Who's that fellow and his friends?â€

“The man who is the primary accuser is Finnegan. Gilroy and Kevin are his friends and assistants.â€

James lowered his voice more, his back towards Finnegan's little group.

“To be honest, they haven't been quite the same for the last couple of months. Angrier, you know? Especially towards the girls over there. But the accusations are serious enough, they have to be heard out.â€

Gabriel nodded towards James, who moved to take a seat next to the five judges. They all nodded, and Gabriel continued.

“As I was saying. We've examined the issue of “witchcraftâ€, at least in the context of their abilities.â€

“Have we? Where did these strange abilities come from?

Noreen spoke up at this point, her voice calm and clear, easily heard by all in the room.

“We have always had them. They are as much a part of us as our hair color. Our parents had no ideas on what caused it. These things simply are. We made no bargains, underwent no rituals. Which makes it most curious how these shackles can strip our abilities away.â€

“Silence you demonic wench! Those are holy artifacts from the Church, from Rome itself!â€

“That doesn't mean they are witches. I know the Church stands against those who would harm Her flock. I also know that not all such enemies use “magic†as it is sometimes defined. Having something like that isn't totally out of place.â€

'Except in this day and age, it probably is out of place without some sort of heavy magical enchantments. Which means that either the Church has some mages on the payroll....or this dude's lying.'

Finnegan's mannerisms suggested he wasn't speaking the whole truth. Gabriel gave the man a confident smirk.

“Thus, this road of inquiry is too vague to make a decision on. So, what other “heresy†have they committed?â€

“They kept asking heretical questions of the priest!â€

“That is untrue! We never asked such things! When we spoke, it was always questions that helped us understand our faith better! Do we not have a right to ask such things?â€

Enya's face was almost as red as her hair, such was her indignation. The judges frowned, and the apparent senior member spoke.

“She is correct, Finnegan. Father Bartholomew never said their questions were heretical. Only deep and thoughtful. He praised them for such things, wishing more of his flock would stop and think sometimes. I know the times I sat down with him and the girls, it was always interesting, informative, thoughtful, and never anything vaguely like heresy. The Church has never said questions cannot be asked. Do you have any other reason to state heresy?â€

The accuser seemed to visibly deflate a bit. He shook his head mutely.

“Very well then. These girls still stand accused of working with the foul faerie folk, conspiring against the village, and casting something upon the priest and all the others who worked here in the church. Meanwhile, we have children who are beginning to show similar symptoms. This is a serious charge, and the one we need to consider most thoroughly.â€

Finnegan's smile was positively vicious...until Gabriel spoke.

“Okay. What proof do we have?â€

“These wenches are unnatural! What other proof do we need? We found strange tomes and bottles of poisonous herbs in their cabin! As well as these strange garments, surely the sort worn by faerie folk!â€

There was a table Gabriel hadn't noticed before. On it were a couple of actual books (albeit only one seemed to have more than a couple dozen pages), a couple of scrolls, a scattering of small containers with pieces of plant in them...and his costume.

“Has anyone examined the texts? Or the plants? Or the clothes? I mean really looked, not just grabbed something that “looked weird†or some such.â€

Everyone looked at each other nervously. Finally, an older couple stood up, walking slowly to the front. The husband spoke.

“I am Maximilian, with my wife Esther. We are the village's doctors; we shall examine these, if the judges do not object.â€

None of them did, though Finnegan clearly wanted to. The couple spent almost 20 minutes looking over all the items, muttering to each other, nodding, shaking their heads, and generally leaving everyone on the edge of their seats. Finally, they turned around to face everyone, and Max spoke again.

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“None of these herbs are poison; some are for food, others are lesser-known medicinal herbs. The sort you have to work with for a bit to make useful. The books and scrolls are a mix. Some speak on using herbs and other medicinal skills. Some speak on history. One is a copy of the scriptures. Those clothes, though odd in material and cut, are ultimately still mundane. The coat even bears the symbol of the Cross on it, multiple times. Nothing here suggests working with dark powers.â€

“Then how do you explain the sickness that is spreading? You said yourself it was not natural!â€

“Nothing here would let them do such a thing. And none of them ever displayed the ability to produce such an effect before. We may not have seen their full strength, but I doubt they can simply conjure sickness from thin air.â€

Finnegan all but ground his teeth as the old doctor spoke. The couple tottered back to their seats, while Gabriel crossed his arms in satisfaction. The judges were conferring among themselves. Finally, the senior judge stood.

“Brigid. Enya. Noreen. We shall ask you plainly: Have you worked against this town, now or in the past?â€

Brigid, her eyes full of honesty and compassion, spoke for them.

“Nay sir. We have only ever sought to help our birth village. Our parents loved it here. We love it here. Do you not all recall various times when one of us has helped you? Yes, we are more forceful than some women. The Scriptures condemn no such thing. We ask questions of the priest, we sometimes sing our worship in our own house. Yet we do not forsake coming here. We may not be such women as some may thing we ought to be, but do not thing us heretics, witches, and faerie-lovers. We have, in fact, fought off three subtle attacks by the Fae folk. Two such attacks were in the last year; we feared they were coming for the children. We stood against them. Your children aren't at risk because of us. Your children are safe because of us.â€

Everyone was nodding now. Except for Finnegan and his goons. Finnegan, whose face was a mask of rage. Finnegan, who seemed to have blocked everything else out as he pulled out a-

“He's got a knife!â€

Even as he spoke, Gabriel dove in front of Brigid, who was Finnegan's target. His goons pulled knives and started moving for the other two girls. Gabriel's face twisted into an angry snarl.

“I've had it with you! You need to take this outside!â€

And suddenly, there was a loud sound, and Finnegan was sent sprawling down the aisle, skidding to a stop against the door. The two thugs moved to attack, but were each grabbed by their knife hands and left frozen in place. Gabriel's face was stern as he straightened himself up.

“I knew you were up to no good! I should have figured it out sooner! Well, you think people with powers only get them from Evil? I have news for you, buddy. My power comes from the Archangel Gavriel himself! Trumpeter of God! Herald of the birth of Christ! I have faced down demons, necromancers, the legions of the undead, and all manner of foul beasts! Do not thing you frighten me!â€

Meanwhile, a few of the braver men had run up to grab the frozen thugs, taking the knives from their stiff hands and throwing them to the ground. The rest were trying to stay away from the already-stirring Finnegan. Gabriel, meanwhile, had calmly walked over to the table with his clothing on it. Knowing there wasn't time for anything else, he grabbed the coat and pulled it on, enjoying its comforting weight. He turned to face Finnegan...just as the church doors burst open. Behind the angry man were...

“Wait, elves? Elves. Crap. That means-â€

“Something has allowed the faeries in here. And here we stand, chained like animals!â€

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“Do not worry yourself, Enya. Our defender has a few secrets of his own, I think.â€

Gabriel glanced at the girls, then came to a decision. He reached his hand over, touching the manacles binding Enya...which promptly turnred brittle, easily broken by her own power. Even as she was working on freeing her sisters, and the townsfolk were screaming and surging to the front of the church, away from the invaders, Gabriel was slowly striding forward. He watched, grim-faced, as Finnegan was hauled to his feet. A beautiful woman, clothed in elegant robes (as opposed to the leaf-like armor of the rest) walked forward slowly, facing the man, who now had an expression of utter joy and rapture on his face.

“Little man. So easy to mold. So eager to please. So lonely. So sad about your family those years ago. Bandits on the road, wasn't it?â€

When the she-elf laughed, it was somehow both beautiful and terrifying, all at once. It only made Gabriel more angry; his coat began whipping about as a subtle hum rose about his person.

“Nay dear Finnegan. It was we who slew them. So that in time, I could enchant you. So you would follow my dictates, including binding these bitches with the chains I had so carefully crafted for you. So we could destroy these three bitches for interfering with our plans. So that we could wipe this town from the map, take your children as our own, and give ourselves a foothold. Your blasted Saint Patrick helped drive us out of our rightful kingdom! We have come to start taking it back!â€

Before Gabriel could intervene, the she-elf stabbed Finnegan in his stomach. As soon as she did, the man collapsed, and it was like a veil lifted form his mind, and the mind of his two friends. All of them cried out in grief at what they'd done, but Finnegan's cry was loudest. Even as Gabriel tried to take aim to stop him, one of the elf soldiers silenced Finnegan's crying forever. The she-elf turned to Gabriel, a smirk upon her face. Her soldiers took up ranks beside her, their bronze, leaf-like blades drawn and ready to bring forth blood.

“You have power, mortal. Perhaps you could join me? I could show you delights no mortal woman could, not even the bitches three. What say you, mortal? Will you come and worship at my feet?â€

Gabriel's face hardened at her final words. It shifted from the mask of rage that had formed as he saw them slay the poor, bewitched Finnegan, to an expression that might as well have been carved from granite.

“Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'†Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.â€

He shifted, before suddenly, he began to float in the air.

“In you, LORD my God, I put my trust. I trust in You; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause!â€

His hands whipped forward, and one of the elven warriors near the back of the group was blasted well out of the church. More power crackled around his fists. The warriors began to march forward...

When suddenly, all but the she-elf and three warriors who seemed to be her bodyguards clutched their heads and went fleeing from the church. Gabriel could see far enough outside to see them running into the tree line. The four remaining elves snarled and brandished their weapons (large bronze swords for the guards, and a finely-wrought spear of bronze for the woman); the she-elf cast off her outer robe to reveal armor that looked almost like a finely-made dress, made of countless tiny links.

“Blasted mind-witch! You may have driven the other troops away, but we shall not run so easily! We need no others to slay your pathetic kind!â€

“Begone from this house of worship!â€

With a cry from both Noreen (who seemed to have “telekinesis†in her abilities) and Enya (who used the earth and air to shove at the elves), the elves were driven from the church, with Gabriel and the triplets pursuing them. The doors of the church seemed to shut themselves, and suddenly there was a sense that the people inside would be safe. It was at this time that Noreen spoke up, as each group sized each other up.

“Those others will have returned to the Fae realms, and won't return unless brought by the likes of her. Let's teach them why that's a bad idea.â€

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Enya and Gabriel nodded, but Brigid seemed reluctant; perhaps because she had less ability in a fight. Of course, the rather well-executed dodge of a sword seemed to undermine that theory at least somewhat. Then the hero in white had no time to think, as the she-elf sent a blast of oddly greenish lightning his way. He barely managed to dodge, before sending a sonic pulse at her. She was grazed by it, snarling in even greater anger.

That anger only increased as Enya's foe was left with broken bones, severe burns, and half-drowned in water summoned from the ground. The red-headed metahuman quickly moved to aid Brigid against her foe, while Noreen was buffeting her foe with telekinetic force. The sisters were winning. Gabriel, on the other hand, merely had a draw. Neither seemed to be able to land a telling blow. However, as the fight went on, Gabriel noticed that she seemed to be channeling her attacks through the very fancy spear. He smirked.

“Hey, you. The ugly elf wench. Yeah, you. Spear looks really nice. Too bad.â€

And with no more warning, he flung his hand forward and struck the spear with a tightly-focused wave of sound. It vibrated horribly in the she-elfs hands for a moment, before going still. She smirked as well.

“Ha! Foolish mortal, foolish servant of the White Christ! You have done nothing but incur my wra-AGH!â€

Her scream of surprise and pain came when she tried to channel lightning through the spear again, and it exploded in her hand. Coincidentally, her final bodyguard fell to the Triplets. The she-elf crouched on the ground, her hands bleeding from the splinters, her face scratched and scorched. Gabriel floated down to a spot right in front of her. She sneered at him.

“Bah. You have only delayed things, mortals! We shall-urk!â€

Gabriel had grabbed her by the throat with one hand, his cold fury giving him strength he'd never felt before. He kept the grip tight enough she couldn't get loose as he lifted her to her feet, but loose enough she could speak and nod. His other hand rested palm-first on her abdomen. Both hands hummed with barely-leashed power.

“You will leave. You will never come back here, not even in the End of Days, when He comes riding a white horse in a white robe with a rod in his hands. Not even then. You will leave these people alone, or so help me, all the centuries that separate us will not keep you safe. If you harm them, and I find out, I will visit ruin upon your kingdom. Your home will crumble to dust, and your armies will be struck down. You will fall to your knees, and you will taste ash on your tongue.â€

His grip tightened.

“And if you refuse to leave now, I will give you to the Lord's Judgment. So. Will you leave this place this day?â€

She nodded, unable to speak due to her fear, tears running down her face.

“Will you ever trouble these people again, you or your kin, your allies, your descendants?â€

She shook her head. Gabriel released her, and she stumbled over to her guards, pulling them all into one spot, her gaze never quite leaving the stoic man in the white coat. She shivered under his gaze, before she and her warriors simply vanished in a flare of green light. When Noreen confirmed they were no long anywhere close to the village, Gabriel spoke again.

“Good.â€

And then he collapsed off of his feet, totally exhausted, Brigid and her sisters rushing towards him, Noreen barely keeping him from slamming his head into the ground.

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Gabriel woke up once more with his head in Brigid's lap. Again, he spoke without fully thinking his words through.

“If this keeps happening, people are going to talk, and I might not stop them.â€

His eyes widened as he realized what he'd said out loud, and he blushed to the roots of his hair, his whole head and neck red. He coughed and sat up, this time not being restrained by the giggling young woman.

“You are correct, Gabriel. People may start to talk. Be thankful only my sisters are here.â€

He glanced around, and again couldn't quite stop his mouth in time.

“I daresay this makes me wonder if I've died. Three beautiful women watching over me as I sleep? The very definition of Heaven. I mean. Um. Thank you for helping heal me.â€

All three shared a laugh at his expense.

“You're not bad for some out-of-towner, Gabriel.â€

“Carson.â€

“Pardon?â€

“My name, my real name, is Carson. Gabriel is a name I operate under to honor the archangel who gave me his power. Normally I wear a mask; I guess I'll just have to ask you all to stay quiet about that little fact.â€

Suddenly, several things truly clicked into place.

“What year is it?â€

“Hm. Noreen, you're the one who's best at these things. What year is it, again?â€

“As most reckon it, it is Anno Domini 832. Give or take. Why do you ask?â€

“I'm nearly twelve centuries in the past, such as I reckon things. Which explains a lot that was kind of fuzzy when I woke up.â€

“Wait, that whole time, you were “fuzzyâ€?â€

“What did you expect? I'd practically broken my neck, Enya! You think I'm going to be entirely lucid?â€

“Children, please. Not in the house.â€

Enya and Gabrile chuckled nervously at Noreen's chiding. Brigid just shook her head and began to shuffle her sisters out the door. She pointed to a washbasin and a pile of clothes in the corner.

“Wash up Ga...Carson. Perhaps we can then talk of the future.â€

Gabriel waited until they were gone before heading over to clean up. He'd gotten his lower self cleaned and his costume pants on, and was working on his upper body, when he heard feminine giggling. He froze, and the giggling stopped. He sighed, shook his head, and continued at an increased pace. Perhaps five minutes later, he was outside, in full costume barring his mask and hood, both of which were pulled down, exposing his head. He shook his head at the three young women who were smiling at him.

“I hope you didn't start looking too early.â€

The three just shook their heads, beaming grins.

“Right. How's the town?â€

“Mostly back to normal. Priest and his lot are back up on their feet. We already had a service for Finn, and his friend apologized to us a lot. Seems they'd been roped in by the faerie women as well.â€

“Hm. Sorry to hear that. Glad they're free, at least. Look. This...confound it this is awkward.â€

Brigid stepped forward, looking deep into his eyes, laying one hand on his cheek. She smiled softly, even as her two sisters moved closer as well, similar smiles on their faces.

“You wish to return to your time, but part of you likes it here, yes? Or perhaps likes some of the people here?â€

He blushed, then nodded.

“Yeah. Kind of. I mean, we've just met, but you three are really nice. And about my age. And...I'm shutting up now. But yeah.â€

All three were suddenly hugging him, and Carson was very careful not to move. Just as quickly, they'd released him.

“Oh. Um. Thanks for that, I gu-umph!â€

Further speech is stopped when Noreen kisses him for several seconds. He hears laughter in his mind even as Enya moves in after her sister, and suddenly he feels the earth tremble a bit beneath him. He's still reeling from feeling like he just kissed a thunderstorm when Brigid gently guides him into a final kiss, his last aches and pains fading away. He was left with a cacophony of sensations, smells, and tastes on his lips. He saw their smiles, bright, happy, yet also sad. Why were they sad? What was this pulling sensation behind him?

“You've got to be kid-â€

And then he was gone, and the sisters went about their work. Living their lives. In time, all three found love, had children, and passed on to their reward. None forgot the man in white who stood for their defense when no others spoke for them.

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