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Chapter 13

Her face lit up as she opened the box. Her smile was blinding. She let out a squeal of delight as she saw what was in the box. She squealed some more, and then she giggled, followed by more giggling, immediately followed by profuse thanks, and then more squealing and giggling. Needless to say, she was happy. She leaned over the table, put the box to the side, and put her hands on both of his cheeks, and planted a kiss on him by way of thanks. And then she sat back down with the box to squeal some more. By this time she had quieted down a bit, she had after all just done two solid minutes of squealing. Derrl just sat there, beet red, stock still, afraid to move, with no clue as to what had just happened. All he had done was give her a box that Yerril was sending her. Out of the corner of his eye, he could just barely see Mensk coming over to the booth.

"What has he done to you, Leylau?" He asked with a badly covered grin.

"Oh! Oh, oh, oh oh, oh my goodness! He brought me my healerstone! I can't believe it's here!" She jumped up and gave Mensk a massive hug, well, as massive as she could manage, as she was, after all, a very petite woman.

"Calm down, girl. We're not all going to die now. I'm glad for you that you have your stone now, but that just means that everyone's going to be calling on you now. You're the only healer hereabouts with a stone; that makes you a prize commodity. You'll be busier than you ever imagined now."

"Oh!" She squealed again, "I know, but this means I can help heal so many more people now, and my garden will get better too. I can help strengthen my spices now. I'm just so incredibly happy. I can't believe it's here."

"I think you'd better. It's sitting right in front of you in that there box." His grin was out in the open now.

Derrl sat there with a dazed and confused look full on his face. Mensk could see it clearly, and it just made him laugh.

"Derrl, boy, you've been out of the information loop since you left here. You have no clue as to what is going on do you?"

Derrl shook his head, "Absolutely none."

"Don't worry," said the elderly barman. "It'll be that way for most of the rest your life if you intend on dealing with women. It's perfectly natural. In fact, if you understood what just happened, I would think you weren't normal." He was laughing strongly at this point, his protruding gut shaking mightily. He was having a good time at Derrl's expense, but he didn't mean anything by it, and Derrl knew it.

"Um, at risk of sounding stupid, what is it? What is a healerstone?" he asked both of the people at the table. Mensk was the first to answer.

"Well, son, you know of course that some people are born naturally with the ability to heal others, right? And of course some are stronger than others. Our Leylau is one of the stronger ones. It seems to have something to do with the strength of their conviction and will to help others. But no matter how strong you are there are ways to make you stronger. There are certain mages who will custom tailor a rune for a healer and carve it on water-rounded crystal. When the healer focuses their power through the crystal, it gets amplified, something like the way that light gets focused in a lens."

"Wait a minute! If Leylau's the healer, why are you answering me? Shouldn't she know better how it works?"

"She certainly will if she starts to use it and practices, but as it is, I have lots of time on my hands, so I've done lots of reading, just about anything that I can get my hands on really, always have been that way. In fact, I'm the one who suggested that she try this in order to help her out. One day, she had come in here bawling her eyes out and wanting to get drunk, which is odd for two reasons: ladies shouldn't drink that much, and healers are especially un-fond of the stuff." He was starting to get gushy about days past. Derrl knew that this happened to him, but he knew just how to avoid it. Either change the subject, or interrupt him so he couldn't talk anymore. He did the latter.

"Leylau? I hope you don't mind me asking, but why were you so upset?" He was as sincere as anyone could possibly be. He had only met her this afternoon, but could already feel strong urges to protect her. He wanted to shield her almost. What could he say? He a chivalrous kind of guy.

"In a moment." She answered, finishing off the last of her springbrew, which was not a brew at all, it was most of a sweet decoction, he watched her throat as she swallowed the last of her drink and set down the mug. "I had just been devastated, I had been trying to save a poor family's cow. They had brought me to it asking if I could do anything. They normally wouldn't have brought a cow to a healer, but times have been hard lately and food scarce. Their cow seemed to have gotten an infection, and they were worried, as the cow was the family's livelihood, and if it died they wouldn't be able to pay the taxes or eat for that matter." She wiped back a tear that was glistening. Derrl felt a strong urge to go around the table and hug her reassuringly, but he felt awkward and didn't know how she would take it. He was forced to make himself sit still as she finished her story. He hadn't been paying as close attention as he could have and had missed some of what she said. " In the end, I was forced to realize that I just wasn't strong enough and the cow too far gone, but I just felt so helpless. I was ready to give up on healing because of that cow. I was willing to settle for piss drunk though, and since I knew Mensk, I came here. That's when he stopped me. He had the suggestion about the healerstone. I asked my father if he could arrange for a mage to make me one. They don't need much to make it; a piece of clothing is really all they need. And daddy had lots of old scraps. Daddy's a trader over in Havenfair, and he loves me so much, he couldn't bear to see me the way I was. So he got it commissioned as soon as he could, but then it had to be carved, and shipped here, which took longer than thought." Derrl nodded as she finished her sob story, and he couldn't help but notice when Mensk wiped at his eyes with his apron, and nearly blew his nose. He was more emotional than most people knew, or than he was willing to admit.

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