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Chapter 16

Mensk had gone out to the back shortly after Derrl had gone out to stack the barrels. He had intended to tell him to leave the work and go home with the girl that he so obviously liked. He walked towards the outbuilding and something seemed odd. He didn't hear any sounds of anything moving around out in the shed. It's not like Derrl to just run off and leave a job unfinished, especially when someone is waiting for him. It's just not the way he acts. He walked into the dimly lit building, and then opened the door wider to let the light in. He saw Derrl and the growing pool of blood beside him. He acted almost without thinking. He picked up the prone form, wracked with worries, and carried it in his arms back to the tavern. Once in the door, he called to Leylau.

"Leylau! I need your help!" She came rounding a corner. "Help me get him upstairs." He grunted, as the weight was becoming more than he could handle by himself.

"What happened to him?" Her face was fretful. She was worried for the man that she had just recently met, hoping that nothing serious had happened.

"I couldn't tell you if I knew." The old man replied. "Now help me get him to my room. You can take care of him there. You are the healer after all. It looks like you'll be getting a chance to try out your healerstone today. I don't intend to lose him now, when I only just got him back. He's like a son to me." Leylau was visibly crying now; her emotions were getting the best of her.

"Do you think I don't care for him too?" She sobbed. "Let's get him to a bed so I can help him." She had her wits about her now and was mopping away the tears that had rolled down her cheeks. She was in near mental anguish. Mensk got Derrl's unconscious body into the bed in the plain room at the top of the stairs. He didn't have much furniture in his room, but what there was was made plainly, though not to say without skill. He had to leave the room. He couldn't stand to see the youth as he was, with blood over the side of his face. Leylau fetched the half-full washbasin off the stand in the corner. There was a clean washcloth as well; she grabbed it too. She carried it all over to beside the bed and began to wash the blood of the right side of his head with the wet cloth. The blood had already begun to clot on its own, and began to flow a little. It was only after she had cleaned the wound that she saw the jagged wooden splinter that was embedded in the skin in the side of his head. She lifted his eyelids and looked at his eyes. He had a concussion. Things could be worse however; his temple could have been smashed. It happened all too frequently with a blow to the side of the head. She stopped to observe him as he was momentarily, pale as he lay on the clean white sheets of the bartender's bed. She knew then how much she actually cared for him. She had known him for a very short time, but knew that she would be hard pressed to live without him now. She was distracted by a sudden downpour that was accompanied by rolling booms of thunder. Odd, she thought, I could have sworn that those skies were clear less than a minute ago. The storm receded as quickly as it had come. The weather was odd today. It was the second such storm so far. She nodded to herself as she told herself that she would have to cut out the splinter very soon, before the wound became infected. She generally carried basic tools with her, and almost always a small but very sharp knife, almost a razor in fact. She pulled it out and decided where she ought best to place the cut that would enable her to remove the wooden barb. She selected her point of attack and tilted his head to the left so that she would be better able to excise the splinter. She applied the knife, only to have it pull across the skin harmlessly, without so much as a mark. She absently tested the blade, wondering how she could be so careless as to allow it to get dull. Blood welled up from the thumb that she was testing the edge on. She yelped, and quickly washed off her thumb and bandaged it. Fortunately, it was a clean cut. What was going on? She was about to attempt again with the knife, but as she neared his prone form the air around it began to crackle. The air seemed almost alive. It was filled with sheer electric power. She dared not approach any closer, for fear of being hurt herself. As soon as the air charged itself, it resumed its normal state. Only then did she notice the ashes on the bed beside his head that had been the wooden barb. There was no need for the knife now. She cleaned off the blade briefly and stowed it in her satchel. Almost as an afterthought, she removed the box that held her healerstone. She brought it closer to the bed and opened it. As the lid of the box lifted, she saw Derrl stir out of the corner of her eye. He was still unconscious. She brought the clear, engraved crystal towards him, and even as she did so his eyes shot open and he bolted upright. This day was not going anything like the way it should. She gave up trying to understand and threw herself at Derrl, hugging him as hard as she could, not prepared to let go. She was sobbing as she held him.

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