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Chapter 27

"Ho, Derrl! What are you doing here? I thought I told you that you didn't have to come into work until tomorrow." Mensk was standing behind the bar with a clean rag wiping down the bar. He was in his element and enjoying himself. Pleasant conversation filled the air around them. Oddly enough, it was pleasant days like this that seemed to fill up the tables at his tavern the most, not to mention his coffers.

"You did tell me not to come in until tomorrow. I'm not exactly here to work, but if you have anything for me to do I'd be glad to get it out of the way before tomorrow." He was always glad to see Mensk. He was the closest thing he had to a family, and Derrl had been remiss in his familial responsibilities until recently.

"Sorry Derrl, haven't got any work for you to do until those barrels come in tomorrow. I'm sure that you're terribly disappointed that I haven't got anything heavy for you to stack in the shed." He was grinning now. He enjoyed having Derrl around, and they were comfortable around each other. "So if you're not here to work, why are you here? If it won't strain you too much to answer."

"Actually, I'm here to see if I could find Yerril. I was told I could find him here. It's funny though, I don't remember him coming here back when I worked here before."

"He didn't start coming here until the Flowing Barrel burnt down. He knew the fellow who owned it. But you can't drink out of a wooden tankard that's caught fire now can you? Not unless you don't mind losing your beard. You need Yerril? He's over in the corner where Leylau usually sits. Mind you she hasn't been in today. Wait, bring him this; it looks likes he's due for a refill. And have a mug yourself." He handed over a pitcher to refill the captain's mug and an extra mug for Derrl. He picked them up and wove his way through the tables and seated customers towards the corner and Yerril. The captain was in a half-doze, staring at the wall directly across from him when the mug and pitcher landed on the table simultaneously with a thunk. The eyes of the slightly inebriated captain brightened instantly when they focused on Derrl. He grinned at the youth with enough force to split an anvil and refilled his tankard with ale. He downed half of the tankard in one gulp, topped off the large wooden mug and filled Derrl's as well.

"What brings ye here, bucko?" His gap-toothed grin was warm and comforting. He was a man that you could easily get along with. He gestured for Derrl to have a seat across from him. Derrl took a sip of ale as he sat down on the comfortable bench. Mensk was one of the few who purchased padded benches and stools for his customers. Thoughtful old man.

"Actually, it's about the Pribe." At the mention of his stranded ship the tipsy captain's eyes moistened. "I needed to talk to you about an idea that I have for getting her off that sandbar. But you'll need to agree and be open-minded about the whole process. It's not exactly your conventional methods." His eyes were on the verge of tears, yet he nodded.

"Sorry, did I say something?"

"Nay bucko, it's just that when I be getting' to thinking 'bout me ship, and all the times she's served me good, I feel sad-like when I think of her, sittin' out there all lonesome-like. At least she don't be havin' that hole in her side no more. I fixed that up like ye asked me to." He was still slightly misty eyed, but the worst had passed. "There was the time we'd been runnin' away from a privateer…" Yerril slipped into a reverie that was likely to last for a while. Derrl was already having difficulty paying attention: his mind kept wandering off in other directions, most frequently though, he kept on coming back to an image of two runes tied together somehow, but not with any earthly substance. The captain's eyes were watery again as he reminisced about times with the Pribe. "… And now she be sittin' out there all by her lonesome without me." Suddenly Derrl was assaulted by an image of two strengthening runes linked to each other by long flowing lines of pulsating light. He leaped up from the bench and nearly spilled the rest of his tankard.

"Follow me, I think I have just eliminated the only problem I had with my plans for floating the Pribe off the bar." He quickly ran to the bar and asked a quick question to Mensk, who handed him an old beaten-up staff from behind the bar. There was an assortment of blunt objects that Mensk kept behind the bar to subdue the rowdies. He was still rather powerful for his age. Derrl ran out to the back by the shed with Yerril following quickly behind.

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