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Chapter 28

Derrl's hands flew in a flurry of activity as he went over the staff with a quill. His deft fingers drew the elaborate pattern of the rune on the end of the staff. As he finished the rune on one end, his pen flowed over the length of the staff, drawing an elaborate, crossing pattern that enclosed the staff in a net of ink. When he reached the other end, he capped it with a similar rune, still part of the same line that he had begun with, effectively closing the line and making it meet up with its tail end. His concentration was so intense throughout the ordeal that his face was drenched with sweat, as he worked feverishly to complete it. Yerril was standing over his shoulder throughout. He set down the quill and picked up the staff from the table that Mensk used for record-keeping and logging the inventory that they kept.

"Follow me, and grab those sawhorses. I've got the axe. Don't worry, I'm almost positive I know what I'm doing." He picked up a rather large axe that he routinely used to help chop wood for the stoves and the fireplace, either for cooking food or keeping warm. He was by no means a weakling and was able to split most logs with one hit. "Set those up here," he said, pointing, "and here." When the two sawhorses were set up, he placed the staff firmly in them so that there was three feet of space between them "Yerril, would you like to do this, or would you rather I do it?" he asked, extending the axe handle towards him. Thoroughly confused, Yerril passed on the offer. "I'm not sure if this will work, but here goes." He hefted the large wood-axe over his head a brought it down in a double-handed stroke. The axe head landed squarely on the center of the staff. The staff did not so mush as flex. One of the sawhorses, however, did break, attesting to the strength behind the blow. Derrl dropped the axe nearly as soon as he hit the staff and began shaking his hands, in obvious pain. It felt like hitting a two-foot thick stone wall with a large club as hard as you can. He began to curse as he shook his hands. The jolt had gone all the way up his arms. Yerril picked up the axe and examined the blade, finding a very dull curved section. The curve was concave, as opposed to convex, as it should have been. He picked up the staff and held it crosswise against the axe blade, matching up the curve of the staff with the shallow notch on the blade. He tossed the damaged axe aside and fell to work examining the staff, ignoring the steady flow of invective from the young man behind him. Damn'd to th' pits bucko! Was wood! She feels like wood, Weighs th' same as wood, looks like wood. Bucko, that thar ain't wood no more.

"… demon damned! Should have known that was going to hurt! Stupid…" His swearing became less vocal now, as he calmed down and the pain subsided. He could have drawn up a rune to relieve the pain, but he wasn't thinking clearly.All he knew was one thing: that his plans for floating off the Pribe were going to work. "Well, I'm guessing we can start work on the Pribe tomorrow, if we want to float her free anytime soon."

Yerril stood up, jaw hanging. His slack jaw quickly changed into a grin. "I don't know what ye did, bucko. Don't want to know either. Let's go buy ye a drink, and celebrate th' rebirth of me Pribe."

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