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Chapter 40

Kevesk stalked into the pub, staff in hand, face showing annoyance and a little worry. It was now well after the last bell, and Derrl, who had insisted on learning from him, had assured him that he would return for lessons immediately after the evening meal. Much earlier, Kevesk had seen a brief vision of something that unsettled him. That he could not recall what he had seen, but that he knew he hadn't been able to make any sense of it, unsettled him all the more. He figured that if he could find Derrl, he would most likely be here, and if not, he would most likely be able to find some hint as to where he might be.

Across the counter from him stood an old man with graying hair who had a worried and haggard look about him. Obviously something troubled him deeply. But since he was the one serving people, he was evidently the one to ask.

"I don't know if you can help me." He leaned against the counter, and said in a quiet tone, "I'm looking for a friend of mine. We were supposed to meet a long time ago, and I thought I might find out where he was if I asked around here." He tried to put a smile on his face, but succeeded only in producing something that revealed his true feelings of worry and restlessness. The barkeep stared at him briefly, then shook his head.

"I don't know what you expect to find here, or why you expect me to know about your friend." He shook his head, in his own mind his words seemed a tad harsh. After all, he was trying to look out for a friend. "I'm sorry, I just have been having a bad day. What makes you think that I would be able to tell you where your friend was, even if I had seen him."

"I'm sorry to have bothered you, it's just that he told me he was going to work. His name's Derrl. I've sort of developed an attachment to him." He began to turn and started thumping his way to the door with his staff. He seemed to be letting his age catch up to him now. As he made his way to the door, the tavern owner recovered from the shock that had been dealt him. He rose suddenly, upsetting his seat. Kevesk turned to see what had happened.

"Wait!" The words shot from his mouth, but they had the tone of a plea almost, "Please, follow me." He gestured for the man with the staff to follow him. He led the way up the stairs and to his room, which was currently occupied by the unfortunate Derrl. He opened the door to let in Derrl's friend. As he looked in, he saw Leylau and Yerril deep in conversation. He stepped in quietly behind the stranger, and closed the door softly with a gentle click that nevertheless attracted the two's attentions and elicited a brief spurt of incomprehensible babble from the prone figure that was once Derrl lying on the bed.

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