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Chapter 48



Kevesk lay at the base of the mast, dozing as far as anyone could tell. Derrl and Yerril had watched as the crew hoisted the sails to the top of the mast. There was a gasp of indrawn breath from Derrl as he saw the canvas unfurl. The runes were on the sails exactly as he had imagined it: picture perfect. He stood on the decking facing the mast. As he reached out to the canvas with his mind, his arms reached out also. He was immobile, standing there for several long minutes as he infused the runes with power. He lowered his arms and opened his eyes. Kevesk was grinning at him, his eyes still closed. Apparently he hadn't been sleeping just then. Derrl would definitely have to be more observant of him.

"Good trick there Derrl, it comes in handy fairly often. I'm proud of you, I don't even remember teaching you that one." He shifted his position against the mast and slouched more, if it was even possible.

"That's probably because you never did teach me that one. I figured that one out on my own, oh wise and absent minded teacher." He grinned evilly and called forth a small bucket full of water directly over Kevesk's head, he didn't bother to support it. The lazy old mage started spattering as soon as it felt he was sufficiently soaked. "I learned that rune from the book you gave me. You were right, it did come in handy."

A steady flow of rich, but rather mild invective flowed forth from Kevesk, directed at the young mageling.

"Well, I can't call you scatterbrained if you can keep a handle like that on such a large vocabulary. Your wits seem about you, so there's no reason why you can't help out." Kevesk muttered something or other that didn't sound entirely too pleasant and started working his way up off the desk.

"Fine, I'll get up, but I'm only doing it so that I can enjoy criticizing your work. Understood?" He stood and surveyed the ship, and then he scowled. "Now you've gone and spoiled my fun. I can't find anything you did wrong. You're a very nasty person, Derrl. Did you know that? Not nice at all, didn't leave me anything to do." He stumped back down to the mast and slouched purposefully at the base like a sulking child. He began grinning madly all of a sudden.

"You know, it's been so long since I've done that. I'd forgotten how much fun it is." He promptly closed his eyes and went to sleep, or at least appeared to. It also sounded like he was asleep, he was snoring ferociously, though you never could be sure with Kevesk.

As luck would have it, there was an offshore breeze that they would be able to use if they moved quickly enough. Yerril shouted the orders to his crew and they scrambled through the rigging like so many nimble apes. They cast off the lines that held them in place and the Pride pulled away gracefully. As she moved out towards the center of the bay, a strong seaward breeze kicked up, that had the Pride skimming over the water at a brisk pace. Yerril was more than al little pleased with the way the Pride was performing.

They were far enough out to sea that there wasn't much of a chance that they could run aground. They'd had more than enough depth to be safe from that a long time ago. The only thing that posed any threat to them was the Honite Reef, however Yerril intended to give it a wide berth. Kevesk however, had something else in mind, and he hadn't shared it with anyone else yet.

Yerril had given over the helm to his second and was strolling the foredeck with Derrl. Kevesk was, of course, still slouched at the base of the mast, asleep as far as anyone could tell.

"Well, I can't fault the way she's holding up, and she's even more responsive in her youth. Though I am considering making one alteration to her design."

Yerril grunted suddenly as he tripped over an uncoiled line that was lying across the deck. His face was red with anger. He began to bellow aft.

"Bring me the bucko what's on deck duty!" Apparently the accent that had disappeared in his dealings with Derrl was back in full swing when he dealt with his crew. Shortly, a breathless youth appeared in front of the captain of the Pride. His face was red as he stood in front of Yerril, obviously wanting to hide his face, but dared not for fear of incurring the further wrath of an irate captain.

"Now I don't mean t'be yellin at ye, young bucko." He began calmly, but quickly lost control of the tone of his voice. "But what in th'demon pots did ye think ye were doing leaving this cable lying here. Ye best be coilin' that now bucko, else ye be on held pay. Do I make meself understood bucko?"

The shamefaced could do little more than nod in assent. He immediately fell to coiling the line with meticulous care, lest the captain be wrath with him again. They continued down the deck.

"Now as I was saying Derrl. I'd like to make the rudder a shade longer, so she bites into the water strongly. She'll be able to turn sharper. Now I can see two problems that this might cause. The first," he counted it off on the gnarled fingers of his right hand, "being that she'll take a mighty strong man at the helm to wrestle with her like the tiller. The second," He counted this of the fingers of his hand as well "being that she'll be canting awfully far over. Now I don't want to change anything about her after all." He stood leaning against the bowsprit in contemplation. "No, I don't think Ill change anything about her. I like her fine just the way she is. "There was a visible darkening on the horizon, that seemed to be rapidly approaching. Yen murmured about how the last storm his ship had been in had been none too good for the ship.

"I think we'd best be trying to get to port before that storm catches us." He and Derrl turned and found themselves face to face with Kevesk. He was there with an odd smile on his face.

"That storm is there for a good reason, she's there to let us test out just how well our dear Pride performs. Tell your crew to get ready for a bad blow, we are riding this storm."

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