“Well, that was a piece of work,” said Tenk as he hopped down the steps to the half sunken basement that was the Bucket of Blood.
“Yes,” said Mr. Underby. Normally he would look annoyed at his customers tossing back their drinks and getting up to leave at the sight of the Mayor entering the bar, but tonight he was in a uncharacteristically pleasant mood. They both were.
“I’ll send a crew around to scrape the red paint off the windows and make that room liveable again.”
“Very good sir,” said Underby as he assumed his comfortable position behind his bar after opening the panel in the floor so he could fix himself a proper drink from his best stock. He waited until all the lingering late night patrons had left before bringing the pitcher of milk out for Mr. Tenk, knowing it was still his favorite, but it was Underby himself that had coached Tenk not to let people see him drinking it as he was once wont to do.
“There is still something I don’t understand,” continued Underby, smirking as Tenk looked over his shoulder before he blew into his glass to start it souring. “How were we able to get to Falun without an accident? I recall the precautions you took the last time you tried to get there. And the.. tragic trainwreck that followed. .”
“Well, that’s just it,” chuckled Tenk as his glass of milk began to stink. “If Mr. Loosestrife was what he thought he was, he would have known that I could never have cast that yule log charm on this house. But he didn’t. And neither do you, it seems. And that was the tell.”
Mr. Underby stood stirring his drink daintily with a wire thin silver swizzle, waiting for an explanation that was not to come.
“I’ll be interested to read about your conclusions in your next revision of your book,” said Tenk as Underby’s face began to sour. “And I’ll have that ruby too.”
Underby nodded and placed the jewel carefully on the bar as Tenk wandered to the hearth to make himself comfortable. Suddenly, Tenk yelped and found himself tumbling towards the red sofa with a surprised look on his face. He turned and stared hard at the flames on the hearth.
“Well,” laughed Tenk. “There will be no sadness in this house for a while.”
“And it is about time too,” agreed Underby.
Tenk collected the jewel into a scarf and placed it in his pocket. “I’ll take care of this. Why don’t you take the day off tomorrow.”
“Thank you, sir,” said Underby. But Tenk was already half way up the steps to the street.