3d (Argentum’s Song – PG)

Franklin examined Thom’s lined face closely. If he were still at court he’d have assumed the reference to the merchant ship his father had lost to pirates was some sort of verbal sparring. A jockeying for position by reminding Franklin of his current predicament. However, Thom and Elmo were not nearly refined enough in court intrigue to pull off an insult that subtle. He doubted their words were meant to carry any more weight than the surface meaning of reflecting on a past companion.

Granted they were technically freemen, and Franklin was technically an indentured bodyguard, but all three of them were well aware that their relative positions would be reversed as soon as Father’s second ship came in and he paid off his debt to Ladin. So no, Thom didn’t intend to slight him with his word choice. That didn’t, however, mean Franklin had to forgive him for it or keep from taking some sort of revenge on him once he was restored to his rightful position.

“All that is very interesting. But it still doesn’t explain what his necklace has to do with anything.”

“ Toras had a weir’s preserved thumbclaw dangling from a chain around his neck. Or so he claimed. I always thought it must have just been off of some diseased corpse from when he’d been a grave robber. Now though, after seeing two weir corpses with me own eyes, and remembering the sort of respect that most Barbarians would give him when they saw it, I think I’ve changed me mind.”

“Respect?”

“Ya, in fact some of them would pull out a similar necklace after buying him a drink and swap weirstories. Was quite entertaining, the whole pub would be in an uproar by the end of the evening. You could almost guarantee that the barbarian would pick a fight with the first patron to let their laughter escape their lips. Then before long the whole place would be one big brawl. The point though is that with that pointy thing hangin’ round his neck all the time, Toras must have been scratched from time to time and he certainly never turned. I don’t know what it does take to turn, but I figure it’s got to be more than what Simon was trying to scare us into thinking it took.”

Thom’s eyes twinkled as he looked up and into Franklin’s own.

“In fact, if I were a younger and braver man with the fencing skills to back up me bluff. I’d be tempted to bring a couple of them thumbs along and see if I couldn’t find a barbarian to teach me how to make me own trophy necklace once we arrived at Phoentown.”

Franklin stood up straighter and drew his sabre as he walked toward the flames. He might still be getting used to some of the cultural differences among this class, but he certainly still recognized a dare when he heard one.

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