4a (Argentum’s Song)

Chapter Four

“- reach its full potential to Ferus’ glory.”

Simon finished his prayer, removed his heavy hand from Argent’s head, and crushed the last of the coals of the previous night’s camp-fire with his sandalled foot. Within minutes the camp was packed up and they were once again hiking the goat trail winding up the mountain into the distance. Argent removed the sinew from his pouch and cut off one knot. It had been days since they had left the caravan but there were still plenty of knots left. They wouldn’t be arriving today. Argent found himself thinking about the pretty freckled girl who had made the number of knots match the number of days Franklin had said were in half a cycle. Then, remembering some of her harsh words, he shook his head and comforted himself that he didn’t miss any of the travellers specifically, just human interaction in general.

Now, when they woke, Simon would say his prayer and those would be the only words Argent would hear all day. In the past, treks would be broken up by lessons in tracking or warfare or scripture recitations. However this trek was different, and Simon wasn’t allowing such distractions to slow them down. They would be on the trail before sunrise, chewing a handful of dried meat and berries to break the night’s fast. Simon’s grunt would signal when it was time to stop and rest long enough to start a small fire, melt some snow to refill their water skins, and have another ration of food. Then they would be off again until sunset when they had dinner and made camp. Every day the same.

An icy blast of wind from behind caused Argent to hunch his shoulders even more and he reached to rearrange the shawl around his neck to more fully cover his ears. Then he stopped, pulled the shawl from his ears and listened intently.

“Sir, did you hear that?”

Simon stopped and turned around.

“What?”

“I’m not sure, I thought I heard a voice on the wind.”

Simon cupped and turned an exposed ear to the wind. After a few more seconds Argent thought he heard something again though he couldn’t make out the details. Simon grimaced, shaded his eyes with his hand and peered down the mountain.

“Bildad.”

“Really? Where?”

Simon’s huge finger jabbed in a direction and Argent spent the next four breaths staring before he was able to make out the tiny figure far below scrambling up a particularly slippery section of shale and loose gravel. Had the wind been going the opposite direction they never would have been able to hear his shouts. Well it looked like today might be slightly different after all. Bildad was another True Warrior, the closest thing his father had to a friend, and probably the only other man alive to know of this access to the Warren. Out of the six True Warriors Argent knew of, only Bildad had spent longer than one lunar cycle travelling with them during Argent’s lifetime. Simon stomped his feet impatiently.

“Well I’ll not stand around freezing while he takes his sweet time crawling up the mountain. We continue. If it’s important enough, he’ll catch up to us at camp tonight.”

So they continued plodding up the trail. Every once in a while Argent would take a peek behind him to check on Bildad’s progress. Usually he couldn’t spare enough time in his glance to pinpoint their tracker’s location, but the times he did see him caused him to smile. The man was definitely closing in. There would almost certainly be company for dinner this evening.

 

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