5a (Argentum’s Song – PG)

As soon as Martha got around the street corner and out of Ladin’s sight, she gave in and allowed herself to skip with joy. It wasn’t because the errand she was on was giving her a great adventure in an exciting urban area. Rather, because it wasn’t. This ‘hub’ of northern life could not possibly be the wealth of potential Ladin had been dreaming of. With the population only a tenth of the average city down south, and an even lower ratio in variety of goods to trade, Martha found it hard to see any way he could make this risk profitable.

“Martha, wait up!”

Franklin’s voice caused Martha to stumble mid skip. She looked over her shoulder and saw him jogging up behind her.

“Yeash, what’s the hurry? I would have expected you to draw out the opportunity to get out of that flea’s nest they call an Inn, not rush it.”

Martha returned to a slow plod as he caught up.

“Well at least moving quickly helps ward off the chill better than a thin shawl over a cotton frock.”

“Fair enough … it is festering cold up here. You’d have to be brain-turned to live here voluntarily.”

Martha felt her face heating up and looked away. She wasn’t going to give Franklin the satisfaction of a reaction. They had been here less than two days and that was all it had taken for Franklin to slide from treating her like a lady, to showing off his mastery of the local curse words. He was treating her as if she were nothing more than one of the serving wenches at the Silver Cog. The ones who had been giggling around him since they had arrived. She hurried to change the topic in an attempt to ignore his obvious lack of respect.

“Besides, I’m happy. Ladin’s invested a lot on this speculation of his. Developing a caravan to this ‘fountain of silver’ over the mountains was supposed to be his next big business break. This can’t be what he was expecting.”

Franklin frowned.

“What do you mean? The silver veins in the area are about the only thing these yokels do have to trade. Why wouldn’t it be what he was expecting.”

“Sure there’s a decent supply but haven’t you been paying any attention to the prices? The locals are so desperate for it to line their weapons, that the price is barely less than it is back home. There’s no way he’ll be able to recoup the expense of the caravan with profits from silver. He might not have to pay those of us he has a contract on, but he still other expenses.”

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