5f (Argentum’s Song)

“It’s just hard to imagine Ladin low on wealth. Surely he’s got something up his sleeve.”

“If he does, why is he be sending me to pick up food for mother to make dinner with instead of buying meals at the Silver Cog?”

“Have you tasted the swill they’ve been serving? Even your mother cooks better than that. Besides, why do you even want Ladin to lose money on this trip?”

Martha rolled her eyes. Sometimes Franklin could be a real stone wall.

“How about because it’s time that he got some bad luck too? Ladin thinks he’s so smart. So much smarter than your father or mine, that his schemes could never unravel and leave him broke.”

“Right … and then what? You think if he experiences failure that he’s just going to forgive all our debts and cancel our contracts? Not festering likely.”

“It’s called justice Franklin.”

“Sure, whatever. Look, here’s the tavern where I’m supposed to meet some silver merchant for Ladin. He wants me to bring him back for dinner if he seems on the level, so you’d better hurry. I’ll see you back at the Inn.”

Martha got a better grip on her basket and kept walking toward the market. Franklin was so infuriating sometimes. He was treating this whole caravan as if it were just some short adventure, and he could afford to. She’d heard enough rumours to know that even after losing one of his ships, Franklin’s father could have rounded up the debt he owed Ladin if he’d actually tried. It was just more comfortable to give a contract on his son until his next ship came in. He wouldn’t have to change his standard of living and it was also a convenient way to give Franklin a slap on the wrist for some embarrassing prank or other that he’d pulled. Ladin seemed happy to go along with it because it stroked his ego to have a noble as a bodyguard, even if it was only temporary.

Well Martha’s father didn’t have a ship coming in and it wasn’t just a short romp of an adventure for her. Her father had worked hard and struggled for years to rise into the lower levels of the aristocracy. This had resulted in her knowing a life of privilege for the first fifteen years of her life. What she hadn’t known until this past year, was that the last few years of that life had been purchased based on the potential of investments Ladin had advised her father in. She was sure the crafty merchant had considered them too risky for himself but a win/win situation if someone else borrowed from him to invest. An outrageous amount of interest if they succeeded or everything the sucker owned if they didn’t.

They didn’t.

Martha remembered when she lived frustrated that she wasn’t able to wear a new gown at every ball like some of her peers did. Now she would have been happy to have just one of her old ones to swap with her servant outfit on special occasions. She knew the past year was instrumental in keeping her from becoming the spoiled brat she had been heading toward. However that didn’t stop her from hating Ladin for what he had done to her family and it burned her that it seemed to have no effect whatsoever on Franklin.


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