5h (Argentum’s Song)

Franklin’s hand dropped to the hilt of his sabre as a broom swatted his calf with an audible thump.

“You too. Out now.”

Mrs. Boise’s eyes locked on to his and she raised the broom for a second swat. Franklin relaxed his grip and turned to leave.

“You really should be more respectful Ma’am. I won’t be indentured for ever.”

Mrs. Boise snorted in disgust before returning to her flat bread. Martha was glad the men had been chased out. Walt’s eyes hadn’t left Martha until the door jamb blocked his sight. She just wished she could have gotten more information out of Franklin before he left. She wasn’t able to dwell on it long though as she was soon juggling the preparation of three hot dishes to coincide with the rice finishing up. It was made easier though, as Mrs. Boise seemed to be in her way a little less. Once Martha even thought she caught something a kin to pity in her eyes.

Thom was just wrapping up his third song as Martha lay the food out on the table.

“Ah, excellent. I do so like your stuffed eggplant, and those greens and cheesey tomater gravy look well worth the wait as well.”

“But -”

“Martha go and get a third plate of rice for Thom. He’ll eat with Mr. Walter and myself. That was some fine playing if I say so myself.”

Martha had no idea why Ladin was in such a good mood, but if it was keeping him from his grumbling, she wasn’t going to complain. She quickly brought in the third plate but Thom avoided eye contact instead of his customary wink. Martha stood back against the wall beside the Inn’s two serving girls to wait for leftovers.

“Franklin, why don’t you put on a show for us with your fancy moves while we eat. Show why we had no cause to worry about those two weirs we met on the way up here.”

Franklin smiled broadly and hopped onto an empty table top while drawing his weapon. Apparently, Franklin had smuggled two thumbclaws from the weirs into Phoentown and found someone who had helped him fashion them into a necklace of sorts. Ladin had been upset at first but, since no one had turned, he ended up encouraging him to foster the implication that Franklin had been responsible for the beasts’ deaths. Martha imagined he felt more secure if the locals thought highly of his bodyguard.

Franklin arranged his stance so he was showing off his morbid jewellery and fencing skills equally to the girls along the wall and the three men who were eating. Then he launched into a practice routine that had been impressive the first time Martha had seen it, but not as much the fiftieth. As the girl beside her gasped, Martha rolled her eyes and looked out a small window. The sun had dropped beneath the mountain ridge long ago and the valley in which the city was nestled was more shadowed than illuminated. What errand could Ladin have sent her parents on that would be keeping them out so late?

 

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