Argent felt a rush of wind, heard a loud crack, and the crashing of something falling behind him. His experience with other injuries had caused him to expect death to hurt more than this. He lowered his arms and dared to open his eyes. Simon stood before him, hands grasped around the claymore buried half its length in the ground. Argent traced the arc it would have taken to end there. Instead of splitting his skull, it had sliced off the top of the blue spruce. His father’s voice was barely a whisper.
“How could you have wasted Ferus’ pure gift on that toy?”
Argent followed Simon’s gaze down to his hand and froze. A prismatic aura surrounded the tin flute in his grasp. Correction. A prismatic aura surrounded the Argentum flute in his grasp. The implications started tripping over each other in their haste to reach the forefront of his brain. Simon must have seen the flute at the last minute and deflected his blow to the tree instead. More importantly, Argent hadn’t failed. Ferus had accepted him as a servant and given him the pure gift of Argentum.
“How are you supposed to defeat the Beast with that thing? Your foolishness has doomed the valley to another two decades under his threat while I find a wife and raise a champion who will take the prophesy seriously.”
Simon’s words stung Argent to the core. He couldn’t imagine how he could have been so stupid as to have requested the flute rather than the claymore be transfigured. However, the proof was in his hands. The most beautiful thing he had ever seen was clear proof of his inadequacies.
Conflicting emotions raged inside of Argent. Joy and shame, relief and bewilderment. And through it all the flute kept shining in the twilight as if it were calling out to be played. Unable to resist it any longer, Argent brought it to his lips. Simon grasped the felled tree top and dragged it down the mountain in obvious disgust. Argent surprised himself when, instead of putting the flute away and following, he released his breath into the instrument.
Argent had intended to play a Northern hymn that was one of Simon’s favourites. However within seconds the song seemed to have taken on a life of its own. A song both for and from his new Lord. Argentum’s Song. It started with the same underlying theme, but the notes were so pure they seemed to linger in the air and harmonize with the notes that followed. Argent’s fingers flew in patterns and sequences he had never tried before, as if the Argentum itself were guiding them.
Even so, it was clear to Argent he was more than just a passenger along for the ride, he was a participant, a partner. Without him it wouldn’t flow, or at least not exactly the same. Just as obviously, what he was participating in now was more beautiful and powerful than anything he had ever dreamed of being able to attempt on his own. Argent poured his heart out through the song. His grief and confusion found voice and were acknowledged, but ultimately had no power against his joy in this new form of communication. This joy in turn bubbled over into a covenant to try harder to be worthy of Ferus’ Lordship. He had never dreamed Ferus could be as wonderful as the Lord who had deigned to give him such a gift.
Argent didn’t know how long he had been playing when the song paused, he had the impression it would never actually stop, just pause until it was resumed again. Regardless, it had been long enough that his tears had run dry, and the sun had completely disappeared below the horizon. The partial moon was mostly obscured by clouds, but enough moonlight broke through to allow some visibility. Argent returned the two halves of Barwolfripper to his scabbard and retrieved his bundle. The trail left by the tree Simon had dragged was too obvious to be missed even in the dim light, and before long he could see the glow of a small campfire in the near distance. As Argent broached the outskirts of the ring of light, Simon threw a limb from the spruce on the fire. He watched it until it had dried out and started smoking.
“You’ve got second watch.”
Simon lay down with his back toward him. As quietly as possible, Argent melted some snow by the fire and used it to wash off the dried blood matted to the back of his head. Once he had cleaned it enough that a trickle of fresh blood started to flow, he took a strip of cloth from his bundle and bandaged it as well as he could. He then found the most uncomfortable position possible and prepared himself to keep watch.