20b (Argentum’s Song – PG)

He reached into a pouch by his side and pulled out half a handful of dried meat and berries that he proceeded to split with her.

“Well, you aren’t turned and you aren’t eaten. So I think I can fill in the blanks for you. Earl and Franklin must have returned just in time to deal with the weirs, maybe shaming Arny and Bart into protecting you after all. Four trained men should be able to take on two weirs. Even if they only managed to chase them off, they clearly got to you in time to amputate your arm and keep the infection from spreading.”

Martha chewed on the jerky and on Argent’s suggestion. The meat went down easier than the idea that those men had risked their lives to save her. Argent must have picked on her doubt.

“Look Simon and I just turned back an ambush of six of the beasties. Much as I hate to admit it, Franklin is decent with a sword. If he were the one doing the ambushing instead of being ambushed he might even have been able to take two of them on his own.”

As Argent returned to his song, Martha wondered about the plausibility of that line of thought. Would Franklin really have rushed in and saved her, both from attack, and then from infection, by himself? It was a nice thought, but where was he now? The song paused yet again.

“The one thing that surprises me is that someone knew enough to give you a dose of Argentum and help you say the oath that would let you heal and keep your blood from spreading the infection. I didn’t think that Franklin even believed in Ferus … maybe one of the others was a True Believer.”

“What’s Argentum?”

Argent looked shocked.

“Hmm … I knocked my head and forgot some stuff too yesterday but yours is way worse than mine. Maybe they were sending you up on your own to quest. Simon didn’t think anyone else knew about this entrance, but a True Believer mining nearby might have found it.”

Argent seemed to be speaking to himself more than to Martha and she didn’t like being ignored, she was getting ready to repeat her question. It seemed like vital information she was lacking. However, he caught her off guard with a question of his own.

“Do you have any metal on you?”

Her hand gripped for her silver locket before remembering that Ladin had ripped it from her neck when her family had become indentured. Instead she pulled out a hemp necklace with the mine keys on it. Argent seemed less than impressed.

“Simon wouldn’t approve … you couldn’t really do battle with that.”

Then he blushed and looked at his flute.

“Then again … I’m hardly one to talk. After all metal is metal.”

Argent looked off at the stream lost in his own thoughts. Martha gathered her wits enough to break in.

“Please … what quest are you talking about and who is Ferus.”

Argent blinked and looked back to her.

“I’ll explain on the way. Look I have a duty to hunt down a weir and keep it from getting information back to the Beast. I know that doesn’t mean much to you right now … but believe me it’s important. However, that weir is very wounded, and maybe it would even be easier to dispatch it after it’s started hibernating. So, as long as you do exactly what I tell you, I’ll take you to the Warren. On the way I’ll tell you what I know, and prepare you for your quest.”

Martha still didn’t know exactly what she was agreeing too, but the idea of being alone up here made refusal impossible. Still, she found the reserve to make one condition.

“And you’ll play some songs?”

Argent grinned.

“And I’ll play some songs. Deal?”


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