25c (Argentum’s Song – PG)

“I’ll split it with you. I only need five weight to free my parents, four more if I survive and any of Walt’s family try to lay claim to my contract. I only saw it once, but I heard them say there was at least twenty four weight raw ore in the chest. I’ll give you all the rest for your rangers in exchange for your safe escort to the Warren.”

Bildad looked at her with narrow eyes.

“Agreed.”

“Swear it Bildad. Swear it on your Argentum.”

Argent’s voice had surprised even himself in the firmness of his demand.

“I’ll do no such thing! I’ll not cheapen my Argentum like that for a dealing with a weir!”

“Don’t lead him anywhere unless he swears it Martha. Otherwise he’ll just kill you once he gets his silver.”

In a flash Bildad put the keys around his neck and then took off one of his leather bracers and tied it over Martha’s mouth like a muzzle. She could still breathe through her nose, but her mouth was effectively cut off from the outside world.

“You’ve gone too far boy! My rangers will do much more good with that silver in their scimitars than the rich townies who can afford to use it to line their pikes and you know it! Now you risk all that because you are smitten by a festering turned!”

“That’s not it at all! You can still have your silver. We just need to help Martha quest. I gave her my word and I’ll not go back on it.”

Bildad and Argent stared at each other for an eternity. Argent pleading with Ferus to help, afraid he wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the Warrior. Finally, Bildad barked a laugh.

“Well you’ve certainly inherited your father’s stubbornness. Fine. I disagree with you but you hold Argentum so I will treat you like the equal you are trying to be. Even if I don’t respect your decision I respect Ferus’ mercy in granting you his pure gift, however small and nearly useless your particular gift may be. This only happens once though. When I am proven right, you will respect my experience and fall in line with my judgements in the future. Are you sure you want to waste this marker now?”

Argent’s felt his face going pale as he nodded and held out his hand.

“If you are proven right, I will submit to being your apprentice until you see fit to release me.”

Bildad took his hand, shook it, and then turned his attention to Martha.

Alright then unworthy cur. For the sake of the greater good I swear on this here Argentum at your throat that if you lead me to the silver and split it with me, keeping only as much as you need for your former family’s freedom, no more than nine weight, though I assuredly believe you will not live long enough to need the final four of it. If you do this, I will take you to the Warren and watch you burn as you try to ‘quest’. However, if you try to escape, attack or in any way hinder our progress along the way my Argentum will separate your head from your body and I will find and keep the silver on my own! This is my oath.”

Bildad wiped his blade off on Martha’s skirt and then sheathed it, tossing a length of cord to Argent.

“Tie her wrist to her belt. With that muzzle on her we should be safe enough. If we stay on our toes. I’ll take up the rear and you push her faster than you think she can go.”

Bildad’s confidence was starting to shake Argent’s resolve. Was this going to turn out to be yet another huge mess up on his part? At least he knew that if it was it would just end in what his father had suggested as a suitable career anyway. One of Bildad’s lapdogs. In the meantime he felt compelled to do what he could to help Martha in her suffering. Argent tied a loose knot around her wrist and attached the chord to her rope belt. The action brought him close enough to whisper to her.

“You don’t seem like a weir to me. But I want you to know, even if Bildad is right and you do burn up, I promise that part of that silver will buy your parent’s freedom. I’ll let them know how hard you fought the change.”

Martha’s eyes welled up and she nearly tripped the first time she tried to put weight on her wounded hip. Argent needed to support and half drag her in the direction she was pointing but they were soon under way. Bildad’s maintained a pace close behind. Argent glanced over his shoulder and saw him warily scanning the brush to either side.

“We’re going to regret this Argent. No good comes from making deals with an infected. Still, as long as you survive to learn that lesson, maybe it will save you from worse mistakes in the future.”

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