Chapter Twenty Six
Martha fought back another coughing attack as her lungs laboured to provide her with enough air. They had a lower capacity ever since the Argentum had burned the virus out of her and she really hoped they weren’t permanently scarred. The muzzle on her mouth certainly didn’t make breathing any easier. She had found it nearly impossible to maintain the pace the two barbarian Warriors insisted on, while also breaking the trail and leading the way back to the mine. So, when she stumbled upon the goat trail leading in the same general direction as she had been heading, she gladly veered slightly North to follow it and to lessen the demand on her lungs. After all, her mental map was only guesswork really, based on the few fragments of information she had collected the two times she had gone outside the mine. It was entirely possible this trail was leading in a more helpful direction than the initial one she had guessed. Either way, her best chance to keep Bildad from slitting her throat was to keep moving. Lead them somewhere. If he found out she didn’t know the exact location of the silver she wouldn’t put it past him to dispose of her and continue the search on his own.
Argent overtook her on the trail and called back to Bildad.
“Hey I recognize this path. Simon and I were camping just past those cedar before we split up. Maybe we could rest there for a few minutes while I gather up my gear.”
Bildad grunted his assent and Martha dropped to her knees when they arrived at a clearing with the remains of a camp in it. There was something familiar about this place, though she couldn’t put her finger on it. Frustrated she closed her eyes and concentrated only on drawing her next breath into her constricted airways, past the leather barrier frosted by her breath.
“My pack … it’s gone.”
Martha opened her eyes to the sight of Argent moving frantically around the camp.
“Could Simon have come back for it?”
“No … even if he had needed the other supplies he wouldn’t have taken Barwolfripper.”
“What on earth were you doing leaving a sword that valuable lying around abandoned in the camp?”
“This mountain is supposed to be uninhabited. I needed to move quick to track the runt weir. Besides it wasn’t that valuable anymore, it had broke in half.”
Bildad gave Argent an appraising look.
“And how did that happen?”
“It’s a long story.”
“We’ve got a long journey.”
“It’s my long story.”
“Fine, keep your secret for now. You’ll tell me as my apprentice after the infected has burned.”
Martha winced. She wasn’t sure she’d ever get used to being called an infected.
“Speaking of burned … I guess we better make a pyre for these weir-corpses. If someone raided your campsite that means that there are people around here and we can’t risk an epidemic, even if the inhabitants are thieves.”