The savage with his naked sword took a step closer to her. Martha fought the temptaion to flinch and drew herself straighter. She was sick of the role of damsel in distress. Argent had a good heart, but really he was still just a boy and didn’t have what it took to stand up to Bildad’s personality long term. If she was going to have any chance to getting out of this alive. She was going to have to stand up for herself.
“Don’t be an idiot, I’m the last chance you have to get that silver. Without me you have no more claim to it than any other treasure hunter.”
Argent padded over to the two of them quietly.
“What do you mean?”
“Bildad knows what I mean. Now someone untie my hand and help me get a fire going so we can thaw out. We can work out the details once we’re warming up.”
Bildad closed the distance between them and held his weapon up so it illuminated his face.
“Now you just hold on. You agreed to take me to the silver. There is no silver here. You’ve broken your end of the deal. I am honour bound to kill you and you expect me to set you at large?”
Martha looked Bildad in the eye and mustered every ounce of confidence she could find. She prayed she was reading the Warrior right.
“Nonsense. You have no intention of killing me, not yet. Not now that you need me alive to get that silver. Your just trying to posture, to scare me, so you can get me to renegotiate our deal. If you really thought that silver was a lost cause you’d have run me through already. Now cut me free, you know you’ll have to once we reach Phoentown anyway.”
Bildad grimaced and brought the edge of his blade to her face.
“Don’t push me.”
Martha refused to back down. She had seen how Bildad had treated her when he viewed her as a victim, as a helpless case. The only path she saw was to try to get his respect. If she couldn’t get that as a human, she would have to earn it as an adversary. Finally, Bildad spun her around roughly and sliced the cord binding her wrist to her belt, nicking her as he did so.
“The treasure hunter’s finding fee is coming out of your half.”
Martha considered responding to that but decided that the fact she was still living was enough of a victory that she would let it slide. Bildad walked over to swing the door shut and Argent rushed to her side.
“What just happened?”
“Help me get a fire started first.”
Argent gathered an armful of wood from where the woodpile inside the door had collapsed into a jumble of logs and branches while Martha felt for the crack in the rock face where she had left the flint the last time she had worked in this kitchen.
“Standard law requires treasure hunters to register found treasure at a town and allow a full lunar cycle for claims to be made against it.”
Martha handed Argent the flint and watched as he expertly got a small fire burning in the fire pit. Then, glancing at Bildad, he whispered.
“I still don’t understand why he went for it. We already know that there are thieves in these mountains. Why would we expect them to follow the law?”
Martha made sure not to whisper her response.
“Even if it were a professional thief who took the chest, which I doubt, they would likely feel it was a safe bet that no claims would be made against it. I mean look around you. Would you believe that anyone could have survived this? Then, believing it was a sure thing, it would make more sense to register the treasure then to give a fence a cut from it for moving stolen goods. Isn’t that right Bildad?”