“What was your name again?”
“Fra – Fredrick sir.”
Really Franklin, that’s how you’re going to blow your cover? By almost telling your festering name! Definitely away from court intrigues too long.
“Well Fredrick, do you mind telling me how you ended up in possession of a Crescent Spark?”
“When I went back to the cart it was sticking out of the remains of something one of the monsters I think. Almost seemed human, only had really long and thick hair off the parts of the body that hadn’t been shredded.”
Sven broke the silence that followed just as it was getting uncomfortable.
“Sounds like Tony got at least one of the festering beasts before he went down sir.”
Claude’s stare finally relented.
“I wouldn’t have expected anything less from a fellow Ranger.”
The three Rangers lowered their eyes and stood ramrod straight not saying anything. This silence Franklin could handle. This silence was a silence of respect, not suspicion.
Eventually Sven resumed dressing his wound.
“Are you sure there weren’t any other survivors from the attack?”
“Not at all sir. I don’t know what festerin’ happened. But there weren’t no one around when I woke and none came while I juried up this sledge to carry what’s left of the expedition back to Walt’s family.”
Claude nodded and looked back to Herman.
“Anything else in there?”
“A broken blade, she’s got silver in her though, other than that just some ale and sundry supplies.”
“Right, Fredrick. Here is the deal. One of our own was the guard travelling with you and that Crescent Spark rightly belongs with his estate. I realize you might feel the expedition has a salvager’s right to it but we could say the same about our right to the mare. Let’s call that an even trade.”
Once Franklin nodded in agreement he continued.
“Herman, my squire, is going to hook the mare up to the sledge. We’ll take the broken blade in exchange for your medical treatment and an escort back. I’d really like to look for survivors though. How close is the mine? I’m guessing that’s where they would go.”
Tricky one this Claude. No doubt he would love to know where the mine was, regardless of how likely survivors might be.
“I’ve never yet been there and they wer keepin’ the path pretty secret. Ya won’t have any trouble following the sledge’s track to where we was attacked though.”
“You’re sure you can’t give me any further directions? You’d have more of a claim to the salvage if you had already arrived and had started labouring.”
Franklin spat in the mud.
“And don’t I know it, but twasn’t the case. I jist want to get home safe.”