Argentum’s Source – Chapter 19

  • 19a (Argentum’s Song – PG)

    Chapter Nineteen

    Argent opened his eyes as he felt his flute being pulled from his grasp. The monster was being pulled off of him and the flute was still lodged in its chest. It had all happened so quickly. The terror from his dream becoming reality had frozen him and it had been shear luck that had caused the weirwolf’s rush to drive itself onto his flute, stopping it’s heart before it could complete its attack.

    “Thank Ferus, you’re alive.”

    Argent slowly allowed his eyes to meet Simon’s, expecting to find disappointment at having fallen asleep on watch and being too stunned to help in the skirmish.  Instead he saw a glimpse of pride.

    “And your first kill too … with a flute of all things.  Maybe there’s hope for the prophesy yet.  Maybe … maybe if you keep the element of surprise.”

    Argent prepared to remove his poncho to allow Simon to check for any possible signs of infection.

    “Keep your shirt on.  You’re a True Warrior now.  Check yourself if you feel off and do your duty to cut off any of your flesh that starts festering.  But you’ve completed the quest, been given Argentum and made your first kill with it.  You won’t be an easy one for the infection to take hold of from now on.”

    With that, Simon turned his attention away from Argent and gave it to the corpse at his feet.  He retrieved his silver dagger and used it to point out a scar on the neck.  It was an elaborate design as far as weir culture went.

    “I saw this same design on the one that ran off.  High ranking, might even be one of the Beasts original brutes.  Your first kill … a brute.”

    Argent leaned closer, he’d heard of the brutes that the Warriors had originally been commissioned to hunt but this was the first time he’s ever seen one.  As he looked closer he could see subtle differences between it and a common weir.  Hard to nail down specifics, but a general feeling of being a counterfeit rather than corrupted human.  Simon squatted down beside Argent deep in thought for a short minute.

    “I have no idea what two brutes would be doing this far south, or why they would be attempting to form a pack.  Now that we’ve foiled their plan though, we can’t take the chance that the brute won’t forget whatever grievance sent it away from the Beast and hope that bringing news of a new Warrior will assuage it’s wrath.  We can’t let that happen.  Maybe Ferus knew that in your weakness you would choose the flute.  Maybe that’s how you’ll be able to smuggle argentum close to the Beast, because it’s so small. ‘His pride will be his undoing.’

    “Regardless, we need to keep you a secret.  I’ll track the brute, you finish the wounded runt that left that way.  If we don’t cross paths soon, we’ll meet at Bildad’s counsel in Phoenton.”

    Simon handed his dagger to Argent.  That was the first time Argent realized his father’s claymore was nowhere to be seen.  Simon must have seen the question in his eyes.

    “I tried to spear it as it ran away, but it was too fast, got far enough away that the bond lapsed and Wolfripper reverted before impact.  We can’t waste any more time, I’ll find you later.  Ferus grant you strength to do your duty.”

    With that his father bounded down the mountain unarmed.  Presumably in the direction of the fleeing Sniffer.  Argent prayed the weir wouldn’t have the sense to set an ambush before Wolfripper and Simon were reunited and their bond renewed.

     

  • 19b (Argentum’s Song – PG)

    Argent got to his feet and surveyed the remains of the campsite. Would Argent ever have that sort of courage? His eyes took in the corpses scattered around Simon’s bedroll … and retched.

    “Not festering likely.”

    Argent looked around reflexively to see if anyone had caught him swearing and wiped his mouth. As soon as he realized he was smearing on as much weir blood as he was wiping off vomit, he retched again. He prayed Simon was right about his new resistance.

    Pulling his water skin out from the pile of gear beside him, he drained it trying to wash his hands, mouth and flute.

    What was he doing? Who knew where his next drinkable water source would be? He certainly wouldn’t have enough time to melt snow while on a trail. He could have just as easily used snow to wash up and kept his water to drink. He had been training for the day he would become a Warrior for years now. When it finally comes he’s wasting his time, water and energy sitting here vulnerable like a little kid when he should be out there tracking, what did Simon say, a wounded runt?

    Argent started unsheathing Barwolfripper only to realize how pointless it was. Even with the silver edge it had, it would be nearly useless against weirhide until a smith had a look at it. The hilt had more or less shattered and the blade had lost much of it’s strength. He left the two halves on his bundle and armed himself with the silver dagger in his right hand and Argentum flute in his left.

    He walked in the direction Simon had pointed before leaving. The trail was obvious because of how severely the runt must have been bleeding from where the left foreleg, still lying on the ground at his feet, had been torn off. Even a towny could have followed this trail and, as inadequate as Argent felt, he certainly wasn’t a towny.

    It led him in a different direction than where Simon had gone. Argent started following it and felt his confidence building as he went. Even with its regenerative power this weirwolf couldn’t have much strength left after loosing this much blood. It would be looking for a place to hole up so it could hibernate and heal. With this much regeneration to do it would be almost impossible to wake from hibernation and should be easy to kill once he found it.

    Argent continued following the trail as quickly as he could over the rough terrain. It was an obvious route with a definite destination in mind. Argent heard and smelt the glacial stream before he crested the next outcropping and saw it carving it’s way down the Mountain not twenty paces from him. The blood trail led right up to it and then stopped.

    Argent came up to the stream and looked hard at the opposite bank. He thought he saw where the trail picked up again but couldn’t tell for sure. Now that his quarry had cleaned its wound it would certainly be harder to track … harder but not impossible.

    He carefully filled the water skin upstream of where the blood trail ended, allowing the sun to finish climbing over the mountains before he tried fording the fridged river.  Halfway across, since his clothes were already wet, Argent stopped and scrubbed himself, his cloak and flute. On the other side he sat down beside a boulder providing shelter from the wind while still allowing the sun’s warm rays to dry out his cloths and bake life back into his shivering body. He fingered his flute and decided he’d better give it a try to make sure it hadn’t been thrown off pitch by it’s ordeal. He started by going up and down the scale a couple of times but soon lost himself in praise again.

    Argent knelt in the warren. The walls were alight with the glow of Argentum. Veins of it latticed through the stone walls, roof and floor of the chamber. It was hard to draw breath through the the quiet sobbing of lungs. He had never felt such love!

    Are you willing to sacrifice?

    “Anything”

    Do you want to be my champion?

    “Yes! O Yes, my Lord. I do now. I want to do anything you ask.”

    Do you want to be a Hero?

    “Yes! The things I will do in your name … I will bring you such glory!”

    Argent held Barwolfripper above his head. The blade naked on his palms.

    ___

    Argent came back from the memory fragment grasping, almost like he was trying to grasp the remnants of a quickly fading dream. He continued to play. When he gave up on remembering any more from the Warren he realized his cloths were dry and, upon glancing up, that the sun was much further along than he would have expected. He jumped up and walked back toward the stream and the, now colder, weir trail. As he moved around the boulder he nearly tripped over a mud stained girl huddled with her back to the other side of the boulder. She looked so filthy in her torn rags that he nearly mistook her for the weir he was hunting, particularly because she was also short a limb. She raised her head and there was something familiar about her tear stained eyes. Even then it took a few seconds for him to realize that this wretched, bedraggled soul was the same pretty redhead who had tied those knots for him in the pass.

Argentum’s Source – Chapter 20