- 20a (Argentum’s Song – PG)
“Please, please don’t stop … that’s the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard!”
Martha must have managed to convey her sense of desperation through her whisper, as Argent returned the flute to his lips and played. Martha closed her eyes and went to rest her head on her hands. Only one hand was there to catch it and she nearly tumbled as she overbalanced to compensate. The missing limb almost pulled her into panic but the song soothed her by its embrace. Too soon the song ended again and she felt Argent lay his fur poncho around her shoulders as he sat down beside her. She looked to him in desperation.
“I’ll play again, I promise, I just have some questions I need to ask.”
Martha took him at his word and relaxed … that song was the only thing that made any sense in her jumbled mind.
“We can’t just stay here forever though … it’s dangerous. There is still at least one weirwolf out here somewhere.”
“I … remember … we were attacked by them I think … yes by two or three I think”
She felt like she was waking from a dream, or maybe the opposite like she was waking into a nightmare. She felt her vision slowly clouding over as she talked.
“… it bit me on the ar-”
She looked to where her arm should have been and, without the song’s help this time she did panic.
“Where is it! What happened … why did you take my arm?”
She turned toward Argent ready to make him pay for his theft … only, as she did, the song returned and she decided no one capable of bringing her such a message of peace could also have been responsible for her loss. As her breathing slowed and vision cleared she realized she didn’t care even if he was. Argent paused.
“It’s O.K.. I was bit once too, in the leg.”
Argent unwrapped the leather and fur from his calf and revealed a terrible scar.
“I know it’s scary and I’ll keep playing, just tell me what happened … I’m Argent by the way.”
“Martha. But don’t we know each other from before? You didn’t used to play like that though … I can’t remember much.”
However, as Argent played Martha found herself remembering and telling more. As she told about Ladin’s second betrayal to her family, she could tell it made Argent angry, and that felt good. Eventually, she came to the attack on the mining camp and stumbled over her words. She peered into Argent’s eyes. What would he think of her if he knew she had been responsible for giving the monsters access to Arny and Bart? She decided she needed him right now and couldn’t risk rejection so she skipped everything after being locked out of the cave.
“After that I don’t remember anything else other than the beast rushing me and grabbing my arm in it’s teeth.”
Argent stopped playing and looked at her reassuringly then he smiled as her stomach let out a grumble.
“I guess that means that you also can’t remember the last time you’ve eaten either.”
- 20b (Argentum’s Song – PG)
He reached into a pouch by his side and pulled out half a handful of dried meat and berries that he proceeded to split with her.
“Well, you aren’t turned and you aren’t eaten. So I think I can fill in the blanks for you. Earl and Franklin must have returned just in time to deal with the weirs, maybe shaming Arny and Bart into protecting you after all. Four trained men should be able to take on two weirs. Even if they only managed to chase them off, they clearly got to you in time to amputate your arm and keep the infection from spreading.”
Martha chewed on the jerky and on Argent’s suggestion. The meat went down easier than the idea that those men had risked their lives to save her. Argent must have picked on her doubt.
“Look Simon and I just turned back an ambush of six of the beasties. Much as I hate to admit it, Franklin is decent with a sword. If he were the one doing the ambushing instead of being ambushed he might even have been able to take two of them on his own.”
As Argent returned to his song, Martha wondered about the plausibility of that line of thought. Would Franklin really have rushed in and saved her, both from attack, and then from infection, by himself? It was a nice thought, but where was he now? The song paused yet again.
“The one thing that surprises me is that someone knew enough to give you a dose of Argentum and help you say the oath that would let you heal and keep your blood from spreading the infection. I didn’t think that Franklin even believed in Ferus … maybe one of the others was a True Believer.”
Argent looked shocked.
“Hmm … I knocked my head and forgot some stuff too yesterday but yours is way worse than mine. Maybe they were sending you up on your own to quest. Simon didn’t think anyone else knew about this entrance, but a True Believer mining nearby might have found it.”
Argent seemed to be speaking to himself more than to Martha and she didn’t like being ignored, she was getting ready to repeat her question. It seemed like vital information she was lacking. However, he caught her off guard with a question of his own.
“Do you have any metal on you?”
Her hand gripped for her silver locket before remembering that Ladin had ripped it from her neck when her family had become indentured. Instead she pulled out a hemp necklace with the mine keys on it. Argent seemed less than impressed.
“Simon wouldn’t approve … you couldn’t really do battle with that.”
Then he blushed and looked at his flute.
“Then again … I’m hardly one to talk. After all metal is metal.”
Argent looked off at the stream lost in his own thoughts. Martha gathered her wits enough to break in.
“Please … what quest are you talking about and who is Ferus.”
Argent blinked and looked back to her.
“I’ll explain on the way. Look I have a duty to hunt down a weir and keep it from getting information back to the Beast. I know that doesn’t mean much to you right now … but believe me it’s important. However, that weir is very wounded, and maybe it would even be easier to dispatch it after it’s started hibernating. So, as long as you do exactly what I tell you, I’ll take you to the Warren. On the way I’ll tell you what I know, and prepare you for your quest.”
Martha still didn’t know exactly what she was agreeing too, but the idea of being alone up here made refusal impossible. Still, she found the reserve to make one condition.
“And you’ll play some songs?”
“And I’ll play some songs. Deal?”