- 29a (Argentum’s Song – PG)
Chapter Twenty Nine
Three notes into the song she had been longing for for days, Argent broke off to listen to a distant bugling.
“Fath – Simon’s in trouble!”
Argent grabbed Martha’s hand and pulled her behind him. After rushing forward off the main trail for a dozen paces she dug in her heals pulled her hand free.
“Where are you taking me? What’s going on?”
“Weirs, more than a hands worth,” Argent held an open palm up towards Martha. “He needs help. We need to move now.”
“What good can we do?”
Argent gawked at her like she was the one that was crazy.
“How can we know until we arrive? When ones in distress you don’t hesitate. Either Ferus will deliver us or He’ll take us home. We can’t ignore the call!”
“What about my parents? What happens to them if I don’t make it to town? … Simon and Bildad are armed and trained, I’m not. I’m not going to throw away my life before I get the chance to – come back here, you can’t leave me alone! I’m defenseless!”
That last part … probably wasn’t a good thing to have yelled. Something fell to the ground near Argent’s feet and his silhouette melted into the evergreen’s shadows.
“Argent!” She whispered hoarsely “Argent … come back. Doesn’t my distress count?”
Martha scampered up to where he had disappeared. His belt lay there, with water skin, dagger, pouch and sentry horn attached. Martha stepped into it, pulled it up and cinched it tight. She drew the dagger and held in front of her. What sort of boy was this? A disapproving glance from Simon or Bildad makes him cower, but he runs unarmed towards an unknown number of weirs. Did he operate on instinct? There was certainly no logic to it.
- 29b (Argentum’s Song – PG)
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t come, I just … I just wanted a plan first.”
But even as she mumbled it, she knew she was making justifications. This would not look good to Bildad if he was alive when this was all over. Really though, what were the odds she would be alive when this was all over if she did anything differently. Still, didn’t she, in a sense, owe her life to Simon from back in the pass in the first place?
“Ow … Ferus! What am I supposed to do?”
The wind whipped a strip of Bart’s tattered cloak so it slapped against her calf, causing it to sting. Punishing her for her choices the last time she was in danger from weirs? She found herself taking slow, tentative steps in the direction Argent had run. Her insides were clenched tight and her eyes were blurry. She scrubbed her eyes on her sleeve and looked for where Argent’s path had left prints in the mud or patches of snow. He definitely wasn’t trying to hide his path. Even she could see it clearly.
The horn sounded again. She was getting nearer but very slowly. She took a long blink, made her decision, and sprinted, or at least hobbled more quickly, towards the sound. She slowed again when she could hear pants, grunts and growls. Figures moved between the trees. She hid behind a trunk she thought might we wider around then she was, then peeked around the side.
She counted at least seven weirs surrounding the barbarian from the pass. They had Simon cornered, making a last stand with his back against three large trees growing into each other uphill of him. The weirs kept darted in and out from different directions trying to find an opening. He swung a club with his right arm to keep two of the monsters at bay but another dashed in and took a new gash out of his left arm, already dripping blood. He made a noise and his horn slipped from his grip.
Where was his sword, where were Bildad or Argent? Martha looked around frantically. There was no sign of the other barbarians but she did see the sword, couldn’t miss it really with the glow it gave off. It was maybe sixty paces away and lodged in a motionless weir. If she could get it to Simon, maybe he would have a better chance.
She picked a likely tree about a third of the way, took a deep breath, and dashed to it for cover. She tumbled in a heap, gashing the water skin and knocking a chink in Argent’s horn. She was building her nerve up to check if she had been spotted when she heard Simon roar.
“Argent! No! Run!”
She glanced around to see the huge man sprinting in her direction. A beat later a half dozen weirs gave voice. They closed on his undefended back while his attention was to her left. There Argent stood brandishing his flute like a dagger as the largest of the beasts charged toward him. The mountain of tangled hair sent chunks of sod flying with every stride of its blood spattered claws. The distance between them disappeared.
Simon’s shoulder smacked into the beast’s flank. Scrambling to regain its purchase, it slid downhill and through a rotting pine. Somersaulting, it shook it’s head and regained it’s feet. Simon spun and shattered his club on the snout of his nearest pursuer. This granted him just enough time to grab Argent and fling him into the branches of the closest tree.
“For the glory of Ferus!”
The cry, followed by another sentry horn, came from downhill. The weir Simon had deflected howled and about half of the pack turned towards Bildad climbing the mountain with his curved blade held above his head and his horn returning to his side. The horn …
Martha whipped her head back to Argent. His legs were locked around a limb and he struggled to pull his father to safety. One, two and then three weir’s latched onto Simon’s body, pulling the other direction.
She hunched her back against her tree and sounded her horn, dropped it. Fumbling with the dagger she made herself as small as possible. Maybe, just maybe, some of the weirs would think another Warrior had arrived. Maybe that would be enough to let Argent haul Simon away from death.