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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Thank you,” he said, pocketing the pouch into one of his other, larger pouches. “So
yes, tell everyone in town that the north road is free and clear, and you'll be the most
popular man in town. But don‟t forget, I know all your little secrets, so don‟t cross me or
I‟ll end your career.”
“I understand, and for what it‟s worth, thank you,” Olaf replied, humbled. “I know it
must have been a difficult fight for you all, but you've done the town a great service. I
would ask for one small favour, however?” Aiden glared at the man without responding.
“Take this message to the Mayor of Culdeny requesting military assistance, and
recommend that he send a runner to Coldstream to assess their situation as well.”
“I suppose I should be grateful that you‟re thinking of someone other than yourself
for a change,” Aiden mused. “I‟ll do it, but for them, not for you. Oh, and any word on
the Akoran raiders you spoke of?”
“I'm expecting some news from Highmarch about the situation within a week,” Olaf
replied hastily, looking fearfully at Aiden.
“Keep an eye on that situation,” Aiden advised, his fatigue washing away his anger
with every passing moment. “I‟ll leave Fletcher with you, since you‟ve had experience
dealing with the dead of late. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get some rest.”
“Of course Aiden, and thank you again,” Olaf gushed obsequiously, staring with
disdain at the sack in his hands. Tired of looking at the man, Aiden trudged out of the
office, ignoring the secretary as he went past and headed towards the inn.
Along with the ladies, Aiden had eaten briefly from their supplies on the journey
back to town, so he was quite content with skipping an evening meal altogether. He
managed to slip through the crowded common room of the inn and make his way to the
stairs without being waylaid by the patrons. The comfort of the inn bed greeted him as he
fell flat upon it, not even bothering to remove his coat.
* * *
Aiden awoke the next day, bleary-eyed and sore. Light, grey as it was, streamed in
through the cracks in the curtains, beckoning to the young explorer of another day of
challenges. Sighing in resignation, he slowly heaved himself upright, and nearly jumped
out of his skin when he saw Sayana sitting on the other bed, watching him.
“What are you doing in here?” Aiden exclaimed.
“I awoke early, and came in to here to think,” she explained. The wild girl was still
wearing her torn shirt, which didn't leave much to the imagina tion. Her tattoos were
clearly visible, snaking over the exposed parts of her skin. Her red hair was curly and
vibrant, and cascaded down her back.
“Oh,” Aiden replied, not having anything meaningful to add to that revelation. “How
long have you been here?”
“A few hours. It is quickly approaching noon, and I was contemplating whether or
not to awaken you.”
“It's that late huh,” Aiden grumbled. “Okay, I'm getting up. At least I don't have to
get dressed.” He could smell his own heady aroma, from a combination of blood, dirt and
sweat. The young man considered getting cleaned up before hitting the road again, but
decided it could wait until they reached Culdeny.