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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

words on the page, which consisted of little more than a sentence or two. But the lettering
was crisp and Aiden guessed that whoever wrote it was likely an educated person.
“What does it say?” Sayana asked.
“'Find a way into Culdeny. I don't care how you do it, but my forces must have
access by the end of the month,'” Aiden read aloud as he peered over Pacian‟s shoulder.
“Signed, 'R.B.'”
“Thought so,” Colt grunted in triumph. “Someone with the initials „R.B.‟ ordered
those men to dig their way in, for what, I can‟t say. But that‟s practically an act of war.”
As they pondered the importance of the document Pacian had recovered, Nellise and the
matronly priestess appeared at the entrance.
“What on earth just happened?” Nel exclaimed. Aiden let her know what they‟d
discovered, and then showed her the note.
“You should take this to the Sergeant of the Guard immediately,” she advised
breathlessly. “I don't know what threats are facing my beloved Culdeny, but we must
thank God that you discovered this when you did.”
“I agree, this is a matter for the town guards to deal with,” Aiden assured her. “Are
you finished with your affairs?”
“We were just about to discuss that when I noticed the commotion outside,” Nellise
answered. “I was wondering if you still required my services here, Archioness. I am
ready to return to the church and resume my former duties, if you so desire.”
“I had planned for you to do just that prior to the discovery of that tunnel, Nellise,”
the Archioness explained with a smooth voice, “But from what you‟ve described, you
have been an invaluable aid to your companions, and I believe you should remain with
them a while longer. While they talk with the guard sergeant, however, I would ask that
you aid me with a few minor tasks for a couple of hours.”
“Certainly, Mother,” Nellise replied, then turned to Aiden. “Please talk with the
Sergeant about our recent discovery. I'll catch up with the rest of you at the inn this
evening.” Aiden gave her a polite bow as the two ladies of the cloth disappeared inside
once more.
“We should get right on this,” Colt advised. “There's no guarantee all of the sappers
were killed in the collapse. All it would take is for one of those bastards to get away and
tell whoever that 'R.B.' person is what happened and we might never find out who was
behind it.”
It wasn't difficult locating the guardhouse – even hung-over and injured, Colt was
able to point them in the right direction. The building was basically a small fort inside the
town, near the front gate. Heavy stone walls two storeys high gave it a bulky, squat
appearance that would have been more intimidating if the rail on the top floor wasn't
being used to air out ladies' undergarments.
“Interesting decoration,” Pacian quipped. “Maybe there's a brothel upstairs?”
“What's a brothel?” Sayana asked, puzzled. Aiden and Pacian exchanged a hesitant
“You tell her,” they both said at once. Colt laughed, the first time Aiden could recall
hearing it.
“I'll tell you some other time,” Aiden said to Sayana, who glared at Colt, probably
assuming she was once again the butt of some joke. Aiden opened the heavy wooden
door before him and stepped inside.