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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Aiden was now fully on the defensive as the spear line closed in around them. Their
chances of breaking through to the surface had evaporated, leaving only one possible
route of escape - the stairs down.
Clavis shot bolts from his repeater into the line of spearmen, striking true each time.
The close range meant the crossbow was particularly effective, especially against the
unarmoured dwarves. Clavis took down two of their attackers in moments and wounded
another before having to change out the cartridge.
Nellise finished a prayer and bathed Aiden and the others in a glowing radiance that
infused them with energy and put their attackers at a disadvantage – for the insane
dwarves of Ferrumgaard, so used to total darkness, it was not unlike squinting straight
into the sun. In spite of this, the sheer bulk of their numbers pushed Aiden and the others
back, further into the city.
From behind the group of spearmen, a deep, chanting voice could be heard over the
sounds of battle. It grew in volume and intensity and as it did so, the light from Nellise's
prayer started to waver and dim, allowing the spearmen to see more clearly.
“He's countering me,” Nellise muttered in astonishment. She raised her voice,
chanting aloud for the first time that Aiden could recall in an effort to bolster her prayers.
“...Praise be unto you, Light of Heaven, I am one with the light and the faith, it
surges through me, unceasing, unrelenting, bathing the faithful in your power and...” It
was working, after a fashion – the light slowly grew stronger, overcoming the unnatural
darkness being thrown at them, though Nellise's opposite number hadn't given up yet, for
the light dimmed and strengthened again in a constant struggle for control.
Sayana moved forward as this was going on, the tattoos on her legs glowing as she
unleashed magical flames, scorching four or five spearmen in the front row. The smell of
burned hair and skin accompanied the sounds of screaming as the wounded dwarves fell
back, only to be replaced by others.
Aiden could see how hopeless it was – they were too heavily outnumbered. Despite
their efforts, at least two dozen dwarves were still standing before them. As Clavis started
rapidly shooting bolts into the crowd again, Aiden came to the decision that it was time to
withdraw.
“Clavis, get everyone to that stairwell,” he gasped.
“Sounds like a plan to me,” Clavis yelled back, shooting another spearman in the
neck as he started shuffling backward. Despite his wounds, Aiden kept himself in front of
the line of spearmen to prevent them from having a clear strike at anyone else. He was
struck directly on his chest several times, saved only by the cured leather he wore. The
group started following Clavis, moving as fast as possible given the situation.
The clan leader barked out a few commands, pressing the attack. They were grinning
maliciously now, sensing their advantage, and Aiden knew he would be unable to hold
them back for much longer.
“I'm just about done in,” Colt grated, taking one last swipe at their enemies and
turning to run for it. Aiden did the same, hurrying after them, and the sight of the two
warriors with a horde of spearmen closing in was enough to spur them to greater effort.
Aiden felt a sudden sharp pain in his back and almost lost his footing as he was hit
by a thrown spear. He moved to raise his arm and position the force shield behind his
head to give him some protection before noticing it had vanished. He was unable to
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