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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

commands as he tried to go forward and grab the wounded girl before she was crushed to
death by falling rock.
“Get him out of here!” Nellise yelled over the tumult as she dashed past, pushing
Aiden and Colt backward down the stairs. Exhausted as she was, Nellise pushed through
the rocks and managed to grab the back of Sayana's belt just as t he remaining light from
her staff was obscured and the rest of the ceiling came crashing down. The sounds of
screaming could be heard over the rock fall, just before Aiden was left in darkness and
pain.
When the noise from falling rock had finally subsided, the unnatural silence of the
dead city returned. Aiden sprawled next to Colt at the bottom of the stairwell, both of the
men coughing in the cloud of dirt that had been dumped on them. From the sounds of
ragged breathing, Clavis and Pacian were nearby, having been furthest from the
devastation. There was no light whatsoever. Everything Aiden knew about his
surroundings was based solely on his hearing.
He was in excruciating pain, from both the spearhead lodged in his leg and from the
fall. His right arm was practically useless, and he felt the warmth of blood running down
his body from several other smaller wounds.
A brief flash of light pierced the stifling darkness as someone began striking flint and
steel to ignite a torch. It took several tries before the sparks caught and the torch flared
into life. Pacian held it high to take in the scene. He was covered in dirt and blood but
otherwise still standing. Clavis was next to him, searching through the rubble for signs of
life while ignoring the cuts and bruises he'd received from the falling rock.
“Ah, found 'em,” he exclaimed, spying Colt slowly pushing rocks and dirt off his
body to get to his feet. “Hold still man, ya might have a broken bone or three.”
“I'm fine,” the big ranger choked, coughing some more to disprove his point.
“Nothing broken, though it's not for a lack of trying.”
“What about Nel and Sayana?” Aiden managed to croak.
“I think they're a little further up the stairs,” Colt said grimly, dusting off his leathers.
“Which means they're at least partially buried under that rock.”
“They might still be alive,” Pacian said stubbornly, wedging the torch into nearby
rocks and moving up the stairs to begin excavating.
“Aye, there's always a chance lad,” Clavis said, keeping his voice neutral. “You two
make a start on it, I'll tend to Aiden's wounds a bit.” He came in closer and carefully
examined Aiden‟s leg.
“I'm broken up pretty badly, aren't I,” Aiden breathed, already knowing what Clavis
was going to say.
“There's no foolin' ya,” he replied, taking off his belt and folding it over, then leaning
forward and offering it for Aiden to bite down on. “Me belt might taste like dirt, but it'll
do the job. Just think of it as a really tough steak, and I'll put you back together as best I
can. I gotta take out this spear first, and then I'm gonna to set your leg,” Clavis informed
him, clearly not a proponent of the 'ignorance is bliss' line of thought.
The dull ache numbing Aiden‟s senses became a sharp pain. He stifled a scream as
the spearhead was pulled out of the wounded leg. His breath came in short gasps and he
was covered in sweat, but the spear was out.
“You're doin' real good, lad,” Clavis assured him, taking out a small flask and
splashing its contents into the wound. Aiden bit back another scream as the burn from
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