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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Even though it was his gambling problems that brought those men to town in the
first place,” Nellise finished. “The poor young man, he must be carrying around the
burden of guilt for that act.”
“I'm sure he is,” Aiden agreed. “Not to mention having to live with his father
afterward, and deal with the constant loathing the man had for him after that day. Bryce
used to get drunk in the evenings and beat Pace until he ran off, only to return after his
father had passed out. Things only became harder for them after that. When I decided to
leave town and head off on my own, Pacian came along. ”
The two young women were quiet. Nellise was clearly deep in thought, while Sayana
was more difficult to read.
“I see now why he killed that bandit,” Nel said slowly. “He sees in his enemies the
men that killed his mother.” Aiden hadn't thought of it like that, but it made sense.
“You should have seen the remains of the men from that fight. He'd stabbed them a
dozen or more times each after they'd fallen. He was never the same since. So there you
have it, a reason for his actions, but not an excuse. What you do with this information is
up to you. If either of you want to go your own way, I'll understand perfectly. But he's not
a bad person, as such, just very, very angry.”
“I never said I would not come with you,” Sayana corrected him. “I understand
Pacian's anger, and approve of the way he channels it. That man was vile, I have no
problem with his death.”
“Fair enough. What about you, Nellise?” The young acolyte pondered the question
for a minute, biting her lip occasionally in thought.
“I will travel with you to Culdeny,” she eventually declared. “I want to speak with
Pacian a little more before I make any decision, but he might be open to some help. My
help, that is.”
“I don't think he wants to talk about it,” he replied doubtfully. “When you talk to
him, just... be tactful.” Nellise smiled warmly, and Aiden went a little giddy inside.
“Fear not, I won't scare him away,” she assured him. “And thank you for providing
some perspective.”
“Nice of you to listen,” Aiden said, heaving himself out of bed. “Now if you'll
excuse me, I'm going to have a nice big breakfast before we head back north.”
“I am going to the local store to 'buy' a new 'shirt',” Sayana stated, fishing out one of
the gold coins she now possessed. “Is this enough?” Aiden's eyes bulged a little.
“Um, that's enough for several hundred shirts. Here, use one of these instead,” he
said, fetching out a silver noble and handing it to the wild girl. “Nellise, go with her and
make sure she doesn't get taken advantage of.”
“I had already planned to do so,” she answered, standing and leading Sayana to the
door. Aiden followed, hobbling a little from his sore limbs. One night of decent sleep was
barely enough to recover from their recent trials.
The common room of the Bracksfordshire Arms was full as he walked towards the
counter. It seemed that a general celebratio n was going on, so it was fairly safe to assume
Olaf had informed them that the road north was now clear. Most of the crowd was
standing around the Mayor, clapping him on the back and toasting his health, which
confirmed Aiden's assumptions.
The young adventurer managed to squeeze through the crowd without being noticed,
so he was able to order his breakfast without being accosted. Not that he would mind
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