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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

The ranger held a torch in one hand, and Sayana's right hand with the other. Sweat
beaded on her brow and her eyes were wide open, but she stared straight up at the stone
ceiling and barely noticed Aiden's approach at all. The spear that had impaled her before
she fell had been removed, leaving a gruesome wound that soaked the bandages around
her midriff with blood.
“She should be dead, or at least unconscious with a wound like that,” Colt said
softly, looking down at Sayana without any visible emotion. “I can't imagine what keeps
her hanging on to life like this, but she's a tough one, no doubt about it.”
“Will she live?” Aiden asked, drawing a shrug from the big man.
“She's holding steady, though she's obviously lost a lot of blood. The only reason
she's still breathing is 'cause of those tonics and whatnot we retrieved from Nel's pack.
Before she took 'em, I was holding her guts in with my bare hands, I swear to God.”
Aiden had taken Colt's lack of feeling as a callous disregard for her well-being. Now he
understood the big man was emotionally numb from what they'd gone through while
Aiden had been unconscious.
“Hang in there a little longer,” Aiden whispered to Sayana, being careful to keep his
voice optimistic. “Once Nellise is awake, she'll fix you up good and fast, do you
understand?” Sayana didn't respond, but she did blink emphatically which Aiden took as
some sort of acknowledgement.
As he sat watching her cling to life, his sense of relief was slowly diminished by a
feeling of cold rage at their situation. Aiden hadn't thought it would be quite so difficult
to go through this old, supposedly abandoned city – certainly not to the point of nearly
killing two of their number. It may not have been fair, but he looked to Clavis as part of
the reason Nellise and Sayana were flirting with death.
“Clavis, when did you say you were here last?” he began.
“A few years back,” the dwarf answered, “though I take it ya mean in the city in
general, for I ain't been down this far since I was in short pants.”
“So when you say 'a few years', do you mean three?”
“Roughly, sure,” Clavis agreed.
“And when you reached that passageway upstairs,” Aiden continued smoothly, “you
said it was blocked, so you had to turn around and leave, is that correct?”
“Aye, and how is this line 'o questioning relevant to our current situation?” Clavis
snapped back, the usually taciturn dwarf apparently feeling the stress of their
predicament.
“Aiden, maybe this isn't the time to talk about the past,” Pacian advised.
“We appear to have plenty of time,” Aiden replied coldly. “We found a body, half-
buried under the rock fall and Nellise says it was less than three years old, so it just
couldn't have been buried beneath tons of stone if it had already collapsed when you
arrived.” Clavis levelled a stern glare at the young man and took a step forward.
“What's yer point,” he growled.
“I think at least one of your associates died under that rock fall,” Aiden said bluntly.
“I think you had a few people with you when you came back here, and they all died in
that collapse. But what I can't figure is why you felt it necessary to keep that from us.”
“How can she know how old a skeleton is anyway?” Clavis grunted, dismissing his
argument.
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