Nature Abhors a Vacuum
â€œHey, who said you could sit there?â€ a tall man barked at them, suddenly appearing
out of the throng to stand imposingly over their table. â€œThis place is for men - I think you
three are looking for the children's table.â€ Three of his drinking companions next to him
laughed uproariously at this witty remark, clearly the height of tavern humour. Their
casual attire and tanned skin hinted that they were sailors. Pacian looked blandly at
Aiden, his hands slowly moving towards the dagger on his belt.
Sayana looked up at the men dangerously, and Aiden thought he could see a glow
coming from underneath her tunic. The young man shook his head slightly, indicating she
should keep cool, and Pacian should avoid creating a bloodbath over this minor incident.
â€œI'm in no mood for games, so I'll say this plainly,â€ Aiden said to the lead man. â€œYou
want this table? You can't have it. So unless you want to see what the inside of your own
arse looks like, you'll go find someone else to bother.â€ The wide grin from the big sailor
told Aiden that was exactly what he wanted to hear. He seemed ready to start a fight, but
was shoved aside a moment later by a short, broad-chested fellow with a beard that was
familiar to Aiden.
â€œI'm sorry to bust in on yer group like this,â€ Clavis MacAliese said with seeming
innocence. â€œBut I think we have some unfinished business to discuss, isn't that correct,
Mister Wainwright?â€ Despite his diminutive stature, the appearance of the dwarf startled
the surrounding men. A look of unpleasant recognition appeared on the lead man's face,
â€œSay, don't I know you? Yer faces are awful familiar to me,â€ Clavis said to the
â€œI don't think so, dwarf,â€ their lead man replied doubtfully. â€œAnd we were just
leaving. C'mon lads, let's go get some more rum.â€ Without another word, all four of them
hustled off into the crowd in search of somewhere else to be. Clavis sat himself down on
an empty chair and grinned at the three companions.
â€œYer welcome,â€ he chuckled and took a large swig of his drink.
â€œThey looked like they knew you from somewhere,â€ Aiden observed, breathing a
sigh of relief. â€œSomewhere painful.â€
â€œI may have schooled them on the art of pugilism,â€ Clavis shrugged. â€œIt's hard to
remember. Last night is still a bit of a blur to me.â€
â€œHe didn't look like he'd been beaten into unconsciousness just last night,â€ Aiden
â€œMy friend, all his bruises are below the waist,â€ Clavis winked and sipped his mug
of ale. Colt had the good grace to show up at the table carrying two mugs of ale at that
moment. All four chairs were taken, so he looked down at Clavis with an ominous
â€œTable seats four, and you're number five,â€ he growled. â€œMove it, short ass.â€ Clavis
looked up at the towering ranger with a thoughtful expression, then swivelled around and
grabbed another chair from a neighbouring table and dragged it over.
â€œHave a seat, mate,â€ he offered. Colt stood there a moment longer, then shrugged
and sat in the chair.
â€œMight want to grab another one while you're at it,â€ the ranger mentioned. â€œNel is
coming over in a minute too.â€
â€œO h she's here?â€ Aiden exclaimed. â€œExcellent, I was hoping we'd all be together for
â€œAre ye going to introduce me to yer mates, Aiden?â€ the dwarf inquired.