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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

A dull roaring sound slowly grew with intensity, similar to the sound of cattle
stampeding in the distance. When he turned to see what the dragon was doing, he was
taken aback when he saw that it was much closer to him without seeming to have actually
moved, its head held low as it peered at him with burning eyes.
Aiden felt a pain in his right leg, and looked down to see blood flowing from a
terrible wound that made him gasp in pain. The noise grew louder, like the pounding of
blood in his ears, and he clutched at his leg as a sharp pain shot through it.
When he looked up again, his heart stopped as he looked straight into the eye of the
immense dragon that was right in front of him. Aiden screamed and dropped the glowing
orb, shattering it upon the ground of the cave.
* * *
He gasped awake, trying to focus on where he was. It was mostly dark, but there
were comforting flames coming from a nearby fireplace. Nellise sat at the end of his bed,
watching him with concern.
“You're all right, Aiden,” she whispered soothingly, “you were just having a bad
dream. I hope you don't mind, but I just mended your leg.”
“Thanks,” he croaked, still shaken by the change in the dream, “What time is it?”
“Just after dawn, two days after we left the caves,” she explained. “We were all in
rough shape, but thankfully God was looking out for us.”
“That woman,” he mumbled, looking around for her and spying the elf sitting in a
chair on the far side of the cabin.
“Her name is Mona, and she saved our lives,” Nellise explained. Mona didn‟t react,
seeming content to simply watch him from afar. She wo re the same kind of camouflaged
leathers as Colt, and a longbow leaned against the wall next to her.
“You are a ranger?” Aiden asked, struggling to rise to his elbows.
“I aid their cause, though I work independently,” she answered with her honeyed
voice.
“The others?”
“We‟re alive, after a fashion” Pacian answered from another bed nearby. Aiden
looked around and saw the others were all in their own beds, though Colt was sitting up
and dressing himself.
“This cabin was recently seized by the Rangers,” Mona explained, gesturing at the
walls. “A minor lord, Baron Thomas Fairchild was using it to entertain his wealthy
friends with illegal poaching on King‟s land. As I understand it, he‟s going to hang for
the crime, so it‟s worked out well for us, since it saved your lives.”
“When I brought you here,” Mona continued, “I noticed one of your number was a
follower of the human god Kylaris. I focused my efforts on her in the hope that if she
lived, she could heal you all.”
“Smart move,” Colt grunted with a hint of admiration in his voice.
“Lean back and I‟ll finish my work,” Nellise instructed Aiden, who did as he was
told while the others continued talking.
“None of you should be in this area, least of all you, Dante,” Mona responded,
leaving Aiden unsure who she was speaking to until he realised she was talking to Colt.
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