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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“It's nice to see you again too,” he answered sarcastically. “We were exploring the
ruins of Ferrumgaard but things didn‟t go so well for us. Thanks again for saving our
backsides, but if you‟d keep this to yourself I‟d really appreciate it.”
Mona didn‟t answer straight away, choosing instead to exchange a searching look
with Colt who, after a few moments of scrutiny, swore under his breath.
“Look, can we speak in private? There's things that need saying, and I don't talk well
with an audience.”
“This cabin has but one room,” she replied distantly. “In your condition, it‟s too cold
to go outside right now so why don‟t you just tell me what‟s on your mind?”
“You know what,” Colt growled as he pulled his leather tunic over his bruised body.
“Say, do you two know each other?” Pacian asked with exaggerated innocence.
“She‟s the reason I was kicked out of the Rangers,” Colt grunted, which Mona
seemed to take issue with.
“Am I to be responsible for the choices of others?” she asked pointedly. “If those
around me act out of passion and misguided feeling, am I to blame?”
“Don‟t get subtle on me, you know I can't follow you when you do that,” Colt
complained.
“Look, I‟ve had many admirers over the years, but around here they were
predominately uncouth frontiersmen, interested in only one thing. I rebuffed all advances
and kept to myself for decades, until I met you. Forgive me for speaking of such things in
front of your friends, I do not mean to embarrass you.”
“Oh it's quite alright,” Nellise assured her. “Just pretend we're not here.”
“You know what would be better than that?” Colt asked in a restrained voice.
“Actually not being here. Why don't you try that?”
“Because this is more fun, Dante,” Pacian chided.
“Nobody but Mona calls me that,” Colt growled, leaning in towards Pacian
threateningly. Mona sighed in exasperation.
“There it is again,” she remarked. “And you wonder why I didn't want to be with you
after the incident.”
“What, because I defended your honour?” Colt exclaimed, turning to face her again.
“I'm not a regular bloke, Mona. Sure, I'm a little rough around the edges, but don't ever
doubt that I love you.” The uncomfortable silence descended upon them again as Mona
locked eyes with Colt. “Did I just say that out loud?” he muttered with embarrassment.
“You can be quite endearing when you want to, Dante, so much like a little boy in
some ways, yet you can't hide what you are deep inside. More than once, you've proven
yourself to be just as brutish as your predecessors, and striking Commander Armin just
because he was being nice to me was so very human. I couldn't even voice how
disappointed I was, Dante.”
“I never asked to be put on a pedestal, Mona,” Colt grated. “And I've never tried to
hide who I am. So I'm gonna ask you a question, and I want a straight answer. After that,
we'll know where we stand.”
“I'm listening,” she replied, a hint of anticipation in her voice.
“Do you love me enough to forgive me?” The question hung in the air for a long
moment as the attention of everyone present centred on the tall elf- maiden.
“I do forgive you, but Armin has made his intentions to me clear,” she answered.
“I've started seeing him on a regular basis. I'm sorry Dante.” Colt nodded, evidently not
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