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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Ronald Bartlett was apparently the richest man in town, and it wasn't much of a stretch to
assume he set up the club for his rich friends to... compliment each other on being rich,
perhaps?
It was only a ten minute stroll through the frigid seaside air to the location, a very
elegant manor house with a well-tended garden and an imposing metal fence. Despite
this, the gates were open, and a sign declared this the offices of the North Shore Trading
Company, open for business. Three expensively dressed men were just leaving the house,
talking amongst themselves as they walked.
Although far from appearing as refined and 'moneyed' as those gentlemen, Aiden
was without doubt the most presentable member of their group. Pacian, although neatly
groomed, still wore the camouflage leathers of the rangers, and the twin daggers on his
hips were not to be found on civilised men of high society.
Colt hardly cared about his appearance, as usual, his leathers showing wear and tear
from the recent fighting, and the big ranger definitely had something against bathing in
winter. Aiden would have to remind him to stay at the back of t he group during any talks
that went on inside, for if he came too close his… unique aroma would work against
them.
Sayana tagged along as was now her custom, the culture shock of going from
subsistence living on a mountainside, to the bustle of big-town life forcing her to learn as
fast as she could. It would be months before she was truly at home in a place like this, but
Aiden thought she was at least managing to stay out of trouble. She had refrained from
bringing her axe along, though it had taken some effort to convince her that it would not
be necessary.
“Well, let's head inside and see what we can learn shall we?” Aiden said, looking up
at the building before them.
“About that,” Pacian voiced hesitantly. “I'm wondering how you're going to go about
this.”
“I was going to head in and ask Mister Bartlett a few questions about any deals he's
done with any mercenary companies lately,” Aiden explained slowly.
“You mean... be honest?”
“Mostly, yes,” Aiden replied dubiously. “I have a little diversion in mind though.
What are you getting at?”
“If I may be so bold as to make a suggestion?” Pacian asked delicately. “Lie. A lot.
If this bloke is indeed involved somehow, then he's not going to be very forthcoming
with information. Confronting him directly isn't go ing to get us the answers we need, so
yeah... lie.”
“I wasn't exactly planning to stride in there and point my finger at the man, accusing
him of treason,” Aiden replied with a raised eyebrow. “But I'll take your advice into
consideration.” Pacian seemed happy with that, and went back to tidying up his hair.
Aiden led the others along the short path that ran through the front gate, and past a
water fountain with a fish carved from stone on top of a small column. The fresh water
gave Aiden an idea. He reached into his belt pouch and pulled out a piece of cloth, then
leaned over and dipped it into the water. Then he reached over and started dabbing the
wet cloth on Sayana's face, attempting to remove the smudges of dirt that seemed to be
ever-present on the wild girl's features. She pulled back against him reflexively, not sure
what he was doing.
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