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Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Stephen L. Nowland
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“Oh she's here?” Aiden exclaimed. “Excellent, I was hoping we'd all be together for
“Are ye going to introduce me to yer mates, Aiden?” the dwarf inquired.
“In a moment, I'm just waiting for the final member of our group to arrive. No sense
repeating myself if I don't have to.” Colt pushed one of the ale mugs over to Aiden.
“Drink up,” he instructed. “It'll put hairs on your chest. Not as many as mine, but we
can't expect miracles here.” Aiden sighed and took a sip. It was a bitter brew, and the
young man wasn't much of a drinker, but a rare mug or two wouldn't hurt.
“Thanks for your intervention,” he said to Clavis. “I don't think there's much I could
have said to those men that wouldn't have ended up in fight.”
“Och, ye did just fine lad,” Clavis assured him. “But I'm pressed for time and didn't
want to waste it on yet another fight.”
“Did I miss something?” Colt asked.
“Large men making insults,” Sayana replied blandly. Colt merely grunted in reply,
apparently unsurprised by the news. Clavis leaned forward to speak directly to Aiden.
“I have to ask ye, do ya have an answer for me yet?”
“That's what we're here to discuss,” Aiden assured him, spying Nellise appearing out
of the crowd in front of the table, carrying a sack of... something. “Nice to see you again
Nellise,” he said to the young cleric. “Pull up a seat if you can, I have a proposal to
“Thank you Aiden, although I trust you aren’t about to propose marriage,” she
replied with fake shock. Pacian quickly stood, acquired a chair from a nearby table, and
held it, gentleman-like, for her to sit at.
proposal,” Aiden clarified, not in the mood for light banter. “Ladies and
gentlemen, this is Clavis MacAliese, adventurer and entrepreneur. Clavis, may I present
Pacian Savidge, Nellise Sannemann, Sayana Arai, and... Colt.”
“It's a pleasure to make yer acquaintance,” Clavis said, grinning at everyone. “I don't
know if Aiden here has told ya, but I've a proposition to put to ye that'll be of benefit to
us all, should we be successful.”
“What kind of proposition?” Nellise asked, smiling at Pacian's manners. Clavis spent
some time detailing his plans to visit Ferrumgaard, and his desire to return ancient
dwarven artefacts to their new homeland. When he was done, he leaned back in his chair
and enjoyed the last of his ale, patiently waiting to hear what they all thought. Pacian was
the first to speak.
“Is there likely to be lost treasures in this place?”
“Depends how deep ya want to go,” Clavis shrugged. “The upper floors have long
been picked clean by casual visitors, but the lower levels, aye the lower levels be the best
place to scavenge. I won't promise ya anything lad, but ye never know what ye'll find in
the halls o’ Ferrumgaard.”
“Good enough, I'm in,” Pacian said, slapping his hand on the table.
“What is your interest in this, Aiden?” Nellise asked curiously. “Clavis has been
quite forthcoming about his reasons, and though they are interesting, I don't understand
why that concerns you.” The young explorer shifted uncomfortably, having known this
was coming but still not ready to tell them all about his motivations.