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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“I haven't yet seen enough of them to provide a basis for translating the language,
although this cube of yours does provide me with a few more letters... words... whatever
they are. I shall take notes.” He shuffled back to his desk, dipped a quill into a vial of ink,
and began writing down notes of this new finding.
On an impulse, Aiden leaned over and tried to push in one of the nodules, much in
the same way as Dale had done with the cube, and was pleased to see a small hatch flip
open. The inside of the little hatch was empty, though it was lined with tiny bumps and
grooves.
“Did you know about this little hatch?” Aiden asked of Dale.
“Yes, it's the only thing that still works,” the old man replied. “Another press on that
same nodule closes the hatch again.” Aiden rubbed his chin absently, pondering the
meaning of this development, when a thought occurred to him.
“Pass me the cube, if you've finished with it.” Aiden placed it over the hatch,
discovering that it was the same size. Applying pressure gently to the cube, he slowly
pushed it inside the chamber until it made a 'click' sound. Astonishingly, it was a perfect
fit.
“My word, they're more intricately connected than I thought,” Dale exclaimed,
having watched the whole thing. He tried pressing a few more nodules, but nothing else
happened. Aiden had felt like they were on the verge of discovering something, only to
be disappointed once more. They looked down at the cube for nearly a minute before
Dale spoke up.
“Aiden, I wish to buy your cube.”
“Funny, I was about to offer to purchase your contraption,” he responded, both of
them enjoying a brief laugh. “Seriously though, I don't think I'm willing to part with the
cube just yet. I'll pay you for your time though, and I'll also take your translated notes
from the papers I brought in, if you please.”
“Oh, I was just translating in my head, I didn't actually write them down,” Dale
apologised. “You'll have to give me an hour to write them all out for you.”
“That's not a problem, I've plenty of time today.”
“Well then, have a seat and I'll get started immediately,” Dale offered. Aiden took
the box out of the contraption and dropped it into a pocket. After clearing a few books of
untold value from a nearby chair, he sat down to ponder these findings.
After half an hour, there came a knock at the door. Dale was too busy to pay it any
heed, so Aiden opened it and saw Pacian standing outside in the rain, clad in a new cloak.
“Thought I might find you here,” he remarked, appearing somewhat hung-over.
“There's a meeting happening in a few minutes you should come to, so finish up
whatever you're doing and let's go.”
“Good morning to you too,” Aiden drawled. “What's this meeting about, and why do
I have to be there?”
“It's about the akoran raiders,” Pacian answered grimly. “Things have gotten worse
over the past week, and I'm told there's some new information about what's happening.
Their local militia leader is giving us the details, a 'Corporal Redfurn'.
“Who told you all this?” Aiden inquired.
“Olaf, while I was getting our pay for clearing the highway. He seemed pretty upset,
actually, although to be honest, I don't recall ever seeing him not upset. Maybe it was just
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