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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

keeping the approaching men in the sights of his deadly weapon should Nellise‟s gambit
One of the hunters was an older gentleman with grey hair, a thick moustache, and a
neatly trimmed beard. He was dressed in high quality armour and clothing, more so than
the others around him, and held a magnificent longbow in one hand. Beside him was a
rugged, unshaven chap holding the two dogs on leashes. They began to bark incessantly
at the sight of Nellise, who stood unafraid, a figure of white amidst the natural hues of
her surroundings. The other two men were nondescript, their features hidden beneath
deep hoods.
“What is your name, madam?” asked the gentleman, who came to a halt ten yards
from where she stood. His companions spread out and kept a close watch on their
surroundings with their longbows ready to shoot at a moment‟s notice.
“Nellise Sannemann,” she replied easily. “You are in command here, I take it?”
“I am Lord Thomas Fairchild, Baron of Calespur,” the man answered with authority.
“You are trespassing on my lands, child, as are the rangers who come to dispute my
“I had hoped you would be a man of honour,” Nellise continued. “I am pleased to
see my hope confirmed. Yes, I am working with the Rangers, but I assure you, I am not
speaking to you now as some sort of distraction. M y motivations are genuine, and you
would do well to heed my words.”
“You are well spoken, Miss Sannemann,” Lord Thomas remarked. “Aside from my
companions, I have only conversed with uncouth frontiersmen out here in the woods, and
am the worse for it. I assume Commander Armin is somewhere out in the forest, yes?”
Nellise nodded in confirmation. “He would not have risked someone such as yourself in a
simple diversion, so I can also assume that he was not privy to your plans to open a
dialog with me.”
“I have no doubt that he will have strong words for me when this is all over,” Nellise
“Though you may not think of yourself as a distraction, I assure you that the good
commander is, even now, encircling this position to use you as such. Tell me, child, what
is it you hope to achieve?”
“A peaceful settlement,” she answered. “I have seen too much bloodshed of late to
want more of it, and regardless of who would win this fight, lives would be lost. You are
clearly an educated man of means, my Lord, far more so than the rabble I was forced to
deal with only days ago, on the highway. Do not force this into another bloody
“You were involved with dealing with those brigands?” Lord Thomas inquired,
sounding impressed with this revelation.
“Regrettably, yes,” Nellise conceded. “They were uninterested in anything but
slaughter and pillage, sir. You do not have to take the same path as they, for you are
clearly no ruffian seeking to pilfer the region.”
“I wish only to reclaim what is rightfully mine,” the lord stated defiantly. “As I told
your commander a week prior, these are my family's hereditary lands, and in the absence
of the K ing, I decide who has the right to hunt here. Instead of recognising my legitimate
claim the Rangers have instead sought to hound my associates and I like common
criminals. I have no choice but to treat them in kind.”