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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Regrettably, yes,” Olaf conceded. “When you hear what Corporal Redfurn has to
say, I'm sure you'll understand my reasoning.”
“Alright then, where is this Corporal?”
“I'm right here, and my name is Tara,” the armoured woman replied wearily, clearly
used to being overlooked.
“Ah,” said Aiden, trying to cover his embarrassment.
“You all have a lot to discuss, and I have to prepare for the arrival of a very
important dignitary from Fort Highmarch, so I shall leave you to your affairs,” Olaf said.
With that, the elderly statesman left.
“Shifty bastard,” Colt muttered. “So, what the hell is going on?”
“Last night, I received word from an associate of yours, who has been keeping an
eye on the akorans,” Corporal Redfurn said, getting right to the point.
“A ranger? What's his name?”
“His name was Duncan, if that means anything to you. He was co-ordinating with a
younger woman in the same leathers, though I didn‟t meet her.”
“Yeah I know him, damn good ranger,” the big man nodded. “If anyone can find out
what's going on, it's him. The young lady would be Sally. She‟s probably been spying on
them for weeks.”
“What have they discovered so far?” Nellise asked politely.
“Duncan relayed a message before heading back out to continue his surveillance,”
Tara continued. “We've had good relations with the akoran tribal people for decades, up
until about three months ago when they cut off trade and forbade anyone from entering
their lands. We couldn't figure out what had happened, until recently. Apparently, they've
had a change of leadership, and this new chief, Erag, is a brutal, vicious bastard.
“This new leader has a different perspective on the kingdom to his northern border -
that would be us – and has whipped his people into a frenzy, preparing them for war.
Several hundred of their warriors have set up a fortified camp not far south of
Coldstream, and their numbers are growing day by day. Pretty soon, they'll have enough
people to crush everything in their path, and plunder this entire region.”
“So, what would happen if this 'Erag' met with an unfortunate accident,” Pacian
asked delicately. Aiden noticed a flicker of irritation cross Nellise's face – clearly he
wasn't going to endear himself by proposing more bloodshed.
“Hard to say, really,” Tara answered hesitantly. “Either the rest of them would go on
a killing spree to honour him, or give you a big sloppy kiss for freeing them from
tyranny.”
“I don't like either of those options,” Pacian murmured.
“Hang on a moment,” Aiden interrupted seriously. “What exactly do you want from
us?”
“I would have thought it obvious,” Tara replied curiously. “All of you have shown
that you're capable of dealing with situations like this, so instead of sending in what few
people I have at my disposal, you can do what needs to be done. The mayor has nothing
but praise for your team.”
“I think the word 'team' is a little strong, to be honest,” Aiden said delicately,
noticing the uncomfortable looks from the others. “And if you think we're going to fight
hundreds of savage warriors for you, you're a loon.”
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