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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Aiden held the door open for the ladies, and then followed them in. A wave of hot,
dry air washed over him as he stepped inside, carrying with it the smell of molten iron
and sweat. The walls were dark with ingrained soot from the fire s of the forge, and
various weapons and suits of armour were displayed on elaborate stands. A middle-aged
man, with neatly combed white hair and arms like tree trunks stood watching a younger
man of similar proportions hammer away at what appeared to be the makings of a fine
blade.
While Nellise began talking with the older smith about acquiring some armour,
Aiden set about looking at the weapons on display. A fine- looking arming sword caught
his eye, so he took it down from the wall rack to give it a closer inspection. It was a well-
balanced blade, longer and heavier than his short sword but still useable with one hand.
He caught the attention of the apprentice and haggled out a good deal for the
weapon. Regrettably, the total cost was still enough to take all but one of his remaining
silver coins. Still, it would all be worthwhile if it helped him stay alive.
“And will there be anything for the young lady here?” the young smith added,
smiling at Sayana, who was gazing back at the shirtless young man working at the forge.
“Oh, I'm just looking,” she replied, a phrase she had no doubt heard on her travels
around the town with Nellise.
“I'm sure you are, but he's not for sale,” Aiden deadpanned, causing both of them to
to blush furiously and suddenly find the swords on the wall of great interest. Satisfied that
he had embarrassed them sufficiently, he sauntered over to see how Nellise was doing.
As she was in the midst of being fitted for a shining breastplate, he left her to deal with
the smith and head for the door.
“You're leaving?” Sayana blurted as he strolled past. The young, shirtless smith was
still talking with her, but the wild girl had a look on her face that was not dissimilar to
that of a frightened rabbit. “I have to go now,” she told him. “It's been nice talking and
the like.”
“Yes, I'd better get back to work myself,” he replied, unaware of her apparent
discomfort. “Fare ye well, Sayana Arai.” She gave him a nervous smile and then quickly
scurried over to follow Aiden out the door.
“Did we enjoy ourselves?” he grinned at her. Sayana smiled shyly, but said nothing.
“Yes, we did, didn't we,” he laughed as they made their way back to the inn.
* * *
The evening meal was pleasant enough at the Seaspray inn, and for once, nobody
bothered them at the table. The presence of Clavis and Colt probably had a lot to do with
that, and the two seemed to be getting along very well indeed. Aiden surmised that the
dwarf hadn't mentioned how Colt had been knocked down the previous night, but the n
again, one never knew how the big ranger would react to such news. He might even
respect the tough dwarf for taking him down a notch.
In any case, the evening passed quietly, and one by one, Aiden and the others turned
in for the night. The young man had wanted to speak with Pacian in private, but found
himself overcome with weariness shortly after he laid eyes on his bed, and turned in for
the night instead.
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