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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Of course not,” the Corporal objected. “What I'm talking about here is a precision
strike against their leader. Duncan and I agree that without Erag, their momentum will
waver, and the war won't happen.”
“Ah, nothing like a good old assassination to solve all our problems,” Pacian
drawled.
“Look, my family lives in Coldstream,” Aiden said, “and if they haven't been
attacked already, then they soon will be. I want to make sure that doesn't happen, so even
if no-one else wants in on this job, I'm going.”
“You believe this to be our only solution?” Nellise asked, looking mostly at Pacian
but including Aiden in her stern gaze. “Kill whoever we don't like? Have you given any
thought to the consequences of such an action? I would think the akoran people would be
outraged at our meddling and go to war anyway.”
“I would agree with that,” Tara interjected, “except for one thing. Their former chief
Morik Far-Eagle disappeared, right before Erag seized power. Morik was always co-
operative with Aielund and beloved by his people. Erag couldn‟t have stood against him
directly, and would have been a fool to kill him.
“So you're saying Morik is still alive?” Aiden asked.
“Most likely, yes,” Tara confirmed. “Given a chance, Morik could reclaim power
and end the threat instantly. The only difficult part is getting past so many of their people,
fired up for war.”
“Sayana is from Akora,” Aiden volunteered. “Maybe you could guide us in?”
“I don't think it's a good idea,” Sayana hedged. “They will have patrols covering the
entrances, and getting past them without being seen will be all but impossible.”
“The rangers managed to do it,” Tara disagreed. “And from what I hear, your
wilderness skills should easily be a match for them.”
“Myself and the rangers, yes, we can do it,” Sayana continued, “but what of the
others? Nellise, you are not the stealthiest person I have ever met, nor is Aiden.”
“All you have to do is scout ahead for us and let us know when it's safe to move,”
Aiden suggested. “We can get some white cloaks to help us blend in with the snow. I
think this could actually work.”
“If Morik is being held near their forward camp, it will be extremely difficult to get
to him without running into the guards,” she retorted. “If you are planning to bypass the
warriors, free Morik, and then have him lead an uprising, I think you had better come up
with another plan.”
“All things being equal, I would prefer to do it the way you just described,” Tara
remarked. “I can only assume you will have to dispatch a few guards here and there, as a
matter of necessity. With your assistance, they will be able to minimise these casualties.
Isn't that worth the risk, if it avoids a war?”
“I... can't,” Sayana protested with a quivering voice. “I haven't been back to akoran
lands in a long time, I wouldn't have any chance of guiding you to the right place.”
“I recall you saying you haven't been there for six months, back when we first met,”
Aiden noted. “That isn't such a long time. Is your memory that poor?” The wild girl
looked like a trapped rabbit, eyes darting back and forth looking for a way out. Aiden
knew that she hadn't been completely forthcoming with information about her past, or the
real reasons for her exile to the mountains.
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