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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Light streamed in through the window shutters the next morning, and the sounds of
the bustling town outside indicated it was well after sunrise. Pacian was still asleep in the
bed across the small room, so if they were late, at least they were both going to be late.
Aiden untangled himself and sluggishly arose, making use of the provided bedpan before
attempting to figure out how to dress himself.
“Pace, wake up,” he said to the somnolent rogue, who groaned into his pillows in
response. Aiden rolled his eyes and decided to leave his friend to rest up, considering the
trials they had gone through of late.
His new arming sword felt heavier on his belt, but it was a reassuring weight. He
would have to take some practice swings with it once they were out of town, as it
wouldn't do to accidentally stab himself when it came time to fight.
His gear checked and ready for travel, Aiden threw his pillow at Pacian on his way
out the door, drawing a satisfying groan from beneath the blankets. He wasn't sure if
they'd leave the blond rogue behind, but if he didn't get up soon, they would certainly
have a discussion about it. When he reached the common room, it became clear that it
was closer to noon than he'd thought, as Nellise and Sayana were sitting at a table with
Clavis, enjoying various drinks, with all their gear present and ready to go.
“I'm sorry about being late,” Aiden apologised as he approached the table. “I didn't
sleep too well and I guess I... hey, where's Colt?” Nellise, sipping on some hot broth,
glanced meaningfully to her right. Aiden followed her gaze and saw the big ranger once
again sprawled on the floor with a bunch of other unkempt men, sporting many bruises.
Aiden shook his head in astonishment as he joined his companions at the table.
They talked quietly amongst themselves for a while as Aiden ate a simple breakfast
of kippers and crusty bread. Shortly after he'd finished eating Pacian appeared, carrying
all his gear and apparently ready to go.
Upon seeing Colt slowly starting to regain consciousness, he sighed and took the
time to buy himself a quick breakfast. Nellise, who was always the patient one, was
showing signs of exasperation, so she excused herself from the table and left the inn,
mentioning she had to pick up some equipment anyway. By the time Colt was finally
moving about and ready to go, it was the middle of the day.
A light but steady rain had settled in over Culdeny as they left the inn and followed
Aiden to the smithy. He figured they would meet Nellise there when she was done, and
weren't disappointed. She was emerging from the door to the smithy as they approached,
clad in her new breastplate and sporting metal shoulder plates, forearm bracers, and
gauntlets. Her new armour gleamed, even in the dull grey light of the overcast day, and
she looked very pleased with her purchase.
“For the first time since we met, I actually feel adequately protected,” she smiled.
“You look like you're ready for anything,” Aiden said quickly, sensing Pacian was
about to say something inappropriate. “Ready to head out?” Nellise nodded in reply.
“Okay Colt, do you feel up to taking the lead?”
“'Spose,” he replied, from deep inside the cowl on his cloak.
“Are you sure you're up to it?” Aiden asked cautiously. “I wouldn't want you to slam
into any trees or slow-moving deer on your way.”
“I'll walk it off,” he growled back, not amused. Without further discussion, the group
followed the bruised and hungover ranger through the town towards the south gate. They