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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Wood smoke hung over the street as they pressed on, passing by the low brick wall
that marked the outskirts of town where they encountered two nervous looking
guardsmen, who issued the customary challenge. They waved the group through,
directing them towards the town‟s sole inn.
“We're leaving here at first light tomorrow, so I recommend you get some rest,” Colt
advised. “By tomorrow evening, we'll be in enemy territory and there won't be room for
mistakes. I'm headed to the inn, I'm getting my own room, and I will see you out the front
at first light.” With that, he turned and stalked off across the snow-covered ground in the
direction of the large building a bit further along the street.
“Succinct, as always,” Nellise sighed. “His message is pertinent, even though
uncouth in the delivery. Sayana and I will take a room at the inn, and I suspect you two
will do the same?”
“Well...” Aiden hedged. “Maybe. I think I'll stop by and see my family while I'm in
town.”
“You should,” Nellise agreed, “I'm sure your mother is worried about you. Pacian is
going to see his father, isn't that right Pace?”
“Oh yes, we're going to have a meaningful dialog,” Pacian replied flatly. “Just be
ready to call the guards when you hear the bloodthirsty screams later on.”
“Then it's settled,” Nellise said, ignoring his pessimism. “We will see you both
tomorrow morning. Come along Sayana, these gentlemen have importa nt affairs to attend
to.” Nellise turned and followed Colt towards the inn, with Sayana reluctantly following
along behind, giving Aiden a last forlorn look as she left him to his 'affairs'.
He had briefly considered bringing her along as a kind of divers ion, but this was
likely to be an awkward, if memorable meeting, and Sayana probably wouldn't enjoy
watching Aiden and his parents fight.
“I guess I'll see you at the inn later,” Pacian sighed, resigned to his own reunion.
“Promise me there‟ll be drink.”
“I suspect we'll both need it,” Aiden agreed. “Good luck, and keep him away from
any sharp objects.” Pacian barked out a cynical laugh, and then headed off along a side
street towards his family home.
Coldstream was a picturesque place, and one could even go so far as to call it
'quaint', if one were so inclined. Snow covered every surface, and with the oil lanterns
hanging from street poles providing soft illumination across the frozen landscape, some
might even call the scene 'breathtaking'.
The Wainwright family home was near the centre of town, an appropriate place to
attract customers for his father's business. He worked out of a large shed that had been
added long before Aiden had been born, and produced the wagons and wains that
merchants and common folk alike used to move their various cargoes around the
countryside.
Approaching the house, Aiden could see the lights were still on in the workshop, and
the faint but distinctive sounds of hammering could be heard, sounds that brought back
pleasant memories of his childhood.
Aiden hesitated, standing in the street, oblivious to the snow swirling around him as
he recalled the last 'conversation' with his father and how unpleasant it was. He almost
faltered and walked away at the memory, but then scolded himself and decided to soften
the impact of the encounter by talking with his mother first. The warm, inviting light
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