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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

coming from the house proper beckoned him forwards, and before he knew it, he had
knocked softly on the front door.
It opened a few moments later and before him stood his mother, her mouth agape at
the sight of her long lost son. A moment after that, Aiden was engulfed in a crushing hug,
which he gratefully returned.
“Aiden, it's so good to see you again,” she whispered, pulling back from the embrace
to examine her son with tears of relief in her careworn blue eyes. “We've been so worried
about you.”
“I'm fine,” Aiden assured her, “you needn't have worried.”
“I'm your mother Aiden, it's what I do,” she informed him with a wan smile. “Please,
come in out of the cold, you must be freezing.” Aiden stepped inside, grateful for the
blazing fireplace that took the chill out of the air. The familiar surroundings of his
childhood home put him at ease, and for a few moments it was like he had never le ft.
“What is all this?” his mother asked, gesturing at his equipment, and in particular,
the sword hanging from his hip. “Have you joined the army?”
“No, nothing like that,” Aiden hastily replied, taking off his leather gloves to warm
his hands over the fire. “It's a bit dangerous out there at the moment, and it pays to have
some protection.”
“Don't lie to your mother,” she said dryly, closing the door. “You're still chasing
answers to that cave, aren't you?” Aiden never could get away with lying to his parents,
and his mother in particular had a knack for sniffing out the truth.
“You know how important it is to me,” he replied sombrely, quietly disappointed
that the relief of a warm welcome had turned sour so quickly. There was a long, awkward
pause between them, the memory of their last meeting still fresh in their minds.
“Well, you're home now at least,” she sighed, walking back into the kitchen to tend
to the pot of stew that bubbled over a little stove. “We shall talk with your father and
resolve this nonsense once and for all, and you can put that sword away and things can
get back to normal.” Aiden looked over at her, busily preparing the evening meal, trying
to pretend everything was the way it had been a few months ago.
“He's not staying,” came the voice of his father from a nearby doorway across the
room. The door connected to the workshop outside and he stood there, looking at Aiden,
his expression unreadable as he wiped his hands with a rag. He was taller than Aiden,
with broad shoulders and dark hair that was greyer than the young man remembered,
framing an honest face unaccustomed to deception. “Aiden is just passing through, isn't
that right son?”
“Dad's right, I'm on my way south with some allies,” he said. “We're going to be
assisting the local militia with the akoran problem.” Aiden's mother looked up at him,
aghast.
“I thought you said you hadn't joined the army?”
“I've been up to Culdeny recently and tried to get the mayor to send down some
more patrols to this region,” he explained,” but they're short-handed everywhere. The
threat down here is very real, and we're trying to remove that threat before they escalate
their attacks. I'm trying to defend the town, but I‟m doing it on my own terms.”
“Show her some respect, Aiden,” his father cautioned. “Your mother has been
worried sick about you.”
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