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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“It's been over an hour, in case you were wondering,” Sayana mentioned, finding the
surrounding trees to be of great interest all of a sudden.
“I may or may not have fallen asleep,” Colt replied ruefully. “Don‟t worry, I had
Faolan to keep me company.” Aiden looked into the trees and saw the wolf, sitting in
amongst the greenery.
“You named it?” Aiden asked. “You do know that 'Faolan' is O lde Aielish for 'wolf',
“Yeah, so?”
“So instead of calling it 'wolf' in one language, you're calling it the same thing in
another,” Aiden explained dryly.
“Seems pretty clever to me,” Colt remarked, quite pleased with himself. “Okay you
can look now, but any more remarks and I'm gonna hit someone.”
“Perish the thought,” Nellise assured him. “I'm so pleased you've finally bathed, I'm
going to refrain from saying all the things I'd written down for this very occasion.”
“I'm touched,” Colt said. “Just give me a few minutes and I'll be ready to go. I'll even
catch you up if you want to keep moving.”
“Actually, there is a small issue we need to address before we continue onward,”
Pacian said, without a trace of humour in his voice. “Colt got us into a lot of trouble this
morning because he was drunk. From what Clavis told us, we could be heading into yet
another dangerous situation in Ferrumgaard, and I don't know about the rest of you, but
I'd feel a little more secure leaving Colt behind to sort himself out. A woodsman isn't
going to be real useful underground anyway, if you think about it.”
“I was thinking about this myself on the way here,” Nellise added delicately, leaning
against a tree. “Not from the perspective of punishing him, merely to give him the time
he needs to clear his mind.”
“He's had plenty of time to do that over the past few weeks, and he's still a sodding
mess,” Pacian complained.
“'Time heals all wounds', as the saying goes,” Nellise intoned. “Aiden, what do you
“I spoke with Colt about this earlier,” the he explained. “I have a sneaking suspicion
that his issue is going to be resolved in the next hour or two anyway.”
“Ah, so it is about a woman,” Nellise said triumphantly, smiling at Colt.
“I know I probably don't get a say in this,” Colt interrupted, “but I just want to point
out that Pacian killed Fletcher in cold blood and we forgave him for it. Is my mistake any
worse than his?”
“No, it isn't,” Sayana replied for them. “I would remind you all of the times Colt
saved our lives, particularly against the wolves in the mountains. He is brave, and you
should not disregard him so easily.”
“Thanks, Sy,” Colt grunted. “I can promise you I'll be focused and sober, if that's
what you're looking for.”
“That's good enough for me,” Nellise observed. Pacian nodded thoughtfully, then
stepped forward and produced the longbow he had brought with him.
“I found this bow in the cabin, above the mantelpiece in a place of honour. If my
guess is right, it‟s a quality weapon… and it's yours, so long as you can keep your
promise.” Colt leaned forward curiously to inspect the weapon, taking the unstrung bow
in his hands to get a closer look.