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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“I apologise, but it's all true,” Aiden replied, not backing down. “I came by as a
courtesy, to let you know I'm okay, that's all.”
“But you're not okay,” his father remarked, stepping closer and giving the young
man the same examination his mother had done. “You're decked out for war, and that
blade on your hip is as sharp as they come, if I'm any judge of workmanship. I take it
you've been practising?”
“After a fashion,” Aiden answered evasively. His father nodded to himself, looking
straight at his son for a long moment, then turned and walked back out to the workshop.
Aiden sighed quietly, recognising his father's usual response to bad news, which was to
focus on his work.
“Don't pay attention to him,” his mother instructed, “you know what he's like. The
two of you can resolve your differences over the next week or so, and then it'll be like
you never fought. You are staying... right? I mean, after you finish off whatever it is you
have to do?” The hope in her voice was heartbreaking.
“I don't know,” the young explorer shrugged honestly. “I haven't really thought that
far ahead, but I suspect I have some more research to do before I can leave all of that
cave stuff behind me.” Aiden was surprised to hear a knife slam into the chopping board
his mother was using. She looked at him with something akin to exasperation, and more
than a little impatience.
“Why? Why can't you just forget it and get on with your life? You have so much
potential, Aiden, and you're wasting it on some vision you thought you saw when you hit
your head. Why can't you just let it go?”
“I don't have a say in the matter,” Aiden replied tersely, heading over to the
workshop door. “It won't let me go.” He couldn't mention Sayana's warning about the
dream, nor the golden dragon that awaited him when he closed his eyes. It was with a
cold realisation that he came to understand at that moment, nothing had changed here
since he had first left. Seeing his father working away on a damaged wago n, while he
stood in the doorway having returned from a fairly long absence, summed it up.
“I think I'd better just go,” Aiden said to his father's back, expecting no answer and
receiving none. “I'll be back this way sometime, I don't know when, really. Maybe when
I've figured some things out and I'm ready to go back to my old life. Take care of mum,
for me.” He couldn't figure out anything further to say, so he turned and started to walk
out of the shed, feeling that the inn was probably a better place to stay, given the
situation.
“Did I ever tell you about my old mate Sam Weathers?” His father asked suddenly,
stopping Aiden in mid-stride. “We grew up together, south of Fairloch, the Kingswood,
though it was before that place was properly settled. Best fr iend I ever had, and we did
everything together, him and I. Explored that forest from end to end, and got into more
trouble than I'd care to mention.”
“We were about your age when Sam got the itch for adventure, and wanted to head
south to sign up with a mercenary company. I wanted to go along with him, but my old
man was sick and I had to bring in lumber to make enough money to keep us fed. So I
said my goodbyes to Sam, and we went our separate ways.” Aiden turned to face his
father, even though the man was still paying attention to the new spokes he was fitting to
a wheel.
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