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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Do you want me to show you how to throw plates, 'cause you're terrible at it, you
drunken bastard!” Pacian taunted, loud enough to be heard through the thick wooden
door. The sound of a plate smashing into the door itself led Aiden to the conclusion that
leaving it closed for the time being was a prudent course of action.
“You shouldn't have come back here, you wretch,” his father spat, “You're nothing
but trouble, and you'll bring a curse down on this town!”
“Oh don't worry, I'm leaving,” Pacian assured him, “I just wanted to drop in and say
hello before you drink yourself to death.” Pace burst through the door and slammed it
behind him. A small crowd of people had gathered around to find out what all the
commotion was.
“That whole family was always trouble if you ask me,” he overheard a large woman
say. “Pity about his wife though, she was a lovely lass, though I can't imagine what she
ever saw in a man like Bryce.”
“Aye, and that son of theirs is a chip off the old block,” someone else replied sagely.
Aiden was only just within earshot of these comments, and although he found their
comments tasteless and invasive he wasn't about to take sides in this fight.
Nellise emerged from the crowd and beckoned Pacian to her side where they talked
in whispers for a time. Aiden didn't feel the need to eavesdrop, so he decided to head over
to the inn and drown his sorrows, and speak with his friend about this eventful evening
later.
The Sleeping Bear was a creatively titled inn that mostly catered to merchants and
the occasional travellers who passed through Coldstream, however the roads had been
practically deserted of late, leaving most of the rooms vacant. The fire in the hearth
burned brightly and the food was good, which proved to be of some small comfort to
Aiden as he headed inside for the evening.
Perhaps an hour later, after Aiden had morosely eaten half a roast chicken, Pacian
slumped down in the chair next to him. The two friends exchanged a tired glance, saying
nothing, for they didn't need to speak to convey what they were feeling at that moment.
They were both emotionally exhausted and needed nothing more than quiet company for
the evening. Nellise joined them at the fireplace a little while later, sitting next to Pacian
in silence, while Sayana came over to sit on Aiden's lap, something that managed to
distract him from his troubles quite effectively.
“I see you two have become quite friendly,” Nellise remarked softly, a faint smile on
her lips.
“Yes, it came as something of a surprise to me,” Aiden replied dryly.
“Why is everyone acting so strangely tonight?” Sayana asked without warning,
causing a number of exchanged glances to be passed around.
“Sy has many fine qualities,” Aiden drawled a moment later, “but I think it's her non-
sequiturs that I find really attractive.”
“It would seem that both of these young gentlemen have family issues,” Nellise said
in reply to Sayana's question, smiling briefly at Aiden's cunning remark.
“Yes, and if it wasn't for Nel's advice,” Pacian added accusingly, “we would have
had a quiet evening by the fireplace instead of horrible confrontations with certain
people.”
“I still stand by what I said,” Nellise said stubbornly, looking pointedly at each man.
“In my experience, a lack of communication is the basis for all interpersonal conflict.”
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