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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“What, they let you back in already?” she exclaimed, glaring at Colt. The man really
did have an uncanny knack for annoying people.
“I'm not officially back in yet, no,” he grated. “But me and a few friends are here to
help out with your little poaching problem.”
“Liar,” she retorted. “You don't have any friends. And you stink to high heaven.”
“Just help us out or I'll feed you your own fist,” Colt growled. The woman glanced
around at the rest of the group.
“If you are actually friends with this cleverly shaved bear, I'll have to nominate you
for sainthood.” Despite this statement, she stepped aside and allowed them to pass
through. The armoury was a simple room, with bows and swords on racks along the
walls, as well as large wardrobes that probably contained suits of armour, and
camouflage cloaks.
“The more we suffer in this life, the greater our reward in the next,” Nellise offered
with a wink as she passed by the woman.
“I think you're heading for a castle made of gold then,” she replied with a smirk,
“But enough of that. I'm Sarah, the quartermaster. What can I do for you?”
“We're going hunting for those poachers tomorrow morning,” Aiden said, “and I
could use something to shoot at the bad men. No, not a longbow,” he added, seeing Sarah
instantly reach for a nearby bow on the wall. “I've never used one and I don't think
tomorrow morning is the time to start learning.”
“A fair point,” she replied. “They're mighty weapons but they do require a lot of
training. A short bow isn't really much better, if you've never used one. How in God's
name do you live in this country and not know how to shoot a bow?”
“He always had his nose buried in books,” Pacian answered, shaking his head in
mock lament. “I did what I could to drag him out into the world but alas, it was too late.”
“I have other talents, I assure you,” Aiden corrected him, giving his friend a
withering look. “Your commander mentioned you might have a crossbow in here
somewhere?” Sarah appeared to think on this for a moment before moving over to a
number of wooden crates on the other side of the room. Within moments she had
produced a heavy crossbow, nearly twice the size of the one Nellise carried, and a few
pouches of bolts to go with it.
In the meantime, Colt had found a suit of heavier leathers with metal plates stitched
in strategic places. The quality of the armour was so good it attracted Pacians‟ attention.
“I don't suppose there's another one in there?” he asked casually. Colt looked around
inside the wardrobe and shook his head.
“Sorry, first in, best dressed it seems. If any of you have a problem with the human
body, I suggest you avert your eyes while I change.” It was sound advice that Aiden took
to heart. He and the others quietly removed themselves from the armoury and returned to
the mess hall to have themselves an early dinner before retiring upstairs for the night.
The sleeping quarters for the rangers were somewhat cramped, with two bunks in
each room. As Armin had said earlier, most o f the rooms were empty, so they didn't feel
the need to share. Aiden chose a room at random and bid the others a good night, then lit
several candles and took out Alcott's Treatise on Artefacts Most Ancient, and read
through some of the later sections again, just to see if there was anything else to be
gleaned from the text. Nothing else presented itself, however, and Aiden was left to