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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

The weather would be affected, for one. It is complicated to explain, but -
“It's been raining for weeks,” Aiden interrupted dryly.
Ah. I seem to have made a miscalculation of the relativistic pressures involved, the
dragon replied, drawing a blank look from Aiden. The effects of my probing appear to be
far more pronounced than I accounted for. I shall cease such activities immediately,
though I must warn you, if I cannot see you, I may not be able to save your life next time.
“So, I'm not really dead after all?” he asked with a sliver of hope in his voice.
No, I caught you on your way past. I shall return you to your body. It is a shame that
you broke the sphere, Aiden. Had it remained intact, we could accomplish great things
together. As it happens you will have to do it alone.
“Do what alone?” Aiden hedged, not liking the direction this conversation was
heading, even as he was relieved to know that he was going to be all right.
You have many questions, Aiden, but your time here is nearly up. If you stay any
longer, I fear your companions may not survive. Suffice to say, I serve a purpose here
and my time too, is running short. You will travel to Fairloch, and find a man named
Desmond. Speak the name 'Salinder' to him, for he will have means of contacting me
again.
“Wait, what do you mean -” Aiden began to say, but the scene before him was fading
even as he spoke. His vision began to swim and he felt fainter as each second passed. The
dragon and the ground upon which it lay faded into the violet storm surrounding them,
until both vanished altogether. Aiden felt a sensation of falling a great distance and the
ground began to coalesce around him once more. This time it was much darker and far,
far colder.
* * *
Aiden jolted awake, a throbbing pain in his head and a burning sensation upon his
chest. He reached a hand up and pulled away the shard that hung around his neck, for it
was glowing red hot, leaving a small burn mark upon his skin.
Glancing around, he was dismayed to see it was completely dark. A bitter wind
howled across the frozen landscape, chilling him to the bone. His mind was still addled
from his bizarre experience, but the memory of his demise was coming back to him faster
than he would have liked.
Reflexively reaching a hand to his head, Aiden felt the place where he had been
struck by the axe, only to find the weapon had been removed and the wound closed. His
momentary relief was immediately overwhelmed by the realisation that he was lying
amidst a pile of bloodied corpses, half-covered by the snow, and his friends were in
trouble somewhere nearby.
Aiden felt a strong measure of guilt and responsibility at their defeat, for even though
they had been bickering and arguing with each other since their troubled journey to
Ferrumgaard, it was Aiden who had been instrumental in bringing them along on this
fateful journey.
Aiden slowly began to rise, keenly feeling the cold through his body. He wrapped
the winter cloak around him tightly and then felt around blindly, making sure his gear
was still intact. His leather breastplate was gouged in several places, but it would serve
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