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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Upon reaching the fourth floor, Aiden could see the buildings were indeed larger and
more elaborate than those above. The smell was a little strange, though – far from the
intensifying musty dankness, this area smelled almost like something had been burned,
and it was an aroma he didn‟t recognise.
“Smells like boiled crab down here,” Colt grunted, apparently noticing the smell too.
They followed Clavis along a wide street, taking in the eerie sights and smells of part of
the city that had remained undisturbed for nearly a century. Pacian had already
disappeared into a nearby building, eager to finally locate some hidden treasure in
amongst the crumbling buildings of Ferrumgaard's nobility.
“I have the strangest feeling we are being watched,” Sayana murmured, looking
around as if trying to spot something about to pounce on them from the shadows.
“Easy girl,” Clavis grumbled, “Ain't nothing been down here for longer'n ye've been
“No she's right, I feel it too,” Nellise said, her voice trembling slightly. “I can't put
my finger on it, but there's something wrong here.”
“Balderdash,” Clavis muttered. “The worst we're going to see is a few more borers.
Blimey - sorry Aiden, I've got some bad news for ya. See that pile of stone up ahead
blocking the street?”
“Yes, what of it?” Aiden replied, his ears pricking up at the prospect of more trouble.
“Yer library is in there. Or rather was in there, I should say. Looks like the ceiling
came down from above, from that hole we went around. Damn place is coming apart...
breaks me heart.” Nellise made a strange gesture for Clavis to not mention broken hearts,
but Colt didn't seem to notice. Aiden ignored them, for his hopes of salvaging something
from this cursed city were rapidly diminishing. Indicating for Sayana to follow along
with him and provide some light, he moved up for a closer look.
The rock fall seemed fairly complete from this level. Aiden wasn't about to give up
just yet, however. He managed to heave away a large stone with his gloved hands,
depositing it on the floor, and then returning for another one. After a few minutes of
shifting the rocks around, he noticed a pocket of air inside.
“Sayana, can you move your light in there?” he asked her, intent upon the gap inside.
She complied with a gesture from her hand, sending the tongue of flame hovering inside
the gap. As Aiden suspected, at least part of the interior was hollow. He wasn't certain if
any more stone could be shifted away without bringing the whole lot down, however.
Aiden conveyed his concerns to Clavis, who was more of an expert on such matters.
“It's a tough call to make,” Clavis offered after a minute of close inspection. “With
enough time, we might be able to brace part 'o the structure and make a hole to crawl
through. I guess it depends how badly ya want to get in there, to risk being buried alive
should it come down on yer head.”
“Aiden?” Nellise said, trying to get his attention.
“Just a moment Nel,” he muttered absently, still focused on the problem before him.
“I'd be prepared to take the risk, if the rest of you are prepared to spend some extra time
“I canna understand why yer so interested in some old books,” Clavis muttered,
tugging his beard. “But seein' as how ye've risked a lot to accompany me down here, I'm
certainly prepared to help ya out.”
“Aiden?” Nellise prodded again, an edge to her voice.