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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

claim, the Rangers have instead sought to hound my associates and I like common
criminals. I have no choice but to treat them in kind.”
“A little full of himself isn't he,” Pacian whispered. Aiden had a different reaction to
the speech, suddenly having gained a better understanding of why this was happening in
the first place. It would seem Armin hadn't told them all the facts of this matter.
“If you had a legitimate claim to these lands, you would not have waited for the King
to leave the country before moving here,” she chastised the hunters. “When word reaches
his ears about what you've done, you will have no chance of keeping them.”
“That is precisely the point, my lovely friend,” the lord shouted back. “He isn't here,
and if you think he's coming back alive from Tulsone, you are sorely mistaken. You have
shown courage, coming here to stand before me and state your position, and I respect you
for it, Miss Sannemann, so I shall allow you to leave unaccosted before the fighting
starts.”
The sounds of men crying out in pain could be heard echoing through the forest at
that point, each of whom was quickly silenced. The sound set everyone on edge,
especially Lord Thomas and his associates, who had undoubtedly just heard some of their
companions being taken out by the rangers as they approached through the green. The
hounds began barking, eager to be unleashed.
“Don‟t be fools,” Nellise implored the men, who had taken up positions behind trees
in anticipation of a fight. “You are sorely outmatched, and defiance will only result in
more deaths. If you truly have a claim to these lands, seek legitimate methods to stake
your claim instead of this borderline treason.”
An arrow came in from her right at that moment out of the forest, and was quickly
followed by three more, all aiming for the lord‟s position. Startled, he turned to see the
source of the attack and was suddenly struck in his leg by an arrow, sending him
tumbling backwards onto the ground. The two other hunters loosed arrows back in the
direction of the attack, and at this point Aiden knew the time had come to act.
“Drop your weapons!” He yelled, sitting upright and bringing his crossbow to bear
on the hunters. Clavis and Colt appeared in the open as well, their weapons held straight
and level at their opponents, who froze in place at the sudden appearance of the armed
men.
“There are better ways to deal with this, especially for men of means such as
yourselves,” Nellise suggested firmly. “Give up this pointless fight before you are all
killed.” Seeing their lord fall, and faced with the prospect of fighting overwhelming
numbers, the two remaining hunters threw down their weapons and surrendered, just as
Commander Armin and his team of rangers appeared on the scene, threading their way
through the trees with their bows at the ready.
“Shackle those men,” Armin ordered one of his rangers, coming to stand over Lord
Thomas, who gripped the arrow shaft in his leg and glared back up at his enemy. “You‟re
lucky to be alive right now, My Lord. If it wasn‟t for the intervention of this courageous
yet stubborn lady, you‟d have a half dozen shafts sticking out of you instead of just the
one.”
“You haven‟t heard the last of this,” Thomas growled through the pain as the rangers
dealt with his men, including the Master of Hounds.
“Of course not, we‟ll hear all about this at your trial in the near future,” Armin
replied succinctly. He then refocused his attention to the rest of them as Aiden and his
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