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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

fell to his knees bleeding profusely from the assault, though it was Sayana who finished
him off once and for all when she threw her axe into his chest.
The near-silence of the cave was broken only by the sounds of their heavy breathing,
the fight having taken all they could muster. Aiden grimaced as the adrenaline began to
dissipate, and the pain from his wounds became more noticeable. Then, overwhelmed by
the sudden realisation of how many people he‟d just slain, he fell to his knees and
vomited.
When he was done, Aiden was trembling like a leaf, feeling weak and mortal once
again. This wasn‟t the time to dwell on what he‟d just done however, for they were still
in danger and somehow had to find a way out of here.
After wiping his mouth, Aiden sheathed his bloodied sword and staggered over to
Morik who was lying against the wall, his breath coming in shallow gasps.
“Don't you dare die on us,” Aiden cautioned him. “You owe us for putting you back
in charge, do you hear me?”
“I wouldn't dream of going back on my word,” Morik replied, a half-smile on his
lips. “If you would be so kind as to put my blood back inside me, I would be very
grateful.”
“I'll see what we can do,” Aiden muttered, hiding his true feelings as he looked down
at the grievously wounded man. Turning to look over at Nellise, Aiden could see that she
was sitting on the floor, her face covered by her hands as she continued to weep. He had
no idea what sort of strength it took for her to join in the fight after what she had endured.
Aiden limped over and crouched down beside her, unable to think of a way to
comfort the poor woman and feeling awkward about asking for a little more from her.
“Nel, I know you're hurting right now, but we're in pretty bad shape,” Aiden
whispered soothingly, not sure if she was even hearing his words. “I think Morik may be
dying, and we need him to pull his people back from the brink of war. We need you to
heal him - do you think you can do that?”
Nellise didn‟t respond immediately, but sat clutching at the symbol of her faith with
all her strength. Slowly, she nodded, sniffling back her tears and wiping her face with a
piece of her robe. She held the crystal in her hand and be gan whispering her prayers.
Aiden picked himself up and limped over to check on Pacian, who was sitting with his
back against the wall.
“I don't think I can do any more killing today, Aiden,” he remarked absently,
sounding strange through a broken nose. “Can we go home now?”
“That's the plan,” Aiden mumbled, practically collapsing next to him while they
awaited Nellise's healing prayer. The faintest hint of a summer breeze wafted through the
air, and everyone present took stock of what they had just survived. Aiden stared at
nothing, watching the images of himself during the fight flit through his mind as if he
were an outsider to his own actions.
A few minutes passed and Nellise finally slumped as the healing was completed.
Aiden hoped it was enough, for they could ask no more of her this day.
“We've really got to get Nel back to town,” Pacian said, truly concerned about her.
“She's been through hell down here.”
“Why don't you go and take care of her,” Aiden advised. “I'll go check on Morik.”
Pacian nodded, and went to look after her while Aiden went to see if the recently re-
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