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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

forest. Fairchild believed he could seize it back from us just because the K ing is out of
the country.”
“Yes, Nellise informed him of his error just before the end,” Aiden remarked. “What
was of particular interest to me was when he mentioned that you had a communication
with the man a week ago.”
“Correct,” Armin confirmed, puffing on his pipe.
“Why were we not informed of this during the briefing?”
“I deemed it irrelevant,” the Commander declared. “I had informed him that we, as
agents of the K ing, were not going to recognise his claim, and that he was still subject to
the Crown's laws. All that remained was to remove him and his associates from the area,
a task for which I was reluctant yet determined to see through. I do apologise if this
seems like an arbitrary decision on my part, but I am not in the practice of asking consent
from anyone, save for His Majesty, when it comes to protecting my demesne.”
“Fair enough then,” Aiden mumbled, not about to contest the point further with the
rugged frontiersman. “I think that covers it, unless you've something else to add.”
“No, except to offer both a handshake, and my gratitude, for the assistance of you
and your party. This action will go a long way toward showing those who doubt the will
of the Crown that we will not stand idly by while the laws of this land are being ignored.
Now, I can see your lovely lady of the cloth is beckoning your attention, so I shall leave
you to it.” Aiden stood up and shook Armin's hand firmly, then walked over to rejoin the
others.
“Well, he‟s happy with the result, although I suspect he was hoping for a little more
blood, to be honest,” Aiden informed them.
“I can understand his position,” Clavis said, smoking his pipe. “Corrupt lords have a
way of avoiding justice, if‟n ya know what I mean.”
“I was trying to get closer to him to give him what he deserved, but Nellise went and
spoiled it all,” Pacian complained, though he glanced at her with unabashed admiration.
“For which I am very pleased,” she admonished him. “I‟ve heard enough praise for
now - just know that I acted according to my conscience, and I would do it again in a
heartbeat. Those weren‟t savages or criminals, they were simply misguided noblemen.”
She turned to see Lord Thomas being led away, and the two of them locked eyes for a
long moment, but said nothing.
Colt, dealing with a terrible hangover, looked more uncomfortable than usual and
made his thoughts known to Aiden.
“I overheard what you said,” the big man whispered. “I don't know why you're
covering for me, but I'm real appreciative.”
“You've saved our lives more than once,” Aiden informed him under his breath.
“Also, I'm sure if I'd told Armin what really happened, he'd never let you back into the
Rangers.”
“True,” Colt agreed. “Well, if there's anything I can do for you, just ask.”
“I‟ll bear it in mind,” Aiden agreed, watching as the commander headed their way
once more. He tossed a pouch of coins to Pacian, who caught it with ease.
“I was wondering if we were going to be paid for this,” the blond rogue wondered.
“Fair pay for fair work, that‟s what my father always used to say,” the Commander
said. “Now, I think we're just about finished with this unseemly business. We will take
the bodies back for burial, and see these other criminals back to Culdeny as a present for
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