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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“And then there's the fact that being K ing of this place probably won't have any
bearing on the rest of your people back in Stonegaard,” Aiden continued. “Last I heard,
they already have a K ing and they're pretty happy with him.”
“A bloody MacTavish!” Clavis shouted back. “They was making me meals, and
cleaning me house when I was a wee lad, and now they think themselves the new
nobility? They don't have the right, nor the brains to lead, and when I get out of here, I'm
gonna give 'em a choice between the pretender, Sulinus MacTavish, or meself, a
descendant of the real K ing 'o the dwarves, a proper K ing.”
“What is down here that makes you think they're not going to just throw you out on
your arse when you try to tell them this load of tripe?” Colt growled.
“I've got me lineage,” Clavis said haughtily, “and that's enough to get 'em to listen.
But they need a symbol, something connected to the old empire to inspire them. K ing
Arland had a war axe that he kept with him most of the time, his own perso nal weapon,
made by our finest artisans. Magnificent craftsmanship, and real distinctive, so it can't be
faked. I show up with that weapon and it'll turn some heads, especially the old guard that
can remember what life was like back then. They'll listen alright, no question.”
“So that's what you're after?” Pacian mused. “And you were prepared to sacrifice us
to get it?”
“No, no it ain't like that at all,” Clavis said, shaking his head. “After I saw that a
group of bandits had set up camp here years ago, I went and hired some likely lads to
help clear 'em out. Took some time, since no-one really wanted to come down here, but I
finally found me a fearless group 'o lads and we sent those bandits packing.”
“Thing about those boys though,” he continued, “fearless they may have been, but
they had more courage than brains. We got to that tunnel up above that me and you lot
were going to break through, but ya could walk a good fifty paces further along before ya
met the old collapsed section back in those days... before the accident.”
“So they started digging, and the roof came down on them I guess,” Pacian drawled.
“How did you manage to be the only survivor?”
“I was hearin' some funny vibrations that the others couldn't, and went to have a
look-see,” Clavis explained with a heavy voice. “I did notice the roof was starting to
come in, but by the time that happened, it was already too late. They were good lads, and
certainly didn't deserve to be crushed to death like that. Anyway, I didn't mention it to ya,
because I was afraid that ya wouldn't want to come with me if you'd heard me last helpers
died 'orribly.”
“Seems reasonable to me,” Pacian remarked. “But this hair-brained quest of yours to
become K ing is ridiculous. You think an old axe is going to have thousands of your
people bowing before you? Not bloody likely. You were right not to mention all this to
us. I sure as hell wouldn't have agreed to this if I'd known.”
“You don't seem to understand,” an exasperated Clavis countered. “Me people are
being led by the descendants of our servants – our K ing was a bloody baker, by Relnak!
The first big crisis they have, they'll be in trouble, mark me words!”
“What does a girl have to do to get some peace around here?” came softly spoken
words from Nellise, quelling the disc ussion. Aiden instantly put aside this whole issue
and carefully moved over to her side. The beautiful young woman‟s golden eyes were
open, and she smiled wanly up at them.