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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Nobody but Mona calls me that,” Colt growled, leaning in towards Pacian
threateningly. Mona sighed in exasperation.
“There it is again,” she remarked. “And you wonder why I didn't want to be with you
after the incident.”
“What, because I defended your honour?” Colt exclaimed, turning to face her again.
“I'm not a regular bloke, Mona. Sure, I'm a little rough around the edges, but don't ever
doubt that I love you.” The uncomfortable silence descended upon them again as Mona
locked eyes with Colt. By the look on his face, he couldn't believe he had just said it out
loud either.
“You're a special man, Dante,” she said quietly. “You can be quite endearing when
you want to be. So much like a little boy in some ways, but you can't obscure what you
are deep inside. You should look to your clerical friend for inspiration, for her courage to
stand before armed men with nothing but her conviction to protect her is the sort of
person you need to become. More than once, you've proven yourself to be just as brutish
as your predecessors, and striking Armin just because he was being nice to me was
primitive, and so very human. I couldn't even voice how disappointed I was, Dante.”
“I never asked to be put on a pedestal, Mona,” Colt grated. “And I've never tried to
hide who I really am. So I'm gonna ask you a question, and I want a straight answer.
After that, we'll know where we stand.”
“I'm listening,” she replied, a hint of anticipation in her voice. Aiden noticed Nellise
and Sayana watching with particular interest. He had the feeling t hey would burst into
tears of joy if Mona took the big man back again.
“Do you love me enough to forgive me?” The question hung in the air for a long
moment as the attention of everyone present centred on the tall elf- maiden.
“I do forgive you,” she replied, causing Nellise to let out a tiny little sigh, and Colt to
flush with relief. “But... Armin has made his intentions to me clear, and I've started
seeing him on a regular basis over the past few weeks. I'm sorry Dante.” Colt nodded,
evidently not trusting himself to speak. Aiden saw the look in his eyes though, and could
see he was barely holding himself together.
“Armin is a kind, stable man,” she continued, “and frankly he's a little closer to my
age. I mean, when you think about it, you and I being to gether is almost like robbing the
cradle, right?”
“Yeah, makes perfect sense,” Colt replied unemotionally. “Well, I'm glad you're
happy, anyway. We should keep going though, if we want to make Ferrumgaard before
dark.” Mona flushed, and for the first time seemed to appear a little insecure.
“Oh, of course. I apologise to the rest of you for that little display, but I think it
needed to be said.”
“Yes, it really did,” Aiden agreed. He decided that he'd better get Colt out of the area
before he fell to pieces. He'd advised the man to confront the issue, and knew this was a
possibility, but the young adventurer had underestimated just how deeply Colt was in
love with her. “Thanks for helping us earlier today, Mona,” Aiden continued. “I'm pretty
sure we'd be dead without you and the other rangers saving our necks.”
“Think nothing of it,” she replied, regaining her composure. “Continue heading
northwest and you'll be at the steps of Ferrumgaard before nightfall. But take extreme
care, for many who enter that cursed place never come out again.”
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