Nature Abhors a Vacuum
â€œYou have no idea how glad we are to see you awake,â€ Aiden said, smiling with
â€œWhat happened?â€ she asked, slowly touching her head with one hand and wincing
at the result.
â€œYou grabbed Sayana just as the ceiling was coming down,â€ Pacian explained,
gently stroking her hair in a rather obvious display of affection. â€œYou were hit in the head
with a rock. Next time you go to buy armour, include a helmet, okay?â€
â€œI'll make a point to remember that,â€ she whispered, very weak from her ordeal. â€œI
see someone did an expert job on the bandages. Pretty soon you won't need me at all.â€
â€œPerish the thought,â€ Aiden assured her, taking a small vial of liquid that Colt
handed to him. â€œThis is one of your healing tonics Nel, so drink up and get your strength
back.â€ She did so, drinking the concoction, then rested her head back down against her
â€œI'm having trouble breathing,â€ she mentioned, shifting her body around to try and
resolve the problem.
â€œYer breastplate took a few dings during the rock fall,â€ Clavis told her. â€œIt's probably
a bit too tight for ya now, so if you lads can take it off, I'll get me little hammer and see if
I can pound it back into shape.â€
â€œThank you Clavis, that's very kind of you,â€ Nellise replied. â€œAnd for what it's
worth, I've been listening to the conversation, and I understand why you acted the way
you did. I forgive you for your deception, and the rest of you might consider doing the
same. We need to focus on our predicament if we're to survive.â€
â€œWe'll get to that in a little while,â€ Colt grumbled as he and Aiden undid the straps
on Nellise' breastplate. â€œAs soon as you're able, Sayana is in dire need of some attention.
I honestly don't know how much longer she's gonna last.â€
â€œI knew she was going to be gravely wounded, but it's good to hear she's still among
the living,â€ she said as the dented breastplate was lifted away. Clavis took it, giving
Aiden a quick, unreadable look, and went over to his pack further down the stairs to do
Nellise took a slow breath and then fished around the inside of her robe for
something. Pacian seemed to know what she was looking for and produced the crystal
she used for healing from one of his pouches.
â€œLooking for this?â€ he asked, handing it over to her.
â€œNo, actually, but I would have needed it eventually,â€ she told him, still searching
around in the bodice of her robe. â€œO h here it is, never mind.â€ She produced a necklace
with a small amulet hanging from it â€“ it was a tiny sword with a broad crosspiece, set in a
circle with some elaborate fluting around it.
Nellise raised it to her lips and kissed it, her eyes closed in a quick prayer. Aiden
recognised it as the symbol of her order, and now understood why she made sure it was
still there. She was about to move over to Sayana when she was struck with a thought.
â€œWait, what were you doing with my crystal?â€
â€œI wanted to see if I could heal you,â€ Pacian answered awkwardly.
â€œIt's not the crystal that does the healing,â€ she said, smiling wanly. â€œYour faith needs
to be strong and I don't think you qualify.â€
â€œYou never know,â€ he replied soberly. â€œOne of these days I might surprise you.â€