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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

distraught. Aiden felt a pang of sympathy for her, knowing she was still trying to cope
with her recent trauma.
Aiden rushed back over to Tara's side as Pacian gently turned her on to one side. Her
eyes gazed vaguely ahead as she was slipping away.
“Get... to the... inn,” Tara whispered with her last breath. Nellise closed her eyes and
let her go. They took only a briefly moment to mourn her passing. Colt was aiding the
town defenders where he could, loosing arrows at opportune targets while Aiden's tired
brain tried to formulate a plan of action.
“What the hell is going on here?” Pacian asked loudly, as if expecting the world
itself to answer.
“We have to get to the inn and secure it,” Aiden replied distantly. “Nel, I hate to ask
this, but we need you to focus. Innocent people are dying here, do you understand?” The
distraught girl looked up and nodded silently, her eyes rimmed with red.
“Don't worry Nel,” Pacian assured her, “if anyone so much as looks at you I'm going
to shred them.” Nellise gave him an unreadable look, then put on her helmet and hefted
Clavis' repeating crossbow.
“I could use some support over here!” Colt yelled, evidently running low on arrows.
“Keep together and support each other, don't let them divide us up. These are
professional soldiers, not a bunch of morons.”
“Don't be so sure about that,” Pacian warned cynically. “They may surprise you.”
Aiden ignored him and pressed forward, charging into a small group of mercenaries who
were cutting down twice their number in overwhelmed militia fighters. Able to provide
little more than a distraction, he swept his blade back and forth, striking armour more
than flesh.
Two of them turned to engage him, and Aiden kept them busy enough to allow
Pacian to get into position. With a flurry of daggers, Pacian made short work of the
unsuspecting warriors. He grabbed Aiden by the shoulder and pulled him aside, just as a
stream of crossbow bolts struck the remaining mercenaries.
The militia fighters were upon them in a flash, taking advantage of the diversion to
overwhelm the soldiers who were being struck from two flanks.
“Keep moving towards the inn!” Aiden cried aloud, hoping the militia would
recognise the order and assist him and his companions in reaching that goal. The main
street ahead of them was a scene of chaos, with townsfolk trying to get to safety and the
wounded defenders struggling to aid them.
As much as Aiden wanted to intercede in every engagement, he knew the real prize
was Princess Criosa Roebec, the K ing's only heir. K illing or even kidnapping a member
of the royal family would have far-reaching ramifications.
They pressed on, moving down the mud- filled street as fast as they could manage
with Aiden trying to ignore his screaming muscles. A townsman trying to defend his wife
and child from a mercenary who had burst into their home cried out for help, and
received it as Nellise and Colt sent a hail of arrows a nd bolts to cut down the enemy in
short order.
“Barricade the door and do not come out until this is over!” Aiden shouted over the
din of screams and bloodshed as he slammed the front door and kept running for the inn.
The smell of smoke started to fill the air and the glow of fires could be seen against the
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