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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

the magnificent view of the Calespur Mountains around them. The road itself wound
along the side of Mount Cale, the largest of the mountains in this range, with an ever
increasing drop off to the right, but it was wide enough that he didn't fear accidentally
falling off the edge.
It was just as the sun was dipping below the horizon that the road veered to the left
and came to an end at a sheer cliff- face, fifty yards away. A massive pair of stone doors
loomed up before them, easily fifteen feet high, and etched with strange patterns a nd
words written in the old dwarven language, one Aiden wasn't familiar with.
One of the doors was hanging off its top hinge, leaving a large gap open near the
ground, where it showed signs of a century of wear. The ominous howl of wind blowing
through the opening into the chamber beyond assailed their ears, reminding them that this
was a dead city, and one with a reputation for obliterating the lives of those who delved
too deep.
“Tell me again why we're doing this?” Pacian asked timidly, looking up at the doors.
The stark reality of the place was becoming apparent, even to him.
“In your case, money,” Aiden reminded him. “Mine too, actually,” he added,
exchanging a glance with Sayana. If he found what he was really looking for in this
damned city, he'd tell the others everything. Until then, discretion was called for.
“Aye, we're not here for glory or fame,” Clavis nodded soberly, taking out his
crossbow and checking it carefully. “Twice before this place has thwarted me attempts at
recovering the lost treasures of me kin, and I consider meself fortunate to still be drawing
breath. But I can see the looks in yer eyes, and ye needn't worry – if'n it looks too
dangerous to push through, we'll call the whole thing off.”
“How far in do we need to go,” Aiden asked, peering through the gap in the doors,
but seeing only darkness beyond.
“The fifth floor down was the height of the flooding, if me memory serves,” Clavis
replied. “I'm thinking we'll swing through the fourth level, and maybe see if'n there might
be a way to get at the things on the fifth. Might have to go for a bit of a swim, though.”
“Were we planning to rest before heading in?” Nellise inquired, glancing around at
the freezing conditions without any enthusiasm. “I'm quite tired, and I can't imagine any
of you are feeling any better after the long walk.”
“Aye, we can rest inside,” Clavis assured her. “It'll be safe, and sheltered from the
worst of the weather.” He hefted his crossbow and took a step inside the ruined doorway,
peering around cautiously.
“If it's safe… why do you have your crossbow ready?” Pacian asked with a certain
amount of trepidation.
“The top level is basically a cave, these days,” Clavis called from inside, his voice
echoing from the presumably stone walls within. “Once I've checked around, it'll be easy
to guard our camp, but it never hurts to be cautious. If yer feeling squeamish, feel free to
bed down just outside the doors, I'm almost certain ya won't freeze to death.”
“He makes a compelling argument,” Aiden remarked dryly to Pacian, who merely
shrugged in reply. The independently- minded Sayana crept in through the door in Clavis'
footsteps, leaving Aiden to assume she could actually see in the near total darkness that
lay within. He waited patiently for the better part of five minutes before he decided that it
was probably safe enough for them to at least step in through the door and shelter out of
the bitter wind.
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