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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

mercenaries would be on them in moments, and as he braced himself for a fight, Aiden
was suddenly pulled to the side and replaced in the doorway by Colt, or more
specifically, Colt's blade.
The big ranger levelled it at the charging warriors, who abruptly changed direction at
the last moment to avoid a painful collision. They parted to either side of the five- foot
sword, allowing Pacian to dart through the doorway. Bartlett, on the other side of the
room, bolt for the far door.
“Hold them!” a mercenary officer shouted to his men, then followed the startled
businessman as he ran down the hallway. Pacian slammed into the front door and quickly
locked it, preventing the two guards on the front porch from joining in the fight.
As this was happening, Colt charged forward, crashing shoulder- first into two of the
men who fell in a pile on the ground. Aiden followed him through, but didn‟t stop to
engage them. He ran straight between the disorganised mercenaries and set off in pursuit
of Bartlett and his escort.
Somewhere in this house Princess Criosa was being held, and it was a fa ir bet to
assume the corrupt businessman was heading there as fast as possible to kill her or use
her as a hostage.
The hallway was dimly candlelit, not enough to make out fine detail but more than
sufficient to see the silhouettes of the men fleeing befor e him. Aiden was closing the gap
until they split up at the end of the corridor. The officer went to the right, while Bartlett
continued on down the passage on the left.
A brief moment of indecision flashed through Aiden‟s mind, but it wasn't really a
tough call to make – he wanted Bartlett, the man responsible for this entire situation, and
the other mercenary would get what was coming to him soon enough.
Aiden dashed around the corner in pursuit of the old businessman and could see him
passing through a door at the end of the corridor. At that moment, a woman's scream
pierced the air from somewhere behind Aiden, bringing him to a screeching halt.
Torn between catching Bartlett and going to the woman‟s aid, Aiden froze in the
middle of the hallway. The so unds of a desperate struggle nearby finally snapped Aiden
back to reality, and he spun around and rushed back up the corridor. He encountered a
closed door which he slammed his shoulder into, splintering the lock and throwing the
door wide open.
The room was simply a small guest chamber with a bed at one end, and a dresser and
wardrobe opposite. His dramatic entrance hadn't surprised the mercenary officer, who
had one arm wrapped around the neck of a slender blonde girl, and a sword in his other
hand. Aiden had never seen Princess Criosa Roebec in person, having only heard
descriptions about her from time to time, but her fine features left no doubt he was
looking upon royalty.
“Hold it right there, boy,” the mercenary ordered him, his voice sounding hollow and
metallic behind the visored helm he wore. “The lady and I are going to leave right now,
and you and your mates are going to let it happen, understood?”
“What's the matter, you afraid to fight a 'boy' like me?” Aiden chided, hoping to
goad the warrior into a fight. “A real man wouldn't be hiding behind a little girl, I think.”
“In any other situation, I'd be happy to oblige you,” the man growled, “but right now,
I've got places to -”. His speech was cut off by a pain- filled shout. He flinched to one
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