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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Aiden eventually managed to get the rock into position, teetering on the edge of the
hole. Looking through it, he could see that Pacian and Colt were playing a desperate
game of cat-and- mouse, each flanking the massive neck of the serpent as it warily tried to
pick them off one by one.
Seizing the opportunity, Aiden gave the rock one last heave and pushed it over the
edge, then grasped the side of the hole to watch the results. His aim was a little off, and
the rock only managed to clip the side of the giant serpe nt's body, but it still must have
caused it a good deal of pain at the very least, judging by its reaction.
The head pulled back from harassing Colt, then tilted upwards, looking Aiden
straight in the eye. Panicking, he scuttled back from the edge as quick ly as he could, just
narrowly avoiding the head as it thrust straight up through the hole, slamming into the
rock above it with deafening force. A large number of those huge stone pieces came
loose, pummelling the monster's head.
The torch Pacian had left with him was starting to die, its meagre fuel having been
used up, but it was enough for Aiden to see that the immense mouth before him was filled
with razor sharp teeth.
Aiden lunged towards the doorway at full speed, only to have his wounded leg give
wa y just as he hit the door. Pain surged up his body as he tumbled into the room just in
time to avoid the serpent's head which slammed into the wall behind him. It was too big
to fit through the doorway, but gnashed its teeth and bellowed loudly trying to break
through, leaving Aiden trapped unless his friends could get its attention once more.
Again and again the giant serpent slammed into the doorway, the sound of stone
cracking from the impact becoming louder with each hit. If only the door‟s trap was still
active, it'd probably blast the head off it. An idea flashed into Aiden's mind – if the man
who had lived here had a mechanism to quickly switch off the trap to allow safe passage,
there was probably a way to switch it back on, from the inside.
He limped painfully over to the edge of the doorway, making sure to stay out of the
monster‟s reach. By the dying light of his torch, he could see the same incomprehensible
rune Pacian had recognised as the secret switch. He jumped back in fear as the serpent
slammed into the stone, roaring so loud ly Aiden thought he‟d be deafened, then he rushed
back in and pushed the rune.
The door closed by itself. Whatever cunning mechanism that the dwarves had
designed was still working after a century of neglect, and as soon as it closed fully, the
unique crackle of arcane power being unleashed could be heard, along with the agonised
roar of the serpent. Intensely bright light came in under a crack in the door and the sound
of the serpent, still howling madly, could be heard withdrawing down the hole until it
vanished altogether.
Aiden slumped against the door, breathing hard and shaking like a leaf. He sat there
for the better part of a minute and gathering his courage. He leaned over pressed the
button to open the door once more.
The smell of smoked fish and charcoal wafted in as the door swung open. He could
hear his friends below calling out for him, no doubt unaware that he was still alive, after a
fashion.
“I'm okay!” he called back, picking himself up while being careful to keep his weight
off his injured leg. While not broken it was certainly fractured, and wouldn't be much use
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