Nature Abhors a Vacuum
â€œYou and Colt keep an eye out for trouble. Nellise and I will try to reason with her
first. If that doesnâ€Ÿt work, just grab her and search the place. The smithy is down the end
of this road, yes?â€ Aiden asked Colt, who merely nodded. Without further comment, he
started walking down the road with the others following closely behind. An odd group of
people working together under strange circumstances for a man none of them trusted.
What could go wrong?
A short walk down the main street in the ankle-deep water brought them to a sturdy
cottage, situated next door to the town smithy. The smithy itself was quiet, probab ly due
to the early hour, but Aiden did find it a little strange not to hear the rhythmic sounds of a
hammer on metal coming from within.
They stopped outside the cottage door, a solid looking oaken affair with metal
bracing around the edge that practically screamed 'go away'. With a strong desire to get
this over and done with, Aiden knocked on the door and waited for a response.
â€œWho is it?â€ came the muffled voice of a woman from the other side of the door.
â€œMerin? Good morning. My name is Aiden and I need to speak with you.â€
â€œI'm not interested in anything you have to say,â€ she replied after a moment's
hesitation. Aiden glanced at Nellise, who shrugged in silent reply.
â€œIt really is quite urgent that I speak with you, maâ€Ÿam,â€ Aiden tried again, this time
more forcefully. â€œI must insist that you open this door immediately.â€
â€œLet me think about it for a moment,â€ Merin replied, pausing for only a fraction of a
second before she added, â€œNo, I donâ€Ÿt think Iâ€Ÿm going to do that. Go away.â€ Aiden was
on the verge of yelling at her, but Pacian put a hand on his shoulder and shook his head,
gesturing to himself with his other hand.
â€œVery well,â€ Aiden said, forcing a note of defeat into his voice. â€œPerhaps I can meet
with you later in the day, as I have other business to attend to. Good day.â€ He motioned
for Nellise and Colt to follow him, as he walked away from the door and stood nearby to
watch what came next.
â€œWhat was the point of that?â€ Colt inquired.
â€œWe have other methods at our disposal,â€ he answered, nodding to where Pacian was
attempting to pick the lock. Colt grunted in understanding and huddled underneath his
cloak for warmth while Pacian carefully went about his work. Aiden glanced around
casually to make sure he wasn't drawing too much attention, but he needn't have worried
â€“ the townsfolk were too mired in their daily lives to bother with one man having trouble
opening a door.
A few moments later, Pace turned the handle on the door and opened it a crack,
peeking through the narrow space and signalling the rest of them to come closer.
Checking to make sure everyone was ready, Aiden nodded to Pacian, who opened the
door carefully and stepped inside.
Despite being only a modestly sized cottage, it was comfortably furnished. It was
warm and dry, and the aroma of freshly cooked food wafted through the air. The small
entryway featured a curiously short hat stand perched next to a very small and highly
polished round table. The height of it was ridiculous - one would have to crouch to make
proper use of it.