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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Really?” Aiden said, taking the lenses back and looking through them, puzzled.
“Maybe they don't work well on people who already see well at night. Anyway, there's
not a lot else of interest here, just a few scrolls and pieces of parchment. Oh, that reminds
me...” Aiden carefully leaned over and fetched his gloves from the floor, paying
particular interest to the formerly enchanted one, its gemstone still glittering in the faint
“The shield magic seems to have stopped working for me,” he mentioned, handing
her the glove. “I first noticed this when I was being stabbed with spears down in
Ferrumgaard, ill-timing if I have ever seen it.” The sorceress examined the crystal
closely, seeing things with her eyes that others could not.
“The crystal has been damaged,” she finally surmised. “Q uite badly, too. I would
suggest that this device has not been working properly for a long time.”
“That can't be,” Aiden objected. “I definitely used it when we were down in the city,
it just didn't last very long.” Sayana seemed to think about this for a long moment, and
then she handed the glove back over to him.
“Put it on and activate it,” she instructed. Aiden looked at her dubiously.
“I can try, but I assure you, it isn't going to work.” Sayana only gazed at him until he
finally relented and spoke the command word. To his astonishment, the shield of force
appeared before him, as it had always done. With a subtle smile of satisfaction, she
reached over and snatched the glove from his hand – he expected the shield to move with
it, but incredibly it stayed where it was, floating about ten inches in front of his left hand.
“How...?”Aiden was speechless, which, for him, was rather disturbing in itself.
“You're like me,” Sayana answered, pointing at Aiden's head. “You have been
around this magic for some time now, and you carry within your mind the knowledge of
how the energy flows. All you need to do now is invoke it with your words, and channel
the power to your will.”
“No, wait,” he protested. “Down in the city, it didn't work at all. How do you explain
“You were tired,” she explained. “The potion Nellise gave us made you feel like you
were rested, but you were not. Channelling this power takes effort, and strength, and you
were short on both. Remember that, when you next go to use this ability.”
Aiden sat there, looking at the shield for a few moments, before he dismissed it with
a gesture. This was an astonishing development. After years of study and research, not to
mention a desire to travel to a school to learn magic, he had wanted to be able to harness
the powers he‟d read about others using on a daily basis, but he figured the level of
expertise required to be immense.
“Well, I suppose that's enough for one night,” Aiden said, stifling a yawn. “I'll have
to read through these scrolls tomorrow to see if there's anything...” he lifted some of the
papers up and noticed something he'd missed, laying upon the bed covers. A small cube,
no more than three inches on each side, had been hidden under the papers he'd been
leafing through. Aiden's breath caught in his chest as he realised what he was looking at
was the very item he had once seen in Alcott's Treatise of Artefacts Most Ancient. With
trembling hands, he picked up the cube and brought it to the light for closer examination.
“What is that?” Sayana asked curiously.
“This,” Aiden breathed, “is something very important.” He hadn't intended to be so
cryptic, but he was too engrossed to elaborate further. The resemblance of the item in his