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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Several pieces of art were hanging on the walls leading to the rest of the cottage, but
they were all hanging below chest height. Finding this whole house very strange, he led
the others into the dining room, complete with what appeared to be a child's dining table
and chair. A small girl in an elegant dress sitting at the table looked up at them in
surprise, and then smiled in a very devious way.
“Breaking into my house, hmm?” she observed coldly. It was the same voice which
had spoken through the door. “That‟s very bold of you. I'm actually surprised you made it
past my door - I should probably have invested in a better lock.”
What Aiden had thought was a small girl was, in fact, a very short woman and it
suddenly dawned on him that he was standing before a woman from the Rael Islands.
Commonly referred to as the raelani, they were a diminutive people who were in many
respects the same as humans but roughly half the size.
“You are Merin, yes?” Nellise inquired. “We have come from the mayor's office to
“Is that why you were so insistent?” she inquired rhetorically, wiping her mouth with
a napkin. “I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, O laf was bound to send someone
over sooner or later. Four humans seems to be overkill for one little raelani woman,
though. Did he tell you to 'toss me about' or „rough me up‟, as is human custom in these
“Not at all,” Nellise assured her, maintaining her calm demeanour. “We have simply
been instructed to have a chat with you. Tell me, why are you blackma iling the mayor?”
“Because it's good money, my dear,” Merin grinned with a measure of
condescension. “The man‟s not exactly a saint, either. I can't tell you what it's been like
for me having to live in a boring little pile of dirt like Bracksford for the past year. No,
I‟m moving on and O laf's indiscretions are going to pay my way. Don‟t be too concerned
for him - he knew what he was getting in to when all this started.”
“We have made an arrangement with him,” Aiden said, curious at what her words
alluded to. “You have some documents of importance - I request you to hand them over,
“Hand them over?” she balked. “Unless O laf had the sense to conscript or deputise
you, you don‟t have any authority, sweetie,” she winked. Aiden was suddenly shoved
aside by Colt, who towered over the diminutive woman.
“Hey, pint-size,” he snarled impatiently, “if you don't hand over the stuff, I'll smash
your annoying little face in. If you‟re innocent, you‟ll just call for the guards, right? I‟m
sure they‟d be interested in doing a quick search while they‟re here.” Merin's smile
vanished instantly, and her eyes widened.
“Okay, look, I don't want any trouble,” she replied with a tremble to her voice. “I can
see you're clearly not as stupid as your friend there, even if you do smell a lot worse.”
Colt clenched his gloved fist and seemed ready to do as he promised, but Merin quickly
changed her attitude. “Just take the documents and go, please. They're in the drawers
behind you, just... don't hurt me.”
“That's more like it,” Colt growled, nodding to Pacian who immediately walked over
towards the drawers. Aiden frowned, looking down at Merin cautiously. Certainly, Colt
was an intimidating presence to the tiny woman, but she seemed to give in a little too
easily after her earlier defiance.