Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Several pieces of art were hanging on the walls leading to the rest of the cottage, but
they were all arranged 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.
â€œBreaking into my house, hmm?â€ she observed coldly. â€œThatâ€Ÿs very bold of you. I'm
actually surprised you made it past my doorâ€¦ I should probably have invested in a better
Aiden recognised the voice as the person he had spoken to through the door. What he
had thought was a small girl was, in fact, a very short woman. Suddenly, he realised he
was standing before a woman from the Rael islands, commonly referred to as the Raelani,
a race of diminutive people who were in all respects the same as humans but roughly half
the size. Her features were sharp and cultured, and if she were human, Aiden would guess
her to be from a wealthy family.
â€œYou are Merin, yes?â€ Nellise inquired. â€œWe have come from the Mayor's office to
â€œAh, is that why you were so insistent?â€ she inquired rhetorically, wiping her mouth
with a napkin. Before her on the table was a small bowl of soup and a slice of fresh
bread, which was obviously her breakfast. â€œI suppose I shouldn't have been surprised,
Olaf 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 â€žrough me upâ€Ÿ,
as is human custom in these situations?â€
â€œNot at all,â€ Nellise assured her. â€œWe have merely been instructed to have a chat
with you. Tell me, why are you blackmailing the Mayor?â€
â€œBecause it's good money, my dear,â€ Merin grinned with a measure of
condescension. â€œCertainly enough for me to relocate back to Fairloch, where there is at
least a little culture. 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've had enough, a nd O laf's little
indiscretion is going to pay my way. Donâ€Ÿt be too concerned for him, either. He knew
what he was getting in to when all this started.â€
â€œWe have an arrangement with the Mayor, actually,â€ Aiden said, curious at what her
words alluded to. â€œYou have some documents of importance to him - I must order you to
hand them over, immediately.â€
â€œOrder?â€ she balked. â€œUnless Olaf had the sense to conscript or deputise you, you
donâ€Ÿt have any authority, sweetie,â€ she winked.
â€œWell then, do it because I'm asking you to,â€ Aiden shrugged, cringing inwardly at
his choice of words. Understandably, Merin laughed.
â€œYou seriously think I'm going to hand it over... just because you asked?â€ She
continued laughing at him, compounding the young man's mistake even further. â€œCountry
life breeds really naÃ¯ve people, it would seem.â€ Aiden was shoved out of the way
suddenly by Colt, who towered over the diminutive woman.
â€œHey, pint-size!â€ he snarled. â€œMy friend here may be all sweetness and light, but I
ain't so nice. In fact, if you don't hand over the stuff, I'll smash your annoying little face
in. If youâ€Ÿre so innocent, youâ€Ÿll just call for the guards, right? Iâ€Ÿm sure theyâ€Ÿd be
interested in doing a quick search while theyâ€Ÿre here.â€ Merin's smile vanished instantly,
and her eyes widened at the sight of the angry ranger before her.