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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

to find out, one way or another. The trick was to determine if the wards were permanent,
or if they would allow the owner to pass through them, and perhaps there was even a way
to deactivate them altogether, for safety reasons.
“Dead bodies lying in front of an enchanted door probably means we should be
running the other way,” Pacian whispered over his shoulder, startling Aiden, who hadn't
heard his approach. “You actually think you're going to get through that with all your
limbs still attached?”
“I can read most of it,” Aiden said irritably, trying to calm down again after the
unexpected pleasure of Pacian's company. “All the parts I understand are the parts that
summon fire to kill you, though. It's the section over here that I can't read that will
probably have something to do with switching this off.”
“But you can't read it,” Pacian slowly replied. “How are you going to figure it out?”
“Context, Pace, context,” Aiden instructed his friend. “I can see runes for 'passage'
and 'authority' near the end, so the ones in-between should be related.”
“If you say so mate,” Pacian shrugged. “But if I know locks, it's probably something
simpler than that. Can't imagine dealing with all this every time I wanted to go in or out
of my room, if you know what I mean.” Aiden nodded absently, too intent upon
deciphering the runes before him to really pay him any heed. The aspiring scholar was
fairly certain he'd skimmed over just about all the arcane runes ever written in the years
he spent researching, and if he could just jog his memory, he might be able to recall
exactly what they were.
The young men sat quietly amidst the bones of others who had attempted to force
their way into the room, struggling to decipher the hidden meaning of the runes before
them. Aiden‟s frustration started to build as the answer eluded him, impairing his ability
to concentrate. Finally, he threw up his hands in exasperatio n, unable to crack the puzzle.
“It doesn't make any sense,” he whispered to Pacian, who was fidgeting madly and
seemed unable to sit still. “That rune is nonsense, as far as I can tell.”
“How do you know?” Pacian whispered back impatiently. “Maybe it's just something
you've never seen before, though that's hard to believe with the amount of reading you
did.”
“But the runes are pictographs at their core,” Aiden explained, “and each has to
represent something, in some fashion. This squiggly rune represents fire, for example.
But that one right there seems to be complete nonsense, it just... has no relation to
anything else up there.” Pacian rubbed his chin stubble for a few moments, then before
Aiden could stop him, reached forward and pushed the indecipherable rune.
Aiden recoiled reflexively, expecting a blast of arcane fire to incinerate them, but to
his shock, the rune sank smoothly into the door frame and then stopped with a solid
'clunk'. The door seemed to open just a crack, as if a lock had been tripped, and a slight
gust of stale air swept past them. Aiden stared at it for a long moment, and then glared
sharply at Pacian, but his friend just shrugged.
“Told you it was simple,” he shrugged. “Are you going in or what?”
“One of these days, you're going to get your hand blown off,” Aiden growled softly,
cautiously pushing the door inwards. He held the torch forward to shed some light inside
the doorway, and saw a dusty environment that seemed to serve equally as both living
space and laboratory. Feeling quite certain that there would be no further traps, he limped
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