Nature Abhors a Vacuum
The men were wearing chain mail armour, full- face helmets, and tabards emblazoned
with the symbol of a great cat, possibly a tiger. Aiden, paralysed with shock and fatigue
until that moment, realised who was attacking â€“the mercenaries of the Steel Tigers, under
the command of Robert Black.
The militia, devoid of leadership, began loosing bolts at random back a t the
attackers. The enemyâ€Ÿs shots were far more accurate and deadly, and fully half of the
dozen men and women stationed at the gate had already fallen in the onslaught.
Sayana, stepped forward to blast a stream of fire at the mercenaries, torching one of
them and forcing the others to pull back. Aiden and Colt, thinking alike, took advantage
of the diversion to join the militia advancing on the enemy. As Sayana extinguished her
flames, the two men charged the enemy.
Coltâ€Ÿs sword sliced through the armoured chest of first man in his way while Aiden
settled for knocking his target over. Sayana joined them with her mithral axe, covering
Colt as he put everything he had in to each swing, shattering steel and bone. With their
combined assault, the three finished off the remaining soldiers in a furious exchange of
steel, then paused for a moment to catch their breaths and take stock of the situation.
The sounds of screaming women and children echoed down the street, but the
remaining militia nearby were locked in battle with more soldiers. Colt swapped out his
greatsword for the longbow and began to string it, while Sayana began to glow softly as
she wreathed her body in a shimmering layer of spectral armour.
Looking back at the gate, Aiden saw that Pacian was comforting Nellise, who was
crouched down on the ground next to Tara, her hands over her face and clearly
distraught. Aiden felt a pang of sympathy for her, knowing she was still trying to cope
with her recent trauma.
Aiden rushed back over to Tara's side as Pacian gently turned her on to one side. Her
eyes gazed vaguely ahead as she was slipping away.
â€œGet... to the... inn,â€ Tara whispered with her last breath. Nellise closed her eyes and
let her go. They took only a briefly moment to mourn her passing. Colt was aiding the
town defenders where he could, loosing arrows at opportune targets while Aiden's tired
brain tried to formulate a plan of action.
â€œWhat the hell is going on here?â€ Pacian asked loudly, as if expecting the world
itself to answer.
â€œWe have to get to the inn and secure it,â€ Aiden replied distantly. â€œNel, I hate to ask
this, but we need you to focus. Innocent people are dying here, do you understand?â€ The
distraught cleric looked up and nodded silently, her eyes rimmed with red.
â€œDon't worry Nel,â€ Pacian assured her, â€œif anyone so much as looks at you I'm going
to shred them.â€ Nellise gave him an unreadable look, then put on her helmet and hefted
Clavis' repeating crossbow.
â€œI could use some support over here!â€ Colt yelled, evidently running low on arrows.
â€œKeep together and support each other, don't let them divide us up. These are
professional soldiers, not a bunch of morons.â€
â€œDon't be so sure about that,â€ Pacian warned cynically. â€œThey may surprise you.â€
Aiden ignored him and pressed forward, charging into a small group of mercenaries who
were cutting down twice their number in overwhelmed militia fighters. Able to provide
little more than a distraction, he swept his blade back and forth, striking armour more