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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

fear for the future of the K ingdom, should people with his cavalier attitude to murder and
bloodshed gain more authority.”
“I don't think Pacian is looking to become King, much less any sort of authority
figure,” Aiden replied, unsure if he should even speak up. She seemed to be more upset
with the blond rogue than himself, at the moment, so he figured it was safe for the time
being.
“I spent a lot of time trying to educate him on the proper way to deal with things like
this, but it seems like I haven't made any progress at all. Perhaps I was too subtle?”
“If I had to guess, I'd say you were a distracting teacher,” Aiden replied
diplomatically. “I think he might have been more interested in you personally, and took
advantage of your time together to get to know you better.”
“I feel duped,” she sighed. “He did genuinely seem interested, and I suppose I
mistook that for his desire to learn.”
“It was worth a try, I mean, who knows? Perhaps you've had some effect upon him,
in spite of everything.”
“Quite possibly,” the young cleric agreed. “I shall persevere, regardless of his
attitude. It's for his own good, after all.” Aiden decided not to reply to that, silently
pleased that at least she was able to forgive people for their flaws. The young man hoped
that she would do the same for him, soon. Presently, they arrived at the smithy and
stepped through the doorway. The huge blacksmith was busy arranging equipment in
preparation for further work at the forge.
“You wanted us to stop by, Hadush?" Nellise said to him.
“Yes,” he replied, nodding with approval at their arrival. “Hadush think you head
into to great danger. Need more than robe or clothing to protect. Hadush make good
armour, knowing this day come soon. Here, look.” The big man pointed at the wall where
a gleaming metal-rimmed wooden shield, a breastplate, a helmet, and a sword lay – all of
them truly magnificent in design. Clearly, Hadush had spent days and nights busily
crafting this equipment, and if he wanted to, could no doubt charge a small fortune for it.
“And how much do you plan to charge us for this generosity?” Colt grumbled,
clearly impressed with what he was seeing.
“You go to free my people from evil,” he explained haltingly. “No charge. You take,
use wisely. Bring back sword and shield when done - they mine.”
“You're giving it to us?” Nellise asked, incredulous. Hadush nodded, then reached
down and picked up a leather jacket and handed it to her. They spent a few minutes
attaching the breastplate, making sure it fitted her properly – it did, making Aiden wonder
just how much time Hadush had spent examining her torso without anyone noticing.
By the time they had finished equipping her, Nellise looked ready for anything. The
helmet was open-faced but protected her brow and the sides of her face, as well as the top
and back of her head. A gap up the back of the he lmet allowed her fair hair to taper out,
after she had tied it up in a tail. The only thing she wasn't eager to use was the sword,
which remained on the weapon rack.
“I've never been trained with the use of a sword,” she shrugged. “It is frowned upon
in the chapter – far too war-like, you see.”
“Take other weapon then,” Hadush said, pointing to other items on the rack. While
she browsed the selection, Aiden handed over his rusty chain shirt, which was met with a
look of scorn from the huge blacksmith.
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