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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

the dimly lit interior of the entryway beyond. Colt threw the axe back over to Sayana,
who caught it and held it ready while Aiden rushed through the doorway.
What was through the door, however, was not a group of mercenaries waiting to
strike down whoever came through. There were three of them on the ground, bleeding
from numerous wounds, but they weren‟t a threat anymore. Aiden cautiously moved in to
the common room, glancing around at the faces of the frightened townsfolk, men and
women he had come to know over the time he had spent here, clutching each other in
shocked silence.
To his left, he saw the innkeeper, Tom, leaning against the wall sporting some nasty
bruises on his face. His daughter Aislin huddled underneath a table nearby, her eyes wide
with fright as she looked at Aiden, having witnessed whatever had been done to her
father and been powerless to do anything about it.
Before him, Aiden saw the mayor sitting at a bar stool, mopping his brow with a
piece of cloth. Next to him, a large, bearded man wearing heavy armour and the colours
of the K ingdom Guard sat, blood dripping from his helmet as he struggled to stay upright.
Other armoured men lay around on the floor - some mercenaries, some K ing's men who
had clearly fought hard to protect their charge and paid with their lives. O f the princess,
there was no sign.
“Mister Wainwright, this is terrible... terrible,” O laf gasped, overcome with fear from
the unexpected assault on the town. “They attacked without warning and took her!”
“They took the princess?” Aiden asked intensely. “Where did they take her? Get a
hold of yourself, man!”
“They went out the back door, just through there,” O laf sputtered, pointing at the rear
entrance while trying to regain his composure. Colt and the others had come in behind
Aiden and were dismayed at the sight before them. Nellise set aside her crossbow and
went straight for the wounded soldier sitting next to the mayor, and slowly started
removing his helmet. Aiden suddenly recognised him as Captain Marshald, the officer
they had met down at Fort Highmarch many days ago.
“How is he?” Aiden asked Nellise.
“He has suffered a serious head wound,” she replied distractedly. “Give me a minute
to see what I can do.”
“You have to get her back,” Marshald said, his voice slurred. “This whole thing...
must have been planned long in advance. Someone is making a move against the throne.”
Aiden was momentarily taken aback at the magnitude of what the captain had just stated.
He glanced at his companions and saw a similarly daunted look upon their faces.
“You need to lie down, captain,” Nellise advised the soldier, “right away, if you
please.”
“It is my duty to protect the Princess and I will do so while I still draw breath,” he
replied stoically.
“If you don't lie down, you won't be breathing much longer,” Nellise insisted.
Marshald gave her a bleary look and then relented. While she set about treating his
injury, a young woman wearing the armour and cloak of the town militia stumbled in
through the door and saluted nobody in particular.
“Forget the formalities,” O laf muttered. “If you have something to say, out with it.”
“The enemy has been pushed out of the town,” she explained. “We‟ve lost twenty of
the twenty five guards, including Sergeant Redfurn.”
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