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 werenâ€Ÿt 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
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.
â€œMister Wainwright, this is terrible... terrible,â€ O laf gasped, overcome with fear from
the unexpected assault on the town. â€œThey attacked without warning and took her!â€
â€œThey took the princess?â€ Aiden asked intensely. â€œWhere did they take her? Get a
hold of yourself, man!â€
â€œThey went out the back door, just through there,â€ 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.
â€œHow is he?â€ Aiden asked Nellise.
â€œHe has suffered a serious head wound,â€ she replied distractedly. â€œGive me a minute
to see what I can do.â€
â€œYou have to get her back,â€ Marshald said, his voice slurred. â€œThis whole thing...
must have been planned long in advance. Someone is making a move against the throne.â€
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.
â€œYou need to lie down, captain,â€ Nellise advised the soldier, â€œright away, if you
â€œIt is my duty to protect the Princess and I will do so while I still draw breath,â€ he
â€œIf you don't lie down, you won't be breathing much longer,â€ 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.
â€œForget the formalities,â€ O laf muttered. â€œIf you have something to say, out with it.â€
â€œThe enemy has been pushed out of the town,â€ she explained. â€œWeâ€Ÿve lost twenty of
the twenty five guards, including Sergeant Redfurn.â€