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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

She had moved about three yards when Aiden noticed a small form descending from
above. It was Sayana, silently floating down through the air with her axe raised above her
head. Nellise looked up briefly, and whether or not it was intended, her reaction alerted
Black to the presence of the threat. He whirled around at the last minute, but wasn‟t
prepared for what was coming. Sayana ceased her casual descent and dropped like a
stone, bringing her axe down on his head with all of the force she had built up from the
Only Robert‟s honed reflexes prevented the axe from splitting him in two. It cleaved
through the front of his head, destroying the helm gashing his face terribly. The
devastating blow finally dropped the powerful man, who fell backward to the ground
amongst his fallen comrades.
Aiden silently exulted in his friend‟s victory and slowly picked himself up off the
ground to make his way over. Sayana, Nellise and Criosa gathered around the grievously
wounded mercenary, who was clutching at his wounded face.
“Yield or die!” Nellise declared, standing over him with her staff ready to strike, her
chest heaving from the exertion of the fight. The mercenary didn‟t respond at first, but
Aiden couldn‟t believe for a moment the man was still prepared to fight.
“I yield,” Black croaked, looking up at them out of his right eye, the left one having
been destroyed by Sayana‟s final stroke. “You‟ve fought well for a bunch of untrained
civilians. I‟m pretty impressed, actually, though the shame of my defeat to such people
will haunt me for the rest of my days.”
“You shall have plenty of time to think of your mistakes, during your impending
imprisonment,” Criosa informed him archly. Black actually managed a macabre laugh,
not exactly the sort of sound one should be hearing from a defeated enemy.
“I don‟t think I‟ll be going to prison, Your Highness, as there isn‟t going to be much
left of Culdeny in a few minutes.”
“What are you talking about?” Aiden asked, a feeling of dread descending over him.
“I‟ve made arrangements,” the mercenary replied cryptically.
“Enough of this nonsense,” Criosa ordered impatiently. “We‟re taking you into town,
and anything that befalls it happens to you as well.” Robert looked up at the sky, as did
Aiden, noticing that the sun was just about to peak over the horizon.
“The dragon,” he breathed. “It‟s going to strike at dawn, isn‟t it?”
“Azurefang might be a little crazy, but she does what she‟s paid to,” Robert
confirmed, seeming to be more relaxed with every passing moment. “So, here‟s what‟s
going to happen. I -”
Pacian appeared next to Robert at that moment, and interrupted his speech by
plunging a dagger into the man‟s throat, sending a torrent of blood gushing onto the
snow. He clutched at the wound in a futile attempt to staunch the flow, gasping for
breath. Aiden was stunned and could only stand and stare at Pacian in disbelief.
“Don‟t just stand there, run!” Pacian shouted, grabbing an equally shocked Nellise
by the wrist and pulling her in the direction of town. An ominous roar could be heard in
the distance, a sound that had the hairs on the back of Aiden‟s neck standing on end.
He had the presence of mind to look around and make sure everyone else was
running, and saw that Colt was still down on the ground, grievously wounded. Aiden
rushed to his side and offered a hand.