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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Only that I feel as though I have fallen in with bad people,” Nellise lamented. “I
find your methods deplorable, even if your intentions wer e honourable. Regardless of
what else I may feel, we still need to help the town, and we can't do that from prison. You
win, Pacian, but don't think you've heard the last of this.” Pace had the good grace to look
ashamed, though Aiden couldn't tell if he was being sincere or not. Turning to Colt for
his answer, Pacian was suddenly grabbed by the front of his tunic and pulled up to face
level with the big man.
“The next time you pull a stunt like that on me, I'm gonna take you someplace quiet
and beat you senseless. I'm not a crook, and I don't hang around with crooks. Do you
wanna know what I do with crooks?”
“You beat them senseless?” Pacian's inquired, his face betraying his apprehension.
“I sure do, blondie,” Colt nodded. “Then I hand them over to the guards. They don't
ask how the crooks got so bloodied - they figure they're just real clumsy and ran into a
wall a couple dozen times. My point is, watch how you handle yourself, or you'll answer
to me.” Pacian nodded slowly, and Colt lowered him back down to the ground. “Oh, one
last thing. Hand over the coins.”
“Why?” Pacian asked cautiously.
“Because if we're going to make it to Fort Highmarch, we'll need to buy you
lightweights some proper equipment. Come on, we're going shopping.”
* * *
The Bracksford smithy was quiet as they approached, something Aiden had
previously dismissed due to the early hour. The sun was well and truly up now, even if it
seemed to be permanently hidden behind heavy clouds that continued to pour rain down
upon the land, and yet the smithy remained silent. Colt opened the door and closely
followed by the others stepped inside out of the weather.
An old blanket that had been draped across a doorway behind the cold forge was
pushed aside, and a hugely muscled man stepped out before them. N umerous tattoos were
etched onto his bare forearms, though the images had blurred with age and the increase in
his muscle size.
“Hullo,” he rumbled to the four potential customers before him. Judging by his thick
accent and impressive stature, Aiden surmised he must have come from the savage
Akoran tribes who lived in the mountains to the south.
“We wish to purchase some equipment,” Nellise asked politely, as was her way.
“Why pretty lady want weapons? What you doing here?” he rumbled, his brow
furrowed with the intensity of concentration required to stitch his sentences together.
“I go where I need to,” Nellise replied diplomatically. “My companions are looking
for weapons and armour. What do you have?”
“Weapons, yes, but not armour. K ing's army take most. Almost put Hadush out of
“And Hadush would be..?” Aiden prompted.
“Me,” Hadush grunted succinctly. “Was expecting delivery of iron, but never
arrived. Can't make new things. But look „round, see what you like.”