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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“You were struck by an axe, right in the head, Aiden,” Nellise pressed. “No-one
survives something like that.”
“I'm not going to contest that point,” he shrugged, poking at the fire with a large
stick. “But I have a perfectly reasonable explanation for my reappearance.”
“There's no need to explain it, I already know the answer.”
“You do?” he asked, looking at her with surprise.
“Yes,” she nodded, “God sent you to save us.” Aiden blinked, caught off guard by
her answer, and unsure if he should attempt to correct her. Then he realised what the look
she had given him had been – absolute faith. She thought she was looking upon an angel,
or something similar, sent by God to pull them out of hell, and it was this knowledge that
was allowing the young cleric to deal with her rape in the right way. Aiden couldn't take
that away from her, and she probably wouldn't believe the truth if he told her anyway.
“I'm not really sure what happened,” he lied, “I woke up in the snow, and I knew I
had to try and save you all. It was only through the aid of the relics I'd recovered from
Ferrumgaard that allowed me to pull off that rescue, though. I wonder what Clavis would
have thought of that?”
“I can't speak for the dead,” she mused, “but I think you certainly honoured his
memory. Thank you, Aiden, I... don't want to think about what would have become of us
if you hadn't...” Nellise's veneer of control crumbled, and she visibly recoiled from the
memories, with a look of such pain on her face, Aiden didn't know what to do. Pacian
had stirred during their conversation, and upon seeing the yo ung cleric suffering, moved
to comfort her.
“Don't touch me!” she gasped, pulling back from his outstretched hand, wrapping the
cloak tightly around her and stumbling off into the nearby bushes. Pacian moved to
follow her, but Colt stopped him with a look.
“Leave her be,” he growled, slowly getting to his feet. “Let her work through it in
her own way.”
“This is exactly what I was talking about,” Pacian muttered, a dark look on his face.
“She went in there expecting tea and crumpets, and look what happened to her. Well,
from now on, I'm doing things my way, whether she likes it or not. It's for her own good.
Excuse me, nature's calling,” he added, stalking off into another part of the camp to
answer the call.
“That's not gonna go well,” Colt remarked, unimpressed with the blond rogue's
attitude. “But enough about that. How the hell did you do all that fancy sorcery last night
anyway? And Nel's right, you were stone dead after that axe hit you.”
“I... met an old acquaintance,” Aiden replied evasively, glancing meaningfully at
Sayana, who was watching the whole scene with interest from under her cloak. Her eyes
widened at the implication, and she sat upright, pondering the magnitude of what had
happened. “He is a master at healing, and was able to get me back on my feet. As for the
sorcery, well, as I told Nel, it all came from Ferrumgaard. That old wizard saved our lives
with his little stash of scrolls, not to mention this thing,” he added, hefting the sceptre.
“Show me that,” Sayana asked in her usual peremptory fashion. Aiden walked over
and handed it to her, watching with interest as she stared at it for a long minute. “I
thought as much,” she whispered to herself.
“What is it?” Aiden asked cautiously.
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