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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Its power is nearly depleted,” she answered, handing the sceptre back to him. “The
crystals have been damaged, and you would be lucky to get one or two more uses from
it.”
“Is there any way to fix it?” he asked pensively, upset at the thought of losing the
mighty weapon.
“None that I know of, but my experience is limited.”
“Maybe I can ask that dragon,” he muttered, loud enough for only Sayana to hear.
She glanced over at Colt, who was starting to cook some breakfast over the fire, then
grabbed Aiden by the shoulder and pulled him closer.
“Did it speak of me?” she whispered harshly, looking him straight in the face.
“I – yes, actually,” he sputtered, caught off guard by her sudden intensity. “I asked
why it attacked you in the dream, and it seemed angry when I mentioned you, saying that
'you were not invited.'” Sayana continued looking at him for a long, searching moment,
then reached up and touched the shard hanging from around Aiden's neck. She instantly
flinched in pain, shaking her hand from what seemed to be a mild burn. He looked at her
hand and indeed, saw a small red welt where she had touched the shard.
“Something is wrong,” she whispered, staring in to Aiden's eyes. “You're different,
somehow. I don't know what it is... something is... missing.” The hairs on the back of
Aiden's neck stood on end at this, and he didn't know how to respond. Sayana backed
away from him a little, and looked coiled and ready to run away at a moment's notice.
“Sy, it's me,” Aiden insisted, scarcely believing her reaction. “I don't feel any
different, I don't think any different; I'm the same man I was yesterday.”
“That creature has taken a part of you as payment,” she hissed, “you may not feel it
now, but eventually you will find out what it took. You have become its agent now,
Aiden, and I'm not sure I can trust you.” She turned and stormed out of the clearing,
leaving Aiden to stand there confused, trying to process what he had just learned.
“What's all that about?” Colt asked from nearby.
“I wish I knew,” Aiden replied, genuinely mystified as he looked off into the foliage
where Sayana had vanished.
“Bloody women are all the same, am I right?” Colt grunted in reply.
Chapter Twenty Six
The morning meal of sausages and bread was eaten in silence, partly because they
were hungry and tired, but also because of recent events that continued to drive them
apart. Sayana ate an entire day's worth of rations in one meal, which no longer came as a
surprise to Aiden. Nellise was the only one not present, and her absence was
understandable, but only to a point – they were still in the wilds, and she probably wasn't
in any condition to be fighting a wandering grizzly bear. Concerned about her absence,
Aiden left the camp to look around for her.
After a few minutes of searching around through the bushes and sparse trees that
dotted the landscape, the young adventurer was momentarily startled when he came
across a wolf, sitting on its haunches and observing him quietly from roughly twenty
yards away. Aiden breathed a sigh of relief, for he recognised it as Faolan, who
apparently had survived last night's battle with only minor wounds.
 
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