Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Aiden judged it to be midday and felt it was a good time to stop for food. He spied a
small rise dotted with trees which would provide a little shelter, as well as being above
the waterline. As he led the others to the relatively dry area and crouched down on the
ground to rest, he idly wondered just how much longer it could possibly rain.
â€œWell, I guess we won't be lighting a fire and cooking any food here,â€ Pacian
grumbled, leaning against a tree trunk to gain as much shelter as possible. â€œYou'll be glad
to hear I planned for this when purchasing our provisions.â€
â€œLet me guess,â€ Nellise wondered, sounding like she already knew the answer.
â€œMouldy cheese and bread, and perhaps some dried beef.â€
â€œItâ€Ÿs like you can read minds,â€ Aiden deadpanned as he pulled out exactly what
Nellise had described from his pack. â€œI guess it'll keep us going, at least. If it helps, just
imagine the proper meals we'll be able to buy once we reach the fort.â€
They each took a share of the meagre rations. Aiden tried to imagine he was eating
freshly baked bread and sizzling roast beef, but his sense of taste insisted on telling him
only the absolute truth about what was in his mouth. To take his mind off the ordinary
food, he decided to engage Nellise in conversation.
â€œSo, Nelliseâ€ he began to say between bites of food. Having something to do with his
hands was helping to cover his nervousness about talking with this beautiful young
woman. â€œI couldn't help notice your unusual eyes, and I was wondering why they're like
that?â€ The question sounded stupid even as he was saying it. Aiden wasn't normally one
to ask such personal inquiries of lovely ladies, but one had to start sometime.
â€œWell, there's a little bit of a mystery about that actually,â€ Nellise began. â€œGold is
not a normal colour for people of any race, and my mother certainly didn't have golden
â€œWhat of your father?â€
â€œI never knew my father,â€ she replied wistfully. â€œI asked my mother about him when
I was younger, but she would suddenly become sad, and quiet. Yet, even as a tear ran
down her cheek she would smile. Quite strange.â€
â€œSo you've no idea then?â€
â€œI gathered from her reactions that he was rather special,â€ Nellise explained. â€œShe
spent the rest of her life in service to the Church and we have never discussed it again.â€
â€œSo, how long have you been with the Church of Aielund?â€ he ventured, genuinely
curious as well as fishing for information.
â€œI have been an acolyte for a little over three years now,â€ she replied, â€œthough
mother had me doing chores and such down at the local chapterhouse since I was ten. She
felt it would build character. If she knew the sordid details of this morningâ€Ÿs encounter,
she might have kept me from joining altogether.â€
â€œInteresting. When were you taught to use that staff?â€ Aiden continued, as Nellise
glanced at the weapon that lay next to her on the sodden ground.
â€œI first held that staff a few months ago. Most of our training is defensive, of course.â€
â€œSo your order isn't a militant one?â€ Aiden pressed. Nellise suddenly seemed to
realise where his line of conversation was heading.
â€œOh, not at all,â€ she assured him. â€œIn fact, Kingdom law prevents members of the
clergy from having military or civilian rank, to avoid the sort of conflict of interest there
was in times past. I am an acolyte of the Resolute Heralds, our local chapter of the