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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Add to that the manipulation of the weather, and we're facing some very powerful
and organised enemies,” Harlin added.
“About that,” Aiden began delicately, deciding that it was better to deal with the
consequences of the truth, rather than further the belief that their ene mies were capable of
such vast changes in the weather on top of anything else. “You were half right, about me
having something to do with the strange weather around here lately,” he continued,
pulling out the small shard of crystal from around his neck. “I can't give you all the
details, but someone was using this to spy on me, which for some reason was making it
rain. I can assure you now though that it has stopped, so it's no longer an issue.”
“You're all wasting time,” Marshald said from down on the floor, cutting off any
further discussion of this new information, despite the looks on everyone's faces that
indicated they really wanted to know more. “Go and rescue Princess Criosa from her
captors, or their plans, whatever they are, will succeed. I'd go with you but... I don't think
it's a good idea for me to try and stand up right now.”
“It certainly isn't,” Nellise muttered. “You're lucky to be alive, Captain. I have
healed the wound as best as I can, but you will require days of rest before you will fully
recover.”
“I will take care of him, Nel,” Harlin assured her, “you and the others need to go,
now.”
“We only just returned from a harrowing mission down into Akoran territory,”
Nellise protested with a trembling voice, her resolve starting to wither. “You have no idea
just how bad things went for us down there...”
“I can see by the ragged nature of your attire that it must have been very difficult for
you indeed,” Olaf admitted. “But this is an emergency. The town has been devastated by
this attack, and if you had not returned when you did, I doubt any of us would be alive to
have this conversation. I implore you, do as the Captain says and pursue Criosa's captors,
or the people behind all of this might succeed in whatever nefarious plans they have in
play.”
Aiden looked around at his weary friends; wounded, tired, and traumatised, but no-
one disagreed with the Mayor's assessment. Reluctantly, he knew that there was only one
answer he could give.
“Very well,” he sighed, “we will go, but we'll need supplies, as I suspect they have
quite a lead on us and will have her guarded at all times by a small army.”
“Take what you need from here,” Tom the innkeeper offered, and as if on cue, Aislin
scrambled out from under the table to start collecting bread, cheese and sausages into a
basket.
“I'm going to need more crossbow bolts,” Nellise murmured absently, resigned to her
fate. She started looking around at the fallen mercenaries for spare bolts, while Colt did
the same, looking for arrows.
“Mister Mayor,” Pacian said formally, “I think I speak for all us when I say „give me
all the money you have on you, right now‟.” Olaf's eyes bulged a little, but he didn't
protest as he handed over a pouch heavy with coin to the blond rogue. “What?” he said to
Aiden's disapproving expression. “We might need to bribe some people, or something.
This is dangerous work, do you think we should do it for free?”
“I suppose not,” Aiden shrugged. “It would seem to be a good opportunity to balance
the books, as it were. Wouldn't you agree, sir?”
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