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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Well, this elder gentleman I mentioned? Turns out he used to be a Ranger, years
ago. Retired now obviously, but when I mentioned our mission to brave dangerous roads
in an effort to bring urgent supplies to the town, well, he said to me 'I've got a little
something here that might help you out'. And he brings out this very nice suit of armour,
and insists I take it.” Pacian kept loading up his pack with the items and supplies he
found as he talked. His overly casual manner seemed to be infuriating Co lt all the more.
“I refused at first, I mean, it's clearly fine quality and I couldn't afford it. But his wife
said I'd look very dashing in it, and after all, this was for the safety of the town. Aiden,
open your pack so I can put some stuff in there.”
“Never knew Dave Patel was a Ranger,” Colt mused. “He had that weathered look
about him though. Might have to talk to him about that when we get back. But if he
offered it to you, you must have made quite an impression. Either that or you've
somehow swindled him, and if I find out that's what you've done...”
“I know, I know, severe beatings and such,” Pacian sighed.
“As much I enjoy watching these little sparring matches between you two,” Nellise
interrupted impatiently, “I really think we should start out immediately. It could take a
week to get back here with supplies, and every hour could make all the difference.” His
pack full, Aiden hefted it onto his back, and secured the clasps.
“I couldn't agree more,” he said, “you two can argue about whatever you like on the
way south.” Colt grunted in agreement, and Pacian simply grinned at him. This would
prove to be an interesting journey, in more ways than one, Aiden thought.
After a few more minutes they reached the south gate. Like the wall surrounding the
town, it was made of thick oak tree trunks, the next best thing to stone walls. There were
four guards standing near the southern gate, looking miserable in their rusty chain armour
and blue tabard. The armour itself didn't appear to fit any of them properly – some suits
were too large, and draped heavily off their shoulders. One of them was even a young
woman, far too small for her chain mail, but looking defiant and proud regardless.
They perked up when Aiden produced the official note from the Mayor, and
moments later, two of them lifted a heavy bar and then swung the gate outwards enough
to allow people to walk out in single file to the highway beyond. As Aiden and his
companions strode through, the biggest of the guards quietly wished them good luck, and
then closed the gate behind them, locking it in place with an ominous „thunk‟.
Chapter Three
The rain continued to hammer the ground unabated as they walked along the
highway to the south. Aiden and his companions had their hoods in an effort to keep as
dry as possible, but mere clothing could only do so much. Unless they wanted to be
wrapped in oilcloth like Colt's longbow, this was as dry as they were going to get for the
foreseeable future.
For the first hour of the journey, they travelled in silence, and Aiden couldn't help
but spend his time thinking about their fight that morning, wondering if there was some
way they could have avoided it, but in the end, he determined Colt was right – Merin had
made her choices, and now she was dead.
The young adventurer hoped Mayor O laf was, indeed, going to cover for them. The
more he thought about it, the more he realized Pacian was right to blackmail the man.
 
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