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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Aiden shook his head, hardly believing the elaborate plan. It was a gamble, but it
might just work. Pace had always pushed the limits of what civilised folk would tolerate,
but Aiden had never considered him a criminal.
“I feel as though I have fallen in with people of questionable character,” Nellise
lamented. “I find your methods deplorable Pacian, even if your intentions were
honourable. Regardless of what else I may feel, we still need to help the town and we
can't do that from prison. You win, but don't think you've heard the last of this.”
Pace had the good grace to look ashamed, though Aiden couldn't tell if he was being
sincere or not. Turning to Colt for his answer, Pacian was suddenly grabbed by the front
of his tunic and pulled up to face level with the big man.
“The next time you pull a stunt like that on me, I'm gonna take you someplace quiet
and beat you senseless. I'm not a crook, and I don't hang around with crooks. Do you
wanna know what I do with crooks?”
“You beat them senseless?” Pacian's inquired, his face betraying his apprehension.
“I sure do, blondie,” Colt nodded. “Then I hand them over to the guards. They don't
ask how the crooks got so bloodied - they figure they're just real clumsy and ran into a
wall a couple dozen times. My point is, watch how you handle yourself, or you'll answer
to me.” Pacian nodded slowly, and Colt lowered him back down to the ground. “Oh, one
last thing. Hand over the coins.”
“Why?” Pacian asked cautiously.
“Because if we're going to make it through this, we'll need to buy you lightweights
some proper equipment. Come on, we're going shopping.”
* * *
After a brief visit to the smithy, they headed back over to the Bracksfordshire Arms
with a few pieces of new gear. Aiden now had a short sword strapped to his waist and a
cured leather breastplate to protect his body, while Pacian purchased a proper co mbat
dagger to replace his carving knife.
Despite their tremendous and illegally obtained wealth, there was little to buy at the
shop. Again, the King‟s army had a hand in their fate, taking all the decent weapons and
armour weeks ago, leaving precious little to choose from.
Nellise returned carrying a wooden staff and backpack over her shoulder and Pacian
reappeared a moment later, apparently having spent his time buying provisions which he
carried in a large sack. More than that, he was wearing a full suit of leathers, dyed a
patchwork of green and brown, just like Colt's.
“Where did you get that?” Colt exclaimed.
“You see that shop over the road there?” Pacian hiked his thumb over his shoulder,
pointing out a clothing store just down the road from the mayor's office. “Run by a nice
older gentleman and his young, young wife. A little too young for him if you ask me -”
“I know of the bloody shop,” Colt interrupted angrily, “but that's Ranger armour. It's
practically a uniform.”
“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,
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