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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Agreed,” Aiden nodded, and then indicated that his blond friend should get moving.
A quick glance at Nellise prompted a quick nod in reply, indicating she was back in
control once more.
Aiden retrieved his lenses from Colt as they started to follow Pacian as best they
could, though he was a little too good at disappearing into the night at times. Still, they
eventually wound their way through the streets to the Mayor's house, a sprawling, single-
storey affair with elaborate gardens on every side. Crouched down at the low stone wall
surrounding the manor, Aiden and his companions checked carefully for signs of
mercenary guards patrolling the grounds.
“Three men at the rear entrance, three at the front, probably more inside,” Pacian
whispered, after nearly a minute of careful observation. “They're all lit up by their
lanterns too, so it wasn't exactly hard.”
“Have you seen the boulder Bethany mentioned?” Aiden asked.
“Yes, it's just around the corner from the rear entrance, in our direction, maybe
twelve yards from where the guards are standing.”
“Perhaps a distraction would allow us to move inside undetected?” Sayana
suggested.
“I was thinking that too,” Pacian agreed. “I'll just throw a rock over in that direction
when you're ready to use the door, then follow you inside, okay?”
“Good move. Okay, let's get in close to that door,” Aiden instructed the rest, while
Pace picked up a nearby rock and hefted it, testing its weight. Colt took the lead, keeping
low as he moved over the wall, while Aiden followed just behind, trying to keep as quiet
as possible. The chain shirts the two men wore did not make this easy, however, and even
with cloaks and clothing baffling the noise a little, it seemed like every little movement
was loud enough to call the attention of the guards. Fortunately, the snow underfoot was
dry and soft, and muffled their footfalls quite effectively.
They arrived at the boulder without any alert going up, and crouched down next to it,
ready to open the door as soon as Pacian threw the rock. They were just out of sight,
around the corner, but Aiden could hear the jingling of their armour as they moved,
trying to keep warm on the bitterly cold night.
The sound of something striking the wall at the other end of the yard caught their
attention, moments later, and was clearly the sound of a rock hitting stone. Aiden
recognised it as Pacian's diversion, so he quickly moved around the boulder and started
feeling around for the loose brick. The sound of steel sliding from a scabbard sent his
heart racing, but a quick glance confirmed that the guards had not yet rounded the corner
to attack them.
After groping around on the brickwork for several frantic seconds, Aiden finally hit
the right one, causing the wall next to him to open inwards. Thankfully, the mechanism
was almost silent, aside from some minor scraping sounds as the bricks slid against one
another. The passage beyond was dark, but to Aiden's augmented eyesight, it was easily
navigable.
He led the way inside, hearing the light footsteps of his companions right behind
him. Aiden couldn't stop to see if Pacian had caught up, or even if the guards had noticed
their movements, and had to hope that everything was going as we ll as it seemed. The
sound of the secret door closing behind them could be heard for a moment, the echoing of
the stone tunnel magnifying the sound. The place stank of damp earth, and the faint
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