Nature Abhors a Vacuum
“I'm moving into position now,” Pacian said to Aiden as he crept past. “As soon as
you've created your diversion, I'll go in and make sure those engines never work again.”
“I won't disappoint you,” Sayana told him earnestly, drawing a brief nod from the
blond rogue, just before he disappeared into the bushes.
“Corporal Medwin, your job is to stick to the princess like glue, understood?” Aiden
instructed the young soldier. “I don't think I need to tell you all that if she dies, it doesn't
really matter if we win here or not.”
“He's a good lad, and a fine young fighter,” Sergeant Evans informed him. “I'd still
feel better if I was personally defending her, sir.”
“I need you on the front line, sarge,” Aiden told him. “Your experience is going to
count for a lot in this fight.”
“I shall endeavour to do my utmost not to disappoint you, Mister Wainwright,” he
answered laconically. Aiden was glad he had come along; the man was a solid, seasoned
fighter who would keep the younger lads in line.
“Shall I bestow the favour of God upon us now?” Nellise asked, drawing a faint
smile from Aiden.
“I wish you'd say that every time we go into a fight,” he replied. “I can't think of a
situation where I wouldn't want God on my side, to be honest.”
“I always bless us before a challenge,” Nellise corrected him, reaching for her
crystal. “I was simply asking if now was a good time.”
“Go ahead,” Aiden told her, turning to check with Colt that everyone was ready.
When he nodded back, his longbow in hand ready to strike, Aiden repeated the gesture to
Sayana, who raised herself up on one knee, and began to move her arms about
arrhythmically, attempting to channel the vast energy required to invoke the fireball.
“It's not working,” she gasped in exasperation after a long moment where nothing
happened. Sayana threw out a few choice curse words, no doubt learned from Colt, which
shocked both Nellise and Criosa.
“Try again,” Aiden coaxed her, “if you can't get it this time, we'll have to
“I can do it,” Sayana replied stubbornly, “I just need to throw more energy into it.”
Again, she concentrated, drawing in power, focusing it in one place, and this time, a
roaring ball of fire materialised between her outstretched hands, that she promptly tossed
at the nearby siege engines. The fireball blazed through the air and struck the ground near
the closer of the two, detonating with considerable force, and sending the bodies of the
engineers working at the engine flying through the air.
The barrels of pitch, stacked neatly in-between the two engines, ignited with a
flourish, sending a plume of fire fifteen feet into the air. The suddenness of the strike sent
the mercenaries into disarray, the few horses they had tethered nearby in the darkness
pulling free of their ropes and bolting into the night.
“Commence shooting!” Aiden barked to Colt and the militia, who immediately sent
arrows and crossbow bolts into the disorganised soldiers, dropping three of them in quick
order. The primary goal of the archers was to pull defenders away from the second
trebuchet, which stood at the edge of the flames so that Pacian could get in closer.
It was a perfectly executed opening move, but their advantage wasn't going to last
long. Even now, the officers of the Steel Tigers, including Robert Black himself, were
shouting out orders to control the flames, and to start the counter-attack. A dozen