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Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Stephen L. Nowland
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For several minutes, Azurefang circled over the town, sending down torrents of fire
at leisure, but its path through the air was uneven and erratic, and sounds of inspirational
battle-cries coming from the eastern wall brought Aiden to a realisation – the men on that
wall should have been occupied by mercenaries, but since their reinforcements had been
eliminated by Aiden and his companions, the defenders were free to rain bolts and arrows
into the hide of their nightmarish foe, something it hadn’t planned on.
Presently, a strange noise came from the dragon, sounding more like a startled yelp
than a roar. Unable to see clearly through the fog, Aiden could only guess what was
happening in the skies above, until a small explosion of fire lit up the massive beast for a
brief instant as something impacted its hide. It was accompanied by a shriek of pain and
surprise from the dragon, which circled away from the town as another small explosion
impacted its hindquarters.
“What the hell is hitting it?” Colt asked nobody in particular.
“Is there a wizard in town I wasn’t aware of?” Nellise wondered aloud. Azurefang
was manoeuvring through the skies in a random pattern, blasting fire down upon the town
as more explosions hit its massive bulk. Its pattern brought it out past the wall where it
loomed above the trees where Aiden and the others were hiding.
The dragon snarled and something dropped out of the sky, landing heavily near the
road roughly twenty yards away. A brief glimpse of a massive, serpentine body with
dozens of arrows sticking out of its hide could be seen as it flew into the clear for a
moment, before disappearing back into the fog again.
If Azurefang saw them at all, it didn’t pay any attention to them as it sped away from
the town as fast as it could, back to the east and the safety of the mountains. For the first
time in hours, Aiden finally relaxed and as his adrenaline ebbed, he felt all the pains and
exhaustion of the past day hit him all at once.
“I guess it bit off a little more than it could chew,” he muttered in amazement.
“Go and see what fell on the road,” Pacian prompted him. Despite his broken body,
curiosity got the better of Aiden, and he slowly hobbled out onto the road to take a look.
Lying in the snow was a metal spear, eight feet in length, and with a barbed tip covered in
blood. Part of the shaft was charred black from the explosion, but there was no indication
as to why the ordinary looking spear had caused the charing. Aiden concluded they
would find their answers in town, and having reported what he had seen, hobbled back
over to the others.
“What the hell is the matter with you, anyway?” Colt growled at Pacian as the young
man approached. “Robert Black had surrendered, and you go and stick a knife in his
“We had to run, and he was going to do everything in his power to be difficult,”
Pacian explained. “I couldn’t just leave him there, knowing he might survive and come
back to get revenge upon us another day.”
“You’re a bloody monster,” Colt stated flatly. “He wasn’t going anywhere, anytime
soon, and we could have questioned him about this plot to kidnap the Princess. If I had
any strength left in my body, I’d beat the tar out of you.”
“Like he’d tell us,” Pacian shot back. “We’ve been over this before, Dante, he-”
“Shut up, the both of you,” Aiden sighed. “We get it, already. Just… be quiet for a