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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

never been in a real fight before, and the horrors of war must have been weighing heavily
upon her mind as Aiden led them to the town gates, lit in the glow of fires as Culdeny
Militia archers stationed behind the wall opened the gate for Aiden and his
companions before they reached it, allowing Aiden to see first- hand the result of the
attack against the town. Many of the buildings were on fire, with citizens rushing through
the streets with buckets of water attempting to control the blaze. The sounds of fighting
could still be heard off in the distance on the southern side of Culdeny, lending a grim
ambience to the devastated surroundings.
They headed towards the church, which was filled with wounded soldiers and
civilians alike, a dozen young clerics doing their utmost to tend to the injured. Although
they were moving as quickly as they could, unmoving bodies covered in blankets nearby
indicated they were not always successful.
Aiden slowly sat against the wall with the others, his mind barely active as the rush
of the situation surrounding them breezed past. Nellise set about setting his broken arm in
a splint and bandaging up the worst of their injuries, then collapsed alongside Aiden, her
own injuries getting the better of her.
Nearly an hour later, the sounds of fighting subsided and subdued cheering could be
heard coming from the streets outside. The forces of the Crown seemed to have been
victorious at last, and Aiden managed a faint smile, sensing that the long crisis was
nearing a conclusion.
“It‟s over.” he whispered, drawing a brief nod of acknowledgement from Criosa,
who had sat down next to him. It seemed a hollow victory, considering the town had been
severely damaged with many people wounded and killed, but it was a victory
Shortly afterwards, the blood-stained form of Sergeant Ariel entered through the
large double-doors, helped along by one of her Corporals who followed her directions
and half-carried her to one of the pews just in front of Aiden. He carefully helped her to
sit on one of the pews just in front of Aiden, and then the Sergeant waved him away,
leaning upon her bloodied sword as one would a cane.
“Good morning, Mister Wainwright,” she said, the strain evident in her raspy voice,
undoubtedly from shouting orders all night long. “I‟m sorry the town is such a mess,
we‟ve had a few problems crop up over the past twelve hours; about a hundred of them,
to be exact. But my men tell me you and your friends had a hand in taking the pressure
off our eastern flank?”
“We needed to get the princess back into town, and they were in the way,” Aiden
explained with a weak voice. Ariel blinked in surprise, and glanced around at the others
until she laid eyes upon Criosa, who smiled wanly back at the sergeant.
“Good God, is that you, Highness? I‟m sorry, I didn‟t recognise you looking so…”
“Tattered? It‟s all right, Sergeant, I feel better than I look, thanks to Aiden and his
companions,” Criosa dismissed.
“Glad I was able to assist,” Aiden whispered modestly.