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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

and tired he was. He turned away from Nellise and began fumbling with his backpack to
free up his bedroll, while the other two boys stood and vacated the area.
Aiden reluctantly walked away from the warmth of the fire and back out to the
entrance of the cave. In the distance, a wolf could be heard howling, giving the young
man a shiver that had nothing to do with the cold. He figured that if a wolf approached
the cave, he would at least see the firelight from down the tunnel reflecting in the beasts'
eyes - right before it leaped on him and tore his throat out.
Colt was right – they had been lucky that evening. Only the prospect of attacking
four armed humans had kept the beasts at bay, and they had not returned as he‟d feared.
Aiden had to revise his opinion of the man. Despite his rough, uncouth nature, Colt was
clearly very good at his job and they all owed their lives to him.
Aiden slumped down tiredly and leaned back against the cave wall, watching the
snowflakes that he could see by the distant firelight swirl around on their journey to the
ground. Looking out into the cold night, he wondered where the wild girl was right now,
and if she had indeed provided them with the firewood that had saved them from literally
freezing to death this night. Did she have her own place to stay? How did she survive up
here by herself? And was she really a threat, if she had gone to the trouble of giving them
the firewood?
“Thinking about someone special?” Pacian said, jolting Aiden out of his idle
thoughts. “Sorry, guess you didn't hear me coming. Some watchman you are.”
“I'm looking for wolves out there, not creeping up behind me,” Aiden said. “I figure
if there are still wolves in the cave someplace, I'd be alerted by you screaming like a little
girl.”
“Hey, I bellow like a little girl, thanks very much,” Pacian bristled, though with a
hint of humour in his tired voice. “Here, I brought you something to eat. I hope you like-”
“Mouldy cheese and bread, yeah I'm familiar with the menu,” Aiden sighed. He took
the food gratefully, hungry enough to not care about what it was. “How are you faring?”
Pacian crouched down next to Aiden and shared a little of the bread.
“I don't think I've been this tired or scared before in my entire life. You?”
“I've felt worse,” Aiden shrugged absently. His friend knew exactly what he was
referring to. Neither of them would forget that day he fell into the cave, and they had yet
to encounter anything that would compare with it. Not even a pack of hungry wolves
could compete with Aiden‟s memories.
“Hell of a situation you've gotten me into here,” Pacian chided. “Remind me again
why I came with you in the first place?”
“You were sick of dealing with your drunken father, and needed to get out of town
after stealing Jim Caston's coin pouch.”
“Oh right,” Pace replied in mock remembrance. “I'd forgotten all about them.”
“How are the others?” Aiden inquired.
“Colt was snoring when I left, and Nellise was lying down next to the fire, wrapped
in a blanket on her bedroll. It's a bloody crime that a girl with a body like that goes and
joins the Church, I tell you.”
“I know what you mean,” Aiden smiled wanly. “But nevertheless, it is how it is. Just
don't forget what she does for a living the next time you're feeling 'friendly', if you know
what I mean.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Pacian grumbled.
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