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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

dominant one, probably larger than the first group. The good news is they've eaten
recently, so they'll be less likely to attack us.”
Cautiously the group moved to the wagon. Aiden's senses were heightened to an
incredible sharpness, complimenting the wild beating of his heart as he kept an eye out
for trouble. Pacian stepped ahead of the others to take a closer look. The wagon had been
filled with cargo of various sorts, mostly in boxes. Fort Highmarch did not produce any
foodstuffs, only weapons for the guards of various towns in this part of the kingdom.
“No sign of the driver,” Pacian reported, as the rest of them fell into a defensive
position around the wreck. “If I had to guess, I'd say he ran off at the first opportunity
after the attack started. Poor bastard probably got caught out in the woods somewhere.”
Aiden peered over his friend‟s shoulder for just a moment.
“What about the cargo?”
“Give me a moment,” Pacian responded, sheathing his dagger and clambering into
the back of the wagon for a closer look. A tense minute later, he had something to report.
“Two loaves of bread, and they're only a little sta le too,” he began. “There's a crate
of crossbows in here, and it seems one of them is missing. The rest of this thing is filled
with iron ingots.”
“Anything else?” Colt prompted impatiently.
“Just this,” Pacian said as he jumped down from the back of the wagon, holding a
pouch. His eyes lit up as he opened it and peered inside.
“I'm guessing it's money,” Aiden remarked dryly.
“No, actually,” Pacian replied, raising an eyebrow at the implication. “But there is a
rather nice gemstone in here.” He upended the pouch and a leather glove fell into his
waiting palm. Pacian held it by one corner and a gemstone became visible, embedded
onto the back surrounded by a band of metal. The glove itself had no fingers, and seemed
quite aged.
“I don't think our deceased friend will be in need of this,” he quipped, “so I think I'll
just hang on to it.”
“Wait, let me have a look at that,” Aiden said before he could pocket the glove.
Pacian hesitated a moment, before throwing it over to his friend. Aiden managed to catch
it with one hand, and then turned it over to examine the gem. The whole thing was very
strange, as the back of a glove wasn't a conventional place for a valuable stone. And that
metal band...
Looking closely, Aiden could see engraved writing in the metal, tarnished though it
was. It was not written in modern Aielish, the common language of the K ingdom, but he
did recognise many of the letters. During the years after his experience in the cave, he
spent many nights reading anything he could find about the art of magic. Books were
hard to come by, but the few he managed to get his hands on had large sections in this
same writing.
“Aiden,” Colt said, trying to get his attention. The man had an awful sense of timing.
“Just a moment,” he replied absently. Concentrating, he could almost make out what
some of the words said, if he just had a few minutes -
“Aiden! Heads up!” Colt bellowed, finally drawing the young man's attention back to
his surroundings. Looking up, he instantly saw what had drawn Colt's attention. Fo ur
wolves were slowly approaching them from the other side of the road, teeth bared. They
were lean, hungry, and apparently or hungry enough to attack in daylight.