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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Good, because I don't want to stay here longer than we need to,” Aiden muttered.
“Did you kill them?” he asked of Colt through clenched teeth. The big ranger shoved the
tip of his sword into the ground next to him and leaned heavily on it.
“We took three down, but the rest ran off. The one that got you was wounded by a
crossbow bolt, which I guess is what saved you.” Aiden gave him an inquiring look, but
Colt simply nodded towards Nellise.
“I am not without talent,” she offered modestly. “And crossbows are not
tremendously difficult to use.”
“Well, thanks, I -”
“Hush,” Nellise ordered, focusing on the task at hand. Aiden la id there for several
minutes, feeling the healing energies flow through his leg while Colt and Pacian stood
guard. Eventually Nellise slumped down and removed her hands from the wounded area.
“I have stopped the bleeding,” she said. “I would advise that you not exert yourself
much for the next day or two, but I know that we don't have that option at present.”
Aiden sat up, gathering his strength a little before attempting to stand.
Colt offered a hand, which the wounded young man gratefully grasped. The big
ranger hoisted him up with ease, making sure before letting go that Aiden wasn't about to
fall over. He carefully put some weight onto the wounded leg and found it was able to
hold him.
“I'll be fine,” he assured the others, unsure if he spoke the truth. Nellise stood up and
wearily walked over to the cart. She leaned over and picked up the crossbow she had
used and slung it over her back. Given her chapter‟s reluctance to fight, seeing her take
up the weapon was a move laden with hidden meaning.
“Do you still think we can make it to Highmarch this evening?” she asked while
strapping a pouch of crossbow quarrels to her belt.
“O nly one way to find out,” Colt answered, hefting his sword over one shoulder and
recovering his longbow. For the first time, Aiden noticed the big man's left arm had been
savaged, the leather sleeve having been torn through to the skin beneath. “It looks worse
than it is,” Colt mentioned, noticing Aiden's attention. “You look like you've been
through a slaughterhouse, mate. Just worry about your own injury.”
Despite Colt's bluster, they travelled at a casual jog at first. Aiden was reluctant to
put too much weight on his leg, for it soon became clear he wouldn't be able to move
much faster than this without ripping open his wound once more. He did the best he
could, favouring his good leg and trying not to slow the group down.
Pacian and Colt took the lead, while Nellise hung back with a look on her face that
Aiden would term as 'casual concern'. He gave her a reassuring wink, which he then
regretted as it could be misconstrued as something else entirely, something suggestive.
Nel didn't seem to be inclined to misinterpret him, however, and gave him a quick nod in
return. After another hour of travel the pain in Aiden's leg became more acute. He didn't
mention it to the others, though he figured they'd notice him slowing down.
Colt called for a break around noon, though how he could determine the time with
any degree of accuracy was anyone's guess. The sky was completely obsc ured with
cloud, and the air had grown progressively colder as they had gained altitude. By the time
he slumped down against a nearby tree, Aiden realised he probably wouldn't have been
able to keep going for even another ten minutes. Nellise went over to talk to Colt, and