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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Speaking of stupid and nearly dying,” Aiden segued, “what possessed you to try
and wrestle that big wolf at the frozen river? As I recall, you had a perfectly good sword
on your back.”
“You've obviously never tried to wield a greatsword with a wounded arm,” Colt
explained. “Hurt my left elbow in that fight at the wagon, the one you went down in. I'm
sure you remember. Nellise was done in, so I didn't bother her with something so minor.
By the time we fought that big wolf, I could barely lift the bow let alone draw my sword,
so I figured I'd buy you some time. Also thought I could take it, too, but that's neither
here nor there.”
“And here I was thinking you had a death wish or something,” Aiden remarked with
newfound respect. “That was both selfless and brave of you. Thanks.”
“Don't get used to it, I'll probably disappoint you in the future,” Colt muttered
“Can't imagine why,” Aiden deadpanned. Colt flashed him a rare smile, and then
went back to eating. They enjoyed a rare moment of camaraderie before Aiden went back
into the relative warmth of the guardhouse.
As soon as he stepped inside, Aiden suddenly remembered Sayana, and noticed her
bed was empty. Startled, he looked around but couldn't see her in the room. He moved in
closer to check the bed and noticed a scrap of animal fur on the floor. Leaning down to
pick it up, Aiden glanced under the bed itself and saw the wild girl staring back at him
with gleaming eyes.
“O h, there you are,” Aiden remarked, mildly relieved. “You know you're safe in
here, right?”
“The men scared me,” she replied softly. “I was too weak to fight them all, so I hid.”
“That wasn‟t really necessary,” Aiden told her calmly. “They wouldn't have hurt
you, because they're here to protect people like you and me.”
“What is your name?”
“Aiden. I'm sorry I didn't have time to introduce myself earlier. Why don't you come
out and have something to eat with us?” Sayana didn't move immediately, so Aiden gave
her a reassuring smile.
“Do not think of me as a child, Aiden,” she growled softly. She rolled out the other
side of the bed and rose to her feet slowly, heading over to the table to fetch something to
eat. Aiden followed, examining her carefully as she went past. Her bright red hair was
wild and unkempt, and her skin seemed to be very fair, but covered in thin layers of dirt
and grime. Nellise had come out from under the blanket and clothed herself, so they all
sat around the small table to enjoy the hot soup and freshly baked bread.
“How are you holding up after our recent experiences?” Aiden asked of Nellise, who
ate her meal in silence. She glanced knowingly at him before replying.
“Nothing I was taught in all my years at the Church prepared me for what I faced
over the past two days,” she answered eventually. “I have prayed for strength and
wisdom to guide me through these trials. I must confess I am rather looking forward to
returning to Culdeny, where I intend to remain until the situation improves. I can‟t
imagine what my superiors would say concerning our ordeal.”
“You‟re not going to tell them everything, are you?” Pacian asked pointedly, most
likely referring to the death of Merin back in the town.