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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

The polished wooden halls of the inn were freezing cold, so he headed straight for
the common room and its huge fireplace. When he entered, Aiden was somewhat startled
to see the scattered remains of several chairs and last night‟s patrons sprawled
haphazardly around the room.
Curiously, a few local patrons were enjoying their breakfast in amongst the
destruction as if nothing were amiss. Seeking to fit into this strange new culture, Aiden
moved towards the bar, picking his way carefully through the comatose patrons so as not
to step on any delicate areas. The bartender this morning was a plump young woman with
a rosy-cheeked smile wearing a frilly red dress.
“Morning young master,” she greeted Aiden as he sat down on an unoccupied and
still intact stool. “Can I get you something?”
“A plate of whatever you have for breakfast,” he ordered. “Is this a regular
occurrence?”
“Breakfast?” she asked, seeming confused. “Happens around about this time every
morning, last time I checked.”
“Ha, yes, actually I was referring to the wreckage,” Aiden clarified.
“Oh that,” she nodded, as if she hadn't noticed current contents of the common room.
“Maybe once a week, depending on how long some crews have been at sea.” A reflective
look crossed her cherubic features. “Not sure what started this fight though. They all
seemed to be enjoying themselves for most of the evening.”
“I noticed they‟re still lying on your floor and haven't been arrested,” Aiden
remarked.
“The guards have got better things to be doing than throwing these lads into gaol,”
she smiled knowingly in reply. “They gave up trying to keep the peace in this place a few
weeks ago. But that's fine, the boys are only hurting' themselves. Anyway, let me get you
something to eat, handsome.”
Aiden turned to lean back against the bar while he looked with amusement at a few
of the locals slowly rising like the dead from the grave, groaning and clutching their
heads. From amongst the wreckage of a table, a familiar figure emerged. Aiden cracked a
grin when he saw it was Colt, beaten and bloodied but still in one piece.
“That'll show the bastards,” he croaked, shambling towards the stairs, completely
oblivious to Aiden's presence.
When his plate of food arrived, he focusing on his mea l and thought briefly about the
close proximity of the old dwarven city of Ferrumgaard, only a few days travel to the
west from Culdeny. The place must have been looted many times in the last century,
especially being so close to a major human settlement. Part of him still hoped the strange
artefact he sought was buried somewhere in its depths.
The alternative was that the place was so dangerous that nobody had gone near it
since the fall. If that was the case, then it would be a grave risk to even attempt to explore
it.
“I‟m looking for some information,” he quietly asked of the cherubic girl, pushing a
silver noble towards her on the counter. “Do you know anyone familiar with the old city
of Ferrumgaard?” The woman took the silver piece and appeared thoughtful. Before she
could answer, a short, bearded man sitting a little further along the bar spoke up.
“Sorry but I couldn't help but overhear. Yer wantin‟ to know more about
Ferrumgaard? I can help ye out with that.”
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