Nature Abhors a Vacuum
â€œYes, that man right there,â€ the bartender pointed, quickly pocketing the coin, and
looking as innocent as she could manage in a moment. â€œGlad to help you out, I'll be out
the back cleaning if you need me.â€ Before Aiden could protest, she was already scurrying
through the door to the kitchens. The short man laughed.
â€œTypical woman, takes a man's money then runs off,â€ he chortled. â€œBut ya didn't
wants to hear about women now, did ya lad. Nay, it's Ferrumgaard whatâ€Ÿs on yer mind,
and I'll tell ya what you want to know. The name's Clavis MacAliese.â€
â€œAiden Wainwright. Good to meet you,â€ Aiden said, getting off his stool and moving
over to shake the man's hand firmly.
â€œSo Aiden, what's yer interest in the fallen city of Ferrumgaard?â€ Clavis continued,
sipping ale from a large tankard. â€œNobody goes there and returns the same yâ€Ÿknow.
Changes a man - makes him see his own mortality.â€
â€œI have an interest in the historical aspects of the place,â€ Aiden carefully explained.
â€œSpecifically, some research that was being done before the unfortunate events took
place. Tell me, how familiar are you with the layout of the old city?â€
â€œI'm well acquainted,â€ Clavis assured him, â€œhaving lived there as a lad. Also, I
visited there not two years ago on me own little expedition. Didn't make it past the third
level, afore I ran into some difficulties, but ya won't find anyone more qualified to guide
ya through the depths of ol' Ferrumgaard than I.â€ Aiden gave him a doubtful look.
â€œWait a moment, you said you were there as a 'lad'? That was a century ago.â€
â€œThat surprises ya?â€ Clavis chuckled and wiped the foam from his beard. â€œI'm a
hundred and twenty-three years old, I'll have ye know. We clansmen are long lived
compared to you longshanks.â€
â€œOh you're dwarven,â€ Aiden exclaimed, suddenly making the connection. He
glanced down at Clavis's feet, and noticed they were much higher off the ground than his
own. â€œSorry about that sir, I haven't met one of your kind before. I was expecting
â€œThis must be a real thrill for ya,â€ Clavis joked, drawing a short laugh from Aiden.
â€œSo you mentioned running into some difficulty,â€ he pressed, keeping the
conversation on topic. â€œWhat exactly does that mean?â€
â€œWell, ya know, an ancient underground city and all. Not exactly in the best
condition. Ran into a few collapsed sections that slowed down the expedition. We were
just about done cuttinâ€Ÿ through the rock, when we ran out oâ€Ÿ supplies, so had to turn back.
It won't be a problem lad, if that's what yer thinking. So long as we've got enough
provisions, that rock fall won't be an issue this time.â€
â€œInteresting,â€ Aiden replied thoughtfully. â€œIf I might ask, what's your interest in the
â€œI'm looking fer a family heirloom that was lost during the fall,â€ he explained.
â€œMuch was left behind on that fateful day over a century ago, most of it in the lower
sections oâ€Ÿ the city. It'd be good to bring it back and return it to Stonegaard, where it
â€œThatâ€Ÿs your new mountain home, yes?â€ Aiden confirmed, receiving a nod from
Clavis. â€œI think our goals might be compatible. I'll have to talk it over with my
companions, who may or may not wish to join in.â€
â€œOh ye've got some friends? That's even better. I thought it was just gonna be you
and me, lad.â€