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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Well, as I said, I haven't asked them yet so I'll have to get back to you a bit later,”
Aiden reiterated. “Are you in a rush to set out?”
“Well, I'd like to get movin‟ in the next few days,” Clavis replied, tugging his beard
thoughtfully. “But truth be told, I haven't been able to find anyone else interested in me
little underground expedition besides yerself, so I'm thinkin' I'll be available for the next
month, if nobody else comes along. Still, I'd like an answer in the next fe w days if ya
could lad, just out o' politeness.”
“I am nothing if not polite,” Aiden assured him. “I'll probably get back to you by
tomorrow if all goes well, as I have a few things to attend to. Also, I can be very lazy.”
Clavis roared with laughter.
“Yer all right longshanks, I'll be here, as I have been for the past week, when yer
ready to talk some more.”
“Wait, were you here through last night's brawl?” Aiden asked as he was about to
“Of course,” Clavis replied, quaffing his drink. “I would'na miss a good brawl.”
“How is it you're not injured? Everyone else here looks like they've been through a
“A good bar fight takes practice lad, and I've had a few extra decades to learn a trick
or two,” Clavis explained with a wink. “Not that I go around starting fights mind you, I
just tend to be the one that finishes 'em.”
“Did you finish this one?”
“Surely did,” the dwarf assured him. “Laid out some oversized drunkard in
camouflage leathers who started questioning the lineage of some of these rowdy seafaring
folk. Why?”
“Oh, no reason,” Aiden replied, struggling to keep a straight face as he thought of
Colt. He was heading towards the front door of the Seaspray Inn when Nellise and Pacian
appeared, walking down the stairs.
“Good morning,” she greeted him. “I'm going to head over to speak briefly with the
mayor. You two get some breakfast and bathe, and I'll meet up with you later. I have
something I want to talk to you about.”
They parted ways and after his bath, Aiden did feel a lot better, as if he'd washed
away much of the turmoil he had experienced over the past few days. He didn‟t linger on
thoughts of the battle they‟d fought, though the look on the face of the first man he‟d
killed would probably haunt him for the rest of his days. O nce he was done with the bath
he followed Nellise's advice and bought some new clothes, then re-joined the ladies on
the street a little while later.
They expressed approval of his neater appearance as Aiden fell into step with them
on their way to the mayoral offices. Nellise guided them toward a huge, elegant building
in the crowded market area of the town, an old mansion that had been converted into an
office. It dominated the town square, and was easily the most expensive building Aiden
had ever seen. There were signs of recent work on the house, and it positively gleamed in
a town full of plain, homespun accommodation.
“I guess someone has money to throw around,” Aiden observed dryly, a little
disgusted at the garish display of riches.
“Were you expecting a nobleman to be modest with his wealth?” Nellise asked of
him. “At least he‟s spending his money around town. He is no better or worse than the