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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“After a fashion,” Dale confirmed. “Is this the page here you're having trouble
with?” Aiden nodded. “Let me see... 'The object was dormant when first recovered, but
during my first examination I accidentally pressed one of the nodules inwards, causing
glowing writing to appear on one side of the device. The writ ing appeared to change
every thirteen seconds, and then vanished after a minute - sixty five seconds to be
precise.' How remarkable.”
“Does he mention anything else about the device, such as what happened to it?”
Dale continued reading, flipping the page a couple of times as he went. “I'm afraid he
changes topic after a while. He did mention that the device required further study, and he
would write more about it eventually. Is this of particular interest to you?”
“It certainly is,” Aiden confirmed. “I've been searching for something like this for
years.”
“Can't have been searching for that long, unless you were interested in ancient
discoveries as a small child!” Dale seemed to find that thought highly amusing.
“Long enough,” Aiden shrugged. “Is there anything else at all that you can tell me?”
“I'm afraid not. I can't see any further reference to this discovery. I imagine you'll
need to start looking for his next book if you want to find out more.” Aiden was
crestfallen.
“Who was this person writing in dwarfish? Where did he live?”
“A dwarf, I imagine,” the old sage chuckled. “They‟re always digging around,
uncovering God knows what. As for where he lived, this book is probably over two
hundred years old. He most likely lived in the old underground dwarven city of
Ferrumgaard.” The name didn't seem familiar to Aiden, but if he could find out more
information about this object, he was going there sooner or later.
“Where is this place?” Aiden inquired. “I need to pay them a visit.” He wasn't
prepared for Dale's reaction, which bordered on surprise.
“The city used to be in what we now call the Calespur Mountains, northwest of here.
I say 'used to be' because, I'm sorry my boy, but Ferrumgaard was destroyed nearly a
century ago,” Dale said almost apologetically. Aiden was dumbstruck.
“Yes, from the histories I've read,” the sage went on, “the place was flooded when
the clan struck an underground lake. Most of the population was drowned, and only a
small percentage managed to escape in time. A terrible shame rea lly, for they were such
accomplished artificers and engineers.”
Aiden leaned back in his chair to digest this information while Dale shuffled back to
his desk. He wasn't about to give up, but Aiden had no idea how he was going to gain
entry to a fallen underground city, let alone find a two hundred year old book there.
“Thanks for your help Dale,” he sighed, “You were invaluable.”
“Q uite alright,” the old man said absently, returning to his work. Aiden closed the
book and stuffed it into his pack then he aded towards the door, his head bowed in
thought.
He barely noticed the rain as he walked through the flooded streets, meandering
around the small town as he tried to think. His choices were quite clear – he could give
up and never find out what really happened on that fateful day when he fell into the
strange cave, or he could risk his life and quite possibly the lives of others looking for
some answers.
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