Nature Abhors a Vacuum
His train of thought was interrupted by O laf, who seemed to appear in front of him
out of thin air.
â€œAh, there you are,â€ he said with an accusing tone of voice. â€œI was beginning to
wonder if you'd ever show up. Come in then, I don't have all day.â€ Aiden blinked,
suddenly noticing he was out the front of the mayor's office. He'd forgotten all about the
meeting they had planned earlier. Shrugging to himself, he stepped into the office and
took off his longcoat, not really interested in what the man had to say. The office was
empty, except for the two of them.
â€œWould you care for a cup of hot soup?â€ O laf offered.
â€œNo thank you,â€ Aiden refused, rather coldly. He was still upset over the incident
with Merin, and did not trust the man as far as he could throw him.
â€œAs you wish. Aiden, I believe you are a practical young man, unburdened by the,
shall we say, less productive attitudes of your companions,â€ O laf continued. â€œAnd so I
hope you'll accept my apologies for the unfortunate situation with my former associate. I
will say only that I regret ever becoming involved with those people, and don't think for a
moment that Merin, or her friend, were innocent.â€
â€œI'm not going to forgive you, if thatâ€Ÿs what you're fishing for, â€œAiden replied warily.
â€œI donâ€Ÿt like being blackmailed into doing your bidding any more than you, but I'm
prepared to help the town. I trust you are satisfied with the supplies we secured from the
â€œThe food and other sundries were most welcome, but with no military support to
assist us, we are left to deal with matters on our own, and quickly,â€ the mayor explained,
sitting in a chair near the fire and crossing his legs. â€œWe must break through the bandit
forces to our north and open the highway to Culdeny if we are to restore trade.â€
â€œWhat about Coldstream?â€ Aiden asked. â€œThey're closer, and could probably provide
us with some more food, if not a few extra guards.â€
â€œI recently received word from a ranger who was assigned to keep an eye on the
Akoran tribesmen to the southeast,â€ Olaf replied, shaking his head â€œApparently, they are
amassing at the northern edge of their territory for raiding into K ingdom lands. I can't
allow travel to the east until we have some means to provide protection.â€
â€œMy family live in Coldstream,â€ Aiden breathed, his voice tight with anxiety.
â€œI am very sorry young man,â€ O laf sympathised, â€œbut there's nothing we can do for
them. Like us, they will have to fend for themselves a while longer. This is why it is
imperative that we reach Culdeny and seek further aid. That's where you come in.â€
â€œMe? I'm no soldier,â€ Aiden protested. â€œColt is probably the closest thing to a proper
soldier in our group, even with his attitude.â€
â€œYou all survived the trip to Forth Highmarch against difficult odds,â€ O laf reminded
him, â€œI'm afraid that if I send more of our militia guards out to try and make it to
Culdeny, they will not survive, a nd I will have further weakened the town for no gain.
They're little more than farm boys in chain mail. I'm afraid, but we still need them
patrolling our walls.â€
â€œWhat would we be facing?â€ Aiden asked hesitantly. â€œAssuming, of course, that I
agree to this.â€
â€œThe last information that I received indicated there were over two dozen individuals
working along the highway,â€ the mayor replied delicately.