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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Two dozen?” Aiden exclaimed, practically leaping out of his chair. “And you want
the five of us to fight that many? No way, not a chance.”
“Who said anything about fighting?” O laf said, frowning. “All you'd be required to
do is neutralise their leader, and the rest would most likely disperse.”
“And on what are you basing this very flimsy theory of yours?” Aiden asked, his
eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“The document you retrieved for me from Merin's house,” O laf replied after a
moment of thought. “How far through it did you read?” Aiden stared at the ascetic
mayor, wondering what he was hinting at. He recalled the incriminating document in his
mind, and although he didn't remember the exact figures from all of the transactions,
Aiden did recall that other names were on that list. Other criminal associates.
“Are you trying to tell me that you personally know who's heading the bandits out
there?” he asked with measured words.
“They are not so much bandits, as disgruntled employees looking to get paid,” O laf
finished, turning a paler shade as he did so. Aiden was speechless for a moment, and then
roughly a thousand questions spun through his mind, simultaneously.
“They are your thugs, the ones that were hired to extort businesses in Culdeny,” he
shouted accusingly. “This entire situation is your fault!”
“Their leader‟s name is Fletcher. I had rarely dealt with thugs before, but he seemed
to know what he was doing, right up until the point he started taking a large cut of the
takings. That‟s when things started to go awry.”
“You couldn‟t control him,” Aiden stated flatly. There was a moment of awkward
silence before O laf continued speaking.
“Staying focused on the matter at hand, I want you to head north, find the leader of
this group and remove him.”
“I would have thought you'd want him dead,” Aiden cut in sarcastically. “You know,
to keep him silent. About your crimes.”
“I don't want any more innocent deaths on my conscience if I can help it,” O laf
protested. “I know you think very little of me at the moment, but I never meant to harm
anyone. The whole affair has been blown out of all proportion, and I need your help once
“You mean you need the help of the others as well as myself,” Aiden corrected. “I'm
guessing you didn't bring them in to hear this, because Pacian would blackmail you,
Nellise would probably turn you in, and Colt would just punch you in the face. Or kill
you, depending on how hung-over he was. You expect us to take on that many men?
Trained killers? Preposterous.”
“Hardly trained killers,” O laf corrected. “Mere thugs with a sense of entitlement.
Also, I believe you underestimate yourselves. I hear that girl you found in the mountains
is a sorceress.”
“So? O laf, she's a girl, not a secret weapon. And I'll tell you something else - we only
made it through to Highmarch because of Nellise's healing. Without her, we would have
all bled to death and been eaten by wolves. We can‟t get to the boss of these thugs
without going through two dozen armed men. It‟s suicide, plain and simple.”
Olaf sighed and leaned back in his comfortable chair, tugging his grey moustache
thoughtfully. Aiden also settled back into his seat, trusting that he'd made his point