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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“It was a terrible thing to see Merin murdered like that,” O laf said, his voice set in an
overly calm tone. “If the K ingdom guard ever found out you and your friends had
something to do with her death, things would go badly for you.” Aiden glared at O laf,
seeing where this was leading.
“If you inform the authorities, we'll let them know of your involvement as well,”
Aiden assured the mayor. “You'll be heading to the gallows, just as surely as us.”
“Either you get us some help from Culdeny, or we're dead anyway,” O laf shot back.
“Fletcher and his cronies will see to that. Aiden, this has to happen.” The two men glared
at each other for a long moment, but the young man didn't have any counter. Deep down,
he knew O laf was right, even if his methods were highly questionable.
He didn‟t like being manipulated like this, but if they didn't get through to Culdeny
they wouldn't get any support for the town, and that would leave Coldstream at the mercy
of any potential raid by the savage folk from the mountains. Despite the estrangement he
felt with his parents, Aiden didn‟t want to see them or anyone else back home killed over
“All right,” he grudgingly agreed. “I'll convince the others it's the best course o f
action, though I‟ll probably have to omit the numbers we'll be facing.” O laf seemed to
relax with relief, standing up to button his vest.
“Excellent, I knew you'd see reason eventually,” he said with satisfaction. “Come
now, Aiden, there‟s no need for this enmity between us. I regret having to hold the
incident with Merin over you like that, but it‟s for the benefit of everyone.”
“Aside from getting out of this town, I don‟t see a whole lot of benefit for myself or
my companions,” Aiden muttered. He despised dealing with the man, corrupt as he was.
“Then I shall give you proof of my good intentions,” O laf declared. “Get the
caravans moving into Bracksford again and I'll give each of you a gold sovereign. That
should garner your friend Pacian‟s interest, at the very least.” Aiden nodded, but didn't
trust himself to reply. He stood, looked down at the hand that was offered but declined to
shake it, instead he grabbed his longcoat and walked out the door in disgust.
Striding purposefully across to the inn, Aiden looked for his companions inside the
common room. They were seated around the fireplace, warming themselves while
drinking soup. Pacian noticed him and waved him over.
“About time you showed up,” he called. Aiden approached but didn't take a seat
when Nellise offered it. She frowned slightly, sensing something was wrong.
“I've been busy,” Aiden replied shortly, misdirecting his anger. “I've got a new job
for us, if you're interested and it pays well too.” Pacian's eyes lit up as expected, but
Nellise remained cautious.
“Not that I'm averse to earning good money, but what exactly does this job entail?”
she inquired.
“Bringing in a bandit to justice, dead or alive,” Aiden replied simply. “Pack your
bags, we're going to Culdeny.”
Chapter Seven
At Colt's insistence, they set out at sunset instead of waiting for dawn, despite
protests from Pacian. The ranger‟s reasons behind this choice were sound.