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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“Where probably going to be outnumbered, so prowling around in the dark helps
even the odds,” he'd said. Aiden didn't mention that there were definitely going to be
more of them – how he knew that information would start a line of questioning that
would lead to trouble.
“You sound like you know what you‟re doing,” Nellise remarked.
“The Rangers take down bandits and criminals from time to time, and I‟ve been on a
few of those raids. Of course, I usually had a few more professionals with me at the
time.”
They met at the stables around the back of the inn, fully equipped. Nellise had
educated Sayana on the wonders of currency and for her first purchase, she had
unsurprisingly chosen to buy a battleaxe, giving the petite girl a menacing appearance.
Pacian was a bigger concern. He was grumbling constantly about not having had
enough time to recover from his run through the mountains and the unloading of iron.
Aiden had bluntly impressed upon them the urgency of breaking through to Culdeny, thus
ending any discussion about waiting another day to recuperate.
So there they stood, as the grey light faded from the sky, ready to embark. Aiden
wondered what had become of the wolf Colt had been caring for and received his answer
as the big ranger showed them the beast, very much alive, and apparently not at all
interested in trying to kill him. Although still scrawny, the wolf was sitting on its
haunches observing the small group curiously, which Aiden found fascinating.
“Why is it so docile?” he quietly asked Colt. “I would have expected it to be trying
to get away from so many people.”
“Wolves aren't stupid you know,” Colt admonished him. “He knows we're no threat.
Well, I'm not a threat anyway, since I'm the one feeding and caring for him and as long as
I'm here, he should be quiet enough. Not that it'll matter for much longer, „cause I'm
setting him loose outside the gates as soon as we leave.”
“Well then, no sense in waiting any longer,” Aiden suggested. They stepped out of
the shelter provided by the stables and moved towards the north gate. The companions
were saluted by the two guards, one a boy younger than Aiden, the other a young woman
in ill- fitting chain mail. O laf must be short of guards indeed if he was calling women into
service - not that Aiden felt they were less capable, but he was certain the old-fashioned
mayor did.
“I've received word to allow you all through the gate,” the young woman said. “God
be with you.” She nodded to the other guard who helped her lift the heavy latch and
swing the gate open.
“You might want to stand back a bit,” Aiden advised. “Don't be alarmed at what
you're about to see.” The guard gave him an inquiring look that was answered a moment
later as Colt walked through the gate, the wolf trotting alongside with the others
following a respectable distance behind.
“Is that a genuine wolf?” the guard asked in alarm. “What's it doing within the town
limits?”
“It's been under the care of a professional animal handler,” Aiden replied, thinking
quickly. “It's quite tame, I assure you, but just to be on the safe side, don't try to pat it. It's
still a wolf at heart, you know.”
“O h I see,” she replied, somewhat relieved. “Carry on.”
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