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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

His gear checked and ready for travel, Aiden threw his pillow at Pacian on his way
out the door, drawing a satisfying groa n from beneath the blankets just before he closed
the door.
“I'm sorry about being late,” Aiden apologised as he approached the table in the
common room downstairs. “I didn't sleep too well and I guess I - where's Colt?” Sayana,
sipping on some broth, glanced meaningfully to her right. Aiden followed her gaze and
saw the big ranger once again sprawled on the floor with a bunch of other unkempt men,
sporting many bruises. Aiden shook his head in astonishment as he joined his
companions at the table.
They talked quietly amongst themselves for a while as Aiden ate a simple breakfast.
Shortly after he'd finished eating Pacian appeared, carrying all his gear and apparently
ready to go.
A light but steady rain had settled in over Culdeny as they left the inn. N ellise
emerged from the door clad in her new breastplate and sporting metal shoulder plates,
forearm bracers, and gauntlets. Her new armour gleamed, even in the dull grey light of
the overcast day, and she looked very pleased with her purchase.
“We gonna stand around yapping or get moving already?” Colt growled from deep
inside the cowl on his cloak.
“Are you sure you're up to it?” Aiden asked cautiously. “I wouldn't want you to
bump into any trees or slow-moving deer on your way.”
“I'll walk it off,” he growled back, not amused. Without further discussion, the group
followed the bruised and hung-over ranger through the town towards the south gate.
Aiden could see that Sergeant Ariel had stepped-up security. Nevertheless, Aiden
and the others managed to exit the city without too many questions regarding the
weaponry they were carrying, and why they were heading south.
Their main concern was Colt's greatsword, but Clavis was also carrying an elaborate
looking heavy crossbow, the likes of which Aiden had never seen before. O nce they were
through the gate and on their way south, he took a moment to ask about the deadly
looking weapon.
“It's a repeater,” Clavis explained, hefting the crossbow so Aiden could inspect it.
“This case holds ten bolts, which drop into place when I work the mechanism with this
lever. Ye can crank out a lot of bolts in a short span.”
“By how much exactly?”
“Depends on how strong ya are,” he winked. They walked along the road at the
casual pace set by their hung-over ranger. Every half an hour or so, they would stop for
Colt to throw up in the bushes, slowing their progress even further. He probably would
have preferred to be sleeping it off back at the inn, but seemed perfectly willing to keep
going despite his condition.
The weather remained fair for the first half of the day, but after they turned off the
main highway and started heading west, a light dusting of snow began to fall, bringing
with it a strong, cold wind from the south. Aiden drew his longcoat around his body to
ward off the chill and lamented that their stay at the Seaspray Inn was probably the last
time he would feel truly warm for some time.
After a brief stop for a cold lunch of bread and cheese, they continued on through the
thickening forest until evening. The snow had formed a thin layer over the cold ground
by then, but Colt was easily able to find dry wood to light a fire.
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