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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

It wasn't long before the five of them were sitting around the campfire, warming
themselves against the cold. Nellise had the presence of mind to stock up on supplies
before they left town, so they didn't have to hunt for food. Instead, she cooked up a hearty
pork stew and toasted bread over the fire. They conversed idly while enjoying the hot
meal, until Colt brought up an important topic.
“We‟re close to entering the Calespurs,” he grunted, eating slowly to make sure his
stomach wasn't about to violently reject the heavy meal. “We‟ll just be skirting along the
northern edge, but that‟s as close as I want to get. The place is patrolled by rangers and I
don‟t want to run into any.”
“I was hoping to find out what got you kicked out,” Pacian said with a n insincere
smile.
“None of your bloody business,” Colt growled back. “We‟ll be through the forest in
a day or two and then we‟re into the mountains, and the we‟ll see what we‟ll see. I‟m
turning in, but I'll take the last watch 'cause I can't keep my eyes open anymore. I'm sure
you can figure out the rest yourselves, just wake me when it's my turn.” Without anything
further, Colt put down his bowl and lay on his bedroll, pulling a thick blanket over his
head.
“I'll go first,” Sayana said quietly as Clavis set up his bedroll close to the fire. “I'm
not very tired anyway.”
“Fair enough,” Nellise said. “Perhaps I should take second watch then?” Aiden
shook his head.
“You do so much for us already Nel. I'll take the second shift, you just get some
rest.” Nellise smiled in appreciation, then threw another chunk of wood on the fire in
preparation for the cold night ahead.
A few hours later, Aiden was wrapped in a thick blanket and lying atop his bedroll,
still awake. A cold breeze blew through the forest around them, creating a gentle sound
that should have helped him rest, and yet sleep still eluded him. After a lot of tossing and
turning, he gave up altogether and decided to relieve Sayana early. If he was going to be
awake most of the night, he might as well make the best of it.
Huddling within his longcoat, Aiden looked around for signs of Sayana, whose
location was not immediately apparent. Although the light snowfall earlier that evening
had ceased a while ago, the ground underfoot still crunched as Aiden walked.
A spark of light in the gloom ahead caught his eye. Curious yet cautious, Aiden
moved away from the camp to find out what it was.
He moved in through the trees until he was close enough to make out what appeared
to be a picture composed of light, hanging in the air. A glowing fingertip moved up and
down the curious image, filling in colours on what appeared to be trees and hillsides. The
dim light emitted by the vision illuminated Sayana, sitting with her back to a pine tree.
It wasn't a detailed picture like the ones he saw Mayor Buchanan's office, depicting
people and places with remarkable beauty. This was more like something a child would
create with coloured chalks – primitive trees, large blocks of green for the land, and odd
looking buildings with triangle roofs.
“I didn't know you were so creative,” Aiden whispered as he moved in for a closer
look, startling the wild girl. “I'd feel better about this if you were actually paying
attention to the forest, since you're the one on watch.”
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