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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“I'm sorry, my mind wandered,” she apologised, casting a hand across the image
hovering in the air before her, causing it to vanish. They were plunged into darkness for a
moment, until a tiny candle of flame appeared above Sayana's upturned palm. “I was only
doing that for a few minutes, I swear.”
“Don't worry about it,” Aiden said dismissively. “Despite what Colt said earlier, we
appear to be fairly safe for the time being. What you were doing just now was quite
astonishing actually, I'm rather impressed.”
“It's a simple illusion,” she shrugged, standing up and dusting snow off of her leather
trousers. “I used to do it all the time when I was little, but in the past few years I didn't
really have the strength to waste on something so impractical.” Aiden nodded in
understanding, remembering the condition she was in when they first encountered her.
“I was wondering if I could ask you something personal,” he began hesitantly. “I
noticed your ears yesterday, and...”
“You were wondering about my heritage,” she finished for him. “I think the answer
is obvious, and I would ask you not to mention it to anyone else, Aiden. There are people
who do not like the idea of interracial couples.”
“Rest assured, I won‟t tell anyone,” he replied earnestly. “Just tell me, was it your
mother or father who was elven?”
“My mother,” she explained softly. “My father is one of the akora, the tribal people
living in the southern mountains of this land.”
“I had guessed one of your parents was,” Aiden confirmed softly. “But I have no
idea how two such diverse people could have met.”
“Nor do I,” she whispered. “I have few memories of my parents, but I do know that
it was my mother who had the talent for sorcery. I believe I inherited my powers from
her, though it is just that, a belief.”
“I understand the akorans don‟t tolerate sorcery amongst their people,” Aiden said
uncomfortably. “I find it fascinating they accepted her into their society.” Sayana didn't
reply immediately. When she did, her voice was shaky.
“They didn't. My shift is at an end, Aiden, and I am tired. I must go and rest, please
take over.” Before he could apologise, Sayana rushed past him and headed for the camp.
Aiden silently cursed himself for touching upon an apparently emotional subject.
He settled into his shift easily, taking the time to wander around the camp perimeter
as he looked for any threats. As he suggested to Sayana earlier, it was a quiet night and he
saw nothing of interest.
When the time came for Aiden to get some rest, he quietly roused Nellise from her
sleep before lying down on his bedroll once more. This time, he had no trouble drifting
off, with the soothing sounds of the wind sighing through the trees.
* * *
His dreams were especially vivid that night, as he once more lived through that
fateful day in his past as if it were absolutely real. A sudden blow on his chin stunned
Aiden as he crashed down the hole in the forest in Cairnwood. Bewildered and smarting
from half a dozen scrapes and bruises, Aiden struggled to clear his head, trying to figure
out what had just happened. The daylight had disappeared, except for a small shaft that
came from above to pierce the darkness around him.
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