Nature Abhors a Vacuum
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 of
action, though I’ll probably have to omit the numbers we'll be facing.” Olaf 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,” Olaf declared. “Bring me
Fletcher - or a recognisable part of him – 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 grabbing his longcoat and heading out the door in disgust.
Aiden strode purposefully across to the inn, looking around for any sign of his
companions. As he suspected, they were gathered around the fireplace, warming
themselves while drinking soup. Pacian noticed him first, and waved him over.
“About time you showed up, I was wondering where you'd disappeared to,” 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,” the young man 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?”
“Bringing in a bandit to justice, dead or alive,” Aiden replied simply. “Pack your
bags, we're going to Culdeny.”
“I don't see that this is an appropriate use of our time,” Nellise complained as they
passed by hard-working people on the flooded streets of Bracksford. “I can make do with
the supplies we have.”
“A few minutes ago you said you were low on herbs and bandages,” Aiden pointed
out. “And word on the street is this druid Harlin is the man to see for that sort of thing.”
He started counting out coins in his pouch from his share of the iron ore sale. Pacian had
managed to secure a very reasonable sum of money, plus the eternal gratitude of the
“I don't think you realise how the church views people like him,” Nellise continued
in hushed tones. “It's a pagan religion, and I really shouldn't be having anything to do
with him.” Aiden rolled his eyes, hardly believing what the normally unshakeable acolyte