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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

ground a few feet away, but he had no way of getting there with the bandit keeping him
occupied as both men threw punches in the struggle for the upper hand. Fortunately,
Pacian was underneath at the moment, and while not good for him, it was good for Aiden
He stepped in and thrust his short sword into the back of the bandit, who was
reaching for his own dagger to finish Pacian off. He screamed in pain as the sword
pierced his hardened leather breastplate and fell to one side, allowing Pacian to scramble
free. He grabbed his dagger from the ground and thrust it into the bandit‟s chest, ending
the fight.
They barely had time to recover from the brief but fierce engagement before an
arrow shot past Aiden's ear, and embedded itself into the tree next to him. Turning to see
who was coming, the two young men saw two more bandits approaching rapidly, armed
with short bows levelled at them. Aiden brought his magic shield up and the arrow from
the second archer bounced off as if it were made of steel.
At that moment Colt, his longbow held firmly, appeared from the other side of the
tree with an arrow ready to fly. He took only a second to aim before he let it go, striking
one of the archers in the arm and forcing him to drop his weapon. Two more arrows flew
towards them from the north, one of them bouncing off Aiden's shield, the other one
lodging into Colt's left arm. He snarled in pain but did not cry out. He did, however, drop
his longbow and clutch at the arrow shaft sticking awkwardly out of his arm.
Nellise, following Colt, whispered a prayer as she carefully aimed her weapon at one
of the oncoming men. She held steady for a long moment, and then pulled the trigger on
the crossbow, sending a bolt through the air to strike one of the new archers soundly in
the chest.
“Things aren't going well here,” Aiden observed dryly as Nellise pulled back the
lever to reload it as fast as she could. “Colt, can you still fight?”
“One way to find out,” the big ranger replied, snapping off the arrow at the shaft and
flinching from the pain. Pacian sprinted off towards the archer still coming at them from
the south, snatching up his dagger on the way past and wielding it with his left hand.
Sensing the archer was about to send another arrow his way, the Pace dove forward and
tumbled over the soft, muddy ground, the expected arrow flying over the top of him in
mid-tumble.
He came out of the roll on his feet, showing remarkable agility as he slashed with
both daggers, one after the other at the surprised archer. Both strikes hit home, drawing
blood and surprising the archer with the speed of his attack.
Aiden sensed his friend had the situation under control so he turned his attention to
the north, stepping past Nellise to provide her with some protection. He saw four bandits
rushing towards him, past the single remaining archer whose aim was foiled by his
comrades getting in the way. Nellise let loose one more bolt before they reached her
position, forcing its injured target to slow down. The rest met Aiden head-on, pushing
him back on the defensive. He was hard-pressed right from the start, but he had an
advantage – they didn't see his shield.
Trying a simple tactic, Aiden stepped in and attempted to bash one of the men with
the magical shield. To them, it probably looked like he was trying to slap them with the
back of his gloved hand. As such, his target, a short, balding man with piercing brown
eyes didn‟t see much of a threat, so he took the full force of the shield on his face. The
sound was odd – the shield was not made of any mundane material like wood or iron, and
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