Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Leaning in for a closer look, Aiden could see etched runes around the edge of the
door, familiar shapes he recognised from his long study of arcane devices. Most of them
he could interpret as protective wards which invoked tremendous energies if the door was
touched, but some of them he did not recognise. Whatever they were, it seemed likely
they were all related to keeping people out of that room.
Despite the ominous implications, this actually gave Aiden hope, for it increased the
likelihood of the contents of the room remaining undisturbed for the past century. If he
could figure out how to bypass the protective runes on the door, he'd be able to find out,
one way or another.
â€œDead bodies lying in front of an enchanted door probably means we should be
running the other way,â€ Pacian whispered over his shoulder, startling Aiden, who hadn't
heard his approach. â€œYou actually think you're going to get through that with all your
limbs still attached?â€
â€œI can read most of it,â€ Aiden muttered irritably. â€œThe runes I understand are the
parts that summon fire to kill you, though. It's the section over here that I can't read thatâ€Ÿll
have something to do with switching this off.â€
â€œBut if you can't read it,â€ Pacian slowly replied, â€œhow are you going to figure it
â€œContext, Pace, context,â€ Aiden instructed his friend. â€œI can see runes for 'passage'
and 'authority' near the end, so the ones in between should be related.â€
â€œIf you say so mate,â€ Pacian shrugged. â€œBut if I know locks, it's probably something
simpler than that. Can't imagine dealing with all this every time I wanted to go in or out
of my room, if you know what I mean.â€
Aiden was fairly certain he'd skimmed over just about all the arcane runes ever
written in the years he spent researching, and if he could just jog his memory, he might
be able to recall exactly what they were. His frustration began to build as the answer
eluded him, impairing his ability to concentrate. Finally, he threw up his hands in
exasperation, unable to crack the puzzle.
â€œIt doesn't make any sense,â€ he whispered to Pacian, who was fidgeting madly.
â€œThat rune is nonsense, as far as I can tell.â€
â€œHow do you know?â€ Pacian whispered back impatiently. â€œMaybe it's just something
you've never seen before, though that's hard to believe with the amount of reading you
â€œRunes are basically pictographs,â€ Aiden explained, â€œand each has to represent
something, in some fashion. This squiggly rune represents fire, for example. But that one
right there seems to be complete nonsense, it has no relation to anything else up there.â€
Pacian rubbed his chin stubble for a few moments, then before Aiden could stop him,
reached forward and pushed the indecipherable rune.
Aiden recoiled reflexively, expecting a blast of arcane fire to incinerate them. To his
surprise, the rune sank smoothly into the door frame and then stopped with a solid 'clunk'.
The door opened just a crack and a slight gust of stale air swept past them. Aiden stared
at it for a long moment, and then glared sharply at his friend.
â€œTold you it was simple,â€ Pacian shrugged. â€œAre you going in or what?â€
â€œOne of these days you're going to get your hand blown off,â€ Aiden growled softly,
cautiously pushing the door inwards. He held the torch for ward to shed some light inside