Nature Abhors a Vacuum
coming from the house proper beckoned him forwards, and before he knew it, he had
knocked softly on the front door.
It opened a few moments later and before him stood his mother, her mouth agape at
the sight of her long lost son. A moment after that, Aiden was engulfed in a crushing hug,
which he gratefully returned.
â€œAiden, it's so good to see you again,â€ she whispered, pulling back from the embrace
to examine her son with tears of relief in her careworn blue eyes. â€œWe've been so worried
â€œI'm fine,â€ Aiden assured her, â€œyou needn't have worried.â€
â€œI'm your mother Aiden, it's what I do,â€ she informed him with a wan smile. â€œPlease,
come in out of the cold, you must be freezing.â€ Aiden stepped inside, grateful for the
blazing fireplace that took the chill out of the air. The familiar surroundings of his
childhood home put him at ease, and for a few moments it was like he had never le ft.
â€œWhat is all this?â€ his mother asked, gesturing at his equipment, and in particular,
the sword hanging from his hip. â€œHave you joined the army?â€
â€œNo, nothing like that,â€ Aiden hastily replied, taking off his leather gloves to warm
his hands over the fire. â€œIt's a bit dangerous out there at the moment, and it pays to have
â€œDon't lie to your mother,â€ she said dryly, closing the door. â€œYou're still chasing
answers to that cave, aren't you?â€ Aiden never could get away with lying to his parents,
and his mother in particular had a knack for sniffing out the truth.
â€œYou know how important it is to me,â€ he replied sombrely, quietly disappointed
that the relief of a warm welcome had turned sour so quickly. There was a long, awkward
pause between them, the memory of their last meeting still fresh in their minds.
â€œWell, you're home now at least,â€ she sighed, walking back into the kitchen to tend
to the pot of stew that bubbled over a little stove. â€œWe shall talk with your father and
resolve this nonsense once and for all, and you can put that sword away and things can
get back to normal.â€ Aiden looked over at her, busily preparing the evening meal, trying
to pretend everything was the way it had been a few months ago.
â€œHe's not staying,â€ came the voice of his father from a nearby doorway across the
room. The door connected to the workshop outside and he stood there, looking at Aiden,
his expression unreadable as he wiped his hands with a rag. He was taller than Aiden,
with broad shoulders and dark hair that was greyer than the young man remembered,
framing an honest face unaccustomed to deception. â€œAiden is just passing through, isn't
that right son?â€
â€œDad's right, I'm on my way south with some allies,â€ he said. â€œWe're going to be
assisting the local militia with the akoran problem.â€ Aiden's mother looked up at him,
â€œI thought you said you hadn't joined the army?â€
â€œI've been up to Culdeny recently and tried to get the mayor to send down some
more patrols to this region,â€ he explained,â€ but they're short-handed everywhere. The
threat down here is very real, and we're trying to remove that threat before they escalate
their attacks. I'm trying to defend the town, but Iâ€Ÿm doing it on my own terms.â€
â€œShow her some respect, Aiden,â€ his father cautioned. â€œYour mother has been
worried sick about you.â€