Nature Abhors a Vacuum
â€œWeâ€Ÿre pretty sneaky,â€ Pacian said with a wink at the lovely woman. â€œIâ€Ÿm sure we
can find a way around them.â€
â€œAnd then what?â€ Nellise pressed. â€œIf the roads are still dangerous for merchants the
town is no better off.â€
â€œI hope youâ€Ÿre not suggesting that we fight them?â€ Aiden asked incredulously.
â€œThatâ€Ÿs for the town guards to deal with.â€
â€œNot that we canâ€Ÿt handle ourselves, mind you,â€ Pacian added with a dash of
â€œWell thatâ€Ÿs good to know, but have you noticed an abundance of guards in town of
late?â€ Nellise inquired pointedly. â€œMost of them were recruited by the King when his
army swept through town recently. I doubt those who remain are up to the challenge,
which is why weâ€Ÿre stuck here. But, I have an idea.â€
She turned and caught the attention of Colt, who still sat at the bar nearby. He glared
at her curiously for a moment befo re heaving his bulk off the stool.
â€œWhat?â€ he asked rudely. Aiden knew where this was headed and groaned pre-
â€œWonâ€Ÿt you join us, Colt?â€ Nellise offered, gesturing to an empty chair. â€œI might
have some work for you.â€ The big man seemed to consider this for a moment before
accepting the invitation.
â€œWhatâ€Ÿs the job?â€ he grunted, ignoring Aiden and Pacian completely.
â€œIf Iâ€Ÿm not mistaken, you are wearing the attire of a Royal Ranger,â€ Nellise
remarked. â€œThese two young gentlemen and I wish to travel north and require an escort.â€
â€œI should point out that we donâ€Ÿt have money to pay you,â€ Aiden interrupted before
things got out of hand, words which Colt seemed to take issue with.
â€œIâ€Ÿm not a bloody mercenary,â€ he growled. â€œI work for the King so keep your coins
â€œIf youâ€Ÿre a soldier, why arenâ€Ÿt you with the Kingâ€Ÿs army with the rest of them?â€
Pacian asked with a sly expression.
â€œNone of your business,â€ Colt answered with a spiteful glare. â€œItâ€Ÿs a moot point
anyway, as that damn fool O laf wonâ€Ÿt let anyone in or out of town.â€
â€œWeâ€Ÿre going to see him about that,â€ Aiden warned, determined to find a way out.
â€œI went and spoke to him a few days ago myself. Told him I'd throttle the pompous
bastard if he didn't let me out of here.â€
â€œThe fact that you are still here leads me to think that you weren't altogether
successful,â€ Aiden observed dryly. Colt looked a little ashamed as he reluctantly nodded.
â€œHe called the guards on me. Took a knock to the head from one of their billy-clubs
and woke up in the local barracks.â€
â€œOh Colt,â€ Nellise admonished, shaking her head. â€œForce isn't going to work here.
Olaf requires a delicate touch.â€
â€œI propose we all go over there and calmly explain the situation to him, and how
critical it is that the gates be opened once more,â€ Aiden suggested. â€œWe wonâ€Ÿt threaten
himâ€ - Colt gave him a sour look but remained silent - â€œbut we're not going to leave until
we get what we need.â€ Tom ambled over from the bar with a plate of food, placing it on
â€œCheers mate,â€ Colt rumbled. â€œLook, getting out of town is one thing, but fighting a
bunch of bandits is another. I mean, look at you - a couple of unbearded lads and a lady