Nature Abhors a Vacuum
of the cloth. Have you even been in a fight before? Have you killed a man?â€ Aiden and
Nellise exchanged an uncertain look, but Pacian didnâ€Ÿt hesitate.
â€œYep, more than one,â€ he boasted with quiet confidence.
â€œSure you have, killer,â€ Colt growled, â€œand underneath this rugged exterior Iâ€Ÿm
actually a petite redhead.â€
â€œSave it, Iâ€Ÿm not impressed,â€ Colt interrupted. â€œIâ€Ÿve fought bandits in the Kingâ€Ÿs
forests for five years and itâ€Ÿs nothinâ€Ÿ to joke about. Maybe youâ€Ÿre tellinâ€Ÿ the truth and
maybe you ainâ€Ÿt, but your mate and Nellise are as green as they come. Donâ€Ÿt get me
wrong, I hear you when you say the townâ€Ÿs in strife, but even with my help weâ€Ÿd be hard
pressed to clear them out. So no, Iâ€Ÿm not going along because thatâ€Ÿd just encourage you.â€
â€œA potentially dangerous confrontation wouldnâ€Ÿt be my first choice,â€ Nellise
answered delicately, â€œbut somebody has to make it through to Culdeny and it seems to
me weâ€Ÿre it. So Iâ€Ÿm going to try, which is more than I can say for you, sir.â€
â€œOuch,â€ Pacian chuckled as Coltâ€Ÿs expression darkened.
â€œSo you lot are lookinâ€Ÿ to break the blockade?â€ Tom interjected. â€œI used to do
caravan escort work back in the day, but Iâ€Ÿm too old for that sort of thing now. Iâ€Ÿm glad
someoneâ€Ÿs thinking about steppinâ€Ÿ up, but I don't think itâ€Ÿs any place for a lady or a
couple of lads to go without someone of more experience helpinâ€Ÿ out, Colt. Youâ€Ÿd be
doing the town a big favour if you went along, mate.â€
â€œWhat, so I'm a babysitter now?â€
â€œI'll clear your tab if you go,â€ Tom offered bluntly. Colt blinked in surprise and
appeared to be giving the offer some serious thought. When he abruptly left the table
Aiden thought he had rudely refused the offer, but then Colt reached down and
purposefully picked up a large sword and a longbow wrapped in oilcloth from a dark
corner next to the bar.
â€œIâ€Ÿll take that as a â€žyesâ€Ÿ,â€ Tom chuckled.
â€œLetâ€Ÿs go,â€ Colt grunted, heading for the door without waiting to see if theyâ€Ÿd
follow. Aiden gave the innkeeper a grateful nod as he passed by, with Pacian and Nellise
joining him as he hurried to catch up.
â€œNot a mercenary, huh?â€ Pacian pointedly asked of Aiden as they headed outside.
A short walk through the muddy streets brought the small group to the mayor's
office, which appeared to be a converted two-storey house. After stepping through the
doorway, Aiden was impressed by the lavish furnishings within, including an elaborate
candelabrum perched on a small polished table. O n the wall above a comfortable looking
sofa hung a painting of a strange desert landscape, and colourful woven carpets covered
Across the foyer, a pretty young lady with narrow lips and large brown eyes sat
behind an oak desk, busily sorting through a pile of papers before her. Although it was
unlikely she missed the entrance of the four people, she nevertheless remained focused on
the task before her.
â€œPardon me, but we'd like to see the mayor, if he's available,â€ Nellise asked politely,
moving to stand before the desk.
â€œThe mayor has only just risen for the day and isn't ready to see visitors yet,â€ she
informed them curtly. Although young, she had great potential to become the irritating,