Nature Abhors a Vacuum
â€œWait,â€ Aiden whispered back, wanting to see what the bandits did before they
acted. Two of them were looking around warily, hoping to spot the archers whoâ€Ÿd
brought down their comrades. O ne of the bandits was kneeling down to look closer at the
arrow and bolt gruesomely embedded in the bodies, and as Aiden feared, it was obvious
to the man what direction they had come from.
An arrow shot through the air at that moment, let loose by Colt as it became clear
they were going to be found. He struck one man in the back, piercing all the way through
to the other side of his chest. Nellise shot a moment later but it went wide of the second
man, lodging into a tree. He cried out in alarm and from nearby came responding calls of
more bandits, too many to take on at once.
â€œMove,â€ Colt snapped, driving Aiden and the others to leave cover and run after him.
The bandit loosed an arrow from his simple bow and a second later it whistled right past
Aidenâ€Ÿs ear. Colt drew and shot another arrow as he ran, dropping the brigand as they
rushed past, with Aidenâ€Ÿs heart thundering in his chest. Shouted threats and taunts from
the bandits echoed through the trees, driving Aiden to run even faster. They kept this up
for another minute before Colt slid into another dense area of foliage and gestured for the
others to follow him in.
â€œNow what?â€ Aiden asked Colt as he fought to catch his breath.
â€œSmell that wood smoke? Their camp is close by,â€ the ranger whispered with beads
of sweat trickling down his brow. â€œIâ€Ÿm willing to bet their leader wonâ€Ÿt be on the front
line with his mates, so if I can get a clear shot, I could take him down in one go.â€
â€œThereâ€Ÿs a dense fog moving in,â€ Nellise remarked between breaths.
â€œBrilliant, thatâ€Ÿll help us avoid being seen. Stay low and follow me in.â€
Keeping the noise of the searching bandits far to their left, they moved ahead as
quietly and quickly as they could. It wasnâ€Ÿt long before the distinctive noise of a
crackling fire could be heard just up ahead through the encroaching mist.
They found good cover and Colt peered through the brush at the scene. The sound of
a deep, irritated voice could be heard, giving out orders and clearly not enjoying the news
he was hearing from his people.
â€œI wager thatâ€Ÿs our man,â€ Colt whispered, nocking an arrow ready to shoot. â€œI see
half a dozen with him. Just be ready if this doesnâ€Ÿt go to plan.â€ Aiden tightened his grip
on the hilt of his sword and exchanged a tense glance with Nellise, when Colt took in a
deep breath, then burst into action.
He sprang out of cover and took aim, drawing the string back on his bow and loosing
it in one smooth action. The distinct sound of the arrow striking a tree echoed through the
forest, accompanied by a phrase from Colt that did not instil confidence in his
â€œBloody hell, I missed.â€
There wasnâ€Ÿt time to fall back or consider an alternative plan, for the instant Coltâ€Ÿs
arrow had struck the tree, Fletcher and his crew whirled around and spotted them. Aiden
froze at the prospect of facing half a dozen in a straight-up fight, but Colt didnâ€Ÿt hesitate.
He tossed his longbow aside and drew his huge greatsword, standing ready to face the
large group of brigands.