The Wizard and Shadows
One will come who will not carry a shadow. One will come that will walk always in the sun. One will come to free the north.
--Prophecy of the Sage Sha'alga'ar, the year 1985 (Translation into the common tongue completed in 3042)
Refugees had started arriving in the valley even before Winter began. They came from the north, fleeing to the southern plains and valleys to get away from the war between the Elves and Dwarfs that consumed the lands north of the Firewater Mountains. The Môrevallei Valley had always been a quiet place, keeping its own to its own, wary of travellers and even more wary of the strangers that arrived daily and even sometimes slept in the muddy streets.
She'ne'ar, wizard of the seventh order, arrived in town on the first Wednesday of the fifth month. He was following a small band of ragged people. His own scarlet robe was tattered. His dark, pointy hat had long since lost its shape in the daily rainstorms that plagued these lowlands. But he still had his staff of magical goldwood – and that counted for a lot in the world of wizards. He strode to the inn's common room where room was at once made for him by the fire. He sat down and lit his pipe while he waited for his tankard of spiced ale to arrive. Though he stared into the fire, his ears did not miss one word of the conversations around him. It was not only humans that fled the war in the north. Talk among the locals and refugees were of people dying strangely in the night. Not the doing of nature, the poor folk seemed to have fought some kind of demon that only they could see. Something wrought by the Dark Lord of old, no doubt, sent south to place the free peoples in bondage. She'ne'ar sighed. He knew the beings' true nature. He had found the shadows.
To lighten the mood one of the less sober gents began a rendition of "Bring me another partridge or I'll drink all you beer". It was after the fourth chorus that the wizard slipped away to the dark streets. It was nearing twelve o'clock. He took a small object from one of the pockets sown into his robe. One could call it a compass, though it did not show direction, but where the shadows lay. He wiped a strand of grey hair from his eyes and brushed against the burn scar he had sustained after his first clash with a skadu'sding – a shadow being.
The roads were dimly lit by moonlight and everywhere he could see figures moving stealthily or lying in a bundle under an eave. Here and there a fire had been lit and the faces crowding around the flames looked out at the dark with fear. Most seemed to scared to sleep. This had to be the village. The shadow beings were close; he could feel their taint. The Dark Lord had found a way to make them, and used them as agents in his armies. He never counted on being utterly defeated by the armies of his enemies. Those that had fought him never counted on his twisted creations still attacking them from the dark three hundred years later.
"Wys julself!" he said under his breath in the old tongue, hoping to lure them forth.