Alenisse had followed the other refugees to the south, fleeing the northern lands wrecked with war. She had been stupid – waiting through all the rumours and never believing that war would truly come. And then it had been too late. The redeemer was not in the north and the wizards were left with no other choice but to flee to the south as well, following the Skadu'sdinge that spread from their Lord, bent on taking on all of the lands for themselves.
She nearly caught up with the wizard She'ne'ar in Dorburg, but found that he had left a day after arriving. He had been like a father to her, and, like her, could feel the tug of the Shadow and know the fear that clutched at your heart as a product of the Shadow. He was moving fast, following the Skadu'sdinge and she would follow him. Perhaps he had a rare gift and sensed the redeemer further south. She felt nothing until she had passed through Dorburg.
The tug on her mind led her into the valley with its various settlements. Terraced fields lay green and fresh and she could almost forget the stench of smoke and battle that had wrecked her home. The people on the farms took in some of the refugees – mostly those strong enough to work or old enough for their pity. She could not stop, no matter how tired she was. Not now. Not with the tug of the Shadow growing stronger. She was gaining.
She followed the road and the tug of the Shadow to a village and the end of the valley. Refugees huddled in the muddy streets, some begging for money, food or work. Some had enough money to rent a room in the inn and or afford a warm dinner. She made her way to the inn, fighting to keep back the tears from fatigue and the pain of her bruised and blistered feet. He would be waiting there, she surmised, waiting for a message or a sign.
She was still some way away when she saw the wizard coming from the inn and stumbling away from her. Her heart beat faster and she pushed the pain in her feet and body aside. With short, nervous strides she followed him through the village. When he spoke in the ancient tongue, she heard the words echo in her mind. The Fear started to grip her and then she, too, started speaking in the tongue, driving the Shadow away.
The wizard turned a corner and Alenisse had to run a few steps to keep up. As she turned into the next street, a blinding pain shot through her mind before pulling away. The Skadu'sdinge knew she was here, the thought flashed through her mind before another flash of pain pelted her. She sank to her knees, unable to fight the pain in her weakened state. Then, suddenly, the pain was gone. The Shadows had found other prey. She stumbled to her feet again.
When she caught up with him, he was already fighting the Skadu'sdinge, his strong voice accompanied by swirling wind. Inside the house she could just make out the boy he was protecting. The people in the streets fled from the place, some making a sign against evil. Alenisse yearned to follow them, to obey the hammering of fear that begged her to get away from this place as far as she could.