The sun just started to dawn and fill the balcony with bright light. Niema stood there, enjoying the warm rays of this new day while the shadows she had stepped out behind her became smaller and soon vanished. Mornings like these always made her long for the old days where she had travelled the country to fulfil her contracts. She had seen many places, from dark underground lairs to gold-paved palaces, and had travelled with many interesting and entertaining companions. But although there were many, only few managed to deeply root themselves in her memory. With even fewer she had crossed paths again!
Dokan, a paladin of her own kind, she had met not a long time ago as he came though the small town that was near her guild school for young girls. She had heard his voice in a pub next to the street she was riding along for some errands. When she entered the pub, the brawl was at full swing with the tiefling at the center. Since the locals were not too stupid and knew who had entered, almost all brawlers were out of the building before she had fully entered the room. All but one that actively tried, but had his head stuck in Dokan's muscular arms. Once he had let him go, the young farmer had thrown herself at Niema's feet and had apologised. Dokan had only raised his eyebrows and said "Still able to impress the small folk, are we?" In the many hours that followed, they had shared stories from the past under the nervous eyes of the bartender who had made extra sure that the headmistress of the guild school had everything she asked for. The school was known for many good deeds among the locals and brought in good business, but there were also dark stories of people vanishing or found dead. The few witnesses always reported of moving shadows or seeing victims being strangled by their own shadows and although nobody wanted to accuse the school directly, most victims had been known opponents of the school or had directly spoken up against it.
By the time Dokan had to continue on his current quest, Niema had learned much about the late goings-on of distant lands, and especially the fate of some of her former travel companions. Apparently the group had disbanded not long after she had parted.
She turned away from the sun and her memory of the encounter with the fellow tiefling. Faces of some the companions came to her mind: Orestes, Rudha-an, Ghanash, and of course the valiant Vogir. The last face put a smile on her face. The archer that could run as fast away from a fight as his arrows could travel towards it! She wondered what had become of him? What had become of the others? She looked down on the body of the young girl in front of her feet. Hopefully they had a different fate than the young student that had overestimated her own skills and tried to take a short cut to advance her position. The face of the student, when she found out that the shadow she tried to travel along was Niema itself, was telling: Even her better students did not even consider that the shadow connections between all living beings could not only be used to travel along, but could be shaped and controlled at will. Niema smiled. This meant her place as head of the local guild was at least not in danger from within. And only few of her order outside had reached her level and all members of the high council had agreed to a non-aggression pact.
A new thought crossed her mind: She should take a sabbatical and search for Vogir and the others! The archer always mistrusted her but the was some energy between them. What would he say if his own shadow pointed his bow at himself? She could barely wait to see his reaction.
With this thought she ordered the two pupils that had entered on her call to bury the body and make travel arrangements for her. She will leave the school's business to her partner Chada-Ky and take some well-deserved time of for a long overdue search.....