Out from the past.

The bleak grey sky loomed overhead as the sharp shrieks and scrapping screams floated up to it, as did the pillars of smoke. The once small peaceful village of Talore was now a bloody battlefield of piled corpses. A small child concealed under a canopy of fern and falling leaves charred and blackened, the cold wind of winter coming chilled her to the bone. She watched not daring to move as the King Gildor's army cut down the only people she had ever known, each image imprinted upon her mind never to leave, each blood-spattered face a haunting ghost. The screaming! So loud! It tore at the mind. Her home, the house that had sheltered and offered safety, it burned! May the Gods have mercy, her sister and brothers where still in there! She could hear them and NO! She could see them, in there burning like everything else. They were candles, living candles twisting and melting, roasting, their skin peeling away from the heat and their flesh cooking. The fire would not touch her, it would not claim her as it did her world, but it cursed her to live. Then all there was was rain, a heavy, thick curtain of rain.

Nikalee snapped awake. Covered in a cold sweat, she put her head in her hands trying to stop the dizzy feeling that overwhelmed her head and slow her breathing. She cursed under her breath. Would the nightmares every leave her? For the past eleven years they had plagued her. She had never forgotten one detail. She saw everything and everyone she had remembered them so well and yet knew none, though she should. She knew no connection to any of the poor souls that suffered that night, she only knew the fire, in the fire she was reborn, it was her family.

She could still remember the merchant's face that had taken pity on her and brought the young six year old from the smouldering ashes for her home to the peaceful Sanctuary lost within the Dinhe forest. The residence of the Sanctuary took her in. The Sanctuary itself was not like anything in the land of Kenaz, here came selected people of guilds, both of good and evil from thieves to monks, people that excelled in their field. She soon became a pupil to all who would teach her, and was a fine student willing to know everything. Her passion clearly devoted to thievery and the art of assassination even at an early age. The secrecy, the thrill, the ability to hold someone's life in your hands knowing you could destroy them at any time, all appealed to her. But it was the darkness of it all that called her. It was safe there in the dark. No emotion. No death. No sound. Just nothingness, calm and quiet. Her newest ambition was mind raiding; it was not until she had nearly developed her own way of unlocking hidden information from a person's mind that her mentor had discovered her skill. A shadowed flame, was that what she was now?

A silent figure slipped into the dark room. It took some moments to scan the room. There! On the bed, the hunched figure rocking slowly. It hesitated a moment, to check the room once more, something was wrong. A flash of light off metal caught its eye. It screeched a high-pitched note that sounded unhuman as a well-aimed dagger struck the door grazing its head.

"NO! No wait. Nika it's me!" He cried eyes clenched and arms protectively wrapped around the head and then, noting another wasn't coming, he let down his guard. "You did that on purpose."

"Well what did you expect Jorgo?" She answered coolly and then giggled, "You know, you scream like a Banshee having a bad hair day."

"Well I was just being nice and came to see if you where all right." He snivelled. Nika rolled her eyes and the young monk smiled a cheeky childish smile. He was four year her senior, but at twenty-one he acted twelve years her junior. He was her only real friend and when she was not learning her chosen subjects, she was found distracting him from his chores.

"Are you really leaving to go to the Thieves guild in Jinus when the rest of them go?" He asked sleepily ribbing his eyes.

"Yeah" was all she said.

"But why?" He wined.

"Cause I'm not staying in this place all my life!" She snapped, "It feels like a prison. I can't stand it. I am near hating this place and everything in it. I want adventure, I want people to look at me with suspicion, I want people to fear me, I want a challenge, I want to see Kings, I want war, I want to steal treasure beyond value, I want. I want to be free. " Jorgo when to say something then stopped. Nika sighed.

"Look Jorgo, I never asked to come here like you. All I want to do is live. I can't do that if I'm here." She walked to the window, nearly dawn she noted. "You are like a brother to me and that will never change. Anyway it's not like I'll be gone forever. I'll come back to see you." She bowed her head and forced away the tears swelling in her eyes. "Look your making me get all sentimental, you know I hate it when you do that!"

She carelessly started packing. She'd never admit it but she would dearly miss this place and her best friend. As she finished packing she hardened her heart and walked past him without a glance back.

Representatives from the shaded side of society were gathered in the forward courtyard to leave for Jinius, capital of their homeland of Kenaz. The gloom of the day to come hang in the cold light of the dawn, storm clouds rumbled in the distance coming ever closer. The chill of the morning air caused Fangroar to wrap his travelling cloak around him tighter. He a man of twenty four, tall and powerfully built with his sandy blonde hair and deep green eyes, sat on a moss covered slime rock under an old twisted tree with vibrant green leaves, he cursed the weather and his fellow travellers for taking so long. Normally he would postpone such a long and trying journey in such weather but he needed to return to the guild of Thieves, it was rumoured that the guild master was about to choose his successor and Fangroar was one of the main candidates for the position. Young, strong, handsome and charming he had, in his short years, gone very far. He caught sight of one of his rivals for the position he so desperately wanted, his oldest friend Trice. They had grown up together; played together as children, joined the guild together and had risen to some of the highest ranks together. He was one of the few people he trusted, but they where both after the place of power and nothing could stop ether of them from getting what they wanted.

He noticed another waiting for the group to set off. She was leaning on a tree talking to a green robed monk. She wasn't tall or short, with a strong body and pale skin she should have easily stood out, yet she seamed to melt into her surroundings he wouldn't have noticed her if the monk wasn't there. He saw the sharp, hard grey eyes fix on him, analysing him, peering into his soul. Then sunk back into the darkness of her dull grey hooded cloak, and she became a mere shadow in the hazy rain that swept over them as if she wanted to be hidden at that every moment.

"Well I guess you will be leaving soon my friend." A voice, old and rasping called to him from behind.

"Why yes Fallen One." Fangroar replied to the banished mind raider of legends new and yet ageless at the same time. "Fallen One? Who is that girl? I don't recall having ever seen her."

"Who? Oh, yes her." He smiled ever so slightly, "She is a prodigy, my apprentice, well was, there is no more I can teach her in this place. Excellent thief, a talented assassin I must say, and I do not doubt that soon her mind raiding ability will be second to none. I am sending her to Jinius with you. She is going to enter the guild."

"Wait, your taking apprentices? But you know there was to be no more. If the counsel knew."

"For such talent rules will be bent." He stated with an irritated voice and turned to leave, stone grey robes where flung around him giving him a rather menacing profile, even the pounding rain parted for him.

"Hay, wait you didn't tell me who she is." Fangroar called to him impatient with his attitude.

"She is called Nikalee. She was the only survivor when her village was attacked. They say that lady of the flame, Anarya, smiles upon her." He continued on his way to the mossy stone stair of the mighty temple that glistened in the rain, boosting its earthy yet beautiful colours.

"Well doesn't that make you the lucky one?" He sneered and returned to sulking under the tree.

"If you would stop whining and moping for a moment you may actually find that this place is quiet serine." Trice teased as he jogged over to Fangroar.

"I have more important things to do than sit around and waist time in the countryside." Fangroar replied in a grumpy one.

"Oh, yes the position of guild master. Well all I can say about that is that when I get the position I think I'll let you be my right hand man. That is if you learn to lighten up a little." Trice laughed, though he noticed that Fangroar could never take a joke any more. "Has the rainy weather gotten Fangie down in the dumps? Or is the pretty little new girl in the guild getting more attention than you?"

"You should be more serious, I showed you the documents of what is happening in Jinus." Fangroar shot back.

"Don't be like that, they where just rumours. Stress less my friend, nobody is foolish enough to take on the Thieves guild. Not unless they had plans to nock out the Assassins guild too and had an inside contact for both, who would need to know everything about the guilds and I mean every thing. It's ludicrous." Trice tried to ease his friend's anxiety.

"I will only fell more secure about this when I am back in Jinus." Fangroar sighed.

"Well that is only because you have so little faith in our fabulous society. I, on the other hand, am not so stupid." Trice glanced over his shoulder "I wonder what the deal with her is though."

"What? Who?" Fangroar question.

"That new girl, you know. The one that doesn't really talk much stands strong and acts like she'll cut your throat because you stepped on her shadow. I was talking with one of the monks, she didn't know her too well but she said that she had a wicked attitude and evil mind. Then I was talking a groundskeeper and he said that she was really a childish person and laughs all the time. He said that people get the wrong impression of her because she doesn't trust people she doesn't know too well and she also thinks that it is the biggest joke when people think that she is just this heartless creature. Oh well I was told that the false impression she gives is not all that false. She's cute in a brutally-and-painfully-kill-you-in-a- second kind of way. I'm rambling aren't I?"

"Yes you are." Fangroar replied. "If you ask me she is going to be nothing but trouble."

"Well trouble is just what you need and with us two trouble will be all you get." Trice sung Fangroar groaned and let his head fall to his hands. "Now hurry up or they'll have to wait for us."

Nikalee sat slumped in her saddle. She was cold, wet, tired and hungry. Though the rain had stopped in the early afternoon, the clouds had not broken and a chill wind had taunted the weary band of travellers since the rain had ceased. She had never like riding but now she was made sick by it. Her head hidden within the hood of her cloak covering her face and shoulder length dark brown hair, her eyes glanced around the group of sixty-odd people. She only knew a couple but trusted none. She had been sheltered from the world all her life and she knew they knew that she would be, logically, the most naïve but they also knew she had been trained but the Fallen one, shunned from his guild because they feared the vast power that he had collected through knowledge and so they respected and half feared her. All left her alone, except one guy. He had only recently given up on trying to talk to her. She had guessed that he was about nineteen, he was known to everyone in the guild as Trice. She was mindful of his assertiveness; he was trying to hard to be her friend. He was up to something, something that her sudden appearance could jeopardise. She wondered if that was why he wanted her to trust him, if that was why he needed her friendship. But as she saw that he treated everyone else with the same friendly and talkative manner she regretted having pushed him away. She cursed her paranoia under her breath and promised herself that she would lighten up.

The terrain was flat grassland a light green colour and infested with bugs and other insects. In the distance she could see tall mountains blue tinted with snowy white tops towering over the dark and mysterious forest huddled at their feet. She sighed, dusk would soon be upon them they would have to stop soon. Bandits roamed the countryside and preyed on travellers at night, surely they would not risk continuing at night in unfamiliar land, she hoped.

Dawn never really came, only a smothered glow seeping from the clouds overhead. Nikaleea was tired, grumpy and homesick. They had stoped for several hours of rest but pressed on well before dawn, this pattern had gone one for a little over a week. She would kill for a long, hot, relaxing bath and a warm soft bed. She had never though a place could be so far away. The though, why would anyone think of building the capital so far away from the temple? Often popped into her mind. As did, didn't they think that someone would have to travel all this way? To her it just didn't make any sense.

The party planed to reach Jinius a little after nightfall, Nika's heart sunk even further at the prospect of the long dull day. The least they could do was talk to each other, so she could listen in, or sing a travelling song or even share tales, but no they slipped through the countryside as quite as a whisper of a ghost. Trice had seemed to have lost his joyfulness and looked as if he was sleeping with his eyes open. If the guild and their activities were as boring as this she would go straight back home. Nika's childish spirit couldn't stand boredom she needed excitement, a thrill. She had to restrain her self from livening things up. As they plodded along the dusty track their slow pace seemed to move slower than the giant Darcos Toesa, a towering beast the colour of gritty green, a tough hide and a highly intelligent mind. Nika slowly started drifted into a memories one was comprised of tripping-up Jorgo so that he fallen in a pile cow dung, he had reeked for the rest of the day.

Jinus! Fangroar's heart leapt. Soon, soon he would be the master of the guild. Power, wealth, control soon it would be all his! He look around the weary group, they all seemed overjoyed to have reached their destination. He noticed Nikalee rising slightly from her saddle to gaze at the mighty city below. Its grey marble statues of each God and ones of the old Kings, half bathed in the golden light of the setting sun look like celestial beings divided between light and darkness, an eternal struggle within themselves. The tall well crafted buildings were fingers reaching for the sky. Exquisite temples in the east district, central section, surrounded in mystical gardens here each God was represented, feared and loved. The Royal residence, a gloom filled castle of deep grey resided in the every centre. A mighty wall of Orstine river stone hugged the city tightly, making an impenetrable obstacle to any enemy. Turning their mounts they slowly trotted down the hills to the heart of Kenaz. Soon they would be in the warm confines of Thieves guild's central base.