She walked only in the shadows and held the secrets of the darkness in her hands. She could take the night and wrap it around herself, becoming a deeper darkness in the deeper shadows of the night. She knew how to move so her passing was a cool night time breeze from an open window, or the chill of the frost as it settled down on a winter’s night.
When she met the people, she was sent to meet; they died in the night as calmly and as quietly as their own one last sleeping breath.
Ingar was a Shadow. She was one of the Damsels of the Dead, a nun who worshiped the Queen of the Night.
A long time ago, long before any living memory, the Northmen came, bringing their own religion of blood and steel and fire. The peaceful quiet religion of the Southern Kingdom was almost wiped out. The Northmen murdered the Southern Kingdom‘s priests in as many drunkenly inventive ways as they could concoct. The monks they burned alive in their monasteries. But the nuns had it worse. Those that were not raped and taken into slavery were thrown back into the flames of their own nunneries.
Everyone from peasants to kings fled from the Northmen, most trying to get as far away as possible. The priests offered sacrifices and the monks offered prayers to whichever god they thought could save them. But the nuns wanted revenge for the horrors inflicted on their sisters. As the year passed by and the outrages continued, they learnt how to take that revenge.
One by one, slowly at first the kings of the Northmen died. Most died quietly in their sleep. It got so that at times a king could die on the same night the crown first touched his head. It got harder and harder to find a man of the north who would dare be king.
Then the Lords and the Earls began to die. Then their women and their wives died too. Then the slaves began to disappear into the night.
The Northmen entreated their own gods, gave sacrifices. They tortured the Southern kingdom’s priests, monks and nuns, and then sacrificed them too. But nothing changed. Their kings and nobles still died in the night and their slaves disappeared like a frost in spring.
More and more, the Northmen began to believe that this was an unlucky land, despite its warm climate. The Southern Kingdom had fields where the livestock grew fat and the crops did not wither and die in the cold and the damp, but still the Northmen died.
Soon there were no more Northmen left in the Southern Kingdom. Only the burnt-out remains of the funeral pyres of their Kings, Lords and ladies remained as the Southern people returned to claim their old lands back.
The priests and the monks returned, cowed and shamefaced at how they’d let the people down. But the people knew. They had heard the stories of Ingar and the nuns. So they helped build new nunneries. They picked their finest daughters for the calling. All glad to see them go forever beyond the walls of the nunneries, because they knew that should the Northmen ever return, or evil stalk the land once more, then their daughters would be safe there and, like Ingar, they would learn the sacred arts of revenge.