"When are they coming back?" "When the Vigil is over." "I want to go to the Vigil!" Finn tugged the chair leg until his grandmother ruffled his hair. "It's not for young ones, dear. You know this." Beside them, Helga laid on the floor, legs kicking in the air. "Father says we can go on our tenth winter." She sneered at her brother, "You're only six!" The grandmother's chuckle filled the room, as soft as the firelight. "Something you'll learn, my dears, is that when you get older you need to remember the people who lived before you." "Why?" Finn settled by the chair and began chewing on his sleeve. "Because we wouldn't be here if not for them." "Then why aren't you at the Vigil, Grandma?" Helga was ever the sharper-minded of the two children. Her question brought a flicker of sadness, like the shadows, across the old woman's face. "Even once a year is too much for some memories, my love." "Who were they? The people they hold the Vigil for?" "Well... back then we called them the FateGuard. The held the safety of the city in their hands. There wasn't a day gone by we didn't pray from them, and not a night gone by they didn't fight for us." She nodded to the far wall, where fire-light played across the stone, before lifting her old hands. With a swiftness that defied the wrinkled grey, her fingers and palms came together in shapes. A shadow was formed on the wall - a puppet silhouette of a man in armour. "There was Corben, of course. He was their leader. No one worked harder to keep the city safe." Her hands shifted to make a shadow of a thinner man with flowing hair, whose body seemed to ripple. "And his friend, Aloysius, who they said could turn invisible and see all there was to see." Helga gasped and snuggled closer to her grandmother's chair, propping her chin as she watched the shadows. The fire seemed to aid the old woman's fingers and form the shapes her hands could not. The next silhouette was a robed youth who danced with bottles. "And Atlas the Alchemist, who all the young girls loved." The next shape was a girl wielding chains and a shield. "Except Erilyn, of course. She was the youngest of the FateGuard." "As young as me?" asked Helga. The grandmother chuckled, "Almost, dear. And some said she was in line for the throne." Her hands made another armoured shadow - this one with large fists. "Then there was Alexander the Gentleman, most chivalrous of all the Fateguard. He and his entire line were fated to die inside the walls of Gothenheim." Next, the shadow of another girl wielding a bow. "And the archer, Alyss. They said Alyss would never get cold - that she had ice in her blood and was born outside the city walls." Next her fingers danced, forming a flutter of shadows through which a half-seen figure moved. "Then Eric, the shadow-walker. He taught the FateGuard all they knew and trained them to be strong and brave." The shadows climbed atop each other to form a massive outline. "And Arkavenn the Giant, who knew no pain." She curled her fingers, shrinking the outline and covering it in strips of darkness. "And of course, Leonardo, the bandaged knight. He was scarred by demons but lived, and ever since they said that angels watched over him." Another shadow, of a man armoured like Corben. "Then Derek, the law keeper. He kept the town safe during the day, and no one dared cross him." The shadows receded, growing paler somehow as a man with a long spear moved among them. "And at night Ferrick the light-bearer kept every street lamp lit." Darkness closed in again, forming three shapes - a man, a woman and a hollow puppet. "And then there were the dreaded ones - the ones the people feared as much as respected. Malwin the poisoner, Melody the Inquisitor, and Tahan the golem." The children laughed, wide-eyed as they watched the puppet show, then turned to hug the chair legs. "What happened to them?!" The old woman pulled a book from between the cushions and set it on her lap. "Alright. Just one story before bedtime."