adults only


            Kestrel Windhover, a Windsinger of Gale, has wooed and won his mate in the approved Windsinger tradition. Now he has lost her, and is desperate to have her back. He is talking to his friend, Robin Deceiver…



'Alida!' Robin's face registered amazement. 'Never say that mate of yours is an Amazon Mercy from Alida?'


'Artemis was a Mercy,' admitted Kestrel. 'She came to me when the Daemons attacked me and she healed me of daemonic poison.'


'That's impossible.'


Kestrel removed his breeches and showed his friend the faint scar that was all that remained of his ordeal. 'I was out of my mind with pain, Robin. I was trying to crawl to the cliff so I could throw myself off into nightfall. The she came.'


'And healed you.'


'And brought me life,' said Kestrel. 'I was dying, and all I could think was I'd never get to hold her…'


'You bowered a Mercy? Great gales, Windhover, how could you be so stupid?'


'I thought she was a summersider who had fallen from her kite.'


Robin closed his eyes. 'Ye gales of wind! She leaps out of nowhere—as they do—and heals you of an unhealable wound, and you thought she was a summersider! And you even stuck your rod in her. Didn't she object?'


'We bowered together,' said Kestrel. He felt the singing in his blood as he relived the enchantment of that time. 'She was unsure at first, but I thought she'd fallen from her kite. I thought it was the windride she feared. I never expected… I comforted her, and she held me and—' His voice shook.


Robin opened his eyes. 'Don't go on,' he said. 'I can see you were totally windsmitten. But this is madness, Kestrel. Do you have any idea what those furies do to males who offend them? You were lucky to escape with your rod and rocks in place! She could have blinded you, or killed you in seconds with that saber of hers.'


'I know. She fought off Daemons for me and with me.'


'There you are.' Robin shook his head. 'You're a mighty pair and no mistake! And she just a little jewelwren of a thing…she didn't object at all? She didn't hear what you thought and poke you with that hotstick they use when you told her your intentions?'


'We couldn’t understand one another,' said Kestrel bleakly. 'She was gabbling GalStan, and I—'


'You were in fullblown Wild Moon mode. Of course you were. Traddie to your tailfeathers.' Robin sounded disgusted. 'I sometimes think,' he said reflectively, 'we should drop this Wild Moon nonsense. It's nothing but primitive superstition. I mean—venturing forth with nothing but a staff and breeches? Floating round the cliffs like a blessed eagle? It leads to all kinds of madness. Zeph Faireye never came back from Wild Moon, and they found Dove Favor's body—what was left of it—just two moons ago.' He sighed. 'I was sorry about Dove. I would have bowered and bonded with her if she'd wanted it. But no—she had grand notions about finding a handsome stranger and enacting some kind of archaic ritual. You and she would have made a good pair.'


'You are going on Wild Moon yourself,' pointed out Kestrel.


'So I am. Just shows what a hold the notion has on us. Maybe I'll find me a summersider lass and woo her into my bower with my tongue of honey. I've done it before.'




'I can make them believe anything,' Robin continued restlessly. 'And the sad thing is, I can make myself believe it too. Unfortunately, it doesn't last beyond the bower so the bond doesn't take. I could have made you believe I was hot for your tongue in my mouth, and I could have milked you with good cheer… but you said your Mercy was gabbing GalStan. Didn't she think to say; "No bowers for me, I'm a sworn virgin?"'


'I didn't speak it—then.'


Robin cast up his eyes and clasped his hands. 'Kestrel, Kestrel! Traddie, as I said. She'd have caught your meaning, though, if you'd told her what you wanted. They always do catch your meaning.'


'Her translator was broken.'


'And so it all fell into place,' said Robin. 'You bowered her out of objecting. And now you think your Mercy has been dragged home to Alida by one of her fellows and you want to follow her.'


'I will do anything to have her back,' said Kestrel.


'What if she doesn't want to come? What if she's recovered from the bower-madness and wants to forget you? Would you still have her back against her objections?'


'Not then. No. Then I would beg her pardon and keep on fighting Daemons until they kill me.'


'Never mind the Daemons, the Mercies will kill you. After doing various unpleasant things to make you wish you were dead already.'


Kestrel's jaw hardened. 'I have to try.