Kestrel (Mathilde Crowe)
A woman born to wealth and influence and yet drawn to the primal power of nature
Kestrel is an ordinary looking young woman in every way. She’s of averege height, neither breathtakingly beautiful nor trollishly ugly, neither fat nor thin, she’s simply ordinary.
Her hair is reddish brown, her eyes blue, and her sense of humor a bit off. When she tries to be proper and ladylike, things often go badly, but she is unfailingly loyal to those she considers friends.
She is very different from her wealthy and influential father, but when she is angry (which is not often) it is clear that she is his daughter. To most, she seems to be a rather inoffensive young woman, but some wonder if this is her true face or a carefully designed mask.
My mother named me Mathilde Crowe. Now I use the name Kestrel, since my activities are embarrassing to my father, confusing to my mother, and amusing to my brother. So, for the good of all, I am now Kestrel, a druid of the Circle.
I was born during the Nightdragon attack. My nurse said that I drew my first breath at the moment the dying roar of the creature faded away. She also freely and regularly told me that I was cursed and that was why I behaved so badly.
To be fair, I was not an easy child. The other girls I knew were quiet and biddable, neat and tidy. I was the girl with the torn and dirty dress and grass or straw in my hair and that was on a good day. I had pets with me most of the time and spent much more time in the stables than in the house.
Once in a while, I’d be dressed up and paraded in front of my father’s friends. These events almost always ended in disaster. Actually, most of my attempts to be ladylike or conventional end in disaster.
One particularly memorable disaster is known in my father’s household as The Squirrel Incident. I was invited to Princess Amaline’s eighth birthday party. My father procured a bejeweled music box for a gift, but I thought it was boring and decided to get her a much better gift.
I worked for weeks, training a large, gray squirrel. He was wonderful, with a fluffy tail and took to the training fairly well. I used nutmeats to teach him to do tricks and he would do anything for his reward.
On the day of the party, I set aside the music box and tied a big, yellow bow around Sir Nutkin’s neck. He went into the basket and off to the party we went. When my turn came to present my gift to the young princess, I came forward and opened the basket. Sir Nutkin leaped out and landed on the princess’ shoulder. Then, he scrambled to the dining table and began stuffing nutmeats into his cheeks.
By the time he ran out the window, the party was ruined, the hall was a mess, and my father was livid. My younger brother, on the other hand thought it was the funniest thing he had ever seen.
That was the last time my father took me to any gathering at court.
Time passed and I worked to please my father by learning his business. I managed moderate success in becoming a passable, if not brilliant, merchant. The one point of pride my father ever had in me is in my ability to tell when someone is lying to me or trying to cheat me. This helped in learning the business as I am not particularly good with numbers nor do I have the charm my parents and brother were all blessed with.
In any case, by the time I was sixteen, I had my penchant for disaster well in hand and was moving toward being a reasonable marriage prospect for some unfortunate young man. My father placed trust in me and often sent me to make special deliveries.
On one such occasion, my younger brother, Lucef came with me. I was sixteen, he was twelve and we had a grand time in the marketplace dawdling on our way to the delivery.
It was on our way home that we both realized that father had arranged a dinner for a perspective husband to meet me. We were running late and I had to change and do something with my hair, so we needed to take drastic action.
We took a shortcut through a neighborhood we’d never go to without armed guards in a less dire situation. It turned out to be a mistake as we had almost reached an area where guardsmen patrol when we were set upon by a gang of thieves.
They demanded our money and valuables. I knew that my father would be angry if I gave up the gold, so I brazenly told the man no. Lucef looked nervous, but he stood his ground with me, ever the loyal brother.
The man laughed and grabbed me by the arm. I shouted for Lucef to run as the man drew a knife.
What happened next is still a bit confusing to me. Lucef said I just changed into a mountain cat in the blink of an eye. I felt a surge of anger and then, I felt the wonder of flesh tearing under my teeth, blood flowing into my mouth and the pleasure of my claws raking flesh.
I liked it. It was power and freedom.
I tore the young man to pieces. His friends fled and I ran home after I had eaten my fill.
My father’s dinner party was ruined by my arrival. Not only was I late, I was a blood-smeared mountain lion with a severed human arm in my mouth.
Needless to say, the young man at the party wasn’t all that keen on marrying me after that, regardless of how large a dowry my father offered.
Mother was frightened. Father was angrier than I’d ever seen him. I was confined to my room until a solution could be found to this new problem.
Mother and Lucef kept me company for a few days until a representative from the Council of Druids came to take me back to the grove for some training.
My father hoped that they would cure me, as if it were some affliction.
I spent the next four years with the Council.
The Council gave me a feeling of belonging, a place to belong without having to try to be someone else.
Now, they have asked me to go and travel with princess Amaline (yes, the intended recipient of Sir Nutkin).
This should be interesting, to say the least.
The princess and I are actually friends or we were before I went to the council. She often escaped from her confinement and spent afternoons with me and my animals. At first, she just watched from a distance, but then she began to draw closer and we developed a friendship.
She thought Sir Nutkin was a wonderful gift, even if things didn’t go well. She even told me she’d miss me when I went off to the council.
It will be good to see her again.