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Cricket and Kestrel Plot Synopsis
- Summer Kestrel, a Bronze Faction Sidereal, is assigned to watch and woo a Twilight caste Solar who unknowingly possesses a major artifact. His mind, however, is on his lover-- Sauda, the Goddess of Midnight.
- Pale Cricket, an albino Twilight caste Solar, is pressured by the ghost of her mother to get married and have a daughter; she has not told her mother that she is barren due to a screwed-up abortion when she was younger.
- Kestrel watches Cricket, intregued and haunted, and other than bumping into her once on the street, cannot find the gumption to approach her.
- When Kestrel returns to Yu-Shan, his friend and Faction supervisor, Breath-Of-Heaven, tells him he has been removed from the case, and that they are now planning to simply kill the Solar and destroy the artifact before the Gold Faction can aquire her and use it for their own ends.
- Kestrel's distracted demeanor insults his lover, and she leaves. Kestrel calls his servants to him to help him dress and pack his most important possessions, and prepares to go help Cricket.
Chapter two, "Blossoms in the Wind"
- Cricket and Sky are preparing for the Festival of Resplendent Blossoms, a Sijanese floral holiday.
- Meanwhile, Kestrel is brazening his way out of Yu-Shan, intent on reaching Cricket before the assassin does. Sauda and Breath-of-Heaven watch him leave. Sauda has told Breath-of-Heaven what Kestrel was saying the previous night; he suggests that Kestrel is just trying to make her jealous. She appears to buy it; after she leaves, it becomes clear that Breath-of-Heaven is being less than completely forthright with her.
- Back in Sijan, Cricket has a late customer, a travelling craftswoman named Five Tears of Forgiveness, who needs an outfit for the festival. They have a discussion about arts and crafts, and the importance of beauty.
- Kestrel arrives outside the city, and uses his Charms to pick up Cricket's trail. He puts on the trappings of a Resplendent Destiny he created earlier (the Lovers), just in case.
- Cricket and Sky go to the festival. Cricket is dreading it, since she knows her mother will try to use it as an occasion to foist a boyfriend off on her.
- Kestrel finds Cricket, and sees Five Tears getting ready to shoot her with an arrow. The two Sidereals confront each other. It becomes clear that they had an adulterous relationship in the past, an event which dramatically altered Five Tears' worldview. She exposits her rather gloomy personal philosophy. Kestrel gets ready to fight her, but she withdraws, citing the prohibition against Sidereal-on-Sidereal violence.
- Kestrel is very relieved.
- Cricket has left the crowd and found a quiet place. She is happy there.
Chapter three, "Hours of the Night"
- Kestrel returns to the festival and dances with Cricket, who repeatedly forgets him due to his Arcane Fate
- In an effort to work his way into her social circle enough to impress himself on his memory, he slips the Bridle of Mercury over Sky's head, ensuring that she will remember him.
- Cloud returns from fetching an engagement ring for Sky to find her dancing with Kestrel. Throwing the ring down, he storms off in a huff.
- Cricket goes off with Orchid under the urgings of her mother.
- Cricket returns home to find a sobbing Sky, who relates the above events.
- Kestrel goes off to a bar to forget his failed day.
- Cricket's mother, outside of Fate, remembers the young man who danced with her daughter all afternoon, and brings him to Cricket in yet another effort at matchmaking.
- Orders go out from the Wyld Hunt that Kestrel is now fair game. Portentious Visitation, an Outcaste bounty hunter in Sijan who occasionally takes Wyld Hunt contracts, gets word and goes to make a quick buck before dawn.
- Cricket fetches Cloud and brings him back to her apartment to reconcile with Sky. When she arrives, she finds her mother and Kestrel waiting there along with Sky.
- Portentious Vision, through the help a ghost, tracks Kestrel to Cricket's shop. Fight ensues.
- Cloud and Kestrel win the day. Cloud returns home, Kestrel goes off to the cemetery to find Cricket.
- Cricket and Kestral talk, and fall asleep in the dawn light.
Chapter four, "An Unexpected Visitor"
- Breath of Heaven calls in favors, and gets the Wyld Hunt called off of Kestrel.
- Cricket goes food shopping, and bumps into a cute little waif named Shoat.
- Sauda sees Cricket and Kestrel together, sleeping side-by-side. She is displeased.
- Breath confronts Sauda about her trying to have Kestrel killed. It becomes clear that they had a past relationship, which ended poorly.
- Cricket decides that she needs to find a home for Shoat.
Chapter five, "Daughters of the Evening"
- Shoat wants to go home with Cricket.
- Cricket, Kestrel, and Shoat deal with an intimidating doorman, and meet Teirel Eventide. The aristocrat is happy to extend his hospitality; he is indebted to Cricket for some past service.
- Kamaria finishes taking a bath. Sauda appears and has a little chat with her, while brushing her hair. It becomes clear that Kamaria was the tool used to set the Wyld Hunt on Kestrel, and that Sauda intends for her to take the fall if things are not "straightened out"... by killing Cricket. It also becomes clear that Sauda is Kamaria's mom.
- Cricket reassures Shoat that she isn't going anywhere (despite her former plans to the contrary).
- Teirel has a chat with Kestrel. He exposits the nature of his debt to Cricket.
- Shoat and Cricket meet Tamsin, the baby daughter of Teirel's dead wife, Dust Moth. Cricket is distraught.
- Kamaria visits Liuwen Mortwright. He readily agrees to do anything she wants.
- Cricket is very distraught. Kestrel comforts her.
Chapter Six, "Lost Children"
- Shoat sneaks to the basement/shadowland and employs some sort of messenger to speak to her "Mistress."
- Breath-of-Heaven approaches a god in the Court of Hours, Asa, for help in bringing down Sauda. Unfortunately, this god hates Breath-of-Heaven and reveals that he loves Sauda.
- Cricket wakes up and finds Shoat missing. She rushes into Kestrel's room, who is still wearing what he wore to bed, which isn't much. When they find Shoat, she's obviously afraid of punishment, and Cricket suggests a picnic to cheer her up.
- Asa accuses Breath-of-Heaven of using Sauda to get ahead within the Bronze Faction, and of having no regard for Kamaria. Breath-of-Heaven does not deny the former, and has no idea what Asa means by the latter.
- Cricket, Kestrel, and Shoat go on a picnic. There's a bit of romantic tension before Shoat breaks it up.
- Mortwright prepares for his attack on Cricket.
- Eventide and Cricket discuss Cricket's feelings for Kestrel, who overhears part of the conversation. Cricket mentions that she will never lose her heart to someone like Kestrel, because the both of them have too much to hide.
- Mortwright sneaks into the house through a shadowland, and runs into Shoat, who summons a soulsteel dagger made from the ghosts of her parents.
- Shoat washes off the blood and crawls into bed with Cricket. In the morning, all the flowers in the room are dead.