A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows by Poul Anderson. Chapter 9, 10, 11, 12

“For us both,” he said as though dazed.

Chives brought in an omelet and fresh-baked bread.

{From a dealer in Thursday Landing, Kossara rented an aircamper and

field equipment, bought rations and guidebooks, requested advice. She

needed information for its own sake as well as for cover. On the long

voyage here–three changes of passenger-carrying freighter—-she had

absorbed what material on Diomedes the Shkola in Zorkagrad could supply.

That wasn’t much. It could well have been zero if the planet weren’t

unusual enough to be used as an interest-grabbing example in certain

classes. She learned scraps of astronomy, physics, chemistry, topology,

meteorology, biology, ethnology, history, economics, politics; she

acquired a few phrases in several different languages, no real grasp of

their grammar or semantics; her knowledge was a twig to which she clung

above the windy chasm of her ignorance about an entire world.

After a few days getting the feel of conditions, she and Trohdwyr flew

to Lannach. The resident had not actually forbidden them. In the towns

along Sagna Bay, they went among the gaunt high dwellings of the winged

folk, seeking those who understood Anglic and might talk somewhat

freely. “We are from a planet called Dennitza. We wish to find out how

to make friends and stay friends with a people who resemble you–”

Eonan the factor proved helpful. Increasingly, Kossara tried to sound

him out, and had an idea he was trying to do likewise to her. Whether or

not he was involved in the subversive movement, he could well fear she

came from Imperial Intelligence to entrap comrades of his. And yet the

name “Dennitza” unmistakably excited more than one individual, quick

though the Diomedeans were to hide that reaction.

How far Dennitza felt, drowned in alien constellations! At night in

their camper, she and Trohdwyr would talk long and long about old days

and future days at home; he would sing his gruff ychan songs to her, and

she would recite the poems of Simich that he loved: until at last an

inner peace came to them both, bearing its gift of sleep.}

Flandry always dressed for dinner. He liked being well turned out; it

helped create an atmosphere which enhanced his appreciation of the food

and wine; and Chives would raise polite hell if he didn’t. Kossara

slopped in wearing whatever she’d happened to don when she got out of

bed. Not to mock her mourning, he settled for the blue tunic, red sash,

white trousers, and soft half-boots that were a human officer’s ordinary

mess uniform.

When she entered the saloon in evening garb, he nearly dropped the

cocktail pitcher. Amidst the subdued elegance around her, she suddenly

outblazed a great blue star and multitudinously lacy nebula which

dominated the viewscreen. Burgundy-hued velvyl sheathed each curve of

her tautness, from low on the bosom to silvery slippers. A necklace of

jet and turquoise, a bracelet of gold, gleamed against ivory skin.

Diamond-studded tiara and crystal earrings framed the ruddy hair; but a

few freckles across the snub nose redeemed that high-cheeked,

full-mouthed, large-eyed face from queenliness.

“Nom de Dieu!” he gasped, and there sang through him, Yes, God, Whom the

believers say made all triumphant beauty. She breaks on me and takes me

like a wave of sunlit surf. “Woman, that’s not fair! You should have

sent a trumpeter to announce you.”

She chuckled. “I decided it was past time I do Chives the courtesy of

honoring his cuisine. He fitted me yesterday and promised to exceed

himself in the galley.”

Flandry shook head and clicked tongue. “Pity I won’t be paying his

dishes much attention.” Underneath, he hurt for joy.

“You will. I know you, Dominic. And I will too.” She pirouetted. “This

gown is lovely, isn’t it? Being a woman again–” The air sent him an

insinuation of her perfume, while it lilted with violins.

“Then you feel recovered?”

“Yes.” She sobered. “I felt strength coming back, the strength to be

glad, more and more these past few days.” A stride brought her to him.

He had set the pitcher down. She took both his hands–the touch radiated

through him–and said gravely: “Oh, I’ve not forgotten what happened,

nor what may soon happen. But life is good. I want to celebrate its

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