are spirits that ride the morning winds. But
whether they are a benevolent presence or “awful, awful things” is very much in
the eye of the beholder. It is said of some women, often with a disapproving
look and a rolling of the eyes, that “women on their own run in their family”.
Perhaps it is exactly this quality which attracts Windrunners - a call of
kindred spirits, a resonance.
Having lived a lifetime in a brick house, neatly pressed between a husband and two neighbours, these ungainly, inconsiderate women wake up one morning to find a Windrunner dancing around them, for them - with them. And over the course of the day, after the stupor of a decade dutifully spent, a fierce independence comes into their eyes again. By Sundrown, there is rest no more in their hearts, which for so long lay undisturbed and moth-ed over. Then, we say of such women: They have “gone with the wind”. - Husbands and oppressive mothers-in-law: Beware the Windrunner!
Unless you are the one for whom the Windrunners have come, you are more likely
to feel them as an “absence” than as a spiritual “presence”. One moment you spy
a movement out of the corner of your eye, a streaming past, a shimmering of the
air, a ripple in the breeze. The next, it is
gone, leaving no reason to think it had ever been there. Bird song clatters in
the space between trees, hollow air that seems vast now and suddenly empty.
And if you are indeed the prospective eloper, you would hear of their coming long before you see their passing. First, you might hear a song in the wind, as if the very air was singing. In an hour, it will become apparent that the breeze is dancing for you – inviting you to run with the wind, to run with them, the Windrunners.
But of course all this is little more than folklore. How could we, those left behind, know how Windrunners tempt innocent women out of a life well-lived and infect them with notions of independence? Only those who have gone with the wind will ever know what truly transpired in those moments. And as we all know, women who run with the Windrunners are never seen again.
Windrunners can travel without being seen and can generally do anything you
would expect from the morning
lift a skirt here and knock over a pan there, rouse sleepers out of bed, make
people groan or put a smile on their face. However, their signature ability is
to “liberate” women and induce them into flight, to awaken their thirst for
freedom and the outdoors.
Territory. Windrunners travel on the morning breeze. Consequently, anywhere on the Disk visited by morning winds remains exposed to the frolics of the Windrunners. Contrary to popular belief, very few Windrunner “abductions” take place in Gondolwain and Serphelorian lands - perhaps because the women there are already sufficiently independent, and see little need to run away with the wind.
Habitat/Behaviour. Windrunners run with the morning winds, and therefore women (or perhaps we ought to say: husbands?) are at their most vulnerable in the hours between Daybreak and Sunblaze.
Though women may pretend they simply require less and less sleep as they grow old, the real reason one sees so many ladies of advanced years off and about on the streets in those early hours of the day is something else entirely. Almost certainly, they are mothers-in-law ‘doing the rounds’, tiptoeing around the newly-weds’ abode to chase off any wayward wind spirits and peeking in through the marital window to make sure that all is well – which, of course, comes with its own dangers: Trying to save their daughters and brides from Windrunners, they themselves might fall prey to Nightbrewers and Witchmakers. After all, unlike Wild Magic, which sparks in adolescence, witchery is a talent that peaks later in life, after the marriage of one’s offspring.
Mating. Theories on how Windrunners mate differ based on whether one believes them to be wayward male spirits which corrupt wives and lead them into temptation (in which case, there must be a cluster of renegade wives rearing cots of baby-Windrunners somewhere over the mountains, having caught the hail whilst trying to run away from the rain); or women who have run away with the wind (in which case, Windrunners reproduce by a process of conversion, like wailwomen and white ladies). Most likely the latter is true: Women who have ‘gone with the wind’ become Windrunners themselves.
Myth/Lore. Signs of impending disaster neighbours should keep a sharp lookout for: Do you know a woman who complains that she has become invisible to her husband, who now looks through her in the bedroom for his glasses or his keys, even when she is naked, her body a mere obstruction, like a stranger in a theatre blocking his view of the play? Becoming ‘invisible to husbands’ and complaining about it are the first signs that someone might be prime Windrunner material – both are, after all, invisible.
These spirits can affect anyone from the lowest peasant to a princess or queen – so kings often keep earth mages as a deterrent against the unwelcome visit of Windrunners.
Most Santharians blame the Gondolwain and the Sankrean for bringing Windrunners to our land from across the seas. But we, as educated readers of the Compendium, know that the first Windrunner was more likely Serphelorian.