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Selkies' Skins 2, Section 2, Chapter 16a

I thought that I was going to get this done in one installment. It did not happen. This is late, and hopefully the next part of the chapter will be ready before Sunday to get somewhat back on schedule.

Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon, when I can get to uploading it finally. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana

Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 40
Chapter 16 (part 1)
Opening the Way

The boom was followed by another and Kirsty could feel things moving below her feet. Ancient mechanisms impossibly worked into rock sibilantly hissed even more ancient chants in a language that Kirsty did not recognize, yet felt as somehow familiar. Whether Salena’s husband or the Hound heard these she could not be certain, but if they had heard more than the booms would not they be looking for the sources of the voice as she was?
The ice rose slowly, pushed up from below, far more sluggish than the lightning lancing through her brain as she processed everything and fought off magical overload and drainage. She could feel whatever things were turning in their beds feeding from her, tearing demandingly, sucking from stores she hadn’t even known she had. What grounding she had was weakening, and she knew that somehow aspects of her training were still missing. She tried to visualize herself as rooted to rock like a mussel to combat this force pulling from her, but never seemed to be able to connect well enough for more than a thread or two. Some force strained to raise her arms, but she herself strained not to, and to hold onto her body.
Something large moved below, coming for her, and she could almost feel a current of dark laughter riding toward her in this tide. It certainly seemed to know what it was doing and was not having the same problem staying rooted, controlling the machine instead of being controlled or some sacrifice.
Threads somewhere snapped. Dimly she had visions of Mrs Kitsch’s old Lightkeeper lantern lighting up, and probably the one in the nearest Lighthouse as well. If she could just understand what these voices were chanting, maybe she could add a layer and control what was happening, or at least free herself from the machine that was this abandoned Temple of Mara.
Ciarán grabbed her elbow, tried to pull her out of the box. “He’s found the switch somehow. We need to go, get away from the water.”
The cloaked creature stood and left the water alone. “I agree. The enemy is moving fast, or I’m no true Hound of the Cailleach.” He took Kirsty’s other elbow, helped Ciarán pull the girl out before he had even finished his sentence. Neither had been still as they spoke, but moving in tandem as if some cosmic weaver pulled twinned strands.
Neither even let Kirsty’s feet touch the ice. Some unspoken agreement had passed through the pair that allowing the water priestess, fully fledged or not, to touch the water would make the bad situation worse. Instead they held her above the water by her forearms, as if touching her any other place would cause some other mechanism to awaken. Kirsty, unused to being manhandled so, instinctively tried to kick out at them to force herself back to the ground. At the same time she attempted to pull in what energy she could to ready another attack, further fighting against the force that was trying to claim her.
“We aren’t who you should be kicking.” Ciarán grumbled as they arrived to the cavern floor properly, the pair lowering her to her feet once more.
Neither stopped their forward momentum, pulling her along as the ice cap cleared the top and the waters below began to flow into the room behind them. With the rising of the waters magic in the cavern walls, not just those halls and rooms below, activated. A dim green glow spread along everything, securing treasures in place. The chanting now was louder, more demanding.
Kirsty found herself thirsty for something salty and coppery, and it wasn’t a simple need to go out and catch a live fish with her teeth. She wanted to bite and claw.
“I can walk on my own!”
“Not going fast enough.” The Hound let her go, continuing his run forward as Ciarán dragged her forward. The hood he pulled forward more, as tattered and hole webbed as it seemed to be, and wrapped the once waving nightmare around himself. The whiteness of his spectral fur, if she could have seen it, was replaced by black. The change was swift, bones reshaping and jolting into new forms more fully his own, four paws now pounding the stone. Gone was the cloak that gave him the two legged form, spread instead in the matted black fur twisted and knotted from too many errands and too few willing hands to wield a brush and remove those cares.
Taranis eyed the churning legs ahead of him, then bowled into them to sweep the girl onto his back. He swung his head to the side to help toss Ciarán onto his back. As each landed and grasped his fur, in his proper form information about them entered his awareness in short bursts with the open circuit. At some point in the past, though he wasn’t certain how, the girl had been in his touch before. The scent of fire and hissing of serpents briefly assaulted his nose and ears, and the sense of a young male human-Hound willing to give his life and essence to protect her, and the answering of a basilisk wand to that need. Somehow, the Black Gate was involved. Yet, here with her was the Black Gate, and he was positive he’d never met this Kirsty in his long hungry life. He stuffed that odd knowledge and paradox to the back of his mind to ask his mistress about later. For the male the information made much more sense; Ciarán was bound to a selkie turned merchant-pirate, and the progeny was likely to come under his mistress’ care because of some injustice still on the horizon.
Taranis would be a good Hound and deal with all that later. For now the way forward was out, since the girl did not seem to have the sense to just open the gate and take them all to the Cailleach’s hall and cauldron for a nice drink.

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