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. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)
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Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's LightInstallment 34Chapter 13 part 4
Section 2: Temple's Light
Belial returned to his sanctuary, glad of the temporary relief from the pounding that always came whenever he needed to do large workings beyond his usual operations. Brooding over his secret selkie wife and her tendency to be drawn by traps and trouble was far more tolerable than dealing with the elderly biersal muttering to him about the quality of the beer the other family members would leave for them. Even less tolerable was the thought of actually dealing with any of his family. Especially his naggy mother. The library was his safe place from her demands and whatever oily match she would invariably propose.
The bloody glow of his sanctuary killed the wisp of good mood he had managed to gain from the warmth of the skin telling him that Salena still lived, however angered she was. Looking round nothing seemed to be touched.
“Show me what happened.” His eyes snapped on the gazing orb, narrow and iced. In reply the mist coalesced and formed shapes. In the space of a breath lifelike fiery representations showed him exactly what had transpired while he had been gone.
“Lovely, as if one living selkie isn’t enough to hide, now I have a naked treasure raiding one in the vault and I know somehow Mother will know. That’s going to be lovely to explain dreams of.” He ground out, nostrils twitching under influence of the skin he carried.
The gazing ball pulled its mist into the spirit’s vaguely hominid form, which nodded solemnly, though wearing an expression that spoke clearly of how tired it had been of trying to gain his attention.
“Yes, fine. I’ll give your voice back later tonight if I’m not too worn out.” Belial sighed as he drew his wand and proceeded to unlock the chamber behind the fireplace.
The construction of the library had long ago revealed to his forebears the cave system that it tapped. That same system through another door had often given him other sorts of sanctuary than the chamber the family treasures now claimed. Down the passage he went, forgoing the magical aid that would have teleported him directly to it, hoping for a bit of surprise on his side. Even light he eschewed, instead placing one foot in front of the other in the endless night and feeling his way by hand and foot.
“I wish Linxi was here, he’d be helpful right now. Dragonchild or not.” Belial thought, envying briefly his First Mate’s ability to move in similar darkness without being so ungainly.
Every step measured carefully, he made certain not to stray in the labyrinth. Though he could not see there was the sense of walking within a giant shell. At times it felt like something moved around him, sought to fold itself and move to a new location. Perhaps flesh of the spectral creature long gone, if he allowed his fancy free rein. The passage did not shift though, pinned as it was. Finally he came to the round in the downward spiral of the passage where the last of the doors slumbered.
It gave off heat. Angry and searing; the door burnt without burning far more than the times he had been inside with his father after another of the cullings. His heart pounded faster and harder, rebelling against the feeling in his bones and blood and the very thing that allowed him to see and speak with the spirits without bodies. Carefully he pushed the door open, sword drawn from his waist where it always dwelled, wand hidden within. He slipped inside just in time to see the dark selkie slip into the once sacred pool, changing her form as she went. Beside the pool — far enough aside that the water would not reach him — stood Astereth, though the water rose up not against him.
“Ah, you are late to the party my boy, though I’d not invited you.” The hint of a smile curled Astereth’s voice, teasing and chastising at once.
“I thought you’d still be resting from the last I saw you.”
“Oh, you’d not gotten me quite as wet as you’d thought when you dropped in the Black Gate. It was a good try though.”
Belial looked for anything he could drive this shred of Astereth into. The nearest that he could see was a sword that he knew would be missed by anyone the next time they came in to make use of one of the treasures. He continued glancing around without being obvious, seeking out something better, or wherever the weak point between the planes must be. There was always a portal whenever anything broke or strained bonds. “I suppose you’d like to talk of your great plans some more.” If he was lucky maybe he could keep him talking.
“Oh, you didn’t seem interested the last I met with you though. Tossed the pretty in.” The face of flame curled its lips. “Tried to toss me in. Some thanks for your family’s fortune and power.”
“It’s not all from you, Master. If I remember the stories rightly you chose us for a reason. But I ask again what is your game?”
“Well, since you really seem interested, and maybe I can bring you back to the fold. I’ve sent the dark one down to fish up the Gate. I’ve told her she may use it.”
“How is she one of yours? I thought all of the selkies still pledged to Mara.”
“I’m not sure, but I’m not looking a gift seal in the mouth. It matters not how she got it, she bears my touch. That is enough. She obeys far better than some humans I could mention. Particularly randy ones such as yourself.” Astereth looked at Belial pointedly.
He clenched his jaw but let the jibe pass. “I suppose you’ve not told her how to use it.”
“Of course not. How can I when I don’t even know how it was used? You know though. Perhaps I can convince you to pass on that knowledge if you don’t want your father to know the things you’ve done and probably hope to continue to do.” The man of fire settled himself on a chest out of splash range from the pool.
Belial had still not found anything suitable to try driving this remnant into, nor where the veil Between was thing enough to be seen through. “You wish to blackmail me.”
“Of course. You’ve transgressed. I like to think myself a reasonable deity though and extend this opportunity for forgiveness.”
“Deity? Have you found some way to increase yourself where you are bound in?” His eye fell on a whorled silver pin reminiscent of a shell, only partially exposed from the heap spilled at the bottom of another chest and mostly covered by a length of green cloth shot with silver. His sister had a habit of never putting everything back when going through a chest, and the haphazard spill looked like some of her work, though he couldn’t tell how recent. He prayed internally to Mara and the Weissefrau for the ability to shut Astereth more firmly away, away from where he might harm Salena. The skin hidden on him warmed.
“Now, why would I tell you if I had?” The now long inhuman mage laughed. “I still exist, does this not place me among them as is my right?”
“To gloat?” Belial settled himself lightly on the chest, leaning down as if to tidy the mussed fabric and tuck it back inside before making contact. He plucked the brooch from the fabric and palmed it. “I thought you liked that.”
Astereth blinked, and then he laughed. “I had forgotten why you were my favorite. You have not answered me though.”
The fire in his blood tugged insistently, burned in his veins imperiously, sought to reach into his mind and heart to do his bidding. Belial prayed harder to the water goddesses, careful to screen his thoughts and heart from Astereth even though he felt little hope they would hear and answer despite his wife being theirs. “Please, any help of any sort in this, not for me, but for Salena’s sake. Help me protect my wife from my Master. Help me lock away or send away this part of him, even if I die here today.”
*Note: biersal. The biersal is a type of German house elf type of fairy. Where in the British Isles they generally receive milk, bread, and/or honey the German variety likes their keep in the form of Beer.
Note 2: The story of Salena and Belial is external to Kirsty's story, although it does directly impact her own and her skinquest. There are notes on the end of Selena and Belial's story in a patron only posting. I may do notes on the story of how they met and why they married as another patron only posting.
Note 3: The lad from the ship does later down the line have descendants in school with Kirsty. I did heavily consider feeding him to ancestors of David. The Lady's German counterpart (who has close ties to The Hooded One) allows the wolves she called to do what they will or to let the lord of the hunt decide.
Note 4: Yes the ties on Kirsty and Raechel from their outer world and own time lives are causing the deities and Astereth some confusion and bemusement. It is not supposed to be until they and Justin return to outer world/ normal time where they are supposed to give evidence of this timeslip. Time for them does not run the same as it does for Kirsty and us.
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