This is part one of the chapter. I am unsure how large this chapter will clock out at. Currently we have 1,168 words for this one. I need to sit with the total manuscript wordcount, but right now... Numbers...
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)
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Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's LightInstallment 36Chapter 15 (part 1)
Section 2: Temple's Light
Kirsty saw a form darken the way ahead as she hurtled at the mercy of the waters. Before she could attempt to change course her head made contact with the shadow. White lightning flashed within her skull and behind her eyes, not just her eyelids. A screech filled her ears when bone contacted bone and both swirled away from each other. The form came back and claws raked into her. Kirsty did the only thing she could. Claw and fang lashed for her adversary. Blood came from herself and the other but not enough to cloud the water. Fire licked through her skin and traveled her nerves with the answering blow.
Her eyes finally registered. The dark priestess was here before her. Once again the green fire flared and she could feel the Taint seeking a way inside. The battle waged on more than one front, and the Taint seemed stronger than the last they had this dance together. She, of course, was weaker.
Kirsty pulled back and to the side, her tail growing weary already from the blows and strokes that each had been alternating. Eyes darted, looking for a weapon, a sword, shield, Lance... Anything. Mara's spear sliced the water near her, and the water crackled as each tried to control it. Kirsten fell back further. The plume that thrust her here could no longer get be felt, the portal closed.
No falling back.
At once, both sets of eyes fell on the same chest. Lost at the base of a pillar it gleamed dark in the murk, calling, exuding chill. A chill ran up Kirsty's spine at the familiar aura, though she knew she had never seen it before. Raechel's lips twisted, whether smile or grimace was moot. The black selkie lunged for it. The white selkie followed, not knowing why, only that it had to be kept from her. Both pairs of clawed hands closed around the tiny box and the writhing and beating began again.
"Let it go!" Raechel snarled, voice barely understandable as she swung her tail and connected with Kirsty's head.
Kirsty gripped harder and swung her own tail despite the throb and muffling sensation in her ears. The sting in her nose told her that something had opened yet again; the salts in the water sang there. Something gave, and the fingers around the chest slipped. Her arms closed fully around the box.
Up. Up was where that strange sense inside told her to go. Kirsty followed the directive. Raechel pressed close after. Kirsty strove, undulating as fiercely as she could and trying to outrace the other, weighed down by whatever dark object was contained in the tiny chest. Panic pried with red fingers at the edges of her vision and despair stroked icy fingers down her spine. Was there a buru-buru here, like those covered in one of those long ago classes at school. Did they range this far?
If so, it was getting a fine meal today.
The flesh of a flipper split beneath the assault of the blade behind her. More of her strength slipped away, yet she persisted. Onward, upward, forward, away. She tried to coax or command the water to propel her, but she had lost her hold, forced to continue to rely only on the still waning power of her tail.
Kirsty’s spirit railed. It called for her half-missing soul and strained forward as earnestly as the muscles of her body raced. A quick glance downward revealed the water had cleared enough to see the teeth of her pursuer and the green glow of her eyes. Her spirit sank momentarily.
In desperation she pointed a finger at the dark priestess and released it all, everything she felt, everything she could grasp. Unfiltered energies thundered through her and left her cracked, empty. The bolt flew.
Raechel grinned, moved the spear, caught it.
The bolt bounced back with a bit more added to it, caught her squarely, spread quickly over and under skin.
Kirsty broke water, flew beyond and into air. She locked eyes with - Morvan? What? An unceremonious landing and her entire body now feeling as if she burned alive beneath her skin brought her back to earth where her body flopped and twitched of its own accord.
Laughter, deep and dark like chasms of nightmare filled her ears, covering the splash that would have heralded Raechel’s emergence into the treasure cave. Kirsty tried to move, found that she couldn’t. A knife passed over her, shaving, cutting. Cords snapped and her halfpelt dissolved into nothing, leaving her shivering.
“Cow.” A grunt followed as something knocked Raechel back into the water. Morvan’s face - no, it wasn’t his after all, only similar - came into hazy view above her.
The cursing was fairly colorful and she dimly made note of some choice ones for probably future use. She was being dragged now, and felt curious eyes watching them both. If she’d had the strength and the ability to move she would have glared. Hands prized the chest out of her arms, whatever she had rescued vanishing from her keeping.
Her heart sank. Her skin felt further away than ever.
Perhaps she had failed? What would happen if that were so? What happened to those that failed in their tests?
More laughter filled the cave and now she could tell that dread sound fell not from the lips of the Lilitu now shielding her from the view of the fuzzy pillar of fire. The part of her brain still concussed vaguely hoped she wasn’t going to need glasses if she survived whatever she had so unceremoniously been cannoned into.
At least she was clothed. Somewhat. Even if feeling distinctly bald. How did people cope with feeling fabric on them?
“Are you going to give it to me, then?” The voice ran clawed fingers down her spine and something inside drew back from the unseen touch, unprevented by the human between herself and the fire blob.
When the fire blob became an actual form Kirsty wished it hadn’t. Without knowing how something recognized the face of flame.
“No. I won’t be.” The knuckles around his wand were white, belying the confidence in the answering voice.
“Are you so sure of that? I know think that little bit of seaweed there is going to do much against my priestess after she unleashes your little pet, nor to help you put me back.” The smirk grew. “This should be entertaining for a bit.”
Kirsty wiped her nose. “Cocky blighter, isn’t he, Lilitu? Have a plan?”
Belial winced. “Live. Don’t distract. Call me Ciarán if you must call me anything.”
Astereth laughed again as something shook the cavern, and a low booming hum soon followed. “His name is Belial. Worthless, can’t even own his given name. Now then my little one, your time is up. Best to give me that blood you bear. I feel the presence of she that should have been mine within you.”
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