In the corner of the room, an eternally dripping green Waterhorse lay, looking toward the young witch at her bedroom desk. The thirteen year old peered into her cauldron glumly, the twin dark braids reminding him vaguely of cramped up fins. Byron had lost count of how many and what sort of potions she had been brewing for the household use, to tide them over till the next stretch of time that she could contribute. There always seemed to be something brought to the area in need of fixing, despite the protective measures set up centuries ago when the fire and the forest deities had withdrawn and wandered on. So, the Makay's, being rather soft-hearted toward those in need, tended to go through a lot of healing supplies. Every generation he had helped to raise so far seemed that have this tendency.
"Only the stars know what on earth possessed that pair of wizards to test whether the river folk had any magic, but they did. Every chance they got they were putting something into the water that they knew those Fishfolk weren't going to like. Maybe they were wanting the fish for themselves, or maybe they'd read too many of those stories saying that all Merfolk can't do magic. When we got there, the river was in one bad way though, and even the Merfolk were having to cling to trees to keep from being swept away by the water's rage. A couple villages just totally washed away; I remember running by a floating house and getting whacked on the head over a houseboat joke."
"I wonder how much of the story she is absorbing. Too full of worry for her mother. Each generation is the same way... If she's not careful, David's going to start feeling like something might be wrong, since he's got the ring..."
Kirsty sighed, stirring her potion and pulling her thoughts back to the image of her mother single-handedly saving an entire village from a freak flood brought on by mouthy young wizards and the ire of much put upon river dwellers... Decidedly away from images of storm tossed seas and broken fishing vessels sinking as vicious Tritons speared a floundering seal.
"If it had been up to me, I'd have left them to swim and to learn their lesson. Cowans have an excuse, wizards don't."
Her potion merely continued to brew, not knowing what she was talking about, and not caring, though the water that formed the base half listened to the part Selkie mumbling during the pause in the Kelpie's story.
"Aye, the same here, but only because I am old and getting bitter as sea water. And the Cowans don't have an excuse either, but they pay worse when the Old Things wake."
"You aren't old... or bitter Byron."
"Ha, you should have known me before Marsali passed away. You wouldn't have known what to do."
"Go on, what happened next?"
"So, there she was, at the edge of the roaring water. First, she tried talking to the river. It talked back alright, and the wizards could only hear booms and grinds as it wore away at the ground. Told her where to look to unwind the knot that had been made, and where some different potions had been disposed of. Seriously, I thought proper disposal was taught in school... So she took care of all that, but then..."
Byron took a bite of the apple between his knees as he considered how best to describe what had come next. Kirsty laid her willow and Selkie hair wand down, checking her watch before turning to face him.
"There was more that wasn't so easy to tell her..."
Byron regarded her with his green eyes, a strange frisson running along the base of his mane and causing it to rise slightly, but not enough to show his frill.
"I did something a little odd when visiting David, at a spring... Still don't quite fully get it... Go on... Maybe it'll help me understand."
"Well, the next part, we went in the water, and she used her skin... after we were under so they wouldn't see her change. She later told me that she could kind of see where she needed to go, to stabilize it and get it resting again. Water doesn't like to be in an agitated state long. I didn't see all that she did, but I could hear her singing, and I saw her glowing. And she made the water... move... a... sort of... molecular sort of thing. Time felt odd... And the water receded and slept again in its bed like its supposed to."
"And the water was... warm..." Kirsty's voice was dreamy, and her eyes were looking through him, not at him. As if he was not there.
Byron shook himself a bit, the gaze making him feel decidedly uncomfortable.
"Yes. It was. And it whispered so that even I could hear it. After she got on land again though, she slept for a long time. It took a lot out of her." Byron frowned. "I never did like that the Ladies chose Marsali's offspring... Such a great deal to ask of you lot, especially with how the Full-bloods tend to view you on either side. And one day it will be your turn. Hopefully, not anything as... large. There have been some generations where nothing was asked other than to watch the well and assist the full Selkies with their rites." The last brought a slightly hopeful tenor to his voice.
Kirsty's eyes cleared, coming back from whatever she was gazing at, locking properly with his.
"Are you sure Mum's going to be able to come back? Maybe you should go and catch up. I can find another way in to London to catch the train..."
"Of course she will. She's your Mum." He smiled, what he hoped was soothingly, given how ferocious and hungry his smiles always looked. "How could she do anything else?"
The cold block in his heart and his gut though, he couldn't help, and prayed to Mara and the Well his worry didn't show through his eyes.
Quite a bit earlier than anticipated, actually.
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