July 1st, 2012


Selkies' Skins: Installment 12 (Chapter 9: Soul Fish part 3)

Selkies' Skins

"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies. The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and Wizarding society, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.

Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my
Lulu outlet and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.

If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the
ToC on the Sticky Note.

We now continue with Selkies' Skins. Whilst Etain Makay braves soul fish and sea serpents... Feel free to ask questions in the comments. I will answer them when I can, and you are not restrained to asking about one installment. However, if it is something that will be revealed later in the story, it might end up getting answered privately if you are so curious that you cannot wait. I actually encourage questions. I miss communicating with my readers like I used to when I was active writing Spirited Away fan fictions (they sometimes sparked some awesome ideas).

Selkies' Skins

Chapter 9 part 3

Soul Fish


Etain continued watching the water, and the air around herself, as her boat landed, thankfully still topside up. It was evidence that the protective spells on the craft still held. Water splashed up onto the deck and washed over, and as she was outside, soaked her. Her ears listened for any roar or call if the serpent breached behind her, and her nostrils flared while she scented the wind, despite how dulled that sense would still be in her human body.

Still her craft surged forward, which pleased her. If she had managed to stun the sea serpent, then she would be able to slip away without further trouble. Etain doubted that though, and she was right. This time, the serpent breached to the port, leaping over and clearly trying to land to the starboard, as if seeking to drive her down whether the shield zapped again or not. Another blast from her wand with a wordless spell, more intention than anything ever learned in her long ago classes, and a column of fire streaked through the magical membrane.

Her adversary creeled, and the stench of partially cooked meat and blackened scales filled the air, while the great sea snake flew backward. It wasn't a killing blow by any stretch of the imagination, but she hoped that by the time the creature awoke, it would once more be deep below and she would be many leagues away.

Etain took a deep breath, only now beginning to tremble as she turned back into the navigational cabin. "Soul fish and sea serpents. Let's hope there's not a mate involved with that serpent. You did well Sea Witch." She patted the nearest surface affectionately, while the vessel continued fleeing through the water.

An hour of quiet sea later, she finally let the shields go, then set about recharging them, in the likely chance they would be needed again. Etain paced the decks, placing her hands on the railings and singing the required songs, lingering especially at the poop and prow. Not for the first time, she leaned forward over the prow to gaze down forlornly where, in earlier times, she might have been able to have a small figurehead without attracting too much attention. Small was really all she needed permission to create and install. She drummed her fingers on the railing in consternation.

"Few ships have them these days, and if a Cowan sees it, even though small, they will look and likely see your figurehead glaring right back at them. Well you know that some of your tasks will require treating with the very creatures they are crafted to deter. The Sea Witch is to be no mere trading nor mere fishing vessel."

Mara's words rose fresh in her mind from that long ago time where she was granted her boat and given her place by the sea deity. Fresh now as they had been then, they still stung as sharply. The memory still possessed that high, cold, commanding rumble to the words, like the storm breaking over sea.

What looked to be the way out of the reality pocket came ever closer, Devil's Fire sparking up now and then on the crest of a swell. Etain breathed easier, looking eagerly to the border, though still unsmiling. Instead, she continued pacing the deck with her craft autopiloting, watching for anything else that might come up out of the revitalized waters.

Thirty minutes away from the border, the moans and cries began again, another school of the infernal fish approaching in their search for food and souls. She glowered, this school sounding larger, and indeed looking larger, than the last. The wind shifted, blowing in reverse now to give her a head wind, instead of the tail wind that had been holding. The fish came at preternatural speed from the starboard, as if they routinely patrolled the borderland.

Perhaps they did. She narrowed her eyes as she recalled everything that she could remember former Captains having written about the soulfish into the Makay Clan's logbook back home. A particularly haunting memory of the first of Stephen Makay's voyages, recorded in his handwriting and voice, floated up.

"Ever hungry, they devoured flesh and claimed the soul, rendering the victim into one of their kind, whether non-magical human, witch or wizard bearing no intention of ever becoming a ghost, or intelligent magical being. If a victim had both flesh and soul, these wanted it. I myself have seen how it happens, when a small party had gone out from mine Tempest Queen in one of the boats, collecting some ambergris the lookout had spied during this voyage."

"It was not when a single one managed to fly up onto our decks that we were in the most danger, though the danger intensifies naturally if you are in one of the lifeboats. That happens from time to time. It is when an entire school of them gets close enough and swarms. If there are no shields, or there have been reasons to have them down, as they do drain over time, they knock a victim off and drag him down. They latch on with teeth and attack through their numbers, gnawing, often as you yet live."

"The team that had gone out fought bravely, for the swarm had risen up seemingly from under them- sleeping perhaps. But there was not enough time for us to respond and open fire. Even if we had, we were as likely to hit our men as these demon fish, that Mara herself must have created during a fit of rage some eons ago, no doubt when a lover had left herself or her sister due to a preference toward males. Neither Petrifying nor Blasting Michael, Angelo, or Miriam would have done my men any good, though in hindsight would have been the kinder fate. Both spells do have effect against the fish. Better would have been a storm to deter them, as then my men would have had more of a chance as soulfish hate them. Alas, I am no storm singer, and we have none in this crew."

"They have begun to pursue us with their new school. I will have a seawench perform a curse breaking for my crew and ship when we land. My family can ill afford the loss of the ship, and the families of my crew can ill afford the loss of husbands and wives. Mara have mercy on my soul, but I wonder what my clan has done to incur her wrath. Or are we being tested? If so, a cruel test."

Etain shuddered again, calling up the shields once more and this time singing up a storm. In Gaelic, and mixed with a bit of the older Irish, she began to whip up wind and wave, counting on the turbulence to send the fish down, or for lightning to form fast enough to frighten the fish away.

Plaintive voices rose up to her.

"Mistress Witch, please, I beg thee bear me to my love. I left her in Bristol and vowed to return even if I died."

"Nay, Lady. Bear me out instead. Irish ye must be, an it be to Dún Laoghaire I had been headed!"

"Answer not these rapscallions! I was cast from the ship I had paid good gold to bear me up to convert the Finmen. And I was made an offering to pagan gods of the sea when the storm would have claimed every hand on that fell ship of secret heathens. My child, save your soul and the souls of that country, and carry me thence."

"No! Carry none of us, touch us naught!" called what surely must have been a newer soul, not yet twisted by the torment. "Touch us with your living flesh and we will devour you, such is our anguish, or else seek to make an exchange of our soul for yours. Fly! Fly!"

And yet another voice, sinister. "You are older in years and have the bearing of a mother. Your man lies now with another, surely. How long have you been at sea? Why not leave that sorrow and join me, I'll not abandon you for another lass."

"Keep your pleas and lies! I stop my ears and harden my heart, knowing your kind! Back to your rest, or your hunts, you'll find no opening here, and no sanctuary. Look instead to your own deities, mine has not given me leave to free you. It lies within yourselves, a simple release of your sorrows and horrors." Etain called, the storm taking longer to form than she had hoped. Choppy seas seemed to do little for this school, and she looked again to the border, mentally urging her craft, already sailing at top speed, to somehow find a way to go just a little faster and leave that much sooner. She returned to singing again, to whip the storm faster.

The fish came closer. She could make out their dark eyes now, not yet having gone the red she knew was sure to come. As they came in range, she fired warning shots, petrifying those that her spell impacted, and those sank toward the bottom of the sea. Others continued skimming toward her though, wetting their scales briefly before lunging along. Several eyes had begun to go red, and she knew that now not only did they see her, but smelled her as well, tasted her on the air the way a shark tasted it's food in the waters.

Fire this time, keeping the school out of swarming distance. She conjured it on the surface of the waters and spread it like a vermillion and gold carpet of pain. A fair amount of them landed right in it, lighting up and burning as well as if spitted and thrust in. Guilt settled over her at the screams, though she was not extinguishing their existence. She added to their suffering in protecting herself. As the Devil's Fire began to crackle around her and cover her boat, she extinguished the fire she had created, heaving a sigh of relief to have escaped, even if only so narrowly.


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