September 29th, 2012


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Son is in a very good mood today, having successfully having had a friend over to spend the night (which gave the mother time to rest/recharge).  Tonight will be my night to have some time off, the children going and spending the night over at that household, which gives my son more social time with his friend.  Understandably, he is very much looking forward to being collected for his grand adventure.

It is also a calm day for him so far, and an affectionate one.  The random hugs he has given me are not overpowered intentional hurtful ones, but careful, gentle, happy ones.  This is a good improvement.

Selkies' Skins: Installment 22 (Chapter 16: Flat Note, part 1)

"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, and too many other sources to count (so basically my entire life of research in mythologies, and a lot of imagination). The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and other societies Magical and Cowan, 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, Smashwords, and on Amazon.  VERY unexpectedly, I find it beginning to intersect somewhat with the universe of "The Shadow Chronicles," an unfinished and unpublished novel that I had started work on in the early 1990's in the middle grades.

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 my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

If you would like a heads up on when the serial novel is updated before it goes to the main site (usually), you can subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins.
We now continue with Selkies' Skins.

Selkies' Skins
Chapter 16
Flat Note
part 1

installment 22

Kirsty smiled in her place as the music swelled in and around her during choir practice, and light spilled through the stained glass images, which looked different to every person. For her, they showed merchant ships under full sail, red sunsets, rocky shores perfect to fish if she could just get her own sealskin, and the occasional storm, offset on the other side of the room with images of waterfalls and the Well. Each rank was placed slightly higher than the previous, and the sound of their voices reverberated, thanks to the stone walls. The room was built specifically for this purpose, long back when Choir was involved with weekly worship. As the religions of those coming to the school grew more diverse once more, Worship fell out of favor. Choir remained, and even grew stronger.

At the front, their Director kept time, gesturing to each section for their cue as they practiced a song new to the younger years. Thomas, to the side as always, plucked the tune on a lute, his own this time and not the school's. Each note was like silver and gold, and as he played, an image formed in their minds as they sang the song. Kirsty regretted that David was too busy with his studies, and that Ally was too busy trying to catch the eye of her latest crush, wishing that they could be present to hear their progress. In front of the Director, as the energy raised, an image began to form, the story that they were singing of finally beginning to become visible after their long practice.

When her solo came, she rose up to meet the notes, closing her eyes and letting them fill her, becoming them. Satisfaction ran through her blood when she realized she was finally getting everything blended perfectly.

Then came the searing pain in her feet and legs, as if someone had hurled a fireball at them. The velvet of her voice cracked, and instead of the next word, a squeal issued from her mouth as she fell, legs unable to support her and feeling as if she had gained a tail, instead of the legs she knew now folded beneath her. The suddenness of the fall and surprised flail pulled down others, some that had tried to catch her as they felt or saw the crumple begin. The image that they had collectively crafted shattered, and both Thomas and the director surged forward as one to get up to her rank.

"Miss Makay, What happened?"

"Kirsty, are you alright?"

The two spoke as one, while hands pulled her up, and she winced and whimpered when her weight was once more on her feet. It was taking concentration to remain upright, and suddenly she was very glad that David was not there to see.

"I... I'm fine. I don't know what happened." She looked at the Director and swallowed, as his keen eyes searched for the cause of her fall. She flushed, realizing that the entire choir surely had to be staring at her, possibly judging for all she knew.

"Really, you are such a clutz Makay." Glancing away and around, she saw a few irritated looks, though she pointedly refused to look in the direction of that voice.

"More than enough, Maldein."

"But sir, you saw her pull down everyone around her. Probably just looking for attention.

"Maldein, demerit. Leave now."

Morgana scowled, and swept with a huff from the room in a flurry of dragonsblood and ocher to go find Morvan, though not before casting a sneer her way and mouthing "sea trash."

She pushed her way up and fantasized about Morgana's next bath suddenly being filled with piranhas, or dashing her against the sides of the carved tub till she ran screaming down the halls claiming the gremlin jinxed her bath. It would be so easy just to do it. Would Mara and the Lady mind? "Maybe just a muscle twinge. I'll be fine sir." Oh no, where's Imp? Is he ok?

It was probably the wrong thing to say. His eyebrows shot up, possibly believing that her late night classes in the loch may have been partly responsible. He was aware of what her special classes entailed, she remembered, and mentally kicked herself.

"Can you go on?"

"Yes Director, I think so."

Thomas eyed her warily before returning to his spot at the Director's signal, and continued to do so after.

Please, don't tell David. Not till I know for sure what happened. Please don't tel-

"From the top, everyone. One, and two, and three."

The wand was a baton again, keeping the beat, and Thomas started at the beginning of the score. She lost herself in the music again, hiding in it this time. It was with relief that she got through her solo, without another interruption, and then the solo was a duo when the answer came from the next, and then a third voice rose. Opening her eyes, the three Founders were pictured in front of them, acting out the story of the building of the school, and why.

Headmaster Delphine Leomaris, voiced by the seventh year at the top left, stoutly defended the rights of the students from the sea to learn to control their gifts. The way his part was worded, she wasn't positive if he were secretly from the sea himself, or had loved someone that was, and she made a note to look in the library to see if she could dig anything up. Irritatingly, she couldn't make out details on what they looked like, other than generalizations of hair and clothing.

A fifth year boy from Spiralis gave voice to Aemilius Spiralis, and the argument began in earnest, quickly spreading from trying to restrict the shapeshifting merfolk from entering, to all non-humans, as well as those whose magic "sprang from nowhere like the desert spring that harbors scorpions at the brink." Kirsty found her voice again, and Adalwufa Bertramus spread her arms between the pair, her blue and silver robes flying, trying to make the two listen to reason and stop fighting long enough to teach, complaining of how not finding some compromise would only hurt the students.

Mid note, the pain came back, but worse. This time it ran all over her body, and she felt teeth around her midsection. She hit the expected note, now against the backdrop of the chorus, but something was thrashing her back and forth. Students looked up at her in confusion, clearing out from underneath her as she was lifted high. She couldn't see the shark that had her, shouldn't even be able to get at her here, but she felt around and jabbed for an eye anyway, hoping to luck out and find it. Kirsty soon found herself flying toward one of the stone wall sections, but not because she found the invisible eye. Instead, it was more like whatever had decided to attack had just decided to let go as quickly.

Just before she impacted with the wall, she felt another force stop her. In her mind, it felt somewhat like what being a ball and landing in a wicket keeper's glove in a game of cricket, or possibly more like those baseball mitts that she saw now and then if someone had some odd obsession with that American game. Kirsty was lowered to the ground, but the world was still spinning, and if her top wasn't severed from her bottom, it felt like it should be. Worse, she could feel her pelt spreading, and the itch on her face that heralded that whiskers might soon be on their way. Her very blood burned, as if someone very powerful was currently blowing up at her, or something about her was being ripped out, possibly burned away.

Whatever it was, it hurt more than she cared to dwell on.

"Enough for today. Don't forget your daily practices, and we'll meet again next week. Dismissed. Harper, you stay please."

The other students filed out, the usual thundering bustle and swishing of robes now accompanied by whisperings about what might have caused Kirsty to have had such an unusual happening. Rumors were already starting that it was because she either might not be as pureblooded as she led people to believe, or that it was because she was singing a part that normally someone from Bertramus took on. Kirsty sat on the floor, still processing and clutching herself, staring around for the source of her attack in a mixture of fear, wariness, and determination.

Whatever that was, it won't get the chance to do it again.

Both Thomas and the Director thought that the way she looked around and tried to get back to her feet signaled too many times of being attacked. Neither dared say anything about their thought, in case the other was unaware of her strange characteristics.

Nothing. Oh Tempest and Swell, Mara, don't force a change now! If that's what's going on my Lady, please not now. I've nowhere to hide, Thomas hasn't seen.

Still no attack, and she shielded her face behind her hair. When Mara decided to use her control, it was always for very different and harsher reasons than her sister, and she never cared if Kirsty were where she could hide in water. The Lady, on the otherhand, always made certain she was in a "safe" place and that she knew why the change had been forced.

"Miss Makay, can you walk?" The Director asked calmly, though his silver eyes poured over her as carefully as if grading charmswork or an amulet attempt, and no doubt as carefully as the matron in the healing wing was going to be if he could herd her there.

Please don't send me where I think you are planning...

She tried to stand again, this time with Thomas helping her. "I think so..." She peeked from under her hair at the Director, who pushed her hair back out of her face when he leaned closer to examine her. "My legs don't feel right though, Professor."

"Well, we'll take you to the healing wing and have Madam look you over. I can't see any reason any of that should have happened. It's an old song, no one's cursed it, and no one's ever had that happen to them. Have you been into anything unusual lately?"

Is anything about my life usual?

"No sir..."

Thomas stifled a snort, as the Director took up position on her other side.

"I haven't." Kirsty tossed a quick glare at Thomas.

"Very well then. If you do think of anything though, don't be afraid to talk to me about it. Once we get you there, I'll go tell your head of house and the headmaster."

She groaned, imagining her aunt's reaction. "Can we maybe, not tell her, sir? Please?"

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As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those.  I am hoping that by the time this is done, my editor will have a working computer to make it easier and quicker for her to do some hard editing so that we don't have to use reams of paper for the fine tooth go-through.  Two simultaneous storylines is proving odd to work with, but neither makes as much sense if they are separated (at least to me).

Expect the next installment in a week or two.  This installment will go live on the mainsite sometime tomorrow.

Edit: Typos fixed.

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