October 7th, 2012


Selkies' Skins: Installment 23 (Chapter 16: Flat Note, part 2)

"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unexpectedly, I find it beginning to intersect somewhat with the universe of "The Shadow Chronicles," an unfinished and unpublished novel that I had started work on in the early 1990's in the middle grades.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 two

installment 23

The Director shook his head. "You know she'll need to know."

Kirsty sighed and nodded. While making her way to the healing wing, Thomas and the Director caught her whenever her legs would give out. Luckily, most of the students were either in classes, or preferred spending their free time out on the grounds, so by now there were fewer students in the halls. Unfortunately, both Morgana and Morvan were "recreating" near the foot of the stairs she needed, by "practicing bird calls." Cuckoo calls followed her as she mounted the steps, holding her head high and pretending she could not hear, since the Director was there.

Just you wait... I'll show you who's the cuckoo, Lilitu...

She growled when trying to get up the stairs and her knees buckled, but she knew better than to argue against anything the Director said.

I hope I don't miss too much of Potions. I really wanted to be there for the start of how to do the race null-effect workarounds.

After navigating the passages, and the castle gremlin dropping the portable hole that he was repositioning, in favor of following the trio to find out what was happening, they finally made it to the large oak doors. Emblazoned here was the caduceus in red, overlaid on a triskele in white, and the whole encircled by a red circle. The doors swung open on their own to reveal a hall of beds, each curtained off from the others, and the odor of menthol and other healing herbs seared their noses.

At the far end, the Matron looked up from where she was tending to a broken leg. On seeing the gremlin floating "innocently" behind Kirsty, she leveled her wand, revealing the spoon tip, which glowed irritably.

"YOU! What else did you do?"

Kirsty flinched, believing at first that the wand and the ire was aimed at her.

"Not you child. HIM." She pointed. "Portable hole and a broken leg. Who knows what other mischief he's been up to, and Lord have Mercy when the poltergeist breaks her seal again so they both can "play" again. What did that nasty thing do to you child?"

"Laryna... He didn't do anything to her." The Director glanced around, and the Matron indicated to them where she wanted Kirsty.

As they seated her on the closest bed, he recounted how twice their practice had been interrupted, and how the last time she had been flung about and needed Catching.

"Odd indeed. Step out a moment gentlemen, please. I need to check for bruising."

Thomas and the Director complied, and she shut the curtain.

"Harper has class, I'll send a note with him explaining that Makay will be a little late, and I should be going myself to have a word with the Headmaster and Professor McLeomhann."

"Very well. I will let you know my findings then."

Kirsty opened her robes and lifted her shirt glumly, exposing her halfpelt to the Healer and allowing those thin hands to sift through the fur and prod at her. She could hear the withdrawing footsteps, and wished that she was going too. Each gentle poke brought a wince as the Healer examined the places Kirsty had, so she thought, been surreptitiously clutching.

"You've been bitten, girl. Very large mouth. The Director said he didn't see anything, but did you?"

"No ma'am. Not a thing. One moment we had finally gotten the Founding Song's story to visualize, and the next I'm being thrashed around like by a shark at feed."

"Your studies haven't stirred up anything, not found any ancient artifacts in your dives lately?"

"Not that I'm aware of, no. But whatever it was, felt so angry. Frustrated... Oh!"

She jumped as something cold was worked into her pelt and skin, and became aware of a sting at each place the ointment was applied. Looking down, she could see where the Healer had discovered slow oozes of blood. Next came bandages wrapped around her chest to hold ribs in place, standard practice whether they were just bruised, or broken. When she was finished, she dropped her shirt again, and lifted her skirts even more grudgingly for her legs to be checked over.

By the time that the Healer had finished fussing over her, and forcing a very large dose of bruise-mend on her to heal bone and muscle from the inside as well, the doors to the Healer's Hall were swinging open again. She tried to clear the taste of licorice and ground shell, and some less savory flavors from her tongue as footsteps hurried over the marble floor.

Kirsty lost that battle, and the flavor settled more firmly on her tongue as the warmth spread through her body, over nerves and everywhere the spectral teeth had abused. By the time her aunt was crushing her with a hug, and dripping saltwater on her shoulder, she was very glad of it, as it protected her from any further damage.

"Auntie... you squishing me..."

The vice-like grip loosened, and Kirsty drew breath properly.

Must stop scaring Auntie. She'll break me one of these days.

As brusquely as the Healer had, Professor McLeomhann was checking her over for damages. Dark eyes appeared behind her, framed by white hair, and draping robes incorporating all of the house colors flowed around him, from beneath the flatboard Doctoral hat.

"What do you think, Headmaster? Jinxed?"

"Quite possibly, but who here would be creative enough to come up with such an unusual style?" The warm voice washed over them both, making Kirsty remember quiet nights by the hearth.

"What could be be otherwise though? We've never had the song give anyone problems like this."

"I didn't say that she wasn't jinxed, just that if she is, it is not by anyone here, Belara."

"Who then, Artair?"

The headmaster shook his head, and removed from around his neck a medallion, set with round polished agate and etched deeply with arcane symbols that were unrecognizable to her. He very carefully set this around her own neck and tucked it under her robe, patting her head after.

"This should do while you finish the process of repairing your grandmother's wardstone, Miss Makay. Now, I have heard some concerns that you've been having nightmares that wake your dormmates?"

"Thank you, Professor Guirmean..." She fingered it through the cloth. "I keep seeing Mum's boat, and things keep happening to her, Headmaster. Not bad enough to request any Dreamkill from the Potionsmaster, but... I keep seeing her boat sinking, and bits of it all over the waves, shortly before I wake. Nevermind the others, or the flashes I get while awake."

"It is natural to worry when our loved ones are so far away, and your mother's calling is not the safest."

Yeah, and even in this community, not many believe in deities being involved with anyone.

She nodded, and rubbed where she had been bisected. "Yes, I'm used to Mum and Da having to be gone. Even if the fishing trips were just actual fishing trips, there'd be times it would still just be me and Byron-"

"-Byron and I."

Kirsty nodded and sighed, used to her aunt's grammar corrections. "Byron and I."

"Are you keeping a record of them?"

Kirsty winced. "Yes sir, even though I'm not looking forward to presenting the diary to the Divinations Mistress since she wants a record for class."

Did she detect the hint of a smile on his lips, in answer to the irritation?

"I would suggest making it a little more than a dream diary. I want you to keep track of any news you get from home as well, so that we can see if anything correlates, and also any little signs that you see."

She nodded.

"Can I get to class now?"

The headmaster nodded.

"Thank you!"

Kirsty curtsied to the adults, before scampering off.

"Your niece loves classes just as much as you did, Belara."

"I think in this case, she was simply more afraid that we might pry, or make her hold still for another dose of medication, Artair... Though I'm sure Potions does call rather loudly."

"Do you think that Finnol is still in port, or if we sent a summons, we'd only rouse Byron?"

"Finnol will likely still be out. Byron was the one bringing her. All we can do is try and see if anyone answers."

The gremlin slipped after Kirsty, having given the girl time enough to forget, hopefully, that she was still in range. The adults were still deeply embroiled in their discussion, and the Healer was busy prepping the now empty unit for the next student.


She paused, and slowly turned her head around one hundred and eighty degrees to stare back at the warning tone, blinking her eyes innocently.

"Leave young Makay alone. I do think she's had enough excitement today."

"Yes, sir..." The gremlin continued on, ears drooping a bit, till the door closed behind her. Didn't say not to go pick at that seal though, did he? Her ears perked back up as her feet sped her toward the Observation Tower.

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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 two weeks.  University classes have started again, and the courseload is rather heavy.  This installment will go live on the main site sometime tomorrow.

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