October 2nd, 2021

selkies

Selkies' Skins 2: Chapter 21b (Whale Graveyard)

 

 


Welcome back to the story! 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. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

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. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

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Selkies' Skins 2
Section 3: Emergence
Installment 52
Chapter 21b
Whale Graveyard
Untangling the Web, Shifting the Veil


Kirsty breathed deeply in relief and made her way down the passage. It led her through a narrow hall a short way to a devotional. She placed her hand in the water and murmured a prayer of thanks and acknowledgment of everything Mara meant to her. The statue seemed to listen, her features wavering between shark and seal like in her mer form, skirts spread wide and floating around her balanced tail. Kirsty removed her hand from the water and touched the Sigil of Mara over herself, taught only to the priestesses.
The sense of déjà vu as a stone slab slid back to reveal a stairway down into the bedrock overwhelmed her. The corners of the passage were demarcated on the outside by inset fossilized shells. As she looked more at the polished floor she saw a plethora of various fossilized sea species.

Had she been here before? Time felt even more strangely compressed and stretched than it had at other points in her quest. Vague impressions of sitting in class by David passed before her eyes, some history lesson. Once her vision returned to the moment her consciousness was in she began her descent.
Kirsty slipped through the various ages of the sea via the geological record and the cap rumbled shut behind her. How deep she climbed into the earth was easily lost with no frame of reference other than herself, and she was small both in size and timespan. A door of stone waited before her at the deepest point. A left handprint had been worn into the center over the eons, and there glowed the Sigil of Mara. She felt the stone search her, flinched in surprise when it felt as if the stone bit her like an exploring shark. Her wrist throbbed where phantom teeth had been, and a broken line of dots nestled inside the gaps of the twining tattooed lines there.
The door opened, and she slipped through. Once she emerged she beheld a fossil sea, still living beneath the earth but trapped and segregated from the living sea above. The sense of tides and time still continued here, and she was aware of ancient things in the water with her. The current of the water spoke of no walls behind her, an open and undefended back. She looked behind to verify or disprove this, and found her senses to be correct.
Only the vast sea greeted her, dark, dangerous, powerful, lonely, a wild remnant of Mara’s youth that Annan made certain would survive when Sea and Earth began their shifting about the globe they shared. Time eddied around her as she moved through this sea until she came to a cliff that fell away below. The call came from below and so she made her way slowly down. Something prickled at the back of her senses, but every time she turned to look she was greeted by nothing but the sea.
She let gravity carry her downward and stared for a time where she kept feeling as if something was there watching her. Only water stared back at her. Kirsty made a small sign of warding over herself and continued downward at a faster rate, ever mindful to allow herself time to adjust.
“I’m probably going to get both physical and psychic bends returning from here if I am not careful.” She spoke to herself inside her own head, a part of herself dimly remarking that it probably was not a good sign she was talking to herself.
At last she reached the sea floor again and followed the path she found there to a gate running between two lance like shells stood on end. No fence kept company, no doors, and yet she knew there was a purpose to the divide. As she made her way through she could feel and taste the differences in the seas. It was colder than the one she left on the other side, sharper. The light fell differently and was even a different color, more of a wan Arctic or Antarctic quality than the more temperate sea.
The presence followed.
She heard a low growl in the water to her right, followed by a challenging whistle. Her whiskers twitched and she dodged the attack she could feel coming from the large dark tusked torpedo defending his territory. The two wove in the water, she trying to continue pressing onward along the path laid out. Straying too far from it was not something she dared allow happen lest she be lost in time.
“Kirsty? Kirsty? Your focus is terrible lately. What’s wrong? You’ve been staring off again.” David’s voice pushed into her mind.
“I don’t know. I don’t feel well. It’s like something is chasing me. I’m not sure if I’m flashing forward to what’s going to happen during my quest.” Her own voice answered him and she continued to dodge and press forward.
“You’ve been doing this a lot lately. Is this normal? Did your parents get like this before theirs?”
“I don’t think so. Aunty would have said so, or they’d have warned me. Wouldn’t they?” The sabertoothed walrus bit at her, nearly catching her flipper as her other self continued the conversation, whether it was in current time or past time. Exploring time more thoroughly she made a mental note to do if she survived.
“They definitely would. Maybe you should write them. I hope you’re not sick” He sounded as if, should she not, he would.
“I will write.” She knew that wherever that body was, that self was, that time was, she was squeezing his hand.
Kirsty wheeled and danced through the water as the walrus caught up to her. Bodies ricocheted off of each other as she fought her panic and looked her pursuer in the eye. He glared back into hers with a keen intelligence and a great deal more curiosity than she expected. She noted that she was in a good position to bite at him, but instead whistled and trilled at him, hoping that she could reason with him.
“I only seek passage to the Lady Mother.” She blinked at herself when that was the title rolling out of her. “It is still my hunting here.” He answered, swishing his head to scythe his tusk at her.
Kirsty dodged but still got partially caught, wincing as her flesh opened and thankful it did not feel as deep as it could have been.
“I will not eat here then. Priestess’ honor.” She dodged again.
“Why do you not fight me, female? Other Priestesses have.”
“I do not need to, there are other ways. For all I know I still have far to go.”
“Very far! Out of my hunting grounds! My mollusks!”
“Your mollusks.” She tried to get past him but he managed to bump her again, and she was tiring from trying to keep her forward momentum so fast for so long. “Would you feel better to escort me out instead of trying to drive me out? I have to interest in food I cannot eat, and I am not here to eat.”
“Strange words, strange speech. I can barely understand you.”
“I think your language may be at the root of the one I speak.”
“All that come through here become harder to understand.” A quiet plaintive note hid behind his blustering bellow.
“Time has moved on out there.” She stopped. He drove on for a bit and stopped when he noticed she did not keep pace.
“Tiny thing. Tell me more. You can earn passage with stories and knowledge. You are a different kind from the others I think.”
They settled to the floor and he found a bed to root through, eating as she spun him tales of when and where she came from, of what little she knew of living in the sea and what she knew of living on the land. She told him of her family, and how her line had to earn the skins that other selkies were normally born with. He watched her as he ate, and she was careful to make no move to the food he consumed. Instead she pressed a flipper to her wound and wondered when she had become a full seal and where her pouch was, dismayed at the thought she’d lost it and praying fervently that it was simply a part of her in this unexpected full transformation. She told her audience also of the things she had seen in her quest so far, the adventures she had had.
Part of her wondered if she was somehow speaking through him to distant ancestors from before the human form had evolved into existence through the experiments of the various deities and natural processes. Finally, she ran out of things to tell him.
“You wouldn’t be a good bard, but you do make a good story keeper.”
“I didn’t expect you to want me to sing all that.” She quipped, a light smile on her lips.
He blinked and then laughed, whistling it through the water. “That might have been a lot to try fitting in a song.”
He finished, then swam beside her as she followed the path. “Are there others I will bother?”
“Probably. Whether you will meet any between here and wherever you are going I don’t know, but I’m sure you’ll eventually bother someone, Tiny One.” He smirked and looked out of the side of his eye at her. “Tiny one will do interesting things some day I think.”
“Um… thank you?”
He snorted and waved a flipper at her as they neared the end of his territory. She waved back and continued onward.


 

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