Tags: serial

selkies

Selkies' Skins 2 Section 1. Chapter 2: Forest Circles (part 1)


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 myLiveJournal, 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, and an audio edition is currently being narrated by Illya Leonov, currently working with the Glossary and has finished Chapter 39 (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects).

And now to begin the webserial for "Selkies' Skins: Temple and Skinquest."

Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: Descent
Installment 3
Chapter 2 part 1
Forest Circles

Merrison clung to the rock and pulled himself up. His dark eyes narrowed as he looked out over the sea, which broke on the rocks in the middle of nowhere. These same rocks under another view of reality were at the edge of the world, where worlds collided and overlapped like tectonic plates. The rock's song was muted now, sated by his blood and the flotsam he was still searching through.

Time always meant little at the edges, so he was not certain how long it had been since the wreck. He only knew that he could not leave it yet.

“Etain! Brinetreader! Sea Witch, where are ye?” His voice boomed over the waves again.

As every other time there was no answer besides the circling terns crying for fish and swooping down hoping for something to pick over. He slipped off the rock again and plunged back below, canvassing the area again.

Still there was no selkie, living nor dead. The current had changed once he had passed through the gate, and he could only hope that she hadn't been caught between the realms. The current pushed away from the rocks in any direction he swam, when on the other side he, Etain, the Sea Witch, and that strange sea through seal pup had been pulled into the rocks.

Down and down he dove, to where the water began to press in on him firmly. Further down he let gravity make him fall, allowing the waters to press in on his ribcage and drive more of the air from his lungs. Merrison controlled his direction with careful positioning of his powerful green scaled tail, allowing his trident to glow so that he could see further for any forms caught in the rocks or in the kelps.

After an eternity of eternities and making his way through still slowly sinking boat bits his eye was caught by a bit of shining black the size of both of his very large hands. How it shone he couldn't guess, but shine it did, an ebony-hued tiny dolphin figurehead floating ever so slowly into the hungry shadows of this darkest area of the sea. Merrison made for that and stretched out his hand to catch it.

I'm positive the Sea Witch didn't have a figurehead... Where is this from and where was she hiding it? And why?” Merisson pondered, turning it over and over in his fingers.

The carving was smooth, far smoother than it had even looked to him, and despite the frigid water it was as warm as a living thing. It even had a subtle pulse.

You wouldn't have seen me and Etain was unaware there was already a figurehead hidden on the prow.” The voice came into his mind, as heavily accented as Etain's, a somber mixture of salt, rum, and port.

Sea Witch?” He nearly dropped the carving.

The oldest and most important part of what was once the Sea Witch, at any rate.” The figurehead answered. “I don't currently have a name now since my last body just got fed to the Rock that Drowns. I can't feel my mistress either. She's not here.”

“What do you mean she's not here?” He grimaced and his frothy white hair and beard broke into waves to rival a storm.

She's not here.” The Sea Witch spoke slowly from the figurehead. “She didnae make it all the way through when we rammed that rock that just up and popped up in the middle of the portal.

“So she's between somewhere.” He sighed deeply, his heart panging. “I failed, I said I'd find her the safest path back.”

She might have come out into some other plane. She might not be in between on the rocks. We can only hope that Lady Mara can reach her now.”

“So then what do I do?” He clenched a fist, longing to drive it into one of the rocks and force them to let Mara's priestess go.

Take me home. I have to get back to Seal Point, or to the Order of Fisheries and Water Conservation offices currently in Southend-on-the-Sea, north of Herne Bay.” The voice answered him, showing him maps and visuals to get to where she needed to be.

Merisson sighed, swimming back toward the surface toward the light, finding the sweet spot for underwater travel, and then turning in the direction the little carving wanted him to go.

 

The further away from the Rock that Drowns he swam, the more he could feel time and space regaining a hold on him. Time became relevant, and the ticks were as real finally as a dolphin's radar.
 

   

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. After three installments have been posted I will be able to open an entry at Top Web Fiction for this particular book in the series.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
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As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story. >.>



Original posting is found at: rainstardragon.dreamwidth.org.
Please also support me at:
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Copy/paste please, due to LJ constantly breaking the links.
selkies

Selkies' Skins Section 2. Chapter 25: The Old Ones


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 myLiveJournal, 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 story is selkies' skins.

This was originally two separate parts, but I put them together for length since these were divided when I was using smaller sections.
Selkies' Skins
Installment 46
Chapter 25 (part one)
The Old Ones

 

Morvan watched as some of the students separated from them and followed the headmistress, the Makay girl among them. He pondered the way she looked longingly to the spring after tearing her eyes from the sea, and the momentary flash of terror, then the confusion he had seen twisting and raising her brows. Stranger yet was the purpose in her step once she started moving, the dreamy hesitancy he was accustomed to seeing – gone.

That was not the Makay girl that he knew. He was not sure who this was. Even that moon-crazed Demeter girl had a more powerful and direct aspect around her instead of being lost in daydreams.

This version of Makay possessed a tangible wariness, which reminded him of how the doves watched the cats and owls. He wasn't sure if she was the cat, the dove, or the owl, nor was he sure he wanted to know. She might eat him.

Each of the Observers called up previously carved turnips, the predecessors to the now ubiquitous pumpkins introduced from American cousins. Purple and white, wood-hard and the size of doubled fists, some were simply scooped out glorified candle holders, while others had obviously had longer to work and steadfastly managed to scrape out recognizable faces to leer... or gaze benignly.

As one, each Observer held up their turnip lanterns, which varied in size and complexity even more as they began to take on life, and murmured their own prayers.

"I ask the Lord Of All That Is to watch over and protect my friends. Please extend your hand and bring them back to yourself, and forgive their mistakes. Don't let them get hurt." Ally whispered, dipping her head and closing her eyes, far more pale than when they had set out.

Morvan wondered what she had seen during the transit.

"May the Lord of All Flesh grant the safe return of our friends, and the safety of all of us." Nevin agreed, nodding, equally pale.

"May Enlightenment and connection to Truth be gained by all in following the Way" Enid and Devan murmured as one.

"Amen," Guirmean nodded toward Ally and Nevin. "So Mote It Be." Guirmean nodded again the end of the other prayers.

"Wait, I thought this thing was a Pagan moot. Those didn't sound Pagan." Morvan hid his smirk, but crossed his arms.

Ally and Nevin flinched. Enid and Devan sighed and shook their heads.

"What's yer row with that? 'S like guests at a church." A mostly brown student from among the Guardians hissed and sighed.

"Observers don't have to share the same faith. They just have to care about those that wander between worlds, Lilitu! Just because we're all different doesn't mean we don't get along." Creighton spat at the same time. The dark haired male from the Participants stepped forward, eyes flashing and fixed as if he were a deer.

Something dark and horned overshadowed Creighton, and for just a moment Morvan caught the scent of musk, the chase, and birch trees.

Well, more of the scent of birch than was usual for Creighton, who smelled of summer birch stands even at Christmastide.

"Be still, Creighton." MacLeomhann's tone pinned the lad.

"Yes Professor..." He cast one last look at Morvan.

"Halfblood ghillie dhu..." Morvan muttered.

"The same goes for you Lilitu." MacLeomhann growled. "You will learn your lesson."

"Insinuating something about my mother, Lilitu?" Creighton continued, hand still fisted.

"I can have you serve detention together tomorrow night if you won't stop. Kirstin, don't you dare think about joining in." MacLeomhann's gaze snapped sharply toward Kirsty at the sound of willow and selkie hair beginning to swish. "They listen even now."

"Yes Headmistress..." They grumbled together, going with the higher of her titles, all hoping for some favor points.

"Damnitall..." Kirsty blinked with what she hoped looked like innocence, then conjured her own turnip, instead of making mud swallow him. She cast a wary look to Creighton and the darker haired female. With an unobtrusive sniff she tried to identify the scents coming from them.

Battle and/or the Cailleach was not something she needed to have following her, or to be blundering into. Mara's insistent tugs were enough to deal with.

Next, the other ritual participants each conjured their own, and lit the candles of their Observers and ties back to the world of man.

"Light at the windowsill and hearth always bring us home, through darkest night and wildest storm." The five Participants chanted in unison, each touching or brandishing some mark of their deity, before touching the wicks of their turnips to the flames offered.

Thomas sighed and shook a bit, touching the lump beneath his cloak again once his flame was lit from Ally, and watched Kirsty rub the twinned bracelet at her left wrist once she was lit from the same source.

Creighton winked and patted the bone spearhead strung at his neck, once done accepting fire from the dark haired one. "Let's hope Kernnunos and the Oak King grant blessings, Enid. See you with a prize hopefully." Enid smiled a bit and nodded, adjusting the mask she wore.

"Of course they will. Didn't you hear the sounds of Herne's Hunt last night? They're all riled." Stone grinned, her pale blond hair for a moment looking too white for Morvan's comfort. "I can't wait to find out directly what She wants me to do."

Gale looked into the turnip he held after Stone's had been lit. "Just be careful Ingrid... Remember last time. Come back."

"'Don't wind up like the girl that bonded too close with Brigit.' Don't worry, I won't."

"Uh huh... I wonder sometimes." He muttered.

Morvan wasn't the only one looking at how Stone's hair was closer to the shade of moonlight.

Gravely, the Observers shared their light with the Guardians... except for Morvan.

Try as he could earlier in the day, he had not carved a turnip with the other students during the preparations for the time. Nothing would form in his mind either. Now he understood somewhat why people worked for hours and days on the superstitious oddities...

No turnip, no flame, no light would he have.

None would have been offered to him anyway. Superstitious fools.

He tried one more time to conjure something, but all he managed was a gnarled stub.

The looks some of the others gave him... He was unaccustomed to this feeling it brought him. Even out under the open sky he began to feel claustrophobic.



Professor Guirmean moved to light Morvan's wick for him, but Kirsty held forth her flame instead. Her gut twisted, and she fought it, but some force pulled her toward him like fish in a net.

The cold that flowed through and around her, an arctic blast over frozen seas, made her squeeze her eyes shut. Images formed before her and then were torn away too quickly to grasp.

The flame danced between them, and kindled the wick of that misshapen gnarl, and the scent of some unnamed creature (which she likely didn't want to know by how it turned her stomach and made her think of the last she'd burned her hand) coiled up from the tallow and overpowered the clean herbs in her beeswax.

With a nod, she drew back, and felt things unseen click into place. She had done Mara's or the Lady's will... and that was all she knew.



Was that pity on Makay's face? Surely not. She had said nothing, so there was no way for Morvan to verify. Neither would the others speak to him. So what was that flicker in her eyes and the hated tie he had thought he had felt?

Thomas Harper the was first behind MacLeomhann, plucking a few strains on his lute and making his turnip do a jaunty spin above his head like a demented will o' the wisp. Makay fell in line behind him, holding her head high. A strange, barely audible warble came from her, weakened further, then fell silent as she winced and reached for her throat. Diana Demeter looked up to the moon, as if she expected that low hanging orb to speak. Indeed, it did appear to be listening attentively. She too then got into line, resting her hand momentarily on the shaking shoulder.

Morvan already disliked those three, but the other two, Ingrid Stone and Floyd Creighton he knew little of besides their names and that they were of Leomaris. They were as withdrawn as Valnarius, usually.

Creighton looked his way and pulled up an antlered hood, oak leaves clinging here and there as if the great hart they came from had last crashed through a thicket of saplings. He curled his lip in disdain, holding Morvan's eyes, but talking to the one beside him. "A Spiralis... still can't believe one came with what they say about the Old Ways."

"Floyd, the heads will hear." Stone elbowed him while hissing. "We can hope 'They' will unleash us, 'til then..."

Stone's hood came up. An eerie darkness emanated from her, an impossibility that gave Morvan a headache. Without a word, she glided to the line, followed by her housemate.

The adults continued in their preparations and gestures. Ainsley carefully placed a circle of what looked to be salt around the observers, with garlic and silver at the quarters.

The crimson sun touched the edge of the mist and slid below. A bloody path formed over the water, though as far as Morvan knew, the path of the sun shouldn't have been seen under such conditions.

For a moment, he thought he saw a large, triangular, fin breaking the water. When he tried to focus on it, it was gone.

So why did it leave the sense of foreboding, as if a white masked closet dweller with a cleaver had just creaked the door open?

One by one the Participants wended around the tor, away from the beach, and into the stone circle, accompanied by MacLeomhann's chants and the wails of the floating pipes. One by one they passed through the dividing line, flares and pulses passing through the Observers.

The last of the sun's light flared, the final stab to its daily life, as if from the Morrigan's spear. At last, MacLeomhann herself entered, and Morvan heard her no more.

"Now we wait, and guard." Guirmean answered the unasked question. "Mr. Ainsley will take half of you and guard the village side, the rest of us will be stationed here."

The moon now hung low over the stones, as if watching the forms which he could no longer see. For a moment, he thought he almost could pick out a satisfied smile in the great shining face.

Or was the moon rimmed by rows of serrated teeth?

The wind rose.

Ainsley pointed to his two to follow, singling out who he knew from the roll call would be Darcy Green from Leomaris and Corriander Comely from Bertramus, in their dark leather Hunter's garb. Ainsely gave him a fierce and haunting glare, and the Head's comment 'half' momentarily whispered through his mind. Ainsely grinned a bit, though what it meant Morvan wasn't sure. Then they too disappeared into the fog, ostensibly to position his two young guardians where he wanted them to haunt. Morvan was now "alone" with Bartholomew Brown, Stanley Wookey of Leomaris, and the Headmaster to "protect" the Observers.

 

McNamara fiddled with the edge of her cloak, peering up at the stones. "Are you sure they're really going to be all right? Thomas really does this every High Day?"

Morvan listened partially and looked around for- he didn't know what. Some moving shape perhaps.

There was breathing behind his ear, but every time he looked, he saw only the settling night.

"Every High Day." Guirmean replied, resting a hand on her shoulder.

"What about Kirsty? Are these really as dangerous as people going missing? If she does these all the time, but not always with a group-?"

"Which is why she's here for this one. I have full confidence in Professor MacLeomhann's abilities to midwife them back and forth." His tone was final, and calm as the soft thump of a thick tome closed for a final time.

Ally reached up and grasped the silver cross where it dangled from its stout chain. She bit and sucked her lip thoughtfully, then sighed as if pondering a question from History, Ethics, or maybe that sparsely attended World Religions seminar.

Time stretched out further, and the dark fell faster, as if the Unseelie Court galloped across the sky drawing a tattered cloak of darkness behind.

The wind called his name, but as Morvan looked around, none seemed to hear it.

 

"I don't think I want to know if they're real anymore..." He thought. "Not in a place like this..."


 


Expect the next episode around July 28th, unless an extra episode funds, in which case you might see the next on July 21th. If you'd like to have another episode sooner, feel free to use the Paypal button below. A total of $5 earns everyone an extra episode. If the five dollars is not met, then the amount rolls over toward the next early episode. You can see how close we are to having an extra episode by checking the meter on the sticky post.


Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction (just remember, we're a long way from finishing the story and there is a lot of ground to cover. If you're on Goodreads, the ebook is already listed there with my other books. Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story. Want to do a review? Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide and of course you can now put one on the Goodreads page as well.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book once it's available. The donations accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip?
Write me for a mailing address.
 
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As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story. >.> *whacks at the formatting one more time and hopes it fixes it...*


Ok, scheduling it for tomorrow didn't work as intended. So it's here early and will go up on the website tomorrow.



Original posting is found at: rainstardragon.dreamwidth.org.
Please also support me at:
ANA2012 Contest: http://www.ebookmall.com
Deviant Art: amehanarainstardrago.deviantart.com
Publishing: www.thgstardragon.com
Publishing Blog: thgstardragonpublishing.blogspot.com
Copy/paste please, due to LJ constantly breaking the links.
selkies

Selkies Skins Section Two: Installment 28, Chapter 18 (End of the Trail)

 



Welcome back to another installment of Selkies' Skins. I'm still going to do this bi weekly, unless extra episodes get funded (at which point I'll have to squeeze more writing time to make more backlog, because everyone and their mother's kittens seems to want to eat my writing time this week). The book's sections will likely be a bit different from the website's since too many chapters in a section starts to look really confusing in the nav bar on the site. Or they might not. This is one of the issues that the editor and I will discuss. This chapter in particular is one that we will debate as to if it makes a better section end or section beginning, or if it will get treated as an "in between" happening.

Byron: You'd better not cut that with how you kept pushing that along to where it occurs in the timeline.

... Maybe I'd better protect my bed.



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 return to Selkies' Skins.


Selkies' Skins
Section 2
Chapter 18

End of the Trail
installment 28
~~~~*~~~~

 

Byron had continued his northward trek as swiftly and thoroughly as he was able. The Kelpie had not kept track of how far he had gone. Time did not have much meaning when traveling as part of the water to go through it, nor would it matter until he was back at his mistress' side discharging his duties. Food he had taken only when coming across it, not wishing to waste any time if he could help it. He was swifter without any humans, only halfhuman or not, on his back. There was also the advantage of not having to be careful with his poison spines in his mane.

Still, it had been a long search. He was quite positive that Kirsty would be well into this year's training in finishing her readiness for her skinquest, by now. As long as she had a firm understanding of all the worlds she was going to be required to walk in, she should succeed. So for now, his only worry was Etain, unless he had lost track of more time than he had thought.

Well, maybe more technically it was Etain and the nameless things that the Ministry used to keep track of non-human magical beings and anyone else that they wished. He was well versed in how they worked, had encountered them so many times since the Ministry had wormed their binding onto him centuries ago. The Ministry of Myths at that, and he could never be certain which of the competing “governments” were worse. The question was, why were so many of them ranging so far from the prisons and the "reserves?" Who had revolted hard enough to have them unleashed? Was it one of the merclans not yet forced into the reserves? One of the reserves pushing back and refusing to give up traditional grounds? An escapee? Product of one of the wars always boiling just below the surface of one of the many intermingled and intersecting worlds?

Maybe the gods will hurry and make a grand return and scare some sense into all those pompous windbags. Probably too much to ask, be my luck Mara would decide to ride her clergy. Or Herne's Hunting Dogs would chase them through their silly “secure” government buildings...

A tickle of coldness passed him by, and he sneered to think that even below the waves they were hungrily on the prowl for new beings to mark, or old ones to feed from. And so many. He changed his heading to avoid the one that he could feel ahead. A Seafolk city came slowly into his view as he galloped, and his heart leapt, hoping that perhaps they would have some news of where his mistress had gone.

The outer buildings were empty. Weedy yards waved in the current, and nary any sort of pet nor guardian was to be seen. The fields between had the unkempt look of untended seaweed beds developing, and even the oyster-beds between the outcroppings had an almost haunted feel. It was not unheard of, especially if there were threats in the area, for those on the outskirts to retreat into the cities and citadels proper. So he pressed on, though marking that the outskirts were abandoned and oil still seemed to linger, though changed somehow.

Byron passed through the gate in the walls of coral and pearl, into the city proper, but here too, silence greeted him. He slowed his pace, just in case it was what had sent everyone to hiding. Yet, the streets remained empty, the markets abandoned, and the pennants on the undersea towers were all that seemed to move in the current. He paced slowly through the city, hoping for an Octopid, a Deepsea Selkie, one of the Sharkmen... even a Triton, contentious as they were, would have been a welcome sight.

There was none.

He pressed on to the citadel in the heart of the city, and here too, no living, speaking thing greeted him. Into the castle he went, to the throne-room. Here, all that greeted him was the pipeline for the oil rig, plunging through the roof and the remnants of the splintered throne, drained of magic. Which of the capitals was he in? He searched the walls for a pennant that bore a crest, but all that still remained were blank.

With a sigh, he bowed low, paying respects when a final look around revealed part of a decaying hand. The Kelpie then left, making his way through the city toward the spires of the temple. The guardian statues gazed at him hollowly, the Samebito woman and the Selkie woman armored and holding spears.

Mara's militarist aspect. Explains the overtones of Viking and Grecian architectural elements.

Going past the external guardians, he came to the room of the representative Ancestors, each presenting their Histories, stone-faced. Here, at least, magic still lingered, dormant. Waiting. The taste of his mistress still lingered in these waters, fresh and emotion laden, joined with the suppressed fear of-

A Triton? But where are they then?

The dead eyes of the stone Megalodon watched from where the body lay, and the spearpoints of Mara's more humanoid form gleamed momentarily. Catching sight of this, a chill swept over him shaking him to his very marrow.

What within or beyond the seven waves is bloody going on?

He circled and paced the room, but try as he might, the track ended here.

Mara. What have you done? What are you playing at?

The eyes of the Megalodon continued to stare, as did the sharkwoman. Byron studied the eyes of those statues carefully, hoping that there might be some clue left in the temporary bodies. For a moment, he saw a flash of whirling waters, fighting themselves, and a great unsteadiness.


~~~~*~~~~


Be watching for the next installment in around two weeks, unless an extra episode funds.

Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story.

Want to do a review? Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide.

Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal



As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those. I am very happy that there will be money to print the full story out for the editor to do a comb through before it goes to print and ebook and to have the editor get paid. She is currently looking over section one and part of section two, helping get section one prepared for the backers' reward ebook. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.
Original posting is found at: rainstardragon.dreamwidth.org.
Please also support me at:
ANA2012 Contest: http://www.ebookmall.com
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Publishing: www.thgstardragon.com
Publishing Blog: thgstardragonpublishing.blogspot.com
Copy/paste please, due to LJ constantly breaking the links.
selkies

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.

"Meri..."

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.

~~~~*~~~~
Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
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Want to do a review?  Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide.


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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.

Original posting is found at rainstardragon.dreamwidth.org.
Please also support me at
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chop

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?"

~~~~*~~~~
Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story.

Want to do a review?  Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide.

Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table and give me something to kick towards my editor (who is playing catchup due to her health). Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal


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.

Original posting is found at rainstardragon.dreamwidth.org.
Please also support me at
Deviant Art: amehanarainstardrago.deviantart.com
Publishing: www.thgstardragon.com
Publishing Blog: thgstardragonpublishing.blogspot.com.
Copy/paste if links break.
selkies

Selkies' Skins: Installment 21 (Chapter 15: Temple of Mara, 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 imaginiation). 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 15
Temple of Mara

part two
installment 21
~~~~*~~~~

 

Try as he might, he could not be sure if he really had seen Mara's statue stir. It stayed where it was, and the representatives of all her many children likewise continued to proffer their histories without movement.

The half Selkie that was the goddess' land-walking priestess swam up to the eye of the great statue, running a hand over the eye-ridge in awe. The statue, oddly enough, felt warm to her touch, and Etain reached out in mental quest, trying to decide just what was going on. Though she felt something, knew it to be Mara's energy, it waited just out of her reach.

After receiving no answer, she instead went to investigate the Selkie statue. Carefully, she searched the shape and form of it. Though firmly in unchanging stone, it seemed somehow as if it looked distinctly like each of the many sub-breeds, including the freshwater-dwelling ones, depending on the angle, and changed slightly with each blink.

Etain carefully opened the book of Selkie History, reading what she could, then sighing when she realized how much more she would have to read. The book alone was three times the size of the Makay Logbook back at Seal Point, which itself was at times nearly 1 foot thick. Yet, the book drew her, and she looked pleadingly back at the statues of Mara, then to the Selkie, then back to the book. Experimentally, she tried lifting the tome, hoping that she had the clearance to take it with her for study.

The shark blinked. Etain did not see, but the Triton did, and he placed himself between the two while the curious Selkie attempted lifting the book. A shiver passed over the body of the shark, and the human version below it moved her head and lowered her spear to look at the Selkie. The pair continued watching as Etain continued testing the weight of it.

"I don't think you ought to be doing that."

The Triton's tone was firm, as if speaking to someone younger and slower, while trying to catch and hold her attention.

"I don't think I can." Etain panted, finally giving up her straining with a disappointed whimper. "It's too heavy, I'll never get it home or anywhere, without Her help. I was hoping that my daughter could read some of this, and see for herself how important our family's function really is."

The shark turned itself, more directly facing the pair.

"We have something more important to worry about than any desire for knowledge." He placed a hand on her shoulder and spun her roughly to view the now living and moving statues.

She started, her eyes going larger and rounder than they normally were, and the blue of her eyes shooting to a panicked yellow at the size of the shark, now that it was moving.

"Why do you linger?" The humanesque statue gestured slowly, and shifted her trident. "You have restored what balance can be done here, and your craft bobs on the waves like a bouy waiting. You have more elsewhere."

The shark continued to loom behind the seemingly mild-mannered statue. Etain curtsied the best that she could in the water, as she had been taught on land, and though graceful was not quite what she had aimed for.

"When I was a girl, you promised that I would be able to read one of the tomes... and I thought, Lady, if you would allow, when the Winter Break comes for Kirsten and she returns for Winter Rites, if she read then she would understand too."

"And so now you have read. I can consider the possibility of your pup reading, but it will not be this winter. Summer, when she will have the time, moving the books will be part of her challenge perhaps. Or perhaps not, if she proves unworthy of the line."

Etain blanched.

"She will prove worthy, Lady Mara. She is already overcoming the problem of most merfolk despising halfbreed blood that she carries."

"Through exposure though. A different route, and not the one I was looking for. This year and the next should help solve that problem though. Now that she's old enough, a proper education in the ways of the wild and the seas." The shark shifted and eyed Etain and the Triton hungrily, gliding closer. The human version of the goddess formed herself a sharks tail, assuming a more comfortable pose and height, floating now in the water despite her weight and a malicious smile ferally spreading. "At any rate, I do hope she survives to full adulthood, that werewolf boy she thinks so highly of has certainly prompted some interesting changes, and there will be more tests after my own that I wish to see how she weathers."

The Triton kept his eyes on Mara's manifestations warily, though he wondered about the child that goddess and the half-Selkie were discussing. In his lifetime, he had been witness to some arguments and discusions between her Priests, the Priestesses, and even had a few of his own. To date though, he had never seen a smile unleashed quite as dangerous as was being so "lovingly" bestowed on the half-breed, by the goddess who either ate or broke her own as she made the lines stronger.

"What do you mean, Lady?"

"I mean that her sins will make her weak, if she does not walk carefully, and now that my sister and I are not the only deities involved in the family fortunes..."

The goddess trailed off.

"What sins has my daughter committed against you? Will her blood four times yearly not be enough?"

"What sin!" The goddess railed. The shark snapped and the sharkwoman flung an electric bolt at the fins of the Selkie statue, which hit the mark and sent pains through every living sealperson no matter the blood dilution. "Your daughter made an oath that she would bear no pups for anyone save that young potioneer, when the time came. I felt the ripple. What sin indeed! After you and your mate, she is the last of this line that combines all, the last bearing both my blood and my sister's, as well as the wood-hunt lord. It doesn't matter that so far he meets my approval! None of you have permission to make a decision that could end the line."

The Triton had no idea who the particular god was that Mara referenced, but the loss and anger radiating made even his scales feel as if they were about to drop. How long had the separation been? Was this part of why her mood always changed so swiftly? Etain was thinking along similar lines, and though each drop of information always improved her understanding of the one her fortunes rested on, in this mood new knowledge was too dangerous.

"Let me take on the transgression then. Place the anger on me instead." Etain held herself firm, keeping her voice carefully modulated, though she tremored and knew the water had to taste heavily of her roiling emotions.

The shark held the pair framed with its jaws. One twitch, and both Triton and Selkie would be food for her prehistoric self, yet the Triton held his guard firm, unknowing as to precisely why he continued to shield her while the priestess and her goddess faced off. The twitch did not come, and they stared together into the dark maw.

"I will stand witness. It sounds as though the child is young by our standards, so there is time yet Lady, and you will not have to worry aboout the preservation of your literal line."

He'd done it, said something and fully gotten himself involved in the struggle. He could feel the bonds of the oath tightening around him even now as witness, the magic requiring the witness for the sealing of the transfer. All it required, was Mara's acceptance.

The jaws closed, and the darkness was absolute.

~~~~*~~~~
Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story.

Want to do a review?  Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide.

Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table and give me something to kick towards my editor (who is playing catchup due to her health). Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal


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.

Original posting is found at rainstardragon.dreamwidth.org.
Please also support me at
Deviant Art: amehanarainstardrago.deviantart.com
Publishing: www.thgstardragon.com
Publishing Blog: thgstardragonpublishing.blogspot.com.
Copy/paste if links break.
selkies

Selkies' Skins: Installment 20 (Chapter 15: Temple of Mara)



"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 imaginiation). 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

Installment 20
Chapter 15
Temple of Mara

~~~~*~~~~

 

Etain stifled her disgust at the taste and smell of old blood in the waters of the demolished throneroom.

"Father refused to leave. He entrusted the kingdom and people of it to my elder brother. Father remained behind on his throne crownless as the drill came to the floor, trying to mitigate the damage that would come."

The Triton's voice was more gravelly and deep than it had been, and when she looked to him, his expression was strained and gazing back at some scene that she could only imagine.

"I doubt they even saw him, or this, though there should have been probes. Perhaps all they'd seen was a large, noble fish." She trailed off thoughtfully, before continuing. "They see so little with their technology, even when something is right there. Part of the way the ancient magic of our kind's creation works, I suppose."

Etain's use of the term noble had not gone unappreciated. He nodded and drew a deep breath, even as he discarded her defense of her own kind.

"The most noble. I only hope my brothers and I can live up to the Neptunes of our past. We've already had to move so far and establish new territories, little halfling. Now we start yet again."

Etain swam to, and touched, the remains of the throne, where some lay, and then the piping where it plunged into the floor and bedrock below. The magic still contained in the shards licked at her, responding to her, seeking direction since the mind behind it was now gone. She closed her eyes and teased it out, under the watchful eyes of the Triton. He said nothing while she worked, yet she heard whispers of the past Neptune-kings that had ruled the city from the throne.

"A new throne needs building when the new city is sited... And to be linked into the seaplain matrix with those of the other sea-kings."

"It will be done. We will find an artisan of skill enough to represent all the people and kinds in the kingdom. I suspect you will be sent for at one point in its construction."

She nodded in reply, weaving the magic now into new patterns, and casting it outwards like a net to contain the damage. What oil she could, she pulled together and worked back into the ground, breaking it up as much as possible trying to protect the burrowing creatures. It was then that she became fully aware of what the dark pall over the city had been. Oil, a vast, settling cloud of it, that she had swum through to get down, and the thing most responsible for her feeling of heaviness and illness.

The Triton continued to watch her, noting the way the currents swirled, and the way her hair lit and fur glowed. Another form superimposed itself over her as he watched, adding her own power. Soft seal lines were overlain by the fiercer and sleeker shark people lines, fins becoming slashes in the water. A second set of arms, spectral, wielded the wicked obsidian and crystal bladed spear and trident, so familiar to devotees of the sea goddess that visited her undersea temples. The blades even glowed with residual fire from undersea volcanic origins.

Mara's eyes locked with his while Etain was wrapped in her duties, and he felt the usual dangerous and unpredictable chill. His blood froze when she smiled at him, and though the Etain/Mara set was too far to reach normally, the tips of her trident rested on his shoulder in blessing. When a small burst issued into him, his worry deepened as to what it boded.

When Etain had done all that she could, and set the spell to work in perpetuity, she felt Mara's rage die down... somewhat.  When she looked toward the Triton again, it was to meet iced and distant eyes with a touch of what she thought was fear.  She turned around, just to ascertain that he wasn't staring at something behind her, perhaps a crazed kraken deciding already to take over the abandoned room despite the drillpipe.  There was nothing that would cause him concern though.

"Why... are you looking at me like that...?"

He shook his head, then looked away. "Is there more that you need to do here?"

Etain tilted her head to regard him, nibbling her lower lip lightly in thought.  "No. I've done what I can for this place.  I should get back to my ship soon, but-" She bit her lip thoughtfully, framing in her mind carefully what she would say, not wishing to offend him now that she was somewhat on his better side.  "I would like to see the city before I go, to pay my respects to what once was."

The Triton crossed his arms, still with the same icy regard, though his eyes were beginning to thaw a bit.

"Very well.  Thank you for your help, I'll escort you then, halfling."

They made their way back out of the throneroom, and through the deserted city once she had said a quiet prayer for the soul of the Neptune-king that had given his life for his people and to make her job slightly easier.

The pennants still waved in the currents, and here and there wild fish swam.  The water seemed healthier than when she had arrived, but now the city had more of a forlorn and abandoned feel.  At the edges of her vision, at times she thought she saw a swimming form, perhaps a Selkie, a Triton, maybe a Siren.  Each time, it would turn out to simply be a trick of the lighting and terrain, or so it would seem after inspection.  The heavy pall of grief settled more heavily than the oil had.

Etain explored the city thoroughly, looking up often at the rocks piled into towers and how the coral was trained to grow over these to hold the whole together. Red, pink, and yellow specimens cemented the walls well, but were beginning to pale around the edges, already bleaching. Small fish moved here and there, but not as energetically as they would have before. Starfish still moved over the rocks after their next meal. With architecture like this, it was very easy to see how human technology would miss the buildings.

This habit of blending in did not apply to lintels and window frames. Here, these were carved of hewn stone with a strange mingling of Nordic and Celtic knotwork, depicting scenes of the family's history, according to her Triton escort. Now and then, when venturing inside to get somewhat of a feel for how the people had lived, she would see the interiors carved with the forms of ancestors, and was able to pick out here and there where Greco-Roman influence intersected with those, confirming the Triton's statement about having had to move far.

At the northern edge of the city, she found the mate to the Neptune's castle. Where his castle had been decorated with banners, pearls, corals, and other bright living things, Mara's temple blended stone, coral, volcanic columns, natural tables, giant teeth, and spears. Guarding the entrance to the temple were two figures, both female. One, a stern shark woman in what looked to be Viking inspired armor, wielded an obsidian trident and glared disinterestedly at those that approached. The other, a rounded, though still quite muscular Selkie held a crystal tipped spear, wearing similar armor. In contrast to the guardian on the other side of the entrance, her hand was outstretched in a wary welcome, or perhaps warning.

Etain and the Triton slipped between the pair and through the open Temple doors. Inside, representatives of each of the sea-dwelling merfolk species waited in alcoves, forever carved in granite. A Samebito, Triton, Merrow, Selkie, Undine, "Classical Mermaid," Octopid, Naga, and a half-human, half sea dragon (that she vaguely remembered from her long ago Defense classes calling a Ryujin), along with several others each in their respective nooks, proferred books that detailed in Atlantean and Lemurian, and one other ancient script that she could not decipher, yet reminded her of Ogham and Runes mixed together, the histories and creation of each of these.

She looked at the Triton, her hair flaring around her in interest. "The priests left these?"

"Mara wouldn't allow them to take these." He gestured to the statue, or at least she hoped it was, of a prehistoric shark of monstrous proportion. Over sixty feet in length, and dwarfing the human formed version despite its own larger than life size where she struck a commanding and threatening pose near the shark's nose, the shark lay in the focal point, as if merely resting, and Etain's imagination gave movement to the vast gills and lengthy hair. One vast eye glared at them and at the world with cool contempt. Somehow, that onyx eye conveyed the sense of awareness, though she wasn't sure how. "She said that when her new Temple is built, she herself will move all of these, and that meantime she would transfer them 'elsewhere.'"

The onyx eye, larger than she herself was, continued to bore into her, challengingly.

"Is that so?" Dreaminess poured over her the longer she gazed into the eye. "I wonder where the Lady plans to keep all this safe from the oil and the men in the meanwhile? It will take a long time to rebuild her Temple, yes?"

"Indeed."

He crossed his arms and huffed gruffly. Once more the Selkie's attention seemed to be drifting. It seemed that she was held by the eye's gaze. Surely she knew better than to look into Mara's eye? Yet, it seemed not, to him. She continued looking into it, and one band of her bracelet he could see reacting. He could even feel it in the water, an electric thrum, high and low at once, and a stirring.

Did he see the statue move? He narrowed his eyes, then checked the other statues.

~~~~*~~~~
Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
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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.

Original posting is found at rainstardragon.dreamwidth.org.
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Copy/paste if links break.
selkies

Selkies' Skins: Installment 19 (Chapter 14: The Rig, 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. 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, 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 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 14

The Rig (part 2)
~~~~*~~~~

The air had the peculiar taste that temperature controlled air tended toward, and her footsteps fell quietly after she muffled her feet. Her invisibility had not been countered, which meant it unlikely that any of the old charms that rendered magic void had been placed. The lack of "superstition" worked in her favor. Peeking around a corner, she held her breath, and in this fashion she slowly made her way to the control room, praying to any deity that cared to listen that none of the crew would learn of her presence. If she could just find out what stage of operation the rig truly was at, then she could determine what the correct action would be. It would do no good to decommission the rig, if there were no cap. That mistake had been made by others, in other operations that had opposed deep sea drilling in sensitive areas, that she was aware of, and each time it had resulted in a mess.

The man in the room monitoring the readouts was not impressive by any form of the imagination. A warm worksuit, to counter the effects of the temperature swings out here if the heating failed, swathed his average build in a grey-blue. Blonde hair could be seen under the workman's cap, wispy and fine, and his facial scruff was far beyond five o'clock shadow. Slightly more impressive was the company logo, though it displeased Etain greatly to recognize it. The futuristic red letters imposed on a racing white oval was one she had encountered several times since her graduation from the traditional school, and beginning of her true career.

He was alone here, this was in her favor. Etain stole her way behind him, where she too could see the monitors and gauges properly. Images and numbers stared at her, and as she did her best to read them, she wished for a team of her own, to more quickly hamper the progress and enact a more permanent solution. She thought briefly of the Triton, but he was forever seabound, and likely to simply chuck the offending humans into the brine and be done with it, bringing yet more out.

While she was deciphering the displays, the door to the room opened again, and another man walked in, speaking in a gravelly voice a question in a harsh sounding language. She thought it Scandinavian, or perhaps German, and she grated at the fact that she had not learned these, nor did she have Marsali's ability to understand languages she had not learned. Etain held her breath and posture, praying her spell continued to hold.

The conversation was done quickly, the one passing the other a large mug of strong coffee, black by the smell. The other then left, just as her stomach began to growl, the sound masked by the door for the one leaving. However, the man at the monitor heard and looked around for the source. She retreated to a further spot in the room, and stifled a sigh when he muttered to himself, as if deciding perhaps it had been his own stomach.

Etain watched as he took a sip, winced and grimaced, then set the mug down. She drew close again, touching the back of his neck lightly with her fingers, and bent over him. A sighed word into his ear, and he was asleep in his chair, slumping down. Quickly, she drank what was left of the coffee, to quell her stomach since it threatened another growl, and discovered why he'd set it down so soon, after scalding her lips and tongue. When she set it down, exactly as it had been, the mug was half empty.

A few strokes on a keyboard, and a few buttons of varied colors and shapes began the process she needed. She closed her eyes and reached out with her awareness, heading down, searching out the pipe and the black substance within, feeling the water within the oil. With effort, she forced it to begin downward. The temporary cap began to slide into place.

Her cloak swirled as she turned, and slipped out of the door again, moving quickly. She only paused at a few valves, to turn them to the proper positions, then made her way toward the exit. Hurried footsteps sounded in corridors, crew moving for some purpose she could not be sure of, likely summoned by changes at workstation, and she moved faster. Her breath came in gasps, partly because of the speed she moved at, partly from the effort of sustaining the invisibility spell. She could feel it flickering and slipping.

The footfalls came closer, and a surprised shout behind her alerted her to the fact that her invisibility spell had completely failed. Desperation made her feet even fleeter than before, and she knew her hood had fallen back, revealing the spill of hair, but hopefully not her facial features. She heard more, could feel them coming, as whoever that was called for help on his radio in that strange language, and hearing it again she was more certain it was not German.

She unleashed her cry, hoping to use the sound to deafen or stun, not wanting to use an offensive spell unless she needed to. Her keen filled the small hallway, hurting her own ears even, and she heard the person drop to the floor. Turning around, she could see him clasping his ears but still looking toward her. An outstretched hand, and a desperate pulse of energy, and she flicked out the lamps by exploding all of them that were in her range. Etain's hair and cloak whipped around her in the magical current, and lightning crackled and danced around her, the water held in Mara's vial within her pouch drawing the electricity to it greedily.

The man managed to gain his feet again, running away from the apparition, screaming about the sea ghost. Once an unbeliever in the paranormal, he now would have his own tale to tell about his brush with the sea's mysteries, and how he had to run from an attacking "ghost" on the haunted oil rig he'd worked. It would not be long before he would meet up with others, hopefully with torches so that he would no longer be in the dark with her visage etched into his eyes.

The lights around Etain died. She felt, more than heard, Mara's voice in her blood. That part of her that was Selkie quailed at the rage normally hidden in the sea.

"Go down now, before I kill them all for what they do to my children."

"Yes Mistress."

Etain continued her run, shooting back out the door, pounding down metal pathways and stairs, scurrying down ladders, knowing full well that if the cameras were not on the same circuit as the lights, she was likely being recorded with infrared technology. Once her feet landed on the deck of the Sea Witch, she cast off moorings, then pulled her skin about herself and dove into the sea without removing her human coverings. Behind her, the boat rode the swells obediently away to where she wished it to wait, she hoped beyond where they were likely to board it.

She continued downward, and the Triton was at her side within the moment, bubbles from her entry still floating upward. Etain only went through half the change, leaving her as half humanoid as he was.

"Well?"

"I slowed and reversed the process, though I doubt it will take them long to reinstate full functions as their company intends. Probably didn't even know you were here and thought the buildings just odd formations, at least by the look of their monitors."

He snorted as they flipped and drove further down, thinking that these "monitors" were just more of one of the human brands of magic.

"Aye, formations that take a lot of intelligent work to make serviceable."

Etain nodded in agreement. "Young race in a very different world, that denies what it is capable of on the one hand, while the other has reasons to hide itself from that majority."

Her attention drifted off to the water's health again, now that she was fully submersed and inundated with its information, causing her to miss the Triton's reply. Her whiskers and fur spoke of the way the current was running, and the direction the closest fish were in. Her blood sang of the way the currents ought to be running, the ph the water should be, and a host of other things.

They finished the swim to the bottom in silence, the structures of the now abandoned city coming into view around the base of the pipeline. Weedbeds lay unattended, deep sea sea stars and other things without names now beginning to run wild. The futher in, banners waved and began to tatter, the magic of the city's king no longer keeping these fresh. Here and there, a forgotten gem, carved shell brush, or pearl lay where dropped during evacuation.

Etain's tears mingled with the salt sea when they registered that the drill had plunged right into the center of the palace. The throne room, when she gained the floor, was exactly as it had been left, though now damaged by the stress. The throne, or where it had been, was now occupied by the oil well, and statuary was broken, still bearing their gem eyes and crowns of beaten gold and pearl.

"I taste old blood. It shouldn't be in the water anymore." She looked at the Triton questioningly, her voice unable to rise above more than a whisper.


 

 

~~~~*~~~~
Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story.

Want to do a review?  Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide.

Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table and give me something to kick towards my editor (who is playing catchup due to her health). Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal


I was not able to post on the 2nd as anticipated, due to moving house.  I hope to make the next installment by Sunday, as I'd like to return to a weekly posting schedule, though the 16th at the latest (I hope).  Classes resume for me in October.
Original posting is found at rainstardragon.dreamwidth.org.
Please also support me at
Deviant Art: amehanarainstardrago.deviantart.com
Publishing: www.thgstardragon.com
Publishing Blog: thgstardragonpublishing.blogspot.com.
Copy/paste if links break.
selkies

Selkies' Skins: Installment 18 (Chapter 14: The Rig)



"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 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, 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 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 14

The Rig
~~~~*~~~~

Etain growled. "Would you LEAVE MY SHIELDS ALONE!" The Selkie woman shook her fist off the poop, toward the Triton that had hounded her the past week. One week of battle between the two over control of the weather, the current, even the tern that Etain had sent off with a letter to the Order had resulted in a strange bond forming between the adversaries.

Whether the tern reached the offices with her report as to her progress and experiences, she could not be certain. All she was certain of was that she had caught a tern, and that it had agreed to carry her report. He had even tried to wrest control of her craft's will while she had been distracted with the task, and communicating with the tern had not been easy in the first place.

As annoyed as she was at his interference, there was a part of her, likely the human blood given the generally more peaceful nature of the Selkie ilk, that enjoyed the challenge. The Triton broke the monotony of her sail, now that they had at least agreed to leave the weather alone.

"Yer still in me territory, wench. Either get out, or have the decency to sink, halfbreed."

"I'm working on getting out of your territory. I can't teleport a whole boat! Though trust me... I would if I could!"

"Yer a seawitch. Work harder!"

He shook his trident at her, and it crackled irately, purple lightning playing over the black triple blades on the spar that formed the shaft. Water from the tips, propelled by the shaking, splashed her face while they glowered at each other through the shield. It landed harmlessly, stripped of any negative effects by the protections it passed through. Uncaring, barnacles continued their slow, methodical takeover of the hull while the merfolk went at it yet again.

Etain narrowed her eyes further, paying attention to what the Triton looked like, since he was close enough this time. Brown eyes glared back at her past crow's feet, set in a leathery face that had seen decades of sun. Long wild hair the color of sea weed bearing froth roiled around his head, the corona of hair and beard tamed only by a roughly wrought crown of beaten gold likely rescued from an ancient wreck. The body below the face was muscular, as one would expect of a being that lived always swimming. His arms were thick from shark wrestling, and every once in a while she saw the flash of a scaled tail, but could not tell if it was grey, or green.

"No seawitch that I've heard tell of ever successfully teleported a boat without a wreck." She continued, reining in her temper. "And I am not going to anger Mara by wrecking the boat she entrusted to my keeping for the sake of a cantankerous Triton baiting me, oh 'Lordship.'" Etain leaned on the rail, watching him while the sea bobbed her boat with the swells.

The Triton paused, sinking several inches before starting to tread again. "Yer Mara's own?"

"Aye, bred, bonded, and branded so." She displayed her wrist and the silver and gold bands where they twined each other, a third conspicuously missing, as it had been for generations. The bracelet's light pulsated with the beat of the sea.

He growled, grumbled, then huffed. "The Shark goddess is not one of my favorites right now."

"Why?" Etain kept her face schooled, waiting to finally find what was at the root she had suspected when first leaving behind the soulfish, and sailing into his own temper tantrum.

"The humans." He growled again, twirling his beard with a free finger. "She lets them press into our seas, and does nothing when they overfish. She is OUR goddess, yet she reduces her sharks along the coasts, and does nothing when the true seafolk are displaced, despite our prayers and offerings. Where do you think those sharks hunt?"

"They eat the local shoals of fish where they move to. And where I come from, they eat the seals and Selkies." She replied carefully during the pause in his rant.

The Triton nodded. "They've been harassing the borders of our cities, and the humans forcing a move has not helped."

"She does send her sharks to other coasts as well..." Etain sighed, thinking of how reports of shark attacks were increasing in the warmer waters, in the Cowan's news and how oceanologists of all kinds discussed them more and more. Many of the reports Finnol would bring home with him had mentioned this. "You're in the middle of nowhere... How could you be found?"

"Oil closeby." He crossed his arms and spat, wrinkling his brow, then pointed northward at her look, answering before she even asked, slowly easing into some level of comfort with the woman that smelled of seal. "We lost one of our cities to the drill recently."

"I sorrow with you." She bowed her head formally in sympathy, careful to use the more ancient wording. "Perhaps there is at least something that I can do still?"

"You offer help, even with me harrying you all this time?" He eyed her dubiously. "You're part human."

Etain drew herself up to her full height and glowered down. "It is my duty to my deities, just as yours is to patrol certain territories. Human or not."

He nodded, causing the waters to lift his large frame closer, and as no malice was intended this time, the shield let him pass. "I can take you there. We can't live there anymore, even after repairs, but the fish will still need to pass safely, seawitch."

"I will do my utmost, Triton." She grasped his hand gravely and squeezed the best she could, though her hand was positively dainty in all its callused glory in comparison to his textbook sized ones.

The Triton released his hold and began to swim, arrowing and leaping like a dolphin through the swells at the prow of the ship. Instead of due north, he took a tack 30 degrees to the west, and the Sea Witch followed gamely. Etain went to the prow, allowing her vessel to follow him on its own.

At last, the ships and offshore platform could be seen, mist in the air from the swells breaching on the stays that dove down to the seabed far below. Though there was no oil slick evident yet, and it seemed to be running as clean as possible, she felt a dull ache through her body, and the queasiness of taint seeping into the water. The closer they came, the more she felt it, and when she got to a better angle, she could see buoys and floats containing the leak she could feel. The Triton slowed, the oil also effecting him adversely. When he halted, and turned to look at her, he was another few decades older.

"You see what I mean. There were many already cleaning, but this is since then."

Etain bit her lip and pushed her nausea and tears down. "I do. I'll try to sneak aboard first, and see what I can do there, before I go below."

Heart in her throat, Etain left her boat below, as securely as possible in such conditions, and climbed the ladder. As she rose, she hoped that there were no security cameras watching her ascent, and employed the basic cloaking spell that had served her in so many other instances of trespass. And trespassing she certainly was, in ways that the most active members of protests know and employ in their pursuits of defending their cause.

After what seemed like an endless ladder, she made the deck, and then picked her way across to the door. The scents of the place churned her stomach as much as the knowledge of what surely had once been below the waves here.

No security rushed her, and carefully she unlocked the door. As the spell worked, she could feel each step completed, and she opened the door softly as possible. An empty hall greeted her, and she slipped in. In the corner, the expected camera stared toward the door with a fixed lens, and Etain drew her cloak more fully over her head, despite the spell she had placed on herself.
 

~~~~*~~~~
Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story.

Want to do a review?  Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide.

Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table and give me something to kick towards my editor (who is playing catchup due to her health). Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal



I hope to make the next installment by September 2, as I think I will be done with the move by then and have the internet on.  The laptop has not been repaired yet either, and that is unlikely to happen until after classes start and my aid packet has arrived, so it is unlikely that I would be able to post from my brother's home if such is not the case. Original posting is found at rainstardragon.dreamwidth.org.
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selkies

Selkies' Skins: Installment 17 (Chapter 13: Out in the Storm)



"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 (large territory) 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. 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 13
Out in the Storm

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Kirsty made her way through the halls, padding softly and avoiding the other cats that sometimes prowled the corridors, especially the one that belonged to the castle caretaker. She liked the night, how it gave a more mysterious and ancient aura to the already ancient and mysterious stone passages. The sense of height was intensified by the darkness, and her ears twitched at every noise, and the whispers of the ghosts going about their business. The scent of the old castle was very different from the scent of her home, though she knew both grew and shrank as need arose, and that her home predated this fortress. Once in a while, the light footfall of a student breaking curfew hit her ear, and she would take shelter in one of the standing suits or behind the ever rippling tapestries.

White blond hair and pale skin reflected the light of the flameless torch held by Morvan Lilitu, when she came across him making his way out of the dungeon unaccompanied and wearing the green and bronze of his house. She grinned to herself, leaping up onto one of the ledges above the nearest door, and waited, watching. As he stole closer to one of the cases featuring artifacts meant as motivational displays, black kid gloves clearly indicated that he desired something from it. She yowled as if something had stepped on her tail.

He spun around gasping, directing the light at her, and her blue eyes reflected a demonic red in the darkness. She puffed her fur and arched, taking full advantage of the height and surprise to be even more terrifying, and yowled again. A loud clang sounded in an adjoining passage, and there was a cackle as the castle gremlin hot footed for the disturbance. In response, Morvan spun again and tore away, Kirsty leaping after and following close to his heels as possible.

She was passed by the gremlin. When she saw the raggedly legs flash by, clothed in freshly stolen and mauled socks, she slowed to a more moderate pace and continued her trek to the door, flicking her tail side to side in satisfaction. At last, the oaken doors soared in front of her, and the castle heralds did not stir at her presence.

It took some ingenuity to actually get out of the castle, with the wind pressing in on all the doors, mostly in the form of timing her pushes just right after slipping back to her human form, in order to open the heavy doors enough to slip though.

Once out, her travel was not any easier. The rain soaked her swiftly, and the same winds that had locked her in the castle temporarily now thrashed the trees and threatened to scoop up her slight form and toss it around like a hailstone in a cloud. In truth, they did more than threaten to scoop her up, but actually did so on occasion.

The biggest gust carried her hissing and yowling all the way to the lake, where she landed with a splash. The storm exacerbated the lake's currents, to the point that in the normally placid swimming area there actually was a current. She would have never believed it possible if not for this current pulling her out, where normally she was winning swimming races and getting teased for her extremely conservative and old fashioned swimsuit.

The water pulled her under, and once again she took her birth form to better swim, giving up the idea of running around in her cat form, for the time being. She swam across the current, as she would a riptide, and angled herself back toward shore.

A net closed around her in the black waters while the current continued to pull. She struggled, then reached for the pouch at her waist, glad that her parents had taught her to always strap it on whenever leaving for anywhere. Willing the water to be breathable as air, she worked the silent magic that would allow her short periods of water breathability. Her lips and lungs tingled, and the burning from the inhaled water stopped. Kirsty reached inside the pouch for her silver dagger, and began sawing at the braided lake-weeds.

"Nightfish, over here. The alarm went off on this one."

She stopped sawing at the net, and turned toward the voice and the name. She saw the glint of silver scales in the green wisp-lights that the Hunters held by their sides, and the men-fish of the loch were by her in only a few thrusts of their powerful tails, despite the current. They looked more like shark-folk to her, than the fish-folk or seal-folk she could see around the Point at home.

"You caught an airbreathing 'fish,' Carin. Seaswimmer, no less." Nightfish untangled her from the net, then frowned, noticing the hole she had already managed to make. "I hope you feel like weaving a new net. My mate already has several to replace for the village."

"Not my fault, you're the one that picked this spot to set it." Carin crossed his muscular arms and looked Kirsty over. "We didn't expect you till tomorrow night, Seaswimmer."

"I got blown in by the wind."

"What do you expect on a night like this? That's why we're fishing this way, it's got everything stirred up and makes the fish run. It's your own fault for being out of the land-dweller's castle. Even the wind knows the proper place for you is in the water. Why aren't you changed yet?"

"No skin yet. Next summer I get to go."

Nightfish finished dealing with the net, wrapping it up and securing it to his waist. "You should at least have taken a dose of the changing paste. I know our herbalists taught you how to make it."

She looked sheepish, and even in the greenish light her blush was evident. "I forgot it was in my pouch... and since it lasts an hour a dose... and I'm trying to get somewhere..."

Nightfish nodded knowingly. "You're out going someplace you shouldn't. As usual."

"NO!" She blushed deeper.

"Bah... adolescents. When you get to be our age, storm time courting is less important. Taking the opportunity for more food to feed the fry is far more appealing."

"Storm time... courting...?" She stared at the two mermen, who now looked at her with as much perplexion.

"Yes. Isn't that how it works with the land-dwellers too? While everything is stirred up, there is this energy that makes you just want to-"

Kirsty cut Carin off with a disturbed hand motion, and ah-ah-ahed like a pup, before resuming her swimming.

"They make me want to dance and sing, or knit, or put the Lilitu out in it. I have no idea what they do to you and am a little afraid now to find out." Nightfish chuckled as Kirsty continued. "As for humans, magic or not, most want to stay indoors during the storms. That's why we merfolk all get in so much trouble when a ship is downed in a storm."

"We know, but we're inland so we don't get blamed for that as often." Carin shook his head at her harping yet again on differences. "Here... this is painful watching you, though the teasing is fun."

The pair grabbed her under the arms, then hauled her to shore and tossed her up. She landed in the shallows, and they surfaced laughingly.

Kirsty rubbed her rump. "Thank you. I'd rather not have to sit here and wait for the paste to wear off. I'll be in the water tomorrow night for my lessons. I assume they go on, under Lady Mara's rage against the land or not?"

"Always. What's a little wet to the people of the waters?" The mermen waved their spears, then dove back under to resume their net checking. Kirsty took a look around to get her bearings, making sure that she was still on the grounds, and not likely to attract the attention of anything dangerous, then sought the least windy path to the secret passageway that she could.

It took a bit to find a sufficiently sheltered path, and then she shifted again despite how unlikely it was for anyone to see her.

She slank, belly down as close to the ground as she could get. Despite the storm, the lake called for her, and the salty waters beyond the underground passage out to the sea. The older she got, the more tempting the song of the sea was, urging her to leave her lessons and claim her birthright first. Yet a skin wasn't a right, as she always had to remind herself, but a privilege.

Kirsty continued for the sanctuary passage though, instead of answering the sea's calls. She had somewhere to be. There was not much that she could do to make what David had given her, by protecting her so often, anything close to equal footing. However, she could be there and hold him when he resumed the form that everyone knew, and rest next to him in the meantime so that this part of him currently in its ascendancy would know that there were at least some that were not of his kind that accepted him simply as he was.

Kirsty smiled grimly once winning her way to the cave passage and then through the protective vines that led to where the rare students that were enrolled with his condition were generally sent. It always amazed her how much the humans, herself included truthfully, took for granted that their precious schools were all free of non-human students. While there was the whole, and as she understood it, usual "my family is older than yours" and "we're Pure Blooded human" nonsense out in the open, in her short years in the school system she had found several students outside the "norm." Some of those students knew, and hid, what they were. Others did not yet know, and though she could guess at their ancestry, it was not any of her business.

Thankfully, for now there were those in power that would see to it that those with rights to more than one type of magic would be able to learn it. As much as she wished to be with her mother on the Sea Witch, she was also glad to be here.

Soon enough, she found herself doing more swimming down the passage than walking. When she had gone several meters paddling through the water, she gave up and slipped back to her birth shape. With a wave of her wand, she parted the water in the passage, which constantly was having more added to it, so that even though it was shallower, there was always going to be a bit of water where she walked, even with Imp's help. Kirsty sighed and made a note to lay down some charms that would allow the both of them to pass dryly in the event of another deluge like this, and hoisted the hems of her sopping nightclothes.

She held her breath when she pushed open the plank door at the end of the passage, remembering how the first time she had seen David's secret, fully and without the way he'd hidden it during the strange blood moon their first year of acquaintance, she had been forced to scramble all over the castle's post-room to escape. It was many months ago now, but she still rubbed her forehead where she'd plowed right into the door, when she'd forgotten that a cat shape was not going to open the post-room doors with any sort of efficacy.

The wooden door at the end of the cave passage ended her reverie, and when she opened it, she was able to step up and out of the water. Warily, she drew her wand and mimicked the swirls her mother often used to temporarily stay water when doing some rerouting of waterways, just in case the level rose further than the base of the door. The Selkie hair at the core of the willow shaft sang and whispered wistfully, and she briefly saw glimpses of Germanic coasts and Scandinavian firths.

She heard a faint whoosh behind her. The warmth of the fire that inexplicably started up in the hearth whenever it was needed seeped into her bones, and she was aware of her scent beginning to fill the room. She sniffed delicately, making use of her sharper sense of smell. The smell of wolf hung in the air, stronger toward the stairs leading to the upper level of the structure built in the cave system, trapped by the rock.

No werewolf tore down the stairs of the refuge to rip her up for the crime of smelling human around him, despite how sure she was that her scent had reached him. She closed the door softly, then extracted as much water from her clothes as she could. Her pelt bristled at the idea of going and curling up next to a warm dry bundle of fur and robes as a sopping, stinky, most likely demonic looking, drowned cat. Now, if she could finally go on her skin-quest, then she wouldn't mind curling up next to him furry and wet, as a seal could at least be expected to be wet, and thus be less of a shock.

Though probably not an appreciated one in the middle of the night... She smiled a bit at that ludicrous thought.

Still there was no sound of him coming, though she was still certain that by now he'd scented her and expected it. That could only mean, or so she thought, that he was either too tired to care, knew her smell enough to not automatically have the stereotyped reaction that folklore (and the increasingly common reports of attacks) would lead one to think... or that maybe she did not smell as human as she had just a year or two ago.

Kirsty shook her head in irritation at herself for so much dwelling. As far as scent went, maybe all that rain had just washed it all off, and it was silly to pick apart that riddle when she needed to rest before his change back. She slipped back to her cat shape, and padded up to the bed, where there would be a warm furry body and a great big paw to lay over her back.

She hopped up on the bed, her claws sticking in the thin, musty blanket as she attempted to pick her way to her favorite spot. When she laid down, she saw the thick white pelt, beneath the too thin blanket and too large robes. An ice-blue eye opened when she curled up on his chest, and she kneaded at him, purring soothingly. She purred louder when he whuffed softly in reply, and put the expected paw over her, grumbling lightly from the awakening. It did not take either of them long to fall back to sleep, and the night passed by quickly.

 

His restlessness woke her shortly before the howl, and she sprang off of him as he bolted up in bed. David grabbed at himself and howled again, sometimes scratching, and often snapping his teeth, as the fur slid back into his skin, and bones cracked loudly to reform. Kirsty's stomach twisted at the sounds, but she stayed. She threaded around him and rubbed against him as soothingly as she could, purring and meowing loudly till he was sufficiently transformed that he wouldn't be able to bite and pass the infection on.

Though she wasn't so sure it was an infection in his case, no matter what all the books she had read on werewolves stated. Not given what she knew of his background and connection to a certain Lord of the Hunt that her goddesses had interest in.

Once he was transformed enough to not be too great a threat, she transformed and wrapped her arms around him from behind, careful to remain clear of his jaws while he continued his twisting, simply holding him and humming a healing song. She could feel the magic welling up from somewhere inside herself as she hummed, and the way her palms and skin tingled where it passed through to him. He clung once he had managed to turn enough in her tight grip, and though the whimpers broke her heart she kept holding and humming until his pain seemed gone, and he was simply resting in her arms, once more human, if more than slightly disheveled.

He took a shaky breath and looked up at her. Kirsty smiled at David and nodded, hoping he didn't notice how wet her eyes were. She waited on his breathing to even a bit more, laying her head on him, and relaxed when his hand moved on her back. When he was recovered enough, she told him of her aunt's warning, and the new rules for the year...

David eyed her. "So, what aren't you telling me?"

Kirsty blinked innocently. He sighed.

"The Mistress got put in the lake by the wind!" Imp piped up, popping into view and illustrating her flight with his hands. And she got caught in a net again Master. Imp wasn't quick enough, and the wind was too strong..."

David sighed again, and shifted uncomfortably, his bones still aching. "Again? Why didn't you stay inside? Especially with how those things searched the train." He frowned, and gingerly extricated himself from the bed. "You weren't seen by one, were you?"

"No, I don't think so. I'm still here, and not whisked off to one of the reserves or in front of some tribunal. I would have at least had to fight one if I were seen."

David went to change into his normal robes, and Kirsty went down to the lower level while he changed, waiting. While she waited, she thought about the best charms to use in the passage, settling on one that would work only for those authorized to be in the sanctuary. By the time he was done, she had worked out the wording and the way the energy would need to flow, and again decided that using her wand would be the best focus, in her lack of a spear. She was practicing the motions when he descended the stairs, books in hand and the twin ravens of his house emblazoned in silver and blue on his robing.

Kirsty blushed when she realized she was being watched. "I was just getting ready. I had to take this form to get through the passage, I wouldn't have been able to swim far enough as a cat. So I thought that, if I added a bit of a charm to the passage, the headmaster wouldn't be mad, since I'm taking care of something only a waterwitch can do properly..."

"Go on... I'd like to watch you work."

She nodded and entered the tunnel through the bedrock, making her way through and singing softly under her breath. Now and then, Kirsty paused to trace arcane spirals and sigils on the walls or floor, which glowed a brilliant sea green briefly before fading from sight. The entire passage thrummed, the echoes magnifying the song, causing it to reverberate like seals under ice or whales calling. As they moved through the knee-deep water, it parted around them, leaving the floor where they walked dry, but closing again behind them.

Finally, she tapped the walls just shy of the vines, satisfied with her work, sealing it. The storm continued, but now it was a steady downpour instead of a tempest. The mood of the storm had also changed, and Kirsty wondered what had changed the mood of the sea goddess that she had felt in it. She glanced over at David, who smiled at her despite how tired he clearly was, and she found herself blushing when he complimented her work. The blush held for quite some time as they left the dryness of the sheltered cave passage, and pushed through the grasping vines to enter the rains.

Luck was with them, when they won their way through, and into the castle again, the others still slept. The castle gremlin snoozed on a lintel, smugly clasping Morvan's overrobe as he waited on one of the teachers to pass by. Quietly they passed by, careful not to wake him, and went to wash away the scent of the past night, before students or staff would be stirring from their beds.


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Copy/paste if links break.