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This will be the location for various serialized stories I am working on, as I have decided to experiment with this style again, due to the success rate that I used to have while writing fanfictions. Please use the tags if you have a particular story that you wish to navigate to, and feel free to bring your friends. I also will occasionally post news here related to my own manuscripts intended for regular publication and their availability.

For reference, the THG StarDragon Publishing Blog, though sometimes it goes long times without updates, is the place to watch for news regarding not only my own books, but those of the authors that have chosen to work with me in getting their own works ready for publication. My personal journal is located at livejournal (same name as here) and will be the place to look for random stuff (though if you want super random, I do admit the "sin" of having a Facebook). Artwork can be viewed on my DeviantArt account, or you can visit the THG StarDragon Publishing website or the Lulu Storefront. Also, some titles are going to be found at my Smashwords page. Don't forget to check Amazon and Barnes and Noble for print and ebook versions. Please note that the author is a full time mother and also takes university courses, so she unfortunately does not get to write or paint all day.
 
Comments are welcome, as I would like to experiment with how reader questions can help shape stories. Also, if you would like to donate to help fund my time (and help buy coffee to think and do neat things for the kids) I do accept Paypal. Just use the button at the bottom of the post.

You can find the table of contents for my serials below.

Contents Selkies' Skins )
Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well (book one) manuscript wordcount: Currently 131,693 for chapters 1 through 39, front matter, the glossary, and author bio. It will be followed by a second book covering the second half of Kirsty's testing, and likely a third book or fourth book to deal with other important bits that are not focused on in Kirsty's Skinquesting. There is also an audiobook version currently being recorded, narrated by Illya Leonov. He is also expected to narrate the books of the Dragon Shaman series.
You can also read it on a dedicated site for the stories.

Selkies' Skins 2
Selkies' Skins 2 )

The manuscript for Selkies' Skins (book two): Temple and Skinquest is currently sitting at 41,338 words in the full file as of April 20, 2016 and is in progress.

The manuscript for Dragon Shaman (book three): The Forge and the Well is in progress at roughly 20,000 words

Contents Shen's Tale )

~~~~*~~~~


 
Donations for stories help support my children.

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!


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 Book Review

Title: Into the Hexagon

Author: J. D. Stonebridge

Page count: 63 pages

Where to get: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ERRNJY0

Author’s page: https://www.amazon.com/J.D.-Stonebridge/e/B00OPZ1YQU

 

When this series was pointed out to me I did not expect how addicting it was to become. With this particular episode the plot of the series is advanced even further. We uncover a corporation conducting illegal and questionable experiments to go along with the Primes. The boys do not find Lauren, but rather she finds them. We meet three new Primes. The usual destruction occurs. Poor Tony and Lance seem to encounter violent explosions wherever they go. So much for being out of the military and any ideas of a peaceful life that Lance might have had. I quite sympathize with his momentary desire to go back to the desert! It would all be so much to take and I think that by this time the progressive forward movement they have to make simply to stay alive is what is preventing mental breakdowns. If you want action, this is a good place to get it. As usual detail is detailed, but fleeting. You do not have a great opportunity to luxuriate or bask. You get to rest now and then, but those are brief. As usual, this is a good read if you are looking for something light but engaging, and I do not mean light as in not requiring thought.

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 I have fallen a little behind on posting these reviews. They have gone up on Amazon, and the video versions on Youtube, but I forgot to link them here. So have a few videos. The author was kind enough to send me 6 through 11 as well.



rainstardragon: (Default)
"Leviathan" is a tentative name for this chapter now that I am in the part of my outline dealing with the Leviathan self-prompt. I still need to also work on Etain and Finnol's part in this book more. For me with this project a tricky part is dealing with the concurrent parts that all depend on each other and how the fabric of their realities shift due to events in the lives of others and the butterfly effects of things happening out of the scope of these books but within the other two series.

This is part two of the chapter. I am unsure how large this chapter will clock out at.




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. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon, when I can get to uploading it finally. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)


Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 37
Chapter 15 (part 2)
Leviathan


Kirsty blinked and narrowed her eyes. Belial’s brow furrowed. Both pressed their lips together but kept their eyes on the man of flame. The remnant gathered strength and a bit more solidity from some source, pressing nearer step by step. A dull thrum came from one of the vials in the pouch at her hip, pounding through her veins as the being came nearer. Subsonic, more felt than heard, several items in the cavern resonated with the note. Far above in the dim study with the agitated spirit entrapped in the crystal orb glazed and clouded selkie eyes cleared and focused, waking up and extending their senses.

In the middle of the spring a flickering of purple, green, and blue dimly ran along the stone dais rising from the saltwater and crackled along the sundered box. The box toned low, the subsonic hum echoing and concentrating there until reaching the range that Belial’s ears could hear.

His wife’s pelt shifted against him, a claw timidly scratching and poking. He ached to pat it, but dared not betray the pelt.

“No. I am not.”

He raked his brain for anything. The stone box kept attracting him. Perhaps, if they could get over the water and into the box, then he’d have the shielding for what he needed to do. The Black Gate rattled in its coffer, reacting to all of the energies, probably even beginning to open already. If he could use that, then that might solve the problem.


As Belial was processing, so too was Kirsty. Something weak and tired inside herself was half contemplating giving this being whatever was in the blasted box. However, she also knew that if he wanted it that it was a powerful object. A another part wondered, “Why give it something that it wanted? What if it was an item that might be useful to her. Raechel had wanted it it too, apparently, since that was how we met again.” This also was something this dark curling thing was rejecting as it tried to spread through her mind and heart. That part of her wanted it for itself. Other shards of her mind each sounded their own opinions, previous lives bubbling up from deep recesses, some in fear of what they felt in the boxes, others excited that they were so near.

The pulses, now echoing to her sensitive ears, both sent her off center and yet emboldened her. Shards and facets came together again in agreement. Who they had been and seen, what she could become after this moment, all that mattered was not giving in, tired or not. What felt as if an age of debate having flashed in the space of perhaps a breath. If she hadn’t apparently been skinned under her borrowed clothes her short hairs would be on end. Drums sounded within the box that Belial-Ciarán had taken from her after he rescued her. Steady, marching, dancing, raising in ferocity, a howl answered inside her. Racial and ancestral memories stirred, whether human or selkie she might not ever know should she live long enough to look back from this moment.

Words, male and female, sounded inside her head in a language even older than those she spoke. Though she did not know what they said she could feel the intensity, understand somewhat what had happened. Whatever was in that box held some key to the Lady’s loss of self, so too did this desecrated shrine portal.

The sisters had been driven out of what was once a home for them.

The light continued growing brighter, as if calling out. An idea glimmered, and as it gained strength so too did the light.

Kirsty pushed up, reached out. The chest passed back into her keeping before Belial-Ciarán could put up an adequate defense of it. Astereth stood between herself and the dais. Her other hand moved her sporran to where a male would traditionally wear it and the little selkie balled herself to have the Vials she carried and the chest together and hopefully shielded as she hurted at and then through him on her way. If she could get to the ancient seat, and the box hopefully whatever was inside would take care of the remnant and give her the piece of the Lady that was hidden here. Perhaps she could even find her way to her own time and place. She hated portals now, but if she could make a portal and make it work, she would be happy.


Belial reached for her as she burst out of his touch and protection. He saw where she was intending to go even as Astereth tried to pull more augmentation and tried to catch her. With a cursed call he followed.

Others answered him as he sent out the energy he had pulled from himself and out of his soul, the temperature dropping. The fear fed them, though it was not their normal fare and they vied for it with the guardian spirit here, but in return of his call some fed back what they could to the necromancer. Others tried to leap on Astereth, even if they only had the strength to distract for a moment, allowing the living to pass through their forms.

Salena’s sealskin shifted where he had it hidden, completing a circuit around his chest. He knew that if he saw her again he might lose an ear, she was still angry with him, but for now they worked together despite the literal and metaphoric distance between them.


Kirsty expected to be caught against something, to knock him aside or to be knocked aside. Unlike the living fire from David’s wand snake she felt no heat when passing through. There was only cold, bitter, bone deep, heart deadening cold, like spoiled disappointment and the odor of rotten cottage cheese, envious of something kept beyond reach. Then she was through, the odor and its taste clinging to her tongue like fur on a black skirt. Water beneath her feet and placing a water shield beneath them, her feet touching and then dashing over the surface like a skipped stone. Whirling around to face him again, kicking herself for exposing her back, she could hardly believe that had worked to get through or get her across. If she lived, if this continued to work, maybe she could experiment with that technique more later.


Furred figures swirled around Astereth when her eye found him, whirling spectral seal skins and human forms. Keens, barks, and bellows assaulted her ears, mostly female with the odd male here and there. Belial-Ciarán burst through Astereth, into the water. The water pulsed, sending a shock through the cavern, shaking the ground around them. Astereth laughed again at the sound of the splash, turning to pin Kirsty with a leer.

Astereth came to the very edge, rising on his toes. The wraiths continued to swirl around him, preventing him from trying to do anything to her from across the water. Somehow, Kirsty knew that for the Lilitu, falling into the water must be a bad thing. Why was Astereth not crossing?

Then Belial broke the water and flopped his gasping way onto the dais with her, water streaming everywhere and an odd moon pale glow outlining him, the same color as the selkie wraiths. “Open the box!” He coughed, then coughed more as water shot out of his mouth, some landing on her feet.

Kirsty grimaced; she opened the box as the drumming inside grew louder.

The temperature dropped even lower. Their breath steamed, the water smoked. Belial lurched up, still coughing a bit as if something squeezed his chest, not fully convinced all the water was out. She took out the amulet that lay inside, the drums stilling at her touch. A fossilized globule of the darkest, most hopeless night took the form of a cabochon set in a filigree triskele winding widdershins. Kirsty felt a great weight press on her shoulders, as if taking on the sifting of the entire world, older than she ever imagined in less than a heartbeat.

“We’ll have to open the Black Gate. Let me.” Belial wrapped around her, his wet seeping through and chilling her more than she already was. He hissed in her ear at the contact, laid his hands over and around hers.

The wraiths retreated, fleeing through the door and down into the waters around them as if fleeing something far more dreadful than their adversary.

Sweat ran down her brow, into her eyes, and down her lip as the stone opened and pulled on her increasingly waning personal reserves. This sweat threatened soon to freeze as what was kept within and beyond it poured out.

Dark forms flowed from the night and the salty water about them froze over. A grey mist enveloped the pair, and this too was darkening. One of the forms unfolded and circled around them, hooded eyes meeting Kirsty’s as it passed, pinning her and stealing her breath. The chill, the despair, the sobs and screams in her mind she knew. This before her was what she knew as a Defector. Yet, it was not ragged like the ones she had seen before, nor like the ones she knew roamed the country in her time. This one seemed healthy, and somehow pure. It wrapped around Belial and Kirsty, pulling them into a chill embrace but leaving them faced forward as others continued to pour out and drove for Astereth.

Astereth, or more accurately the remnant, screamed and backpedaled, releasing the strikes originally meant for Kirsty into these. They absorbed the blows into their nothingness and pressed forward, eventually engulfing and extinguishing his flame. All that remained was the wraith of a man in ancient garb Kirsty still could not quite place. Then they pulled him within the Black Gate, leaving the one holding Kirsty and Belial in place.

Slowly it released them. Bowed.

His voice hissed and raked low, popped like coal in the grate, growled softly like a dog still on guard. “The Cwn Annwfn and Gwyllgi recognize the current guardians of the Cailleach’s Black Gate. We welcome helping the possible Cauldron of the Sisters of Lake and Sea and,” he paused, sniffing, “someone that participates in the Wild Hunt? You smell rather like we do.” He glanced to Belial, “Also I suppose it is good someone of your blood makes up for it and protects one of the selkies, after what that Thing did to this one’s Ladies.”

Kirsty shivered, the air still and chill as if a Thing were in the room. There were no flashbacks to a younger time, nor memories of the times she had encountered them though, and this being before her felt Untainted, Pure. “Thank you?”

The being before her nodded, stood. Below the cowl a black snout briefly flashed fangs. He bent down and pulled the cowl back from his face enough to lap at the water, seeming to drink easily despite the thick ice blocking access. “You should reclaim the fragment of your Lady before you leave this place, Mistress. I do not know what other adversary to you is near, but my fur is still on end.” He rose, having washed the taste of Taint from his mouth.

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


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Book Review

Title: The One In Light

Author: J. D. Stonebridge

Where to get: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E6RHBEK

 

The writing took me a little to settle into since it felt a little stilted. However the slightly stilted language also worked for the setting and the character’s mindset. It would not have been as convincing if the writing in the first chapter were smoother given the history of the character. One would expect things to seem a little fractured also given how we come into this story with a missing woman. The initial difficulty could also have been the result of a sick child in the household interrupting my immersion. Either way, certainly no points lost in my mental reckoning. This also smoothes out later

 

Then we find the connections to the unexplainable things that most of society would rather avoid thinking about too deeply. Aliens, supernatural? And yet it seems to have some sort of scientific weight behind this mysterious discovery. We then follow the missing girl’s boyfriend and brother to discover a young woman that has lost a sibling of her own.

 

The pacing of this story seemed about right to me, and the level of detail was brief but not in a detracting manner. It moves you along, following the frustration that a worried brother or boyfriend would feel. This is not the story you want if you want to be leisurely steeped in description. This is an unapologetic thriller. If you have some uninterrupted time then you will get through this quickly. I wish it had been longer. Even with all of the unexpected interruptions I managed to finish in less than a day. I normally read longer works, and this left off at a rather harsh (to me) cliffhanger so I am very glad that this is the first in a series. It reminds me of the serial novels that were released around the same time when I was young by Steven King (Green Mile) and John Saul (Blackstone Chronicles if memory serves). Short, fast reads for those with time constraints. I hesitate to call this a novel, and it even seems a little short to call a novella. I would call it more of an installment of a novel, which is not a bad thing at all. Just different and not a format I often read in other than a few for internet authors that I follow. I plan to read the next of this series as soon as possible. Certainly an enjoyable way to pass the time, and cliffhangers drive me nuts.

 

I am curious about the mysterious stone and what role it will have in the future parts of the story. I am expecting it to be an artifact that has heavy influence on all parts of the tale.

 

Regarding technical details of the book itself I found very few typos to trip me. What I did find I believe to be mere stylistic matters. Plot progression so far I cannot say much about, I believe I will have to read a few books in before I can start to form any idea on whether there are any unexpected twists or anything like that, which Amazon sometimes asks about.

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Dragon Hearts’ url is changing! Please make sure to update your bookmarks. The new one is www.dragonheartsrpg.com
 

Dragon Hearts is a browser based text roleplaying game based in the realm of Rhian. You play as a dragon, although in interpersonal role play you may decide to become a shapeshifter dragon. Play co-op or play alone, discover mini games and find your home. Go questing as your level grows, maybe discover things no dragon still knows.

Dragon Hearts (DH) logo done by none other than Salaiek.

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 This recipe arises out of a discussion about compiling a book of recipes for my books. This particular one would be something the Makays would eat in their home at Seal Point (Selkies' Skins). There is also a variation that BlowingWind's family (in the Dragon Shaman books) would eat. You can use fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. Tonight we used frozen.

Seal Point Pea Soup

1/4 to 1 onion, depending on how big the onion is
1 to 2 pounds peas
1/2 to 1 pound bacon
1/2 to 1 salmon steak (or equivalent of the day's catch of whatever was hauled in)
pepper to taste
1 tsp to tbs ginger
1 tsp to 1 tbs garlic
At LEAST 1 tbs ground dried seaweed (or equivalent fresh, sliced thin)
Amounts of fish can be adjusted if there is a lack of bacon
5 or 6 cups water
Salt to taste, or more seaweed

MountainChild / American O'Drake variation
1/4 to 2 thin sliced jalapenos. Include seeds.

Directions:
In a pan cook the bacon, chopped. Saute onion, ginger, garlic, seaweed, and jalapeno if making the MountainChild version. Add the pepper. Once those are cooked add in the peas. If fresh or frozen saute those with the rest, then add two cups water to start with. If using dried then add the appropriate amount of water and dried peas, according to the bag's directions. If using canned then go for the equivalent amount and count the water for your starting amount. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer, covering. Cook until peas are mushy, mashing with a potato masher. Alternately you can also blend the peas in a blender or food processor before adding, but Kirsty's family usually prefers the masher. Add water as needed for the amount needed. This should make enough for a family of four unless one of them is a kelpie. In that case you may need two or three batches, or just let him cook.

Preparation time: unclocked

Cooking time: Around 20 minutes if fresh or canned, longer if frozen or from dried.

 

 
Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!
 
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If you are a Patreon Patron you got to see sometimes excerpts or current drafts in the Patron Only posts, along with other things. They got to see this installment a little early. "Leviathan" is a tentative name for this chapter now that I am in the part of my outline dealing with the Leviathan self-prompt. I still need to also work on Etain and Finnol's part in this book more. For me with this project a tricky part is dealing with the concurrent parts that all depend on each other and how the fabric of their realities shift due to events in the lives of others and the butterfly effects of things happening out of the scope of these books but within the other two series.

This is part one of the chapter. I am unsure how large this chapter will clock out at. Currently we have 1,168 words for this one. I need to sit with the total manuscript wordcount, but right now... Numbers...




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. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon, when I can get to uploading it finally. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)


Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 36
Chapter 15 (part 1)
Leviathan


Kirsty saw a form darken the way ahead as she hurtled at the mercy of the waters. Before she could attempt to change course her head made contact with the shadow. White lightning flashed within her skull and behind her eyes, not just her eyelids. A screech filled her ears when bone contacted bone and both swirled away from each other. The form came back and claws raked into her. Kirsty did the only thing she could. Claw and fang lashed for her adversary. Blood came from herself and the other but not enough to cloud the water. Fire licked through her skin and traveled her nerves with the answering blow.


Her eyes finally registered. The dark priestess was here before her. Once again the green fire flared and she could feel the Taint seeking a way inside. The battle waged on more than one front, and the Taint seemed stronger than the last they had this dance together. She, of course, was weaker.


Kirsty pulled back and to the side, her tail growing weary already from the blows and strokes that each had been alternating. Eyes darted, looking for a weapon, a sword, shield, Lance... Anything. Mara's spear sliced the water near her, and the water crackled as each tried to control it. Kirsten fell back further. The plume that thrust her here could no longer get be felt, the portal closed.


No falling back.


At once, both sets of eyes fell on the same chest. Lost at the base of a pillar it gleamed dark in the murk, calling, exuding chill. A chill ran up Kirsty's spine at the familiar aura, though she knew she had never seen it before. Raechel's lips twisted, whether smile or grimace was moot. The black selkie lunged for it. The white selkie followed, not knowing why, only that it had to be kept from her. Both pairs of clawed hands closed around the tiny box and the writhing and beating began again.


"Let it go!" Raechel snarled, voice barely understandable as she swung her tail and connected with Kirsty's head.


Kirsty gripped harder and swung her own tail despite the throb and muffling sensation in her ears. The sting in her nose told her that something had opened yet again; the salts in the water sang there. Something gave, and the fingers around the chest slipped. Her arms closed fully around the box.


Up. Up was where that strange sense inside told her to go. Kirsty followed the directive. Raechel pressed close after. Kirsty strove, undulating as fiercely as she could and trying to outrace the other, weighed down by whatever dark object was contained in the tiny chest. Panic pried with red fingers at the edges of her vision and despair stroked icy fingers down her spine. Was there a buru-buru here, like those covered in one of those long ago classes at school. Did they range this far?


If so, it was getting a fine meal today.


The flesh of a flipper split beneath the assault of the blade behind her. More of her strength slipped away, yet she persisted. Onward, upward, forward, away. She tried to coax or command the water to propel her, but she had lost her hold, forced to continue to rely only on the still waning power of her tail.


Kirsty’s spirit railed. It called for her half-missing soul and strained forward as earnestly as the muscles of her body raced. A quick glance downward revealed the water had cleared enough to see the teeth of her pursuer and the green glow of her eyes. Her spirit sank momentarily.


In desperation she pointed a finger at the dark priestess and released it all, everything she felt, everything she could grasp. Unfiltered energies thundered through her and left her cracked, empty. The bolt flew.


Raechel grinned, moved the spear, caught it.


She missed.


The bolt bounced back with a bit more added to it, caught her squarely, spread quickly over and under skin.


Kirsty broke water, flew beyond and into air. She locked eyes with - Morvan? What? An unceremonious landing and her entire body now feeling as if she burned alive beneath her skin brought her back to earth where her body flopped and twitched of its own accord.


Laughter, deep and dark like chasms of nightmare filled her ears, covering the splash that would have heralded Raechel’s emergence into the treasure cave. Kirsty tried to move, found that she couldn’t. A knife passed over her, shaving, cutting. Cords snapped and her halfpelt dissolved into nothing, leaving her shivering.


“Cow.” A grunt followed as something knocked Raechel back into the water. Morvan’s face - no, it wasn’t his after all, only similar - came into hazy view above her.


The cursing was fairly colorful and she dimly made note of some choice ones for probably future use. She was being dragged now, and felt curious eyes watching them both. If she’d had the strength and the ability to move she would have glared. Hands prized the chest out of her arms, whatever she had rescued vanishing from her keeping.


Her heart sank. Her skin felt further away than ever.


Perhaps she had failed? What would happen if that were so? What happened to those that failed in their tests?


More laughter filled the cave and now she could tell that dread sound fell not from the lips of the Lilitu now shielding her from the view of the fuzzy pillar of fire. The part of her brain still concussed vaguely hoped she wasn’t going to need glasses if she survived whatever she had so unceremoniously been cannoned into.


At least she was clothed. Somewhat. Even if feeling distinctly bald. How did people cope with feeling fabric on them?


“Are you going to give it to me, then?” The voice ran clawed fingers down her spine and something inside drew back from the unseen touch, unprevented by the human between herself and the fire blob.


When the fire blob became an actual form Kirsty wished it hadn’t. Without knowing how something recognized the face of flame.


“No. I won’t be.” The knuckles around his wand were white, belying the confidence in the answering voice.


“Are you so sure of that? I know think that little bit of seaweed there is going to do much against my priestess after she unleashes your little pet, nor to help you put me back.” The smirk grew. “This should be entertaining for a bit.”


Kirsty wiped her nose. “Cocky blighter, isn’t he, Lilitu? Have a plan?”


Belial winced. “Live. Don’t distract. Call me Ciarán if you must call me anything.”


Astereth laughed again as something shook the cavern, and a low booming hum soon followed. “His name is Belial. Worthless, can’t even own his given name. Now then my little one, your time is up. Best to give me that blood you bear. I feel the presence of she that should have been mine within you.”

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (selkies skins)
Good lord, Teresa. What was taking you so long? I did not see any Selkies' Skins updates since December! I know, I feel terrible about it. I wanted to release this chapter in one go. Life was throwing curveballs left and right and the chapter ended up being four times the length I first thought it would. We have it now at 4,065 words for Chapter 14. If you were a Patreon Patron you got to see sometimes excerpts or current drafts in the Patron Only posts, along with other things.

This chapter contains some characters from other storylines that intersect and from past standalone stories within the overall continuity. If you have a question feel free to ask. If the answer is a spoiler I'd prefer to answer privately.




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. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon, when I can get to uploading it finally. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)


Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 35
Chapter 14
Stitches and Tears


Heart pounding, Justin stayed pressed into the rocks and hoped his camouflage would hold. He racked his brain for one of the pilfered runes that might strengthen his concealment but could think of nothing. Instead he stilled his breath and cleared his thoughts, encouraging the plant life interspersed with the rocks to be thick and the eye of an observer to turn. He willed the heat of his passing to disperse, his self to not exist.

Bethrise purposefully finned his way through the water, spear ready and tendrils of what moonlight hair not held in his ponytail searching the currents. Iced eyes stayed sharp for any sign of his quarry and his senses open wide. His own training did not boost his abilities in the same way that Raechel’s or other clergy from the Temples were, no augmentations to his psychic abilities. He did have more skill in interpreting the water in more mundane ways, however. All he knew now was that what he sought was close, and that it was cloaked. The water was cold to him, far colder than normal for the time of year, far less responsive.

Bethrise paused. Something about the floor pulled his attention and he lowered his face to inspect the scuff in the silt. He wasn’t far from a pile of rocks that hollowed a bit, fallen from above sometime long ago from what had once been a cliff face. The space harbored some rather sharp looking bladed plants in such prolific amounts that no sane merbeing would willingly try to squirm in to hide. Not if they valued keeping their blood out of the water to lessen the chances of hungry sharks, or keeping toxins out of their bloodstreams.

The scuff did not seem to lead to the hollow, and it was obscured enough by some force that he could not be fully sure which direction the movement had been in, even with all of his training. Bethrise continued on past, in the direction that it seemed to indicate.

His pursuer passed by but Justin stayed in case the silver selkie turned back. The guard’s aim was not something he wanted to test again. For all he knew word had been passed to others.

It was a long time before his own guard started to relax.

Longer before he moved the tiniest bit.

Longer yet before he poked his head out to check on if the sea truly was grumpy silver selkie free.

He shook his head, pulled a breath and tried to center, then spoke a prayer in his mind. “Amehana, if you’re at your mirror or listening, I could really use some help.”

There was a delay of several heartbeats. An answer came, wispy and far away. “You’re lucky I’m in meditation and can answer readily. You’ve not had another binding burned in have you? I am,” there was another delay, as if she drew breath and energy or perhaps found the words awkward, “having to feed. I am afraid one of the grandchildren had some problems that I sapped much of my stores on solving. Akaisu went beyond my reach anyway with that blasted mirror he stole.”

“Mirror?” He made his way back toward the last weak point he had been trying to work through in order to get at his quarry where he felt her within the maze. “No. But the girl I’m after. I need to get at her.”

Justin heard a very indelicate snort in his mind, felt the ruffling of dragon breath through whatever recess the prayers went through. “That’s one I’ve heard before. What did you do?”

He flailed internally but sought to keep his body under tight control. Justin’s mental voice could not belie the squeak, however. “That’s not what I meant. Yuck.” He had another thought, but it was not well formed and down deep.

“I heard that. Sadly my companion might agree with you on it sometimes.”

“Should I be worried about what aspect of you hears me when I call?” Justin shook his head, still watching for any return of his adversary. “Do you know an opening rune or such that might help me get in?”

“All aspects of me would be apt to poke those still in mental adolescence. It helps you grow. My own mentors did the same and continue to do so when I approach them.” He felt her attention turn, focus, press questing claws to grasp the question with an effort. “Runes? I thought we covered that runes are not something I have studied much of, as old as I am. I could give you some kanji to experiment with, but the energy isn’t the same.”

He refrained from any comment on age. Who knew how old she might be, and he’d seen what she could do when irritated on Dreamwalks.

“That was still a comment, too. You really need to work on your mental stillness.”

Justin stifled a sigh and chalked this up to either a dragon thing or a kami thing. Perhaps a woman thing. This is what he got for asking for anyone to help him learn what he wasn’t supposed to. At least he could accept it. She didn’t seem as insane as some other deities, yet.

Amehana continued speaking with her voice fading like mist. Hunger licked behind the words and intense exhaustion pulled at bits of him while lightning flickered in his mind’s eye. “Focus your intention. You’ve got magic of your own. It might be dampened from what it should be, but not as bad as it used to be when Dreamweaver first found you. Use it. Don’t bother on the how. I have to go now. I’ll start pulling on you too if I don’t. Too many. Too much. Another crack.”

Then she was gone from his mind.

His skin itched. Her mental touch always seemed to do that to him, more and more the times that he could communicate with her. He rubbed at a rune on his arm that throbbed and burned dully, then picked it like a scab.

“For all I know, it is a scab.” He thought, then wondered where the thought came from. He tried to focus on his intention; get to the girl. He could feel her through the stone of the undersea mound, within formerly jagged and now rounded peaks. The reasons why he needed to get to her blurred more and more as time passed. There was the task he had been set when he’d left what passed for his home. He was supposed to team with that Taint-touched priestess to get her although he wasn’t clear on what would happen then. He was supposed to bring her back.

There was something else beyond his grasp though. Right beyond the fingers of his mind where the lullaby sung from some foggy time before. Before what was as foggy as the source of the song and the reason beyond his task to get to her.

Justin found a thread of magic with his senses and pulled in frustration. There was an answering pull which snapped his eyes open. Gifu and Lagu formed in his mind and tumbled, spun, danced. Sliding against and bumping with each other he saw them form other runes but not settle together long enough for a bind rune like the ones he bore. He pulled again, harder, focusing on his need in, to be past the stone.

They superimposed and created a key. Something clicked and he was burning. The world folded. Notes floated around and he snatched at them, danced over them, hummed them and followed the music. Threads of things wafted by, flashes of other places. Great fingers worked a giant loom and ancient voices sang melodies as fates spun and wove and the clacking of wooden machinery minded the percussion. Justin stuck to the path as well as he could, trying to stay with the music and make his way to Seaswimmer and the Key.

Then the world was back to normal. In his hand Gifu and Lagu separated and split, forming into twins of themselves and somehow seeming not to become diminished in any way. One set slipped into his own being, settling into his palms and fading to leave only faint markings. The other resumed circling the unconscious body before him. Justin knelt on the floor, dipping his fingers in the blood trickling from her nose. Feral magic crackled in response to the prodding.

He sniffed the residue on his fingers, then licked it. The blood should have — and did — taste sweet. Yet his body rejected the sustenance even with how hungry he himself was. Her breath was unnaturally slow and even, and checking her pulse yielded more of the same. He leaned over Kirsty, opened his mouth just a few inches above her face and sucked at where the soul-stuff should be and found less than half of what he expected to be there.

His stomach growled and knotted in complaint, however somehow he was not disappointed at being prevented from a nibble. On the other hand this was bad for more than one reason.

Justin felt guilt. He hefted her over his back anyway, eyes and ears open for any dangers. For now only two paths presented themselves, and neither direction seemed to offer any help. Going back the way he had come was no option. There was no anchor, and if he had been able to use his village as an anchor he would not have the strength to try that again. He wasn’t even sure he knew how he had done what he had.

“You won’t want that direction. Some of the priests are coming down that path for her and guards are closer than they are.” The voice came from just behind his ear, neither masculine nor feminine. Warmth and cold wrapped together in the words, the sound within the stillness startling Justin. “You’ll lose your prize a little quickly.”

Justin spun and brought his tail forward, braced to sweep and rake with the claws in it while he clutched the little selkie. Blood began oozing from phantom cuts, not just her nose.

“Settle your fins, boy. Surely you should know how I feel with how often you play for me.” A white silhouette pulled together and then gained a slight amount of color, a dim light fighting to stretch.

“Who are you?”

“A friend, which you have precious few of down here, at least a friend so long as you cause only what harm you need and nothing more.” The form finalized, and a white-haired warrior smirked at him, hands spread and empty, sword sheathed at his side.

Justin continued watching. Something about the man that he could not pinpoint screamed that this being did not really need any weapons. The fact that he stood on two feet and apparently breathed easily while his hair swirled did nothing to soothe him either.

“Oh come now, you glower at me as if you were her guardian. Go that way, there are some plants you might be able to cajole into helping her.” Ven’thrith pointed amiably in the opposite direction. “Take the right fork when you get to it.” The deity waited with a slight smirk on his face.

After a brief consideration Justin began his way along the route indicated, watching the deity from the corner of his eye. “Thank you…”

The pair moved in silence, Ven’thrith indicating turns and gathering samples from plants they passed until a room opened to the left. The deity ducked inside and Justin followed, by this time somewhat accustomed to his guide. Ven’thrith indicated a bed of furs, various fabrics, and rounded pillows in the corner as he slid the door shut. Rugs laid over the floor and hangings gave some color to the walls. Looking up revealed a moving replica of the path of the stars and moon. While Justin was occupied, Ven’thrith calmly settled nearby and began the task of processing, mist enshrouding his hands to mask the steps.

Justin laid Kirsty out on the bed, more scrapes and bruises somehow having been gained despite how carefully he had carried her. “What’s wrong with her?”

Ven’thrith looked up at the finman from his occupation of processing the plants into paste. “A fight is all that I can assume. What I saw was the child making her way through the maze and then Kirsten collapsed for no visible reason. The nosebleed could have had something to do with it, they seem to go together. However this time she had been motionless for quite some time before it started to bleed.” He shrugged. “This is the most interesting trial I have watched in a very long time, and has the most thumbs in the pie. Obviously this makes for a poor reflecting pool for her to see her own face in, much less for us to guess what will happen.”

Justin narrowed his eyes then rearranged her more comfortably. The deity continued watching and handed over the finished paste. “Here lad, see if you can get her to take some of this. It’ll have to come from you, after all. Oh, wait, one more thing.” Something pricked the hand the shell was almost in and the deity lowered the shell to catch the drop, which quickly sucked in the mist and turned the whole to a very unappetizing brown. “Ok, now it’s ready.”

He found the shell lightly placed in his hand. “If it has my blood in it, won’t that also pass my Taint?”

The moonlit eyes watched him carefully. “That’s the question, is it? I thought your job was to catch her, Taint her, and take her to your village for your Jarl and Seidhermenn to deal with. Was that not what was in your heart when you set out?”

The finman’s grip tightened around the shell. “Who are you?”

“You should know me, lad. I stand by you often enough when you play that lullaby on your flute and ponder how to steal back your soul fully.” Ven’thrith smirked and leaned back on his hands, sprawling carelessly as his eyes seemed to glow even more.

“That’s what I thought at first.” He nodded in reply. “I’m not so sure now.”

“Not wanting to disappoint our little Japanese friend that called on me for you? Or yourself?”

Justin looked over the pallor of the girl. Her chest rose and fell and burgandy hair stirred in the water, and then lay straight in the air. The maze could not seem to decide for itself whether it contained sea, or gas. It was a strange mixture of both that flowed with the ebb and flow of the moon’s dance and planet’s spin, and the breath of gods that he knew he would never fully know nor understand. Something about her face fascinated him and he got a proper look at his long adversary.

This was the girl he’d faced down at the Circle, and other times along the shores of her home trying to beguile her out? This was the girl at the membrane of the cave whose full power he had robbed her of by breaking the caul?

“Both.” He wasn’t sure of the answer at first, but some deep part must have been enough to speak for his conscious mind since it left his lips unbidden.

“Good. That’s good, ‘Tin… Justin.” Ven’thrith continued watching, holding very still and seeing in places that felt like had never seen light since Justin was very small and Americ had taken him under his fin once kidnapped.

“You know who I really am, don’t you?”

Ven’thrith nodded solemnly. “I do. Make me a a suitable offering and I’ll grant you a boon.”

“What would that be? If you are who I think you are, there is always a risk even when the boon goes well.”

The moon deity examined his nails. “I need a post for some weavers that I know of to secure a rip in their tapestry. You won’t feel a thing, so I believe. It will fix several problems at once, but that weaving process will take some time, as you perceive it. It won’t for me, just a sneeze, but time is different for my kind.”

“Do I have a choice?”

“No, not really.” Ven’thrith smiled, a touch of mania brightening his eyes further. “It will be better though if you are willing. Things always work much better when our play pieces are willing.”

Justin sighed. “Alright. Then use me for your post, mending, whatever it is you’re needing done. I just need to know what to do.”

“Good lad. First of the several things that goes with your new quest is to ‘help your sister,’ of course. First step there is getting some of this into her.” He gestured to her lips and Justin slipped the paste where indicated.

Ven’thrith pointed other places out. The ears, the nostrils, closed eyes each received a small daub and the moon drew a rune which Justin found himself copying. The lad hesitated when sealing the breast and loins, but the deity took pity and indicated appropriate places above the body to draw the seals once tiny globs had been scooped and dropped to their marks from the shell, ensuring no contact took place anywhere in the sacred core. Palms, knees, and the soles of the feet were as simple as the seven openings of the head had been. Together the finman and deity watched the magic release and soak into the slumbering girl. The runes danced and sparked, slipping through green, purple, and blue.

Justin bit his lip when he saw the familiar color of the Taint, watched it send vines into the damaged aural shield and roots to her core as other energies spread to where they were needed. He watched as the energy spread along her blood and nerve networks, which he did not know by name but thought of as roots and passages.

“Good… I don’t like it but Astereth will have felt that and will think you’ve achieved what your village sent you to do. It will make him cocky and he’ll make more miscalculations. Hides your defection as well.” The moon smiled dryly. “That paste should help with healing what has been giving her the nosebleeds and the spiritual wound that’s been used to tear her. I think then that we should be able to bring that missing piece back to the correct timeline. The next step we will worry about a bit later.”

A hissing burning sound came from the body that still slumbered, followed by a pop. A backlash of burned and burning energy washed out. Kirsty’s eyelids fluttered, opened sightlessly for a moment. Her mouth opened and released a pulsing green snake of smoke and flame that coiled away with burning red eyes and dripping fangs. Justin grabbed his arm, tore at his bindrunes, and then the snake dissipated with a crystal spray, one of which lodged into Justin and promptly proceeded to burrow and disappear beneath his skin.

“Hmmm, so that’s the worm on the inside. Interesting. Expected. I’m slightly let down. What about you, boy?” He looked to Justin, who looked at him through clouds of confusion.

“Sir?”

Ven’thrith waved his hand, “Nevermind. I suppose you wouldn’t know. Ah, and there are the seams.” He smiled this time, gesturing with his nose toward Kirsty. Her eyes once again were closed and she still wore an expression of grim determination and intent to live. Now there were fading marks where the half of her soul she did possess was sewn back to herself, and spectral hands busily at work with needle and thread. The halfpelt now was so thin that she could easily pass for human in any swimsuit.

“Will she be ok? Whose hands are those?” Justin reached forward, forgetting the flare pain that still caused his teeth to be ungritting themselves with slow disbelief that it had been over so swiftly.

Ven’thrith stopped his hand, squeezing it fiercely and yanking back although keeping a serene look in place. “She will be fine, you’ve done what needs doing for now. As to whose hands those are, do you know the tale of Vassalisa?”

Justin nodded slowly. “Americ likes to tell that one often.”

“Then you know the answer I have to give.”

Justin nodded even slower. “Some things it’s better not to know.”

“Even so.” Replied the moon deity. “I will say the answer is one of the things that drove me mad.” He grinned and patted Justin on the head. “We should get up, we have company coming. Thus the next phase begins!”

The door burst open, two squidling-octopid guards squeezed through together in a mass of reddish greens and purples, each bearing a sword and shield while black beaks clacked at everything the red whorls of their eyes fell upon. Wordlessly, without so much as a stereotypical halt, they pressed and stretched writhing tentacles toward the intruder. Ven’thrith calmly adjusted his position and slipped better between the finman — already in his battle stance in front of his still comatose sister — and the guardians of the deeps.

“My lord?” One, the superior clacked, darting his eyes to the shining shifting face but refusing to meet the galactic eternities in Ven’thrith’s eyes. “We were sent to deal with that abomination. Is it that you wish to deal with him yourself for desecrating our Lady’s Labyrinth?”

“In my fashion. Technically he is not desecrating, but late a few years.” Ven’thrith gave a thin, high giggle that ran claws over stone and raked the bones of those possessed of them, the beaks of those not. He shifted his form, slimming and his face narrowing, the garb of a warrior flowing into robing that priests had long ago based their own ritual garb on. “You may escort us and announce us, although I believe our High Priestess is already aware of my presence. I will also require some food for my new Avowed.” He turned and pinned Justin with his eyes, and Justin returned his gaze unaware of why the guards would not meet that of their lord. “Justin. You will carry her.”

The younger of the guards opened his beak, brow furrowed, and then clacked it shut again at the shaking head and hooked tentacle of his superior. Instead he nodded, turned, allowed his superior to exit first and lead the way.  Ven’thrith followed and walked beside the guard with a small smile darting about his face like a silvered guppy. He knew the way but the guards had all become accustomed to the strange insistence that the visiting deity had of not walking before them, in the manner that their resident deity preferred to swish when she deigned to take a visible form. The finman followed, carrying the unconscious half-selkie cradled to his chest like a clutch of eggs.

The awkward tenderness and protectiveness, the way the horrid creature seemed to try to shield the future priestess from himself, the guard sent to retrieve her from the testing interruption, was unexpected by the eight limbed one. He couldn’t help blinking and clacking quietly as he brought up the rear to prevent either escape or attack from behind by Mara’s pets. His skin swirled through muddy colors, though he and his superior still stayed as alert to the refuse in their midst as the dangers around them.

“Raechel.” Kirsty’s angry hiss paused them momentarily, all eyes swiveling to her gritted teeth, the sweat on her brow and her taste in the viscus mixture around them.

Ven’thrith’s eyes narrowed as the guard’s widened and flicked to each other and then around as if the pair expected her to descend in cloud and lightning, the spear she was entrusted with crackling and calling for their blood.

“Bethrise needs to rein her in it seems. Someone should fetch him later when we get everything else taken care of.” Ven’thrith’s voice tightened in his throat.

“My lord.” The guards echoed each other, vague gestures with unoccupied tentacles speaking that they would see to it.

Justin tried not to squeeze the slight frame in his arms, and instead merely placed one finned foot in front of the other as their progression began again.

 

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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. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)
 I'm getting near 3,000 words in the chapter "Stitches and Tears" and I think it is about ready to wrap up and release it. Just another bit to go and then a good read over before I can push out the full chapter in one update. It should not be long now before that next installment for Selkies' Skins goes up. I hope to have it ready sometime this weekend.
rainstardragon: (Default)

 Book: Circle of Ceridwen, volume two

Author: Octavia Randolph

I have this book in a collection consisting of books one through three, but wish to review each book separately as I finish them.
I am exceedingly pleased with this story and look forward to reading the next book. The plot is full of twists and turns that I had not expected when I finished reading the first book, and which I did not expect when opening this volume.
Ceridwen remains a very strong female and the adventure is now bound to home and navigating the problems of life as a noble woman. The love triangle has expanded to admit another male, the brother of her husband. Though it costs her much she gives to this man his greatest wish, a son, thus also granting the wish of his wife who is unknowing of the details. All of this happens amidst the turmoils of war. Although this book has a great deal of romance I would still recommend this to a person that normally would not read romance. The desire of Ceridwen to have the best for everyone makes this a good deal more than a bodice ripper.
rainstardragon: (Default)
Earlier today (the blog is already updated with the news, but I got interrupted) I received word from her daughter that our editor Faith Lindgren-Brown passed away. She was an amazing woman that I will always remember as full of life and exuberant stories. In recognition she will remain as editor in memoriam on the website once the site is updated.
 
She's probably going to be helping me spot things when I do editing work for other authors, and also for anyone that does proofing or editing for a project under the THG StarDragon aegis. Faith was the editor for the second edition of Dragon Shaman: Taming the Blowing Wind, Dragon Shaman: The Smoky Mirror, and Selkies' Skins​: Castle and Well.
 
Faith is survived by four great children and her partner. She is loved and missed, and should always be remembered as a warrior, especially as she was with us far longer than what doctors projected. Faith certainly showed them.
rainstardragon: (Default)

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. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)


Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 34
Chapter 13 part 4
Skinned

 

Belial returned to his sanctuary, glad of the temporary relief from the pounding that always came whenever he needed to do large workings beyond his usual operations. Brooding over his secret selkie wife and her tendency to be drawn by traps and trouble was far more tolerable than dealing with the elderly biersal muttering to him about the quality of the beer the other family members would leave for them. Even less tolerable was the thought of actually dealing with any of his family. Especially his naggy mother. The library was his safe place from her demands and whatever oily match she would invariably propose.

The bloody glow of his sanctuary killed the wisp of good mood he had managed to gain from the warmth of the skin telling him that Salena still lived, however angered she was. Looking round nothing seemed to be touched.

“Show me what happened.” His eyes snapped on the gazing orb, narrow and iced. In reply the mist coalesced and formed shapes. In the space of a breath lifelike fiery representations showed him exactly what had transpired while he had been gone.

“Lovely, as if one living selkie isn’t enough to hide, now I have a naked treasure raiding one in the vault and I know somehow Mother will know. That’s going to be lovely to explain dreams of.” He ground out, nostrils twitching under influence of the skin he carried.

The gazing ball pulled its mist into the spirit’s vaguely hominid form, which nodded solemnly, though wearing an expression that spoke clearly of how tired it had been of trying to gain his attention.

“Yes, fine. I’ll give your voice back later tonight if I’m not too worn out.” Belial sighed as he drew his wand and proceeded to unlock the chamber behind the fireplace.

The construction of the library had long ago revealed to his forebears the cave system that it tapped. That same system through another door had often given him other sorts of sanctuary than the chamber the family treasures now claimed. Down the passage he went, forgoing the magical aid that would have teleported him directly to it, hoping for a bit of surprise on his side. Even light he eschewed, instead placing one foot in front of the other in the endless night and feeling his way by hand and foot.

“I wish Linxi was here, he’d be helpful right now. Dragonchild or not.” Belial thought, envying briefly his First Mate’s ability to move in similar darkness without being so ungainly.

Every step measured carefully, he made certain not to stray in the labyrinth. Though he could not see there was the sense of walking within a giant shell. At times it felt like something moved around him, sought to fold itself and move to a new location. Perhaps flesh of the spectral creature long gone, if he allowed his fancy free rein. The passage did not shift though, pinned as it was. Finally he came to the round in the downward spiral of the passage where the last of the doors slumbered.

It gave off heat. Angry and searing; the door burnt without burning far more than the times he had been inside with his father after another of the cullings. His heart pounded faster and harder, rebelling against the feeling in his bones and blood and the very thing that allowed him to see and speak with the spirits without bodies. Carefully he pushed the door open, sword drawn from his waist where it always dwelled, wand hidden within. He slipped inside just in time to see the dark selkie slip into the once sacred pool, changing her form as she went. Beside the pool — far enough aside that the water would not reach him — stood Astereth, though the water rose up not against him.

“Ah, you are late to the party my boy, though I’d not invited you.” The hint of a smile curled Astereth’s voice, teasing and chastising at once.

“I thought you’d still be resting from the last I saw you.”

“Oh, you’d not gotten me quite as wet as you’d thought when you dropped in the Black Gate. It was a good try though.”

Belial looked for anything he could drive this shred of Astereth into. The nearest that he could see was a sword that he knew would be missed by anyone the next time they came in to make use of one of the treasures. He continued glancing around without being obvious, seeking out something better, or wherever the weak point between the planes must be. There was always a portal whenever anything broke or strained bonds. “I suppose you’d like to talk of your great plans some more.” If he was lucky maybe he could keep him talking.

“Oh, you didn’t seem interested the last I met with you though. Tossed the pretty in.” The face of flame curled its lips. “Tried to toss me in. Some thanks for your family’s fortune and power.”

“It’s not all from you, Master. If I remember the stories rightly you chose us for a reason. But I ask again what is your game?”

“Well, since you really seem interested, and maybe I can bring you back to the fold. I’ve sent the dark one down to fish up the Gate. I’ve told her she may use it.”

“How is she one of yours? I thought all of the selkies still pledged to Mara.”

“I’m not sure, but I’m not looking a gift seal in the mouth. It matters not how she got it, she bears my touch. That is enough. She obeys far better than some humans I could mention. Particularly randy ones such as yourself.” Astereth looked at Belial pointedly.

He clenched his jaw but let the jibe pass. “I suppose you’ve not told her how to use it.”

“Of course not. How can I when I don’t even know how it was used? You know though. Perhaps I can convince you to pass on that knowledge if you don’t want your father to know the things you’ve done and probably hope to continue to do.” The man of fire settled himself on a chest out of splash range from the pool.

Belial had still not found anything suitable to try driving this remnant into, nor where the veil Between was thing enough to be seen through. “You wish to blackmail me.”

“Of course. You’ve transgressed. I like to think myself a reasonable deity though and extend this opportunity for forgiveness.”

“Deity? Have you found some way to increase yourself where you are bound in?” His eye fell on a whorled silver pin reminiscent of a shell, only partially exposed from the heap spilled at the bottom of another chest and mostly covered by a length of green cloth shot with silver. His sister had a habit of never putting everything back when going through a chest, and the haphazard spill looked like some of her work, though he couldn’t tell how recent. He prayed internally to Mara and the Weissefrau for the ability to shut Astereth more firmly away, away from where he might harm Salena. The skin hidden on him warmed.

“Now, why would I tell you if I had?” The now long inhuman mage laughed. “I still exist, does this not place me among them as is my right?”

“To gloat?” Belial settled himself lightly on the chest, leaning down as if to tidy the mussed fabric and tuck it back inside before making contact. He plucked the brooch from the fabric and palmed it. “I thought you liked that.”

Astereth blinked, and then he laughed. “I had forgotten why you were my favorite. You have not answered me though.”

The fire in his blood tugged insistently, burned in his veins imperiously, sought to reach into his mind and heart to do his bidding. Belial prayed harder to the water goddesses, careful to screen his thoughts and heart from Astereth even though he felt little hope they would hear and answer despite his wife being theirs. “Please, any help of any sort in this, not for me, but for Salena’s sake. Help me protect my wife from my Master. Help me lock away or send away this part of him, even if I die here today.”

 *Note: biersal. The biersal is a type of German house elf type of fairy. Where in the British Isles they generally receive milk, bread, and/or honey the German variety likes their keep in the form of Beer.
Note 2: The story of Salena and Belial is external to Kirsty's story, although it does directly impact her own and her skinquest. There are notes on the end of Selena and Belial's story in a patron only posting. I may do notes on the story of how they met and why they married as another patron only posting.
Note 3: The lad from the ship does later down the line have descendants in school with Kirsty. I did heavily consider feeding him to ancestors of David. The Lady's German counterpart (who has close ties to The Hooded One) allows the wolves she called to do what they will or to let the lord of the hunt decide.
Note 4: Yes the ties on Kirsty and Raechel from their outer world and own time lives are causing the deities and Astereth some confusion and bemusement. It is not supposed to be until they and Justin return to outer world/ normal time where they are supposed to give evidence of this timeslip. Time for them does not run the same as it does for Kirsty and us.

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)
 The new installment for Selkies' Skins: Temple and Skinquest will be going up soon. I've gone through and checked what my current word count is for the full manuscript. This second book as of today is at 53,358 words.
rainstardragon: (Default)
 I love you dad. I miss you.
I hear you in the wind
Flowing in the river
See you falling in the snow
You're with me wherever I go.
I see you in my brother
I see you with my mother
In the eyes of my children
And standing behind my nieces.
I know you hug my sister
In those nights when she cries
And put your hand on our shoulders
In the moment we feel we can't try.
I love you dad. I miss you.
But you're here now with me
Though your body is ash
And in the wind you sigh.
~Teresa Garcia, Dec 1, 2016
copyright Dec 1, 2016 Teresa Garcia
In Memory of Benjamin Gordan Garcia, father.

Permission is granted to circulate this poem as long as attribution remains intact.
Archived also at Patreon.
rainstardragon: (Default)

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. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

My apologies for the long delay. At least the move is done and I can get back to work and writing.

Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 33
Chapter 13 part 3
Skinned

 

The familiar trickle began again from Kirsty’s nose and the taste of salt slipped over her tongue. Tearing, that was the best way she could comprehend the feeling in her head. Another bit of herself tearing away, a thread being pulled stiffly and inexorably from her being, from her past. Unraveling. Skinning. Worse than having had to give up her human covering to be fit to be reborn.


“We can fix this, tell me, what do you see with your sight, Daughter?” The Weissefrau’s voice cut through the pain. She drew Kirsty into the water step by step. It rose higher as they went.


The lad with them reached for Kirsty, but was restrained by the old Lightkeeper.


Kirsty wiped at her nose with he sleeve as she gathered her focus to look. “There’s a red light all around the edges, pulsing like a heart. I feel… something. It’s not right.”


The Weissefrau had her to her shoulders now in the cold waters. “Like you’re being unmade, my dear?”


“Yes.”


“Then on you go. Follow the light like a good girl on out. Begin to be remade.” Before Kirsty’s eyes could clear and her lips form the question she shoved the maid down. Kirsty’s mouth was still open and the human sputtered as the last of what was holding her was pulled away by some celestial weaver beyond the span of space and time known to mortals. Bubbles of air rose to the surface as the blood flowed again and the water turned red.


The lad wrenched himself free of the Lightkeeper finally, heaving himself at the terrible goddess of water and bone left in the natural well. Before he collided a wall of water engulfed him and held him to face the Weissefrau. Her ice grey eyes bored into him as she watched the water win its way into him. “Noble intent, poor execution, mere human understanding after all you’ve seen. I am not the one that will harm her. You might have seen her success and your children might have mingled with her had you heeded my Lightkeeper and your vows to me.”


As Kirsty’s body was pulled through a passage below, the lad’s body floated to one side of the deity’s domain. The Weissefrau threw back her head and howled. In the distance a pack of wolves answered and began their way. The Lightkeeper looked away, and she smiled grimly. “Perhaps in a way, he still might get what he’d have liked just not as he’d hoped.”


“My Lady?” The Lightkeeper chanced a look at her. She still was too terrible to behold for long and he looked away well aware his sleep would be disturbed for some time by her visage.


She shook her head and adjusted a cloak around herself before sitting on a rock. “Stop blaming yourself, I know you are. He’d have stolen it if she does survive this turn. You can go back now. If they ask, I have claimed them.”


“As you say.” He kept his face and his feeling so long as he could control them neutral as possible until he was back off her path. The deity, for her part, dispersed back into her water, releasing herself to it and trying to be fluid enough to determine what was being changed.


~


Farther back in the tunnel Raechel found a thick oak door reinforced with spells and hammered iron. The tunnel continued further beyond the door, beckoning. Below her she could feel a passage of water leading back to the sea, presumably through the cave she had come through. The passage below would have of necessity worn through some weakness in the stone around her.


Behind the door is what interested her most. Something large was contained within the chamber. Though it seemed to sleep it pressed at the edges of the containment much the same as did the creatures that Mara kept contained in certain rooms of her central temple and the deepest depths. Its presence was palpable, causing her short-hairs to prickle and rise in warning and her longer hairs to lift a little as she tensed. Trying the door she could not unlock it, nor could she force or undo these spells, not without trying to blast it off the hinges with energy she preferred to keep for later. She did feel the thing behind the door move though. The shifting turned her stomach, made her quake, and yet thrilled her.


“I’ll be back for you later, perhaps.” She whispered through the door, pressing against it and grinning. “We’ll have some fun, yes? Whatever you are.”


There was a smack of something on rock behind, and a splash. Raechel giggled and squirmed, stroking the door as a shimmer of green continued fighting against the purifying spell the child had unleashed on her.


She blew a kiss to the thing behind the door and continued along the passage, following it upward.


Raechel’s exploration ended at a thick oak door at the top of a long, narrow, cramped set of steep stairs. The cliff stone complained darkly on her way up. Here things sat silent and brooding over untold secrets, lies, and a hint of blood. The door barring her way was not like the doors below the sea. No hinge revealed which way it swung. There was iron binding it, but instead was in bands reinforcing all the way across. Her hands explored and fingers prodded everything that looked as if it might be a trigger.


She winced when her fingers brushed the iron, placed the worst of them in her mouth and frowned. A sickly green pulsed briefly and red mist spread along the bar.


Behind the door a presence lingered, stirred, its attention gained by her searching.


She stilled, breath bated, listening, straining.


~


The table beside his chair held the dregs of cold tea, dark and muddy as the hearts of most of his family but at least slightly warmer. Belial leaned forward in his chair, slender hands covering his face and fingers trying to press away the aches within his skull. Tendrils of bleached sun had worked out of the ribbon he used to bind back his hair, sticking with sweat. Before him on the grate tinges of blue, green, and purple leached out of the fire and back into the wholesome reds and oranges that indicated no demon manifested within it to him today. On the walls around him lurked memorabilia of wrecks, or more accurately ‘harvests’ that those sharing his name had done before him. Among them hung several of their ancient rival’s inhuman pelts.


Glazed eyes gazed down upon him, thoughts guarded.


They did not speak to his siblings or the others, but sometimes they gave him wary advice, and even comfort.


The pelt he kept tucked and hidden safe inside his clothing continued murmuring to him, pleas and curses, promises and threats. Choking soul screamed questions dug deep into his ears and heart with poison tipped claws. Had his storm turned her course though? Had he managed to keep her from going there despite her headstrong and imperious burning of his warning letter?


He knew she burnt it. He’d seen it in his gazing ball. He’d heard the little harrumph of said pelt. How many times had she made that sound at him before when he asked her to be careful?


Perhaps this duplicitous treachery of his family name was finally driving him insane, but it was worth it. He rarely got to see her, and when in public when acknowledging each other they had to fight to keep suspicion at bay. Those nights when she came to dance with her brothers and sisters of the pelt below the moon were worth it, every fear-lanced moment that he watched and feared the others would also pick her out among them. So too were the brief times he got to be father to the little one.


He winced when the log in the fire popped and sang, doing what it could to drive out the chill that always fell whenever he gazed or rose the storms. His fingers dug harder. He tried to weave and coax the energies the way Salena had tried to teach him one horribly hungover morning in a port far away, but his clumsy fingers merely slipped, and the spell tangled and died. Healing never had been his gift.


The ball of quartz on the table beside his chair clouded again, this time with red mist. Pulsing, beating, it continued and waited for his eyes to fall on it. He, however, eventually stood and made his way out of the room. He needed something stronger than what he had recently taken in order to tame the still mounting headache. The mist grew insistently thicker within the orb, but the master paid no heed and the door shut behind him.


~


After a timeless stretch of suspended breath Raechel began moving again and broadening her search. She conjured another orb of light and suspended it to light her way, finally finding a snake shaped protuberance to her right side in the stone. Running her fingers over the smoothness she finally found the trigger and the door slid to the side revealing a room that looked in her eyes to be some sort of combination of library and soul prison.


She stepped inside and the door — it was truly a whole book case — slid back into position. Unless she could find the trigger later she was trapped. A gazing orb throbbed an angry, furious blood-red on the stand where it lurked. If her eye lingered she saw the equally furious spirit pounding the barrier of crystal as it screamed unheard alarms. The selkie skins mounted about the room refused eye contact and speech with her. She could see they still contained part of the soul and consciousness of their former owners, but each eye contained the unfocused and glassy look of rejection. Raechel knew this gaze well already. The Sleeping Souls put to rest in the Temple back home all rebuked her in the same way since she gained the Taint whenever she entered the Chambers of the Box to lay out another set aside skin for the day it would be needed again.


Raechel closed her eyes and forced back the tear that threatened before turning to inspect more of the room. These probably all belonged to surface dwellers. What did they know, traitors? Perhaps these skins were better out of circulation, like The Ronan’s.


The pull started again, leading her away from the lavish darknesses of the firelit room and its rich wooden cases to before the fireplace itself. Of their own will her hands rose to the mantle and she heard herself speaking strange words her throat should not have been capable of. They came from deep inside, curling and coiling out with languid stretches and tickling places that her former love had not been able to reach, nor had the courage to search for. A slow smile curled in response, thirsty for more.


The invocation ended and the fire turned a sickly green.


A form gathered in the flames, the face of a darkly handsome male. The eyes bored into her know, finally out of the dreams that dominated her nights. For now any memory of Bethrise, whether during their fight or their good times, faded. She barely felt the tingles from the frayed ends of the roughly severed thread as the other end attempted to reach her.


“You are Astereth.” Raechel was not fully sure where the knowledge came from.


“I am.”


This should have bothered her. She should reject him. Now.


“Yet you do not wish me removed from your blood.”


“No.”


“You feel empty. Rejected.”


“Yes.”


“You feel that Mara prefers the land dweller, and an interbred bloodline at that.”


Raechel nodded, bit her lip, curled it and snorted whilst displaying a fang.


“She does, you know.” The being continued. “I know their bloodline well. She always has preferred them over the ones that stay within her.” The voice curled and stroked her ears, caressed the sensitive place on the bridge of her nose that all selkies shared.


“Why am I not good enough? I’ve given her myself. I’ve lost my mate. I wield her spear even though she’s damn well capable of doing so herself were she bothered. Why am I not enough?” Raechel hissed, stepping closer to the fire and pressing into the caresses. Unnoticed flames licked her feet as her eyes stayed pinned by the apparition.


“Nothing is ever enough for her, nor her sister either truthfully. They press, they demand, they entice. Yet they leave their dedicants in the end. I know of the pain, too personally. I would not leave you for some child that isn’t even a whole being.”


Raechel shivered, arched into the promise and then as quickly pulled away.


“I know you’ve heard similar before. I can prove my troth though. Come through the fire. There is a talisman in the vaults hidden here that you can use against your burrowing insect. Make her hurt, make her bleed. Already there is one using it in another time to do the same, and you can make it worse for her. You can even use it to regain your mate, make him abandon those soft ones you envy so. Perhaps even bend the rejectors of the Cailleach to your will as well. Come.”


Raechel stepped through the flames, taken through the wards and into the vaults that once were innermost parts of the Sacred Cavern before the land had risen and the sea fallen in the area. Saltwater lay still in a pool in the center of the room. In the midst of this rose the stark remains of a dais where a sundered seat and broken box of stone from which trickled a steady stream of surprisingly fresh smelling water held court over an array of riches and dangers. A being of sickly flame stood at the edge of the pool.


“Right now it is down there due to a ill planned move.” The being spared a poisonous look back the way they had come. “I cannot go down to fish it out, nor would I be able to bring it up even if I could penetrate her waters. There are two bloods that can, and I bear none.” Astereth chuckled a bit, then scowled as his companion did not respond to his joke.


Raechel did not wince from him. “Is there anything I should know before I dive in?”


“I am not sure. It is being protected, but the fall obscured certain knowledge from me regarding the spell that went in with it.”


Raechel wrinkled her nose and knelt at the edge, adjusting her skin around herself as she gazed in. She brushed her senses over the water, closed the skin and shivered her whiskers. Gingerly she dipped a flipper in.


No pushback.


She slipped in. Astereth smiled. The water pulsed. Astereth scowled. On the table in the library above the gazing orb filled the room with a baleful light as it awaited its master.

 

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)
 Visiting Jack Frost
Teresa Garcia
November 26, 2016
 
Down the snow falls from the skies
Grey as this spirit’s twinkling eyes
Bright with the joy of gallant youth
Dancing and singing his own truth
 
Over the fence and about the eves
His paints his art as he pleases
Icy frost spreads at his brush
Some is sparse and others lush
 
Pave the river through the glen
Leave a path for the moon, then
Dash through the sleeping field
Beneath the snow snug and sealed
 
Over the river, through the wood
After the Keeper of the Blue Hood
Before his prints fade from view
Beneath the oak, beneath the yew
 
To the court of the Holly King
An offering of light bright to bring
And silver boughs laden with fruit
Plucked special for Sacred Moot
 
Eat it not lest here you wish to stay
Seven years, and a wholesome day
Doing the bidden of Winter’s King
As Oak and Holly dance the ring
 
And if young Jack asks to dance
Whirl with him and gaily prance
But be mindful of touch and eye
Lest from body soul should fly.

--
This is going to my deviantart , livejournal , and dreamwidth and patreon.
rainstardragon: (Default)
Finally I get to sit down for some mythical poetry. Tonight due to it being so cold Yukionna seems to be the proper one to write a tale of. The snow maiden comes from Japan, and there are several facets to her. In this poem however I will only deal with one. If you like my poetry or the Selkies' Skins webnovel then please consider visiting my Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/Amehana

 Mother Yukionna
Teresa Garcia
November 20, 2016
 
Gently the snow falls down
Coating the land and the tree
Undercut by the river
Flowing resolutely to the sea.
 
Quietly a slim figure glides
Pale as the moon mirror now hidden
Behind the lowered underscales
Of the storm dragon hither bidden
 
Through the trees and the rocks
Silently she searches them out tonight
The unwanted, young or old
Cast out by poverty or spite
 
If you watch here with me
In this hasty shelter against the snow
Warmed only by body and hope
Her love as children we will know
 
Do you hear that doleful cry
Rending both mountain pass
And the spanning sky
As the first her search has compass'd?
 
Too late that one was found
Some small and frozen form
Leaving her yet again
Childless and forlorn
 
Oh tonight is so very cold
I hope she finds us soon
I want to sleep snug and warm
In Yukionna's arms coccoon'd.
rainstardragon: (Default)
 Remember kids, it's not ok to bully. One nation, united. Lady Liberty holds that torch for all of us. Hold the torch too and look to your fellows of all sorts. Hispanic-American, Irish-American, Asian-American, Native-American, German-American whichever or whatever your family traces back to we are all American. It does not matter if you are gay or straight, polyamorous or monogamous, disabled in any fashion, whole and able to work, employed or seeking employment, disabled and wishing you could work, young, old... ONE NATION.

Video

Hopefully tonight I'll get to write.
rainstardragon: (Default)

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. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

My apologies for the long delay. At least the move is done and I can get back to work and writing.

Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 32
Chapter 13 part 2
Skinned

 

Kirsty took a little time to recover before sitting up. Quiet burbles and coos attracted everyone’s attention to a drawer beneath the bed and Selena disappeared for a moment to open it. She reappeared a moment later with a chubby child clutched to her bosom who seemed blissfully unaware that they had weathered a storm, or that there was anything that had been wrong at all. Kirsty looked where the baby had come from quizzically.

 

“What? Topside wouldn’t have been the place for her and she’ll not do well away from me for long yet. The sea’s her home too, like mine.” Selena grinned a bit. “Like yours, too.”

 

“What would have happened to her had we sunk?” Kirsty ventured, frowning.

 

“Same as the rest of us, but she’d have been... more comfortable.” Selena took to baby over to the chair at her desk.

 

Kirsty took advantage of the space to investigate the drawer a little more. Something half familiar prickled the back of her mind, then submerged again.

 

Salena fed her baby while the young man blushed and slid out after making excuses to seeing about the rest of the crew, and that he was glad the young lady was seemingly well again.

 

Kara shook her head. “That’s the lad I was talking about earlier. Seems to already have taken a shine to you.”

 

Kirsty blushed and made a worried sound. “Sweet of him, but I have a boy I’m interested in elsewhere already. He’ll be waiting.” She made her way to a window and looked out over the water, puzzling her next move and watching for the Lightkeeper.

 

“Too bad. He’s a good lad.” Selena commented, burping her child and putting it in a sling. The baby eagerly turned itself where it could watch the world and wiggled chubby lightly webbed fingers.

 

Kirsty glanced at her, then blinked, confused at the baby’s momentary resemblance to a young Morvan, but it was gone again. “He seems so.”

 

Things bumped along awkwardly until Kirsty was topside again and the Lightkeeper was pulling up in his boat bringing provisions. He and Selena eyed each other even more awkwardly while her baby burbled and drooled. Kirsty wanted to go ashore to explore the lighthouse facilities and surroundings, half expecting to be told no. After a bit of hemming and hawing she was given leave.

 

And so she went. Unexpected by herself but seemingly expected by the Lightkeeper the boy was sent with her to keep an eye on her and to give her aid until she was sent for again. Kirsty was not certain what to think of the news that later in the day one of the boats would be sent to retrieve her after she had had adequate time to speak with the Lightkeeper regarding her quest, and to give the Captain time to chart the next course while crew saw about restocking fish from the schools in the natural harbor.

 

Kirsty settled into a chair in what passed for the living room, the Lightkeeper offering tea made from the waters from the well of the Wisenfrau.

 

“So, you quest.” The Lightkeeper began, as if the conversation through the miles had not ended.

 

“Yes. I seek the Temple of Mara. What can you tell me?” Kirsty looked round, fascinated by the lighthouse, unsure how to react to the power focused in and by the building. Had the lighthouse at home felt this way to her ancestors before Mara’s rages?

 

“It’s nearer and farther than you think, going by what is handed down to us Keepers. We only have bits and pieces. The Abbey has others.”

 

Kirsty pondered his words as he brought a lantern very similar to Mrs. Kitsch’s over to the seating they gathered at, and a plate of fish and seaweed that wound up in front of her. She ate as she considered. “How do I know I’m even on the right path?” Kirsty finally asked as she looked up from the meal, having been much hungrier than she’d thought.

 

He fiddled with the lantern, polishing it. At least it seemed to Kirsty that’s what he was doing. “You don’t. None of us ever know if we’re following the path we are meant to take. Often we stray far from it.”

 

Kirsty sipped her tea now that it was cool enough, the well water spreading through her slowly and balancing the preponderance of Mara’s salt she’d picked up over her journey.

 

The lad listened quietly, leaning forward as if by simply doing so he felt that he could lend some sort of aid. The Lightkeeper smiled secretively at the motion that had gone completely unnoticed by the young maid.

 

“There’s a cave nearby that’s supposedly sacred to your folk.” He lit the lantern after he was satisfied. Pinpricks of light shone about the darkened room, an array of stars for a mariner. “We are here.” He pointed. “It is there.” He pointed at one nearby. “Here is where the Weissefrau’s well is.” His finger moved again, and then onward. “Here is where the Abbey currently is. That moves sometimes, when a raid is imminent.”

 

Kirsty studied the light-map and it gradually dawned on her that there were times when she was very little, and Grandma had visited with Mrs. Kitsch that many of these lights had been danced on their walls to entertain her. The star for the cave drew her strongest.

 

“If I were you, child, I’d return to your path as fast as is possible. My gut tells me that the cave is where you need to go.”

 

The lad cleared his throat. “Excuse me, but isn’t that the cave the selkies are fighting with the Lillitu’s over? I can’t help but notice how some of these points correlate with some of Captain’s maps, and that matches an area we are normally careful when sailing near.”

 

“It is. The seafolk are losing many such places now.”

 

“So how are we to get her there? I’m not sure our Captain would be very for taking her there, though right now she is not in the best state to guess.”

 

The Lightkeeper looked the boy over slowly. “They seem to always get younger,” he mused. “Leave or not, she has to go.”

 

Silence settled over the room, deep and uncomfortable as a shroud too small for the wearer and donned while still living. The threads of time and fate continued to be woven and to the three it seemed as if they could feel competing designs, needles and shuttles battling to have dominance. Kirsty gripped her head and groaned, leaning forward as blood began to drip from one nostril and her attention pulled to where she should have been.

 

As she sat and the boy pulled out a questionable kerchief that was attempted to be kept clean and functional she felt the bed on her back and saw the dim figure of David at her side. The pressure of his hand on hers was as real as the nose she now held pinched in her fingers.

 

Finally the wave passed. “Bring her to me, now.” An older woman’s voice slid through their minds. “Quickly.”

 

The Lightkeeper nodded and sighed, rising. “The Lady has spoken.”

 

Heading out the door he led the way along the promontory, which sloped downward to meet the mainland. How far the walk was away from the light was hard for Kirsty to guess. Just like home at Selkie Point time and space folded oddly here. It could have been any distance. The way Kirsty’s feet tingled she would have also been willing to bet a pint of mead that someone in the past had ensorcelled the path to further facilitate speed of travel for the correct people.

 

Or perhaps the Weissefrau simply was pulling on them in the same way that sometimes The Lady did when she was in a very demanding mood.

 

The terrain changed. Things seemed denser, greener. Mist rose from the forest they had ventured into. Darkness rolled back and swirled near again as they passed. Eyes watched their progress from trees. Chitterings spoke of squirrels, chipmunks, and other nameless things. Once or twice when turning her head towards a rustle Kirsty caught a flash of white or green, and a mossy limb being drawn back behind a tree.

 

The lad pressed closer to her, put an arm around her. She pressed her lips until the headache stabbed again. It was only then that she felt truly grateful for the arm around her, as she stumbled and would have fallen if not for the quick reply of the other arm.

 

The Lightkeeper looked back at them with hooded eyes.

 

Kirsty wished it had been David traveling with them. The eyes of the boy had something that was beginning to look possessive.

David might have actually punched him if there, or mauled him if in wolf form.

 

The forest drew in tighter again before spreading out into a meadow. A clear spring welled up among rocks, flowing sedately away toward some river via a creek it had carven over untold centuries. Moss hung heavy on the trees around the edge, draperies and hair.

 

Watching closely, she thought she could see the forest breathe.

 

The spring watched, kept company by the forest. Whether the forest was male or female she could not be entirely certain. The local forest spirit was grudgingly sharing the company of the water with them though.

 

“I have brought the child. She seeks to be a woman and whole.” The Lightkeeper barely raised his voice, the tone reverent. The forest caught and magnified the short speech.

 

“Come closer child, let me see you.” Beside the spring stood an old woman, her visage constantly shifting. One moment she was tall and strong, the next gnome-sized and twisted like pines on the coastline. Her hand took Kirsty’s once her feet had done the deity’s bidding; her touch was sandpaper. “Oh, you are worse than I had thought. Poor child. You are far off of your proper path.”

 

The familiar trickle began again from Kirsty’s nose and the taste of salt slipped over her tongue.

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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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. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


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