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Temple of Mara
Try as he might, he could not be sure if he really had seen Mara's statue stir. It stayed where it was, and the representatives of all her many children likewise continued to proffer their histories without movement.
The half Selkie that was the goddess' land-walking priestess swam up to the eye of the great statue, running a hand over the eye-ridge in awe. The statue, oddly enough, felt warm to her touch, and Etain reached out in mental quest, trying to decide just what was going on. Though she felt something, knew it to be Mara's energy, it waited just out of her reach.
After receiving no answer, she instead went to investigate the Selkie statue. Carefully, she searched the shape and form of it. Though firmly in unchanging stone, it seemed somehow as if it looked distinctly like each of the many sub-breeds, including the freshwater-dwelling ones, depending on the angle, and changed slightly with each blink.
Etain carefully opened the book of Selkie History, reading what she could, then sighing when she realized how much more she would have to read. The book alone was three times the size of the Makay Logbook back at Seal Point, which itself was at times nearly 1 foot thick. Yet, the book drew her, and she looked pleadingly back at the statues of Mara, then to the Selkie, then back to the book. Experimentally, she tried lifting the tome, hoping that she had the clearance to take it with her for study.
The shark blinked. Etain did not see, but the Triton did, and he placed himself between the two while the curious Selkie attempted lifting the book. A shiver passed over the body of the shark, and the human version below it moved her head and lowered her spear to look at the Selkie. The pair continued watching as Etain continued testing the weight of it.
"I don't think you ought to be doing that."
The Triton's tone was firm, as if speaking to someone younger and slower, while trying to catch and hold her attention.
"I don't think I can." Etain panted, finally giving up her straining with a disappointed whimper. "It's too heavy, I'll never get it home or anywhere, without Her help. I was hoping that my daughter could read some of this, and see for herself how important our family's function really is."
The shark turned itself, more directly facing the pair.
"We have something more important to worry about than any desire for knowledge." He placed a hand on her shoulder and spun her roughly to view the now living and moving statues.
She started, her eyes going larger and rounder than they normally were, and the blue of her eyes shooting to a panicked yellow at the size of the shark, now that it was moving.
"Why do you linger?" The humanesque statue gestured slowly, and shifted her trident. "You have restored what balance can be done here, and your craft bobs on the waves like a bouy waiting. You have more elsewhere."
The shark continued to loom behind the seemingly mild-mannered statue. Etain curtsied the best that she could in the water, as she had been taught on land, and though graceful was not quite what she had aimed for.
"When I was a girl, you promised that I would be able to read one of the tomes... and I thought, Lady, if you would allow, when the Winter Break comes for Kirsten and she returns for Winter Rites, if she read then she would understand too."
"And so now you have read. I can consider the possibility of your pup reading, but it will not be this winter. Summer, when she will have the time, moving the books will be part of her challenge perhaps. Or perhaps not, if she proves unworthy of the line."
"She will prove worthy, Lady Mara. She is already overcoming the problem of most merfolk despising halfbreed blood that she carries."
"Through exposure though. A different route, and not the one I was looking for. This year and the next should help solve that problem though. Now that she's old enough, a proper education in the ways of the wild and the seas." The shark shifted and eyed Etain and the Triton hungrily, gliding closer. The human version of the goddess formed herself a sharks tail, assuming a more comfortable pose and height, floating now in the water despite her weight and a malicious smile ferally spreading. "At any rate, I do hope she survives to full adulthood, that werewolf boy she thinks so highly of has certainly prompted some interesting changes, and there will be more tests after my own that I wish to see how she weathers."
The Triton kept his eyes on Mara's manifestations warily, though he wondered about the child that goddess and the half-Selkie were discussing. In his lifetime, he had been witness to some arguments and discusions between her Priests, the Priestesses, and even had a few of his own. To date though, he had never seen a smile unleashed quite as dangerous as was being so "lovingly" bestowed on the half-breed, by the goddess who either ate or broke her own as she made the lines stronger.
"What do you mean, Lady?"
"I mean that her sins will make her weak, if she does not walk carefully, and now that my sister and I are not the only deities involved in the family fortunes..."
The goddess trailed off.
"What sins has my daughter committed against you? Will her blood four times yearly not be enough?"
"What sin!" The goddess railed. The shark snapped and the sharkwoman flung an electric bolt at the fins of the Selkie statue, which hit the mark and sent pains through every living sealperson no matter the blood dilution. "Your daughter made an oath that she would bear no pups for anyone save that young potioneer, when the time came. I felt the ripple. What sin indeed! After you and your mate, she is the last of this line that combines all, the last bearing both my blood and my sister's, as well as the wood-hunt lord. It doesn't matter that so far he meets my approval! None of you have permission to make a decision that could end the line."
The Triton had no idea who the particular god was that Mara referenced, but the loss and anger radiating made even his scales feel as if they were about to drop. How long had the separation been? Was this part of why her mood always changed so swiftly? Etain was thinking along similar lines, and though each drop of information always improved her understanding of the one her fortunes rested on, in this mood new knowledge was too dangerous.
"Let me take on the transgression then. Place the anger on me instead." Etain held herself firm, keeping her voice carefully modulated, though she tremored and knew the water had to taste heavily of her roiling emotions.
The shark held the pair framed with its jaws. One twitch, and both Triton and Selkie would be food for her prehistoric self, yet the Triton held his guard firm, unknowing as to precisely why he continued to shield her while the priestess and her goddess faced off. The twitch did not come, and they stared together into the dark maw.
"I will stand witness. It sounds as though the child is young by our standards, so there is time yet Lady, and you will not have to worry aboout the preservation of your literal line."
He'd done it, said something and fully gotten himself involved in the struggle. He could feel the bonds of the oath tightening around him even now as witness, the magic requiring the witness for the sealing of the transfer. All it required, was Mara's acceptance.
The jaws closed, and the darkness was absolute.
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