Welcome back to another installment of Selkies' Skins. I'm still going to do this bi weekly, unless extra episodes get funded (find out how you can speed up the installments at the bottom). The book's sections will likely be a bit different from the website's since too many chapters in a section starts to look really confusing in the nav bar on the site. Or they might not. This is one of the issues that the editor and I will discuss. If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. If you would like a heads up on when the serial novel is updated before it goes to the main site (usually) or for news as to when the full novel will be available you can subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the story is selkies' skins, and the table of contents is in the sticky note.
Selkies' Skins Section 2 Installment 35 Chapter 21 Hunt
Kirsty sighed, getting up once more and moving as quietly as she could through House quarters. Imp had let her know the last of the students from the upper year Astronomy class had not only returned, but gone to sleep. He had ensured it, in fact, by using various methods of getting her housemates to pass out, just as he had done every night she needed to go to the Loch.
She sometimes thought that perhaps he was a bit too eager to please, as one student had once come to breakfast with a giant swelling on the back of his head but couldn't remember having fallen out of bed. At least the mystery had been short lived for her, though the poor boy had earned the moniker Bed Head Boy.
She crept out of their quarters, transforming into the white cat that she had studied so hard to become, and then ghosted to the Loch. Kirsty paused only in the courtyard where she could see the shining round of the moon, sighing that it had come on a night that her night classes fell on. When she transformed back to human form at the water's edge she shivered at the chill night air, and discarded all but the swimming clothes under her nightclothes. Short work was made of hiding them. Shorter work was made of taking the paste that aided her training in this aspect.
Kirsty then slipped into the water, still gasping a bit as she adjusted to its temperature, and then kicked and wove her way to where she was supposed to be meeting with the Hunters. A shudder passed over her as she suppressed a yawn. Her tentacle-like hair looked even more frazzled and bedraggled, and static danced over her facial whiskers. She draped herself on a rock to wait, closing her eyes and trying to use her ears, hair, and whiskers to “see” the waters around her, the way Nightfish had been trying to teach her during his lessons.
Her nose twitched in irritation and her attention promptly splintered into a thousand panes. She could feel the currents and the slight movement of the fish two rocks over. Kirsty could feel the gentle beat of the moon since she was close enough that those reflected rays carried some power. The myriad streams that fed into the loch called her next, and the waters beneath the lock itself in deep passages that went to places she could never quite figure out. Loudest and strongest of all though were two pulls.
The loudest were the nightmare visions. The quieter was the ever present need for her own skin. Kirsty stretched, attempting to wrest her attention away from the calls to her quest and to her mother, to instead focus on the training that would prepare her. When she felt the movement of something large, she pointed off to her right and behind, thickening the water between to be an impediment.
“Good, but slow. You need to feel us sooner if you're going to go into Her Realm this summer and live. Why didn't you?”
“Too many calls... that way...” She pointed to her left, toward the sea. “And the new spring forming there,” her hand pointed this time to the shore and beyond, eyes still closed. “And down below. I'm too far out still..”
“Too new. Must be from your position. Priestesses usually have trouble paying attention to close things at first, or so I hear. That's why they're to be protected if they survive.”
Kirsty opened her eyes and looked back toward her male mentor, only yards away, and indeed far closer than acceptable, though at least he was farther away than the last lesson. Nightfish floated in place, no spear of his own, his hunter-warrior's spear still just an obsidian trident head on a braided thong about his neck. Instead, he held two wooden youth's spears.
“What is tonight's lesson Nightfish?”
“More with tracking and spearwork. First we'll drill. Show me what you remember.”
He tossed the youth's spear at her, then came at her with the other, and she caught hers hastily and parried, slipping back and off the rock, hoping for him to slip past. He made an approving noise, but as he slid by his muscular tail thwacked into her, sending her reeling and forcing her to concentrate on regaining her own stability.
“Not far enough back if you're going to try that Seaswimmer.”
She got herself under control and struck at him, fixing in her mind that he was either large game that would fight back, or one of the Finmen that might come after any future children, or an attacker from another clan. They went back and forth, till she had grown frustrated at her lack of competency and the wooden spear had begun to spark and her hairs to flail.
“No magic! You must be strong in both!”
Nightfish rapped her hands soundly with his spear, after that demand, and she cried out but did not release. Instead, she struck with her tail at him, and the tendrils of her hair reached for him. This time, the discharge from her was not magic, but the sting of the electric eel and venom of jellyfish. He gave way.
“Yes, that! That's what you were supposed to be doing last meeting.” He stuck the spear in the mud, and pulled out from the pouch at his was a shell. From that, he extracted an ointment that he rubbed over the burn on his arms. “She was right... a bit of every creature in your blood... Makes me wonder if the legends are true...”
He sighed when the sting in his arms and the flashes in his vision faded. “Alright, let's see if we can bring in anything significant for the fry and pups. No magic tonight remember, unless you're practicing with the congealing shield She insists you learn.”