Selkies' SkinsInstallment 42 Chapter 24 (part 1)
Classes were out for the remainder of the day, a consideration for those of the pagan persuasions in their school. Samhain, was it? All Hallows? Halloween? Most of those observing more than the usual 'going soul caking' in the local village – disguised and under supervision of school staff and village volunteers – made use of the time off to relax. However, there were others that met in Moots and Covens to worship their various deities, or to experiment with seasonal magic.
He did not believe in those deities. He did not even believe in the Christian god, though once he and his family would have been denounced all over the British Isles and the European continent as heretics. Now, it was the believers that were the heretics, superstitious ones at that. The evidence against gods and goddesses was staggering to him, and the holdouts were either insane, like that Diana Demeter girl, dangerous halfbreeds as he was positive was the case with the Makay ilk, or naïve dreamers like Nevin Buckley tended to be. After all, how could they exist, when so many religions claimed that different gods and/or goddesses had created the world? It was a sheer impossibility that all of those fairy tales could be true. There was also the fact that he had never met one, despite how hard he had tried when younger.
He had wanted to believe... Even at this 'ripe' age it made him feel empty to think how there were no gods to grant redress and only one life to live.
Morvan remembered the day that he first laid eyes on what was left of the Makay clan, with their ever changing eyes and strange way of walking over the land, as if they could leap from the beach to a handy spar and then do a jig. He particularly remembered a five year old Kirsten, clutching her mother's hand, and the red velvet of their capes swirling with the blues and greens of their skirts. He watched, bemused and entranced, as mother and daughter floated past where he held his own mother's hand, through the Ministry Commons toward the Presentation Hall.
Neither looked dangerous. Yet, that day, that fateful day, the illustrious Lilitu family had been accused of environmental endangerment, blackmail, corruption, and abuse – because of the testimony of the selkies that had once infested their beachside and dared to try yet again to regain the homes their forebears had been evicted from and the translation the pair provided.
He hadn't understood then exactly what those charges meant, or why his parents made such large 'gifts' to the various governments around that time. Morvan had grown to understand though. Selkies were dangerous sirens that beguiled with their voices, soft manners, and pleasing forms, refusing to bow to those more evolved.
The smile and the wide placid blue eyes that Makay had fastened on him as she escorted her mother that day particularly bothered him. At the time he hadn't been sure that she even knew who he was, or why she was there. It changed to disgust later that day when the minister of the Department of Mythological creatures called on him to relate his own experiences with the selkies always disturbing his family and home. He did not care if she remembered that day that her mother and herself had made the selkies look to be the victims of eviction.
There were plenty of other places the fur-ridden shape-shifting monstrosities plaguing them could take for home. Why did they need that particular stretch of beach, so near to the secret vaults filled with treasures that had been plundered generations ago from the Makay's trading ships and other ancient, but now extinct families – which of course he never mentioned? Even worse, why did the selkie females always insist on coming ashore and stripping their skins to dance below the full moon and bathe, arms outstretched to sea and sky in that silver light, singing their siren songs?
The song from the loch filtered through the glass windows and into his consciousness, overlapping the one from his memories and those far away shores. Gradually he became aware of his housemates watching one of the fish-like female selkies. It had ceased being novel to him that they were so different in appearance from the sea-dwelling seal variety. Her rainbow striped scales flashed as she harvested the ornamental trailing purple fingered waterflowers that grew so far below the surface. As she wove a garland of those flowers, some of his male housemates tried to catch the eye of the sinuous half-human monstrosity. The loch selkie would dart away shyly whenever one did catch her eye, always coming back though so that she could finish her project – as if it were the only place those particular waterflowers grew.
Morvan wondered who among them would be the next that they tried to drown by tempting them into vanishing one of the glasses. It was something very rarely succeeded at since the founder of Spiralis House had taken this into account and placed powerful wards on those fateful panes. However, a few students through the school's history had managed it, and it had always had disastrous consequences. Not for the first time, he wondered why Spiralis had chosen to site their dorms where he had. Surely there had been a reason he had ensured that each room had a way to monitor the nearby water.
As often happened, several of the students watching her debated as to why some selkies could shift, and why some couldn't. A few others were now leaving the commons, the choir members he thought. He smiled secretly. Makay certainly would be annoyed at not being able to sing while her voice healed.
It was worth detention, even though Professor MacLeomhann figured it out far sooner than he had anticipated. It had not been quite as satisfying as the day that he had knocked all of her school supplies all over the shop where Morgana had been able to see, but it mollified him enough. There were still other things that he had done and planned to do that she had not sounded out yet.
Morvan continued smiling as he got up. If Makay truly did go insane from not singing, as the lore he'd heard and read about selkies indicated she might, then it would be one more sign that he could use to unmask her and her whole family as only half-human. The time was drawing near, both for her unmasking and for the time he was supposed to meet Professor MacLeomhann to discover what he was to do for his detention.
Morvan passed beneath the writhing snake graven archway of the vestibule and through the broad passage dragging his fingertips over the moist stones, the scent of earth and water heavy in his nostrils. This lightened as he passed through the false wall, which drew back for him, revealing the slide to the floor of the passage below. By the time he followed the winding tunnels to the main halls of the dungeon, and then out to the lowest classrooms, the smell had transformed to the odors of brewing potions and processing.
Imp followed Morvan, unable to hear or follow his quarry's thoughts. When he had told Mistress's aunt of what he'd overheard from Lilitu and his friends during his earlier stalking, it had only been further proof. He had not been aware of the Headmaster's ability to read minds and discern truth, but he would have investigated Mistress's Enemy anyway.
As it was right now, he wanted to see what the punishment was to be. He hoped to meddle and make it worse if possible, and he suspected that the thing that had gotten onto the grounds was no accident either. Yet, he had no proof! Being an imp, Imp knew very well how easy it was to be summoned into an enclosed barrier, and the Lilitu family was known for dark magic of this very variety. It would not surprise Imp if he discovered that Morvan had some object that he could use as "non school space" to provide a hole.
First, Imp just needed a little proof, then he could better protect Mistress...
For those interested, the editor is starting to get healthier again and looking forward to getting back to work.