Selkies' SkinsInstallment 55Chapter 29 (part one)
Dreams and Divination
Dreams and Divination
Kirsty could not fight the current pulling her to the rocks. Even though it was just a dream, she was afraid of what those sharp teeth would do, even more than Mara’s teeth and wrath. Mara would throw a fit, but she would also give aftercare, at least according to all she had been taught—not to mention the scars on her mother she’d seen during her short life.
Rocks, however, did not care. These rocks especially seemed to be eager to eat selkie blood and sink boats. What would they do to fish?
The boat continued toward the rocks as well. Perhaps if she could just get to it? Maybe there was some way she could help her mother still? Why was there no light warning of such a hazard in this day and age?
These thoughts swirled in her mind too fast to be fully conscious of. Kirsty tried to swim across the current, just as if it were a rip tide that had swept her out. Perhaps together they could avert the course fast enough to avoid disaster.
The water burned due to the frigid current bringing either Arctic or Antarctic waters. Her muscles burned from the strain of trying to go swifter than it wanted to allow. Would it be easier to dip below, as if to pass through coastal waves, like she’d heard surfers would do?
She risked it, only to find the currents of the lower layers just as tricky. After who knew how long she won her way to the surface once more. Kirsty opened her mouth and sucked the air again greedily, always swimming for the boat.
Another immeasurable pass of time came and went, and she was finally close enough to the ship to call out.
Then it shifted.
Instead of the Sea Witch it was the Corsantoir that rose before her and groaned with the effort of wresting free from the currents just enough. Her father’s voice filled her ears as he bellowed something, and Mr. Andersen answered him back in the same tone.
“Aye Lads, ye heard the Cap’n! Who’s got one of the Stones left? It’s either that, or Finnol’ll have to feed our bonnie lady again.”
“NAE!” Mr. Merrow’s voice called. “I used my last one on that shoal of soulfish. Wolcott better be sure to keep Finnol from the bloodlet with us out here. We’s got more blood can be spared than he.”
“This had better be just a dream. Both Mum and Da’ out?” Kirsty groaned mentally.
“Ork! Ark! ARK!” She called out.
The Corsantoir shivered in response to her calls.
“I think we’ve lost one of the moorings!” Andersen’s rough voice bawled. “I don’t see it bound where it was.”
“We’ll get new rope then if we get out of this.” Merrow called back. The force of their energy pushing against the current twisted her stomach and made her bones hurt. “Now shut up and help me with this current work.”
“Yer the one not pushing and feeding enough, ye great fish!”
The rope dangled in reach. Kirsty clenched it in her jaws, and the ship hauled her to the deck. She lay there, a bit of moon on the black, wet deck, and caught her breath. A knot had formed at the jaw hinges, and she worked to make it loosen enough to even try speaking.
Neither the swarthy red haired Mr. Andersen or equally red haired and red nosed Mr. Merrow spared her much of a glance. Perhaps they were used to things getting hauled on deck by her father’s boat when they were out working on...gods and spirits just what would have brought them out here? They certainly were unlikely to recognize her like this.
Her muscles stopped burning long enough. She flopped and inched her way as fast as she could over the pitched deck toward the cabin. Without a skin of her own, it would be impossible to transform back unless whatever spell was on her let go. Still neither of her father’s friends from the Order paid her any mind, concentrating more on trying to move the boat from the current’s grip.
At least they seemed to be aware of the rocks they were being sucked toward. Da' was always canny about things like that, even if he couldn’t see them. Da' and his usual crew also tended to be better at manipulating the currents.
If he got out of it, she was giving him a cape when she got home. She’d start knitting during break after she was up, since she didn’t have a big enough loom.
First though, through the door!
Which of course did not want to open because she was a seal. She reared up and fumbled at the knob with her fins. Kirsty got her mouth around the knob and twisted her head about one way and then the other. It tasted of salt, and dust, metal, and other things that she didn’t want to think about—probably seagull poop with her luck, that was about right—but it still just stayed shut instead of giving under her weight.
Kirsty howled in frustration. She still had to tell him. If she could offer to lend him the use of her human magic stores, since she was stuck in this form and unable to use anything that was not part of the selkie heritage, maybe it would help?
Finally the door crashed open, though she wasn’t sure what she’d done differently.
Instead of her father, she was shocked to find her mother at the helm, pasty white as if recently drowned. Kirsty reeled back and looked outside again. Mr. Andersen and Mr. Merrow were gone. Looking back, the cabin was most certainly that of the Sea Witch, not her father’s boat. She looked back at her mother. If she could offer to Da', she could offer her stores to Mum, and either of them would know how to do it. They were old enough to have learned.
“I really hate dreaming.”
Kirsty turned back to look at her mother, opening her mouth—surely Mum would understand seal—then screamed.
Etain still clung to the wheel, had even taken her eyes from gazing forward to looking at her. Those beautiful sea-blue eyes gaped blindly at her, fogged over. Her mother’s skin was even pastier now, and decidedly puffy. Her cheek even looked like fish had been nibbling on it. What was worse was the smell...turned fish and rotting meat.
“Light the candle Kirsten and toss the line. I’m afraid I might not get home in time.”
The scream from the bed on the other side of the room broke through the muffles and spells that had been layered with increasing depth and frequency. Ally bolted up, crying for a light while grabbing her wand. A spark flitted from her hand before she touched it, landing on the wick.
The lamp between the beds flared, revealing the stone walls and heavy red velvet curtains chased with gold marelions. Kirsty’s sheets were a tangled mess, but there was no one in the room. The salamanders that had been napping in the little fireplace lined up just inside the edge of the coal bank to watch, dancing in agitation at the firewitch’s agitation.
The first scream was still ringing in her ears when the second scream came, throwing Ally back to her bed for a moment, which only bounced her back up. Ally stumbled to her friend’s side and twitched her wand.
Kirsty was rolled out of bed, landing with a loud thud. There was a crunch...what had she landed on?
“Mary, mother of God... What did you dream this time?” Ally clutched at her chest and slipped to her knees, examining the wards she’d placed on Kirsty’s bedframe just the last week. She’d been replacing them weekly since Samhain, and it was now almost time to head home for the Yule holidays.
All that remained were some charred bits of paper. Ally grimaced. She’d have to pick around for more ideas for a sound night’s sleep. Making these was getting expensive in both materials and time. On the plus side, she had the process down pat!
“You dunnae want to know this time... Help me out of this cocoon?” Kirsty flopped and wriggled, trying to work her way out. She couldn’t even use flippers this way.
What was worse? Finding yourself a full seal without choice, or having arms and legs, but all wound up like in the shroud?
Ally came around to the other side of the bed and began the surprisingly elaborate untangling procedure. “Why won’t you just ask Professor Sevrin for a stronger potion? He’s bloody grumpy, but I know he’s got to have something since he and David were discussing some the other day.”
“And what if me mum dies on voyage or needs something of me, but I miss the message because I’m drugged up? What kind of daughter would I be?” Kirsty’s accent was thick with her agitation, and Ally nearly had a hard time following the waterwitch.
“And what if you make me go deaf with your screaming? These are only getting worse. At least have another talk with Professor Gerwulf then. Maybe it’s just something trying to interfere with your dreams, like some thought form Maldein or Lilitu came up with. Or the Counselor, maybe it’s just one you’ve made on your own with all this fear and whatnot.” Ally pressed.
Kirsty sighed. “Mine aren’t the only dreams getting worse. Professor Sevrin was making that potion for Lilitu, had already tried to get me to accept some, and for all I know David was just interested in the process from an academic standpoint because of our advanced studies.” She did make a mental note to consider any drinks David brought her though...just in case he did try to slip her something. But that was unlike him so it wasn’t much of a consideration.
“Lilitu? What’s he got to have nightmares about. He’s rich, gets his way almost all the time, and I highly doubt his parents do anything to get dirty, much less dangerous. And he’s ok looking...” Ally grumbled the last bit, huffing a bit after. “Thomas is still much cuter though.”
“I’d make sure your hair never dries if you ever develop a crush on Lilitu.”
Ally made a face. “I’d burn my eyeballs out first. Don’t worry. He wouldn’t want me anyway. Maldien might drive him crazy later though.”
Kirsty smiled briefly, then tossed her sheets and blankets back on the bed. She debated using her wand to fix them, then just crawled back in.
Some things just weren’t worth using magic. Besides, she was too tired to control the human part of her magic anyway. She’d probably have made it all pretty without the ability to actually get in the bed.
“So, really. What’s he got to have nightmares about?” Ally persisted, crawling back into her own bed.
“Don’t know, don’t want to know.” Kirsty yawned and stretched, noticing that Imp was out again only now. “I’ve felt the Cailleach too much lately, and the Nightmares like her just as much as the things do.”
Ally mumbled as she rolled over in her own bed, pulling her pillow over herself for defense against any more nightmares. Kirsty watched her for a bit, then rolled over to face the opposite direction, curling up.
Ally’s soft snores soon filled Kirsty’s ears. Kirsty smiled a bit. “At least this is normal.”
She watched the window for a while, observing the stars idly while waiting for sleep to reclaim her. Once it did she slipped below its waves gratefully, hoping the dreams were done for the night.
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