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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 story is selkies' skins.

Selkies' Skins
Installment 63
Chapter 33 part 1
Lady of the Waters

 

Kirsty and her father had ridden back in silence, and she didn’t take long to make sure that she did have the poppets. It was perhaps slightly incongruous, but she put them in a zippered plastic baggie, before sealing that magically. The thought of anything that might be connected to David getting water damaged bothered her...especially as she was not quite certain what to expect.

She gazed into the depths of the well, the water for once reflecting no light. The Lady had not answered when she called and made greeting, which she had never known to happen before. Briefly, she wondered if perhaps the Lady was ill or hurt. Every other time she had at least made her presence known.

Worse, the adults all stood as if there was nothing wrong with this. Kirsty wished her mother was here. She would have some words of advice or an explanation. Her left wrist itched, and she scratched it, still gazing into the rather uninviting hole.

“No time like the present I guess...” She tore her gaze up, and looked over her shoulder at those gathered behind her. Her aunt was the only female. Her father, guardian, and ‘uncles’ all gazed back at her, none of them quite able to mask their concern. “I love you all...”

“We love you too,” crashed back at her in as many ways as there were faces.

Kirsty smiled a bit, then kicked off with her feet. Twisting in the air as she fell, she brought her arms out in front of her head, diving as her instincts told her she must...headfirst as she had been born. Thankfully, not quite exactly as she had been born. She at least got to wear clothes. Poor Mr Wolcott probably would have died if all she’d been allowed to take was her pouch...halfpelt covering everything important or not.

The water closed over her quickly, its iciness chilling her and nearly forcing the air from her lungs. Kirsty managed to keep it though and each kick of her feet drove her deeper into the eternal night. She wasn’t sure how far she had swum when her lungs began to burn, but she didn’t dare use the paste to transform. She knew that this part she was expected to go as deep as possible in her birth form.

She wanted air and light, badly.

Kirsty thought of the Lady instead as she had last seen her. The translucent opalescent luminescence over her skin and dress, and the way it rippled when a breeze or one of the schools of minnows she carried moved, were some of her favorite features of the water deity. She thought harder of the way her hair flowed, and the gentleness of her voice, and the feel of those arms around her. Kirsty could even remember the feel of the sword hilt jammed into her during a particularly firm embrace when she had been a child and the Finmen attacks had been nightly.

It wasn’t the first time that Kirsty wondered what her name had once been. Every time she came close to having something it flitted away. She’d looked up Arthurian legends once after reading what she could of the ‘Book of Seals’ and talking to David about that passage just on the off chance that perhaps they had something to go on...but the parts that referred to the one that loaned Excalibur made no mention of names.

She wasn’t even sure that was Excalibur anyway since the name of the sword was different. It would be amusing though if it were, and the Lady of the Lake really lived in a simple stone well at the top of a hill far, far away from where people thought she really did.

She still couldn’t feel her matron deity’s presence. Her ears rang from the lack of oxygen, and the edges of reality began to feel rather fuzzy. If something didn’t happen soon, then she would have to resort to the paste and change her form. Her fingers felt hazy though.

Maybe she had waited too long?

She could see a light ahead finally, and she kicked desperately for it. As she kicked, she felt reality shift. When she had been kicking down earlier, it now became kicking up, and the light grew nearer and nearer until her head broke the surface.

Kirsty gasped for air, praying the coolness of it would soothe the fires now burning in her lungs. She stroked to where she could feel the current indicating shore, then sprawled on the rock. With effort she created an orb of witchfire and set it to hang on air and light the chamber, but it was extinguished just as quickly. Kirsty simply didn’t have the focus to sustain it.

Luckily the cave provided its own light, emanating from the deposits within the stone and bouncing off the drops that gathered on the ceiling and walls. Patches of blue, purple, and green winked and danced alternately. The water itself glowed vaguely, flicking between blue and green.

It wasn’t the same chamber as the last time she had been here, when the Lady had pulled herself and David to have a meal and a chat in one of her fits of loneliness...when she had gifted David the crystal.

As her breathing smoothed and her lungs stopped aching she was able to take in more of the chamber. If she looked carefully she could just begin to make out some of the runes she saw in the older sections of Castle Carrick. There were others as well, and these reminded her more of the strange glyphs that she had found carefully scribed within ‘The Book of Seals’ shortly into her second year. She still had no way to describe them.

Finally she sat back up again. Phantom whiskers quivered as she listened and looked with her whole being, and she didn’t reach to rub at them. The light seemed a little more intense through one of the passages that she was now dimly able to see, and she followed that path.

Sometimes she found herself walking in waters ankle deep and strangely warm for both a midwinter and a non-volcanic area. Other times she found herself swimming. At times the passage branched off, and here she was able to sustain light long enough to find carvings in the stone.

Several hours passed this way, and she noticed that she was lingering less and less at the forks. The more often she came across the dominant signs, the more convinced she became that one sign was for Mara...this a complicated series of knots that resembled waves. The water in those passages made her feel more buoyant and had a slightly saltier savor. The other had a more sinuously flowing quality that suggested rivers and lakes...that surely was the Lady. The waters in those passages were sweeter.

Kirsty was positive that with all of the branches, which surely doubled back on themselves, she truly had not gone very far at all. When the passage she followed split into five branches her groan echoed and magnified until she had to cover her ears while treading water.

“Now what?” She asked herself aloud, already tired of the only company being the pale glowing fishes that reminded her of moon slivers.

She made out a shelf of sorts to one side, and hauled out there to rest, casting her dim orb to hang above her. Her body was heavy and clumsy on land, and her legs would not hold her anymore so she dragged herself up a bit further with her arms...just in case something hungrier than little fishes came through. Distantly she was aware of the tide beginning to rise, and she hoped that it did not occur down here. There would be no escape if it rose too far.

The water in her clothes she knew was helping to sap her strength. Looking around another time to ensure that she really was alone did little to allay her worries that someone would see what she usually hid. Still there was no one, so she removed her clothes, leaving only the close under layer to preserve some modicum of modesty, and wrinkled her nose at herself.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this...” Kirsty grumbled to herself, extracting the water from her clothes before shoving them into her pouch. She then rearranged her pouch and wandsling, running her fingers over the wand’s sheath. “I wonder...was it your pups that had to start doing this, or was it the grandchildren? You always say you’ll tell me when older and never do...”

 

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