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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 full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. Aan audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

And now to begin the webserial for "Selkies' Skins: Temple and Skinquest." This chapter is currently a work in progress. We are back into longer chapters so this will be in at least three parts. We go now to Justin as we draw closer to the Finmen's territory and the Temple. Be looking at the bottom for the note on the inspiration behind one of the names and its Runic connection. Next post for the story brings back Kirsty!


Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: Descent
Installment 11
Chapter 6 part 2
Darkened Hearts (also considering Shadowed Hearts)

 

She scowled, her dark hair swirling around her while she slipped through the columns and past the crawling and finned life that inhabited the Temple. Selkie lights played their wan glow over her black fur, magnified by strategically placed polished mirrors. Clutched in her white knuckled hand was one of the Sacred Treasures, this the obsidian and crystal tipped double headed Spear of Mara. The rites she had just finished with the other Priestesses were in recognition of an expected new comer.

Already, she hated her, from one accidental glance in the far-seeing shell while the Head Priestess Scryed. This one already had a strong love bond. That red string which the Scrying showed to be so important to the who, and what, of the girl only dug into her poisoned heart. Not even a full woman, and this Seaswimmer had dared to dictate who she would accept for her future? She had said an Irrevocable? The nerve! Perhaps, though, he would leave her too, just as her own mate had done only a few short years ago.

Yes. This would be good. Bethrise had left her, just when she needed him most. The pause between trials was always the most delicate of times, and any upset could tilt the initiates for ill or good. She remembered how it hurt when he told her that he was through with her, that she was too much to take care of, when they had barely spoken nor held each other for weeks going into months after they had been attacked during the picnic, and he had since then preferred the company of others to a few moments and a kiss with her. How he preferred his fantasies with other men and women to moments with her stolen after her days duties were done. With luck and skill Raechel could do the same, work some spells, and Seaswimmer's fancy little werewolf-knight would flee for his own selfish fantasies, and the forest would never tie to the sea.

Even the gentle route of convincing the girl of the worthlessness of love was still promising, showing her how fickle and faithless men and boys were in their hearts, wanting only to play, always and ever...and unwilling to be there when the work is even a trifling difficult. The little upstart would bleed in her heart forever, just as she did. She would make someone else see why Mara was so bitter.

The scars across her chest and arm where armor had failed just a few short years ago burned and throbbed, wiggled and writhed. It went unnoticed though, distracted as she was by the Hate she'd been infected with, and never been able to Purge.

I will no longer be alone, then.” Raechel thought. “I'll not be the only one that sees things for what they are.”

Seaswimmer would pay, her little wolfboy would pay, her former mate would pay, the pretty little men and women he left her for to fritter away their days with frivoulous play would pay. The Elders would pay for being too understanding and kind towards one that needed to be shown his Self instead of allowed to Fall Away from who he truly was. All would pay. Then, then... Oh then would be the sweetest. After Mara's darkened face was cast over all the seas and shores with stormcloud and crashing wave, and walked the land if Seaswimmer actually survived...

Perhaps then Bethrise would see how deeply he had wounded her, how gravely his actions had opened her to Taint, given it an entry and a place to grow... opened her Goddess to receive another wound from Astereth... and then mend it to start undoing it. Perhaps his silver hair would curtain her again and she could rest next to him feeling his heart with his spear beside her sword. She could go back to being just Raechel, for a short time.

A younger and gentler part of herself whispered to her through the cracks of the wall she was imprisoned in. He'd not been the same after the attack they weathered either. He himself had grown stern and cold and began amassing a reputation that was a long cry from the bright soul that had drawn her eye. Raechel was not the only one hurt when their picnic had been interrupted, and something from the outside had driven them apart since then, taking advantage of the dangerous turmoil of the time, even if he had been the weak one to fall to its siren song and not she.

No.” She answered herself, “It was his childish desires to always experience more, and not to be happy with the good thing we had once had. That is what did it. His irresponsibility. His dishonor that things being only play or practice for our mating night making them acceptable while I risk life and sanity for everyone's sake.”

Quickly the coiling incense of longing and the knowledge she was plotting true evil, going against the older requirements of her Order regarding Love and Partnership, was shoved away and locked deep into her heart. So too was the lingering suspicion that, just perhaps, the drifting away had been influenced by outside parties besides those he'd left her for.

The scars burned more, runes now glowing dimly with sickly green flames along them, unseen still and feeding. Or perhaps being fed.

He'd not take her back. Bethrise had said so. That she was a burden and they had grown apart and even had interest in a golden tailed selkiemaid whose laughter was bells and never frowned. He had made no effort that she had seen ever since the attack where he had presented to her the carven coral ring she still bore on her finger, and instead she had been the one bending backwards and breaking what had once been a supple spine trying to find things for them to do as a unit... as mates. It was better to give herself over to the pain and become what he had set in motion with those words. There was as much power in Mara's Love as there was in being a vessel of her Hate. Even hate that she sometimes was not certain belonged to either herself or the Lady of the Sea.

While those refrains continued to repeat in the back of her mind marble columns and gardens gave way to doorways shrouded in woven curtains. Raechel continued her route to replace the Treasure in the Vault. Outside the entrance to the warren, where the way had opened again, there lay a single door that led down below the bedrock the young priestess paused. The door, once opened, gazed back up at her with its yawning black nothingness and waited to receive back the spear. Yet, something tugged at her.

Away. No. Away.

Raechel stayed at the top step and closed her eyes, her other hand on the side, and opened her senses wider. Without help she could not feel what the water spoke of and so called on the spear's power to pick up what was beyond her normal range. Beyond the city she felt the coming initiate prospect, and from a slightly different direction was coming the Tainted murk that could only be someone from the Finmen clans. The trajectories seemed to be drawing closer, from what she could tell, but if she could bump them just a bit...then she'd not have to deal with welcoming the upstart at all.

Yet, there was something else as well that did not belong in the territory of her people... She could let out some of the rage. Perhaps she might taste blood and calm the infernal craving that still plagued her.

Raechel grinned, closed the treasure vault without entering, and retraced her steps. As she made her way back out of the warren she took stock of what she had in her pouch, then decided that she did not need to pick up any supplies. Soon enough she was out and finning her way away from the front of the temple and its stone selkie and samebito Mara guardian statues, then up above the city and the twinkles of the merlights and the gleaming spires of the King's Citadel. She had kept to herself since she was left at the altar, since he had walked away. It would be long since she was missed, being only a minor priestess in the hierarchy... and kept so.

Yes, holding her back was also something that would be corrected.

The farther behind the city fell, the stronger the pull got, and she followed it. Nothing crossed her path. Instead, as the tainted priestess swam the fish in the hotspot avoided her and swam away.

 

Unseen and unfelt eyes watched as on a much higher level voices whispered and fingers wove. On yet another, not to highly removed level other sets of eyes watched as paths drew closer and destinies began to intertwine.

 
*Notes:

1. Raechel's story is one that I've been waiting a very long time to write down. Raechel was first conceived as Kirsty's counterpoint to show Vadise that there were both Good and Bad priestesses that serve Mara, and that it was possible for them to Turn. Where he first encountered her would give away some important points of Kirsty's future though, so that won't be written of until that point is reached. Suffice to say, there was already an idea of why she was so bitter and why she despised Kirsty so much by the time David meets this character.

2. Bethrise is intended to be read as Beth rise.

Beth was the misremembered name for the rune Bjarka, likely picked up since not all of the books that I read on runes called each and every one by the same names. Some had variations, and the word Beth was one I had associated with Bjarka. This rune looks rather like a capital B, by instead of rounded loops those are triangles. The rune is associated with birth, mountains, the feminine and nurturing.

Rise was taken from English with the expected meaning: to rise. 

Bjarka's shape also by default contains the rune Reid, which looks rather like an angular capital R. This is pronounecd as Ride, and thus when spoken in the accent common in this captial city both "rise" and "reid" would sound similar. Thus if written in runes the name would be "BR". This rune brings and means movement and is the fourth directional rune of the Futhark set. This is Thor's rune, thus also connected to lightning and flashes of enlightenment.

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
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As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story. >.>


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