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, possibly four parts. This post is actually two weeks early, but is being done so intentionally, "just in case." This also catches the reader up to where I am in the manuscript, so the posting may start to go a little slower while I work.
Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: DescentInstallment 12Chapter 6 part 3
Darkened Hearts (also considering Shadowed Hearts)
Section 1: Descent
Darkened Hearts (also considering Shadowed Hearts)
Kirsty made her way along the seafloor searching for the food her whiskers had sensed lurking near it, watching with bright eyes and letting her instincts take over. At last she found the spark she sought and lunged at the flat fish, hidden in the sand. She held the wriggling muscle in teeth and hands, trying both to eat it and to discard as much of the sand as possible. It wasn't much, and it wasn't that great of a hunt, although its camouflage had been superb, but it would tide her over for now.
Further along she found a bed of shellfish and fell to cutting and cracking, prying and slurping. It was awkward for her to do underwater, but she figured out a system, and was surprised by the fight that they put up. She at least knew her feed was earned. Kirsty, Seaswimmer, was careful not to overharvest the bed. Yet further along a stand of sea vegetables was called on in much the same manner. The hunger that continued to grow disconcerted her. How long had she been gone now in this dayless expanse where time was naught but that stretch between meals?
Her travel paused when the signal she had been following was interfered with. A wave of sound washed over her and her hands went to her ears as her body pushed itself away from the blast of awful sound that tore at her head and screamed through her bones. The blast was not just sound, but force as well, the water itself screeing away from whatever had been detonated.
When her head cleared the energies were still scrambled. Time washed by as she reconnected to the leyline she'd been following, using that to get some sense of bearing. It was longer yet before she became aware of which way was up, and only because she was drifting down and brushing the sandy, gritty, floor.
“What happened?” Kirsty queried herself aloud, picking up again the habit of speaking to herself. Of course there was no one to reply, but sometimes she thought she could almost hear something whispering just at the cusp of her hearing, just at the edge of her awareness. Waiting. Calling.
Kirsty knew she was off course, but could not be certain yet how far off course. The water was raw though, of that she was certain. Raw as if someone had taken a 30 grit sandpaper to her inner arm or her heart. Perhaps heart was the better analogy even though it made absolutely no sense to her. Now she had a myriad of scratches that all bled and oozed an energy of some sort from her.
The water reacted. She could feel its grip tighten and pull, gone from the barely paying attention but ever present crushing weight her bones had come to know, and turned to some ravenous tearing beast. Kirsty flailed in the grip of the unseen hand and tried to win her way free, but it was too strong and all that accomplished was to tire her even more. Kirsty tried subduing the water, but there was too much of it, and it would not listen. In desperation she prayed for guidance, some inkling of what to do.
“Blood.” The reply came in her mind, a low, sneering, pain-wracked voice that growled through her. “I want blood. They're at it again and I can't rest until I have it.”
A bubble rose from Kirsty's mouth and the gills she'd been temporarily granted worked harder.
“The water speaks?” She thought.
“Of course I speak. Fix what's just happened, or if I can't take their blood I will take every drop of your blood.” The sneer deepened as it curled through her and a tendril of water pushed further into her nose, reaching and working for her lungs hungrily. “I need some anyway. I taste what you bear.”
Her mind reeled at the invasion and her body pushed back, her will fighting to keep the water out of her lungs. “How?” The simple question resounded through her and the water, and the pressure of the water stopped pressing forward.
“You will know what to do...” Instead of the water flowing into her lungs Kirsty now found herself drawn forward by it. It drew her to a pod of whales, also on some of the outer reaches but far enough in that they still were dazed and calling in confusion. Further on she felt fish doing worse, nearer to the blast. Their pain became her pain, coiling and squeezing.
A pocket of poison drew her, and though she wished to pull away Kirsty felt herself spreading through the water toward it.
Raechel picked herself up from where the sonic wave had sent her and growled, baring her teeth and casting around for the source. Her head still rang as if she had ascended to the surface too quickly or perhaps dropped too fast, but if she did not move quickly then there would be little that she could do to gain retribution for the sea. The damaged waters and its creatures did not reach for her blood to start the needed repairs, but she could deal with that later.
Vengeance, after all, was her realm; pity she was born a selkie and not a sharkwoman. Her powerful tail arrowed her skyward, toward the boat, ship, or whatever had deployed it, following the screams of the water. She adjusted her trajectory to take into account the movement, but another loud boom swept through the water and her hands went to her ears, once more mashing Mara's spear into the side of her head. She continued forward as best she could, even as the horrific tearing, mangling sounds continued sweeping through the water and a trickle of blood began to leak from her nose.
Finally she found the source, a small craft that fired air routinely down toward the seafloor. An ugly grey painted thing, it bore the stink of human all over it, if it hadn't been enough to merely see it.
The shaft in her hand became ice and fire to her touch, and her scowl deepened. Her black hair writhed in tendrils as she studied the craft for a sign of weakness, some exploit that she could use to disable it. The longer she delayed, the more Mara's spear sparked in Raechel's hand, and the more the blood rage set in. Finally, reason was abandoned and she won her way to the hull and jabbed.
Instead of breaking the blades of obsidian and crystal, a black and purple glow surrounded them and they penetrated the craft with a scream of steel. Another hand closed over her own, colder, rougher, and another form encased her as Mara seated part of her essence into the cracked and darkened vessel of her body. Raechel could not understand the words that the sea deity spoke, but she tasted their bitter tang...the festering of poisons and ancient wounds.
She drank it in as Mara's power flowed through her, her eyes closing but her inner eyes still seeing the scene before her. Electromagnetic fields fluxed around her and the craft, and her lips curled as as she felt ventwater force itself from the spear into the craft, damaging circuitry and whatever else the filthy landwalkers used to power the survey craft.
They'd not use this to help in their plundering of Mara's treasures any more.
The craft began to float toward the seafloor, and though Mara's touch withdrew from Raechel the poisons in her heart took on physicality. They combined with the ones she already bore from her encounter with the Finmen. Together they lurked now in her skin and slowly leaked into the waters, not so much a physical thing, but an energetic one. The cloud around her was very real though, spawned from the hate, and that spread through the waters. Raechel found she didn't care. Damage had already been done and the creatures stunned, dead, or dying. Purifying the waters was no longer an option, she'd not been able to do that since he did what he did, and what ability she had once held in that department had been diminished even before that.
Raechel watched the survey craft drift ever downward, wishing she could do something so satisfying to Bethrise. Where was the larger vessel this craft would have been reporting to?
Did it matter?
A younger presence picked at the edge of her awareness, or perhaps more accurately flailed.
“I feel you little girl... Time to meet my new 'Sister' finally.” Raechel's chuckle echoed and unseen strings drew tight.
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.