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. An 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. He is currently working on "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)
I am releasing this installment a little early due to expecting a busy weekend.
Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: DescentInstallment 19Chapter 8 part 3
Cave of Communion
Section 1: Descent
Cave of Communion
A cool trickle started and Bethrise hissed but did not retreat. Behind the trickle surged the vast power of the sea.
“Even pushed into the recesses of sleep,” Mara mused, both watching and feeling the young priestess-witch perform the work her line had been made for, “her touch heals.” A surge of pleasure crashed through the riding deity, “so much like her mother, much more than she thinks she is,” the thought resounded through her mind, and she let it echo to her distant sister, and to the Huntsman, if he cared to hear the stirs through the fabric of the world.
For Bethrise the trickle penetrated like an icy current, but that wasn’t quite right, in his mind. It ran like the old stories of tiny streams, picking around blocks and seeping in, prying with gentle fingers at crust and scab, then carrying the pieces away. Not all of them by a long shot, but as each little piece came off and went away he felt lighter and clearer. As unexpected as the touch had been it fell away quickly.
Bethrise pulled back, looking once again at the tiny female in his arms. “What was that?”
Mara only laughed and slipped out of the incohate priestess’s body, leaving the little selkie-maid to swim back out from the depths of her mind and inner self. Her voice taunted him in her mind. “That, Bethrise Lairlight, is why she is the Chalice. Now prepare her and then go see to my bringing home my wayward Lance before we’ve lost the chance.”
The guardian frumpled his face as much as the last time he’d chased off a bull of his own age from his charge during the courting season. Waking the girl was a bit of a challenge, but he finally did manage after many fruitless assorted attempts and at last dragging her across the floor by her tail several times. That had not been well received and he now sported a couple lovely bruises, a few bite marks, a scorch mark in a highly unexpected location, a smaller ego, and having been called a Trickster Finman. Bethrise fervently hoped that Kirsty and her family did not have a regular habit of abusing people when first waking up. If so then it was a miracle any of them had survived to breed. He took a deep breath and related what Mara had told him from behind the table.
Mara watched the fracas invisibly in amusement. Toying with mortals was not something that she was above, especially when two highly serious personages allowed her an opportunity. Yet this too had its purpose in her tests of character and strength.
“A symbol of my humanity?” Kirsty smacked her lips and wiggled her jaw around, trying to reset her jaws after they’d come unhinged sometime in her panicked waking scuffle, most likely when she bit him. “I’d guess the wand would be out, that’s got Mara’s hair and she was a full selkie.” She pondered and picked at a bit of Bethrise that was obstinately stuck between a set of her front teeth. She spat when once again part of it got on her tongue.
“That’s what she said.” He agreed, scowling at the missing chunk of forearm. “You are viscious.”
“Sorry.” Kirsty started pulling things from the pouch at her hip, some of which Bethrise could not figure out how she got them out, much less in it in the first place. “I could treat that for you if you’d like.”
“No, I’ll be fine. It would be my luck that the bite was enough to give you a taste for selkie flesh. I don’t need a cannibalistic priestess hunting me to prolong her life.”
Kirsty paused, a mass of white fabrics, netting, and shells about halfway out of the pouch and with a great deal more fabric obviously waiting behind. “That’s horrible. Does that really happen? I thought it was merflesh and not selkie flesh that was supposed to be able to give immortality.”
“I didn’t say that it really would. I’ve heard the legends say both though. Does it work?” He guessed her next question, “I have no idea. I’ve not tried it. I do know that in the head temple there is a book that contains all of the dark and light magics of the sea though. If so then it would be in there. What the deuce is that? It looks like a huge white net.”
“A dress.” Kirsty replied. “Something a female wears to be modest so people aren’t looking at her naked. Prevents sunburn too.” Kirsty finished pulling it out, holding it up between them and raising it enough that he could see the whole thing and so that she could hide her face and the blush behind it. The shells and bells jingled in the current.
“That looks horridly heavy. Gorgeous, but heavy. How are you even supposed to move in it?”
“It is. This is my ceremonial dress. I wore it to enter the sea and give myself to Mara. I’ll wear this at the school dance next year.” Kirsty wasn’t sure exactly how she knew that in the next year there was to be a dance. Trying to figure that out gave her a terrible buzzing headache and she could feel herself starting to fray and see two places and times superimposed again. “I supposed, if she is going to give it back when I get my skin, that this is the best thing to offer regarding my humanity... I hope so, I think da’ wanted me to wear it at my wedding too, someday.”
Kirsty lowered the dress, shivering as a chill descended on her. Her stomach reeled and clenched and she was beginning to feel more than lightheaded as her stomach tried to rise. Still invisible, Mara reached forward and flicked her fingers. The stone door of the Maze rumbled open. Sigils flashed and danced as she programmed it, envisioning each twist of her further tests and where she desired the path to lead. Her initiate and the guardian turned their heads, both jaws dropping open and the guardian placing himself between the noise and the maid.
It was the perfect opportunity. The ocean answered her will. A current caught Kirsty in its grip and hauled her into the inky depths. Mara’s hands closed on the fabric and it went just as invisible as she was. With that Bethrise was left alone in the room as Mara carried herself to her temple.
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.