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 has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)
This is a little late, it's been a busy month for me. Reading has been more convenient than writing due to all the stuff.
We begin both a new chapter and the start of the middle section of the book. We'll be returning to Kirsty where she's been thrust into the Labby, completely unaware of what is going on both above and in her proper timeframe.
Some people have gotten to read parts of this chapter's rough draft in the Patrons Only part of my Patreon. Also, happy birthday to David's creator, without whom Kirsty would not have come to be who she is.
Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's LightInstallment 22Chapter 10 part 1
Section 2: Temple's Light
Kirsty landed poorly when Mara’s grip released her. Behind her the entrance to the labyrinth crackled and became stone. Carefully she picked herself up and took stock of her surroundings. The seal behind her still bore the marks it had on the outside. Gradually the room came to view as if it was solidifying around her from a half-formed dream.
Various crafting implements were tucked into the corners. Here a spinning wheel, a forgotten drop spindle. Some sort of loom lurked in another corner and it would have been impossible to not recognize wool cards. A needle shone, and suspended by a thread was some sort of intricate web in a willow hoop. Strangely, the smell of a forge hung heavy in the air and the ring of a hammer, unheard, sounded through her bones. The hiss of a sword being plunged into water hissed through her skin.
Kirsty puzzled over why she had the impression of a forge when the room looked nothing like one.
“Another one? How many others are just going to pop in through the wall and wander off?” A voice of her own age piped. Kirsty followed the voice to find a dark haired girl working on some sort of intricate beadwork. Strangely she seemed to have a pair of blue-teal wings sprouting from her back. The wings prickled a memory of a large blue feather wafting into a circle, and the flash of wings above while the pipes howled.
“It isn’t like you didn’t interrupt my work in exactly the same way, Angelina.” Another girl grumbled. In her hands leather seemed to be in the process of being formed into wings, complete with hawk’s feathers. This girl had long auburn hair. A single braid pulled the bangs back and to one side of her face, decorated with a concho and a hawk’s feather, though her skin was so pale that Kirsty wasn’t certain she really ought to be wearing her hair that way or the white buckskins.
“It’s not like I meant to BlowingWind. I’m never going to live that down.” Angelina mumbled, setting her work aside.
“Not a bit. Just be glad I don’t bring it up in the ski lodge.” BlowingWind grinned.
In a further area, mostly cloaked in darkness, an older girl seemed to be puzzling together a crumbled wall covered with strange carvings that looked vaguely Aztecan. Vaguely. Not one single person that she saw seemed to possess any aquatic features. Land-dwellers like herself then, perhaps?
“I don’t understand. I came from the sea. Now there is no water.” Kirsty drug herself closer to the nearest girls while the third toiled on seeming unaware that she had any sort of company.
“Were you dreaming?” BlowingWind asked.
“Hardly. I’m wide awake and had been talking with one of Mara’s Guards before she, or I guess she’s the one as it was some disembodied force, tossed me in here.”
“Mara, I’ve not heard of that one.” BlowingWind shrugged. “Then again Mom is a little, well, hindering when it comes to my involvement with the spirit world and even when I try to look up anything related to it. This includes learning more about Dad’s path.” She stage whispered, “She thinks an old family curse from a dragon will make me lose my first love, maybe do worse things. She is even iffy sometimes about Saint Brigit.”
Angelina shrugged and shook her wings a little. “I only come here in dreams. My bodily trips into the sprit world take me to a very different place. Usually above ground. The dream world and spirit world, and the other worlds are all very different places, but maybe they overlap in some places.”
“And her?” Kirsty pointed to the woman in shadows working so studiously on her wall.
“I have no idea. She looks a lot like the pictures I get of my cousin Jewel. I don’t think she’s ever heard us when we try talking to her. Don’t ever touch those bits she’s not picked up though. She gets very strange.” BlowingWind answered.
“Jewel? I know a Jewel. Mum warned me to steer clear of any O’Drake boy because of their curse, romantically anyway.” Kirsty tried to peer into the shadows to see better. It had been some time, but the young woman did indeed seem to be the same one she remembered. She even got up next to the older girl and shouted in her ear, but there was no response. Jewel simply continued working on the relief’s restoration, traced some symbols, and murmured “Huetziatl, falling water... But why did this settlement die?”
“Odd that you’d know my cousin. Then again everything is odd in dreams.” BlowingWind returned her focus to the wings she was sewing, which now and then looked like some sort of blanket. “The other day I had a normal dream and was snowboarding up on the mountain, then it started snowing hamburgers. Not good for snowboarding.”
Angelina snorted. “Did it rain your favorite soda next?”
Blowingwind flicked a concho at her companion. “Don’t mind her. When she has normal dreams she dreams about her boyfriend.” She stretched the last word out, and meanwhile Angelina turned an interesting shade of crimson.
“Ok then.” Kirsty shook her head and looked around again. “So how does one get from here to the next room? I don’t see any way out. The door I came through looks rather solid.”
“Have to make your own way, probably.” Angelina shrugged and held up the beadwork, revealing it to be some sort of arm sheathe. “We came to work on our power items. They are extensions of us.”
Blowingwind put her project over her shoulders. “I’ll dance Hawk. Dad was a shaman. Hawk came to me in another dream and told me that this is what I must do. I’m working on one in the waking world too. I sometimes wonder if I’ll be able to fly in this world once I’ve got it done, and I’ll just soar the sky to... whatever...” She closed her arms again after realizing she had been twirling and swooping. “It’s what feels right anyway. Obsidian, my boyfriend, sometimes says I remind him of a skinwalker.”
Kirsty found a chair and gathered together what working items that she knew how to use that it seemed no one else was using. “Something that feels right, huh? Ok... Maybe I’ll just start with what I know then... I’m on a skinquest, I hope I’m not supposed to make my own. I always thought that maybe it was in Mara’s Box.”
“Heard of a cougar-woman once. Cougar gave her her skin though. So I guess you’re a real skin walker?” BlowingWind poked her upper arm. “Fuzzy.”
“Selkie. I’ll be a full blooded selkie by the standards of my kind.” Kirsty nervously began to examine the wool cards but found nothing nearby to work with. Experimentally, and half laughing at herself, she brushed them against each other. “Maybe something will pop up like that story of Rumpelstiltskin.”
She nearly dropped them when the carding tugged on her heart.
Looking them over more carefully she could not find any reason why they should have pulled on her heart. They looked normal, worn, as if they’d seen many other users before she found herself shoved into the chamber. After a moment she continued and the pulling continued as well. With every pull she found herself settling into a scrying trance. Every pass of the bristles felt as if they worked through mind and heart. Kirsty watched with half interest whenever a thought connected to why she wanted to become a full selkie would be pulled to the surface. She could feel something soft building between but could not see what it was. Kirsty continued until she had a ball of invisible “wool” about the size that she was used to spinning.
A few moments of investigating this strange substance passed. She felt a little frayed but also a little more ordered as well. She also realized that she felt very, very, very exposed and cold. She needed something to insulate herself. She knew this, felt this. There was only one way that she knew to warm herself.
Next she picked up the drop spindle and began humming the spinning tune as her fingers got to know the tool. This was also of wood and had been worn smooth by countless turns and fingers before hers. Following familiar motions she began to spin, the repetitions soothing her even though she chafed against all of the strangeness surrounding the unspecified tasks. This all surely was part of her testing. It had to be.
She still felt exposed, but at least the magic of the song was warming her a little.
The thoughts about what she was doing and wanting kept coming. In the back of her mind she felt a pricking, as if someone was testing some sort of connection. She paid it no mind. That had become all too familiar of late.
She was being tested. Of course she was being watched.
Kirsty found that if she got too riled what she was spinning got to feeling sharp and too lumpy. Controlling her thoughts and emotions seemed to be something needed. To help herself focus she thought harder of the skin she was doing this entire thing to earn. The others fell away into the dark and she found herself alone in the chamber. It had drawn in and was smaller. She could feel them beyond the walls, but their smells were gone, perhaps because each was back into their own little compartments.
Should she have even been able to talk to them? They had said that they’d not been able to speak with Jewel. Were they able to see her in the same way they had all seen Jewel while so very occupied?
“No, you shouldn’t have been able to see them or talk to them. You’re not mine and these quests are all supposed to be individual. Interesting that you did see them though. Your destiny must be tied to theirs somehow.” The voice that pierced the dark was warm and forbidding, the crackle of a forge’s fire and sharp clang of hammer on copper and steel. Somehow it was also the soft whooshing of a loom and the clatter of spinning. “How do you know one of my work songs if you aren’t – oh dear, this may be awkward.”
The darkness drew away a bit, pulling back from the glowing goddess of the forge. Her green dress rippled down beneath light copper armor and a plain belt. A small green dragon sat on her shoulder regarding Kirsty with the same curious gaze the deity wore in her green-blue eyes.
Kirsty bowed from where she sat. This deity she didn’t really remember meeting, but she’d remembered feeling this energy when Etain had been at Draiganpáirc for Order business. “The Lady taught me the song when I was little. Mum knows it too. Sometimes Mara would keep time with us if we were working on the nets where she could sit with us. I always find myself at least thinking it whenever I work with my hands. Sometimes, sometimes I’ll use it when potion brewing too.”
“Then I suppose in a way you are mine, in a,” she drew a breath and sent a soft note through her nose, “battle liason way. The alliance is still alive even though I moved my stronghold.” The deity leaned closer, touched Kirsty’s chin, turned her face from one side to the other. “I do see them in you. Not as harsh and suspicious as Mara. Not as soft and swift of sword as Arna--.”
Kirsty blinked at the cut off name. The deity blinked in confusion and sighed. “She still doesn’t have her name back then. That’s all I remember of it, even now. My name is Brigid.
“Kirstin Allegra Makay, the pup Seaswimmer,” Kirsty dipped again.
“Ah, and much more polite than your human heritage Sir Kay and that distant son of Kay. This pleases.”
“Sir Kay? Wait–.” Kirsty’s thought was broken off as the deity continued.
“I think, little sea bear, that I’ll give you a gift to make up for you, hmmm, apparent ‘mislanding’ on entering the labryinth.” Brigid stroked the head of the dragon softly, humming a tune that crackled and rose for a moment before dying down. “There may be hope yet then, for name and for coat. Do not disappoint me. Find the name, find the coat. Earn the coat to fill your soul, find her coat to let her go. The wrong wrought by human hands is fated to be undone by blood that spans aided by the wolf from the other land. List ye well to this prophecy, lest only to the seafoam bound you’ll be.”
A small ripple of laughter, like the water on the top of a well once a pebble was dropped, and then the deity disappeared. Brigid took the light with her.
“I’m beginning to think that everyone is far, far, far too ‘helpful’ as I go through this.” Kirsty looked at the now visible sheen of wool and thread, softly pulsing in time with her heart. I’m not ungrateful, but I do wonder what the price is in the end.”
A set of doors formed before her. Alike in every way that she could find they seemed to not be able to make up their mind exactly how they wanted to look. The darkness stayed around her.
Taking a deep breath she chose a door. On opening the door she found a long passage, filled once again with water. Sea torches were lit and glowing dim blues and greens. As her eyes adjusted it seemed that the passage developed some sort of twist ahead, and she saw other opening.
Kirsty shook her head, tied one end to the door, and stepped in. “Folklore. I don’t want to get lost.”
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.