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)
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's LightInstallment 28Chapter 12 part
not titled yet
Section 2: Temple's Light
not titled yet
Kirsty eventually fell into a stupor, laying down on her side right there on the floor of the depths. She’d been on the move for so long, then there was the fighting against what had turned out to be a spell from a rival. “So much for selkies having only weak magic, you elitist sods,” she thought bitterly in the direction of every person she’d ever heard utter their speciesist drivel. Then there was the fight against the spellcaster, and who knew what she was learning of dark magic whispered to her by Astereth. On top of that there was the strain on her mind with slipping back and forth between times. She should never have listened to the Spiralis snake and strained ahead more than she already had been.
Sleep. The arms of sleep and the soothing siren song was what she needed to allow body, mind, and soul to knit. Something in her had activated when her heart was touched by Mara’s spear, but finding out what exactly it was could wait.
Sleep. The word pounded through her with the rhythm of tide and moon. It pulled at her, fogging her mind until all was dark, even though it already was so, save for the places glowing with their phosphorescence. Only those of the temple monitoring her progress would be able to know for how long she slept like that, and even then their kenning would not be accurate due to the way time worked on the Maze and the Initiatory Tests.
Sleep. The command continued long after she had finally lost the battle against it. With the stilling of her body her mind and soul turned focus on the inner work that needed doing. Desperately she grasped and grappled with the things knocked loose inside herself. Weaving and knitting, knotting and plying repairs were made.
Meanwhile something else went on. Between the relaxed fingers webbing wove, born of the gossamer threads pulled from herself. Sleeping fingers danced through long practiced gesticulations, conjuring and knotting netting unlike any of rope she’d previously made at lochside or seaside. They had so long practiced these knots that they worked easily even in her sleep.
Kirsty’s awareness drifted in sweet velvet nothing for a time healing before she heard voices. First those of her mother and Mara, urgent whispers as they sought a way through an unknown force, then the moon shone on Mara’s stricken face. Tear salt tracked her cheeks with their crusty sheen as more tears slid down their tracks, Etain clutched tightly in her arms where she stood before a somber veil blowing in a breeze that touched neither selkie nor goddess.
She called, of course she did. Whether Kirsty was heard by them was another story, but perhaps... Why was she seeing them through the gate the veil guarded? She reached out to touch the gate, but the burning chill was as if she were somewhere between trackless stars and back in the arctic winter all at once. It suited the stone room that choked around her.
The scene changed. Suddenly Ven’thrith was at her side and they were both standing on some rocks, white cloak of dreaming and insanity covering them both. The gate had moved. If the moon deity knew she was there Kirsty couldn’t tell. He, and he was definitely male this time instead of female or that hemaphroditic form he also used, was more focused on peering through the gate and clenching his fists. “They’ll be here soon, Mara, I’m sure of it.”
“Good. See where your meddling has brought us this time.”
“Not every plan of mine to make things better can work as planned, I am the moon, here...”
“Yes, yes. Cyclically fickle and as difficult to have any time with as Herne. How long do you think? Feeding Etain is creating quite the drain, more than I’d have expected. I’ve not done this in awhile, like this.”
“I’m sorry. It shouldn’t be long. Mimir will be guiding Finnol, and with the true figurehead that should give us just enough to pull her back through.”
Mara sighed, slumped, nodded. Ven’thrith laid his hands on either side of the gate and pressed forward. Kirsty realized then that she had never seen either of them at the sizes they were. He spanned it, and her mother looked like a child of moonlight cradled in the arms of the sea goddess, her dress lapping and crashing around the slight frame and her mother herself nude save for the bit of fur and the goddess’ cloak tucked over her. “I just hope he gets here in time. Seven tears can’t call a selkie back from this side of the veil anymore... not all the time.”
“No,” Ven’thrith smiled, the light of the moon just beginning to wax from him again. “But do you hear that my dear? I believe I hear someone stirring, though what he’s up to I can’t say. Something’s happened to allow him to act or send someone though.”
The wind brought from land the sounds of hooves, a horn Kirsty recognized well, the baying of dogs, and the calls of wolves. Her heart leapt at the sounds of the Wild Hunt.
“And how do we know we don’t just hear young Valnarius completing his own initiations and earning his place?”
“Perhaps, but this feels different. That is soon, but not yet. I’ve been looking forward to watching his own trials and seeing if he does earn a proper place.” Ven’thrith giggled, the sound clashing with the sturdiness of his frame. “I’d like to think that Astereth finally tripped up again.”
“I won’t hold that hope. I just want him gone from our realms for good this time.” Mara turned her head and spat.
The visions faded and the velvet returned, this time with silk drawing over her face, then around her like the winding sheet she knew one day she would be given. She dreaded it kissing her mother. At some point the now finished net, gleaming silver and gold with the enchantments and soulstuff of an apprentice priestess of the sea, had wrapped around her as her body drifted with current and tide. Her very own shroud. She drifted still in the empty sea as her consciousness returned again, the waters warm now, like a good hot bath freshly drawn.
At last, she opened her eyes.
She stifled a scream at finding herself netted yet again, and no hands on the outside to free her of the dread entanglement. Her terror rose when she recognized enspellments on the netting, tied in every knot and woven in every fiber. She reached to her belt for a stone knife to cut her way free but once her desire reached cognizance she found the gold and silver shroud falling and slipping off of her like water before she could sever even one thread.
Soon, it lay beside her, a shimmering puddle of will. Inspecting it she recognized her own work and frowned. Bundling it for transport she discovered how compact it could be and she tied this to her belt.
“Perhaps this will come in handy later. I have no memory of making this though. So, when? How?” She thought.
Kirsty focused her eyes next on smoothly worked stone walls then pushed herself up. Water lapped at her tail and dripped from the ceiling. She rubbed her eyes and blinked, but the worked stone still greeted her eyes.
She gave herself a good rake with her claws on what would have been her thigh, stifled a yelp, and flopped back down unceremoniously to look about from that ungainly angle, trying to figure out how she could have made her way here when the last she remembered was being unable to continue swimming far in the deeps.
Absolutely nothing greeted her inquiries save the lapping of the tide and the dripping further into the worked room.
“Mara’s fins...” she grumbled and pulled herself further up the shore. Her stomach growled, demanding filling and uncaring that its protests might attract something that ate beached selkies.
Kirsty grimaced, looking even more carefully for something that might be hungry, even though she was pretty sure this ordeal was shaving off all the lovely padding she’d been working so hard on putting on in preparation for the trek.
Nothing came, and the only routes available to her seemed to be forward into the dry cave, or backward into the water. If she had drifted in her sleep though it was no telling where the turns in the maze were, and the further she wound in the less she understood about how it worked.
She dragged herself further up the smooth beach, grateful to not have her underbelly raked by rough rocks. How soon would the paste wear off? She’d not had to take any for a very long time now.
Hopefully she’d not overdosed and become stuck this way. Then she’d need a skin even more just to be able to walk. “That would definitely be under ‘things never to tell David, ever.’” Kirsty thought to herself as she flopped down to rest and wait.
Idly, she traced her fingers over the crescent mark that Ven’thrith had left on her when inside The Lady’s well, focusing on what it had been like to have two legs and hoping that this would speed the hoped for transformation.
After what seemed to be an eternity of heartbeats she felt the tingling spreading over her body and the familiar searing splitting up her tail and bones shifting. She burned as her fur retreated and thinned, until at last her half pelt covered her from thigh to near the shoulder again, noting that it seemed to cover less area than the last time she had been in her birth form.
Several tentative steps later she was making her way through the dry passage.
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