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)
My apologies for the long delay. At least the move is done and I can get back to work and writing.
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Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's LightInstallment 32Chapter 13 part 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Kirsty took a little time to recover before sitting up. Quiet burbles and coos attracted everyone’s attention to a drawer beneath the bed and Selena disappeared for a moment to open it. She reappeared a moment later with a chubby child clutched to her bosom who seemed blissfully unaware that they had weathered a storm, or that there was anything that had been wrong at all. Kirsty looked where the baby had come from quizzically.
“What? Topside wouldn’t have been the place for her and she’ll not do well away from me for long yet. The sea’s her home too, like mine.” Selena grinned a bit. “Like yours, too.”
“What would have happened to her had we sunk?” Kirsty ventured, frowning.
“Same as the rest of us, but she’d have been... more comfortable.” Selena took to baby over to the chair at her desk.
Kirsty took advantage of the space to investigate the drawer a little more. Something half familiar prickled the back of her mind, then submerged again.
Salena fed her baby while the young man blushed and slid out after making excuses to seeing about the rest of the crew, and that he was glad the young lady was seemingly well again.
Kara shook her head. “That’s the lad I was talking about earlier. Seems to already have taken a shine to you.”
Kirsty blushed and made a worried sound. “Sweet of him, but I have a boy I’m interested in elsewhere already. He’ll be waiting.” She made her way to a window and looked out over the water, puzzling her next move and watching for the Lightkeeper.
“Too bad. He’s a good lad.” Selena commented, burping her child and putting it in a sling. The baby eagerly turned itself where it could watch the world and wiggled chubby lightly webbed fingers.
Kirsty glanced at her, then blinked, confused at the baby’s momentary resemblance to a young Morvan, but it was gone again. “He seems so.”
Things bumped along awkwardly until Kirsty was topside again and the Lightkeeper was pulling up in his boat bringing provisions. He and Selena eyed each other even more awkwardly while her baby burbled and drooled. Kirsty wanted to go ashore to explore the lighthouse facilities and surroundings, half expecting to be told no. After a bit of hemming and hawing she was given leave.
And so she went. Unexpected by herself but seemingly expected by the Lightkeeper the boy was sent with her to keep an eye on her and to give her aid until she was sent for again. Kirsty was not certain what to think of the news that later in the day one of the boats would be sent to retrieve her after she had had adequate time to speak with the Lightkeeper regarding her quest, and to give the Captain time to chart the next course while crew saw about restocking fish from the schools in the natural harbor.
Kirsty settled into a chair in what passed for the living room, the Lightkeeper offering tea made from the waters from the well of the Wisenfrau.
“So, you quest.” The Lightkeeper began, as if the conversation through the miles had not ended.
“Yes. I seek the Temple of Mara. What can you tell me?” Kirsty looked round, fascinated by the lighthouse, unsure how to react to the power focused in and by the building. Had the lighthouse at home felt this way to her ancestors before Mara’s rages?
“It’s nearer and farther than you think, going by what is handed down to us Keepers. We only have bits and pieces. The Abbey has others.”
Kirsty pondered his words as he brought a lantern very similar to Mrs. Kitsch’s over to the seating they gathered at, and a plate of fish and seaweed that wound up in front of her. She ate as she considered. “How do I know I’m even on the right path?” Kirsty finally asked as she looked up from the meal, having been much hungrier than she’d thought.
He fiddled with the lantern, polishing it. At least it seemed to Kirsty that’s what he was doing. “You don’t. None of us ever know if we’re following the path we are meant to take. Often we stray far from it.”
Kirsty sipped her tea now that it was cool enough, the well water spreading through her slowly and balancing the preponderance of Mara’s salt she’d picked up over her journey.
The lad listened quietly, leaning forward as if by simply doing so he felt that he could lend some sort of aid. The Lightkeeper smiled secretively at the motion that had gone completely unnoticed by the young maid.
“There’s a cave nearby that’s supposedly sacred to your folk.” He lit the lantern after he was satisfied. Pinpricks of light shone about the darkened room, an array of stars for a mariner. “We are here.” He pointed. “It is there.” He pointed at one nearby. “Here is where the Weissefrau’s well is.” His finger moved again, and then onward. “Here is where the Abbey currently is. That moves sometimes, when a raid is imminent.”
Kirsty studied the light-map and it gradually dawned on her that there were times when she was very little, and Grandma had visited with Mrs. Kitsch that many of these lights had been danced on their walls to entertain her. The star for the cave drew her strongest.
“If I were you, child, I’d return to your path as fast as is possible. My gut tells me that the cave is where you need to go.”
The lad cleared his throat. “Excuse me, but isn’t that the cave the selkies are fighting with the Lillitu’s over? I can’t help but notice how some of these points correlate with some of Captain’s maps, and that matches an area we are normally careful when sailing near.”
“It is. The seafolk are losing many such places now.”
“So how are we to get her there? I’m not sure our Captain would be very for taking her there, though right now she is not in the best state to guess.”
The Lightkeeper looked the boy over slowly. “They seem to always get younger,” he mused. “Leave or not, she has to go.”
Silence settled over the room, deep and uncomfortable as a shroud too small for the wearer and donned while still living. The threads of time and fate continued to be woven and to the three it seemed as if they could feel competing designs, needles and shuttles battling to have dominance. Kirsty gripped her head and groaned, leaning forward as blood began to drip from one nostril and her attention pulled to where she should have been.
As she sat and the boy pulled out a questionable kerchief that was attempted to be kept clean and functional she felt the bed on her back and saw the dim figure of David at her side. The pressure of his hand on hers was as real as the nose she now held pinched in her fingers.
Finally the wave passed. “Bring her to me, now.” An older woman’s voice slid through their minds. “Quickly.”
The Lightkeeper nodded and sighed, rising. “The Lady has spoken.”
Heading out the door he led the way along the promontory, which sloped downward to meet the mainland. How far the walk was away from the light was hard for Kirsty to guess. Just like home at Selkie Point time and space folded oddly here. It could have been any distance. The way Kirsty’s feet tingled she would have also been willing to bet a pint of mead that someone in the past had ensorcelled the path to further facilitate speed of travel for the correct people.
Or perhaps the Weissefrau simply was pulling on them in the same way that sometimes The Lady did when she was in a very demanding mood.
The terrain changed. Things seemed denser, greener. Mist rose from the forest they had ventured into. Darkness rolled back and swirled near again as they passed. Eyes watched their progress from trees. Chitterings spoke of squirrels, chipmunks, and other nameless things. Once or twice when turning her head towards a rustle Kirsty caught a flash of white or green, and a mossy limb being drawn back behind a tree.
The lad pressed closer to her, put an arm around her. She pressed her lips until the headache stabbed again. It was only then that she felt truly grateful for the arm around her, as she stumbled and would have fallen if not for the quick reply of the other arm.
The Lightkeeper looked back at them with hooded eyes.
Kirsty wished it had been David traveling with them. The eyes of the boy had something that was beginning to look possessive.
David might have actually punched him if there, or mauled him if in wolf form.
The forest drew in tighter again before spreading out into a meadow. A clear spring welled up among rocks, flowing sedately away toward some river via a creek it had carven over untold centuries. Moss hung heavy on the trees around the edge, draperies and hair.
Watching closely, she thought she could see the forest breathe.
The spring watched, kept company by the forest. Whether the forest was male or female she could not be entirely certain. The local forest spirit was grudgingly sharing the company of the water with them though.
“I have brought the child. She seeks to be a woman and whole.” The Lightkeeper barely raised his voice, the tone reverent. The forest caught and magnified the short speech.
“Come closer child, let me see you.” Beside the spring stood an old woman, her visage constantly shifting. One moment she was tall and strong, the next gnome-sized and twisted like pines on the coastline. Her hand took Kirsty’s once her feet had done the deity’s bidding; her touch was sandpaper. “Oh, you are worse than I had thought. Poor child. You are far off of your proper path.”
The familiar trickle began again from Kirsty’s nose and the taste of salt slipped over her tongue.
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