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 So I have part three of Chapter 12 in Selkies' Skins: Temple and Skinquest ready. I will post that this sunday. I have also transferred all of chapter 12 into the main manuscript file. This brings the current wordcount of the file to 46.662 words in the manuscript. I'm also nearly where she will get to face the leviathan, and we get to see more of how her mental pushing to just get on with her trials before she was really there in the timeline is actually affecting her trials.
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 This week's poem challenge at Proser was something that has been on my mind for awhile. "Don't Go Away" is my poetry entry for this week's #ProseChallenge following the prompt "my deepest secret." https://theprose.com/post/83556/don-t-go-away

I have always had abandonment issues since I was a very little girl. I try to hide them, but it always finds a way to screw up my relationships and rears it's head at inopportune times. For a short time while I was very little my parents were separated. Dad had been the one to leave. They worked out their issues and dad came back, and I didn't even remember it consciously. It was while dad was dying that he had talked to me about it. After years of work looking for the root this is where I suspect the start was.

In case no one has noticed, I've not gotten as much work done in Selkies' Skins as I'd like lately. I have scribbles in my notebook that I need to type up yet.

rainstardragon: (Default)

Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

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 later than I would have liked. There has been so much going on since the last post and I am still trying to catch up. We are talking so much that it is difficult for me to even try to list, so I won't. I went to the ER Saturday night (or was it Sunday?) for severe back spasms lasting all day. They were stopped, but I have to be careful. So far things seem to be under control. Yes, I've been using my back brace like a good girl. Here is an update, finally.

Also there is another mythical creatures poem uploaded to my Patreon, for those interested. This month starts off with Troll, and two other poems will join that for the month of July a bit later in the month. Interested? http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 29
Chapter 12 part 2
finally titled: Stormsong

 

 The memory of the dream sat heavy on Kirsty’s mind. After so many sessions of Divination with Madam Zeldethin the connotations were not lost on her. The wreckage that had been found earlier in the year did not pair well with the dream.

Mom can’t be dead. She’s mom. If she were, Mara still probably wouldn’t allow it. Mara was then probably working on bringing her home? But then how are Ven’thrith and Herne involved?” Kirsty puzzled the symbols as her hand slipped over the stone.

Her feet placed themselves as silently as possible as the worry continued to pulse. Kirsty’s hand continued to touch the wall now and then, though she was never certain what she expected her fingers to sense. Her nose wrinkled as she stuffed the worry back into the dark corners of her mind. Even with the care with which she placed her feet, silence was not completely possible with how her exposure made her shiver. Prickling fur complained as much as her arms and legs.

Kirsty’s steps began to grow muffled the further through the passages she walked. The world faded to white around her and when she reached to run her fingers along the wall it was no longer there. Mist wound around her ankles and twined further up her legs like a long lost lover, then sank, raking slippery claws that reminded her of the grindylows. The chill sank to her bones, pricking her skin as the goosebumps continued to rise.

Salt spray kissed her, filled her nose. The stone floor bowed to oaken planking. Creaking timbers spoke to anyone listening of the waves passing beneath. The waves spoke through the timers of the passage of winds and the heartbeat driving the waters.

The mist wound and rose around her ankles, reached for her thighs again, and then sank again and flowed away to fully reveal to her the deck. Beaten down by the boots of an unknown number of seamen it glowered up at her and at the sky that took form above her. Stars flirted with clouds building at the horizon and sweeping toward the ship.

Where am I now?” She thought, slipping herself behind some lashed barrels.

Voices called only now and then, and gradually the crew became visible. Where they materialized from Kirsty wasn’t sure, only that one breath there had been no bodies and the next bodies were there. The crew’s faces, both male and female, pressed low with concern. Strangely, Kirsty discovered that she knew these faces, though had no idea why or how. Some she could tell were distant relations.

Movement by the wheel drew her attention from her scrutinies. Fur and hair on end she went, slipping like shadows on the sea from hiding place to hiding place until she drew near to the stairs she needed. Her hopes for some loose sail or cloth to wrap and tie around herself on the way were in vain, most everything was already battened down, as she had expected they would be. Kirsty lurked in a pool of shadow the color of a seal’s nose, studying the stairs and the movements of the crew.

She would be able to sneak up just fine and hide herself from the crew, but the Captain? That was another story. Kirsty found herself wishing that she had the gift to simply write things and make them happen. She might be able to sing a distraction, but the song would give her away and might encourage the coming storm, and she did not feel like encouraging a storm when she didn’t even know where she was, or if this was another illusion like the ones she had trained with last year when facing her fears.

“You may as well come up girl. I saw you halfway across the deck when your scuttles had to be longer. Kara, go down and get the girl something. Probably a lost selkie like the others.” A voice piped and lilted from the wheel, female like the long shock of tied back flame had indicated.

“Aye, Cap’n.” Black leather and silver buckles pounded and jingled their way down the stairs. Kara, far more solid and real than Kirsty had ever seen her in the paintings, winked at where she lurked in the shadows before skipping into the Captain’s Quarters.

“That’s Kara? Where, and maybe even when, am I?”

“Know her do ye? Well, we do get about from port to port. As to the where and the when, obviously we’re riding Mara’s Skirts and there’s only one time when it comes to the sea, calendars and clocks or not. Slip on in and get some fake furs on before ye get sick. Ye’ll be of no use to any, ill.” The words were addressed to her, but the wind tried to take them, and the volume the captain used to make sure they got to her gave what should have been a soft voice a strange hard edge.

“Yes’m Captain.” Kirsty nodded, then slipped after Kara.

Kara had not been idle. The Captain’s wardrobe had been opened, and one of the dresses laid out. Red seemed to be a favored color, but black and white both seemed to be incorporated somehow into every garment she saw. A tri-color short cape had been laid by the dress.

“The smallest, should hopefully fit decent enough. Where’s yer skin girlie? Wouldn’t leave it hidden on here, just in case. Ye know how men can be out here. It wouldn’t be the sweet one that would be likeliest to find it, though he’d make fer a good ‘un.” Kara stepped back, settling her hands on her hips and scowling. “Not that they’d ‘ave it long. Cap’n Salena would clout ‘em good.”

Kirsty paled slightly at the name, trying to place it and why it sent chills up her spine. She shook her head and drew on the offered clothing. “No skin. Questing.”

“That seems strange. I guess I hope you get it. Not really heard of any selkie without one, except maybe a couple families. I don’t suppose you have a name that human tongue knows?”

“Kirsty. Kirsten Makay.”

“Another Makay? Interesting... Hmmm. It’s a small sea.” Kara surveyed the slightly warmer half-selkie before her, then nodded. “That’ll do. Better get ye back topside. She won’t want to just chuck you back if ye’ve got no way to survive on yer own out there, leaves only joinin’ the crew.”

Kara took Kirsty by the arm gently, but firm enough for her to more than realize this was in no way the Kara she knew from the painting, but the Kara the paintings had been based on and given refuge to her essence. The mariner drew her back out of the quarters and up onto the poop. The Captain, definitely a kinswoman by her eyes and the set of her jaw, continued to hold the course she had been attempting.

“Here she be, Cap’n.” Kara hadn’t let loose her grip. Her fingers pressed bone.

The Captain looked her over. “Much better, isn’t it? Listen, girl. Everyone aboard pulls their weight. You have the stance of someone familiar with ships, so that’s good. You pop up in the middle of the sea, with no obvious way to pay your passage. With this storm I don’t want to throw you back over, bound not to actually.” She looked Kirsty directly in the eyes, the wind whipping the tail of her hair and threatening the hat firmly strapped under her chin. “You have a funny way of talking, but Mara wouldn’t bring you here if you had no use, so. You willing to hear our code, girl?”

“Yes’m. As for pulling weight what I don’t know I’ll learn.” Kirsty tried to keep her voice from failing. How much the woman resembled her mother in some ways was even more unnerving than before.

“Fantastic. I hope you can cook. Our cook was our apothecary too, but we lost him in our last,” her eyes shifted, taking on a guarded and wounded look, “encounter. Not been to port to get a new one.”

“Can do, ma’am. Potions is the profession I’m hoping.”

“Mara, thankee for answering my prayers then. No backstabbing, no stealing from mothers with kids, no stealing from each other, no stealing from the cargo.” The Captain began, her finger tapping one of the spurs with each point.

Kirsty wondered about the situations that had made each of these rules necessary. As she watched, the Captain began to be surrounded by the Devil’s fire, or as something speaking in Kirsty’s gut inferred, “Mara’s Mantle.” Her voice took on a hard tone that she knew well, though the woman’s voice still underlay it and twined with the new tones.

“If you catch one of the crew forcing a man or a woman in an indecent way do whatever you think best but let me know.” The tall woman continued from her wheel, still holding course.

Kirsty grimaced and nodded, her stomach clenching and the blood dropping a bit to her feet.

“We keep the ship’s secrets, and the secrets of the crew. I expect you will understand that one just as easy, girl. Also, unlike some crews there is no voting for a new captain, even if I die. This ship belongs to Mara herself, no matter who I work for. I am the final authority here.” The woman stomped, her boot speaking against the deck and the boat giving off a cry of it’s own through the whole of it.

The rest of the crew could not hear their conversation, but their voices rose in answer to the ship’s voice. They all could guess easily enough. Kirsty was not certain if it was the woman speaking, or Mara’s overshadowing speaking regarding authority.

“Finally, our deity is Mara, and the Weisse Frau, of course. I don’t care what deity you pray to personally, but while serving here we all belong to her, and a bit to her sister. Understood?”

“Yes’m. I swear to these, then. I was already Mara’s, although I do not know if I know the Weisse Frau.” The cape seemed to weigh more on Kirsty’s shoulders and work teeth into her. She shuddered, the form too close to the phantom shark bite she had received during a long ago choir class.

She could not hold back the scream as her hands flew to the site of the new bite in progress, her eyes widening and then clamping in pain. The Captain studied her a moment, the flares rising from Kirsty just as they rose from her own hands gripping the wheel.

“A Mara priestess then, you didn’t say that. Even more helpful. Sing us safe passage, my route has changed.” A grim smile danced across the Captain’s face, lit by the lightning from the now much closer storm. “Kara, lash her good and tight there, so we won’t lose her.”

The Captain indicated the bannister between the poop and main decks. Kirsty noticed the railings were sturdier than other craft she’d seen records of for the era. One of the uprights was even stronger and more ornate than the rest, exuding a sense of power and connection. The sounds of crew and storm faded.

Kara wasted no time in following orders and securing her. Kirsty did not fight, there would be no sense in it with the situation. As the rope wound and tightened she felt her consciousness pulled into the ship, joining with the consciousness it already help. The ship pressed at her mind, probing, searching. Kirsty’s hands, though her arms were left loose of her bonds, found her fingers lacing with unseen appendages. It felt as if the spectral hands formed and held based on the shape of her own.

 

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.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


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 25% off of most THG StarDragon Publishing ebooks at Smashwords July 1-31... some free! Use coupon code SSW25 at http://ht.ly/OxF0301P54N

Also in a few days the next (now long awaited) installment of Selkies' Skins: Temple and Skinquest will go public. I just posted that to the Patreon stream earlier today under patrons only (as they are supposed to get first peeks). Can't wait? just $1 for a monthly pledge gets you the first peek privileges. Check out http://www.patreon.com/Amehana for details.
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 This week's update for "Selkies' Skin: Temple and Skinquest" is going to be a little late. I did not get the immersion and uninterrupted writing time I needed. Instead, have this colored version of a picture of Kirsty and David set sometime after the current book.

http://amehanarainstardrago.deviantart.com/art/Kirsty-and-David-Color-610485216?q=gallery%3AAmehanaRainStarDrago&qo=0

As to why it's been late I have had some work come up, various errands and surprise errands, and a big rather important project that once it is done I can show pictures of.
rainstardragon: (selkies skins)

Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

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 Light
Installment 28
Chapter 12 part 
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.

 

 

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.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (pic#2732122)
 It is the first of the month and the release of the first of my Patreon's monthly mystical creature poem. This month has 3 poems supported, plus the Selkies' Skins updates, and a video. Not all of the poems have to be about mystical creatures, but the first one for the month always will be. This time the poem is about the Sphinx, which is a favorite creature/being of mine.
There is also a poem written for the weekly challenge on Prose, this time a micro poetry challenge. Artistic Lines could use some views. If you like it please hit the buttons at the bottom to support it. The winner of these challenges receives $100 and the runner up $25. I haven't won one yet but it would definitely be helpful and nice. ;) If sharing it to twitter please use the tags #poetheme and #micropoetry.

It's been requested that I read more Lovecraft stories, so one of the upcoming things you can expect will be me reading "In the Vault" and I intend to do a piece of artwork to accompany the reading. I also have a short retelling of "The Bird" as told by Zayfod that I also intend to do. If you have material that you'd like me to read and have on my Youtube channel please feel free to bring it to my attention. I enjoy cooperative opportunities.


~~~~*~~~~

 
Donations for stories, poems, and art help support my children and my writing.

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!


rainstardragon: (Default)
It's not going to be very many more months until my Patreon has been going for a year. After the year mark I'll bundle up the poems, art, and shared scans together into an ebook and send them out to my Patrons for free. After that I'll start on the next collection of them. 

Original post:
https://www.patreon.com/posts/compilation-time-5206124
rainstardragon: (selkies skins)

Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

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)





Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 27
Chapter 11 part 2
Whispers in the Dark, Color of the Pelt

 


From last time:
She felt a click ripple the water. A whoosh. Something had to have opened ahead.

And now this episode:

Kirsty pressed on, fur bristling, and the lightless chamber gave way to a pit. How Kirsty fell into it despite swimming didn’t cross her mind. Perhaps the gravity was denser and pulled her, perhaps there was a current, perhaps some eldritch warping of space and time took her as prey, like the faerie mounds were known to still do from time to time.

Or her klutziness just chose that time to kick her down.

Threads, sticky, bitter. Threads everywhere, in her fur, her hair, trying to go up her nose. Gifu flared back to life and fire spread from the shield. It spread out along the threads in a sick green flame and she fell agin. The fire spread over her and she tried to combat it, but it continued burning until the web that still clung was gone. Where it had kissed was beyond stinging. Her fur was charred, and it was surprising any remained.

The rune floated around her, giving a bit of light to the pit. An orange glow ahead drew her forward. Every undulation forward brought more and more sulfur to her tongue and the heat continued to rise. Gifu hovered near, quavering.

Kirsty’s blood itched.

The steam vent had more color than she expected. Life continued here, scratching for sustenance. Crenellated creatures crawled on mysterious errands seemingly undaunted by the heat and pressure.

“I’d have thought she would be here.” The leering velvet voice slipped from behind another vent to reveal itself. “She was for me. Maybe Mara doesn’t want you after all, or has something more important to do than come see a dirty little half breed.”

The dark selkie priestess leered and stroked the spear she held. Green runes danced over her form.

“I wouldn’t know. I might even be lost.” Kirsty replied.

“You were lost soon as you were whelped.” The black selkie bared her fangs. “Why aren’t you stained?”

“What?”

“Astereth whispered to come here, told me what to do to keep the Temples pure of your kind. I set the spell, so why don’t you carry it now?” Raechel growled.

The spear lunged for her, the muscular priestess following. Kirsty rose her barrier and her hands as one. Gifu continued flitting about, unnoticed by Kirsty, erratic and confused. The barrier held, deflected the point away from her heart. Kirsty’s hands once more found the shaft.

Black selkie and white danced together among the vents as they billowed, bringing up the water superheated by earth’s inner fires. Raechel’s snarls wrapped and reverberated, and spell after spell tangled. The magics cloyed and curdled, liquid cheese and poison.

Kirsty found herself backed to one of the vents. The heat seared and filled her. She could taste herself boiling.

Raechel laughed. “Pathetic. Whose’s been training you? You’re terrible as a warrior.”

“I’d rather not follow that path without cause. I have no reason to cause harm.”

“Is that so? You’ve really never tried to kill?” Raechel laughed, her eyes sparking. “It’s fun.”

“Is that you talking, or the Taint, Raechel? I met your mate to be.”

The point of the spear pressed painfully to her breast and Kirsty gritted her teeth, yet the blade refused to sample her.

“He left me.” Raechel’s words were lead, or perhaps drowned whales caught in nets.

“He still loves you, I think. I think you should and could reconcile.”

“When he left me for floosies and fin flashers? Why would I?” Raechel pressed harder, but the spear continued refusing Kirsty’s blood. Raechel growled, darkness and poison swirling around her arms.

Kirsty’s eyes focused on the Taint enveloping them. Runes of dark purple, red, and acidic green twined and writhed in the spreading ink. Her hand somehow found a strange bulge in the rock encasing of the vent. She could pull the superheated water even easier here, try to cook her adversary. Instinct demanded it, even. Yet somehow, something about the dark priestess in front of her prevented it.

So many eyes watching, peering, sifting. Some probably laughed. She could and probably would die here. Yet, if she were to die, why wasn’t this deadly spear taking her? It was so similar to the one the crazed bull so long ago was going to kill her with.

“That’s Mara’s spear?” Kirsty wasn’t sure where the conviction came from. It had to be though. There could be no other explanation.

Raechel blinked. For a moment something about her eyes seemed clearer.

Kirsty didn’t shut her eyes. If she did then perhaps she’d lose the slim hold over Raechel. Kirsty could taste the Taint clearly now. Where it touched, stung. Nails, fire, salt, acid. She inhaled as deeply as she could, even though it made her chest rise and press harder on the tip.

This time it did press in, but still refused to open her. The blades of crystal and obsidian slid to her heart, through her with the sensation of a hand swishing through over-hot bath water to mix in fresh cool water.

Unbidden, The Song of the Water Keepers floated from her lips, washed over the spear and Raechel, and through Kirsty herself. The tide pulsed. She couldn’t reach Raechel, but she could and did wrap her fingers around the shaft sticking out from her chest.

Healing, hope, renewal. These were things she woven into new verses of the song, continuing where the Book of Seals left off.

Kirsty was unaware of Raechel’s frustrated scream or what was pouring out from her through her words and the blue-green phosphorescence coiling up the spear and swimming for the dark priestess. If anyone had been able to look, like the various deities watching the testing process were, they would have seen it take on form that flickered between snake and spectral seal and hear it calling in compliment to the words welling from deep within her core.

Raechel wrenched the spear from her adversary with a shriek and flung herself back as hard as she could, before the specter could penetrate very far into the Taint surrounding her. Claw and fang rent into the cloud, left imprints that sizzled and shimmered as they sought to erase and change some of the runes embedded in her.

 

“Slowly, too slowly for this round.” One watcher commented from their gazing shell her voice low. The lights of the gazing chamber were muted, barely lighting the walls themselves and not even reaching to those watching their prospective sister.

“That will still continue working though, even while they’re apart. Even if it takes years, and repeat exposures, we might reclaim that one.” Another voice answered, low and male, rumbling like whale call.

“Our Lady willing.” The first replied.

 

Kirsty grimaced, levered herself off the rock with her tail and used the momentum of the retreating spear that tore from her hands to follow, but not fast enough.

Raechel turned and fled into the dark and the myriad twisting tunnels of mind and the ethers connecting the waves. Kirsty sank to the seafloor when her adversary had gone too far for her to pursue. Hand pressed to her chest, still no blood flowed, and the finger of the other hand poked where her chest was closing again, her brow a tangled kelp bed and lips snarled storms.

 

“What about that Finman that was sulking around with her outside the thin place?” The priest’s voice curled in the dark, part of the heavy waters of the shell swirling as he looked for the man.

“I don’t think he could press in that weak point, even with Astereth’s poisoning Raechel so badly. Not yet.”

“That shield wasn’t her rune, originally. She’d not use runes unless they taught her to unlock them in that school. He gave it to her at the girl’s first brush with our wayward sister. I was watching her progress at the time.” A third voice wound in. “Why and how though, and what binds them?”

“Problematic.” The priest nodded. “Still, we should prepare for our own entries into the Maze, before she reaches the threshold. “We have time to study this oddity before she enters the Chamber.”

“They were once Mara’s as well. Maybe this one will be one we can use to cleanse and reclaim them.” A forth voice, cool and steady, gripped the others, chastising. “You should all remember this.”

“I didn’t mean to sound so clinical, dear.” The priest grimaced, his nose wrinkling as he looked to her. “My apologies, High Priestess,” he continued as he saw the ice in her eyes, fully in her role.

She made a gentle, dismissive gesture to all of them, backing away from the shell they had been sharing. “I must withdraw and consult with her Ladyship. We could not have been the only ones watching. He, too, surely would be watching whether his lackies can or not. You all go in ahead of me.”

“Should we move her from the room? The first, again.

The High Priestess looked over the grey selkie where she shivered. “I doubt that is necessary. Raechel would have left, to protect her heart and the Taint. Seaswimmer will find the way out by the time she comes back to herself. We can only hope she’ll remember her new verses. I’ll be recording them before I forget them myself.”

“As you say then, Lorekeeper.”

She nodded her white head in acknowledgment, smiled slightly and made a barely perceptible kissing motion toward her chastened mate, and turned her back on them. She needed the crystal, and the book, and her Lady’s presence. Now.

 

 

 

[Back to what I know for sure will be in book two "Temple and Skinquest."]

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.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)
 I'm not all magic and myth. I thought that some might be interested in some of my darker works. This week's challenge at Prose was to write a poem about murder. So I did. I used a different rhyming scheme than I normally do, which was fun, and I surprised myself at the character that came to life on the page.

 

https://theprose.com/post/50895/building-the-suit

 

The contest closes in six days, so it will be interesting to see which poem wins.

rainstardragon: (Default)
I'm running a poll to see what people would like to see written about next month. The first poem of the month will still be chosen by me, but the poll will influence choices for the later poems of the month.

What mythical creature would you like to ensure being put in a poem on my Patreon for May, 2016?
rainstardragon: (Default)

Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

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)

And back to the future, or the past, or...? This must make her head hurt.






Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 26
Chapter 11 part 1
Whispers in the Dark, Color of the Pelt

 

 Kirsty frowned as the world solidified around her once more, shaking her head and leaning on the cool rock walls of the labyrinth. “That was strange...” she murmured to herself while awaiting her eyes to adjust and gathering the strength to cast another light. “Was that just a dream, or was I really with David?”

No answer came. The only movement was the soft pulse of the water. There was a tide drawing her onward.

Every step deeper into the labyrinth she fed out more of the thread she’d spun. Every passage she explored made her feel more as if she were the shuttle in a loom, or a needle in a tapestry, weaving something inarticulately intricate. To pass the time she half imagined that exploring the passages was stitching together furs or knitting a mantle that would fall over her shoulders to become her skin.

Some turns brought confusion, others clarity. In places she had to double back while in others she found herself crossing her own path. The sensation of hands working through her memories and desires never left her.

Naked. Naked summed it up very well, and she was already that. Thank goodness for her pelt.

Eventually the light from her witchfire could no longer cut the gloom. The water grew colder. Another turn. More flicks of her tail. Kirsty gave up the effort of keeping the ball going. When she tried she was unable to conjure another.

The thread had waxed thick and then thin again as she had explored. Where it pulled from her heart now felt thorny, tacky. There was a strange oozing sensation from where the thread separated from her body and a strange taste filled the water. It wasn’t quite pus, but that was the only thing she could compare it to.

Before her was another choice of three passages, each identical. Each the same ink that enveloped her now, devouring her and the slight glow from the thread.

Pressure mounted. Fur pricked.

Kirsty chose the middle path. The floor and walls rotated around her, spinning her faster and faster. She crushed to the wall, the pressure mounting even more, felt like she was finally at the point that her juices would run out of her nose. Ludicrously she had an image of a centrifuge extracting her serum.

For what purpose?

The room stopped and she wobbled out of the nearest door. Her vision was so splintered she wasn’t sure if there was one, two, or if more had grown while the walls whirled.

Movement, unseen but felt. Large, looming hulks that could not have possibly fit in the rocky passages.

Another set of passages spread before her, each with a different triskele. To further complicate things each also denoted a different moon phase. Kirsty groaned internally. The last time she encountered the moon shi had been both problematic and helpful.

I’m beyond tired of gates.” Kirsty thought as her hair spread in the tidal pulse. Each strand grasped and tasted the energies shifting and passing by.

She closed her eyes and focused on the sounds beyond each. Each passage gave a different chill.

The eyes were back.

Head still spinning she tried to remember, since this was a labyrinth, if she’d thought she was going in, or going out. Deosil was The Lady’s preference. Yet this was all supposed to be prover her worthy of Mara’s favor, secrets, and a skin of her own.

Widdershins then?

Mara walked a dark and lonely path. Mara hid things, protected things. Widdershins it would be then, but wait. The middle path? Middle balanced dark and light. She served both water goddesses. Should she take that middle route and balance them? Was it not about them at all, but herself?

Was she overthinking?

Widdershins... Inward.

Into the dark.

Through the passage, past the lintel and eaves with the strange glyphs. A barrier met her here but she pushed through.

So many gates and passages.

Was there even a point anymore?

Two large orbs blazed to life, at eye height, pinning her where she stood and peering into the dark corners of her mind and soul that even she avoided acknowledging.

“What is your Name?” A deep nasal voice grated.

Somehow she had the impression it already knew. She gave her name.

“No. That is what you are known as. What is your Name?”

Kirsty gave the name given her by the loch selkies next.

“No. That too is what you are known as. What, child of the land and sea, is the Name which art thee?” The eyes drew closer and brighter.

Kirsty couldn’t look away. She was aware of shape behind the eyes. Antannae waving and stirring, reaching as her hair and whiskers did. The exact shape eluded her.

It reminded her vaguely of some Lovecraftian leviathan. Had Lovecraft seen some terror of the deep to inspire his stories?

Kirsty tried not to tremble. Perhaps if she gave in to the fear bubbling then the eyes would devour her. Worse, could it take her soul?

Why was she afraid of that? Did she have one, with no skin?

“I don’t know then.” Kirsty arranged her tail carefully, reached inside herself to gather her power, and drew on the water, just in case.

“You’ll need to know to continue. I suppose you seek your skin, if you don’t know your Name.”

“I do.”

“Before that you must learn about yourself. Who you are, what you are.”

“Kirsty rubbed her forehead, smoothed her hair. “I am myself. Why would I need yet another name?”

The eyes seemed to grow, engulfing her in their blind blue depths. “You may proceed.”

The lantern fish then swam away, backwards, still peering into her darkness.

Kirsty swam forward.

The lantern fish was gone.

Guilt weighed her down as she continued deeper. Things continued to move in the dark. Her tunnel expanded into a room she couldn’t fathom the size of. The stirring died down.

The weight grew.

She waited.

The rustles began again, coming closer. Voices joined them.

“I swear Makay, why don’t you just roll over? You don’t belong here, or anywhere. Poor little water witch. You should study plumbing instead.” Maldein’s voice, sickly sweet with false pity, was doubly unwelcome as it tore into her ears.

Kirsty tried to ignore it. Something was playing with her.

“Makay, really, we both know that the only job you’ll be able to get after school will be with that Order of Fisheries or whatever it is, or the Piping Plumbers maybe. That’s what happens with you activists. No one wants you. We just want things to continue as they are. You’re a dangerous breed, and your family doubly so.” Morvan needled, adjusting his shirt cuff.

The school hallway was all around them. They’d caught her between some armor and the tapestry of the sea that always fascinated her. Maldien primped her hair in the shine of the armor, it’s moons and suns sparking dully on the helm. Whoever had owned that armor, they seemed to be still in it and had their thoughts about her.

“If you really love Valnarius, Maldein coaxed, voice almost sympathetic, “then you’ll end your life. Don’t you think that it’s selfish? He’ll only ghave to support you once you graduate, and he’d do it too, I’d wager. We all see that. He’s old money, but really, how much could he rally have, being... you know.” Maldein tittered, bouncing on her toes.

Kirsty had forgotten this conversation, even what year it had been. Buried it down deep where she wouldn’t have to think about the coward’s way. Looking at the face she had then, it had to have been before they decided they even liked each other that way. With the shade of red, she could see why she would get picked on so much. She’d been in the office so many times for different retaliations every time. There had been so many confrontations over the years it had been easy for the cycle to continue.

She at least understood now why she always wondered if David truly liked time with her, and actually liked her, or if he was just being his chivalrous self.

“You’d like it too much if I offed myself. Maybe the two of you should off yourselves instead. That’s less strain on the planet, more air for the rest of us, and you won’t have to worry anymore about people hearing from me what I stumbled on you doing in the owlery.” The younger Kirsty retorted, a growl in her throat. “Quite sure that’s against the rules.”

“Oh, but we’re here to learn several types of magic, and that’s one of many types. It works quite well.” Maldein purred and the older Kisty could hear her hand passing over Morvan’s clothes while she rubbed his upper arm. “Maybe I should practice with Valnarius, he’d enjoy it.”

Rage flared in both younger and older Kirsty. The elder watched as the younger reached toward Maldein, fingers clawed.

No reply, no retort, no growl now. Just a rach for her water, a desire to suck the rich girl dry. Take ever drop and vaporize it. Images of the desert.

Younger Kirsty tried so hard, instinct dictating a spell that she had no idea if it was even written.

She wanted. She demanded.

Left hand path be damned.

Shame flooded her, both for having failed, in her newness at the spell, for taking enough water from another living being to attempt killing it, and for having attempted to kill over what she knew now Maldein would probably never actually try.

Maybe.

Her reputation was rather loose.

The part that tried to cling to the light in herself tried to wonder what made Maldein and Morvan so miserable to always try to wreck her.

Tried was the operative word.

Not for long.

Karma was going to hurt when it caught them, whoever would be the acting hand. Still, she had acted wrongly that time. She was also still not going to talk to David about this.

No, if the day ever came where they did intertwine their paths that much then she was not going to be dead weight. Even if he was better at potions than she was.

The scene before her faded, and she moved forward again. Kirsty no longer cared if the shadowy unknown things came for her. She would meet them. Perhaps they were just memories that she was repressing. Or perhaps they were monsters that would rend her to pieces. If that was the case, then she’d like to see them try.

 

She felt a click ripple the water.

 

[Back to what I know for sure will be in book two "Temple and Skinquest."]

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.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)

Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

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)

We return to Kirsty and to how she is doing with the effects of time shuttling.


My apologies for the slight delay. This was not quite ready when I wanted.



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 25
Chapter 10 part 4
Tangled Fur

 

 David sat looking into the well listening to the chill breeze and the slipping of the owls and bats through the dark air above and around him. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t supposed to be out, though the usual consequence would fall on him just as it would anyone else since he did not have the excuse of his “special studies” tonight, though he could feel his night drawing closer than he wanted. The kelpie, which had not been nice, was long gone and good riddance.

He liked Byron much better, even though he was still sure that the kelpie fantasized about eating him if he ever crossed Kirsty. He felt closer to her here, for now, and that calmed him. Maybe if he sat in one of their places he could better figure out what was wrong.

“Master?” Imp hopped onto his shoulder and sat.

“I thought you’d be with Kirsty.”

Imp fidgeted. “Mistress sleeps still. Imp was wanting to check on Master.”

David sighed at how Imp addressed him. He’d accepted it, but perhaps some day they could get him to speak normally. “I am fine, I’m more worried about her.”

“Mistress would be more worried about you than herself. Mistress would have asked Imp to check.”

He smiled a bit. “Yes, she probably would have. Maybe when you go back to her you could whisper in her ear that I’m fine and to just get better and stop worrying about me.”

“Imp will do that. Master, Imp is worried, about more than just Master and Mistress.”

David nodded for him to continue.

“Imp still worries about the Black Gate from the dream not-dream that he spied on Morvan having. Imp thinks that maybe that makes mistress ill, or lets the Things come so close. There weren’t this many last year skulking about.”

“I don’t think that it makes her ill, if he really does have this thing. I can believe what you told me about the skins, that makes sense, however,” he paused a moment at a whine from Imp. “I would think that since it is Morvan and you mentioned the demon, there is more involved.” He patted Imp carefully at the wilting.

“But Master... If that’s not it then what can Imp do for Mistress?”

“I don’t know, Imp. I’m at just as much of a loss as you are. You can keep an eye on Morvan when you’re not with Kirsty. Let me know if you find anything else out.”

Imp nodded. “Imp will do so.” He then bounded off after placing an awkward hug around David’s neck.

David watched the water imp bound off as it cloaked itself. David sighed and looked into the water one more time, touching the lump under his shirt that was the crystal and Kirsty hair pendant. Just get better. I don’t know what I can do for you,” the thought wavered gently as he thought about brushing the hair from her face or straightening her collar.

At that moment Finnol and Byron strode into the courtyard from the direction of the lake. Byron was dripping, which was normal, but Finnol seemed to still be in the process of pulling the water from his clothes and returning it to the lake and the ground.

“Mr. Makay?” David rose and took a step toward Kirsty’s father. “I did not expect that you might be here so soon. Did something happen on your way?”

Finnol blinked, shaking his hands as if they burned. “My trip? As could be expected. Did something else happen with Kirstine since the last letter from my Aunt?”

David nodded, falling into step with the pair. “She’s had another episode. We took her to the medical wing, sir.”

Finnol sighed and placed his hand on David’s shoulder. “You’re a good lad. Thank you for taking care of my daughter.”

“Of course, sir.”

“I’m guessing that being bothered is why you are here instead of,” Finnol trailed off with a wan smile as they crossed the threshold. His shoulders squared as the Examiners ruffled through his mind and aura.

“Yes, sir.” David looked up at the older man, then the Examiners.

Their jewel eyes gazed back, less shrouded somehow than usual. Finnol and Byron followed his gaze.

“Something isn’t right...” Finnol ducked back out the threshold, and back in once more.

Byron whinnied and shook his head, snorting and pawing as the water flicked everywhere, including on David.

“Sir? Byron?” David looked between the pair.

“You don’t feel her here?” Byron’s red frill peeked from beneath the kelp of his mane.

“I do...” David nodded slowly. “But I feel her everywhere here that she passes often.” He eyed Byron, took a careful step backward to give the kelpie his space.

“This is,” Finnol stepped back in fully, turned at glared up at the statues. “Different. There is something about this door and I feel her in it. So help me, if you lot have something to do with my baby’s problems I will leech whatever water is in your compounds and then pulverize you to sand for the beach. No matter how many times I sought guidance from you as a child.”

Finnol locked stares with the guardians of the gate. David was unsure how much time passed, how many ticks of the watch in his pocket. He was about to clear his throat and suggest going either to Professor MacLeomhann, or to Kirsty when the elder Makay sighed.

Finnol looked slightly more worn, if that were possible. Frayed around the edges like a pullover worn too many times. “I’m sorry. Perhaps I am getting paranoid.”

Byron pressed his side against Finnol, and Finnol’s hand went to his shoulder. “It is to be expected. Will you be joining us, David?”

 

“If you wish it. I probably should be going to my room though.” David eyed the kelpie.

 

[Unsure if I will include that adventure in this book or if it will be part of Book 3 since it’s a David/Thomas and may touch on the Black Gate’s story. This is a chance for readers to sound off on helping shape the way the tales unfold. Comment below (so I can keep track) which you think is best. 1) Save their exploration and any discovery for in #3. 2) Include their adventure in the current book, #2. 3) In both, having one in truncated form and the other the full form. 4) Another option, reader suggestion.]

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.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)

Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

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)

We return to Kirsty and to how she is doing with the effects of time shuttling.


My apologies for the slight delay. This was not quite ready before I had to go do the month's monthly grocery shopping.



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 24
Chapter 10 part 3
Tangled Fur

 

 David stayed by Kirsty as long as he was allowed, as did Thomas and Ally. They would have happily taken dinner by Kirsty, but they did not get that far before first Thomas’ extra classes called them away, then Ally’s extra studies. Laryna shooed the teens on their way with promises to send word as soon as some marked change happened. David, as Laryna expected, was the most difficult to nudge along, and she’d caught him holding Kirsty’s hand more than once when he thought no one was watching. Professor MacLeomhann often sent her office messenger to check through the paintings.

Laryna leaned thoughtfully against the cabinet holding all of the tools of her trade, watching the girl’s sleep and trying to sense what was wrong from far back enough the defenses would not turn her away. She wasn’t certain what constantly came between her and the teen’s spirit, but it was very effective at cloaking whatever injury she still nursed.

All the former nun could come up with was that it was a wound of mind and soul. She knew there was something she could do, but not what, and the information might have been known to her if she had not been pulled away from her Order and time.

“If only I could speak to Father Roanan. He always had answers.” Laryna thought aloud, hoping that if she spoke the name, his ghost might somehow speak.

As always, her hopes didn’t fruit. Instead they withered. Laryna paced the walkway between the beds, pulling up from her belt the pearls and stones of the rosary normally hidden in her folds. One by one they passed through her hands.

“Our Lady of the shifting seas

Hear the notes of my pleas

Grant your children what we seek

Be we brave or be we weak

Lift your waves upon the shore

Take the danger from our shore.”

Over and over the rhyme repeated, until at last she found herself seated on the chair at the foot of Kirsty’s bed, the last prayer fading on the last stone.

“What’ll it be girl? What do you need?” Laryna, still holding the rosary, reached out and rested her hand on the teen’s ankle. “I have to have been placed here for some reason, after all this time and how much trouble you’ve had here ever since coming, is it to help you? If so why?”

Kirsty didn’t stir, but the nun did feel something else stirring, felt the turning of unseen eyes toward her. Laryna knew the feeling, waited, held her breath, listened.

“Guide me. I still belong.” Laryna’s eyes closed. Her inner eyes opened and a roughened hand that she didn’t know turned her head. Kirsty’s spirit lay where the body did, larger than it and glowing weakly, pulsing slowly. Battered and bruised, something seemed to have been tearing at the essence. Strings extended in all directions.

Laryna reached out. The strings reached for her rosary.

“Where is the rest of you then child?”

The strings latched on, wrapped around the beads. Color returned to the face behind the light.

“She needs to hurry.” The voice by Laryna’s ear was not the voice of the goddess she served. It wasn’t even female. “I said it wasn’t a good idea.” Another voice, by her other ear, piped. “There’s not really anything you can do, Healer,” hissed a third. “It’s all up to her, and not getting lost, or not pulling herself apart fixing herself.”

“What do I do then?” She asked.

“Nothing, unless you know where to find a selkie skin for her to borrow for now. Even part of one might help her feel whole until later.” That last voice hissed, smug, snakelike.

The voices left, but there will still eyes. “Hm... I might. I doubt that’s been checked out.” Laryna opened her eyes, looked over the now comfortably sleeping teen. Something was happening, wherever the rest of her was, but at least what was here before her was as comfortable and stable as it could be. “Rest while I go look for it.”

 

Laryna left the Healer’s Hall, took a deep breath to steady herself as she navigated her way to the library, holding back the memories of when she had brought part Father Ronan’s remains. “I’m not fully ready to see that again though.”

 

[Unsure if I will include that adventure in this book or if it will be part of Book 3 since it’s a David/Thomas and may touch on the Black Gate’s story. This is a chance for readers to sound off on helping shape the way the tales unfold. Comment below (so I can keep track) which you think is best. 1) Save their exploration and any discovery for in #3. 2) Include their adventure in the current book, #2. 3) In both, having one in truncated form and the other the full form. 4) Another option, reader suggestion.]

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.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)
My publishing company is testing Story Cartel out. I've been able to find interesting books that I normally would not come across. I get to have these books for free. In return I have to post my unbiased review about the book. I liked the process, so decided to see what it could do for myself and my authors as far as getting feedback.

I currently have "Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well" listed with Story Cartel. This is the print and web edition so is slightly different than the webnovel. There you can download this first book of the series for free. In exchange you post at least one place (and provide the link for the proof) with your honest review. The book is free at the link for 21 days. The site accepts the review links for 28 days. It would help me out a lot if some of you would consider signing up and reviewing.
https://storycartel.com/books/selkies-skins-castle-and-well-volume-1

I have also submitted JoAnne Spiese's "A Witch's Prayerbook" and am waiting for the approval on that so that I can push that review drive out. Her book is a collection of Goddess Faith poems and prayers from the perspective of one witch. I will post a link here when I am able to get that out the door as well.

Both of these books are currently available on Amazon, Smashwords, and B&N as well as other venues. However they will only be free at
www.StoryCartel.com.
rainstardragon: (Default)

https://theprose.com/post/40426/call-me-home

I entered this poem in a contest. There are only a few days left. Please take a look and if you like it then give it a signal boost. First or second place would be nice as it's a cash prize. If you tweet it (the original poem posting) please use the tags #poetheme and #micropoetry.

rainstardragon: (Default)
 Here is the final part of the co-op project that Illya Leonov and I did for "Pearls of Sea and Stone: Book of Seals" which is a prequel to "Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well." I apologize for this being so long overdue. At least Illya was very pleased with the images I created.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9pQDfITbMI


If you like this or my other projects then please consider either social media or monetary support at http://www.patreon.com/Amehana as every little bit helps.
rainstardragon: (selkies skins)

Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

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)

We return to Kirsty and to how she is doing with the effects of time shuttling.


My apologies for the slight delay. This was not quite ready before I had to go do the month's monthly grocery shopping.



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 23
Chapter 10 part 2
Tangled Fur

 

 As Kirsty passed through the threshold vertigo grabbed her once more. She reached out for the wall she hoped was there, but there was nothing.

Light. The light hurt her eyes, bouncing off of some white surface. It stabbed with graphite claws and ink shards as if she had abandoned it for some time.

The pen fell from her fingers.

Something warm trickled from her nose and landed on the white surface. She heard three drops land and felt the liquid – salt-copper, had to be blood – land and spread.

An arm went around her and fingers lifted her chin.

“Kirsty, are you alright?” The familiar voice, warm and rich like German Chocolate cake freshly made, washed over her like a long overdue drink.

“Why is she bleeding? She’s not been doing anything particularly hard today. Thomas, do you have anything?”

“Let David get it this time, he’s already got her Ally.”

“I... I don’t know. Where am I? When am I?” So dry, so hard to force the question from a parched throat.

“When?” David’s voice, still soaking into her like she’d been a seastar left too long on the beach, had found a way to sound more worried than the first he spoke. He whisked a white kerchief from one of his pockets and pulled her close.

The diary that she’d bled on was taken from her hands. Somehow it felt as if Ally was removing a part of herself, though the hands were helpful. He whispered something and gently cleaned her nose, whatever charm he used combining with hers as she willed the capillary to dry over.

Her eyes focused more and adjusted to the light. The Loch lay before her and watched with Mara’s steely eye.

“I’m at school again...” Kirsty sighed. “I’m no closer than I was.”

“Kirsty, yes, you’re still at school, with us. I know I’ve said this before but you’re really worrying us. Maybe we should talk to your aunt about these lapses.

“NO!” Horror deluged over her, chill as any highland waterfall in winter. Kirsty wasn’t sure where it came from, but memories swam to the surface about other times in the recent past he’d urged her to talk to Professor MacLeòmhann, all of which had ended with one very grumpy werewolf promising to hold his tongue a little longer on condition that she do it before he did.

Said grumpy werewolf was now beyond mere grump mode. The wolf's eyes flashed and bore into her, attempting to wrest control and herd her. She felt a growl, her finely tuned hearing picked it up as well, but it wasn’t one of the registers their friends would hear. This had to be the closest she had seen his eyes get to the time she’d discovered his secret and been chased after by him.

The stubborn selkie-maid winced, but held her ground, or perhaps more accurately stayed where she was held, yet was unable to mask the tremor that was railing to be set free.

She felt the flow begin again, another three drops oozing free, ending the battle in a stalemate. Barely.

“Please no David. Please.”

He sighed and once more dabbed gently at her nose, eyes softening but far from defeated. “Soon then. This can’t go on.”

“I’m tired, and cold.” She leaned into him, too exhausted to care about dignity. Neither was a lie even though she was also hoping it would be a way to deflect having to agree. “Hold me.”

It suddenly got a lot warmer, all of that coming from David, and she snuggled into the obliging, albiet grumbly, haven.

“Smooth. Very smooth.” Thomas observed, taking her diary out of Ally’s hand. “Not going to work though since you’ve said that every time this has been happening that I’ve seen. What were you doodling this time anyway?”

Kirsty glared at him. She didn’t remember having used the line at any time and she was freezing and felt like she’d been pulling bits of herself out. Was that even possible? And he was going to just open her diary? Surely David would defend her honor and say something.

“I’m curious too. This incident is too like the others. Trance, automatic writing, nosebleed, sometimes rather bad, and rather severe disorientation. I’m afraid this time we will have to look even though I don’t like looking in your private thoughts without invitation.”

Ally nodded her agreement with David’s decree. Thomas opened the book to where she had been writing... something. Kirsty couldn’t remember what. Thomas sat and turned so everyone could see the page the right way up and the four of them fit in close like the biscuits in Aunt Belara’s tin.

“Thank gods it’s not sparkling vampires or feather wearing werewolves. Just weird looking girls.”

Ally cuffed him upside the head. “No one in their right minds would ever think to pollute them like that. Where is that coming from? Stop it or you’ll ripple something and it will. Then what will we do? And we’ll all say it’ll be your fault, not hers.”

David closed his eyes and sighed. He’d rub his temple if his arms weren’t both busy trying to keep Kirsty some semblance of warmer. She was uncomfortably cold even through the cloth between them. If werewolves could wear armor at some point in time they could probably wear feathers.

His friends definitely had some detrimental effects on his own ability to focus at times, and his patience. It was definitely time to take control again. “Do you know these four Kirsty?”

“I don’t... know?” Kirsty looked at the faces she’d drawn. Something tingled just beyond her grasp. She should, shouldn’t she? There were tickles when she looked at the three girls, each caught in midaction and almost making her wonder if they were elementals.

Then her eyes fell her Her. Brigid stared up at her from the page, colorless pencil work and unfinished, marred by the drops of her blood.

“The alliance is still alive even though I moved my stronghold.” The words came to her, pushed from somewhere somehow forward from where she was. The cadence and lilt was not hers. The disorientation returned and she felt something in herself unravel.

It was dark.

At least she could feel David holding her. There was movement, and the crunching of snow with scuttling behind them. The sounds fell away leaving only the dark and his familiar scent.


“We going where we think we are, Sir?” Thomas matched his steps to his friend’s, falling a step behind and to the left.

“Yes. We are.” David nodded and flicked his eyes over to him, brow lifted at the unusual title... He certainly wasn’t a Sir yet and most definitely had his own trial to pass through still before that was even a possibility... not that he particularly wanted to carry any title, then to Ally who he had felt come up behind on his right the usual place she took walking with Kirsty.

“Kirsty going to be pretty mad at us latter.” Thomas continued.

“Probably, and she can be. I’d rather this get stopped before it gets worse or more frequent, whether or not she glares at me for a month over her potion book.”

Thomas opened the door for him when they got to it. The three noted the change, half the time the door would swing open for them on it’s own. No one had yet figured out exactly how the front gate really worked. Whenever a student thought they finally had learned something about it, the gate just changed how it acted.

“I’ll go up ahead then and get the professor.” Ally murmured. “I can move quicker.”

“As you think best.” David replied to the already darting firewitch, then looked up when he felt something brush his mind.

Each of the Examiners on the Lintel seemed to be gazing down at the four as they separated, but particularly pointedly at the selkie in his arms.

“Since when to they look so far down?” David whispered to Thomas.

Thomas looked up. “Not this far that I’ve seen... Weird. Something didn’t quite feel right passing through either.”

“I don’t think you should tell Ally yet. You and I may be coming back later tonight though Ally will probably want to stay with Kirsty tonight wherever Professor MacLeòmhann has her stay.”

Thomas nodded. “Ally’s worried enough already.”

The entrance hall passed away behind them as they mounted the steps to follow Ally to the Leomaris house quarters. With luck they wouldn’t cross paths with Morvan or his cadre.

 

 

[Unsure if I will include that adventure in this book or if it will be part of Book 3 since it’s a David/Thomas and may touch on the Black Gate’s story. This is a chance for readers to sound off on helping shape the way the tales unfold. Comment below (so I can keep track) which you think is best. 1) Save their exploration and any discovery for in #3. 2) Include their adventure in the current book, #2. 3) In both, having one in truncated form and the other the full form. 4) Another option, reader suggestion.]

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.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)
 Ah, the siren. I had thought about writing about a sphinx or Cupid, but I thought that for some the darker side of love and lust would be more appropriate given the month. The siren is one of the reasons that in Kirsty's world all merfolk are viewed with such distrust, whether they are the relatively peaceful selkie, the warrior tritons, or especially the bloodthirsty siren. How I see the siren in Kirsty's world breaks into two types. 1) Those that are truthfully sirens, born so into a race embodying two of Mara's deepest desires but having been touched by the poison of Astereth in much the same way as the Finmen are. 2) Those not born into the race but are corrupted firsthand... and the paths are many. Raechel the dark selkie priestess is started down this path already.

 

And now, this month's poem:

https://youtu.be/Ejl7UQDovyY



 

The Siren

 

There upon the seastacks she stands.

A lone slim form cast beyond the land

Beckoning the mariner with raised hand

The sky tide lifting dress and strands

 

A lilting song rolls o’er the brine

“O wouldst that thou were’t mine

here beyond reach of man an’ time

and on kelp and mussels we’d dine.”

 

Her call dances over foam and sea

Form undulating, svelte, carefree

Til at last into the mar dives he

Stroking, with her daring to be.

 

When he arrives and climbs aloft

To join her on wave-kissed rock

Among the landing gull flock

With laughter does she now mock

 

Rending lover’s flesh, hot blood to drink

Ware ye better be, tottering on the brink

Of the siren that doth dance and slink.

“Is she a true lass?” thou must e’er think.

 

The fog rolls in, the bell now tolls

A widow at home her sorrow doles

Upon the wind blowing between boles

And out to the beach where laughter rolls.

 

You can hear this poem read on my Youtube channel:

https://youtu.be/Ejl7UQDovyY

 

Be aware that there are a couple of unlisted videos that currently only my $1+ Patrons have access to. After about a week, perhaps a few hours more depending on if something delays me from hitting the button, those videos will go public and I will send notifications that this has been done.

 

---

 

If we get just a few more dollars that covers two poems in a month for everyone to enjoy. We're currently only $3 shy of that goal. Patrons pledging $1 a month get access to early looks at what is being released, and other assorted items right inside the feed when logged in. The goals currently unlocked are a poem a month and at least one short video a month. There are different support levels too with their own thank you gifts, so be sure to check periodically while logged in as some posts may only be viewable at certain levels.

 

I'd like to take this moment to thank my patrons. I currently only have a few, but your support means a great deal to me and every little bit honestly does help loads. You are all awesome. If there are ever any questions or suggestions for what you would like to see then please comment. You might wind up with a video answering the question if there is enough to warrant one, but at the very least you'll get a reply of some sort.

rainstardragon: (Default)

Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

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 Light
Installment 22
Chapter 10 part 1
Tangled Fur

 

 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.

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As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


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