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, and an audio edition is currently being narrated by Illya Leonov, has finished the Glossary (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects). The audiobook should be available very soon.

And now to begin the webserial for "Selkies' Skins: Temple and Skinquest."

Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: Descent
Installment 8
Chapter 4
Where Moon Meets Sea

 A ripple, a splash. Etain felt it at the edges of the energy web keeping her here at the rocks at the edge of the worlds. She had passed beyond the gate of the Rocks that Drown, beat their siren songs and ever hungered waves that brought all boats and life to be shredded. Yet here she was, stranded on rocks that she knew not the names of, surviving on fish and seaweed. She stayed warm by drying what she could of small bits of driftwood and such for fires, and trying to fashion a raft out of larger pieces.

Most magic failed her here, though at least she had her voice to sing the fish close enough to hunt. Etain feared putting on her skin here, so weak she was magically. There was the danger of losing herself further and never returning home, finally forsaking the last of her humanity and truly, fully, belonging to the sea.

How many moonrises and sunsets had she spent here, and how did they translate in the mortal world of man? She kept track in her notebook faithfully, a last bastion to retain sanity and humanity. Each attempt of leaving the net though her hopes grew slimmer and slimmer that she would ever escape. Etain had no more tears for it.

The ripple came again, stronger.

“Must be summer break...that has to be Kirsty entering Mara's realm...” she said aloud to herself, to break the monotony of wind and wave and the heartbeat of the sea.

The moon rose, laying a silver path across the waters. A figure walked over it, crossing from world to world as the wind wove long waves of white into delicate filigrees that glowed, the aurora a rainbow around the distant brow. He, or she, perhaps shi being more accurate, stopped outside the boundaries of the invisible net trapping her and gazed sadly.

“Poor child.” Ven'thrith's voice rolled through, hir fingers resting lightly on the boundary and giving color now to the bonds while flickering back and forth between femininity and masculinity. “How fares it?”

“Cold and wet, and too weak to spare energy to dance nor smile. Are you come to get me off this accursed rock?” To her ears she sounded bitter as Mara.

“No child, though your Mother comes now that you've been found here. She can command this trap to break open again. Byron comes as well. Tell me daughter Brinetreader...did you find the Name?” Eagerness made hir face shine and hair whip.

“I believe so, or part at least. But in so doing I fear I may have lost myself.” Etain looked at her feet. “I managed to save endangered kelp as well to reseed the seas with... I promised Calypso I'd see to that” She patted her pouch softly. “It has been hard not to eat these, but I know I musn't.”

“Calypso? Long since I've spoken to that splinter.” Ven'thrith pressed harder on the barrier, grief and pain etching a suddenly much older and far more tired face of the moon than Etain had ever seen before. “I'm sorry my little slipping one. I would not have sent you Beyond if I had realized exactly how much of yourself would be lost.”

Etain shook weakly, balled her fist, but did not have the strength to lift it, nor the magic in her to do much else. “Tell me at least the reason, since you say this fault is yours.”

“Mara bleeds in her mind for her sister still and how the Lady is bound without her name. But there are matters that still must have mortal hands and mortal minds.” The darkness of the moon, though this night shi let it shine full, weighed hir words with the weight of the world. Each fell, a lead weight, a stone, into the deepsea. “Circumstances are finally aligning where an attempt might be successful.”

The fight went out of Etain, not in a huff or collapse, but in a long, slow, pain-filled exhale from which her lungs did not want to rise again under the heavy weight. “Might.”

“Might.” Ven'thrith agreed.

“Kirsty?” Etain wasn't sure whether to hope or to fear when asking, what little was left of her spirit trembling like a wisp in a storm over a bog.

“Well, for now. She is quite the brave one.” Shi replied through the membrane between them. “She has done admirably up to this point. You'd be proud of her...but I will let you tell you herself of her adventures. I won't deprive her of that.”

“So you believe then that she'll survive?” Etain sat and drew her knees up.

“I don't think that for now we have cause to doubt.” Ven'thrith paused a moment, trying to look through time, but to hir the threads were too twisted. Too many possibilities were overlapping, and more fingers were at the loom of time than what should have been, certainly more interferences than hir own gnarling the weave. What shi was able to discern for now all led to the union between land and sea that would heal Mara's hurts, which surely had to bode well for the little selkie maid and the young Hound. “Soft now. If darling Mara asks, I've not been here.”

Ven'thrith stepped away from the magical mesh, morphing first to the White Lady, then to Shi-yu, and back to the Old Man in the Moon as various worshippers touched in on and prayed to different aspects. As shi walked back across the silver bridge of moonlight where it kissed the sea shi rose until once more one again with the moon. Etain watched wearily and curled around herself to await her release.

Time continued to tick on with every passing wave and the night drew on, then to a close. The sun rose and Mara stepped out from the bloody morning across vermillion blazes in full armor, flashing with lightning and ocean's silver, set with pearl and crystal and throat gills flaring. Her feet carried her swiftly, her double headed crystal and obsidian spear a lance crackling with her fury.

Etain watched this vision dispassionately. Once it would have filled her with both dread and joy and caused her arms to open to the mother of her line and her oldest playmate, her oldest friend. A cry of pain rolled forth from Mara as her spear penetrated the field, and she drove further in, twisting the spear as if it were a key and flinging her claim wide to the skies for all to hear.

The netting fell and blew away in burning wisps, consumed by the sea deity's fires. When a burning fiber of magic fell on her sealskin she didn't flinch. Nor did Etain cry out when some fell on her exposed human flesh. She was numb within and without.

“Oh my child. My little strong one.” Mara crushed Etain to her chest in one arm, looking around for anything living that she could take more of her rage out on. Just as when Etain had been a pup, Mara's steely voice held a tenderness few ever saw.

Etain's arms closed woodenly around Mara and she cuddled close for the deity's warmth. Mara smelled of salt and fish primarily, but there were other things beginning to curl into Etain's nose. The scents of dolphins, seals, otters...these too wound slow courses to her brain along with the beat of Mara's heart. Nothing presented itself to Mara and so her spear wielding arm also flowed around Etain, bringing her closer.

Etain shudded as life began to flow and Mara's presence seeped back into her. Through her skin and through her breath the mist entered, reseating home and reenlivening the blood. Mara set the spear down, dipping Etain backward for a moment while settling down onto her legs to bring her into her lap.

“You've been separated from me for far too long, child. Rest now. I have you again and you've come through the storm.” Mara whispered, rocking Etain lightly and nuzzling her ear. The tiger shark striping on her arms faded and the sharkskin melted away, seal fur sprouting lush and dense.

Etain snuggled closer as the deity gave her a safer form to fall into. The sobs came, pent up for years, welling from the depths and bringing with them all of the pollutions that Etain had drawn in during her adventures but been unable to process properly. “I'm so tired, Lady Mother...”

“I know Etain...You've done well. You've done well.”

 

Etain lapsed into sleep, still sobbing, and here on the other side of the Rocks That Drown Mara sang the songs of Life, placed cuts into the woman's soft flesh, and poured her own blood directly into her, just as Etain had been doing for so many years for her precious seas.
 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. After three installments have been posted I will be able to open an entry at Top Web Fiction for this particular book in the series.

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
As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. 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, and an audio edition is currently being narrated by Illya Leonov, currently working with the Glossary and has finished Chapter 39 (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects).

And now to begin the webserial for "Selkies' Skins: Temple and Skinquest."

Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: Descent
Installment 3
Chapter 2 part 1
Forest Circles

Merrison clung to the rock and pulled himself up. His dark eyes narrowed as he looked out over the sea, which broke on the rocks in the middle of nowhere. These same rocks under another view of reality were at the edge of the world, where worlds collided and overlapped like tectonic plates. The rock's song was muted now, sated by his blood and the flotsam he was still searching through.

Time always meant little at the edges, so he was not certain how long it had been since the wreck. He only knew that he could not leave it yet.

“Etain! Brinetreader! Sea Witch, where are ye?” His voice boomed over the waves again.

As every other time there was no answer besides the circling terns crying for fish and swooping down hoping for something to pick over. He slipped off the rock again and plunged back below, canvassing the area again.

Still there was no selkie, living nor dead. The current had changed once he had passed through the gate, and he could only hope that she hadn't been caught between the realms. The current pushed away from the rocks in any direction he swam, when on the other side he, Etain, the Sea Witch, and that strange sea through seal pup had been pulled into the rocks.

Down and down he dove, to where the water began to press in on him firmly. Further down he let gravity make him fall, allowing the waters to press in on his ribcage and drive more of the air from his lungs. Merrison controlled his direction with careful positioning of his powerful green scaled tail, allowing his trident to glow so that he could see further for any forms caught in the rocks or in the kelps.

After an eternity of eternities and making his way through still slowly sinking boat bits his eye was caught by a bit of shining black the size of both of his very large hands. How it shone he couldn't guess, but shine it did, an ebony-hued tiny dolphin figurehead floating ever so slowly into the hungry shadows of this darkest area of the sea. Merrison made for that and stretched out his hand to catch it.

I'm positive the Sea Witch didn't have a figurehead... Where is this from and where was she hiding it? And why?” Merisson pondered, turning it over and over in his fingers.

The carving was smooth, far smoother than it had even looked to him, and despite the frigid water it was as warm as a living thing. It even had a subtle pulse.

You wouldn't have seen me and Etain was unaware there was already a figurehead hidden on the prow.” The voice came into his mind, as heavily accented as Etain's, a somber mixture of salt, rum, and port.

Sea Witch?” He nearly dropped the carving.

The oldest and most important part of what was once the Sea Witch, at any rate.” The figurehead answered. “I don't currently have a name now since my last body just got fed to the Rock that Drowns. I can't feel my mistress either. She's not here.”

“What do you mean she's not here?” He grimaced and his frothy white hair and beard broke into waves to rival a storm.

She's not here.” The Sea Witch spoke slowly from the figurehead. “She didnae make it all the way through when we rammed that rock that just up and popped up in the middle of the portal.

“So she's between somewhere.” He sighed deeply, his heart panging. “I failed, I said I'd find her the safest path back.”

She might have come out into some other plane. She might not be in between on the rocks. We can only hope that Lady Mara can reach her now.”

“So then what do I do?” He clenched a fist, longing to drive it into one of the rocks and force them to let Mara's priestess go.

Take me home. I have to get back to Seal Point, or to the Order of Fisheries and Water Conservation offices currently in Southend-on-the-Sea, north of Herne Bay.” The voice answered him, showing him maps and visuals to get to where she needed to be.

Merisson sighed, swimming back toward the surface toward the light, finding the sweet spot for underwater travel, and then turning in the direction the little carving wanted him to go.

 

The further away from the Rock that Drowns he swam, the more he could feel time and space regaining a hold on him. Time became relevant, and the ticks were as real finally as a dolphin's radar.
 

   

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. After three installments have been posted I will be able to open an entry at Top Web Fiction for this particular book in the series.

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
As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story. >.>


rainstardragon: (Default)
Today is the long awaited (finally) release day for the ebook editions of the first book in the "Selkies' Skins" series, "Castle and Well." The print edition is still awaiting receipt of the cover art from Samantha Buckley, but it is hoped that it will arrive soon. Today's serialized release (Chapter 34 of 39, Lunar Eidolon) for the webnovel I posted yesterday.


Kirsty has little choice in her fate, only how it will manifest. There are tests to pass, a place that she may have to occupy prematurely if her visions prove true, and a need to earn her sealskin to be complete. Will Etain return safe to port, and will Kirsty survive her training and test? There are complications along the way, will she be able to stay on the course she's trying to set? In this first book of what is intended to be a trilogy Kirsty must ultimately go down the Lady's well for the first of her tests of fitness, while also having to balance school, family, and a certain young lad.

For additional side stories, please look in the Selkies' Skins Wavelets stories.

It is also author Teresa Garcia's birthday today. On the 13th was author Marantha D. Jenelle's (she is missed) and also cover artist Victoria "Salaiek" Davis.
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 story is selkies' skins.

Selkies' Skins
Installment 55
Chapter 29 (part one)
Dreams and Divination

Kirsty could not fight the current pulling her to the rocks. Even though it was just a dream, she was afraid of what those sharp teeth would do, even more than Mara’s teeth and wrath. Mara would throw a fit, but she would also give aftercare, at least according to all she had been taught—not to mention the scars on her mother she’d seen during her short life.

Rocks, however, did not care. These rocks especially seemed to be eager to eat selkie blood and sink boats. What would they do to fish?

The boat continued toward the rocks as well. Perhaps if she could just get to it? Maybe there was some way she could help her mother still? Why was there no light warning of such a hazard in this day and age?

These thoughts swirled in her mind too fast to be fully conscious of. Kirsty tried to swim across the current, just as if it were a rip tide that had swept her out. Perhaps together they could avert the course fast enough to avoid disaster.

The water burned due to the frigid current bringing either Arctic or Antarctic waters. Her muscles burned from the strain of trying to go swifter than it wanted to allow. Would it be easier to dip below, as if to pass through coastal waves, like she’d heard surfers would do?

She risked it, only to find the currents of the lower layers just as tricky. After who knew how long she won her way to the surface once more. Kirsty opened her mouth and sucked the air again greedily, always swimming for the boat.

Another immeasurable pass of time came and went, and she was finally close enough to the ship to call out.

Then it shifted.

Instead of the Sea Witch it was the Corsantoir that rose before her and groaned with the effort of wresting free from the currents just enough. Her father’s voice filled her ears as he bellowed something, and Mr. Andersen answered him back in the same tone.

“Aye Lads, ye heard the Cap’n! Who’s got one of the Stones left? It’s either that, or Finnol’ll have to feed our bonnie lady again.”

“NAE!” Mr. Merrow’s voice called. “I used my last one on that shoal of soulfish. Wolcott better be sure to keep Finnol from the bloodlet with us out here. We’s got more blood can be spared than he.”

“AYE!”

This had better be just a dream. Both Mum and Da’ out?” Kirsty groaned mentally.

“Ork! Ark! ARK!” She called out.

The Corsantoir shivered in response to her calls.

“I think we’ve lost one of the moorings!” Andersen’s rough voice bawled. “I don’t see it bound where it was.”

“We’ll get new rope then if we get out of this.” Merrow called back. The force of their energy pushing against the current twisted her stomach and made her bones hurt. “Now shut up and help me with this current work.”

“Yer the one not pushing and feeding enough, ye great fish!”

The rope dangled in reach. Kirsty clenched it in her jaws, and the ship hauled her to the deck. She lay there, a bit of moon on the black, wet deck, and caught her breath. A knot had formed at the jaw hinges, and she worked to make it loosen enough to even try speaking.

Neither the swarthy red haired Mr. Andersen or equally red haired and red nosed Mr. Merrow spared her much of a glance. Perhaps they were used to things getting hauled on deck by her father’s boat when they were out working on...gods and spirits just what would have brought them out here? They certainly were unlikely to recognize her like this.

Her muscles stopped burning long enough. She flopped and inched her way as fast as she could over the pitched deck toward the cabin. Without a skin of her own, it would be impossible to transform back unless whatever spell was on her let go. Still neither of her father’s friends from the Order paid her any mind, concentrating more on trying to move the boat from the current’s grip.

At least they seemed to be aware of the rocks they were being sucked toward. Da' was always canny about things like that, even if he couldn’t see them. Da' and his usual crew also tended to be better at manipulating the currents.

If he got out of it, she was giving him a cape when she got home. She’d start knitting during break after she was up, since she didn’t have a big enough loom.

First though, through the door!

Which of course did not want to open because she was a seal. She reared up and fumbled at the knob with her fins. Kirsty got her mouth around the knob and twisted her head about one way and then the other. It tasted of salt, and dust, metal, and other things that she didn’t want to think about—probably seagull poop with her luck, that was about right—but it still just stayed shut instead of giving under her weight.

Kirsty howled in frustration. She still had to tell him. If she could offer to lend him the use of her human magic stores, since she was stuck in this form and unable to use anything that was not part of the selkie heritage, maybe it would help?

Finally the door crashed open, though she wasn’t sure what she’d done differently.

Instead of her father, she was shocked to find her mother at the helm, pasty white as if recently drowned. Kirsty reeled back and looked outside again. Mr. Andersen and Mr. Merrow were gone. Looking back, the cabin was most certainly that of the Sea Witch, not her father’s boat. She looked back at her mother. If she could offer to Da', she could offer her stores to Mum, and either of them would know how to do it. They were old enough to have learned.

“I really hate dreaming.”

Kirsty turned back to look at her mother, opening her mouth—surely Mum would understand seal—then screamed.

Etain still clung to the wheel, had even taken her eyes from gazing forward to looking at her. Those beautiful sea-blue eyes gaped blindly at her, fogged over. Her mother’s skin was even pastier now, and decidedly puffy. Her cheek even looked like fish had been nibbling on it. What was worse was the smell...turned fish and rotting meat.

“Light the candle Kirsten and toss the line. I’m afraid I might not get home in time.”

 

The scream from the bed on the other side of the room broke through the muffles and spells that had been layered with increasing depth and frequency. Ally bolted up, crying for a light while grabbing her wand. A spark flitted from her hand before she touched it, landing on the wick.

The lamp between the beds flared, revealing the stone walls and heavy red velvet curtains chased with gold marelions. Kirsty’s sheets were a tangled mess, but there was no one in the room. The salamanders that had been napping in the little fireplace lined up just inside the edge of the coal bank to watch, dancing in agitation at the firewitch’s agitation.

The first scream was still ringing in her ears when the second scream came, throwing Ally back to her bed for a moment, which only bounced her back up. Ally stumbled to her friend’s side and twitched her wand.

Kirsty was rolled out of bed, landing with a loud thud. There was a crunch...what had she landed on?

“Mary, mother of God... What did you dream this time?” Ally clutched at her chest and slipped to her knees, examining the wards she’d placed on Kirsty’s bedframe just the last week. She’d been replacing them weekly since Samhain, and it was now almost time to head home for the Yule holidays.

All that remained were some charred bits of paper. Ally grimaced. She’d have to pick around for more ideas for a sound night’s sleep. Making these was getting expensive in both materials and time. On the plus side, she had the process down pat!

“You dunnae want to know this time... Help me out of this cocoon?” Kirsty flopped and wriggled, trying to work her way out. She couldn’t even use flippers this way.

What was worse? Finding yourself a full seal without choice, or having arms and legs, but all wound up like in the shroud?

Ally came around to the other side of the bed and began the surprisingly elaborate untangling procedure. “Why won’t you just ask Professor Sevrin for a stronger potion? He’s bloody grumpy, but I know he’s got to have something since he and David were discussing some the other day.”

“And what if me mum dies on voyage or needs something of me, but I miss the message because I’m drugged up? What kind of daughter would I be?” Kirsty’s accent was thick with her agitation, and Ally nearly had a hard time following the waterwitch.

“And what if you make me go deaf with your screaming? These are only getting worse. At least have another talk with Professor Gerwulf then. Maybe it’s just something trying to interfere with your dreams, like some thought form Maldein or Lilitu came up with. Or the Counselor, maybe it’s just one you’ve made on your own with all this fear and whatnot.” Ally pressed.

Kirsty sighed. “Mine aren’t the only dreams getting worse. Professor Sevrin was making that potion for Lilitu, had already tried to get me to accept some, and for all I know David was just interested in the process from an academic standpoint because of our advanced studies.” She did make a mental note to consider any drinks David brought her though...just in case he did try to slip her something. But that was unlike him so it wasn’t much of a consideration.

“Lilitu? What’s he got to have nightmares about. He’s rich, gets his way almost all the time, and I highly doubt his parents do anything to get dirty, much less dangerous. And he’s ok looking...” Ally grumbled the last bit, huffing a bit after. “Thomas is still much cuter though.”

“I’d make sure your hair never dries if you ever develop a crush on Lilitu.”

Ally made a face. “I’d burn my eyeballs out first. Don’t worry. He wouldn’t want me anyway. Maldien might drive him crazy later though.”

Kirsty smiled briefly, then tossed her sheets and blankets back on the bed. She debated using her wand to fix them, then just crawled back in.

Some things just weren’t worth using magic. Besides, she was too tired to control the human part of her magic anyway. She’d probably have made it all pretty without the ability to actually get in the bed.

“So, really. What’s he got to have nightmares about?” Ally persisted, crawling back into her own bed.

“Don’t know, don’t want to know.” Kirsty yawned and stretched, noticing that Imp was out again only now. “I’ve felt the Cailleach too much lately, and the Nightmares like her just as much as the things do.”

Ally mumbled as she rolled over in her own bed, pulling her pillow over herself for defense against any more nightmares. Kirsty watched her for a bit, then rolled over to face the opposite direction, curling up.

Ally’s soft snores soon filled Kirsty’s ears. Kirsty smiled a bit. “At least this is normal.”

She watched the window for a while, observing the stars idly while waiting for sleep to reclaim her. Once it did she slipped below its waves gratefully, hoping the dreams were done for the night.

 

Expect the next episode around November 24th, unless an extra episode funds, in which case you might see the next on November 17th. If you'd like to have another episode sooner, feel free to use the Paypal button below. A total of $10 earns everyone an extra episode. If the ten dollars is not met, then the amount rolls over toward the next early episode. You can see how close we are to having an extra episode by checking the meter on the sticky post.

Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction (just remember, we're a long way from finishing the story here and there is a lot of ground to cover. If you're on Goodreads, the first ebook is already listed there with my other books. Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story. Want to do a review? Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide and of course you can now put one on the Goodreads page as well. Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book once it's available. The donations accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal
As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story. >.> *whacks at the formatting one more time and hopes it fixes it...*

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 story is selkies' skins.

Selkies' Skins
Installment 54
Chapter 28 (part two)
Rock that Drowns

Marc frowned and adjusted his hat, pulling it low against the wind. The rise and fall of the boat, and the glances from the red nosed and red capped Mr. Andersen were more than enough to bring The Queasy to his innards. These glances were never cast his way when Finnol was where he might see them, but it was certainly enough to make him feel the part of the unwanted landlubber.

Marc wasn't even fully certain as to exactly why Finnol had wanted his help so much, or why he had confided earlier as to the veracity of the existence of Deities and mythological creatures. He was a researcher, and here he was now ‘researching’ in a far more immediate manner than digging through papers and speaking with men in the pub over a pint and nuts getting fish stories.

In short, Marc was convinced that the reason he was there was having gone temporarily mad. He blamed Finnol's gift of blarney. He blamed it all the way to Ulster and back, perhaps even further—from Greenland or maybe Antarctica.

Once again, the itching came, and it wasn't from his usual tweed suit, nor the wool sweater he was currently in. It definitely was not due to the blue fishing cap that the well trained horse that used to nanny little Kirsten provided for the Makay crafts through his herding of sheep.

He’d never known that horses could herd sheep, but old Byron was apparently good at it. If he ever saw that horse leap up and perform a jig though, he would be in trouble. He might have to take a long walk off a short pier during a high storm. Marcus was not keen on the idea by any stretch of the imagination, but the day that horses performed jigs? That would be the only recourse left.

“Get out o’ yer head landlubber. The poachers aren’t in there.” The bass drawl grated on his ears. “They’re out here somewheres.”

Marc glared his direction and resumed scanning the horizon. Inside, Finnol was likely scanning the screen, or doing the strange thing with the pendulum... Dowsing was what he’d called it, but he’d only ever seen it done with sticks, coat hangers, or hands, the way that little Kirsty favored.

“I’m looking, I’m looking.” Marc grumbled.

“Then look like you’re not! Here, help me with this.”

Marc tried not to snort, and did his best when turning his hands to untangling the nets he’d been given. It made him look more as if he belonged there, but at a price. The nets seemed to take umbridge with his hands and before long they bore rashes.

Finnol shook his head and sighed. So far they’d turned up no leads besides knowing which fishery to explore. There had been a few instances where it appeared that the radar equipment was jammed, but when they had gone in the direction the jamming signal seemed likely to be in all they turned up was open sea or ships that appeared to only be in peaceful transit. By the laws of the sea there was no way to board those vessels without due cause.

He pulled the necklace from under his robes again and watched it. The fossilized shark tooth dangled from its silver cap and cord, gleaming lightly in what light filtered in from the overcast surroundings. Carefully he held his hand steady and outward to give it room to swing and waited for it to still.

Once it stilled he let his mind still and focused on his quarry. He let the memory of what the selkie women had told him fill himself, and the desire to catch those that had done them so much harm. Where are they?

He felt the familiar falling sensation and the rushing outward. The tooth began to swing circularly at first, one edge of the circle farther away, far farther than would be normally possible. Slowly that leading edge grew farther away from his center point and the circle squished itself into a line. There continued to be one point of the swing further away from his hand than the other.

That was the direction that he turned them, once he was sure of the reading. With luck, they would catch up before his quarry changed tack again.

Finnol frowned as he wondered whether to pray for Mara’s blessing, or to direct his request to some being that specialized more in catching quarry, or one of the deities of justice.

The black edge of a tattered cloak flashed in his mind, and he shuddered. Though justice was indeed her realm, he’d not direct a prayer to the Cailleach in any of her aspects.

Finnol made certain that autopilot was engaged, then tapped the wheel simply to recheck their course would not be altered without his say. The Coisantir replied silently with an affirming pressure on his mind. Then he left the cabin to walk the decks.

His companions he knew would be taking turns watching, and making them look as if all was normal, but there was nothing better than using one’s own eyes.

Marc cast another look toward the horizon after getting the itching on his palms to calm enough to think. The clouds were billowing up from the sea unnaturally fast, and a strange green that matched the waters. The waters themselves chopped and danced in agitation, but at what he couldn’t hazard.

“Strange weather!” He called, honoring the request to call someone for anything odd he saw.

Mr. Andersen looked to where Marc pointed, squinting his eyes a bit. “Aye, that truly be something this time landlubber. Go have Merrow turn out. I’ll get the Cap’n.”

Marc gave Andersen a hard look, but did head below. If the clouds continued to build at that rate it wouldn’t matter who had spied it first.

It smelled of wood and metal below, and fish, but did not have the smell of unwashed bodies. Everything was scrupulously clean. White predominated here, broken by dark brown wood beams. Several narrow bunks lined the sleeping area, each provided with dark purple wool blankets shot here and there with streaks of blue.

Merrow had joked these blankets were fifty percent hyppocampus wool and that they were the warmest things ever for something so light. Marc grabbed the one that Merrow was catnapping under and yanked it away.

Merrow yowled like a cat, his red nose going even redder, and bolted up, smashing his head loudly against the bunk above his own. He snatched the blanket back and glared at Marc. “What’cha goin’ aboot doing that to a man fer, Wolcott?”

“Andersen said to wake you because I saw green clouds on the horizon, whatever those mean. He wasn’t pleased.”

“Should say not. Don’t douse yer panties.” Merrow grumbled as he rolled out.

“So what’s it mean?”

“A storm.” Merrow replied glibly, setting his red cap back on his head and getting his storm gear on.

“A storm...so why’d he look at me like it was my fault?”

“Mebbe it be yer fault. You are a landlubber. The sea’s goddesses don’t take too kindly to landfolks what don’t belongs taking a stroll over their homes now, does they?” Merrow waggled his fingers and eyebrows at Marc. “Haven’t spurned the advances of any shark women lately have ye?”

With that he was out, and Marc toddled along behind attempting to make sense of the odd comment. “’Spurned advances’? What woman has been here to spurn?”

“Ye’d be surprised.” Merrow sighed. “Not all dreams on the sea are just dreams. If you dream of women, better just to let ‘em has their way unless ye’ve got a wife’s ring upon yer finger. In that case, better to drown on the sea than walks into the fryin’ pan.”

“That doesn’t help.” Marc grumbled.

“Ye’d be surprised...” Merrow mumbled over his shoulder, then drew himself up when in hearing range of Finnol. “Reportin’ for duty, Finny-boy. What kine of storm have we got?”

Finnol removed the spyglass from his eye and looked at them. “It’s not one of Mara’s, the color’s off.”

Both Andersen and Merrow sighed. Marc’s brow furrowed as he processed the momentary slump and looked between the three hoping for some cues for...anything.

“So what’s the plan then Cap’n? Are we skirting or staying the course?”

Finnol scowled. “I want to stay the course as we’d catch them faster. Not very keen on what might go on in the storm though. What’s the sense in going in when we might wind up anywhere or anywhen.”

“Aye...Not fancying another brush with lost pirates are we?” Merrow grinned a bit and tossed his head toward Marc. “I don’t think your friend would either. Not till he’s made a few more trips anyway.”

Finnol shook his head and looked back to the storm, blushing. “That’s another good reason to avoid anything I know isn’t from Mara... Just be ready.”

Merrow and Andersen nodded, then went on one last patrol of the decks to be certain that everything that could be battened down, was. Marc went with them, observing and helping where possible. He could feel as Finnol changed their tack a bit more so as to hopefully stay out of the storm.

It took less time than it felt like, and soon enough they were below again, near enough to the door up into the navigational cabin that they could be of assistance if needed.

“So...what was that blushing about pirates?” Marc leaned forward over a mug of black coffee.

“Oh, that.” Andersen’s lips twitched a bit under his red beard. “A few years ago we were out on a mission...”

“And this storm came up, bluish clouds instead of that green hue. The winds blew and blew, I swear it nearly pulled up one of the planks.” Merrow burst in, his white, vaguely pointed teeth flashing with each word.

Marc took a deep swig of his coffee trying not to visualize this.

“Don’t exaggerate too much or ye’ll scare him off. We can use a few more Cowans on our side knowingly.” Andersen leaned back with his own mug. “Mid storm we ‘found’ ourselves boarded.” He took a long pull despite the liquid’s heat.

“And?” Marcus leaned forward.

“And what?” Anderson replied after wiping his mouth.

“Well...you all seem to have magic, so... ‘found?’” Marc tried to keep from moving to the edge of his seat, but it was hard to refrain from craning forward.

“They had magic too.” Merrow’s eyes twinkled as he watched over the rim of his own mug. “The Cap’n took a bit of a shine to Finny-boy and looked enough like his wife that her glamoury almost succeeded in getting him to break some rather important vows.”

“Etain doesn’t know this one, so don’t you be breathin’ it to her with yer fishtails.” Andersen growled. “It’s one thing to tease him about it so it won’t happen again. It’s another to be inciting the frying pan on the lad.”

“Of course.” Marc nodded, then drained the rest of his mug thoughtfully.

They continued in silence for an hour, but by the way the boat pitched and rolled, and the wails outside, it was clear that Finnol had not been able to fully avoid the storm.

Marc’s hair stood on end. Some of those sounds sounded like a woman keening, while others sounded almost like speech.

Finnol shouted.

They left abandoned empty mugs behind them.

By the time they were up in the cabin from down below the green light that had broken out from phantom rocks and crackled up from the sea and across the sky was fading. The air smelled of sulfur and baking seaweed. Finnol had an arm flung across his eyes, which were screwed tight shut. The dials spun and whirred, some with broken glass.

The clouds parted, and the water calmed before their eyes as if the storm had never been. When their eyes adjusted flotsam and jetsam bobbed morbidly.

“Look for survivors boys.” Finnol removed his arm from his eyes and blinked. “The readouts said no one was near enough to show...”

“Dunnae forget the eyedrops before you search Finnol.” Anderson tossed as he made his way out, followed by the others.

The three got into one of the lifeboats after untying it, lowering it over the side with the pulleys. It touched down with a splash and together they manuevered through the wreckage. Both Andersen and Merrow created bright orbs of blue seafire to bob over the scene, giving the entire thing an ethereal air. Movies wouldn’t capture this, Marc knew.

Merrow growled. “It’ll go too slow this way. We can move faster if one of us swims under and brings attention to anyone still here.”

“An’ I suppose yer thinkin’ it’ll be you, now. Go on then laddie, Wolcott ‘n I will man the raft.”

Merrow pulled a pendant from his shirt and kissed it. The brief glimpse Marc got of it looked like a coil of carved bone of some sort, on a dark brown braid of some kind...possibly hair. He kicked off his shoes and pulled his clothes off before slipping backwards over the side, changing form as he went.

The man’s legs fused together and gained silver-green scales, ending in great spreading fins, horizontal like a mammal, not vertical like a fish. Those scales blended upward into skin that took on an avacodo leather appearance, and his hands became elongated and webbed. All that remained the same was the man’s facial features and shocking red hair...the red cap clinging to it stubbornly.

Marc blinked hard and rubbed his eyes after Merrow slipped below the water. “He just. He’s a..”

“Yep, Merrow’s a merrow. Come on now, even if this was a poacher ship we cannae leave ‘em to drown in the cold. T’aint humane, is it now?”

Even with Merrow swimming through the wreckage faster than they could maneuver, and with him diving down in case anyone had already succumbed and was sinking, they found no one. Plenty of equipment, but not even busted open food stores.

“Not even a keg of ale.” Merrow hauled himself back up. “Like the wreck of a ghost ship it is. I did find this though... I think Finnol ought to see...this too.” He handed Andersen a longish plank with lettering, and something smooth that looked almost like it was intended to be a hidden figurehead.

Andersen conjured another blue mer-orb to float above them as the previous one dimmed too far to read, then set it down carefully. “Aye...That he will. I hope he’s got the whiskey out already. We’re all goin’ ta need a bracing.”

“Oh no... That’s not-?” Marc couldn’t help the coughing fit that overtook him when the plank turned enough for him to see the letters.

Merrow took up the oars and rowed them back to the boat silently, his red cap no longer quite as red as it had been.

Finnol was already pacing the deck again when they got back, and looking into the boat as soon as he heard Andersen’s, “Ahoy!” As always fell to the last on ship, he’d already gotten everything in order for an unknown number of rescuees. His face fell when seeing no one more than had gone out.

“No joy?” He called as they hauled themselves and the rescue craft back up.

“Worse than none, Finnol...” Andersen handed him the plank and the faux figurehead.

“Oh no...no, nonono...” He didn’t even need to read what was on the plank, but did so anyway. The energy from the figurehead had already been enough to tell him what craft it had been. But he did so anyway, several times, knowing the hand too well to do otherwise. “And you didn’t find her.”

“No sir. Wherever she is, she’s not there.” Merrow answered, sitting on the nearest available surface with a dull thud. I dove down further than any bodies could be expected to have made it.”

“Maybe we’ve got some hope.” Andersen interjected, seeing Finnol’s knees give way and send him to the deck as loudly as Merrow. She’s a selkiewife after all, near as hard to drown as us merrows.”

Finnol didn’t answer at first, only stared at the sea as if he was about to hurl himself into it.

Marc went over, just in case that was exactly what was on his friend’s mind. Gingerly he laid his hand on his shoulder. Marc wanted to be able to be as soothing as Andersen was attempting to be, but what could he say to comfort a man whose wife had probably drowned in the storm? He’d seen some odd things, and knew Etain had a way of getting hurt but coming through...but this?

Finnol looked up at him, then back out. “I don’t know whether to wish I still had my Da's skin or not...”

“I know boy..I know. But she’s not here laddie. Ya heard Merrow. What would it do to go in yerself?” Andersen answered.

Marc tried to say something, any words of comfort, but they still were stuck under the lead in his heart. Finnol continued clutching the artifacts to his chest, beginning to shake. His breath shuddered like Halloween bones on a child’s bracelet.

Merrow got up with effort. “Beggin’ yer pardon Finnol... I... could use a warmer. Will I be bringin’ you one, or will ye be a’followin’?”

Finnol continued to not answer, though he did begin rocking a bit. It was the cry that caught them all by surprise. As if from the depths of his soul it welled up in a geyser of grief. The three of them fell back to the deck with their hands over their ears. They were too deafened to hear his wild summons after that, and he ran to the side expectantly, glaring through the night as if he would rip it for taking his wife from him. His hand extended and hooked back toward himself.

When her body was not pulled from the depths he howled again. Unheeding of the other men with him he hung his head over the side and allowed the tears to come. Finnol concentrated on her, counting as each fell from his face, then pulled away before more than the magic seven could fall.

“Seven tears for my selkie love
Seven tears to call you home
Even if the nine waves us part
If ye live, return ye to this heart.”

 

Expect the next episode around November 10th, unless an extra episode funds, in which case you might see the next on November 3rd. If you'd like to have another episode sooner, feel free to use the Paypal button below. A total of $5 earns everyone an extra episode. If the five dollars is not met, then the amount rolls over toward the next early episode. You can see how close we are to having an extra episode by checking the meter on the sticky post.

Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction (just remember, we're a long way from finishing the story here and there is a lot of ground to cover. If you're on Goodreads, the first ebook is already listed there with my other books. Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story. Want to do a review? Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide and of course you can now put one on the Goodreads page as well. Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book once it's available. The donations accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
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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. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story. >.> *whacks at the formatting one more time and hopes it fixes it...*

Edited to fix the dates...because those buggers like to flip around on me when I am ill.
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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 story is selkies' skins.

Selkies' Skins
Installment 53
Chapter 28 (part one)
Rock that Drowns

 

 

The lantern hissed where it hung from the cabin beam, spraying its soft white light indiscriminately and rocking gently with each movement of the Sea Witch. The soft creaks and groans almost sounded like a gentle lullaby. Etain drew a long breath, filling her lungs and bringing in the scent of the blanket that was finally beginning to lose the last traces of Finnol’s scent.

Etain had more than lost track of how much time had passed on this voyage. In truth, she wasn’t sure how much time had passed in the human world. A day in Faerie or any of the other realms might span one hundred years in her own, or even the reverse was true.

It was dark, despite her lantern, and it was cold. These things crouched eagerly outside the light’s reach and waited to sneak in to claim her again. Once it claimed her she knew the cold would crouch in her bones and chip its way through. Etain was only distantly aware of this. More pressing was the state of her belly, where it twisted on itself, and that of her mouth. That remained dry and parched no matter how much liquid she managed to drink. Her fresh water stores were gone, and she was left with trusting the purifying equipment to process seawater into foul tasting artifical freshwater—or to use her magic.

The use of her magic had waxed more difficult with each passing day. Overuse was something that she’d never experienced before. Or maybe it was simply weakness from not having enough to safely drink.

Etain smacked her lips and curled around her guts where she lay on her side in her bunk. She flicked her eyes toward the galley door—there would always be more of the boat on the inside than on the outside so long as she floated. Did she have the energy to drag herself that far? She burned for a sweet, long, cool draught of water from the homewell.

She was about to fall back into a fitful slumber with memories of drinking the Lady’s water when she was woken by insistent and measured thumping on the hull near her head. Etain rolled out of bed and gained shaking legs with effort, then lurched her way up on deck. Each step seemed more difficult than the last and spots flitted and danced before her eyes as she used arms and legs to navigate.

At last, she leaned over the railing to look down at Mimir. “What is it?”

He pointed to the horizon, which was graced by what appeared to be a green sunrise. Perhaps it was sunset by now and not sunrise. A rock jutted out of the sea, slicing this light with black knives of spires threatening the very stars.

Etain pressed her eyes closed and gripped the railing with what strength she could, to at least delay her legs giving out on her. By the time she opened them again, once her body’s threats of flailing passed, the rock was even larger in the sea and sky.

“That can only be it.” Mimir grumbled. “Some gate.”

“We’ll make it somehow Mimir. We have to. We’ve got Her plants she wanted repopulated, that gives us her blessing for now. There has to be a way around that still takes us through the passage.” Etain’s breath came much less shallowly than she would have liked...no matter how deeply she breathed, her head kept spinning.

“I’d trust Her blessing much more if it were at least our goddess giving it. The only way that I feel out is through the rock... The mist around the base though...”

“Implies that if we try going through the rock we’ll be dashed to fishsticks. Yes, yes.” Etain finished for him, far more breezily than she felt.

If only she could think through the muzzy fuzzy brain fog. Etain focused as well as she could on the looming rock. The green light of the horizon grew brighter, flickering and wavering like a banshee keen as it spread ever higher. The wash of breakers as they dashed themselves to death began to bleed into the air.

Mimir watched the woman cautiously. She was pale as sunbleached bone in moonlight, with a pale green tint due to the infernal light. No light reflected anymore from her eyes, which had gone all to black pupils, giving her gaze an even more seal-like look than before. The dark circles under them only made these eyes look larger, and her hair had lost the luster it had when he’d met her.

Mimir pondered yet again whether it was the selkie being sucked out of the woman, or the woman being sucked from the selkie.

“Nothing for it, it seems.” Those empty eyes looked back at him, after she wrested them away from the rock, the sea, and the sky. “From here it looks like that one rock is actually two. If we try to go around I’ll bet we’re dashed into things that we don’t see on this level.”

“So, through after all?”

She nodded, expressionless, and pointed. “It’s no White Whale, but the gate will be hard enough to get through even though the currents will go right through.”

“Sticking close then, and doing what I can to keep you off the rocks.” Mimir frowned, trying not to imagine what would happen if she were forced to swim should the craft go down.

“We appreciate it.” Etain patted the railing, then wobbled back to the wheel.

Mimir shook his head and readied himself. The closer they drew, the more the winds rose. He could almost feel a storm forming, as if their mere presence awoke it. Looking again in the direction they were going he finally saw what Etain had been gazing at.

A dark light bobbed within a cleft between two of the pillar claws. As he watched, the path of the currents dimly came visible to his eyes, ghostly ribbons swirling inward. The current carried them closer, he could feel it wrapping him in warm fingers with iced claws. The hairs on his arms prickled.

A keening cry went up from the rocks, as if a whole clan had gathered at the edge of the sea to launch one of the ships of the dead. Clouds billowed up from the sea, obscuring the beacon.

The Sea Witch lurched as the current sucked it, nearly running over him. He hurriedly moved further away.

The ship itself fought the current, moaning loudly and attempting to slip out without success. Etain had to fight the wheel to keep her in the current. She opened her senses as much as she was able, searching for the right line and painfully battled her way to it, bending the waters to her will as much as she could. All the while the rocks drew closer and the winds fiercer. Soon those too were behind them and speeding her for the rocks. By this time the storm had gotten into full force.

Etain mumbled chants under her breath, preparing for the crossover. Her teeth bared and she winced as each word stabbed through the marrow of her bones. The last syllable came, a prayer to Mara for the strength to get through, and she felt the long bones of her forearms crack.

The witch-fire began to lick the boat and dance along the edges, intentionally called up this time.

The waters threw the Triton skyward. The rocks continued to grow and stretched out for them, sprouting like spring shoots in the sod. Her friend nearly landed on a spine as it grew from the waters.

“It’s alive!” Mimir bellowed once his head broke water again, directing some of the water with his trident to push the Sea Witch further away from that hazard.

Etain cursed.

The currents shifted. The drain on her energy grew. She could feel some fur falling out from her sealskin where it lay tied around her waist. Together they worked their way through the straits that materialized.

The darkness was beginning to fall in curtains for Etain. After what seemed to be an eternity they were close enough that she could see the beacon of the joins between reality...a strange lighthouse to navigate by indeed. The edge was mere meters away!

The rocks began to sing.

Softly at first, she almost missed the sound for the wailing of the winds that tore the foam from the waves. Then louder, a mournful sweet dirge that leached the will from her bones and the heat from her blood.

 

Rest weary Maiden
And Wander no more.
Lie still in the waters
Before yon glome’d door.

What good the fur
Dead at your waist,
Once silken and flashing
Now drained to waste?

Come lie in our arms
Of undying stone
Where mariners and mermen
Molder back unto bone.

 

Etain’s head drooped momentarily. The rocks projected images of peace and nothingness, finally freedom from pain and duty. It would be so easy to pass here. The current would easily dash her craft to bits. If she did not drown, or become cut to ribbons and somehow scramble on one of the rocks then she would die of exposure, or starvation.

But who would teach Kirsten how to midwife for someone in need? Or how to birth a stuck spring? Those weren’t something she could learn at the Castle, even though it was an excellent school—not unless one of the loch selkies was expecting. Would she really be able to be at peace if her last child survived to marry and have a family of her own, and she wasn’t there at the ceremony? What would happen to Finnol? Would he be able to carry on, or would Byron be stuck tending her family for her?

The more she tried to think of her family and to focus on her goal of getting back to them the louder the rock’s voice grew.


Etain was not the only one hearing voices. Mimir closed his earflaps beneath his snowy mane of hair, yet still he heard the rocks’ siren songs. He could hear as they sang to Etain, and he hoped that she remembered the tales of Calypso and of the Sirens. Ancient though they were, perhaps there was something they could use.

More enticing for him was what they sang for him, gracing his closed flaps with tales of kingship, riches, and more powers of his own.

He could wait for the boat to be dashed to pieces, and for her to be cut by the rocks, then collect her blood. The rocks sang louder of ways he could use that ruby fluid and of how sweet her flesh would taste to lengthen his life.

Mimir could almost taste its firm sweetness, and the way blubber melted on his tongue. A little nudge was all that was needed.

A little nudge was what he gave before he even realized it.

“Mum! Mum!”

The unexpected voice broke into the spell the rocks had woven. He very nearly was claimed by a rock due to his unwariness when the voice distracted him.

“Mum! Da?!” A little silver-white seal bobbed her way through the torrent as fast her her tiny body would carry her through.

She disappeared for a moment, and then bobbed back to the surface, slamming into the hull when the unfriendly current tried to prevent her.

As clearly as she stood out, Mimir noticed that at the same time he could see through her, as if she were only a mirage of the seafoam.

“Ark! ARK!” It was a very definite command from the little female. The Sea Witch accordingly hauled her up.

Just what was that?” He thought, as he regained his own thoughts. In horror, he tried to push the boat back away from the rocks, at least a bit. What was I going to do? I swore I’d never eat merflesh of any kind again.”

The boat swept ever closer though, and it was harder and harder to have the rocks avoided as he swam about the craft.

They were mere feet away from the dark light, the portal vortex. Suddenly they were swirling, being sucked down by a secondary current that was hidden until they were within the crossing.

Even his powerful body could not keep him far enough away from the rocks. They tore through his scales and his skin, slicing muscle, nicking bone in some places.

A great groan and crash went up as the rocks rent the Sea Witch.

Then they were through the divide. The rocks continued scraping by, the boat breaking. Etain had left the helm, scrambling over the deck and using whichever spell presented itself first to keep the hull mended and watertight.

The boat itself screamed with each new assault by the rocks and the waves as they gnashed, infuriated that something was fighting back.

All too soon the craft and its mistress could no longer fight. Etain clung. She had lost track of where her companion was. A final cry rose up from the Sea Witch and Etain screamed as the timbers disintegrated.

Finally the waters calmed, leaving Etain to cling to what she was fairly sure was a door. Things had been so turbulent at the last that when she had struck her head she’d not noticed that her world was reduced to sound, scent, and touch. She did the only thing then that she could do.

Etain wailed for her faithful boat that Mara had gifted and a foreign sea’s rocks had taken so cruelly. Never mind that passing through had been the only way to return to where she belonged. Her beautiful boat was now only flotsam and jetsam, its equipment falling inexorably to the seafloor to the fate that all equipment would one day fall. Worse yet...

How could she bring its spirit home with her?

 

If she could find it, bring the spirit home, then perhaps it would be possible to rebuild and give a new body. But...where was the spirit? And where had she been cast out?

 


Expect the next episode around October 27th, unless an extra episode funds, in which case you might see the next on November 3rd. If you'd like to have another episode sooner, feel free to use the Paypal button below. A total of $5 earns everyone an extra episode. If the five dollars is not met, then the amount rolls over toward the next early episode. You can see how close we are to having an extra episode by checking the meter on the sticky post.


Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction (just remember, we're a long way from finishing the story here and there is a lot of ground to cover. If you're on Goodreads, the first ebook is already listed there with my other books. Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story. Want to do a review? Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide and of course you can now put one on the Goodreads page as well.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book once it's available. The donations accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip?
Write me for a mailing address.
 
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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. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story. >.> *whacks at the formatting one more time and hopes it fixes it...*


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 story is selkies' skins.

Selkies' Skins
Installment 52
Chapter 27 (part two)
Pyramids and Problems

 

Etain gave up on trying to keep track properly of how many days had passed since that day, even though she continued to dutifully mark them off in her voyage log and to plot the locations and conditions of where her samples had been taken. According to her log she had been out for six months now since meeting up with Mimir. Surely that could not be accurate. Even so, her stores had run dangerously low and she had been forced more and more to rely on the sea’s bounty.

Luckily the kelp bed had plenty of fish slipping though the blades. There had been plenty of the fish and kelp rolls, and simply just swallowing down raw fish while hunting.

The longer she slid through the sea as a full seal the more difficult it became to remove her skin. Currently she floated on her back trying to get her claws into the seam to pull it apart. Mimir flicked his tail steadily to tread water, keeping his arms out under her in case the change went badly.

He’d already had to throw her onto the deck once this week when she got herself caught far enough out of it she could have drowned.

Her claws finally found purchase, and she dug deep into her skin, and then winced again as they slid into her tender other skin. Etain’s sharp teeth caught the light as she grimaced. Even after all these years of having the skin she never fully got over the sting and burn, the spreading fire, at the sensation of ripping into herself.

Perhaps it was a side effect of still carrying human blood in her veins. She could earn her sealskin and be a selkie and had the opportunity to renounce her human heritage after, so that she could be a full selkie. Etain had chosen to continue bearing the bloodlines of both her parents. What would Kirsty’s choice be?

Etain pulled, and her sealskin did not slip off. It took several tries, and several whimpers, before she was able to peel and yank enough away to wiggle out and then stow the skin in the pouch. She needed to get home soon.

The burn continued as her human skin and the gashes in it contacted the saltwater. She hissed in order to keep from crying out, and instead hauled herself back onto the Sea Witch via the rope the vessel dropped over her side for her mistress.

The boat rode the swells calmly, but the entire vessel listened and waited.

Etain managed to catch her breath when she finally dropped to the deck. Looking down she saw eight lines through her skin and half-pelt where the blood was welling and already beginning to run down.

“How bad is it?”

“Not good, not bad.”

“Honestly Brinetreader.”

“An eighth of a claw deep, eight of them. I may scar though by the way they lie. Just a flesh-wound, honestly.”

“A flesh-wound that rightly shouldn’t happen. You’ve been getting weaker since the day we met her.” Mimir rose up on a swell and held it in place so that he could see for himself.

Etain tried to cover herself and obscure the wounds, looking down and away, and pursing her lips in a frown. “I know, the only thing I can think of is that Mara’s influence is weaker here.”

“Another thing that should not happen, or so logic would say.” The Triton threw himself to the deck and allowed the water to fall again. “Let me look better.”

She allowed him to move an arm away from where she clutched them around herself. Mimir scowled out from behind his frothy beard and brows. Etain’s skin was paler than the day before, paler even than before their hunt, and her flesh had gotten spongier. Turning his attention to the wounds, he discovered that already the edges were turning red, and that lines of it were spreading.

“Poisoned claws?” He examined her nails more closely, searching for a duct or traces of venom paste below them.

“No, that would be my Finnol what has those. Or I didn’t have the poison the last I could have used that Gift.” Etain lay down and looked toward the cabin. Her vision was getting a little hazy and speech came strangely. It almost reminded her of a long ago night of courting where the Claiming got a little too rough.

This was a lot less pleasurable though, and Finnol wasn’t here to clean out the wound and administer the antidote he kept with him for his poison. Her hands weren’t shaking yet, but she felt strangely dissociated from her body as she slipped a hand into the pouch and felt around for a box.

“I know it’s here somewhere... Medic kit, where are you?” Etain grumbled.

Now that the thought was more firmly formed, she could find it in the layers of equipment. She sighed when she found the familiar scuffed corner and pulled it out, far larger a box than one would expect to be shoved into a waist pouch. Very quickly she flipped the latches and rifled through for the tube of pinkish sgrios-puinnaein that her daughter had insisted she start keeping.

Kirsten had worked long on her final project for her Potionry class the last year, refining the fast-acting fluid. More than an anti-venom, and more than an anti-poison, it was her daughter’s bid to show that advanced potions could be produced solely from sea items. It was one of the few things known to neutralize even Byron’s poison from frill and foam.

The vial slipped from her fingers and would have rolled away if not for Mimir’s quick retrieval.

Etain sighed and laid her head down on the cool deck. Her body went between fire and ice, but always screamed where she had dug too deep. She looked at the triton through the haze over her eyes.

He quirked an eyebrow at her, and she nearly laughed at how much it looked like a true sea horse galloping over a wave crest. “So, do I pour this medicine in, or do you drink it?” Mimir growled as he uncapped it.

“Put it on the wounds... then pour a line’s worth into the dose cup in the medic kit. I’ll drink that just to be sure to get the infection from both ends.” Her voice sounded too quiet to her own ears.

He did as asked, and lifted her up enough that she could drink.

 

Line’s worth indeed... as if I know what a line’s worth is. The big line or those tiny ones? Females.” He thought.

 


Expect the next episode around October 20th, unless an extra episode funds, in which case you might see the next on October 13th. If you'd like to have another episode sooner, feel free to use the Paypal button below. A total of $5 earns everyone an extra episode. If the five dollars is not met, then the amount rolls over toward the next early episode. You can see how close we are to having an extra episode by checking the meter on the sticky post.


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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 story is selkies' skins.

Selkies' Skins
Installment 51
Chapter 27 (part one)
Pyramids and Problems

 

Time and place hath no ken
Upon or below sea’s waves when
Outside of mortal land mariners wend
And sea and sky no longer bend.
 

Beware sea witch upon the sea
The sirens of the briny deep
Do not all take the form of fin and cheek
For those that homeward wending seek.


Well ye fare and fare ye well
Riding sea and breasting swell
Avast, avast, and mind the cry
From under sea and sundered sky.


Etain arrowed after her quarry through the warm waters and the slippery blades of seaweed. Her whiskers would have quivered with anticipation if her speed would have let them. Once she caught up to the shiny silver fish a snap of her jaws brought half of it into her mouth. Another snap sent the rest of its sweet flesh to join the previous half in her belly, fins and all.

"Kirsten would love this. I hope that I get to be the one to teach her how to fish like this. Just not here."

As she swam in search of more sweet fish the blades slipping past her flippers grew wider but less frequent, until she found herself in a clearing. The light filtered down through the blue water in bars, occasional bubbles rising to the surface like sparkling gems. In confusion she turned around and around, catching a glimpse of Mimir tailing her, before heading to the surface for another gulp of air.

She was having to do that far more often than normal. It had been very long since she had to surface quite as often as this.

The burning in her lungs threatened to make her breathe in the water, which she could not do in this form. The surface drew closer, too slowly for her patience, until finally her head burst free and the breeze cooled her and tickled her now quivering whiskers.

Etain gulped the air lustily, feeling the smoothness of it filling her lungs and stilling the burn and itch. She spread herself out as much as she could to make the work of staying afloat easier, gulping until her panting ceased and her ears stopped ringing.

Filling her lungs a last time, she dove down again, back down to the clearing. She stopped beside Mimir, who looked greenish and far more fishlike in this light. Together they peered deeper, trying to spot the source of the bubbles. It was too far from where they were, and with a brief glance together they gave up their spot and followed them down, he gripping his trident and she... extending her claws slightly, all that she could do in this current form.

Finally they reached the floor of the sea, where the corals sprawled over glowing sands and tiny rainbows of fish darted in and out of the hollows. Etain snapped at one curiously, her hunter’s instinct screaming at her to try one of the fleshier looking ones for sustenance.

She grimaced at Mimir, and he didn’t even bother to hide his chuckle at her grimace, or the way her nose wrinkled. Her cobalt eyes glowered at him in return.

He only grinned wider and showed the pearls of his teeth to her.

Etain turned her nose up at him and swam on.

“Well you could have asked if they were good eating.” Mimir chortled a bit longer, then let it go. “You’re getting grumpier, Brinetreader.”

I know, and I don’t know why.” She replied.

“I hear human females get grumpy a few days every month for bleeding...”

Yes, they do. And it’s nae that. Ah, what’s that over at the end of the larger bubbles?” She pointed with her flipper to emphasize.

They swam over the reef and the sand, and as they went the glow seemed to get brighter. The corals faded back the closer they came, leaving only the sand around the polished quartz pyramid that rose up from it.

“This is certainly not one of Mara’s...” Mimir observed, scanning for an opening.

Might belong to another sea goddess. It seems to be tied in with the matrix though.”

As they circumnavigated the base the quartz projected soft rainbows through its faces, rippling and swirling now and then with untold changes. Finally they found a slight imperfection on the northmost face, as if here another crystal had once grown and since been removed. Here, looking inward, they could see the ghost crystals of smaller pyramids inside, nested like a Russian doll set.

Etain’s eyes clouded and the seal drifted closer to that strange indentation with its healed striations. Gently, her nose bumped against it and rested at the most indented place. A soft smile curled the lips as the eyes drifted shut, and she went limp so that her body laid against the side. Strangely, she did not slide.

The whole pyramid glowed a soft blue, sliding swiftly to indigo and then violet. A few bubbles escaped from the seal’s nose.

Mimir prodded her, thinking that perhaps she had been lulled to sleep by this strange object, much the way that she had gone inward before when he had seen her manipulating energy and working deep magics. On his touch he did not find a dozing selkie, but a stream of information and consciousness.

Murmurs of voices – male and female – filled his head just as Etain’s voice filled his own while she was in this form. The babble was in more languages than he knew, old and new, but there was a definite cadence as if all whispered and sang of the same secrets. They reminded each other of things that had been, plotted over what would be and what was now.

They fell through the crystal into the pyramid, then through the next.

A tendril of energy snaked around them and drew them to the centermost. Here there was no water, yet Mimir did not dry. Here there was no air, yet Etain breathed. More energy swirled and condensed, a large translucent face that morphed between the features of several races materializing before them before shrinking down to their size.

Like Mara, her skirts were the seas, but she was rounder, softer, darker. Suitable to the Americas these skirts were composed of a loincloth, secured with a gold brooch set with pearl and turquoise. Her breast binding was likewise secured and her dark hair spilled long beneath the gold and feather headdress while turquoise eyes measured them. On her chest she bore a heart icon, likely the result of the conceptions of those that currently fed her combining her in their minds with Mary, and great gold bangles dangled from her ears as Calypso peeked through, further mashing together what was once separate. Mama Qoca regarded them quietly.

“Why have you come so far? Neither of you belong here. None have blundered to my home since the days of pirates seeking safe islands for treasure, save for the female aeronaut Amelia that kept me company until her end.”

Etain’s eyes cleared and she fixed them on the goddess.

I do not know all of it. But I will tell you how we came to be here.” She then related all her tale, as respectfully as if she were speaking to Mara herself.

The goddess was silent and shifted her gaze upward for long moments, then her eyes rolled back in her head. Something about her stillness led both mortals to wonder if she were listening elsewhere. Around them the crystal pyramid continued flashing and rippling the rainbow array of colors, filling swiftly with mist.

“I can help in part... but I need a return gift...” Mama Qoca’s voice and look shifted more toward that of Calypso and Yemaya, and her voice took more of a Jamaican lilt. “Some of his people may come take refuge in my seas, but not all. There is a suitable place a day’s travel within my territorial border. In return, some of the kelps that are in this bed I require to be taken back into the mortal realm.”

“This seems reasonable so far, but I must still help secure homes for those left after...I assume there will be a Choosing for the refugees.” Mimir stroked his beard as he thought. “Something is missing yet though...”

I can help with the resowing.” Etain nodded emphatically. “And if they are of use for potions and medicines, I know that my daughter is very likely to help protect them and encourage the propagation. But which way is out?”

“Ah herein comes the rest. Getting out of my sanctuary is not so easy since I have had to close the passages. You will have to go the long way and leave by the Rock that Drowns.” The voice had changed yet again, and it was becoming clear that the more they talked with this sea deity, that it was not so much several that had been mashed together by time, disbelief, and forgetfulness of magic, but instead several deities concerned with their overlapping areas that had been attracted and temporarily fused.

“What is with you deities giving the child such impossible tasks?” Mimir grabbed Etain and picked up the seal easily, yanking her back and holding her as if she were a cherished doll that godly children feuded over. “The Rock that Drowns has to ability to even drown water breathers like myself! One sea goddess eats her selkie whole, another offers hope of partial completion of one of her missions... and then sends her off to drown?”

“Mimir Merisson, shhhh! Shhhh! SHH!” Etain shrilled in his mind.

“HOLD YOUR TONGUE MORTAL, LEST I RETRACT MY OFFER OF ASYLUM TO YOUR PEOPLE AND STRIKE YOU BOTH WHERE YOU STAND FOR TRESPASSING!”

The crystal around them flashed red and yellow like molten lava. There was a cracking sound before a low rumble, which then cut off after a moment.

Etain shivered and flailed, trying to get out of Mimir’s well-meaning grip. "Tritons! There was a reason they were so few! She could feel the water answering its area deity, and the seafloor shifting as that deity’s ire stirred the slumbering earth below. "There will be another earthquake sometime soon here at this rate. Tsunami! No, nonono."

Etain had the horrible vision of a great swell rushing outward and crossing between the realms, piling onto itself, rising meters and then meters of meters before crashing over islands and devouring all those on land that it could.

I accept it, I accept it. Just. Lady... please calm yourself. Please!” Etain could not help the tears that welled and spilled as she thought of all the people that might be hurt, wherever and whenever the tsunami would cross over.

Something in the tears gave the goddess pause, and the swelling reversed until she was once more the size of a mortal. Curiously, Mama Qoca collected the burgeoning drops as they rolled down the seal’s face. They coagulated, almost becoming gems in her hand and refusing to meld together.

“You cry for those you do not even know... You are a strange creature...” The deity placed one of these in her mouth experimentally, savoring the flavor of salt and... Love? Compassion? Sacrifice?

"Ah yes... I remember these... and more... It has been so long... Perhaps this is why that Mara keeps her little experiments." Mama Qoca thought, then continued aloud, “I will accept this... offering... and forgive the insult for now. Go north, and you will find the crossing by a twilight.”

Mama Qoca placed another pearled tear into her mouth, savoring its sweetness and slipping into thought. The colors of the pyramid calmed, returning to the original soft rainbow hues.

Mimir glared at the little seal-woman for caving so quickly and actually shedding tears. To think that he had begun respecting the abominable mix that she was.

“Yes Lady... Thank you.” The seal dipped, as if attempting a curtsy in this form, and ended up in a graceful loop.

Mama Qoca watched, and as she consumed the tears and watched the languid antics of his companion Mimir began to notice a change in the foreign water goddess.

"Perhaps it wasn’t weakness at all that had produced the tears." He mused.

The energy that had pulled them in released its hold and began pushing them back out. Etain rode the energy, slipped through it and played with it like the tendrils were her own Lady’s fingers.

When far enough away that Mimir was certain he would not rouse the deity again he grabbed the seal where her armpits would be and forced her to look at him. “Just what, by Mara’s Fin, do you think you are doing by accepting such a task and then making tears?”

“The tasks I was born for, helping you find refuge for at least some of your people, finding a chance to get my tail home, protecting your scaly tail, and doing a little Healing. When I get back to the Order I will find out who is not doing their job here. Let go! I’ve work to do, and I’m still hungry too.”

Etain wriggled free, wrinkling her nose at him, then once out she followed the energetic prompts that she received, gathering the samples that she had been bidden.

She had, after all, given her word. Was this not also part of her duties, whether it was Mara or not?
 


Expect the next episode around November 6th, unless an extra episode funds, in which case you might see the next on September 29th. If you'd like to have another episode sooner, feel free to use the Paypal button below. A total of $5 earns everyone an extra episode. If the five dollars is not met, then the amount rolls over toward the next early episode. You can see how close we are to having an extra episode by checking the meter on the sticky post.


Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction (just remember, we're a long way from finishing the story here and there is a lot of ground to cover. If you're on Goodreads, the first ebook is already listed there with my other books. Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story. Want to do a review? Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide and of course you can now put one on the Goodreads page as well.

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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 story is selkies' skins.

Selkies' Skins
Installment 48
Chapter 25 (part three)
The Old Ones

 

Mara lunged at Kirsty, and on instinct she dodged. The dodge had been the wrong way though, and too hard. Her spirit separated from her body, which her aunt caught and lowered. Kirsty was unable to see the pallor and tightness of her face as she carefully lowered her physical encasement, falling through the stone altar where the lightning had struck instead.

Kirsty found herself plunging down a natural well, or at least so it seemed, the sheer rock walls rushing by her and the scent of water growing in her nose. There were passages that she could feel passing by, but she moved too quickly and it was too dark to see them.

Out of one poured forth an underground river, cascading down this aperture and changing its shape. She slipped into it and the coldness would have taken her breath, if she truly breathed. Mingling with that roar now around her was the surge of the tide and scent of salt below. Then the crash came, the water surging up over her, literally rising to meet her as fast as she was plummeting to it.

Arms of fresh water from the underground river feeding this astral world-well drew her along one of the passages at the same time that the water deities swam beside her, and this then opened to reveal a chamber where the types of waters met in peace, instead of the war she had just gone through. The cavern, strangely enough, had window-like apertures through which she could see the ebb and flow of tide through the seaweed.

Selkies – true selkies – went about their daily tasks outside, swimming and flipping past either in full seal form, or half form. None looked her way. There was no reason, despite the statues that she saw outside. Indeed, they seemed to be far too concerned with chasing fish and each other to pay her any mind.

"Well?" Mara pulled a purple sea kelp and anemone curtain over the more distracting of the openings.

Kirsty took a few more moments to process the change, and looked herself over as she realized that she could feel the water in her lungs. It took effort to remember that her real body lay in the stone circle.

Oddly, she felt a bit more complete here. She scanned the room, trying to find out why. The insides of her bones tingled as they had the first time David had told her he liked her.

Her eyes fell on a small stone chest, near a simple stone bench, both etched and worked with many of the changing creatures from the sea. This chest was heavily locked, and it was from here the magnetism seemed to be emanating.

"You could have warned her, or at least changed her so her mind would process this better," the Lady murmured, from by a silver basin near the middle of the room. She poured some water from a conch-shaped vessel into the scallop, then placed a lightly glowing crystal into it.

"She knew we'd be taking her out of her body." Mara gathered Kirsty to herself and trundled her toward the basin, almost tenderly, with a few flicks of her tail. "She knows that we won't allow her to drown... for now."

Kirsty wasn't sure when the deity had shifted her form, but she settled where she was placed and gazed into the water at the crystal.

"That's like the ones you showed me this summer, what you used to make it so David can swim with me while I'm preparing."

Mara nodded. "We like them, so we use them." She pulled a strand of Kirsty's hair and wrapped it around the crystal without taking it from the water.

Kirsty looked at Mara. Something was different about her here, more collected and smooth. Whale song rolled through the water, and the shark goddess closed her eyes for a moment.

Here, she was almost calm.

Almost.

Mara's eyes opened again and her gaze focused on the crystal. "Between the three of us, we should be able to lift some of that fog shrouding Etain so we can find her. Whoever it is, I doubt they'll expect a mortal calling on her own blood." Mara's gaze flicked to the Lady, "Don't say it Sister..."

The Lady sighed in exasperation. "Fine. But I'm right."

"I won't. No."

Kirsty listened, trying not to seem as if she were paying attention, but as suddenly as the door into the goddess' mind had opened, the opportunity had gone.

What had she missed that she needed to know?

"This isn't going to involve more of my blood, is it...?"

"Tears actually," The Lady answered, before Mara could. "Not just blood. The blood may come into play, but it will be later if it does."

Mara deflated slightly, but nodded in agreement. "Yes, we need both blood and tears. We will all gaze into the basin, and concentrate on your máthair. You will repeat our words, and you will know when to do so. The rest of the time you must be silent, or the call will go awry."

Kirsty nodded. Tears would be easy to produce, but she was not so certain that Mara would be able to. This was the softest that she could ever recall seeing her. The idea of the ever hungry, capricious, blustery goddess just did not go with the thought.

Then again, the sea wasn't always that way. More often than not, it was deceptively calm and gentle on the surface. Still, when her seanmhuintir died, it had been the Lady that had wailed for days after each occurrence... Mara had raged and stormed around the Point so much on the night of grandfather's that she had destroyed both the lighthouse and the rock that had once lain off of it... and Mrs. Kitsch's childhood home. She remembered those nights of terror clutched by her mother by the hearth much later on the night of grandmother's passing.

"Do you understand?" Mara's voice, firm and unforgiving, cut into her thoughts, calling her back from pre-toddlerhood.

"I understand, my Ladies." Kirsty nodded.

"Good."

Mara wrapped her arms tight around Kirsty, and she stiffened at the unexpected gesture. Just as suddenly, Mara had released her and stepped back, an unreadable expression sliding over her face similar to statues she had seen in old library books of forgotten deities.

The dark hair fell around the deity's face as she hurriedly bent over the basin, sprinkles of phosphorescent starlight in the velvet of abyssal depths, and seven tears fell in quick succession. Each of those produced a percussion as strong as one of the great gongs the Director never allowed the students to use.

The Lady shook her head at Kirsty and pulled her forward, then silently shed seven tears, squeezing her right hand. The third set of seven soon joined the immortal tears, and with them memories of moonlit nights singing on the seashore and dreams of what might be when her mum returned home.

She was surprised when, after the tears landed and mingled, she had images of her mother as a laughing young child dancing before her eyes. Etain's dark hair, glinting red and black where the sun spun in it, whirled around her as the sand and spray kicked up around her. Arms held the laughing child up, Etain's arms wide and yearning like seal flippers for the wave. These arms holding her high to the sky were not her own though, silver sharkskin ran from elbow to wrist.

The image morphed and changed, and years passed in a blink. The Lady sat on a rock where one of the underground streams burst out from the cliff to carve coves, and Etain paddled around after fish on a blazing summer day. There was laughter and clapping when Etain popped her head above water with a wiggling fish in her mouth – her first caught that way according to the knowledge that flowed to her – and the same skin flashing in her vision as the hands clapped.

Later, in that same pool, those arms were holding Etain and Finnol both. Behind the dark haired midwife, a full selkie with her skin spread waiting over the nearby rocks, the Lady stood, that ever translucent liquid hand resting on the midwife's shoulder. With a wash of pink slipped out a tiny, slick, and partly furred form which instinctively turned toward the surface before the midwife could catch it and check the child over. Here, she saw Mara fully, holding her parents – both exhausted looking – tightly and with unmistakable relief.

Mara was speaking, and she tried to listen, but the language was not one that she had ever heard before. Somehow, she understood it, and it was a long list of children, and statements of who she was.

Kirsty felt someone listening, one at first and then joined by others. The Lady took up the call next, repeating much of the same, but where her name should have been, she stopped abruptly to search.

There was nothing, and so that was what the Lady put into the call, the nagging sense of missing parts.

There was a stirring, a whispering, the clacking of looms and the shush of warp on weft with the feeling of being both everywhere and nowhere. Then Kirsty felt and heard her voice join in with this strange language welling up from within, releasing her hope and her fears for her mother like burbles of hot mud from unexplained and hitherto unexplored vents.

The story of her mother's life halted at the moment she had last seen her, and then stuttered forward. Kirsty could feel the goddesses sorting and sifting, searching for the thread forward, just as she was. The spell caught, time flowed forward.

Kirsty watched as her mother gave her life to clear a sickened and dying part of the sea, that fateful gyre draining her greedily of that strange thing they carried in their blood. Etain tried to take breath, and only got dead water devoid of life. A large shark nosed the half form back to the surface, then transformed herself and dragged the grey form onto the nearest large bit of flotsam... An aspect of Mara bent over the shell and gave that life back, driving the water from her lungs – Kirsty felt the pain that came with it – confirming some of the visions that had plagued her sleep.

She couldn't help the morbid thought that followed. "That's one, isn't it three times the drowning man goes down?"

Etain awoke and the Sea Witch brought its mistress aboard, then vanished. All that followed were blips, flashes of a strange Triton, a demolished throne room, followed by an endless sea of kelp.

They could feel Etain though, in those blank places, clouded over by woven mists that none of them could part for long enough.

Mara curled her lips and exposed her teeth in frustration. Her tail flicked to the side and hit Kirsty, not hard enough to do much, but it stayed curled around her.

The crystal in the basin glowed, switching rapidly from blue to purple-pink and back, faster and faster the more the power built. Kirsty had the strange intuition that similar conditions had happened in the creation of... something...

Then that intuition was gone and forgotten.

The sound of weaving intensified, attaining a maddening pace, the whooshing sound of a spinning distaff joined it, hastily producing more ammunition for whatever group of deities they now warred with.

As one, her goddesses asked the identities of those they were locked with, while Kirsty held her tongue. This language was now too ancient to understand at all, and she only had brief flashes of elderly women to go on. The number eluded her. Was it three, eight, nine? There was someone beyond them, someone that had stepped in.

Kirsty saw the flash of a pattern in the cosmic tapestry on a vast loom, if she had the time she could make out many other stories being woven – or to look ahead and see the outcome of her family's pattern.

She caught herself and redirected her focus to her mother, a single desire consuming her. Kirsty cared nothing for these balances and battles between the old ones. All she wanted was her mother safely at port, and for everything to finally be right and everyone to be whole.

"Let my Mum go."

She hadn't even been aware she'd said anything, but the battle of wills around her ceased. She felt little tiny threads, thicker cords and even cables fray and snap. Somewhere out there, a storm began, released by the sudden and unexpected break.

The sting was unexpected. Cords cut into her spirit as they broke around her, and she could feel the blood flow from the wounds. The goddesses had not escaped, in fact they seemed to take the brunt of it, both moving to block what they could from her without leaving their places.

For a split second she was back within the world-net. Blue eyes locked with her own, and then drove through her in confusion – dark blue as if held below the depths of the waves, and she saw her mother. Etain rested on her bed in the Sea Witch, still pale and haggard from the recent large uses of her magic.

Kirsty heard a shout, a deep male voice that shook the boat as surely as thunder... which followed. Etain got up hurriedly, looking toward the voice.

"So Mote It Be, then. We release her, little Changeling. She must weave her own fate home, and in exchange we take your destiny to shape instead." The Voices of the mysterious Weavers intoned, still faceless.

Kirsty felt sick, and the vision vanished. The Lady slumped and rested hands and forehead on the basin's edge. Mara pulled her close, still staring into the basin, now empty of water – odd for an underwater cavern.

"No... she wasn't supposed to speak yet..." Mara squeezed her tighter than she was likely aware, glaring into the basin, teeth bared and growling to herself. Then she lashed out at the basin with her tail, upending it.

"I have a general idea where she was hidden... Sister! Get up and take her back. I will report when I can." Mara pushed Kirsty into her, waited for her to register and wrap her arms around the child, then tore out through one of the curtained openings, fading from sight.

Kirsty watched in confusion. "Who were they?"

"Others like us, child. With names far older than ours. At least, we think so. Ages of Old Ones are hard to calculate since we can count either from our Becoming or our finding our Names." The Lady of the Well replied.

"Older? I don't feel so well, my Lady..."

"Nor do I... But come, we must return. There will at least be news soon, and much time will have passed back on the material plane."

Kirsty could not help looking over her shoulder at the strange chest as she was drawn from the room and back to her body. Somehow, it felt as if she were losing something important all over again, before she'd fully had time to even know of it.

"I... don't think I want to go yet."

The Lady of the Wells and Waters gave her a knowing look, then pulled her along. "You will return, later."


 


Expect the next episode around August 25th, unless an extra episode funds, in which case you might see the next on August 18th. If you'd like to have another episode sooner, feel free to use the Paypal button below. A total of $5 earns everyone an extra episode. If the five dollars is not met, then the amount rolls over toward the next early episode. You can see how close we are to having an extra episode by checking the meter on the sticky post.


Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction (just remember, we're a long way from finishing the story and there is a lot of ground to cover. If you're on Goodreads, the ebook is already listed there with my other books. Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story. Want to do a review? Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide and of course you can now put one on the Goodreads page as well.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book once it's available. The donations accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip?
Write me for a mailing address.
 
Donate Here via Paypal
As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story. >.> *whacks at the formatting one more time and hopes it fixes it...* Sorry for the lateness. I lost track of days.



rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)

 

Welcome back to another installment of Selkies' Skins. I'm still going to do this bi weekly, unless extra episodes get funded. The book's sections will likely be a bit different from the website's since too many chapters in a section starts to look really confusing in the nav bar on the site. Or they might not. This is one of the issues that the editor and I will discuss.

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 my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. If you would like a heads up on when the serial novel is updated before it goes to the main site (usually), you can subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins.

We now return to Selkies' Skins.


 

Selkies' Skins Section 2
Chapter 1
9
installment 31
Name Exchange
~~~~*~~~~

They continued that way, the Triton leading and the boat reluctantly following with phosphorescence in their wake, until the dawn beset them. Etain, hand on the helm, watched the sun rise anxiously, judging the local weather by the color of the sky. Golden, with hints of red, the colors spread like ink dropped onto fine grain rice paper, and she heaved a sigh when she did not see the fiery blood red that she had been braced to see.

Assured her vessel would stay its course, and not veer off in protest at having gone so far and so long on the lead of another, she walked to the bow. The water was a Caribbean Green, and she wondered if this was the shade that had been meant when mariners had tried to describe it in the Makay Logs.

Midday came, and the Triton was still keeping the same swift pace. Etain tapped her throat with her wand, then cupped her hands and Projected loudly as possible.

Shouldn't we take a break so you can rest? Ye've been swimming roughly 25 knots ever since we set out.”

A few beats passed until he turned his head to reply, slowing slightly. She eyed him, noting that indeed there did seem to be signs of fatigue. The set of his face and dullness of eye spoke one word, while his voice carried another.

I'm fine wench, I just want out of here.”

Wench? Well, can't expect a Triton to stay civil to me for very long. Wondered when he'd slip back.

I would feel better if you rested. Can you really withstand such long, fast swims?”

I am second eldest son of Merisson! Tritons train for just such as this since we are birthed, before we even leave our Nurseries.”

Yes, and I know well of your strengths as a Triton, but wouldn't it be wise to also be rested if we encounter anything hungry? I can find a way to keep you hydrated while you rest aboardship. Then you can both rest and eat, and we could still continue on.”

I hope Finnol's having an easy time in the office. This one reminds me of Andersen on one of his stubborn days.

He cast an impatient look at her, and continued on. Another league passed behind before he indicated that he was finally ready for a rest. Etain heaved a long sigh when he brought himself aboard.

I suppose this is far enough, and we can go with your plan for a bit. You mentioned food, halfing?”

My name is Etain Makay or Brinetreader. Not halfling, half selkie, wench, sea witch, or any permutation. But yes... and I said I'd think of a way for you to be able to rest without drying out.”

Reluctantly, he moved to the place she indicated for him to wait, and sighed when she conjured a tub of water, which he pulled himself into.

I expected maybe a bubble of water so that I could move freely.”

I thought about it, but that could be too problematic for balancing ballast with how heavy water can be.”

The ship held its course, while the Triton stayed where he was, watching the water for any hazards, and listening for any hints that they moved closer to danger. Meanwhile, Etain went and got the food she had promised, and handed him a sandwich prepared from her stores.

Curiously, he peeled back the bread, looking at the vegetables and the tuna salad. He sniffed, a look of puzzlement.

I've never had human food, are you sure this strange preparation will sit well?” He closed the sandwich and took a bite at her nod, savoring it as he chewed. “I like this way of eating fish. My given name is Mimir.”

She curtsied while he ate, “honored to be given your name, Mimir, second son of Merisson.”

Yes, well... Perhaps I have been a bit harsh with you at times.”

Etain held up her hand. “You have your reasons to be wary, and to lash.”

She left him to concentrate on his food, so that he did not feel obliged to make conversation, and to forestall a possible slip back into his gruffness. Instead, she walked to the bow, shading her eyes and leaning forward. When she could not make out what she was wanting to focus on, she went back to the cabin and retrieved a pair of binoculars, straining forward again.

Mimir, what sort of kelp is this ahead?”

Kelp?”

Aye, looks so. I certainly hope it's not more sea-trash. I've seen enough of that before we crossed.”

He had finished his sandwich and dusted his fingers, dragging himself from the water to where she was. Hauling himself up to sit on the rail, he grunted, then stared in as much wonder as she.

Purple kelp? Never seen the like of this... Not these shades. Red, brown, green... but not purple.”

I'd like to look better at that, and it's in our way. Maybe take some samples for my daughter.”

'Samples for your daughter?' Why would she need 'samples' perchance?”

She makes potions, it's what she wants to do when she's grown. She's quite good at it, and maybe she'd find it helpful for her classes. But also, samples would be good to track changes.

Let's not get your boat stuck... I do not want to be pushing it through.”

The Sea Witch creaked irritably in acknowledgment.

No, we'll just get close enough to look and get some samples, then find a way around. Looks too thick from here to risk going through.”

Mimir nodded. “I'll swim ahead again. Make sure to warn you where it's safe.”

 



~~~~*~~~~
Be watching for the next installment in around two weeks, unless an extra episode funds.
Like the story?
Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story. Want to do a review?
Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide.
Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip?
Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I have not been able to get the corrections from the editor yet, either she gets sick or I do. She is currently looking over section one and part of section two, helping get section one prepared for the backers' reward ebook.
Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.
rainstardragon: (selkies skins)

 

Welcome back to another installment of Selkies' Skins. I'm still going to do this bi weekly, unless extra episodes get funded. The book's sections will likely be a bit different from the website's since too many chapters in a section starts to look really confusing in the nav bar on the site. Or they might not. This is one of the issues that the editor and I will discuss.

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 my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. If you would like a heads up on when the serial novel is updated before it goes to the main site (usually), you can subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins.

We now return to Selkies' Skins.

Selkies' Skins

Section 2 Chapter 19

Name Exchange

installment 30
~~~~*~~~~

His tail became uncomfortably tight and dry as he sat next to the unconscious halfling, waiting, watching. He was contemplating slipping off the deck and back to the water to re-wet himself when her eyes opened. He frowned, pausing in his half begun movement to observe. The eyes of Mara's priestess at first had a glazed, unfocused look that he associated with whales and dolphins that had been stunned during human sonic naval testing. Then she groaned, reached for her head with one hand, and rolled to push herself up with the other.

Wait. I was in the water. How?” She looked around, her eyes focusing on him and the pieces fell into place. He could see them fall, in fact. “Thank you.”

He nodded at her gravely.

It would not have been proper to leave you alone in such a state.”

She wrapped her sealskin around herself loosely, thankful that, despite the discomfort of having kept her clothes on before leaping into the sea, Mara had not destroyed them as sacrilegious. Etain was careful not to close the skin fully though to initiate any part of the change.

And now what will you do?”

The same as any other Triton in my position. Mara must have a purpose for depositing me with you. Surely she could have returned me to those of my former city, wherever they currently are.”

Etain smiled grimly.

Yes, she would have been able to place you any place in her sea she wished. This is what worries me most.”

He shifted, the skin of his tail becoming steadily drier and tighter. His scales itched as they dried, and as he had no desire to feel himself split open, he slid himself back into the sea with as much dignity as he could muster.

Etain got up and went to the cabin, working out their position. She could have asked the Triton, did think about it. Yet, she held back as he had already done so much, and she was uncertain who currently had the heavier end of the debts accrued over the last span. The Sea Witch waited patiently for her instructions. By the time he hauled himself back out, to better speak with her while she performed her checks, he dragged himself to the door just in time to hear her mutters.

This can't be right...”

What can't be right?”

My calculations. The location spell...” She turned to some instruments, checking them over and grumbling about being reduced to Cowan technology. Said equipment refused to operate, and protested against the fluctuating fields the best it knew how.

You could ask...” He crossed his arms, unsure whether to be amused or annoyed at her dismay and confusion.

Well... the star readings state we're somewhere near the Bermuda Triangle. The location spell confirms it. And this...” she jabbed a finger accusingly at the equipment. “This refuses to work at all, and say's we're actually below the surface by 20 fathoms. But, 'tis preposterous.”

Did whatever magic reader object perhaps fall overboard and sink during the storm earlier? Or perhaps it is just broken.”

Etain sighed and poured over her charts. “It's non-magical, there for if I get boarded by the Coast Guard or any other agency that doesn't acknowledge our existence, or some pirate manages to sneak aboard. And the sensor's just fine location-wise.”

Well, my blood thinks the location might be right. Where shall we go? To find a permanent site for the new city that I can direct my elder brother to? It should be in similar conditions to prevent too much shock living there long term.”

Etain looked at the water vial that was still in its mount. The water no longer glowed, so she knew that at least that particular objective was met for the time being.

Yes, we'll do that. First, I need to try sending my coordinates, or the Order may send out search parties depending on how long I've been gone.”

So many divisions in how you land-dwellers operate. I'm surprised you don't have a Department of Myths.”

Etain smiled a bit, wryly.

That's where our Shifters are supposed to register.”

She touched a few points around her charts, then traced the sending sigil before tapping her location. A green light flared up, and a dot lit up briefly. Normally, she could have expected a washback feeling as corresponding points lit up on the map in the study back at Seal Point, and in a corresponding map in the Order's office. No such washback confirmation came. She repeated the process, using a human variation of the spell and utilized her wand as pointer.

Still nothing. Her point glowed on the map, but that was all.

Something's blocking... Shouldn't be anything to do so though. So that just leaves-”

A Someone.” The Triton finished.

Etain nodded, staring at the map a moment. “I'll have to catch one of the seabirds later. Let's see if we can even get out of here. Should have figured I suppose, what with all the stories.”

I'll lead you on the safest way.”

With that, he took himself back to the water, slipping in without a splash, then stroked powerfully forward. The Sea Witch hesitated, letting him take a good lead, then a bit longer.

Yes, follow. He's not sunk us yet.”

Grudgingly, the boat followed the Triton, creaking loudly so as to voice its thoughts at least somewhat. After all, her mistress had been gone to the sea for quite some time.


~~~~*~~~~
Be watching for the next installment in around two weeks, unless an extra episode funds.
Like the story?
Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story. Want to do a review?
Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide.
Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip?
Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I am very happy that there will be money to print the full story out for the editor to do a comb through before it goes to print and ebook and to have the editor get paid. She is currently looking over section one and part of section two, helping get section one prepared for the backers' reward ebook. My son is sick, so I can't go to her house to pick it up yet since we don't want her to catch it, but it should be safe in a few days.
Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.
rainstardragon: (Default)

 



Welcome back to another installment of Selkies' Skins. I'm still going to do this bi weekly, unless extra episodes get funded. The book's sections will likely be a bit different from the website's since too many chapters in a section starts to look really confusing in the nav bar on the site. Or they might not. This is one of the issues that the editor and I will discuss.

Power goes in and out due to the snow storm we are under, the Jeep was pretty well buried today, but I am

at my brothers (and he and sis have a wood stove, so there is heat if power goes out again). The system is supposed to drop at least five feet on us the last report I heard, but storms like to give us more, because they are "generous" like that up in the mountains. So this will be early here and on the site just in case.

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 my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

If you would like a heads up on when the serial novel is updated before it goes to the main site (usually), you can subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins.

We now return to Selkies' Skins.



Selkies' Skins

Section 2
Chapter 1
9

Name Exchange

installment 29
~~~~*~~~~

Etain opened her eyes, only to discover that she was still encased within the darkness. Mara held her within herself, though whether it was stomach or wombor for how longEtain was not sure. Nor did it matter. She was out of phase with the rest of all that was. Meaning, quite simply, for now she was basically nowhere.

Never did like this feeling.

She ran her hands over herself, sighing when they told her what her nerves sang. She was alive, and whole. No missing pieces. And no blood on the water.

If this is what happens when witnessing for a priestess, I am never doing this again. For anyone, halfing.”

At least she wasn't alone. With company, she could handle this. Even if it were a once again grumpy Triton.

Well, this didn't happen the last time I made any deals with Her. Then again, none of my children taken by the Finmen have ever been found. So not exactly ever had the opportunity for anyone to witness an Intervening.”

There still was no light, but she was aware of the Triton's movement beside her, and Etain gentled her speech. “She won't have taken anything. You'd be screaming, writhing, and likely beating me with your tail fins or impaling me on your trident if She had.”

Etain still moved further out of his reach as he finished his check. By that time, there was dim light, and she could vaguely see him, a black form against a darker darkness. It was warm, and the feeling of languid suspension calmed her just as much as her caution of a panicking Triton warred with her shaky trust.

You speak like it is a routine thing to be devoured by a goddess whose favorite and oldest guise is a shark that can swallow a boat whole. Where are we?”

For her, it is. Be still now children.” Mara's voice was just as hard as before. A note of preoccupation was present this time, and perhaps some fatigue.

The pair did as ordered, held still and waited for whatever would come next as their eyes continued to learn to see in the strange dim light. The sense of swift movement pulled their stomachs from the usual resting place, and without further warning, the sea goddess vomited them forth. As they left her mouth, seeing starlight shining off the deadly, deeply serrated teeth, time seized them again. The disorientation increased with the leap.

Etain's head contacted the side of the Sea Witch with a dull thud, at the very moment that her eyes seized on the stars. She did not have time to register the extra stars before the blow knocked her out. The Triton narrowly missed the same fate, instead his shoulder absorbing most of the blow. Etain, still wearing her skin, floated amongst her cloak and the skirts of her peasant-styled dress that had never been shucked before her dive, whilst he got his bearings.

Mara groaned deeply, before once more retreating from the physical world into her separate realm. The whiteness of her skin beneath the moon and droop of her dorsal fin did not go unnoticed, nor the wretching sound that followed or the stench thereof.

Illness? No time for that. “Mara!”

No reply, she was gone, leaving them beside the boat that waited patiently, drifting in the ocean's current. He called for her only once more, before sighing and tossing his trident up to the deck of the boat. It clattered, and he could feel the Sea Witch watching and listening, waiting to defend itself and its mistress if he tried any harm.

He snorted and gathered the unconscious halfling woman in his arms, commanded the water to rise enough that he could jump out and onto the deck with her. Laying her down carefully, he checked her skull after.

No obvious cracks or soft places that did not belong. He sat beside her, debating whether or not to remove the woman's skin. He knew the Selkies usually took off their skins on land if they were going to be there longer than to bask in the sun. Sealbloods were not at risk of drying out, yet this one... did seem to have some traces of Fishblood, if his senses were correct. Erring on the side of caution, he pulled at the seam and removed it from her carefully while praying to all the deities he knew that his choice was the correct one – or at least was the most likely to be correct. He laid it over her to preserve some of her heat.

No bolt came from the sky to strike him down. No shark leaped up to snap him up, nor was there any kraken pulling him to a beaky maw and noble death of heroic struggles.

That was quite anticlimatic.

A scream overhead caused him to look up, just in time to see a white tern pass over head. It let loose a bomb, faster than he could dodge since he did not see the release. Something warm, gooey, and stinky splatted on his tail, and looking down, he was dismayed to see the white guano running over his scales, reaching out from a brown pellet of an epicenter.

Which of them have I angered? The ignobility!



~~~~*~~~~


Be watching for the next installment in around two weeks, unless an extra episode funds.

Like the story?
Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story.

Want to do a review?
Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide.

Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip?
Write me for a mailing address.





Donate Here via Paypal



As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those. I am very happy that there will be money to print the full story out for the editor to do a comb through before it goes to print and ebook and to have the editor get paid. She is currently looking over section one and part of section two, helping get section one prepared for the backers' reward ebook. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.
rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)


"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies, and too many other sources to count (so basically my entire life of research in mythologies, and a lot of imagination). The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and other societies Magical and Cowan, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.
 
Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet, Smashwords, and on Amazon.  VERY unexpectedly, I find it beginning to intersect somewhat with the universe of "The Shadow Chronicles," an unfinished and unpublished novel that I had started work on in the early 1990's in the middle grades.

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 my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

If you would like a heads up on when the serial novel is updated before it goes to the main site (usually), you can subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins.
 
We now continue with Selkies' Skins.

Selkies' Skins
Chapter 16
Flat Note
part 1

installment 22
~~~~*~~~~

Kirsty smiled in her place as the music swelled in and around her during choir practice, and light spilled through the stained glass images, which looked different to every person. For her, they showed merchant ships under full sail, red sunsets, rocky shores perfect to fish if she could just get her own sealskin, and the occasional storm, offset on the other side of the room with images of waterfalls and the Well. Each rank was placed slightly higher than the previous, and the sound of their voices reverberated, thanks to the stone walls. The room was built specifically for this purpose, long back when Choir was involved with weekly worship. As the religions of those coming to the school grew more diverse once more, Worship fell out of favor. Choir remained, and even grew stronger.

At the front, their Director kept time, gesturing to each section for their cue as they practiced a song new to the younger years. Thomas, to the side as always, plucked the tune on a lute, his own this time and not the school's. Each note was like silver and gold, and as he played, an image formed in their minds as they sang the song. Kirsty regretted that David was too busy with his studies, and that Ally was too busy trying to catch the eye of her latest crush, wishing that they could be present to hear their progress. In front of the Director, as the energy raised, an image began to form, the story that they were singing of finally beginning to become visible after their long practice.

When her solo came, she rose up to meet the notes, closing her eyes and letting them fill her, becoming them. Satisfaction ran through her blood when she realized she was finally getting everything blended perfectly.

Then came the searing pain in her feet and legs, as if someone had hurled a fireball at them. The velvet of her voice cracked, and instead of the next word, a squeal issued from her mouth as she fell, legs unable to support her and feeling as if she had gained a tail, instead of the legs she knew now folded beneath her. The suddenness of the fall and surprised flail pulled down others, some that had tried to catch her as they felt or saw the crumple begin. The image that they had collectively crafted shattered, and both Thomas and the director surged forward as one to get up to her rank.

"Miss Makay, What happened?"

"Kirsty, are you alright?"

The two spoke as one, while hands pulled her up, and she winced and whimpered when her weight was once more on her feet. It was taking concentration to remain upright, and suddenly she was very glad that David was not there to see.

"I... I'm fine. I don't know what happened." She looked at the Director and swallowed, as his keen eyes searched for the cause of her fall. She flushed, realizing that the entire choir surely had to be staring at her, possibly judging for all she knew.

"Really, you are such a clutz Makay." Glancing away and around, she saw a few irritated looks, though she pointedly refused to look in the direction of that voice.

"More than enough, Maldein."

"But sir, you saw her pull down everyone around her. Probably just looking for attention.

"Maldein, demerit. Leave now."

Morgana scowled, and swept with a huff from the room in a flurry of dragonsblood and ocher to go find Morvan, though not before casting a sneer her way and mouthing "sea trash."

She pushed her way up and fantasized about Morgana's next bath suddenly being filled with piranhas, or dashing her against the sides of the carved tub till she ran screaming down the halls claiming the gremlin jinxed her bath. It would be so easy just to do it. Would Mara and the Lady mind? "Maybe just a muscle twinge. I'll be fine sir." Oh no, where's Imp? Is he ok?

It was probably the wrong thing to say. His eyebrows shot up, possibly believing that her late night classes in the loch may have been partly responsible. He was aware of what her special classes entailed, she remembered, and mentally kicked herself.

"Can you go on?"

"Yes Director, I think so."

Thomas eyed her warily before returning to his spot at the Director's signal, and continued to do so after.

Please, don't tell David. Not till I know for sure what happened. Please don't tel-

"From the top, everyone. One, and two, and three."

The wand was a baton again, keeping the beat, and Thomas started at the beginning of the score. She lost herself in the music again, hiding in it this time. It was with relief that she got through her solo, without another interruption, and then the solo was a duo when the answer came from the next, and then a third voice rose. Opening her eyes, the three Founders were pictured in front of them, acting out the story of the building of the school, and why.

Headmaster Delphine Leomaris, voiced by the seventh year at the top left, stoutly defended the rights of the students from the sea to learn to control their gifts. The way his part was worded, she wasn't positive if he were secretly from the sea himself, or had loved someone that was, and she made a note to look in the library to see if she could dig anything up. Irritatingly, she couldn't make out details on what they looked like, other than generalizations of hair and clothing.

A fifth year boy from Spiralis gave voice to Aemilius Spiralis, and the argument began in earnest, quickly spreading from trying to restrict the shapeshifting merfolk from entering, to all non-humans, as well as those whose magic "sprang from nowhere like the desert spring that harbors scorpions at the brink." Kirsty found her voice again, and Adalwufa Bertramus spread her arms between the pair, her blue and silver robes flying, trying to make the two listen to reason and stop fighting long enough to teach, complaining of how not finding some compromise would only hurt the students.

Mid note, the pain came back, but worse. This time it ran all over her body, and she felt teeth around her midsection. She hit the expected note, now against the backdrop of the chorus, but something was thrashing her back and forth. Students looked up at her in confusion, clearing out from underneath her as she was lifted high. She couldn't see the shark that had her, shouldn't even be able to get at her here, but she felt around and jabbed for an eye anyway, hoping to luck out and find it. Kirsty soon found herself flying toward one of the stone wall sections, but not because she found the invisible eye. Instead, it was more like whatever had decided to attack had just decided to let go as quickly.

Just before she impacted with the wall, she felt another force stop her. In her mind, it felt somewhat like what being a ball and landing in a wicket keeper's glove in a game of cricket, or possibly more like those baseball mitts that she saw now and then if someone had some odd obsession with that American game. Kirsty was lowered to the ground, but the world was still spinning, and if her top wasn't severed from her bottom, it felt like it should be. Worse, she could feel her pelt spreading, and the itch on her face that heralded that whiskers might soon be on their way. Her very blood burned, as if someone very powerful was currently blowing up at her, or something about her was being ripped out, possibly burned away.

Whatever it was, it hurt more than she cared to dwell on.

"Enough for today. Don't forget your daily practices, and we'll meet again next week. Dismissed. Harper, you stay please."

The other students filed out, the usual thundering bustle and swishing of robes now accompanied by whisperings about what might have caused Kirsty to have had such an unusual happening. Rumors were already starting that it was because she either might not be as pureblooded as she led people to believe, or that it was because she was singing a part that normally someone from Bertramus took on. Kirsty sat on the floor, still processing and clutching herself, staring around for the source of her attack in a mixture of fear, wariness, and determination.

Whatever that was, it won't get the chance to do it again.

Both Thomas and the Director thought that the way she looked around and tried to get back to her feet signaled too many times of being attacked. Neither dared say anything about their thought, in case the other was unaware of her strange characteristics.

Nothing. Oh Tempest and Swell, Mara, don't force a change now! If that's what's going on my Lady, please not now. I've nowhere to hide, Thomas hasn't seen.

Still no attack, and she shielded her face behind her hair. When Mara decided to use her control, it was always for very different and harsher reasons than her sister, and she never cared if Kirsty were where she could hide in water. The Lady, on the otherhand, always made certain she was in a "safe" place and that she knew why the change had been forced.

"Miss Makay, can you walk?" The Director asked calmly, though his silver eyes poured over her as carefully as if grading charmswork or an amulet attempt, and no doubt as carefully as the matron in the healing wing was going to be if he could herd her there.

Please don't send me where I think you are planning...

She tried to stand again, this time with Thomas helping her. "I think so..." She peeked from under her hair at the Director, who pushed her hair back out of her face when he leaned closer to examine her. "My legs don't feel right though, Professor."

"Well, we'll take you to the healing wing and have Madam look you over. I can't see any reason any of that should have happened. It's an old song, no one's cursed it, and no one's ever had that happen to them. Have you been into anything unusual lately?"

Is anything about my life usual?

"No sir..."

Thomas stifled a snort, as the Director took up position on her other side.

"I haven't." Kirsty tossed a quick glare at Thomas.

"Very well then. If you do think of anything though, don't be afraid to talk to me about it. Once we get you there, I'll go tell your head of house and the headmaster."

She groaned, imagining her aunt's reaction. "Can we maybe, not tell her, sir? Please?"

~~~~*~~~~
Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story.

Want to do a review?  Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide.

Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table and give me something to kick towards my editor (who is playing catchup due to her health). Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
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As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those.  I am hoping that by the time this is done, my editor will have a working computer to make it easier and quicker for her to do some hard editing so that we don't have to use reams of paper for the fine tooth go-through.  Two simultaneous storylines is proving odd to work with, but neither makes as much sense if they are separated (at least to me).

Expect the next installment in a week or two.  This installment will go live on the mainsite sometime tomorrow.

Edit: Typos fixed.

rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)


"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies, and too many other sources to count (so basically my entire life of research in mythologies, and a lot of imaginiation). The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and other societies Magical and Cowan, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.
 
Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet, Smashwords, and on Amazon.  VERY unexpectedly, I find it beginning to intersect somewhat with the universe of "The Shadow Chronicles," an unfinished and unpublished novel that I had started work on in the early 1990's in the middle grades.

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 my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

If you would like a heads up on when the serial novel is updated before it goes to the main site (usually), you can subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins.
 
We now continue with Selkies' Skins.

Selkies' Skins
Chapter 15
Temple of Mara

part two
installment 21
~~~~*~~~~

 

Try as he might, he could not be sure if he really had seen Mara's statue stir. It stayed where it was, and the representatives of all her many children likewise continued to proffer their histories without movement.

The half Selkie that was the goddess' land-walking priestess swam up to the eye of the great statue, running a hand over the eye-ridge in awe. The statue, oddly enough, felt warm to her touch, and Etain reached out in mental quest, trying to decide just what was going on. Though she felt something, knew it to be Mara's energy, it waited just out of her reach.

After receiving no answer, she instead went to investigate the Selkie statue. Carefully, she searched the shape and form of it. Though firmly in unchanging stone, it seemed somehow as if it looked distinctly like each of the many sub-breeds, including the freshwater-dwelling ones, depending on the angle, and changed slightly with each blink.

Etain carefully opened the book of Selkie History, reading what she could, then sighing when she realized how much more she would have to read. The book alone was three times the size of the Makay Logbook back at Seal Point, which itself was at times nearly 1 foot thick. Yet, the book drew her, and she looked pleadingly back at the statues of Mara, then to the Selkie, then back to the book. Experimentally, she tried lifting the tome, hoping that she had the clearance to take it with her for study.

The shark blinked. Etain did not see, but the Triton did, and he placed himself between the two while the curious Selkie attempted lifting the book. A shiver passed over the body of the shark, and the human version below it moved her head and lowered her spear to look at the Selkie. The pair continued watching as Etain continued testing the weight of it.

"I don't think you ought to be doing that."

The Triton's tone was firm, as if speaking to someone younger and slower, while trying to catch and hold her attention.

"I don't think I can." Etain panted, finally giving up her straining with a disappointed whimper. "It's too heavy, I'll never get it home or anywhere, without Her help. I was hoping that my daughter could read some of this, and see for herself how important our family's function really is."

The shark turned itself, more directly facing the pair.

"We have something more important to worry about than any desire for knowledge." He placed a hand on her shoulder and spun her roughly to view the now living and moving statues.

She started, her eyes going larger and rounder than they normally were, and the blue of her eyes shooting to a panicked yellow at the size of the shark, now that it was moving.

"Why do you linger?" The humanesque statue gestured slowly, and shifted her trident. "You have restored what balance can be done here, and your craft bobs on the waves like a bouy waiting. You have more elsewhere."

The shark continued to loom behind the seemingly mild-mannered statue. Etain curtsied the best that she could in the water, as she had been taught on land, and though graceful was not quite what she had aimed for.

"When I was a girl, you promised that I would be able to read one of the tomes... and I thought, Lady, if you would allow, when the Winter Break comes for Kirsten and she returns for Winter Rites, if she read then she would understand too."

"And so now you have read. I can consider the possibility of your pup reading, but it will not be this winter. Summer, when she will have the time, moving the books will be part of her challenge perhaps. Or perhaps not, if she proves unworthy of the line."

Etain blanched.

"She will prove worthy, Lady Mara. She is already overcoming the problem of most merfolk despising halfbreed blood that she carries."

"Through exposure though. A different route, and not the one I was looking for. This year and the next should help solve that problem though. Now that she's old enough, a proper education in the ways of the wild and the seas." The shark shifted and eyed Etain and the Triton hungrily, gliding closer. The human version of the goddess formed herself a sharks tail, assuming a more comfortable pose and height, floating now in the water despite her weight and a malicious smile ferally spreading. "At any rate, I do hope she survives to full adulthood, that werewolf boy she thinks so highly of has certainly prompted some interesting changes, and there will be more tests after my own that I wish to see how she weathers."

The Triton kept his eyes on Mara's manifestations warily, though he wondered about the child that goddess and the half-Selkie were discussing. In his lifetime, he had been witness to some arguments and discusions between her Priests, the Priestesses, and even had a few of his own. To date though, he had never seen a smile unleashed quite as dangerous as was being so "lovingly" bestowed on the half-breed, by the goddess who either ate or broke her own as she made the lines stronger.

"What do you mean, Lady?"

"I mean that her sins will make her weak, if she does not walk carefully, and now that my sister and I are not the only deities involved in the family fortunes..."

The goddess trailed off.

"What sins has my daughter committed against you? Will her blood four times yearly not be enough?"

"What sin!" The goddess railed. The shark snapped and the sharkwoman flung an electric bolt at the fins of the Selkie statue, which hit the mark and sent pains through every living sealperson no matter the blood dilution. "Your daughter made an oath that she would bear no pups for anyone save that young potioneer, when the time came. I felt the ripple. What sin indeed! After you and your mate, she is the last of this line that combines all, the last bearing both my blood and my sister's, as well as the wood-hunt lord. It doesn't matter that so far he meets my approval! None of you have permission to make a decision that could end the line."

The Triton had no idea who the particular god was that Mara referenced, but the loss and anger radiating made even his scales feel as if they were about to drop. How long had the separation been? Was this part of why her mood always changed so swiftly? Etain was thinking along similar lines, and though each drop of information always improved her understanding of the one her fortunes rested on, in this mood new knowledge was too dangerous.

"Let me take on the transgression then. Place the anger on me instead." Etain held herself firm, keeping her voice carefully modulated, though she tremored and knew the water had to taste heavily of her roiling emotions.

The shark held the pair framed with its jaws. One twitch, and both Triton and Selkie would be food for her prehistoric self, yet the Triton held his guard firm, unknowing as to precisely why he continued to shield her while the priestess and her goddess faced off. The twitch did not come, and they stared together into the dark maw.

"I will stand witness. It sounds as though the child is young by our standards, so there is time yet Lady, and you will not have to worry aboout the preservation of your literal line."

He'd done it, said something and fully gotten himself involved in the struggle. He could feel the bonds of the oath tightening around him even now as witness, the magic requiring the witness for the sealing of the transfer. All it required, was Mara's acceptance.

The jaws closed, and the darkness was absolute.

~~~~*~~~~
Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story.

Want to do a review?  Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide.

Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table and give me something to kick towards my editor (who is playing catchup due to her health). Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal


As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those.  I am hoping that by the time this is done, my editor will have a working computer to make it easier and quicker for her to do some hard editing so that we don't have to use reams of paper for the fine tooth go-through.  Two simultaneous storylines is proving odd to work with, but neither makes as much sense if they are separated (at least to me).

Expect the next installment in a week or two.

rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)


"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies, and too many other sources to count (so basically my entire life of research in mythologies, and a lot of imaginiation). The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and other societies Magical and Cowan, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.
 
Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet, Smashwords, and on Amazon.  VERY unexpectedly, I find it beginning to intersect somewhat with the universe of "The Shadow Chronicles," an unfinished and unpublished novel that I had started work on in the early 1990's in the middle grades.

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 my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

If you would like a heads up on when the serial novel is updated before it goes to the main site (usually), you can subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins.
 
We now continue with Selkies' Skins.

Selkies' Skins

Installment 20
Chapter 15
Temple of Mara

~~~~*~~~~

 

Etain stifled her disgust at the taste and smell of old blood in the waters of the demolished throneroom.

"Father refused to leave. He entrusted the kingdom and people of it to my elder brother. Father remained behind on his throne crownless as the drill came to the floor, trying to mitigate the damage that would come."

The Triton's voice was more gravelly and deep than it had been, and when she looked to him, his expression was strained and gazing back at some scene that she could only imagine.

"I doubt they even saw him, or this, though there should have been probes. Perhaps all they'd seen was a large, noble fish." She trailed off thoughtfully, before continuing. "They see so little with their technology, even when something is right there. Part of the way the ancient magic of our kind's creation works, I suppose."

Etain's use of the term noble had not gone unappreciated. He nodded and drew a deep breath, even as he discarded her defense of her own kind.

"The most noble. I only hope my brothers and I can live up to the Neptunes of our past. We've already had to move so far and establish new territories, little halfling. Now we start yet again."

Etain swam to, and touched, the remains of the throne, where some lay, and then the piping where it plunged into the floor and bedrock below. The magic still contained in the shards licked at her, responding to her, seeking direction since the mind behind it was now gone. She closed her eyes and teased it out, under the watchful eyes of the Triton. He said nothing while she worked, yet she heard whispers of the past Neptune-kings that had ruled the city from the throne.

"A new throne needs building when the new city is sited... And to be linked into the seaplain matrix with those of the other sea-kings."

"It will be done. We will find an artisan of skill enough to represent all the people and kinds in the kingdom. I suspect you will be sent for at one point in its construction."

She nodded in reply, weaving the magic now into new patterns, and casting it outwards like a net to contain the damage. What oil she could, she pulled together and worked back into the ground, breaking it up as much as possible trying to protect the burrowing creatures. It was then that she became fully aware of what the dark pall over the city had been. Oil, a vast, settling cloud of it, that she had swum through to get down, and the thing most responsible for her feeling of heaviness and illness.

The Triton continued to watch her, noting the way the currents swirled, and the way her hair lit and fur glowed. Another form superimposed itself over her as he watched, adding her own power. Soft seal lines were overlain by the fiercer and sleeker shark people lines, fins becoming slashes in the water. A second set of arms, spectral, wielded the wicked obsidian and crystal bladed spear and trident, so familiar to devotees of the sea goddess that visited her undersea temples. The blades even glowed with residual fire from undersea volcanic origins.

Mara's eyes locked with his while Etain was wrapped in her duties, and he felt the usual dangerous and unpredictable chill. His blood froze when she smiled at him, and though the Etain/Mara set was too far to reach normally, the tips of her trident rested on his shoulder in blessing. When a small burst issued into him, his worry deepened as to what it boded.

When Etain had done all that she could, and set the spell to work in perpetuity, she felt Mara's rage die down... somewhat.  When she looked toward the Triton again, it was to meet iced and distant eyes with a touch of what she thought was fear.  She turned around, just to ascertain that he wasn't staring at something behind her, perhaps a crazed kraken deciding already to take over the abandoned room despite the drillpipe.  There was nothing that would cause him concern though.

"Why... are you looking at me like that...?"

He shook his head, then looked away. "Is there more that you need to do here?"

Etain tilted her head to regard him, nibbling her lower lip lightly in thought.  "No. I've done what I can for this place.  I should get back to my ship soon, but-" She bit her lip thoughtfully, framing in her mind carefully what she would say, not wishing to offend him now that she was somewhat on his better side.  "I would like to see the city before I go, to pay my respects to what once was."

The Triton crossed his arms, still with the same icy regard, though his eyes were beginning to thaw a bit.

"Very well.  Thank you for your help, I'll escort you then, halfling."

They made their way back out of the throneroom, and through the deserted city once she had said a quiet prayer for the soul of the Neptune-king that had given his life for his people and to make her job slightly easier.

The pennants still waved in the currents, and here and there wild fish swam.  The water seemed healthier than when she had arrived, but now the city had more of a forlorn and abandoned feel.  At the edges of her vision, at times she thought she saw a swimming form, perhaps a Selkie, a Triton, maybe a Siren.  Each time, it would turn out to simply be a trick of the lighting and terrain, or so it would seem after inspection.  The heavy pall of grief settled more heavily than the oil had.

Etain explored the city thoroughly, looking up often at the rocks piled into towers and how the coral was trained to grow over these to hold the whole together. Red, pink, and yellow specimens cemented the walls well, but were beginning to pale around the edges, already bleaching. Small fish moved here and there, but not as energetically as they would have before. Starfish still moved over the rocks after their next meal. With architecture like this, it was very easy to see how human technology would miss the buildings.

This habit of blending in did not apply to lintels and window frames. Here, these were carved of hewn stone with a strange mingling of Nordic and Celtic knotwork, depicting scenes of the family's history, according to her Triton escort. Now and then, when venturing inside to get somewhat of a feel for how the people had lived, she would see the interiors carved with the forms of ancestors, and was able to pick out here and there where Greco-Roman influence intersected with those, confirming the Triton's statement about having had to move far.

At the northern edge of the city, she found the mate to the Neptune's castle. Where his castle had been decorated with banners, pearls, corals, and other bright living things, Mara's temple blended stone, coral, volcanic columns, natural tables, giant teeth, and spears. Guarding the entrance to the temple were two figures, both female. One, a stern shark woman in what looked to be Viking inspired armor, wielded an obsidian trident and glared disinterestedly at those that approached. The other, a rounded, though still quite muscular Selkie held a crystal tipped spear, wearing similar armor. In contrast to the guardian on the other side of the entrance, her hand was outstretched in a wary welcome, or perhaps warning.

Etain and the Triton slipped between the pair and through the open Temple doors. Inside, representatives of each of the sea-dwelling merfolk species waited in alcoves, forever carved in granite. A Samebito, Triton, Merrow, Selkie, Undine, "Classical Mermaid," Octopid, Naga, and a half-human, half sea dragon (that she vaguely remembered from her long ago Defense classes calling a Ryujin), along with several others each in their respective nooks, proferred books that detailed in Atlantean and Lemurian, and one other ancient script that she could not decipher, yet reminded her of Ogham and Runes mixed together, the histories and creation of each of these.

She looked at the Triton, her hair flaring around her in interest. "The priests left these?"

"Mara wouldn't allow them to take these." He gestured to the statue, or at least she hoped it was, of a prehistoric shark of monstrous proportion. Over sixty feet in length, and dwarfing the human formed version despite its own larger than life size where she struck a commanding and threatening pose near the shark's nose, the shark lay in the focal point, as if merely resting, and Etain's imagination gave movement to the vast gills and lengthy hair. One vast eye glared at them and at the world with cool contempt. Somehow, that onyx eye conveyed the sense of awareness, though she wasn't sure how. "She said that when her new Temple is built, she herself will move all of these, and that meantime she would transfer them 'elsewhere.'"

The onyx eye, larger than she herself was, continued to bore into her, challengingly.

"Is that so?" Dreaminess poured over her the longer she gazed into the eye. "I wonder where the Lady plans to keep all this safe from the oil and the men in the meanwhile? It will take a long time to rebuild her Temple, yes?"

"Indeed."

He crossed his arms and huffed gruffly. Once more the Selkie's attention seemed to be drifting. It seemed that she was held by the eye's gaze. Surely she knew better than to look into Mara's eye? Yet, it seemed not, to him. She continued looking into it, and one band of her bracelet he could see reacting. He could even feel it in the water, an electric thrum, high and low at once, and a stirring.

Did he see the statue move? He narrowed his eyes, then checked the other statues.

~~~~*~~~~
Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story.

Want to do a review?  Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide.

Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table and give me something to kick towards my editor (who is playing catchup due to her health). Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal


As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those.  I am hoping that by the time this is done, my editor will have a working computer to make it easier and quicker for her to do some hard editing so that we don't have to use reams of paper for the fine tooth go-through.  Two simultaneous storylines is proving odd to work with, but neither makes as much sense if they are separated (at least to me).

Expect the next installment in a week or two.

rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)


"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies. The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and other societies Magical and Cowan, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.
 
Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet, Smashwords, and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.  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 my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

If you would like a heads up on when the serial novel is updated before it goes to the main site (usually), you can subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins.
 
We now continue with Selkies' Skins.

Selkies' Skins

Chapter 14

The Rig (part 2)
~~~~*~~~~

The air had the peculiar taste that temperature controlled air tended toward, and her footsteps fell quietly after she muffled her feet. Her invisibility had not been countered, which meant it unlikely that any of the old charms that rendered magic void had been placed. The lack of "superstition" worked in her favor. Peeking around a corner, she held her breath, and in this fashion she slowly made her way to the control room, praying to any deity that cared to listen that none of the crew would learn of her presence. If she could just find out what stage of operation the rig truly was at, then she could determine what the correct action would be. It would do no good to decommission the rig, if there were no cap. That mistake had been made by others, in other operations that had opposed deep sea drilling in sensitive areas, that she was aware of, and each time it had resulted in a mess.

The man in the room monitoring the readouts was not impressive by any form of the imagination. A warm worksuit, to counter the effects of the temperature swings out here if the heating failed, swathed his average build in a grey-blue. Blonde hair could be seen under the workman's cap, wispy and fine, and his facial scruff was far beyond five o'clock shadow. Slightly more impressive was the company logo, though it displeased Etain greatly to recognize it. The futuristic red letters imposed on a racing white oval was one she had encountered several times since her graduation from the traditional school, and beginning of her true career.

He was alone here, this was in her favor. Etain stole her way behind him, where she too could see the monitors and gauges properly. Images and numbers stared at her, and as she did her best to read them, she wished for a team of her own, to more quickly hamper the progress and enact a more permanent solution. She thought briefly of the Triton, but he was forever seabound, and likely to simply chuck the offending humans into the brine and be done with it, bringing yet more out.

While she was deciphering the displays, the door to the room opened again, and another man walked in, speaking in a gravelly voice a question in a harsh sounding language. She thought it Scandinavian, or perhaps German, and she grated at the fact that she had not learned these, nor did she have Marsali's ability to understand languages she had not learned. Etain held her breath and posture, praying her spell continued to hold.

The conversation was done quickly, the one passing the other a large mug of strong coffee, black by the smell. The other then left, just as her stomach began to growl, the sound masked by the door for the one leaving. However, the man at the monitor heard and looked around for the source. She retreated to a further spot in the room, and stifled a sigh when he muttered to himself, as if deciding perhaps it had been his own stomach.

Etain watched as he took a sip, winced and grimaced, then set the mug down. She drew close again, touching the back of his neck lightly with her fingers, and bent over him. A sighed word into his ear, and he was asleep in his chair, slumping down. Quickly, she drank what was left of the coffee, to quell her stomach since it threatened another growl, and discovered why he'd set it down so soon, after scalding her lips and tongue. When she set it down, exactly as it had been, the mug was half empty.

A few strokes on a keyboard, and a few buttons of varied colors and shapes began the process she needed. She closed her eyes and reached out with her awareness, heading down, searching out the pipe and the black substance within, feeling the water within the oil. With effort, she forced it to begin downward. The temporary cap began to slide into place.

Her cloak swirled as she turned, and slipped out of the door again, moving quickly. She only paused at a few valves, to turn them to the proper positions, then made her way toward the exit. Hurried footsteps sounded in corridors, crew moving for some purpose she could not be sure of, likely summoned by changes at workstation, and she moved faster. Her breath came in gasps, partly because of the speed she moved at, partly from the effort of sustaining the invisibility spell. She could feel it flickering and slipping.

The footfalls came closer, and a surprised shout behind her alerted her to the fact that her invisibility spell had completely failed. Desperation made her feet even fleeter than before, and she knew her hood had fallen back, revealing the spill of hair, but hopefully not her facial features. She heard more, could feel them coming, as whoever that was called for help on his radio in that strange language, and hearing it again she was more certain it was not German.

She unleashed her cry, hoping to use the sound to deafen or stun, not wanting to use an offensive spell unless she needed to. Her keen filled the small hallway, hurting her own ears even, and she heard the person drop to the floor. Turning around, she could see him clasping his ears but still looking toward her. An outstretched hand, and a desperate pulse of energy, and she flicked out the lamps by exploding all of them that were in her range. Etain's hair and cloak whipped around her in the magical current, and lightning crackled and danced around her, the water held in Mara's vial within her pouch drawing the electricity to it greedily.

The man managed to gain his feet again, running away from the apparition, screaming about the sea ghost. Once an unbeliever in the paranormal, he now would have his own tale to tell about his brush with the sea's mysteries, and how he had to run from an attacking "ghost" on the haunted oil rig he'd worked. It would not be long before he would meet up with others, hopefully with torches so that he would no longer be in the dark with her visage etched into his eyes.

The lights around Etain died. She felt, more than heard, Mara's voice in her blood. That part of her that was Selkie quailed at the rage normally hidden in the sea.

"Go down now, before I kill them all for what they do to my children."

"Yes Mistress."

Etain continued her run, shooting back out the door, pounding down metal pathways and stairs, scurrying down ladders, knowing full well that if the cameras were not on the same circuit as the lights, she was likely being recorded with infrared technology. Once her feet landed on the deck of the Sea Witch, she cast off moorings, then pulled her skin about herself and dove into the sea without removing her human coverings. Behind her, the boat rode the swells obediently away to where she wished it to wait, she hoped beyond where they were likely to board it.

She continued downward, and the Triton was at her side within the moment, bubbles from her entry still floating upward. Etain only went through half the change, leaving her as half humanoid as he was.

"Well?"

"I slowed and reversed the process, though I doubt it will take them long to reinstate full functions as their company intends. Probably didn't even know you were here and thought the buildings just odd formations, at least by the look of their monitors."

He snorted as they flipped and drove further down, thinking that these "monitors" were just more of one of the human brands of magic.

"Aye, formations that take a lot of intelligent work to make serviceable."

Etain nodded in agreement. "Young race in a very different world, that denies what it is capable of on the one hand, while the other has reasons to hide itself from that majority."

Her attention drifted off to the water's health again, now that she was fully submersed and inundated with its information, causing her to miss the Triton's reply. Her whiskers and fur spoke of the way the current was running, and the direction the closest fish were in. Her blood sang of the way the currents ought to be running, the ph the water should be, and a host of other things.

They finished the swim to the bottom in silence, the structures of the now abandoned city coming into view around the base of the pipeline. Weedbeds lay unattended, deep sea sea stars and other things without names now beginning to run wild. The futher in, banners waved and began to tatter, the magic of the city's king no longer keeping these fresh. Here and there, a forgotten gem, carved shell brush, or pearl lay where dropped during evacuation.

Etain's tears mingled with the salt sea when they registered that the drill had plunged right into the center of the palace. The throne room, when she gained the floor, was exactly as it had been left, though now damaged by the stress. The throne, or where it had been, was now occupied by the oil well, and statuary was broken, still bearing their gem eyes and crowns of beaten gold and pearl.

"I taste old blood. It shouldn't be in the water anymore." She looked at the Triton questioningly, her voice unable to rise above more than a whisper.


 

 

~~~~*~~~~
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I was not able to post on the 2nd as anticipated, due to moving house.  I hope to make the next installment by Sunday, as I'd like to return to a weekly posting schedule, though the 16th at the latest (I hope).  Classes resume for me in October.
rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)


"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies. The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and other societies Magical and Cowan, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.
 
Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet, Smashwords, and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.  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 my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

If you would like a heads up on when the serial novel is updated before it goes to the main site (usually), you can subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins.
 
We now continue with Selkies' Skins.

Selkies' Skins

Chapter 14

The Rig
~~~~*~~~~

Etain growled. "Would you LEAVE MY SHIELDS ALONE!" The Selkie woman shook her fist off the poop, toward the Triton that had hounded her the past week. One week of battle between the two over control of the weather, the current, even the tern that Etain had sent off with a letter to the Order had resulted in a strange bond forming between the adversaries.

Whether the tern reached the offices with her report as to her progress and experiences, she could not be certain. All she was certain of was that she had caught a tern, and that it had agreed to carry her report. He had even tried to wrest control of her craft's will while she had been distracted with the task, and communicating with the tern had not been easy in the first place.

As annoyed as she was at his interference, there was a part of her, likely the human blood given the generally more peaceful nature of the Selkie ilk, that enjoyed the challenge. The Triton broke the monotony of her sail, now that they had at least agreed to leave the weather alone.

"Yer still in me territory, wench. Either get out, or have the decency to sink, halfbreed."

"I'm working on getting out of your territory. I can't teleport a whole boat! Though trust me... I would if I could!"

"Yer a seawitch. Work harder!"

He shook his trident at her, and it crackled irately, purple lightning playing over the black triple blades on the spar that formed the shaft. Water from the tips, propelled by the shaking, splashed her face while they glowered at each other through the shield. It landed harmlessly, stripped of any negative effects by the protections it passed through. Uncaring, barnacles continued their slow, methodical takeover of the hull while the merfolk went at it yet again.

Etain narrowed her eyes further, paying attention to what the Triton looked like, since he was close enough this time. Brown eyes glared back at her past crow's feet, set in a leathery face that had seen decades of sun. Long wild hair the color of sea weed bearing froth roiled around his head, the corona of hair and beard tamed only by a roughly wrought crown of beaten gold likely rescued from an ancient wreck. The body below the face was muscular, as one would expect of a being that lived always swimming. His arms were thick from shark wrestling, and every once in a while she saw the flash of a scaled tail, but could not tell if it was grey, or green.

"No seawitch that I've heard tell of ever successfully teleported a boat without a wreck." She continued, reining in her temper. "And I am not going to anger Mara by wrecking the boat she entrusted to my keeping for the sake of a cantankerous Triton baiting me, oh 'Lordship.'" Etain leaned on the rail, watching him while the sea bobbed her boat with the swells.

The Triton paused, sinking several inches before starting to tread again. "Yer Mara's own?"

"Aye, bred, bonded, and branded so." She displayed her wrist and the silver and gold bands where they twined each other, a third conspicuously missing, as it had been for generations. The bracelet's light pulsated with the beat of the sea.

He growled, grumbled, then huffed. "The Shark goddess is not one of my favorites right now."

"Why?" Etain kept her face schooled, waiting to finally find what was at the root she had suspected when first leaving behind the soulfish, and sailing into his own temper tantrum.

"The humans." He growled again, twirling his beard with a free finger. "She lets them press into our seas, and does nothing when they overfish. She is OUR goddess, yet she reduces her sharks along the coasts, and does nothing when the true seafolk are displaced, despite our prayers and offerings. Where do you think those sharks hunt?"

"They eat the local shoals of fish where they move to. And where I come from, they eat the seals and Selkies." She replied carefully during the pause in his rant.

The Triton nodded. "They've been harassing the borders of our cities, and the humans forcing a move has not helped."

"She does send her sharks to other coasts as well..." Etain sighed, thinking of how reports of shark attacks were increasing in the warmer waters, in the Cowan's news and how oceanologists of all kinds discussed them more and more. Many of the reports Finnol would bring home with him had mentioned this. "You're in the middle of nowhere... How could you be found?"

"Oil closeby." He crossed his arms and spat, wrinkling his brow, then pointed northward at her look, answering before she even asked, slowly easing into some level of comfort with the woman that smelled of seal. "We lost one of our cities to the drill recently."

"I sorrow with you." She bowed her head formally in sympathy, careful to use the more ancient wording. "Perhaps there is at least something that I can do still?"

"You offer help, even with me harrying you all this time?" He eyed her dubiously. "You're part human."

Etain drew herself up to her full height and glowered down. "It is my duty to my deities, just as yours is to patrol certain territories. Human or not."

He nodded, causing the waters to lift his large frame closer, and as no malice was intended this time, the shield let him pass. "I can take you there. We can't live there anymore, even after repairs, but the fish will still need to pass safely, seawitch."

"I will do my utmost, Triton." She grasped his hand gravely and squeezed the best she could, though her hand was positively dainty in all its callused glory in comparison to his textbook sized ones.

The Triton released his hold and began to swim, arrowing and leaping like a dolphin through the swells at the prow of the ship. Instead of due north, he took a tack 30 degrees to the west, and the Sea Witch followed gamely. Etain went to the prow, allowing her vessel to follow him on its own.

At last, the ships and offshore platform could be seen, mist in the air from the swells breaching on the stays that dove down to the seabed far below. Though there was no oil slick evident yet, and it seemed to be running as clean as possible, she felt a dull ache through her body, and the queasiness of taint seeping into the water. The closer they came, the more she felt it, and when she got to a better angle, she could see buoys and floats containing the leak she could feel. The Triton slowed, the oil also effecting him adversely. When he halted, and turned to look at her, he was another few decades older.

"You see what I mean. There were many already cleaning, but this is since then."

Etain bit her lip and pushed her nausea and tears down. "I do. I'll try to sneak aboard first, and see what I can do there, before I go below."

Heart in her throat, Etain left her boat below, as securely as possible in such conditions, and climbed the ladder. As she rose, she hoped that there were no security cameras watching her ascent, and employed the basic cloaking spell that had served her in so many other instances of trespass. And trespassing she certainly was, in ways that the most active members of protests know and employ in their pursuits of defending their cause.

After what seemed like an endless ladder, she made the deck, and then picked her way across to the door. The scents of the place churned her stomach as much as the knowledge of what surely had once been below the waves here.

No security rushed her, and carefully she unlocked the door. As the spell worked, she could feel each step completed, and she opened the door softly as possible. An empty hall greeted her, and she slipped in. In the corner, the expected camera stared toward the door with a fixed lens, and Etain drew her cloak more fully over her head, despite the spell she had placed on herself.
 

~~~~*~~~~
Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.
Got a question? Ask it and maybe the answer will be revealed in the story, or in a comment if not part of the story.

Want to do a review?  Visit the listing, or feel free to post one in your own blog, and don't forget to have a look at the other stories on the web fiction guide.

Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table and give me something to kick towards my editor (who is playing catchup due to her health). Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
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I hope to make the next installment by September 2, as I think I will be done with the move by then and have the internet on.  The laptop has not been repaired yet either, and that is unlikely to happen until after classes start and my aid packet has arrived, so it is unlikely that I would be able to post from my brother's home if such is not the case.
rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)
 
 
"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies. The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and Wizarding society, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.
 
Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.
 
If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note.

Story is mirrored also at my LiveJournal, as well as on a dedicated site. We now continue with Selkies' Skins.


Selkies' Skins
Chapter 10
Parting

~~~~*~~~~

 

Byron emerged from a puddle, translucent and flowing up and out like water, despite having seemed so solid beneath the waters he had earlier traversed. His shape, and that of his cargo formed and solidified out of view of Cowan and non-Cowan alike. As Kirsty looked around, she saw the location her guardian had chosen for their exit from the water cycle and currents also had no hiding non-humans to see the materialization. Instead, it had the forgotten and disused look of a dumpster area or alleyway, stone walls, dust, and litter. The Kelpie grimaced and exposed his teeth in disgust, taking offense to the garbage defiling the puddle gate and kicking it out.

Vaguely, Kirsty had hoped that perhaps the puddle would be near enough to luck out and see David's arrival with Urma, the dragon that she considered part of his family, and perhaps even his father. Such obviously was not the case. As she slid off Byron's back, once she felt his adhesive spell release its grip on her, she wondered if he had already arrived before her and boarded the train.

"Thank you Byron." She leaned lightly against him for a moment, slightly drained from how much of her own energy was used in the trip to simply ride. Her stomach grumbled, already demanding another stout fish meal, or at least some sort of meat.

Byron nuzzled the source of the noise softly, frowning softly, as through the generations, long distance rides seemed to get harder and harder on the young. "You're welcome."

The Kelpie waited on the young waterwitch to remove her things from his back, which she did with the thoroughness of practice. A final nod, and he watched her leave with her things. He stayed a moment, cautiously venturing to where he could peek at the platform. He smiled when he saw her going toward another young form, having arrived early enough after all to give them some time to meet before it filled with the usual bustle. She flung herself on the boy, who caught her and hugged as fierce as she was hugging him.

Byron sometimes wondered how he was able to withstand exuberant flying Selkie hugs. For a moment, he allowed himself the humorous image of what might happen if she succeeded in getting her sealskin, then happened to forget what form she was in if she were wearing it. David was quite able to catch her though, and if he stumbled backward it wasn't apparent from the angle of his view. He nodded firmly, satisfied, then turned around to step back into the puddle, becoming a literal waterhorse once more.

"Alright Mistress. I've delivered your daughter. Now to find you."

The Kelpie melded back into the puddle, then seeped into the ground to gallop his way down to the water table, ignoring the soiled passages beneath the city in favor of cleaner, purer, and more magic laden routes back to the sea. He began to move north once there, in the general direction he suspected Etain of heading to. He reached for her with his mind as he ran.

"Lady Mistress? Little Etain?"

Silence. He strained and listened with all his blood, but no ripple of acknowledgement came.

"Maybe I'm just too far away. Water! Have you felt the passing of any Waterwitches?"

A stirring of consciousness answered him. "A few. Which interests?"

"Lady Mara's, the female Selkie halfling, full grown, aboard one of Lady Mara's vessels the last I saw."

"The last Lady Makay passed these waters was two full moons ago, alone. I have not seen her since."

The feeling of the direction of sail, and the path sailed filled him. Not for the first time, he was grateful that he had been granted the ability to understand some thing the water said when pertaining to the whereabouts of his charges.

Yet, it was still no answer where she was.

"Thank you. I hope those beyond you can give me more."

~~~~*~~~~

Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.

Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.

Donate Here via Paypal



Thank you to the reader that suggested a character name change. It has been implemented.
rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)
Selkies' Skins

"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies. The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and Wizarding society, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.

Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my
Lulu outlet and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.

If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the
ToC on the Sticky Note.

We now continue with Selkies' Skins. Whilst Etain Makay braves soul fish and sea serpents... Feel free to ask questions in the comments. I will answer them when I can, and you are not restrained to asking about one installment. However, if it is something that will be revealed later in the story, it might end up getting answered privately if you are so curious that you cannot wait. I actually encourage questions. I miss communicating with my readers like I used to when I was active writing Spirited Away fan fictions (they sometimes sparked some awesome ideas).

Selkies' Skins

Chapter 9 part 3

Soul Fish

~~~~*~~~~

Etain continued watching the water, and the air around herself, as her boat landed, thankfully still topside up. It was evidence that the protective spells on the craft still held. Water splashed up onto the deck and washed over, and as she was outside, soaked her. Her ears listened for any roar or call if the serpent breached behind her, and her nostrils flared while she scented the wind, despite how dulled that sense would still be in her human body.

Still her craft surged forward, which pleased her. If she had managed to stun the sea serpent, then she would be able to slip away without further trouble. Etain doubted that though, and she was right. This time, the serpent breached to the port, leaping over and clearly trying to land to the starboard, as if seeking to drive her down whether the shield zapped again or not. Another blast from her wand with a wordless spell, more intention than anything ever learned in her long ago classes, and a column of fire streaked through the magical membrane.

Her adversary creeled, and the stench of partially cooked meat and blackened scales filled the air, while the great sea snake flew backward. It wasn't a killing blow by any stretch of the imagination, but she hoped that by the time the creature awoke, it would once more be deep below and she would be many leagues away.

Etain took a deep breath, only now beginning to tremble as she turned back into the navigational cabin. "Soul fish and sea serpents. Let's hope there's not a mate involved with that serpent. You did well Sea Witch." She patted the nearest surface affectionately, while the vessel continued fleeing through the water.

An hour of quiet sea later, she finally let the shields go, then set about recharging them, in the likely chance they would be needed again. Etain paced the decks, placing her hands on the railings and singing the required songs, lingering especially at the poop and prow. Not for the first time, she leaned forward over the prow to gaze down forlornly where, in earlier times, she might have been able to have a small figurehead without attracting too much attention. Small was really all she needed permission to create and install. She drummed her fingers on the railing in consternation.

"Few ships have them these days, and if a Cowan sees it, even though small, they will look and likely see your figurehead glaring right back at them. Well you know that some of your tasks will require treating with the very creatures they are crafted to deter. The Sea Witch is to be no mere trading nor mere fishing vessel."

Mara's words rose fresh in her mind from that long ago time where she was granted her boat and given her place by the sea deity. Fresh now as they had been then, they still stung as sharply. The memory still possessed that high, cold, commanding rumble to the words, like the storm breaking over sea.

What looked to be the way out of the reality pocket came ever closer, Devil's Fire sparking up now and then on the crest of a swell. Etain breathed easier, looking eagerly to the border, though still unsmiling. Instead, she continued pacing the deck with her craft autopiloting, watching for anything else that might come up out of the revitalized waters.

Thirty minutes away from the border, the moans and cries began again, another school of the infernal fish approaching in their search for food and souls. She glowered, this school sounding larger, and indeed looking larger, than the last. The wind shifted, blowing in reverse now to give her a head wind, instead of the tail wind that had been holding. The fish came at preternatural speed from the starboard, as if they routinely patrolled the borderland.

Perhaps they did. She narrowed her eyes as she recalled everything that she could remember former Captains having written about the soulfish into the Makay Clan's logbook back home. A particularly haunting memory of the first of Stephen Makay's voyages, recorded in his handwriting and voice, floated up.

"Ever hungry, they devoured flesh and claimed the soul, rendering the victim into one of their kind, whether non-magical human, witch or wizard bearing no intention of ever becoming a ghost, or intelligent magical being. If a victim had both flesh and soul, these wanted it. I myself have seen how it happens, when a small party had gone out from mine Tempest Queen in one of the boats, collecting some ambergris the lookout had spied during this voyage."

"It was not when a single one managed to fly up onto our decks that we were in the most danger, though the danger intensifies naturally if you are in one of the lifeboats. That happens from time to time. It is when an entire school of them gets close enough and swarms. If there are no shields, or there have been reasons to have them down, as they do drain over time, they knock a victim off and drag him down. They latch on with teeth and attack through their numbers, gnawing, often as you yet live."

"The team that had gone out fought bravely, for the swarm had risen up seemingly from under them- sleeping perhaps. But there was not enough time for us to respond and open fire. Even if we had, we were as likely to hit our men as these demon fish, that Mara herself must have created during a fit of rage some eons ago, no doubt when a lover had left herself or her sister due to a preference toward males. Neither Petrifying nor Blasting Michael, Angelo, or Miriam would have done my men any good, though in hindsight would have been the kinder fate. Both spells do have effect against the fish. Better would have been a storm to deter them, as then my men would have had more of a chance as soulfish hate them. Alas, I am no storm singer, and we have none in this crew."

"They have begun to pursue us with their new school. I will have a seawench perform a curse breaking for my crew and ship when we land. My family can ill afford the loss of the ship, and the families of my crew can ill afford the loss of husbands and wives. Mara have mercy on my soul, but I wonder what my clan has done to incur her wrath. Or are we being tested? If so, a cruel test."

Etain shuddered again, calling up the shields once more and this time singing up a storm. In Gaelic, and mixed with a bit of the older Irish, she began to whip up wind and wave, counting on the turbulence to send the fish down, or for lightning to form fast enough to frighten the fish away.

Plaintive voices rose up to her.

"Mistress Witch, please, I beg thee bear me to my love. I left her in Bristol and vowed to return even if I died."

"Nay, Lady. Bear me out instead. Irish ye must be, an it be to Dún Laoghaire I had been headed!"

"Answer not these rapscallions! I was cast from the ship I had paid good gold to bear me up to convert the Finmen. And I was made an offering to pagan gods of the sea when the storm would have claimed every hand on that fell ship of secret heathens. My child, save your soul and the souls of that country, and carry me thence."

"No! Carry none of us, touch us naught!" called what surely must have been a newer soul, not yet twisted by the torment. "Touch us with your living flesh and we will devour you, such is our anguish, or else seek to make an exchange of our soul for yours. Fly! Fly!"

And yet another voice, sinister. "You are older in years and have the bearing of a mother. Your man lies now with another, surely. How long have you been at sea? Why not leave that sorrow and join me, I'll not abandon you for another lass."

"Keep your pleas and lies! I stop my ears and harden my heart, knowing your kind! Back to your rest, or your hunts, you'll find no opening here, and no sanctuary. Look instead to your own deities, mine has not given me leave to free you. It lies within yourselves, a simple release of your sorrows and horrors." Etain called, the storm taking longer to form than she had hoped. Choppy seas seemed to do little for this school, and she looked again to the border, mentally urging her craft, already sailing at top speed, to somehow find a way to go just a little faster and leave that much sooner. She returned to singing again, to whip the storm faster.

The fish came closer. She could make out their dark eyes now, not yet having gone the red she knew was sure to come. As they came in range, she fired warning shots, petrifying those that her spell impacted, and those sank toward the bottom of the sea. Others continued skimming toward her though, wetting their scales briefly before lunging along. Several eyes had begun to go red, and she knew that now not only did they see her, but smelled her as well, tasted her on the air the way a shark tasted it's food in the waters.

Fire this time, keeping the school out of swarming distance. She conjured it on the surface of the waters and spread it like a vermillion and gold carpet of pain. A fair amount of them landed right in it, lighting up and burning as well as if spitted and thrust in. Guilt settled over her at the screams, though she was not extinguishing their existence. She added to their suffering in protecting herself. As the Devil's Fire began to crackle around her and cover her boat, she extinguished the fire she had created, heaving a sigh of relief to have escaped, even if only so narrowly.

~~~~*~~~~

Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.

Please consider making a donation. They accelerate postings, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.

Donate Here via Paypal
rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)

"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies. The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and Wizarding society, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.

Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my
Lulu outlet and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.

If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the
ToC on the Sticky Note.


Chapter 9 is not done yet, but the first part is certainly ready. The whole chapter so far looks as if it is going to cover at least two and more possibly three installments by the time it is fully done. The coming few weeks are going to be busy with family things and travel if things go as planned, so I will try to have the full chapter ready and the posts set up for auto posting before I do go... or at least the next installment scheduled to auto post.



Selkies' Skins
Chapter 9 part 1
Soul Fish

~~~~*~~~~

Time stretched oddly here, and when the winds blew they held an odd touch, causing the fur of Etain's pelt to stand on end under her clothes, prickling and catching. Strange eddies and currents, contrary to the ones that she would have expected in the level of reality she was used to, sometimes pulled or pushed her boat off course during her periods of rest, despite the spells on the craft. The pocket had gone on for leagues so far, with no clue that she could find as to where the other end of it lay.

What bothered Etain most were the flying fish. Turning to look again, the silver fishes were still following. Above the water they skimmed, only submerging briefly enough to wet their scales, and then onward they would fly again, staring at her and her vessel with those strange, humanesque faces- calling out messages that they wanted relayed. Worse yet were the ones that looked like doomed clerics as they recited prayers in Latin, gaping with soulful eyes and warning her not to tarry or risk becoming one of them.

As she watched, one won its way onto the deck, sending a shiver up her spine, and her gut to turn. If it were an ordinary fish, she'd run out there in an instant, snatch it up, and eat it raw to help replenish her energy. The face and moaning instead made her use magic to sweep it off the deck and back to the sea, with another shudder as she imagined what it might be like to have to touch one- or what one could do given the right opportunity.

"Fish definitely shouldn't talk..." Etain shuddered. Ahead, she finally saw the flickering and shifting where one reality met another, hoping it truthfully was the one she sought, knowing the strangeness of the sea.

A hump in the water caught her attention, then winked out of existence. Shortly after, it came back to sight, much closer than she would have expected if it were mere flotsam, and repeated the pattern, heading her way at speed. Behind her, the fishes sent up a keening cry, lifting their slimy lips and exposing teeth that went unseen. Their morbid aura increased to one of malevolence, then they changed course, skittering away.

"Prepare defenses, my girl... Upper and lower." Etain muttered to her boat, gripping the wheel and turning hard to starboard, seeking to avoid the creature in front of her, whatever it would turn out to be. In reply, her boat strained, banking in eagerness as it leaned into the turn and cut through the sea. A shimmer ran over the boat, then spread out beyond, very different from the Devil's Fire that had encompassed it when entering the pocket reality.

This time, a giant head rose, grey and reptilian with fierce sword teeth. A neck followed next, carrying the head higher, smooth and muscular, bearing sleek silver scales. Beady black eyes glowered down at her before it struck, first with its head and then flipping itself around for a blow with its tail when the head met resistance.

Both times the magic field flared to life with a zapping, electric sound as it drove off the sea serpent, and bolts of blue flickered around the boat. Both times the shield held. The sea serpent hissed, and slipped below the water.

Etain continued watching for it. Sea serpents were rarely so easy, especially the larger ones such as this.

"Full sail, add emergency propulsion." she commanded her vessel, while conjuring a hard tail wind to aid the forward advance. It was with relief that she felt the winds respond.

Yet, the wind still responded too slow to her spell.

Her boat was pressed upward under her feet, not in the usual rhythm of the swells, and she gritted her teeth as the creature tried knocking her craft up out of the water, no doubt hoping to have her boat smash on the return. Running to the side, she was in time to see the head slide once again below the waves, and that the waves were now some fair distance below her keel. The shields were flared to life again where the head had impacted.

"Want te play do ye?" She loosed a blast with her wand toward where the beast would be, no sympathy, as it would have none for her.

The water churned upward violently where the red fireball had struck, leaving a crater that revealed a burned side, already being covered over again as the sea flowed back in. A moment later, gravity brought the boat down again.

~~~~*~~~~
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February 2017

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