rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

My apologies for the long delay. At least the move is done and I can get back to work and writing.

Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 33
Chapter 13 part 3
Skinned

 

The familiar trickle began again from Kirsty’s nose and the taste of salt slipped over her tongue. Tearing, that was the best way she could comprehend the feeling in her head. Another bit of herself tearing away, a thread being pulled stiffly and inexorably from her being, from her past. Unraveling. Skinning. Worse than having had to give up her human covering to be fit to be reborn.


“We can fix this, tell me, what do you see with your sight, Daughter?” The Weissefrau’s voice cut through the pain. She drew Kirsty into the water step by step. It rose higher as they went.


The lad with them reached for Kirsty, but was restrained by the old Lightkeeper.


Kirsty wiped at her nose with he sleeve as she gathered her focus to look. “There’s a red light all around the edges, pulsing like a heart. I feel… something. It’s not right.”


The Weissefrau had her to her shoulders now in the cold waters. “Like you’re being unmade, my dear?”


“Yes.”


“Then on you go. Follow the light like a good girl on out. Begin to be remade.” Before Kirsty’s eyes could clear and her lips form the question she shoved the maid down. Kirsty’s mouth was still open and the human sputtered as the last of what was holding her was pulled away by some celestial weaver beyond the span of space and time known to mortals. Bubbles of air rose to the surface as the blood flowed again and the water turned red.


The lad wrenched himself free of the Lightkeeper finally, heaving himself at the terrible goddess of water and bone left in the natural well. Before he collided a wall of water engulfed him and held him to face the Weissefrau. Her ice grey eyes bored into him as she watched the water win its way into him. “Noble intent, poor execution, mere human understanding after all you’ve seen. I am not the one that will harm her. You might have seen her success and your children might have mingled with her had you heeded my Lightkeeper and your vows to me.”


As Kirsty’s body was pulled through a passage below, the lad’s body floated to one side of the deity’s domain. The Weissefrau threw back her head and howled. In the distance a pack of wolves answered and began their way. The Lightkeeper looked away, and she smiled grimly. “Perhaps in a way, he still might get what he’d have liked just not as he’d hoped.”


“My Lady?” The Lightkeeper chanced a look at her. She still was too terrible to behold for long and he looked away well aware his sleep would be disturbed for some time by her visage.


She shook her head and adjusted a cloak around herself before sitting on a rock. “Stop blaming yourself, I know you are. He’d have stolen it if she does survive this turn. You can go back now. If they ask, I have claimed them.”


“As you say.” He kept his face and his feeling so long as he could control them neutral as possible until he was back off her path. The deity, for her part, dispersed back into her water, releasing herself to it and trying to be fluid enough to determine what was being changed.


~


Farther back in the tunnel Raechel found a thick oak door reinforced with spells and hammered iron. The tunnel continued further beyond the door, beckoning. Below her she could feel a passage of water leading back to the sea, presumably through the cave she had come through. The passage below would have of necessity worn through some weakness in the stone around her.


Behind the door is what interested her most. Something large was contained within the chamber. Though it seemed to sleep it pressed at the edges of the containment much the same as did the creatures that Mara kept contained in certain rooms of her central temple and the deepest depths. Its presence was palpable, causing her short-hairs to prickle and rise in warning and her longer hairs to lift a little as she tensed. Trying the door she could not unlock it, nor could she force or undo these spells, not without trying to blast it off the hinges with energy she preferred to keep for later. She did feel the thing behind the door move though. The shifting turned her stomach, made her quake, and yet thrilled her.


“I’ll be back for you later, perhaps.” She whispered through the door, pressing against it and grinning. “We’ll have some fun, yes? Whatever you are.”


There was a smack of something on rock behind, and a splash. Raechel giggled and squirmed, stroking the door as a shimmer of green continued fighting against the purifying spell the child had unleashed on her.


She blew a kiss to the thing behind the door and continued along the passage, following it upward.


Raechel’s exploration ended at a thick oak door at the top of a long, narrow, cramped set of steep stairs. The cliff stone complained darkly on her way up. Here things sat silent and brooding over untold secrets, lies, and a hint of blood. The door barring her way was not like the doors below the sea. No hinge revealed which way it swung. There was iron binding it, but instead was in bands reinforcing all the way across. Her hands explored and fingers prodded everything that looked as if it might be a trigger.


She winced when her fingers brushed the iron, placed the worst of them in her mouth and frowned. A sickly green pulsed briefly and red mist spread along the bar.


Behind the door a presence lingered, stirred, its attention gained by her searching.


She stilled, breath bated, listening, straining.


~


The table beside his chair held the dregs of cold tea, dark and muddy as the hearts of most of his family but at least slightly warmer. Belial leaned forward in his chair, slender hands covering his face and fingers trying to press away the aches within his skull. Tendrils of bleached sun had worked out of the ribbon he used to bind back his hair, sticking with sweat. Before him on the grate tinges of blue, green, and purple leached out of the fire and back into the wholesome reds and oranges that indicated no demon manifested within it to him today. On the walls around him lurked memorabilia of wrecks, or more accurately ‘harvests’ that those sharing his name had done before him. Among them hung several of their ancient rival’s inhuman pelts.


Glazed eyes gazed down upon him, thoughts guarded.


They did not speak to his siblings or the others, but sometimes they gave him wary advice, and even comfort.


The pelt he kept tucked and hidden safe inside his clothing continued murmuring to him, pleas and curses, promises and threats. Choking soul screamed questions dug deep into his ears and heart with poison tipped claws. Had his storm turned her course though? Had he managed to keep her from going there despite her headstrong and imperious burning of his warning letter?


He knew she burnt it. He’d seen it in his gazing ball. He’d heard the little harrumph of said pelt. How many times had she made that sound at him before when he asked her to be careful?


Perhaps this duplicitous treachery of his family name was finally driving him insane, but it was worth it. He rarely got to see her, and when in public when acknowledging each other they had to fight to keep suspicion at bay. Those nights when she came to dance with her brothers and sisters of the pelt below the moon were worth it, every fear-lanced moment that he watched and feared the others would also pick her out among them. So too were the brief times he got to be father to the little one.


He winced when the log in the fire popped and sang, doing what it could to drive out the chill that always fell whenever he gazed or rose the storms. His fingers dug harder. He tried to weave and coax the energies the way Salena had tried to teach him one horribly hungover morning in a port far away, but his clumsy fingers merely slipped, and the spell tangled and died. Healing never had been his gift.


The ball of quartz on the table beside his chair clouded again, this time with red mist. Pulsing, beating, it continued and waited for his eyes to fall on it. He, however, eventually stood and made his way out of the room. He needed something stronger than what he had recently taken in order to tame the still mounting headache. The mist grew insistently thicker within the orb, but the master paid no heed and the door shut behind him.


~


After a timeless stretch of suspended breath Raechel began moving again and broadening her search. She conjured another orb of light and suspended it to light her way, finally finding a snake shaped protuberance to her right side in the stone. Running her fingers over the smoothness she finally found the trigger and the door slid to the side revealing a room that looked in her eyes to be some sort of combination of library and soul prison.


She stepped inside and the door — it was truly a whole book case — slid back into position. Unless she could find the trigger later she was trapped. A gazing orb throbbed an angry, furious blood-red on the stand where it lurked. If her eye lingered she saw the equally furious spirit pounding the barrier of crystal as it screamed unheard alarms. The selkie skins mounted about the room refused eye contact and speech with her. She could see they still contained part of the soul and consciousness of their former owners, but each eye contained the unfocused and glassy look of rejection. Raechel knew this gaze well already. The Sleeping Souls put to rest in the Temple back home all rebuked her in the same way since she gained the Taint whenever she entered the Chambers of the Box to lay out another set aside skin for the day it would be needed again.


Raechel closed her eyes and forced back the tear that threatened before turning to inspect more of the room. These probably all belonged to surface dwellers. What did they know, traitors? Perhaps these skins were better out of circulation, like The Ronan’s.


The pull started again, leading her away from the lavish darknesses of the firelit room and its rich wooden cases to before the fireplace itself. Of their own will her hands rose to the mantle and she heard herself speaking strange words her throat should not have been capable of. They came from deep inside, curling and coiling out with languid stretches and tickling places that her former love had not been able to reach, nor had the courage to search for. A slow smile curled in response, thirsty for more.


The invocation ended and the fire turned a sickly green.


A form gathered in the flames, the face of a darkly handsome male. The eyes bored into her know, finally out of the dreams that dominated her nights. For now any memory of Bethrise, whether during their fight or their good times, faded. She barely felt the tingles from the frayed ends of the roughly severed thread as the other end attempted to reach her.


“You are Astereth.” Raechel was not fully sure where the knowledge came from.


“I am.”


This should have bothered her. She should reject him. Now.


“Yet you do not wish me removed from your blood.”


“No.”


“You feel empty. Rejected.”


“Yes.”


“You feel that Mara prefers the land dweller, and an interbred bloodline at that.”


Raechel nodded, bit her lip, curled it and snorted whilst displaying a fang.


“She does, you know.” The being continued. “I know their bloodline well. She always has preferred them over the ones that stay within her.” The voice curled and stroked her ears, caressed the sensitive place on the bridge of her nose that all selkies shared.


“Why am I not good enough? I’ve given her myself. I’ve lost my mate. I wield her spear even though she’s damn well capable of doing so herself were she bothered. Why am I not enough?” Raechel hissed, stepping closer to the fire and pressing into the caresses. Unnoticed flames licked her feet as her eyes stayed pinned by the apparition.


“Nothing is ever enough for her, nor her sister either truthfully. They press, they demand, they entice. Yet they leave their dedicants in the end. I know of the pain, too personally. I would not leave you for some child that isn’t even a whole being.”


Raechel shivered, arched into the promise and then as quickly pulled away.


“I know you’ve heard similar before. I can prove my troth though. Come through the fire. There is a talisman in the vaults hidden here that you can use against your burrowing insect. Make her hurt, make her bleed. Already there is one using it in another time to do the same, and you can make it worse for her. You can even use it to regain your mate, make him abandon those soft ones you envy so. Perhaps even bend the rejectors of the Cailleach to your will as well. Come.”


Raechel stepped through the flames, taken through the wards and into the vaults that once were innermost parts of the Sacred Cavern before the land had risen and the sea fallen in the area. Saltwater lay still in a pool in the center of the room. In the midst of this rose the stark remains of a dais where a sundered seat and broken box of stone from which trickled a steady stream of surprisingly fresh smelling water held court over an array of riches and dangers. A being of sickly flame stood at the edge of the pool.


“Right now it is down there due to a ill planned move.” The being spared a poisonous look back the way they had come. “I cannot go down to fish it out, nor would I be able to bring it up even if I could penetrate her waters. There are two bloods that can, and I bear none.” Astereth chuckled a bit, then scowled as his companion did not respond to his joke.


Raechel did not wince from him. “Is there anything I should know before I dive in?”


“I am not sure. It is being protected, but the fall obscured certain knowledge from me regarding the spell that went in with it.”


Raechel wrinkled her nose and knelt at the edge, adjusting her skin around herself as she gazed in. She brushed her senses over the water, closed the skin and shivered her whiskers. Gingerly she dipped a flipper in.


No pushback.


She slipped in. Astereth smiled. The water pulsed. Astereth scowled. On the table in the library above the gazing orb filled the room with a baleful light as it awaited its master.

 

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

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


rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

My apologies for the long delay. At least the move is done and I can get back to work and writing.

Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 32
Chapter 13 part 2
Skinned

 

Kirsty took a little time to recover before sitting up. Quiet burbles and coos attracted everyone’s attention to a drawer beneath the bed and Selena disappeared for a moment to open it. She reappeared a moment later with a chubby child clutched to her bosom who seemed blissfully unaware that they had weathered a storm, or that there was anything that had been wrong at all. Kirsty looked where the baby had come from quizzically.

 

“What? Topside wouldn’t have been the place for her and she’ll not do well away from me for long yet. The sea’s her home too, like mine.” Selena grinned a bit. “Like yours, too.”

 

“What would have happened to her had we sunk?” Kirsty ventured, frowning.

 

“Same as the rest of us, but she’d have been... more comfortable.” Selena took to baby over to the chair at her desk.

 

Kirsty took advantage of the space to investigate the drawer a little more. Something half familiar prickled the back of her mind, then submerged again.

 

Salena fed her baby while the young man blushed and slid out after making excuses to seeing about the rest of the crew, and that he was glad the young lady was seemingly well again.

 

Kara shook her head. “That’s the lad I was talking about earlier. Seems to already have taken a shine to you.”

 

Kirsty blushed and made a worried sound. “Sweet of him, but I have a boy I’m interested in elsewhere already. He’ll be waiting.” She made her way to a window and looked out over the water, puzzling her next move and watching for the Lightkeeper.

 

“Too bad. He’s a good lad.” Selena commented, burping her child and putting it in a sling. The baby eagerly turned itself where it could watch the world and wiggled chubby lightly webbed fingers.

 

Kirsty glanced at her, then blinked, confused at the baby’s momentary resemblance to a young Morvan, but it was gone again. “He seems so.”

 

Things bumped along awkwardly until Kirsty was topside again and the Lightkeeper was pulling up in his boat bringing provisions. He and Selena eyed each other even more awkwardly while her baby burbled and drooled. Kirsty wanted to go ashore to explore the lighthouse facilities and surroundings, half expecting to be told no. After a bit of hemming and hawing she was given leave.

 

And so she went. Unexpected by herself but seemingly expected by the Lightkeeper the boy was sent with her to keep an eye on her and to give her aid until she was sent for again. Kirsty was not certain what to think of the news that later in the day one of the boats would be sent to retrieve her after she had had adequate time to speak with the Lightkeeper regarding her quest, and to give the Captain time to chart the next course while crew saw about restocking fish from the schools in the natural harbor.

 

Kirsty settled into a chair in what passed for the living room, the Lightkeeper offering tea made from the waters from the well of the Wisenfrau.

 

“So, you quest.” The Lightkeeper began, as if the conversation through the miles had not ended.

 

“Yes. I seek the Temple of Mara. What can you tell me?” Kirsty looked round, fascinated by the lighthouse, unsure how to react to the power focused in and by the building. Had the lighthouse at home felt this way to her ancestors before Mara’s rages?

 

“It’s nearer and farther than you think, going by what is handed down to us Keepers. We only have bits and pieces. The Abbey has others.”

 

Kirsty pondered his words as he brought a lantern very similar to Mrs. Kitsch’s over to the seating they gathered at, and a plate of fish and seaweed that wound up in front of her. She ate as she considered. “How do I know I’m even on the right path?” Kirsty finally asked as she looked up from the meal, having been much hungrier than she’d thought.

 

He fiddled with the lantern, polishing it. At least it seemed to Kirsty that’s what he was doing. “You don’t. None of us ever know if we’re following the path we are meant to take. Often we stray far from it.”

 

Kirsty sipped her tea now that it was cool enough, the well water spreading through her slowly and balancing the preponderance of Mara’s salt she’d picked up over her journey.

 

The lad listened quietly, leaning forward as if by simply doing so he felt that he could lend some sort of aid. The Lightkeeper smiled secretively at the motion that had gone completely unnoticed by the young maid.

 

“There’s a cave nearby that’s supposedly sacred to your folk.” He lit the lantern after he was satisfied. Pinpricks of light shone about the darkened room, an array of stars for a mariner. “We are here.” He pointed. “It is there.” He pointed at one nearby. “Here is where the Weissefrau’s well is.” His finger moved again, and then onward. “Here is where the Abbey currently is. That moves sometimes, when a raid is imminent.”

 

Kirsty studied the light-map and it gradually dawned on her that there were times when she was very little, and Grandma had visited with Mrs. Kitsch that many of these lights had been danced on their walls to entertain her. The star for the cave drew her strongest.

 

“If I were you, child, I’d return to your path as fast as is possible. My gut tells me that the cave is where you need to go.”

 

The lad cleared his throat. “Excuse me, but isn’t that the cave the selkies are fighting with the Lillitu’s over? I can’t help but notice how some of these points correlate with some of Captain’s maps, and that matches an area we are normally careful when sailing near.”

 

“It is. The seafolk are losing many such places now.”

 

“So how are we to get her there? I’m not sure our Captain would be very for taking her there, though right now she is not in the best state to guess.”

 

The Lightkeeper looked the boy over slowly. “They seem to always get younger,” he mused. “Leave or not, she has to go.”

 

Silence settled over the room, deep and uncomfortable as a shroud too small for the wearer and donned while still living. The threads of time and fate continued to be woven and to the three it seemed as if they could feel competing designs, needles and shuttles battling to have dominance. Kirsty gripped her head and groaned, leaning forward as blood began to drip from one nostril and her attention pulled to where she should have been.

 

As she sat and the boy pulled out a questionable kerchief that was attempted to be kept clean and functional she felt the bed on her back and saw the dim figure of David at her side. The pressure of his hand on hers was as real as the nose she now held pinched in her fingers.

 

Finally the wave passed. “Bring her to me, now.” An older woman’s voice slid through their minds. “Quickly.”

 

The Lightkeeper nodded and sighed, rising. “The Lady has spoken.”

 

Heading out the door he led the way along the promontory, which sloped downward to meet the mainland. How far the walk was away from the light was hard for Kirsty to guess. Just like home at Selkie Point time and space folded oddly here. It could have been any distance. The way Kirsty’s feet tingled she would have also been willing to bet a pint of mead that someone in the past had ensorcelled the path to further facilitate speed of travel for the correct people.

 

Or perhaps the Weissefrau simply was pulling on them in the same way that sometimes The Lady did when she was in a very demanding mood.

 

The terrain changed. Things seemed denser, greener. Mist rose from the forest they had ventured into. Darkness rolled back and swirled near again as they passed. Eyes watched their progress from trees. Chitterings spoke of squirrels, chipmunks, and other nameless things. Once or twice when turning her head towards a rustle Kirsty caught a flash of white or green, and a mossy limb being drawn back behind a tree.

 

The lad pressed closer to her, put an arm around her. She pressed her lips until the headache stabbed again. It was only then that she felt truly grateful for the arm around her, as she stumbled and would have fallen if not for the quick reply of the other arm.

 

The Lightkeeper looked back at them with hooded eyes.

 

Kirsty wished it had been David traveling with them. The eyes of the boy had something that was beginning to look possessive.

David might have actually punched him if there, or mauled him if in wolf form.

 

The forest drew in tighter again before spreading out into a meadow. A clear spring welled up among rocks, flowing sedately away toward some river via a creek it had carven over untold centuries. Moss hung heavy on the trees around the edge, draperies and hair.

 

Watching closely, she thought she could see the forest breathe.

 

The spring watched, kept company by the forest. Whether the forest was male or female she could not be entirely certain. The local forest spirit was grudgingly sharing the company of the water with them though.

 

“I have brought the child. She seeks to be a woman and whole.” The Lightkeeper barely raised his voice, the tone reverent. The forest caught and magnified the short speech.

 

“Come closer child, let me see you.” Beside the spring stood an old woman, her visage constantly shifting. One moment she was tall and strong, the next gnome-sized and twisted like pines on the coastline. Her hand took Kirsty’s once her feet had done the deity’s bidding; her touch was sandpaper. “Oh, you are worse than I had thought. Poor child. You are far off of your proper path.”

 

The familiar trickle began again from Kirsty’s nose and the taste of salt slipped over her tongue.

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

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


rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 30
Chapter 12 part 3
finally titled: Stormsong

 

 The storm raged and Kirsty sang into it, trying to calm it, pretending it was just an angry unicorn or disgruntled dragon. The storm did not listen, instead whirling through the skies and repeatedly hefting the hems of Mara’s Skirt, drenching beyond the bone those cursed to be above deck. Below deck was not much drier for those manning the bilge.

Meanwhile Kirsty could feel the captain and her craft, their energies inextricably intertwined. The craft seemed to be in disagreement with where captain Makay, “Moribeth-Makay,” the ship supplied, wanted to go.

The captain strove to a someone that the ship gave dissonant groans of dislike and distrust regarding. She oozed conflicting feelings that squeezed Kirsty’s stomach as she continued trying to tame the storm. Song after song the storm ignored. There was an unnatural taste to its energy, dark, hurt, conflicted. It reached for the captain of the craft just as much as it pushed away. Strangely it felt almost like a much cleaner version of Lilitu’s energy. Behind the storm Kirsty’s soul, laid bare so she could do her best attempts, she felt another mind lurking and darting.

Still the captain strove toward the man, reaching out with her own gifts. The ship continued dreaming only of ports pointedly far away from the flashes of white-blond hair and the glints of green eyes that Kirsty caught sight of now and then at the moments before the storm’s fury would rise.

Something familiar began to creep into Kirsty’s thoughts. She could hear the clang and smell the scents of battle and powder despite seeing no source of it. The chill of death and despair gripped her as undeniably as the soul wrenching kiss and touch of the Things was said to be.

Was one of them out in the storm? Kirsty’s concentration and song faltered at the thought, and her focus slipped to trying to feel if one was within her range. Without Byron or David, would she be able to fend one off? Were any of the crew learned in that sort of magic. Were any of them learned in magic at all besides the captain and possibly her first mate?

The choice will be soon...” The voice of her thoughts was not her own, deep, creaky as beams in the wind, raspy as if it had been sawed and hacked to be given life. “Can you save my captain’s soul? I fear she will lose it soon, one way or the other.” The voice was more masculine than feminine, difficult to pin. Distinctly possessive. Jealous. Afraid.

“How so?” Kirsty sang into the wind, the words snatched inaudibly from her lips.

I can’t fight my captain long, but she’s set course for the reason these people need an apothecary again. Their relationship... is stormy.”

Kirsty wanted to be anywhere else, home preferably. Somewhere away from storms and the sting of salt and water slamming into her with hate. It made her think too much of the night her grandmother was gone and the storm that took more of the lighthouse ruins.

Lighthouse.

The image rose in her mind and her song changed. She imagined a light to guide the ship to safe port and to warn of familiar rocks. Out beyond the point on what was once a connected tip the tower strove and held a torch against a tearing sky trying to claw the flame from the proffered hand against the fears and the perils of the darkness. A pointed silhouette waited, holding aloft it’s own light in the room, ready to relight the lamp with spell or match.

A twang on her heart from a familiar cord, and she hefted back, discovering on the other end not the wizened Mrs. Kitsch, but someone from a time far older than she and no Cowan. The face though, he certainly was a Kitsch. The light he manned was not the light of Seal Point, though she could feel the connection to it. Words came and she strove to catch them from the vision. Understanding of them did not come, they weren’t her language, guttural and beautiful at once. Strength radiated from the chanced on guide.

Kirsty gave voice to these words. Distantly she could hear the gasps of Salena and the dismayed groan of Kara. The image of the answering tower rose in her mind fully and combined with the image of her home port and how it must be in this time that either she was in or the ghosts were from, and the power of her changed song grew. The voice of the ship fell back.

Kirsty sang of hope and home. She sang of safety through the storm and mince pies in ovens wafting curls of steam. Every image she could think of she wrapped up with the light, giving flesh to the ghosts of the Kitsches. The selkie lass imagined herself holding up the old lantern Mrs. Kitsch still so carefully kept back at home and used from time to time, sharing her light in reply to the light of the tower.

Around the ship the storm drew back and calmed somewhat, not quite tamed, not quite driven back, but no longer answering here to the wizard that had conjured it in the first place. Kirsty could feel him pressing and trying to claim her holding back. She reached inside herself for yet more and knowingly touched the heart of the sea. She had no time to pay attention to the shift in herself. The lives of those on this boat for now were more important to her than her quest.

The ship’s course changed and it leapt eagerly along it, driven by the magic filling its torn sails. Against the physical wind it ran, which still ran in accordance with the laws of the current storm. The spiritual wind, however, answered to the blooming Mara priestess as she balanced the powers of witch and representative within herself. Finally, hoarse, they seemed to be at the edge of the storm.

A lighthouse beckoned them. Captain Moribeth-Makay made for the safe waters and avoided the rocks, finally dropping anchor as the last of the storm died away. Her lips pressed thin as she surveyed the jagged wooded coastline. It was not where she had wanted to go, but Salena didn’t have the heart to voice it. She could vaguely feel him though, and that meant a chance to either get back at him or discover if there was a plot afoot to drive them apart despite how badly they wanted the ancient feud ended.

A slightly taller, slightly older Kirsty slumped where she was still tied, head bowed and rasping as tangles obscured her face. The captain pressed her lips tighter on seeing what had happened to the girl, stroking her own sealskin where she had it hidden on her person. Why was the girl not already in control of her body again? Her last stormsinger never seemed quite so drained in the aftermath.

Cheers went up from the crew when it sank in they were safe, at least for now. Kirsty sank to the decking when untied, too far still in the grip of the energies she’d been working with to notice, nor to feel the crush of those coming to thank her. Neither did she hear the captain’s words nor those of Kara, or the shoulder of the lad that somehow wound up under her head when she was lifted up to be cared for when he offered to help take her below. What she did feel was the careful untanglings of the old Lightkeeper as he undid her youthful and untrained too tight grasping of the safety anchor he had offered when the seals that kept him company had set up their panicked cries before she had slammed into his mind.

Mara preserve us, but you’re an old one to be so rough. Weren’t you ever paying attention when your elders trained you?” his distant comment floated by. The voice sounded nearly like Father Ronan to her, but not quite. Perhaps a distant relative? Certainly the wrong accent. This was more like David’s accent than anything Celtic.

“Probably Mara’s work alone, but what I just went through is not something covered in school where I’m from.” She answered him.

By this time she was already laid on the captain’s bed again. The captain, Kara, and the lad collectively frowned as Kirsty spoke aloud, believing her words meant for them. Speaking in her sleep after such an adventure was likely not a good sign. The lad dabbed a dampened cloth over her parched lips, looking to the others to see if they would explain what a school was. Surely not a bunch of fish the way she said it.

A cruel thing that’s been done to you then child.” the Lightkeeper replied, in her mind and still unheard by the others, still tangled a bit overly much in the young selkie’s energy net. “You seem unbalanced right now. If your ship will be here long enough I can bring some of the Weisse Frau’s water. Surely your crew you are caring for need to restock on fresh drink.”

“I don’t know about cruel. I also don’t know if they need more water, I’ve not been aboard long.” She replied, unaware still of her surroundings or the eyes on her. “But yes Lightkeeper they probably could use fresh water, and if the Weisse Frau’s water is anything like The Lady’s back home I could definitely use some.”

The voice grew quieter as he untangled more of her net from himself. “I’ll bring some then. When you wake you can tell the others if you have enough voice.” One little bit remained tethered besides the Kitsch thread. “This is an impressive net you’ve made yourself.” He threw the remaining tangle off, and then Kirsty was alone in her mind again.

 

“Impressive net? What is he talking about? I had no hands free to throw a net... Strange.” Kirsty mumbled, her lips and throat stinging, but seemingly not as bad as they had been. She opened her eyes tiredly to see three confused sets staring back at her, and a pair of hands still keeping a damped cloth ready.

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

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


rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

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

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



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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Kirsty. Kirsten Makay.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

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


rainstardragon: (selkies skins)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 28
Chapter 12 part 
not titled yet

 

 

 Kirsty eventually fell into a stupor, laying down on her side right there on the floor of the depths. She’d been on the move for so long, then there was the fighting against what had turned out to be a spell from a rival. “So much for selkies having only weak magic, you elitist sods,” she thought bitterly in the direction of every person she’d ever heard utter their speciesist drivel. Then there was the fight against the spellcaster, and who knew what she was learning of dark magic whispered to her by Astereth. On top of that there was the strain on her mind with slipping back and forth between times. She should never have listened to the Spiralis snake and strained ahead more than she already had been.

Sleep. The arms of sleep and the soothing siren song was what she needed to allow body, mind, and soul to knit. Something in her had activated when her heart was touched by Mara’s spear, but finding out what exactly it was could wait.

Sleep. The word pounded through her with the rhythm of tide and moon. It pulled at her, fogging her mind until all was dark, even though it already was so, save for the places glowing with their phosphorescence. Only those of the temple monitoring her progress would be able to know for how long she slept like that, and even then their kenning would not be accurate due to the way time worked on the Maze and the Initiatory Tests.

Sleep. The command continued long after she had finally lost the battle against it. With the stilling of her body her mind and soul turned focus on the inner work that needed doing. Desperately she grasped and grappled with the things knocked loose inside herself. Weaving and knitting, knotting and plying repairs were made.

Meanwhile something else went on. Between the relaxed fingers webbing wove, born of the gossamer threads pulled from herself. Sleeping fingers danced through long practiced gesticulations, conjuring and knotting netting unlike any of rope she’d previously made at lochside or seaside. They had so long practiced these knots that they worked easily even in her sleep.

Kirsty’s awareness drifted in sweet velvet nothing for a time healing before she heard voices. First those of her mother and Mara, urgent whispers as they sought a way through an unknown force, then the moon shone on Mara’s stricken face. Tear salt tracked her cheeks with their crusty sheen as more tears slid down their tracks, Etain clutched tightly in her arms where she stood before a somber veil blowing in a breeze that touched neither selkie nor goddess.

She called, of course she did. Whether Kirsty was heard by them was another story, but perhaps... Why was she seeing them through the gate the veil guarded? She reached out to touch the gate, but the burning chill was as if she were somewhere between trackless stars and back in the arctic winter all at once. It suited the stone room that choked around her.

The scene changed. Suddenly Ven’thrith was at her side and they were both standing on some rocks, white cloak of dreaming and insanity covering them both. The gate had moved. If the moon deity knew she was there Kirsty couldn’t tell. He, and he was definitely male this time instead of female or that hemaphroditic form he also used, was more focused on peering through the gate and clenching his fists. “They’ll be here soon, Mara, I’m sure of it.”

“Good. See where your meddling has brought us this time.”

“Not every plan of mine to make things better can work as planned, I am the moon, here...”

“Yes, yes. Cyclically fickle and as difficult to have any time with as Herne. How long do you think? Feeding Etain is creating quite the drain, more than I’d have expected. I’ve not done this in awhile, like this.”

“I’m sorry. It shouldn’t be long. Mimir will be guiding Finnol, and with the true figurehead that should give us just enough to pull her back through.”

Mara sighed, slumped, nodded. Ven’thrith laid his hands on either side of the gate and pressed forward. Kirsty realized then that she had never seen either of them at the sizes they were. He spanned it, and her mother looked like a child of moonlight cradled in the arms of the sea goddess, her dress lapping and crashing around the slight frame and her mother herself nude save for the bit of fur and the goddess’ cloak tucked over her. “I just hope he gets here in time. Seven tears can’t call a selkie back from this side of the veil anymore... not all the time.”

“No,” Ven’thrith smiled, the light of the moon just beginning to wax from him again. “But do you hear that my dear? I believe I hear someone stirring, though what he’s up to I can’t say. Something’s happened to allow him to act or send someone though.”

The wind brought from land the sounds of hooves, a horn Kirsty recognized well, the baying of dogs, and the calls of wolves. Her heart leapt at the sounds of the Wild Hunt.

“And how do we know we don’t just hear young Valnarius completing his own initiations and earning his place?”

“Perhaps, but this feels different. That is soon, but not yet. I’ve been looking forward to watching his own trials and seeing if he does earn a proper place.” Ven’thrith giggled, the sound clashing with the sturdiness of his frame. “I’d like to think that Astereth finally tripped up again.”

“I won’t hold that hope. I just want him gone from our realms for good this time.” Mara turned her head and spat.

The visions faded and the velvet returned, this time with silk drawing over her face, then around her like the winding sheet she knew one day she would be given. She dreaded it kissing her mother. At some point the now finished net, gleaming silver and gold with the enchantments and soulstuff of an apprentice priestess of the sea, had wrapped around her as her body drifted with current and tide. Her very own shroud. She drifted still in the empty sea as her consciousness returned again, the waters warm now, like a good hot bath freshly drawn.

At last, she opened her eyes.

She stifled a scream at finding herself netted yet again, and no hands on the outside to free her of the dread entanglement. Her terror rose when she recognized enspellments on the netting, tied in every knot and woven in every fiber. She reached to her belt for a stone knife to cut her way free but once her desire reached cognizance she found the gold and silver shroud falling and slipping off of her like water before she could sever even one thread.

Soon, it lay beside her, a shimmering puddle of will. Inspecting it she recognized her own work and frowned. Bundling it for transport she discovered how compact it could be and she tied this to her belt.

Perhaps this will come in handy later. I have no memory of making this though. So, when? How?” She thought.

Kirsty focused her eyes next on smoothly worked stone walls then pushed herself up. Water lapped at her tail and dripped from the ceiling. She rubbed her eyes and blinked, but the worked stone still greeted her eyes.

She gave herself a good rake with her claws on what would have been her thigh, stifled a yelp, and flopped back down unceremoniously to look about from that ungainly angle, trying to figure out how she could have made her way here when the last she remembered was being unable to continue swimming far in the deeps.

Absolutely nothing greeted her inquiries save the lapping of the tide and the dripping further into the worked room.

“Mara’s fins...” she grumbled and pulled herself further up the shore. Her stomach growled, demanding filling and uncaring that its protests might attract something that ate beached selkies.

Kirsty grimaced, looking even more carefully for something that might be hungry, even though she was pretty sure this ordeal was shaving off all the lovely padding she’d been working so hard on putting on in preparation for the trek.

Nothing came, and the only routes available to her seemed to be forward into the dry cave, or backward into the water. If she had drifted in her sleep though it was no telling where the turns in the maze were, and the further she wound in the less she understood about how it worked.

She dragged herself further up the smooth beach, grateful to not have her underbelly raked by rough rocks. How soon would the paste wear off? She’d not had to take any for a very long time now.

Hopefully she’d not overdosed and become stuck this way. Then she’d need a skin even more just to be able to walk. “That would definitely be under ‘things never to tell David, ever.’” Kirsty thought to herself as she flopped down to rest and wait.

Idly, she traced her fingers over the crescent mark that Ven’thrith had left on her when inside The Lady’s well, focusing on what it had been like to have two legs and hoping that this would speed the hoped for transformation.

After what seemed to be an eternity of heartbeats she felt the tingling spreading over her body and the familiar searing splitting up her tail and bones shifting. She burned as her fur retreated and thinned, until at last her half pelt covered her from thigh to near the shoulder again, noting that it seemed to cover less area than the last time she had been in her birth form.

 

Several tentative steps later she was making her way through the dry passage.

 

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

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


rainstardragon: (selkies skins)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)





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

 


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

And now this episode:

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

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

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

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

Kirsty’s blood itched.

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

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

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

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

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

“What?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

“Our Lady willing.” The first replied.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“As you say then, Lorekeeper.”

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

 

 

 

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

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

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


rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

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






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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pressure mounted. Fur pricked.

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

For what purpose?

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

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

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

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

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

The eyes were back.

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

Widdershins then?

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

Was she overthinking?

Widdershins... Inward.

Into the dark.

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

So many gates and passages.

Was there even a point anymore?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I do.”

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

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

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

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

Kirsty swam forward.

The lantern fish was gone.

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

The weight grew.

She waited.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She wanted. She demanded.

Left hand path be damned.

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

Maybe.

Her reputation was rather loose.

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

Tried was the operative word.

Not for long.

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

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

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

 

She felt a click ripple the water.

 

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

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

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


rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

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


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



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

 

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

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

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

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

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

“Our Lady of the shifting seas

Hear the notes of my pleas

Grant your children what we seek

Be we brave or be we weak

Lift your waves upon the shore

Take the danger from our shore.”

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

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

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

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

Laryna reached out. The strings reached for her rosary.

“Where is the rest of you then child?”

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

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

“What do I do then?” She asked.

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

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

 

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

 

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

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

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


rainstardragon: (selkies skins)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

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


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



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

 

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

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

The pen fell from her fingers.

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

An arm went around her and fingers lifted her chin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Please no David. Please.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was dark.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

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


rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

This is a little late, it's been a busy month for me. Reading has been more convenient than writing due to all the stuff. 

We begin both a new chapter and the start of the middle section of the book. We'll be returning to Kirsty where she's been thrust into the Labby, completely unaware of what is going on both above and in her proper timeframe.
 

Some people have gotten to read parts of this chapter's rough draft in the Patrons Only part of my Patreon. Also, happy birthday to David's creator, without whom Kirsty would not have come to be who she is.



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 22
Chapter 10 part 1
Tangled Fur

 

 Kirsty landed poorly when Mara’s grip released her. Behind her the entrance to the labyrinth crackled and became stone. Carefully she picked herself up and took stock of her surroundings. The seal behind her still bore the marks it had on the outside. Gradually the room came to view as if it was solidifying around her from a half-formed dream.

Various crafting implements were tucked into the corners. Here a spinning wheel, a forgotten drop spindle. Some sort of loom lurked in another corner and it would have been impossible to not recognize wool cards. A needle shone, and suspended by a thread was some sort of intricate web in a willow hoop. Strangely, the smell of a forge hung heavy in the air and the ring of a hammer, unheard, sounded through her bones. The hiss of a sword being plunged into water hissed through her skin.

Kirsty puzzled over why she had the impression of a forge when the room looked nothing like one.

“Another one? How many others are just going to pop in through the wall and wander off?” A voice of her own age piped. Kirsty followed the voice to find a dark haired girl working on some sort of intricate beadwork. Strangely she seemed to have a pair of blue-teal wings sprouting from her back. The wings prickled a memory of a large blue feather wafting into a circle, and the flash of wings above while the pipes howled.

“It isn’t like you didn’t interrupt my work in exactly the same way, Angelina.” Another girl grumbled. In her hands leather seemed to be in the process of being formed into wings, complete with hawk’s feathers. This girl had long auburn hair. A single braid pulled the bangs back and to one side of her face, decorated with a concho and a hawk’s feather, though her skin was so pale that Kirsty wasn’t certain she really ought to be wearing her hair that way or the white buckskins.

“It’s not like I meant to BlowingWind. I’m never going to live that down.” Angelina mumbled, setting her work aside.

“Not a bit. Just be glad I don’t bring it up in the ski lodge.” BlowingWind grinned.

In a further area, mostly cloaked in darkness, an older girl seemed to be puzzling together a crumbled wall covered with strange carvings that looked vaguely Aztecan. Vaguely. Not one single person that she saw seemed to possess any aquatic features. Land-dwellers like herself then, perhaps?

“I don’t understand. I came from the sea. Now there is no water.” Kirsty drug herself closer to the nearest girls while the third toiled on seeming unaware that she had any sort of company.

“Were you dreaming?” BlowingWind asked.

“Hardly. I’m wide awake and had been talking with one of Mara’s Guards before she, or I guess she’s the one as it was some disembodied force, tossed me in here.”

“Mara, I’ve not heard of that one.” BlowingWind shrugged. “Then again Mom is a little, well, hindering when it comes to my involvement with the spirit world and even when I try to look up anything related to it. This includes learning more about Dad’s path.” She stage whispered, “She thinks an old family curse from a dragon will make me lose my first love, maybe do worse things. She is even iffy sometimes about Saint Brigit.”

Angelina shrugged and shook her wings a little. “I only come here in dreams. My bodily trips into the sprit world take me to a very different place. Usually above ground. The dream world and spirit world, and the other worlds are all very different places, but maybe they overlap in some places.”

“And her?” Kirsty pointed to the woman in shadows working so studiously on her wall.

“I have no idea. She looks a lot like the pictures I get of my cousin Jewel. I don’t think she’s ever heard us when we try talking to her. Don’t ever touch those bits she’s not picked up though. She gets very strange.” BlowingWind answered.

“Jewel? I know a Jewel. Mum warned me to steer clear of any O’Drake boy because of their curse, romantically anyway.” Kirsty tried to peer into the shadows to see better. It had been some time, but the young woman did indeed seem to be the same one she remembered. She even got up next to the older girl and shouted in her ear, but there was no response. Jewel simply continued working on the relief’s restoration, traced some symbols, and murmured “Huetziatl, falling water... But why did this settlement die?”

“Odd that you’d know my cousin. Then again everything is odd in dreams.” BlowingWind returned her focus to the wings she was sewing, which now and then looked like some sort of blanket. “The other day I had a normal dream and was snowboarding up on the mountain, then it started snowing hamburgers. Not good for snowboarding.”

Angelina snorted. “Did it rain your favorite soda next?”

Blowingwind flicked a concho at her companion. “Don’t mind her. When she has normal dreams she dreams about her boyfriend.” She stretched the last word out, and meanwhile Angelina turned an interesting shade of crimson.

“Ok then.” Kirsty shook her head and looked around again. “So how does one get from here to the next room? I don’t see any way out. The door I came through looks rather solid.”

“Have to make your own way, probably.” Angelina shrugged and held up the beadwork, revealing it to be some sort of arm sheathe. “We came to work on our power items. They are extensions of us.”

Blowingwind put her project over her shoulders. “I’ll dance Hawk. Dad was a shaman. Hawk came to me in another dream and told me that this is what I must do. I’m working on one in the waking world too. I sometimes wonder if I’ll be able to fly in this world once I’ve got it done, and I’ll just soar the sky to... whatever...” She closed her arms again after realizing she had been twirling and swooping. “It’s what feels right anyway. Obsidian, my boyfriend, sometimes says I remind him of a skinwalker.”

Kirsty found a chair and gathered together what working items that she knew how to use that it seemed no one else was using. “Something that feels right, huh? Ok... Maybe I’ll just start with what I know then... I’m on a skinquest, I hope I’m not supposed to make my own. I always thought that maybe it was in Mara’s Box.”

“Heard of a cougar-woman once. Cougar gave her her skin though. So I guess you’re a real skin walker?” BlowingWind poked her upper arm. “Fuzzy.”

“Selkie. I’ll be a full blooded selkie by the standards of my kind.” Kirsty nervously began to examine the wool cards but found nothing nearby to work with. Experimentally, and half laughing at herself, she brushed them against each other. “Maybe something will pop up like that story of Rumpelstiltskin.”

She nearly dropped them when the carding tugged on her heart.

Looking them over more carefully she could not find any reason why they should have pulled on her heart. They looked normal, worn, as if they’d seen many other users before she found herself shoved into the chamber. After a moment she continued and the pulling continued as well. With every pull she found herself settling into a scrying trance. Every pass of the bristles felt as if they worked through mind and heart. Kirsty watched with half interest whenever a thought connected to why she wanted to become a full selkie would be pulled to the surface. She could feel something soft building between but could not see what it was. Kirsty continued until she had a ball of invisible “wool” about the size that she was used to spinning.

A few moments of investigating this strange substance passed. She felt a little frayed but also a little more ordered as well. She also realized that she felt very, very, very exposed and cold. She needed something to insulate herself. She knew this, felt this. There was only one way that she knew to warm herself.

Next she picked up the drop spindle and began humming the spinning tune as her fingers got to know the tool. This was also of wood and had been worn smooth by countless turns and fingers before hers. Following familiar motions she began to spin, the repetitions soothing her even though she chafed against all of the strangeness surrounding the unspecified tasks. This all surely was part of her testing. It had to be.

She still felt exposed, but at least the magic of the song was warming her a little.

The thoughts about what she was doing and wanting kept coming. In the back of her mind she felt a pricking, as if someone was testing some sort of connection. She paid it no mind. That had become all too familiar of late.

She was being tested. Of course she was being watched.

Kirsty found that if she got too riled what she was spinning got to feeling sharp and too lumpy. Controlling her thoughts and emotions seemed to be something needed. To help herself focus she thought harder of the skin she was doing this entire thing to earn. The others fell away into the dark and she found herself alone in the chamber. It had drawn in and was smaller. She could feel them beyond the walls, but their smells were gone, perhaps because each was back into their own little compartments.

Should she have even been able to talk to them? They had said that they’d not been able to speak with Jewel. Were they able to see her in the same way they had all seen Jewel while so very occupied?

“No, you shouldn’t have been able to see them or talk to them. You’re not mine and these quests are all supposed to be individual. Interesting that you did see them though. Your destiny must be tied to theirs somehow.” The voice that pierced the dark was warm and forbidding, the crackle of a forge’s fire and sharp clang of hammer on copper and steel. Somehow it was also the soft whooshing of a loom and the clatter of spinning. “How do you know one of my work songs if you aren’t – oh dear, this may be awkward.”

The darkness drew away a bit, pulling back from the glowing goddess of the forge. Her green dress rippled down beneath light copper armor and a plain belt. A small green dragon sat on her shoulder regarding Kirsty with the same curious gaze the deity wore in her green-blue eyes.

Kirsty bowed from where she sat. This deity she didn’t really remember meeting, but she’d remembered feeling this energy when Etain had been at Draiganpáirc for Order business. “The Lady taught me the song when I was little. Mum knows it too. Sometimes Mara would keep time with us if we were working on the nets where she could sit with us. I always find myself at least thinking it whenever I work with my hands. Sometimes, sometimes I’ll use it when potion brewing too.”

“Then I suppose in a way you are mine, in a,” she drew a breath and sent a soft note through her nose, “battle liason way. The alliance is still alive even though I moved my stronghold.” The deity leaned closer, touched Kirsty’s chin, turned her face from one side to the other. “I do see them in you. Not as harsh and suspicious as Mara. Not as soft and swift of sword as Arna--.”

Kirsty blinked at the cut off name. The deity blinked in confusion and sighed. “She still doesn’t have her name back then. That’s all I remember of it, even now. My name is Brigid.

“Kirstin Allegra Makay, the pup Seaswimmer,” Kirsty dipped again.

“Ah, and much more polite than your human heritage Sir Kay and that distant son of Kay. This pleases.”

Sir Kay? Wait.” Kirsty’s thought was broken off as the deity continued.

“I think, little sea bear, that I’ll give you a gift to make up for you, hmmm, apparent ‘mislanding’ on entering the labryinth.” Brigid stroked the head of the dragon softly, humming a tune that crackled and rose for a moment before dying down. “There may be hope yet then, for name and for coat. Do not disappoint me. Find the name, find the coat. Earn the coat to fill your soul, find her coat to let her go. The wrong wrought by human hands is fated to be undone by blood that spans aided by the wolf from the other land. List ye well to this prophecy, lest only to the seafoam bound you’ll be.”

A small ripple of laughter, like the water on the top of a well once a pebble was dropped, and then the deity disappeared. Brigid took the light with her.

“I’m beginning to think that everyone is far, far, far too ‘helpful’ as I go through this.” Kirsty looked at the now visible sheen of wool and thread, softly pulsing in time with her heart. I’m not ungrateful, but I do wonder what the price is in the end.”

A set of doors formed before her. Alike in every way that she could find they seemed to not be able to make up their mind exactly how they wanted to look. The darkness stayed around her.

Taking a deep breath she chose a door. On opening the door she found a long passage, filled once again with water. Sea torches were lit and glowing dim blues and greens. As her eyes adjusted it seemed that the passage developed some sort of twist ahead, and she saw other opening.

 

Kirsty shook her head, tied one end to the door, and stepped in. “Folklore. I don’t want to get lost.”

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

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


rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He is currently working on "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

I am releasing this installment a little early due to expecting a busy weekend.
 



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: Descent
Installment 19
Chapter 8 part 3
Cave of Communion

 

 A cool trickle started and Bethrise hissed but did not retreat. Behind the trickle surged the vast power of the sea.

“Even pushed into the recesses of sleep,” Mara mused, both watching and feeling the young priestess-witch perform the work her line had been made for, “her touch heals.” A surge of pleasure crashed through the riding deity, so much like her mother, much more than she thinks she is,” the thought resounded through her mind, and she let it echo to her distant sister, and to the Huntsman, if he cared to hear the stirs through the fabric of the world.

For Bethrise the trickle penetrated like an icy current, but that wasn’t quite right, in his mind. It ran like the old stories of tiny streams, picking around blocks and seeping in, prying with gentle fingers at crust and scab, then carrying the pieces away. Not all of them by a long shot, but as each little piece came off and went away he felt lighter and clearer. As unexpected as the touch had been it fell away quickly.

Bethrise pulled back, looking once again at the tiny female in his arms. “What was that?”

Mara only laughed and slipped out of the incohate priestess’s body, leaving the little selkie-maid to swim back out from the depths of her mind and inner self. Her voice taunted him in her mind. “That, Bethrise Lairlight, is why she is the Chalice. Now prepare her and then go see to my bringing home my wayward Lance before we’ve lost the chance.”

The guardian frumpled his face as much as the last time he’d chased off a bull of his own age from his charge during the courting season. Waking the girl was a bit of a challenge, but he finally did manage after many fruitless assorted attempts and at last dragging her across the floor by her tail several times. That had not been well received and he now sported a couple lovely bruises, a few bite marks, a scorch mark in a highly unexpected location, a smaller ego, and having been called a Trickster Finman. Bethrise fervently hoped that Kirsty and her family did not have a regular habit of abusing people when first waking up. If so then it was a miracle any of them had survived to breed. He took a deep breath and related what Mara had told him from behind the table.

Mara watched the fracas invisibly in amusement. Toying with mortals was not something that she was above, especially when two highly serious personages allowed her an opportunity. Yet this too had its purpose in her tests of character and strength.

“A symbol of my humanity?” Kirsty smacked her lips and wiggled her jaw around, trying to reset her jaws after they’d come unhinged sometime in her panicked waking scuffle, most likely when she bit him. “I’d guess the wand would be out, that’s got Mara’s hair and she was a full selkie.” She pondered and picked at a bit of Bethrise that was obstinately stuck between a set of her front teeth. She spat when once again part of it got on her tongue.

“That’s what she said.” He agreed, scowling at the missing chunk of forearm. “You are viscious.”

“Sorry.” Kirsty started pulling things from the pouch at her hip, some of which Bethrise could not figure out how she got them out, much less in it in the first place. “I could treat that for you if you’d like.”

“No, I’ll be fine. It would be my luck that the bite was enough to give you a taste for selkie flesh. I don’t need a cannibalistic priestess hunting me to prolong her life.”

Kirsty paused, a mass of white fabrics, netting, and shells about halfway out of the pouch and with a great deal more fabric obviously waiting behind. “That’s horrible. Does that really happen? I thought it was merflesh and not selkie flesh that was supposed to be able to give immortality.”

“I didn’t say that it really would. I’ve heard the legends say both though. Does it work?” He guessed her next question, “I have no idea. I’ve not tried it. I do know that in the head temple there is a book that contains all of the dark and light magics of the sea though. If so then it would be in there. What the deuce is that? It looks like a huge white net.”

“A dress.” Kirsty replied. “Something a female wears to be modest so people aren’t looking at her naked. Prevents sunburn too.” Kirsty finished pulling it out, holding it up between them and raising it enough that he could see the whole thing and so that she could hide her face and the blush behind it. The shells and bells jingled in the current.

“That looks horridly heavy. Gorgeous, but heavy. How are you even supposed to move in it?”

“It is. This is my ceremonial dress. I wore it to enter the sea and give myself to Mara. I’ll wear this at the school dance next year.” Kirsty wasn’t sure exactly how she knew that in the next year there was to be a dance. Trying to figure that out gave her a terrible buzzing headache and she could feel herself starting to fray and see two places and times superimposed again. “I supposed, if she is going to give it back when I get my skin, that this is the best thing to offer regarding my humanity... I hope so, I think da’ wanted me to wear it at my wedding too, someday.”

Kirsty lowered the dress, shivering as a chill descended on her. Her stomach reeled and clenched and she was beginning to feel more than lightheaded as her stomach tried to rise. Still invisible, Mara reached forward and flicked her fingers. The stone door of the Maze rumbled open. Sigils flashed and danced as she programmed it, envisioning each twist of her further tests and where she desired the path to lead. Her initiate and the guardian turned their heads, both jaws dropping open and the guardian placing himself between the noise and the maid.

 

It was the perfect opportunity. The ocean answered her will. A current caught Kirsty in its grip and hauled her into the inky depths. Mara’s hands closed on the fabric and it went just as invisible as she was. With that Bethrise was left alone in the room as Mara carried herself to her temple.

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

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


rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He is currently working on "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

I am releasing this installment a little early due to expecting a busy weekend.
 



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: Descent
Installment 18
Chapter 8 part 2
Cave of Communion

 

 Bethrise looked at her over his hand before taking another card. “You shouldn’t be messing around with the water like that before your Initiations and Trainings are done. That’s third degree water magic, and definitely above how old you are. Could break the planet matrix or your own cellular construct. Why you’re here and not on a beeline for Mara I’m not sure. The Maze has an entrance here, but I wouldn’t imagine you need it if you already know who you are.” He sighed and moved one of the shells toward the goal, discarding the spent card after. “You really don’t have a skin of your own?”

“No skin. A halfpelt that has come close to getting me in hot water a few times.” Kirsty looked over her cards.

“That must feel very strange.”

“Incredibly. I’m never fully convinced I’m whole. There’s always something missing, just beyond reach. When I’m with David it is not quite as sharp, but it’s still there. I don’t know how long I’ve been here below now. I miss him. I’ve been feeling pulled in more than one direction at once.” Kirsty discarded her card and made her move.

“Hm... That’s a feeling I know. You’ll have to make sure that you succeed and survive so that you can get back to this David of yours. If he feels the same way about you he must not be having an easy time of this separation.” Bethrise tensed for a moment, his eyes gazing through the table a moment before he jumped his shell on the table over one of Kirsty’s pieces, then collected both. “Wave.”

“He... In one sense he doesn’t know I’m gone. In another he does but is busy with his own tasks. Mollusks...”

“You can’t call mollusks, that was clearly a cockle.”

“Mollusks.” Kirsty eyed him and pointed at the shell that had once been hers. “I call a defense roll.”

Bethrise sighed and rolled the die. “Fine. Mollusk. My wave gets sand only.” He rolled again and returned Kirsty’s shell to the former location, then counted it out five spaces. “You still get moved.”

“I should teach David this game when I get home, when we get free time.”

“You should. Maybe someday fate will then allow us to play together and I can meet this lad. See if he’s worthy of an Initiate, provided Byron doesn’t eat him.”

“Byron likes him. He wouldn’t eat David.” Kirsty pressed her lips together.

“Maybe. Kelpies are rather territorial if you haven’t noticed. He has eaten unfit suitors before, at least so I’ve heard.” Bethrise mumbled as the game went on. “Could even think of him as a son, but he’d still need to prove his worth.”

Kirsty pressed her lips together and played the game silently for several turns. Her thoughts turned over and over the image of Byron, who had changed her diapers a time or three when she was just a child and watched over her when her parents were unable to be at home, drowning and devouring the boy that was both her best friend and the one she’d given what she had of her soul to. As a result of her distraction Bethrise was able to gain the upper hand quickly and won her sector of the sea, ending the game.

“Do you really think that he would?” Kirsty looked up at the disowned guardian.

“The thought doesn’t feel good, does it?” Bethrise’s voice was soft. “Guardians are chosen because of their protectiveness and because of what dark things they may have to do in the protection of their charge. It is far more than just laying down one’s life. It’s the soul too. They become bound.”

“He was Marsali’s. How does this work? I always assumed that since things were muffed that he passed down the lineage. Is that why? What happens if...” Kirsty trailed off and blushed, thinking of all the ways that David had taken care of her and stood in a similar place to Byron.

“He’s the only one of that time still alive, so I think he’s bound to the line until Marsali’s skin is returned to her, or even just a bit of the dust. Your line is the only one with such a strange situation, though there are others that aren’t ‘normal’ as well. Now, this might theoretically mean that you have two guardians or have the option of it. It certainly would have fixed a lot if Marsali had had that option.” Bethrise leaned on the table as he pondered the situation. “I suppose that is something that you’d best get an answer by asking Our Lady of the Sea when you see her.”

“Soon as I find Mara...” Kirsty frowned and got up, swimming to face the entrance to the maze and laying a hand over her heart, wincing at the tugs on it and more than a bit woozy as two times and realities washed over her senses. “I need a little space.”

Bethrise turned to watch her, following when she couldn’t hide the strain on her being. “You’re really not whole. It’s more than a metaphor with you.” He murmured, putting an arm around her and pulling from his waist pouch a couple sea grapes.

She winced away from the touch at first and then stilled when she realized it was the guardian. “Neither are you. You’ve got a similar Taint in you that the dark selkie and the Finman I met have. You should really fix the bleeding I see. That’s a deep gash.”

He looked down at his chest in confusion at the hazy image the young priestess unknowingly and weakly projected to him of a seeping and badly bandaged wound there, then back to her now unfocused eyes. “Some wounds take a long time to heal, and some broken things aren’t able to be fixed.” He pressed one of the green-brown grapes between her lips as he steadied her. “I’ll do what I can. What was that about a Finman?” He guided her to the floor, watching in mild bemusement and definite annoyance at the thought of one of those anywhere nearby as her eyes swept the room and finally locked on the sigils above the entrance to the maze.

Kirsty’s eyes cleared momentarily. “There was a Finman that played his flute a little before the dark lady threw her curse at me. He gave me a shield and spear, but that spell is broken now. Something’s making me feel funny.”

He grimaced and shoved the next grape into her mouth, which she chewed along with the other, finally. “More medicine for you then. See, you did mess yourself over with fiddling with that water like you’d said.”

The girl’s voice changed, not as if she spoke with two at once, more as if someone overshadowed her from far away. “Yes, you will. Your Charge needs you, Guardian. Do not worry about the Finman, for now. He is known to me and fights his Taint just as you do.”

“Lady Mara.” He dipped his head, eyes now steel. “I suppose I’m honored you’re speaking ot me through one of your vessels. My Charge though I am unsure how to get near without our malady setting us at each other’s throats.”

“This is why I am having to unravel snarled threads even though I am no weaver.” Mara replied, Kirsty’s eyes now dominated by the shifting depths that were her own. “You have to ensure that she does not interfere further. Her part in my tests is done. The Finman’s are not. The opening has been made for the poison to be drawn out, though my lance isn’t aware.”

 

Bethrise tried not to shudder, unable to tear his eyes away from the goddess within the child. “I will do what I can, Lady.”

 Mara-Kristy nodded gravely. “You are hereby discharged from your duties at this gate. You will tell my Initiate she is to approach my temple through the maze.”

“But

“The maze changes and connects things as needed. My clergy has forgotten this fact as the needs have been so similar among my peoples for so many generations. This does not mean though that Raechel and Astereth will not figure this out. I will send someone else from the nearest temple. You MUST ensure that she leaves something behind here though, some symbol of her humanity since se also seeks a skin and a full soul.”

He looked her over. “No offense my Lady, but the girl doesn’t look like she has a whole lot to leave behind.”

“That pouch holds more than it looks like. She is a witch.”

Bethrise’s gut felt like a lead ball retrieved from a glacier. “You mean you want me to make her empty out her purse. My father tried that with my mother once. ONCE. A wise man does not simply say ‘clean out your bag’ to a female, even a Guardian.”

“A wise man does not simply talk back to a deity either. Especially his deity.” The hint of humor covered razor fangs. The situation with Bethrise was reminding her a bit too much of when Mirmir interceded for Etain. Thinking of Etain “And she does not need to leave everything. Only a symbol of her humanness. I’ll ensure she gets her human skin back at the end with her seal skin.”

He sighed. “Do all of your Initiates leave something behind?”

“All, a different thing for each. Some don’t get their past back. Raechel, before you ask, did get it back.” An almost gentle smile crossed Kirsty-Mara’s face. “She still loves you, though she won’t admit it to anyone. I hear her in her dreams calling for you no matter what she does or says while waking. You need to stop blaming yourself. What happened that day wasn’t your fault.”

“Maybe, but I still feel like it. Why are you talking to me?”

“I do answer prayers, in my own way and own time.”

“But why not through one of the others? Why through someone that hasn’t finished her tests and Initiations?”

 

“Always so full of questions. The others are all older and they retain themselves most of the time when I step in. Would you want to have this conversation with someone that knew more of your story and all the rumors and lies?” She didn’t reach for him physically but instead reached a spectral hand out to lay it over his heart, smiling when shortly after the unconscious Kirsty physically placed her hand there.

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

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

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

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


rainstardragon: (selkies skins)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He is currently working on "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes' Skins: Castle and Well. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

So... this chapter went much differently than I originally expected it to. Sorry Vadkun, that is part of what took so long. You know how Justin are Kirsty are though... And it didn't help the story wanted to write itself out of order and everything else that was happening/not happening.


Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: Descent
Installment 17
Chapter 8 part 1
Cave of Communion

 

 “Right. Well. Off I go then, whether that nameless evil Temple Sister comes back to dry me and grind my bones or not. Or... Whatever else she might come up with. Off I go then. Weapons or not.” Kirsty tried to sound more chipper than she actually felt. She was certain that the part of her that was Seaswimmer would have much preferred avoiding bad blood with the Templeborn. Then there was a part of her that for some reason, likely the unwarranted curse that had been hurled and deflected, desperately wanted to put the black selkie in a nice little room with Morvan, some candles, and a romantic dinner simply to see which of the pair would be more offended. It was a terrible thought that only a small amount of herself chided herself for. The rest of herself just accepted it and prayed to Mara that her other Daughters were more reasonable, and that as she aged she would get a grip on some of her darker and odder tendencies.

Perhaps, if I’m not careful, I’ll end up like that?” She thought to herself. Kirsty didn’t look back. She simply swam off and hoped to leave the Finman behind herself. He did not follow, for now at any rate. She mulled over the spear and shield as she swam and how they disappeared. “Was it something that I did to make them vanish? How was it really that he called them up? Eventually she shook her head at herself.

It took some time, which had been lengthened by checking behind herself for followers, but she eventually found herself in a gorge. Frowning, Kirsty followed the insistent pulls further in. The water here was warmer, somehow, than she expected. Within the gorge, in the side, Kirsty found a cave entrance. Bioluminsecent plant life clung to the stone walls and gave their multihued glow to the sea-night, enough to easily navigate the turns by. It was into this that she felt herself being led, and she began to doubt.

I don’t remember Father Ronan’s book saying anything about this... Granted, he admitted he didn’t know the deeps...” she thought to herself as she cautiously slid inside and followed the calls of her blood. Somehow she didn’t think that this was the direction the black selkie had come from, nor did she think it was the direction she had originally been going.

Kirsty still hadn’t forgotten the irritating Finman she’d left behind herself, now perhaps some hours ago, when the passage opened. A silvery selkie sat on a rock at an improvised table pouring over some form of book, absentmindedly rolling and picking up dice as if waiting for someone, or perhaps more like someones judging by the number of other rocks that were drawn around the table below the gently pulsing selkie-fire. His other hand rhythmically planted something crunchy into his mouth from the plate beside him. His equally silver hair floated behind him, restrained near the head with a seaweed tail-band. Further into the room three passages waited, each sealed with shimmering glyphs that tickled something far in the back of her mind.

“Um. Excuse me, sir. I’m looking for one of the Temples of Mara, I think. I’m sorry if my inner guide is off and this isn’t a public space.”

The selkie quizzically looked up at her briefly, then down to his book again. “Well, it’s not public or private. My friends and I just meet here for our games, keeps me awake. It’s a good location for us, and where I’m currently stationed anyway. You’re off still by a fair swim if you’re looking for Lady Mara.”

Kirsty watched him. He seemed like all he was doing was waiting for someone to come play, but the set of his jaw the longer she stayed changed and he looked up, eyes hard. “Despite what Raechel might have told you, girl, I don’t like strange young females staring at me, and you’re young for my taste.” The male grumbled. “If you’re here because someone invited you to our game without telling me, then sit. If you’re here because you’re seeking the maze it’s that way.” He gestured to the three passages. “Otherwise quit being creepy.”

“I’m sorry? I’m just confused. I also don’t know anyone by the name of Raechel.” Kirsty blinked. “Wait, you thought I-? No. No, no. I have somebody. I don’t need to look. I’m supposed to find my way to the temple and do whatever it is Mara wants me to for earning my Skin and finishing the Initiations.” Kirsty flushed, embarrassment and agitation warring with her face and letting itself out with the flick of her tail.

The male put his dice down and sighed. “All of the Temples and their Keepers regularly share news of all kinds, including gossip, and I know well I’m no longer the most well-liked Guardian within the Temples. I don’t know about getting a Skin, you’re obviously down here well enough, aren’t you? Not much use in going topside unless you’re thinking of joining up with that Order that’s supposed to be protecting the waters. Whatever good they do in one area gets undone in another so that isn’t a great deal of use either. Initiations though, that I know a little about and more than I wish I did. You would have some choice about it too if you’re so unprepared as to not find your way there without ending up here.”

“Choice? I wasn’t born with a skin, and since I’m the only surviving female of my generation at Seal Point, Mara and The Lady leave me no choice.” Kirsty slipped onto one of the stones at the table when the male winced. “What’s this about choice? You look like somebody died just now.”

He sighed. “Sometimes feels so. I guess that makes you one of the land Marainion. I’m sorry to hear that and sorrier that you’re to be bound to two such fickle goddesses. I lost my mate-to-be to Mara.” He picked up a deck of cards and shuffled. “It wasn’t all at once. It happens to all priestesses at some point or other. Raechel gave in young. You’ll lose yourself more than you already are if you aren’t careful, even if you do have a good bull like you said.”

“Um... I think I’ve heard Da’ ask Mum if she’s losin’ too much of herself a time or two before. I thought that was because of work, not this. I’m Kirsty, or I guess Seaswimmer... What are you called? I feel funny talking this long without a name.” Kirsty leaned forward and put her elbows on the table, trying to match the ease he was sitting with.

He quirked a lip at her. “You’re definitely a landlubber, sitting like that. I’m Bethrise, technically still the guard of a particular Mara priestess, but she made it rather clear she wanted nothing to do with me. You’re in as deep of trouble as if you were a cursed pirate dubloon in a shark’s belly if you don’t know which of those names is you.” Bethrise calmly dealt a hand each while waiting.

“Well, they’re both me. One name for Above, one for Below.” She eyed him, then looked at the dealt hand, and the shells now joining the cards. “So. Guard. I guess that makes you kind of like Byron was for Marsali. You don’t look like a guard.”

“The Stolen Priestess. If the stories are true she gave that kelpie as much trouble as I was getting and do get. At least I had the safety of keeping mine, somewhat, instead of having to find her a mate.” Bethrise smiled ruefully, his blue eyes fading to silver. “And I don’t wear my armor all the time, although soon I’ll probably have to with the Things coming so close to the Temples now and the deamhan waking, as if the rogue children of the Cailleach weren’t enough down here.”

“Things aren’t so pretty topside either. We have them boarding the trains to school, infiltrating school grounds...” Kirsty sighed and picked up the cards. “Imp, a friend of mine, was saying something about a thing called the Black Gate being somewhere on the grounds of Castle Carrick.”

“Never heard of that gate, but I don’t like the sound of it. Caer Carrick, the school? Is it true that one of the founders of the place was married to one of us? We have a tale in the Temple that she was a priestess from one of the shallow water temples and her skin was stolen.”

Kirsty shrugged. “I don’t know. There’s legends that say Leomaris might have been married to some sort of merperson, but no details. Spiralis supposedly built his dorms and quarters where he could watch for proof. The silches enjoy teasing the students at the windows.”

“Silches.” Bethrise sighed. “Met a few of those. Mischievous. Much prefer dealing with the sea-bred.”

 

They played at Waves silently for a bit. Kirsty hoped for some sort of information she could use. “So, if this place isn’t on the way to the Temple then why did I wind up here? Or is this just because that repair job I had to do in the water after the blast messed me up?”

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal
As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He is currently working on "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes' Skins: Castle and Well. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

So... this chapter went much differently than I originally expected it to. Sorry Vadkun, that is part of what took so long. You know how Justin are Kirsty are though... And it didn't help the story wanted to write itself out of order and everything else that was happening/not happening.


Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: Descent
Installment 16
Chapter 7 part 3
Soul Pipe

 

 “I didn’t do a thing to you and didn’t lay any geas on you! I was a little busy, Finman.” Kirsty spat it out at him.

“Then why does it matter to me that things aren’t right? Why does it matter that I don’t want to haul you off like the others would, hm? You’re wanted by Astereth, that should be enough to keep me following the wishes of my Jarl.” The binding magic in Justin burned and he could feel it trying to command his muscles. He gritted his teeth.

“How should I know? Maybe you’re just a lousy Finman. Every race has those one that just are terrible at being what they’re supposed to be. Maybe you were really meant to be just an ordinary fish.”

“Maybe you aren’t a seal. Maybe you’re a troglodyte.”

“Clever, for a lad with seaweed growing from his scales. Maybe a fish was an overestimation.”

Both the selkie and the Finman paused in confusion, looking at each other warily. “Whatever,” Justin said after a moment. “Enough insults. We sound like siblings and that is ridiculous. I’m not going to help you in your quest, but I do feel honor bound to say that maybe next time our meeting will play out differently.”

“Good. I don’t want or need help from the likes of you.” As soon as she said it she felt the energies around them shift. “I have to do this on my own anyway.” The energies shifted once more, and she wasn’t sure that she actually liked either shift or of what the fluxes meant.

“I’d be disappointed if you did need my help.” Just wasn’t sure what the feeling was that welled up in him. He tensed, his stomach churned, he flashed hot and cold, and the desire to stuff a foot up the annoying female’s backside conflicted with an even more confusing urge. The confusion on his quarry’s face deepened and they blinked at each other.

They both felt the weight of unseen eyes watching and peering into their souls. Then the moment passed. Energies shifted again, this time not only around the pair but within the pair. The gaze of various deities withdrew, leaving both with the sense that their lives were merely stories for the entertainment of larger beings, and that they had somehow done something that rippled into other oddly related stories to change their courses.

Justin’s hand went to his pouch then slipped within the depths. His fingers brushed the coral pipe that held his soul. It was warmer than he could ever remember it being. Slowly, with his eyes on Kirsty’s, he pulled it out. Only when he’d made it obvious he had no intentions of playing it did he turn his gaze to it. It glowed blue and purple briefly. Kirsty’s eyes widened, then narrowed.

“It’s never done this before...” He observed. “What does it mean?”

“I don’t know. But those are the colors that the magic of my Ladies take. I don’t know why it would show up on something of yours though.”

“Hmm...” He slipped his flute back into his pouch. “I will think on the matter. Maybe I’ve done something correctly. You should go. You’re not getting any further on your quest standing here, I think. Maybe.”

 

“Maybe.” Kirsty nodded, her own tone thoughtful, though she hesitated. “Maybe.”

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal
As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He is currently working on "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes' Skins: Castle and Well. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

So... this chapter went much differently than I originally expected it to. Sorry Vadkun, that is part of what took so long. You know how Justin are Kirsty are though...


Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: Descent
Installment 15
Chapter 7 part 2
Soul Pipe

 

Raechel moved when she saw her curse deflected. How could the Finman dare interfere in her affairs as he did? She fought against the strains of magic in the music trying to pacify her. What purpose would he want the initiate for? Did he want her power for himself? Is that why Seaswimmer so suddenly pulled rune weapons from the music? How was it even possible?

Music.” Yes, the strength would also be a weakness. Now if she could get at the lad’s pipe she would have his power. She would not break it though. No, she would play the pipe instead and have others under her thrall. She knew how they hunted the shores. If the pipe was anything like her skin then not only would she be able to claim its magic but she would also gain a minion.

Her course changed and carried her for the finman now. Starting first for Kirsty surely would have set both off guard for such a move.

Justin tried to move out of the way as the dark priestess began to move his way, the notes of the song breaking off. One hand moved to stow his pipe in his pouch, the other raised to defend himself. His spear moved itself from the crook of his elbow where it had rested while he played into his hand, reacting to his need. The wood sparked, there was a dark gleam on his spear's tip.

Kirsty frowned, trying to make sense of the situation. What looked to be a Mara priestess had just tried to curse her, presumably to death by how hot the shield was. It growled still at her arm. It would have made more sense if the attack had been against the finman like seemed to be happening now. So why was it hurled instead at her? She hadn't startled the elder priestess, as far as she could tell, she'd been here first. The dark on had come on her and possibly saved her life.

Why had the abomination given her exactly what she needed to defend herself? Was this one of the tests? Perhaps a test of character?

Worst. Test. Ever.” She thought.

Kirsty let the other selkie and the finman collide and stood ready to deal with whatever the outcome was going to be. She watched as they tangled and wrestled and the magics that they wielded discharged. Alternating waves of rage and guilt washed through her as her muscles tensed, and then loosened, only to tense again. The vials of the Ladies’ Waters roiled inside her sporran and the wand tucked away crackled and screeled in protest to the vortex forming as the energies tangled in the water that had only been partially healed due to the interruption of her process.

Somehow in all this Justin managed to put his soulpipe back in his pouch securely. Who knew what force guided it, but the force was strong. Spear deflected spear and got forced away and his world was a whirl of muscle and determination centered on the darkly clouded eyes locked on his own. Her will pressed into him just as much as his instinctual struggles. The runes etched into his arms and body by the Jarl’s poisons burned, and within those eyes he saw clouds of the Will of Astereth, and this too reached for him.

The clouds connected with something in his mind and he heard the whispers of the Dark One pulling at all the hard work that he and Amehana had done on his soul. The song tempted him... Wait, songs was more accurate as the Tainted Priestess was using her voice magic in addition to what Astereth’s Influence was doing. It would be so easy to give in, and the song Astereth wove promised him either release or a wife. The Tainted Priestess, what he’d seen of her, had been attractive. Did Astereth mean the temporary vessel he was touching?

No. It was never so easy. He also remembered the old dragoness showing him in a past dream part of some of her travails, showing him that his predicament would not carry forever if he had faith and held onto himself. He could nearly hear the hissed words before the mirror she’d showed him in. Justin even had the strange sense that his dream mentor was watching from whatever place her home really was in. Justin couldn’t let her down, even if she sometimes had more faith in him than he had in himself, possibly because of that.

Such thoughts passed quickly as a spark, igniting his will once more. He dared to fight back, to press back. He felt somehow, he wasn’t certain how, for a weakness in the magical force bearing down on him, just as he twisted to try to let past the physical. A shape flashed in his mind. Before he could even fully see what rune he had managed to invoke it was gone, but there was an exploding force between she and he, and the water tasted of a summer storm’s acrid electric burn.

A shriek of rage and Raechel was gone, swift as tailfin would drive her. Justin was on his back, and he could taste blood on the water. When had the Spear of Mara, such that blade had to have been with a burn as bad as that of poison-treated Finsper spears, managed to taste his flesh? Justin’s eyes, once he had collected wits enough, turned toward where he remembered his quarry to have been.

Kirsty, Seaswimmer, still held the spear of Laguz and shield of Gifu. Storm-sea eyes regarded him as warily as he did her, turning again in the direction Raechel had gone, and then back to him. Slowly, the half-breed abomination approached him. The spear he had unwittingly given her lowered to his heart, and her face was as impassive as the Cailleach. Indeed, his senses prickled at the feeling of many unseen eyes watching.

I have failed then.” The thought flitted swiftly, unvoiced, through his mind.

Kirsty merely gazed into the finman’s eyes as the cold settled over her. She too felt the eyes, and she pressed firmer. The words of the song-spell that came were not fully her own. “Talk, finman. Tell me no lies.
If you do, I’ll give you to the skies
Strung on the nearest tree I can get
To dry, become fodder, lest ye forget.”

Justin pressed his lips together. “What do you want to know, Flotsam?”

Kirsty didn’t flinch at the insult. “What did you come for? Not that I am not grateful for a weapon and a shield. It came in handy, even though I don’t know why what is supposed to be a sister hurls a curse at me.”

“To catch you, same thing as the last we met.” There was an insistent pulling, and he could feel his flute squirm as the spell the seawench had cast on him brought the answer out. “Astereth and the Jarl want you. Something about you.”

“Like I’m something special.” Kirsty snorted at him. “What do you know about the other one?”

“Not much other than she’s one scary feeling völvr, and that she’s rather obviously Tainted. I’ve never known a priestess to attack an initiate, I’m pretty certain they don’t do things at that level of dedication. Any clue why I’m the one apparently saving you?” Justin retorted, his nose wrinkling and teeth baring.

“I’m the one asking the questions, in case you’ve not noticed the pointy stick you so helpfully gave me.” Kirsty growled. She wanted to press it harder, but couldn’t quite bring herself to for some reason. So she twisted instead and grinned a little at the brief flickers in the finman’s eyes. “Your guess is as good as mine though, Piper.”

“Name’s ‘Tin, not Piper. Piper is a girl’s name.” Justin glared into her eyes. “I am certainly not female.” He involuntarily flexed and puffed, then deflated a bit when the puffing resulted in more pressure from the spear.

“Charming. I put up with enough of that nonsense at school.” Kirsty wrinkled her nose, being reminded by that simple move about how she liked that David didn’t act that way. “Nice to know it extends under the sea too.”

Justin glared up at Kirsty. “I could say that right now you’re making the meanest of our women look pretty welcoming right now. Oh, but I just did. Skinless selkies are so well known for their aggression that rivals our own.” The urge to say increasingly stupid things boiled in his brain, confusing him even more. She was prey, but hadn’t he been concerned for her just a moment ago? Maybe he could at least use the stupid things to distract her enough that he could get the spear away from her and salvage the operation.

Kirsty’s eyes widened, then narrowed. “Oh, you almost got me. Nice try. Morvan uses this tactic on me whenever he can. So why does your Jarl want me, and Astereth?” The face that looked down on him now showed Mara’s heritage, but also that of another deity now. “Tell me all you know... then... try piping it for me.” Kirsty blinked at her own requested, dazed and confused as she removed the speartip from the finman’s chest.

Justin blinked both sets of eyelids and carefully sat up when the point’s pressure was removed, touching his chest where Lagu had cut him. He rubbed that blood between his fingers and then applied it to the wound he’d gotten from Mara’s spear. He stared when the initiate sat beside him.

“What? I’m not cruel. I admittedly hate all finmen and wish you all dead and all your Finsperian child eating ways along with you for all that your kind has done for generations, but you’re under a geas. I think I am too right now, actually. So we talk.” Kirsty made sure that Gifu was between them to further impair his ability to try getting the spear.

Justin sighed. “Right then. I don’t really know much. I have to steal what knowledge I can get because the Jarls are all so convinced that if everyone had magic they wouldn’t be able to control us. That’s fairly well known stuff.” He watched Kirsty nodding, taking that as a sign that even she knew it despite her lowly land-dwelling position. He pulled his pipe out of his pouch thoughtfully, looking down at its luster while turning it in his fingers. “I’m pretty certain our Jarl has some sort of deal with Astereth, thus why he wants you so much. I’m supposed to either break you, or bring you back. Definitely adamant about spoiling you for Mara.”

“Some part of you doesn’t want to?” Kirsty watched his body language as carefully as she tasted the waters around them, annoyed that she couldn’t catch his eye.

“Well, it seems rather strange to me. One family? Hunt them to extinction if possible? What’s the use in that? Sure we hunt others too, we have to eat. But this rivalry between deities?” Justin looked at her finally. It burbled before he could stop it, pulled by some unseen questioning force. “Not all of us follow the Dark One. One of our Seidhermen prefers Mara.”

Kirsty could feel as her myriad thoughtlines all crashed painfully into a stone wall, even though she wasn’t sure exactly where that figurative all would be. It took a moment to pick up the pieces. “That seems odd considering the targeting on any that have been associated with her and/or her sister. I remember reading that it was because of Astereth that the Well deity back home lost her name and Self.”

“Could have been any reason that happened. Astereth wants to return. That much I know, and it likely requires certain things and, I’m willing to bet, blood.” Justin’s fingers played over the flute, then his eyes narrowed. “Could be either yours or mine now, though I’m not sure where this thought is coming from. When we last met I supposedly took a part of what you were to become. That was your Lady of the Waters you’d been to see. That links me then to you and to your deities you serve.” He raised the flute to his lips and picked a halting tune while trying to sharpen the image he had seen.

Kirsty snarled at the idea of being linked. “That could be reason enough that one of the others would come out and attack me. She may be Tainted, but in the eyes of some because I’m not full selkie by birth I’m already unclean. Toss in magical meddling from an enemy and that means that if you took something you left something with me and makes me even more mixed.” She balled her fist and attempted to aim a strong punch at his head over the shield, fueled by the flare of anger and sorrow, certain that even though she never really wanted it, what she had been meant to be would never be truly available to her.

Justin felt the movement, saw the movement, and ducked. Her blow grazed the back of his head but as it was likely would not have been enough to knock him out. Certainly, though, it was enough to hurt. The shield and spear vanished with an audible pop leaving both to stare at each other, anger still in Kirsty’s eyes while Justin found himself filled with a strange melancholic calm. It must have radiated from his eyes somehow, because the selkie-to-be lowered her fist slowly.

“Why do I see my goddess in your eyes, finman? I can’t kill you in the future, seeing the Lady’s eyes in your face.”

“Why do I see my eyes in your face, little firefang?” He sighed. “And I don’t know. I don’t think I can kill you either, if I had to. We’re in a strange mess.” As the tension flowed from her, the pipe found his lips again and he found himself playing a soothing melody. Then it was gone. “I do know that your anger seems to have just disarmed you of weapons I didn’t even know I could make, and that the Tainted one will be back. She wants you to fail. I’m sure of it.”

“What? Now you’re suddenly volunteering to help me in my quest? I don’t think it’s allowed.”

 

“Astereth meddling in an affair set up by your deities probably isn’t allowed either. As for helping you... I don’t know. I might not be able to kill you, but I certainly would like to smack you around some right now. What else did you do to me when you laid this geas, wench?”

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal
As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He is currently working on "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and preceeds Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well. (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."  This installment  of Chapter Seven: Soul Piping is a week early as a gift for someone and the chapter is currently in progress. Thank you for your patience while I finished my degree and caught up on things.


Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: Descent
Installment 14
Chapter 7 part 1
Soul Pipe

 

Justin brought the coral pipe to his lips, lively and pinkish-red. It was warm in his hands and he felt it thrum beneath his fingers as he played his tune and tried to think of things that would be more appealing to young women than to the children he normally ensnared in what was left of his bedraggled soul. He fought to keep his eyes from closing fully, and they stayed half-lidded.

The dark one needed peace, so he called on what little peace he knew, from his distant and barely remembered young childhood. The scent of mother’s breast and warm pelt by the crackling fire, and the humming lullaby with the creaking rocking rose in him and spilled through his flute. The moonlight from the more recent dream visits to the dragon’s shrine flowed and somewhere far away he felt-heard hurried steps across hinoki floors where a purple fire lit to lend him...something. What he wasn’t sure. Whatever it was he took that and wove it into his tune as well. His bind-rune warmed and the darkness drew back some.

Seaswimmer, Kirsty, she needed something else. He could feel her reaching for the peace and whatever the energy was that his distant dream-friend was sending from her shrine. Justin danced the peace just out of her reach but let her have a little of the energy even though he was probably going to pay for that later. He tried to think of what little he knew of her Anchor, hoping that he could mimic the boy’s feeling enough to draw her further from where the water was diluting her to. An X – Gifu – flashed in his mind, followed by Lagu. Oddly enough these two he understood the surface meaning of: Gift and Water. The submeanings eluded him, but somehow he understood that water was also soul.

Before he could do anything to recall them or even knew how he had manifested them, the runes had gone into the music too.

Kirsty heard the notes of the flute, hauntingly familiar. It was true then, the flash she’d seen of that awful finman in her vision while the water hungrily tore at her lifeforce. Three times now he was interfering in her quest, and here he was seeing her at what was likely her weakest. She fought the water, fought the weakness, reached for anything that would keep her in her body. Reaching inside only kept her in the cycle, she needed to find something to short circuit the flow. It had taken enough. It fought back, still hungry and wild, angry. The water would have to wait. There was something else pricking her awareness as well, something dark, but why was it separate? Her senses had to be off from the blast and the abuse the water was putting her through.

She wanted to hear David’s voice and feel his comforting arms. What would he think of her, seeing her like this? For some reason she found herself remembering him as they sat in the Potions Master’s classroom while she worked out a formula written in ancient Germanic runes. “You can do a lot more than you think, Kirsty.” He’d murmured while running the figures she translated. “You grasp a lot more than you think.”

Grasp. That was it.

Kirsty grabbed for the runes when she saw them before her, using the last of her strength. Why the finman, and the finman that actually made her save Morvan at that, was there she had no idea and no time to find out. No time if she wanted to live while the sea pulled at her blood and soul, at any rate. It was too vast, and she too young and unused to the high demands. With all her training and all the dangers she had gone through as she grew she still wasn’t enough on her own.

Yet the finman brought Gifu and Lagu, and his music led her away from the veil her soul wanted to slip through, where she could surround David even when he hunted. Kirsty wasn’t sure whether to be happy or annoyed.

As her left hand closed around Gifu’s center it became a shield that resembled somewhat the ones she had seen in David’s castle home, Shadowcrest. The thought that perhaps some part of who David was stayed with her even when she was so far away comforted her. Or perhaps it merely looked similar from this side because shields for the most part looked alike. Her right hand closed around Lagu and the rune became a spear in her hand similar to the one that David had taken away from the rogue loch selkie that tried to kill her their first year in school. Longer than she was, instead of black this one was silver and ivory, the speartip wreathed in green and blue witch-fire and selkie fire flaming along the shaft.

The water pulled at her, trying to take more of her blood. Her soul reached and pulled more at the purple light that had been in the finman’s flute music and Kirsty realized that he was still playing. A quick look revealed another Mara priestess, or she believed the night-dark woman to be so by the gravity of the aura. Yet something was off, too dark, too feral.

“What have you done to her?” The words fell from her mouth before the thought had finished, her eyes snapping back to the finman. Surely, even with as terrifying violent as Mara could be when angered, this dark aura was not normal for a sister priestess.

Raechel smiled, her teeth sharp and feral as the curse finished being woven and she released it. The light and dark that gathered around the spear she carried launched for her. Kirsty's eyes widened as she felt the change in the water and she raised Gifu while also calling up the water shield she had learned in past lessons, making it answer to her. The other priestess overpowered the first shield, the sea still answering first to Raechel, and the blast sliced through and popped the water shield.

Kirsty did not cower behind Gifu, instead holding firm and angling the shield to deflect the blow off to her left. She wasn't sure how she knew to do so, this mix of magic and mundane wasn't covered in Dueling while she had still been allowed, and the shield felt pretty much like a regular shield. It grew hot and she could smell smoke. The blast bounced off and Gifu was covered in scorches.

 

Kirsty did not think, she reacted. Lagu pointed at the other selkie priestess, and she felt something charge and release.

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal
As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He is currently working on "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and preceeds Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well. (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." This installment is the last part of Chapter Six. The next installment will be Chapter Seven: Soul Piping and is currently in progress. Thank you for your patience while I finished my degree and caught up on things.


Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: Descent
Installment 13
Chapter 6 part 4
Darkened Hearts (also considering Shadowed Hearts)

 

Justin wakened in time to taste the waters begin to turn, and the taste of the poison was one he knew well. It burned his tongue, his throat, his heart. His skin throbbed and the flute in his pouch groaned silently.

One of the Tainted? Here? He levered himself up and gave a kick of his tail to get off of the seafloor while his body screamed. A small trickle of blood ran from his nose and clouded the waters around him. Perhaps it had already been happening though and he only just now was feeling it. If there were any sharks still alive nearby it would certainly grab their attention.

The world spun and then settled while the drum of his heart beat mingled with the subtle tide. Runes along his arms activated in response to the spread of Taint. Justin’s hair rose and part of himself fought while his hand reached to touch and check his bind-rune still rode where it should. It did and he drew a labored breath as his vision cleared more. He still felt Seaswimmer nearby, and she was closer than when he had lost consciousness even though he was not certain how or why that would be.

Move.” Two voices sounded in his mind, male and female, both cold and low. Something almost familiar tickled his mind about them, but there was no time to dwell on it. Not with that presence feeling so near to his quarry.

The world fully snapped to focus and he picked up his dropped spear, which he found several bodyspans away. Many tail flicks later he was further into the Taint cloud, far enough in where his second Sight could actually see it starting to cloud due to the concentration of it. The Taint aided him, allowing him to travel swifter through it and recognizing him as part of it. Justin’s lip curled in disgust at himself from the boost but part of him was glad of it. The cloud grew darker the further he followed the pulls.

Purpose to everything.” A voice barely whispered, though he couldn’t make out which of the many voices he had been hearing lately. “You should be thankful.” Another voice curled from somewhere inside himself, near the inner chains.

Finally, the water began to clear again from night-dark to cloud-grey and then to watery-mist. In the center of the clearing his quarry hung suspended and ashen in her half-form, her silvery-white fur dull. Faint runes and whorls burned over her in deathly icy fire, glowing weak and sick as they shifted and danced. The lettering flashed now and then to ogham and back, and often to something far older that pulled at something deep inside himself, almost touched. Her eyes, currently a vibrant aquamarine backlit by the same witch-fire dancing over her, opened and locked with his but stared through him as if her Sight was locked into some other realm.

She’s Dying! Now is your best chance. Your spear!” Another voice licked and curled through his mind and his bones sang, this one definitely the one near his chains. “Strike the selkie where she floats.” Ice gripped his heart and leeched at what warmth he did have in it. His hands reached to make sure there was a good dose of poison on his spearhead, without his will, controlled by the voice.

Song fell from the lips of the youth before him while her hair tendrils writhed in the water. He could not be sure of what the words were, nor the language as the young priestess-witch stumbled over what was being pulled from her. Whatever it was though, it seemed to go with the motions she made with fingers and tail. She was doing something to or for the water, and it was clear that she wasn’t quite sure of exactly what she was doing. As he watched she gagged and the fighting began again. An answering throb pulsed in his veins and he felt something shift attention to him, and then discard him like storm refuse.

The ice gripped harder and the voice of Astereth oozed through his mind again. “Now, Thrall. Stop her and present her to your Jarl, and you’ll perhaps gain a mate.”

A ripple in the water pulled him outward from where the voice was trying to take him in his mind. Looking toward the presence, on the other side of Seaswimmer, he saw one of the sources, and the being that he’d felt. The black selkie woman, also in her half-form, sneered at the white one while clutching the double tipped spear. The shells of the elder Mara priestesses weighed some strands of her hair down, the blue paint playing over her face in a warrior’s dance. Her body was muscled and toned beneath the armor and the floating wraps, but he could see her twitching, as if she were a savage grundylow held at leash’s end of a dark goddess.

Justin recoiled before the woman could see him. The sneer made him think too much of his Jarl. Something within himself pushed back against the Taint. The woman traced figures in the water before her and her eyes lit with a dark flame. Words of power and cursing coiled and hissed from her mouth in green and purple clouds wending their way toward Seaswimmer.

Seaswimmer’s eyes still looked ahead unseeing of what was going on in this layer of reality. The water around her was beginning to take a red tinge now, and he could taste her blood in it just as he could taste his own. Seaswimmer’s light dimmed further and the symbols spread into the water itself. The presence of deities and spirits focused on the three merfolk was overwhelming to him as their different games met and clashed.

The symbols and the blue light drifted further from the tiny, very frail looking, body. Seaswimmer’s eyes flickered as she fought and attempted to keep herself while her soul mingled with the water. Something broke inside when, for just a brief moment, the Tested saw him. Horror flashed and then was gone as she was pulled back.

Justin made a decision and reached to pull out his coral flute. Americ thought him to be weak. If he were weak then it was time to rely on what made him different than the other finmen. If he were going to hunt and capture the new priestess, then he was going to do it by his own code of honor. It did not include taking her at a point like this, as if he were some coward.

Justin wasn’t sure why it felt so important to him.

 

I hope this works.” He thought. “They’re both a little older than my usual target.”

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal
As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)

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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. Aan audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. (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." This chapter is currently a work in progress. We are back into longer chapters so this will be in at least three, possibly four parts. This post is actually two weeks early, but is being done so intentionally, "just in case." This also catches the reader up to where I am in the manuscript, so the posting may start to go a little slower while I work.


Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: Descent
Installment 12
Chapter 6 part 3
Darkened Hearts (also considering Shadowed Hearts)

 

 Kirsty made her way along the seafloor searching for the food her whiskers had sensed lurking near it, watching with bright eyes and letting her instincts take over. At last she found the spark she sought and lunged at the flat fish, hidden in the sand. She held the wriggling muscle in teeth and hands, trying both to eat it and to discard as much of the sand as possible. It wasn't much, and it wasn't that great of a hunt, although its camouflage had been superb, but it would tide her over for now.

Further along she found a bed of shellfish and fell to cutting and cracking, prying and slurping. It was awkward for her to do underwater, but she figured out a system, and was surprised by the fight that they put up. She at least knew her feed was earned. Kirsty, Seaswimmer, was careful not to overharvest the bed. Yet further along a stand of sea vegetables was called on in much the same manner. The hunger that continued to grow disconcerted her. How long had she been gone now in this dayless expanse where time was naught but that stretch between meals?

Her travel paused when the signal she had been following was interfered with. A wave of sound washed over her and her hands went to her ears as her body pushed itself away from the blast of awful sound that tore at her head and screamed through her bones. The blast was not just sound, but force as well, the water itself screeing away from whatever had been detonated.

When her head cleared the energies were still scrambled. Time washed by as she reconnected to the leyline she'd been following, using that to get some sense of bearing. It was longer yet before she became aware of which way was up, and only because she was drifting down and brushing the sandy, gritty, floor.

“What happened?” Kirsty queried herself aloud, picking up again the habit of speaking to herself. Of course there was no one to reply, but sometimes she thought she could almost hear something whispering just at the cusp of her hearing, just at the edge of her awareness. Waiting. Calling.

Kirsty knew she was off course, but could not be certain yet how far off course. The water was raw though, of that she was certain. Raw as if someone had taken a 30 grit sandpaper to her inner arm or her heart. Perhaps heart was the better analogy even though it made absolutely no sense to her. Now she had a myriad of scratches that all bled and oozed an energy of some sort from her.

The water reacted. She could feel its grip tighten and pull, gone from the barely paying attention but ever present crushing weight her bones had come to know, and turned to some ravenous tearing beast. Kirsty flailed in the grip of the unseen hand and tried to win her way free, but it was too strong and all that accomplished was to tire her even more. Kirsty tried subduing the water, but there was too much of it, and it would not listen. In desperation she prayed for guidance, some inkling of what to do.

Blood.” The reply came in her mind, a low, sneering, pain-wracked voice that growled through her. “I want blood. They're at it again and I can't rest until I have it.”

A bubble rose from Kirsty's mouth and the gills she'd been temporarily granted worked harder.

The water speaks?” She thought.

Of course I speak. Fix what's just happened, or if I can't take their blood I will take every drop of your blood.” The sneer deepened as it curled through her and a tendril of water pushed further into her nose, reaching and working for her lungs hungrily. “I need some anyway. I taste what you bear.”

Her mind reeled at the invasion and her body pushed back, her will fighting to keep the water out of her lungs. “How?” The simple question resounded through her and the water, and the pressure of the water stopped pressing forward.

You will know what to do...” Instead of the water flowing into her lungs Kirsty now found herself drawn forward by it. It drew her to a pod of whales, also on some of the outer reaches but far enough in that they still were dazed and calling in confusion. Further on she felt fish doing worse, nearer to the blast. Their pain became her pain, coiling and squeezing.

 

A pocket of poison drew her, and though she wished to pull away Kirsty felt herself spreading through the water toward it.

 Raechel picked herself up from where the sonic wave had sent her and growled, baring her teeth and casting around for the source. Her head still rang as if she had ascended to the surface too quickly or perhaps dropped too fast, but if she did not move quickly then there would be little that she could do to gain retribution for the sea. The damaged waters and its creatures did not reach for her blood to start the needed repairs, but she could deal with that later.

Vengeance, after all, was her realm; pity she was born a selkie and not a sharkwoman. Her powerful tail arrowed her skyward, toward the boat, ship, or whatever had deployed it, following the screams of the water. She adjusted her trajectory to take into account the movement, but another loud boom swept through the water and her hands went to her ears, once more mashing Mara's spear into the side of her head. She continued forward as best she could, even as the horrific tearing, mangling sounds continued sweeping through the water and a trickle of blood began to leak from her nose.

Finally she found the source, a small craft that fired air routinely down toward the seafloor. An ugly grey painted thing, it bore the stink of human all over it, if it hadn't been enough to merely see it.

The shaft in her hand became ice and fire to her touch, and her scowl deepened. Her black hair writhed in tendrils as she studied the craft for a sign of weakness, some exploit that she could use to disable it. The longer she delayed, the more Mara's spear sparked in Raechel's hand, and the more the blood rage set in. Finally, reason was abandoned and she won her way to the hull and jabbed.

Instead of breaking the blades of obsidian and crystal, a black and purple glow surrounded them and they penetrated the craft with a scream of steel. Another hand closed over her own, colder, rougher, and another form encased her as Mara seated part of her essence into the cracked and darkened vessel of her body. Raechel could not understand the words that the sea deity spoke, but she tasted their bitter tang...the festering of poisons and ancient wounds.

She drank it in as Mara's power flowed through her, her eyes closing but her inner eyes still seeing the scene before her. Electromagnetic fields fluxed around her and the craft, and her lips curled as as she felt ventwater force itself from the spear into the craft, damaging circuitry and whatever else the filthy landwalkers used to power the survey craft.

They'd not use this to help in their plundering of Mara's treasures any more.

The craft began to float toward the seafloor, and though Mara's touch withdrew from Raechel the poisons in her heart took on physicality. They combined with the ones she already bore from her encounter with the Finmen. Together they lurked now in her skin and slowly leaked into the waters, not so much a physical thing, but an energetic one. The cloud around her was very real though, spawned from the hate, and that spread through the waters. Raechel found she didn't care. Damage had already been done and the creatures stunned, dead, or dying. Purifying the waters was no longer an option, she'd not been able to do that since he did what he did, and what ability she had once held in that department had been diminished even before that.

Raechel watched the survey craft drift ever downward, wishing she could do something so satisfying to Bethrise. Where was the larger vessel this craft would have been reporting to?

Did it matter?

A younger presence picked at the edge of her awareness, or perhaps more accurately flailed.

“I feel you little girl... Time to meet my new 'Sister' finally.” Raechel's chuckle echoed and unseen strings drew tight.
 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal
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. Aan audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. (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 9
Chapter 5
Black Swallower

 Kirsty made her way through the waters, following the tugs and pulls further and further from the shore, plunging ever deeper into the abyss. She still wasn't sure what to think about the mishmash of fish and seal features the crystal long dispersed through her cells insisted on giving her for this quest, but she was glad of not having to return periodically to the surface for air. She knew that she should have been without what the Lady had implanted and without Byron there to make the water breathable for her.

Her senses picked up far more than she thought she would, far more than they had even back at the loch beside Castle Carrick. That had been distracting enough. Here she nearly could feel each individual heartbeat of any creature for leagues, if she let herself. It was worse than the Feasting Hall on Samhain night after everyone was hyped up on sugars. The only thing she could compare the figurative energetic din to, even with how spread out most of the life was, was being trapped in a major sporting event with no hope of finding a quiet corner for a read or a cuddle.

Then again, Kirsty admitted to herself, she was withdrawing more and more from nearly everyone.

After what seemed to be eons of swimming it dawned on her that she would need to eat soon. How many nautical miles was she from shore? She tried to sense it, but there was no sense of where shore was.

When I went through Mara's gate, did the whole world become the sea?” She mused to herself, floating a moment to rest her aching tail. Her attention was drawn to a school of fish, her stomach taking back over her most immediate concerns.

Silver they flashed, glowing a bit with soft green light, and though she had thought she'd known most of the fish species already thanks to her father's droning on about them at dinner so often she could not identify these. Still, she chased them. Her stomach demanded it. The more she let her gaze fall on these fish, the less hungry she became and the more she desired to simply float and watch them.

Here was danger; here was distraction. Kirsty, Seaswimmer, steeled herself against the beauty. Perhaps these weren't even fish. Perhaps these were some of the illusions and distractions that the Book of Seals had whispered to her about...on a long ago night that she had yet to live for herself.

Kirsty shook her head, her vision briefly flashing back to distant halls and a familiar face that caused her to blush, though she could not hear what he was so avidly discussing with her, or the sound of his laughter. Then the flash was gone, and her focus was again on this point in time, this now which she had willingly sent herself to live out. No, she would not fall prey to such as this. Her forebears had not, so she must not. Her hunger returned, both of soul and of more physical varieties. She had to finish so that she could return to him even if David didn't know she was currently gone...or knew she was partially gone...or...

Her head ached as it tried again to grasp and make sense of two time-realities at once. Perhaps she shouldn't have gone through the portal the Lintel Examiners offered.

Lord Hearn, if your realm does extend into the sea as my family believes, I hope that I can find something proper to hunt to eat that would be pleasing to you, that I not inadvertently offend you in my need to feed myself. Lady Mara, if the hunting of the seas is your realm alone as some believe it, then I ask that if keeping myself fed is indeed considered part of this quest for myself and my skin, that only those things worthy of being hunted for my feed be what lies in my path.” Kirsty prayed internally, knowing full well that the sincerity from her heart would magnify the prayer far better than her voice. A shred of doubt tickled the back of mer mind that perhaps she should have voiced the prayer anyway, somehow sung it, but the fish she gazed on were somehow too beautiful to risk startling.

These are not food.” The knowledge sang through her, blood and bone, louder and louder. “Not for me anyway. Not good for selkies.” Kirsty firmly reminded herself and swam on, ripping her eyes from the hypnotic flashing creatures.

Several sets of eyes watched her from their own realms and places. Mara smiled a little, a touch of her ancient warmth coming back, caught between realms herself. The thoughts of her distant progeny were always amusing, although she often felt an irritating and equally ancient pain in her heart whenever Kirsten's thoughts touched long on Herne's young Hound.

“Troublesome and yet beautiful.” Mara murmured to herself and the large white narwhal slipping slowly around the cavernous chamber. “The longer that passes, the stronger the bond, and the more strength it seems to give either of them when needed.” She sighed. “Troublesome, but it does give some hope, Compánach.”

The whale answered back in song, undulating in long sways and contributing to the sea's cycles.

“Yes, it has been a long time indeed for me.” Mara's eyes looked back into the gazing bowl, smiling bitterly. “I've given up on it.”

The whale brushed past Mara, and she leaned into his caress as he passed. Compánach crooned softly for her, a gentle reminder of being more than what the others saw.

“My old function was forgotten long ago...you know that, and mostly sealed when sister lost her name to that Changeling...” Mara put her arms around the whale in a hug as it continued to slip by. “As bitter as this is for me, it gives me hope though that one day someone will remember.”

The whale continued to sing, both for his mother-mistress and for his mate outside where she took care of their calf...even though he wasn't fully convinced it was truly his and that the moon deity that spent one night a month in Mara's temple with her had not been involved somehow. The thought of Ven'thrith leaked into his song though and Mara's grip tightened as her breath hitched.

“It's another two weeks until he visits, and he is as wild as Herne in his own way, who visits less.” Mara pressed her lips together and let go, walking over to the stone box raised on the coral altar. “I can't hope for either, or any.”

The seaweed curtains blew lightly in the current as she stroked the box and sang softly over it to the soul skins folded and kept carefully inside. Mara lifted the lid and reached in to stroke each of the unborn and waiting to be reborn sealskins.

Kirsty drifted on the current, saving her strength and letting the frigid waters carry her faster than she could swim. How far she had gone and whether her mental map of the seas was accurate anymore – or the correct one – she was no longer sure. The fire ran in her blood, her bones, her breath. Here it was dark, and she saw not with her eyes, but her mental senses, twitching whiskers, and the tentacles of her hair.

There was too much dark. She always found things at the edges of her senses. These same hulks were always gone by the time she came in range, so she had let the witchfire die on her fingers, but kept hold to the water. It, at least, spoke. It was an ancient language beyond her ken, but it always spoke.

A million years crawled by and ach moment intensified twin yearnings. Her skin ached for a proper cover and edges of her soul reached, turning arms toward Mara – she had a lock on the deity's energy. Meanwhile a steady fire glowed in her heart, lighting her interior, coiling in vast spaces she wasn't aware she had, and her hand often slipped into her sporran to finger the plastic encased poppets from Ally.

Her thoughts painted a picture of herself on a beach, older nd in a white dress covered with shells and pearls that tinkled and sang with each breath, shrouded in a starfish and shell weighted wedding net. David stood waiting with others, one a young man she didn't recognize but felt that she should. David's garb was in th same style as hers, but forest colors, moon colors, and to her eye both the noble knight and canny hunter.

There was a priestess, but she was shrouded in black. Though Mara stood near to David, red ribbon in hand and seemingly unseen, she stayed far from the priestess.

Why would she avoid her vessel?” Kirsty thought to herself. “Shouldn't she be nearer her?”

Kirsty's thoughts abruptly sheared off and the vision dissipated. Movement in the water tingled and tickled, her whiskers twitching. Reaching out with her mind, a dark swirl arrowed toward her. She cursed at herself for not staying in the present and letting wishful thinking distract her. True foreseeing or not, it wouldn't happen if she wound up in the belly of something. The water continued its whispering.

It came at her crosswise, entering the current upstream and to the right, barreling toward her. Whatever it was felt large, and when she turned she brought back the glow. The fire within, which was not her own, uncoiled and raised its head to watch. The power that was her own unfurled fully with the snapping of sails dropping and instantly snapping full of wind. She wasn't a schooner, but for a brief moment she felt like one as she met her adversary.

Long and lean, it could have been a sea serpent. Large lidless eyes held a permanent malevolent stare and fixed on her. Her own eyes locked with his – it was definitely male. Long tooth-ridden jaws gaped wide as it prepared to snap her tiny frail form up.

“Not today.” Eched through her as she flared.

Water boiled forth from her hands and she drew it from the geothermal vents through the strange doorway she had used within herself before. The force of the current carrying the black swallower overcame her attack.

Kirsty propelled herself to the side when she saw her attack not phasing her attacker. Time stretched in ridiculous ways as she twisted, her body buzzing and mind grappling for a solution. Teeth clashed just at the end of her tail, taking flesh...the ends of her toes she was sure..with them. The black swallower's flashing scales slid past, carrying the nightmare eye with them.

It twisted in the current and stroked for her, using the momentum to power the turn. She thickened the water, called up her shield. An idea sparked in her mind and she tried to create lightning to lace the field as Nightfish's elder brother had called lightning against her during his long ago attack... The lightning fought her, wanted to travel all the way through the water, uncaring for the reason of its birth. Unknown to her, Kirsty's eyes glowed and the source played in her hands. She prevailed though, the lightning itself arched and sparked in the shield and then spread along the fish when it contacted.

The drain on Kirsty increased as the lightning continued coursing through, then eased as it managed to withdraw.

The swallower's eyes were no longer clear, but still held their hungered malignancy. Large white star shaped cataracts now covered the sightless eyes, and where the stars were not lurked a milky blue. It shook itself, languid, and snapped tiredly but with all the annoyance of a platoon after an overlong march in a downpour.

Kirsty dismantled the lightning cautiously, keeping it under control was too much effort as it twisted and turned. She flexed her fingers, still not drawing her wand. It was a witness for this, not an allowed tool. Her fingers burned underneath her claws, a dull fire aching for flesh to spread into.

The sightless fish cast about for her, trying to find her by basis of her heat. He struck again and Kirsty lunged forward. She didn't have a spear yet, so she did the first thing instinct called up. She aimed for one of the great eyes with her claws, swinging, intending to drive past the eye and into the brain. The eye ruptured beneath her drive, and she tried not to think of how much it felt like she was within a giant pulsing grape. The burning spread down her nail beds, then eased as if pulled out. Below her the great fish snapped and flailed, and if it had vocal cords would have creeled like a sea serpent. Kirsty pulled her hand back and tried again, hoping to get past the eye to the brain...if she could short circuit it... The witchfire, selkiefire, whichever it was, sprang to life. Heat licked her fingers, though it was normally cool and soft. It was not enough though, she knew it as she pulled her hand back yet again.

What can I do... I'm a wee small to kill this outright without using my wand... If only I had a spear...” She clung and looked down the length, unwilling to let go and change it swallowing her after all.

Swallow...maybe...Ouroboros?” Kirsty let go and let the giant fish slide past her, grasping at the tail. The fin bit into her, cutting with the serrated edges into the relatively still soft palm and the salt stinging. “Here I am you great ugly thing! Tasty little selkie off your stern!” She bit its tail for a further taunt, her teeth ripping through the hardened parchment of it.

The great fish turned on itself as she'd hoped, and she waited for just the right moment to release. The current carried her, but she kicked to go faster with it. The arrowed head slid past and the jaws gaped, taking the tail into that darkness. Kirsty grimaced as she watched it begin to swallow itself, believing it had its prey, too hungry and confused and in pain not to notice what it was really eating.

I can't let it die quite like that...” She thought, bringing herself back around to face it better and trying to find some way in her current power to kill it cleanly.

Kirsty dug through her sporran frantically for some sort of tool, at least finding the stone knife. The silver one had come to hand first, waiting on the top eagerly as if thirsty. However she wanted to keep her potionry knife strictly for potions use. A quiet part of herself spoke of remembering to take samples of parts likely to be useful for potions. After several times of the silver knife slipping itself into her hand she finally got her fingers around the hilt of the stone blade.

A slice, well placed now that she was not being attacked, and the light left its eyes swifter. Kirsty felt ill at having killed it now that it couldn't hurt her, but to have left it like that..she shuddered at the thought of the mental and spiritual stain. As is drifted through the current she used the silver knife to take samples, stowing these in vials and bags, then searching for anything that seemed like it would be an edible flesh for her. This proved a fruitless search and her stomach only growled in frustration before she gave a call to any nearby sharks. Mara's children, at the least, would see it did not go to waste.

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal
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, 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 7
Chapter 3 part 2
Gateway

I suppose that of all the students currently under our roof, she would be the most likely. She already does slip between planes. Times are similar...” The white raven mused.

“Ahha! See, you agree with me that she could then.” The serpent wiggled his tail.

“Is it right though, is it responsible to offer this to her?” The sealion groused. “My marelion will surely let it slip to her house head if she were to find out. Then MacLeòmhann will have another thing that she will worry about.”

Does she have to?” Spiralis shot. “Must the two of you divulge everything each to the other? Noble, but troublesome!”

At least I have managed to keep my mate, unlike some that keep confidential things that aren't.” He growled. “But this is beside the point, and I move we vote.”

We let her timeslip is my vote.” Spiralis coiled, baring his fangs at Leomaris.

My vote is that we don't, that we keep her in the way time should flow.” Leomaris bristled.

The ravens talked between themselves with clacks, caws and rasps unintelligible to the serpent and sealion. For Kirsty no time had passed yet, other than what little had been in her conversation with them.

We are cautious, but our vote goes toward the timeslip.” They answered after their debate.

So be it then,” Leomaris growled, “though our charge was to sort and guide. Not send them to danger.”

Life is danger. Times are easier for this generation than they once were.” Spiralis hissed, a smile touching lips incapable of actual smiles.

I don't like it.” Leomaris turned to pace toward their charge.

Time began to move again for Kirsty.

We have a possible solution that could make it so that you'll be able to concentrate better. However you will be in two places at once if you want to be completely technical.” Spiralis' serpent twined around Kirsty's feet.

You should tell her that technically her attention will also be split between places.” Leomaris' sealion grumbled, pulling the serpent off of the girl. It always made him nervous when the serpent coiled anyone, since their job also used to entail disposing of those that came who were unworthy of entry.

What is this solution?” Kirsty kept herself still, even though the snake's coiling was disconcerting.

Timewalking.” The white raven answered. “You're projecting but you're staying all at once with the method we can let you use. “When time flows normally for you though you'll have to actually experience it all over again. If you don't give it your best on each pass, then you'll die.”

Kirsty frowned, considering. “What actual advantage is there to doing that?”

A wise question, Makay.” The black raven rasped at her. “Whether there is an advantage depends on your point of view. You could go now, get it over with while part of your goes on about your normal life, and then both have already done it but do it all over again. You'll already know what you're doing, and won't have to be worrying about it during classes because you've already done it.”

Kirsty rubbed her forehead. “Thinking on that makes my head hurt. I don't think my brain is made for grasping more than one timeline.”

It's not.” Leomaris growled. “It's no less dangerous than just waiting.”

Kirsty considered quietly for some time before speaking again. “You say that even though I'll have gone forward I'll still be here?”

The guardians nodded as one.

I'll do it then.”

The pocket reality shifted around her. The doorway out of the castle was there before her, but different now. It contained pulsing energy that was very like the membrane she had experienced during her well trial. She looked instinctively for the Finman that had disrupted her test last time, then sighed in relief when he didn't pop out of the stonework.

Good luck then, child.” The guardians said. “Step through then and go where you need. But be careful.”

Kirsty pushed through the membrane and out into the courtyard. The passage felt like pushing through a thick tapestry, and she was a dull needle trailing heavy spun hyppocampus yarn. Time warped and folded on itself while her consciousness fractured. Halfway through she was aware of herself turning with the intent to take a long hot soak in the tub while no one would see her secret, for now feeling less weight on her soul. The rest of her soul continued to pass, the body left behind and pressing through the top of the head into a slightly older version of herself. When she opened her eyes, instead of the courtyard she found herself at the edge of the sea.

Kirsty stepped further out onto the sand and walked until the waves lapped her toes. It was summer, and warm compared to the usual temperature, a shock from the winter that she had left behind. Even with the comparative warmth it was still plenty cold in the dawning. Here and there rocks jutted up out of sand and water like fins and fingers striving for the sky. To one side she saw the birthing pool and the gateway behind it into the Lady's realm, closed and hidden by the outward spilling water-blood.

She looked down at herself to check what she had. Her dress was blue and off the shoulder to give her halfpelt to the waking sun, but full enough to hide her legs in the old style that her family enjoyed. Her pouch and her wand were slung at her waist. Digging in her pouch she found some basic supplies...a bit of food, her silver knife and her stone knife, a supply of the paste, some medical items in case of injury, and the sealed plastic bag with the red poppets of herself and David.

Kirsty looked back down the beach toward where the house lay. She was alone. Yet again there was no David, no Urma, and certainly no Byron. The sense of having done this before off-balanced her and she kneeled down while getting used to the feeling.

Of course they're not here you silly girl.” She chided herself. “It's summer and he has all that work to catch up on. And Fyre will have missed him, so of course he'd be spending as much time with his basilisk as possible before time to go back again...He can't just sit around here to see if I'll come back.”

The longer she stayed the more distant the memory of being on the other side of the door just a few seconds ago became. Kirsty looked back in the direction she had come, but there was no door back. Memories that she'd not had yet rushed over her, including the strange knowledge that for some reason in the not so distant past she had been running through the forest... Time stabilized and stopped swirling, leaving her feeling as if she had been a toy boat in a baby's bathtub and someone had been shaking it.

She slipped off her dress and shoved it in her pouch, then made her way out into the water. She concentrated on Mara, trying to pinpoint the strongest direction of her presence. She followed it farther out on the point, making her way along the jutting rocks where the sea surged and ribboned with the falling tide. Finally she got to the furthest reaches of the earth into the sea, much beyond the shore where usually only the seals and sharks dared go, beyond even where the ruins of the Kitsch family lighthouse stood a dark skeletal watch. Looking back again toward that and the shore a dark shadow figure stood at the edge of the ledge.

Kirsty shuddered. There was no one living besides herself that would spend that much time there. She hadn't even taken David there yet, and Mrs Kitsch certainly did not stand so tall nor so straight. It left only the possibility of the ghost of Kitsch's father, whose life had been taken by the sea...and Mara...in a long ago storm.

The tide continued to go out, the sea pulling into itself and revealing more of the rockflow that marched out. An eddy began to swirl, and in the center she saw what she knew she was searching for. The water was a different shade than it should have been, glowing softly as if younger somehow than the rest surrounding it. Or was it older? A large wave came in and temporarily filled the punchhole of Mara's Eye.

 

Kirsty pulled out the white shell she kept her changing paste in and put a dose on her tongue, letting it dissolve and then swallowing. It burned more than usual, and she felt dizzy, as if things were warring inside of herself that shouldn't be, but she continued on out into the sea while her change occurred. Legs fused and she kicked further out. The current grabbed her and she took a deep breath, letting it pull her toward the gate.

   

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. >.>


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