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

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm, and an audio edition is currently being narrated by Illya Leonov, currently working with the Glossary and has finished Chapter 39 (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sea Witch?” He nearly dropped the carving.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

   

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

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


rainstardragon: (selkies skins)


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

This was originally two separate parts, but I put them together for length since these were divided when I was using smaller sections.
Selkies' Skins
Installment 46
Chapter 25 (part one)
The Old Ones

 

Morvan watched as some of the students separated from them and followed the headmistress, the Makay girl among them. He pondered the way she looked longingly to the spring after tearing her eyes from the sea, and the momentary flash of terror, then the confusion he had seen twisting and raising her brows. Stranger yet was the purpose in her step once she started moving, the dreamy hesitancy he was accustomed to seeing – gone.

That was not the Makay girl that he knew. He was not sure who this was. Even that moon-crazed Demeter girl had a more powerful and direct aspect around her instead of being lost in daydreams.

This version of Makay possessed a tangible wariness, which reminded him of how the doves watched the cats and owls. He wasn't sure if she was the cat, the dove, or the owl, nor was he sure he wanted to know. She might eat him.

Each of the Observers called up previously carved turnips, the predecessors to the now ubiquitous pumpkins introduced from American cousins. Purple and white, wood-hard and the size of doubled fists, some were simply scooped out glorified candle holders, while others had obviously had longer to work and steadfastly managed to scrape out recognizable faces to leer... or gaze benignly.

As one, each Observer held up their turnip lanterns, which varied in size and complexity even more as they began to take on life, and murmured their own prayers.

"I ask the Lord Of All That Is to watch over and protect my friends. Please extend your hand and bring them back to yourself, and forgive their mistakes. Don't let them get hurt." Ally whispered, dipping her head and closing her eyes, far more pale than when they had set out.

Morvan wondered what she had seen during the transit.

"May the Lord of All Flesh grant the safe return of our friends, and the safety of all of us." Nevin agreed, nodding, equally pale.

"May Enlightenment and connection to Truth be gained by all in following the Way" Enid and Devan murmured as one.

"Amen," Guirmean nodded toward Ally and Nevin. "So Mote It Be." Guirmean nodded again the end of the other prayers.

"Wait, I thought this thing was a Pagan moot. Those didn't sound Pagan." Morvan hid his smirk, but crossed his arms.

Ally and Nevin flinched. Enid and Devan sighed and shook their heads.

"What's yer row with that? 'S like guests at a church." A mostly brown student from among the Guardians hissed and sighed.

"Observers don't have to share the same faith. They just have to care about those that wander between worlds, Lilitu! Just because we're all different doesn't mean we don't get along." Creighton spat at the same time. The dark haired male from the Participants stepped forward, eyes flashing and fixed as if he were a deer.

Something dark and horned overshadowed Creighton, and for just a moment Morvan caught the scent of musk, the chase, and birch trees.

Well, more of the scent of birch than was usual for Creighton, who smelled of summer birch stands even at Christmastide.

"Be still, Creighton." MacLeomhann's tone pinned the lad.

"Yes Professor..." He cast one last look at Morvan.

"Halfblood ghillie dhu..." Morvan muttered.

"The same goes for you Lilitu." MacLeomhann growled. "You will learn your lesson."

"Insinuating something about my mother, Lilitu?" Creighton continued, hand still fisted.

"I can have you serve detention together tomorrow night if you won't stop. Kirstin, don't you dare think about joining in." MacLeomhann's gaze snapped sharply toward Kirsty at the sound of willow and selkie hair beginning to swish. "They listen even now."

"Yes Headmistress..." They grumbled together, going with the higher of her titles, all hoping for some favor points.

"Damnitall..." Kirsty blinked with what she hoped looked like innocence, then conjured her own turnip, instead of making mud swallow him. She cast a wary look to Creighton and the darker haired female. With an unobtrusive sniff she tried to identify the scents coming from them.

Battle and/or the Cailleach was not something she needed to have following her, or to be blundering into. Mara's insistent tugs were enough to deal with.

Next, the other ritual participants each conjured their own, and lit the candles of their Observers and ties back to the world of man.

"Light at the windowsill and hearth always bring us home, through darkest night and wildest storm." The five Participants chanted in unison, each touching or brandishing some mark of their deity, before touching the wicks of their turnips to the flames offered.

Thomas sighed and shook a bit, touching the lump beneath his cloak again once his flame was lit from Ally, and watched Kirsty rub the twinned bracelet at her left wrist once she was lit from the same source.

Creighton winked and patted the bone spearhead strung at his neck, once done accepting fire from the dark haired one. "Let's hope Kernnunos and the Oak King grant blessings, Enid. See you with a prize hopefully." Enid smiled a bit and nodded, adjusting the mask she wore.

"Of course they will. Didn't you hear the sounds of Herne's Hunt last night? They're all riled." Stone grinned, her pale blond hair for a moment looking too white for Morvan's comfort. "I can't wait to find out directly what She wants me to do."

Gale looked into the turnip he held after Stone's had been lit. "Just be careful Ingrid... Remember last time. Come back."

"'Don't wind up like the girl that bonded too close with Brigit.' Don't worry, I won't."

"Uh huh... I wonder sometimes." He muttered.

Morvan wasn't the only one looking at how Stone's hair was closer to the shade of moonlight.

Gravely, the Observers shared their light with the Guardians... except for Morvan.

Try as he could earlier in the day, he had not carved a turnip with the other students during the preparations for the time. Nothing would form in his mind either. Now he understood somewhat why people worked for hours and days on the superstitious oddities...

No turnip, no flame, no light would he have.

None would have been offered to him anyway. Superstitious fools.

He tried one more time to conjure something, but all he managed was a gnarled stub.

The looks some of the others gave him... He was unaccustomed to this feeling it brought him. Even out under the open sky he began to feel claustrophobic.



Professor Guirmean moved to light Morvan's wick for him, but Kirsty held forth her flame instead. Her gut twisted, and she fought it, but some force pulled her toward him like fish in a net.

The cold that flowed through and around her, an arctic blast over frozen seas, made her squeeze her eyes shut. Images formed before her and then were torn away too quickly to grasp.

The flame danced between them, and kindled the wick of that misshapen gnarl, and the scent of some unnamed creature (which she likely didn't want to know by how it turned her stomach and made her think of the last she'd burned her hand) coiled up from the tallow and overpowered the clean herbs in her beeswax.

With a nod, she drew back, and felt things unseen click into place. She had done Mara's or the Lady's will... and that was all she knew.



Was that pity on Makay's face? Surely not. She had said nothing, so there was no way for Morvan to verify. Neither would the others speak to him. So what was that flicker in her eyes and the hated tie he had thought he had felt?

Thomas Harper the was first behind MacLeomhann, plucking a few strains on his lute and making his turnip do a jaunty spin above his head like a demented will o' the wisp. Makay fell in line behind him, holding her head high. A strange, barely audible warble came from her, weakened further, then fell silent as she winced and reached for her throat. Diana Demeter looked up to the moon, as if she expected that low hanging orb to speak. Indeed, it did appear to be listening attentively. She too then got into line, resting her hand momentarily on the shaking shoulder.

Morvan already disliked those three, but the other two, Ingrid Stone and Floyd Creighton he knew little of besides their names and that they were of Leomaris. They were as withdrawn as Valnarius, usually.

Creighton looked his way and pulled up an antlered hood, oak leaves clinging here and there as if the great hart they came from had last crashed through a thicket of saplings. He curled his lip in disdain, holding Morvan's eyes, but talking to the one beside him. "A Spiralis... still can't believe one came with what they say about the Old Ways."

"Floyd, the heads will hear." Stone elbowed him while hissing. "We can hope 'They' will unleash us, 'til then..."

Stone's hood came up. An eerie darkness emanated from her, an impossibility that gave Morvan a headache. Without a word, she glided to the line, followed by her housemate.

The adults continued in their preparations and gestures. Ainsley carefully placed a circle of what looked to be salt around the observers, with garlic and silver at the quarters.

The crimson sun touched the edge of the mist and slid below. A bloody path formed over the water, though as far as Morvan knew, the path of the sun shouldn't have been seen under such conditions.

For a moment, he thought he saw a large, triangular, fin breaking the water. When he tried to focus on it, it was gone.

So why did it leave the sense of foreboding, as if a white masked closet dweller with a cleaver had just creaked the door open?

One by one the Participants wended around the tor, away from the beach, and into the stone circle, accompanied by MacLeomhann's chants and the wails of the floating pipes. One by one they passed through the dividing line, flares and pulses passing through the Observers.

The last of the sun's light flared, the final stab to its daily life, as if from the Morrigan's spear. At last, MacLeomhann herself entered, and Morvan heard her no more.

"Now we wait, and guard." Guirmean answered the unasked question. "Mr. Ainsley will take half of you and guard the village side, the rest of us will be stationed here."

The moon now hung low over the stones, as if watching the forms which he could no longer see. For a moment, he thought he almost could pick out a satisfied smile in the great shining face.

Or was the moon rimmed by rows of serrated teeth?

The wind rose.

Ainsley pointed to his two to follow, singling out who he knew from the roll call would be Darcy Green from Leomaris and Corriander Comely from Bertramus, in their dark leather Hunter's garb. Ainsely gave him a fierce and haunting glare, and the Head's comment 'half' momentarily whispered through his mind. Ainsely grinned a bit, though what it meant Morvan wasn't sure. Then they too disappeared into the fog, ostensibly to position his two young guardians where he wanted them to haunt. Morvan was now "alone" with Bartholomew Brown, Stanley Wookey of Leomaris, and the Headmaster to "protect" the Observers.

 

McNamara fiddled with the edge of her cloak, peering up at the stones. "Are you sure they're really going to be all right? Thomas really does this every High Day?"

Morvan listened partially and looked around for- he didn't know what. Some moving shape perhaps.

There was breathing behind his ear, but every time he looked, he saw only the settling night.

"Every High Day." Guirmean replied, resting a hand on her shoulder.

"What about Kirsty? Are these really as dangerous as people going missing? If she does these all the time, but not always with a group-?"

"Which is why she's here for this one. I have full confidence in Professor MacLeomhann's abilities to midwife them back and forth." His tone was final, and calm as the soft thump of a thick tome closed for a final time.

Ally reached up and grasped the silver cross where it dangled from its stout chain. She bit and sucked her lip thoughtfully, then sighed as if pondering a question from History, Ethics, or maybe that sparsely attended World Religions seminar.

Time stretched out further, and the dark fell faster, as if the Unseelie Court galloped across the sky drawing a tattered cloak of darkness behind.

The wind called his name, but as Morvan looked around, none seemed to hear it.

 

"I don't think I want to know if they're real anymore..." He thought. "Not in a place like this..."


 


Expect the next episode around July 28th, unless an extra episode funds, in which case you might see the next on July 21th. If you'd like to have another episode sooner, feel free to use the Paypal button below. A total of $5 earns everyone an extra episode. If the five dollars is not met, then the amount rolls over toward the next early episode. You can see how close we are to having an extra episode by checking the meter on the sticky post.


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

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


Ok, scheduling it for tomorrow didn't work as intended. So it's here early and will go up on the website tomorrow.



rainstardragon: (Default)

 



Welcome back to another installment of Selkies' Skins. I'm still going to do this bi weekly, unless extra episodes get funded (at which point I'll have to squeeze more writing time to make more backlog, because everyone and their mother's kittens seems to want to eat my writing time this week). The book's sections will likely be a bit different from the website's since too many chapters in a section starts to look really confusing in the nav bar on the site. Or they might not. This is one of the issues that the editor and I will discuss. This chapter in particular is one that we will debate as to if it makes a better section end or section beginning, or if it will get treated as an "in between" happening.

Byron: You'd better not cut that with how you kept pushing that along to where it occurs in the timeline.

... Maybe I'd better protect my bed.



If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the
ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

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

We now return to Selkies' Skins.


Selkies' Skins
Section 2
Chapter 18

End of the Trail
installment 28
~~~~*~~~~

 

Byron had continued his northward trek as swiftly and thoroughly as he was able. The Kelpie had not kept track of how far he had gone. Time did not have much meaning when traveling as part of the water to go through it, nor would it matter until he was back at his mistress' side discharging his duties. Food he had taken only when coming across it, not wishing to waste any time if he could help it. He was swifter without any humans, only halfhuman or not, on his back. There was also the advantage of not having to be careful with his poison spines in his mane.

Still, it had been a long search. He was quite positive that Kirsty would be well into this year's training in finishing her readiness for her skinquest, by now. As long as she had a firm understanding of all the worlds she was going to be required to walk in, she should succeed. So for now, his only worry was Etain, unless he had lost track of more time than he had thought.

Well, maybe more technically it was Etain and the nameless things that the Ministry used to keep track of non-human magical beings and anyone else that they wished. He was well versed in how they worked, had encountered them so many times since the Ministry had wormed their binding onto him centuries ago. The Ministry of Myths at that, and he could never be certain which of the competing “governments” were worse. The question was, why were so many of them ranging so far from the prisons and the "reserves?" Who had revolted hard enough to have them unleashed? Was it one of the merclans not yet forced into the reserves? One of the reserves pushing back and refusing to give up traditional grounds? An escapee? Product of one of the wars always boiling just below the surface of one of the many intermingled and intersecting worlds?

Maybe the gods will hurry and make a grand return and scare some sense into all those pompous windbags. Probably too much to ask, be my luck Mara would decide to ride her clergy. Or Herne's Hunting Dogs would chase them through their silly “secure” government buildings...

A tickle of coldness passed him by, and he sneered to think that even below the waves they were hungrily on the prowl for new beings to mark, or old ones to feed from. And so many. He changed his heading to avoid the one that he could feel ahead. A Seafolk city came slowly into his view as he galloped, and his heart leapt, hoping that perhaps they would have some news of where his mistress had gone.

The outer buildings were empty. Weedy yards waved in the current, and nary any sort of pet nor guardian was to be seen. The fields between had the unkempt look of untended seaweed beds developing, and even the oyster-beds between the outcroppings had an almost haunted feel. It was not unheard of, especially if there were threats in the area, for those on the outskirts to retreat into the cities and citadels proper. So he pressed on, though marking that the outskirts were abandoned and oil still seemed to linger, though changed somehow.

Byron passed through the gate in the walls of coral and pearl, into the city proper, but here too, silence greeted him. He slowed his pace, just in case it was what had sent everyone to hiding. Yet, the streets remained empty, the markets abandoned, and the pennants on the undersea towers were all that seemed to move in the current. He paced slowly through the city, hoping for an Octopid, a Deepsea Selkie, one of the Sharkmen... even a Triton, contentious as they were, would have been a welcome sight.

There was none.

He pressed on to the citadel in the heart of the city, and here too, no living, speaking thing greeted him. Into the castle he went, to the throne-room. Here, all that greeted him was the pipeline for the oil rig, plunging through the roof and the remnants of the splintered throne, drained of magic. Which of the capitals was he in? He searched the walls for a pennant that bore a crest, but all that still remained were blank.

With a sigh, he bowed low, paying respects when a final look around revealed part of a decaying hand. The Kelpie then left, making his way through the city toward the spires of the temple. The guardian statues gazed at him hollowly, the Samebito woman and the Selkie woman armored and holding spears.

Mara's militarist aspect. Explains the overtones of Viking and Grecian architectural elements.

Going past the external guardians, he came to the room of the representative Ancestors, each presenting their Histories, stone-faced. Here, at least, magic still lingered, dormant. Waiting. The taste of his mistress still lingered in these waters, fresh and emotion laden, joined with the suppressed fear of-

A Triton? But where are they then?

The dead eyes of the stone Megalodon watched from where the body lay, and the spearpoints of Mara's more humanoid form gleamed momentarily. Catching sight of this, a chill swept over him shaking him to his very marrow.

What within or beyond the seven waves is bloody going on?

He circled and paced the room, but try as he might, the track ended here.

Mara. What have you done? What are you playing at?

The eyes of the Megalodon continued to stare, as did the sharkwoman. Byron studied the eyes of those statues carefully, hoping that there might be some clue left in the temporary bodies. For a moment, he saw a flash of whirling waters, fighting themselves, and a great unsteadiness.


~~~~*~~~~


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

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

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

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



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


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

If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

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

Selkies' Skins

Chapter 16
Flat Note

part two

installment 23
~~~~*~~~~

The Director shook his head. "You know she'll need to know."

Kirsty sighed and nodded. While making her way to the healing wing, Thomas and the Director caught her whenever her legs would give out. Luckily, most of the students were either in classes, or preferred spending their free time out on the grounds, so by now there were fewer students in the halls. Unfortunately, both Morgana and Morvan were "recreating" near the foot of the stairs she needed, by "practicing bird calls." Cuckoo calls followed her as she mounted the steps, holding her head high and pretending she could not hear, since the Director was there.

Just you wait... I'll show you who's the cuckoo, Lilitu...

She growled when trying to get up the stairs and her knees buckled, but she knew better than to argue against anything the Director said.

I hope I don't miss too much of Potions. I really wanted to be there for the start of how to do the race null-effect workarounds.

After navigating the passages, and the castle gremlin dropping the portable hole that he was repositioning, in favor of following the trio to find out what was happening, they finally made it to the large oak doors. Emblazoned here was the caduceus in red, overlaid on a triskele in white, and the whole encircled by a red circle. The doors swung open on their own to reveal a hall of beds, each curtained off from the others, and the odor of menthol and other healing herbs seared their noses.

At the far end, the Matron looked up from where she was tending to a broken leg. On seeing the gremlin floating "innocently" behind Kirsty, she leveled her wand, revealing the spoon tip, which glowed irritably.

"YOU! What else did you do?"

Kirsty flinched, believing at first that the wand and the ire was aimed at her.

"Not you child. HIM." She pointed. "Portable hole and a broken leg. Who knows what other mischief he's been up to, and Lord have Mercy when the poltergeist breaks her seal again so they both can "play" again. What did that nasty thing do to you child?"

"Laryna... He didn't do anything to her." The Director glanced around, and the Matron indicated to them where she wanted Kirsty.

As they seated her on the closest bed, he recounted how twice their practice had been interrupted, and how the last time she had been flung about and needed Catching.

"Odd indeed. Step out a moment gentlemen, please. I need to check for bruising."

Thomas and the Director complied, and she shut the curtain.

"Harper has class, I'll send a note with him explaining that Makay will be a little late, and I should be going myself to have a word with the Headmaster and Professor McLeomhann."

"Very well. I will let you know my findings then."

Kirsty opened her robes and lifted her shirt glumly, exposing her halfpelt to the Healer and allowing those thin hands to sift through the fur and prod at her. She could hear the withdrawing footsteps, and wished that she was going too. Each gentle poke brought a wince as the Healer examined the places Kirsty had, so she thought, been surreptitiously clutching.

"You've been bitten, girl. Very large mouth. The Director said he didn't see anything, but did you?"

"No ma'am. Not a thing. One moment we had finally gotten the Founding Song's story to visualize, and the next I'm being thrashed around like by a shark at feed."

"Your studies haven't stirred up anything, not found any ancient artifacts in your dives lately?"

"Not that I'm aware of, no. But whatever it was, felt so angry. Frustrated... Oh!"

She jumped as something cold was worked into her pelt and skin, and became aware of a sting at each place the ointment was applied. Looking down, she could see where the Healer had discovered slow oozes of blood. Next came bandages wrapped around her chest to hold ribs in place, standard practice whether they were just bruised, or broken. When she was finished, she dropped her shirt again, and lifted her skirts even more grudgingly for her legs to be checked over.

By the time that the Healer had finished fussing over her, and forcing a very large dose of bruise-mend on her to heal bone and muscle from the inside as well, the doors to the Healer's Hall were swinging open again. She tried to clear the taste of licorice and ground shell, and some less savory flavors from her tongue as footsteps hurried over the marble floor.

Kirsty lost that battle, and the flavor settled more firmly on her tongue as the warmth spread through her body, over nerves and everywhere the spectral teeth had abused. By the time her aunt was crushing her with a hug, and dripping saltwater on her shoulder, she was very glad of it, as it protected her from any further damage.

"Auntie... you squishing me..."

The vice-like grip loosened, and Kirsty drew breath properly.

Must stop scaring Auntie. She'll break me one of these days.

As brusquely as the Healer had, Professor McLeomhann was checking her over for damages. Dark eyes appeared behind her, framed by white hair, and draping robes incorporating all of the house colors flowed around him, from beneath the flatboard Doctoral hat.

"What do you think, Headmaster? Jinxed?"

"Quite possibly, but who here would be creative enough to come up with such an unusual style?" The warm voice washed over them both, making Kirsty remember quiet nights by the hearth.

"What could be be otherwise though? We've never had the song give anyone problems like this."

"I didn't say that she wasn't jinxed, just that if she is, it is not by anyone here, Belara."

"Who then, Artair?"

The headmaster shook his head, and removed from around his neck a medallion, set with round polished agate and etched deeply with arcane symbols that were unrecognizable to her. He very carefully set this around her own neck and tucked it under her robe, patting her head after.

"This should do while you finish the process of repairing your grandmother's wardstone, Miss Makay. Now, I have heard some concerns that you've been having nightmares that wake your dormmates?"

"Thank you, Professor Guirmean..." She fingered it through the cloth. "I keep seeing Mum's boat, and things keep happening to her, Headmaster. Not bad enough to request any Dreamkill from the Potionsmaster, but... I keep seeing her boat sinking, and bits of it all over the waves, shortly before I wake. Nevermind the others, or the flashes I get while awake."

"It is natural to worry when our loved ones are so far away, and your mother's calling is not the safest."

Yeah, and even in this community, not many believe in deities being involved with anyone.

She nodded, and rubbed where she had been bisected. "Yes, I'm used to Mum and Da having to be gone. Even if the fishing trips were just actual fishing trips, there'd be times it would still just be me and Byron-"

"-Byron and I."

Kirsty nodded and sighed, used to her aunt's grammar corrections. "Byron and I."

"Are you keeping a record of them?"

Kirsty winced. "Yes sir, even though I'm not looking forward to presenting the diary to the Divinations Mistress since she wants a record for class."

Did she detect the hint of a smile on his lips, in answer to the irritation?

"I would suggest making it a little more than a dream diary. I want you to keep track of any news you get from home as well, so that we can see if anything correlates, and also any little signs that you see."

She nodded.

"Can I get to class now?"

The headmaster nodded.

"Thank you!"

Kirsty curtsied to the adults, before scampering off.

 

"Your niece loves classes just as much as you did, Belara."

"I think in this case, she was simply more afraid that we might pry, or make her hold still for another dose of medication, Artair... Though I'm sure Potions does call rather loudly."

"Do you think that Finnol is still in port, or if we sent a summons, we'd only rouse Byron?"

"Finnol will likely still be out. Byron was the one bringing her. All we can do is try and see if anyone answers."

The gremlin slipped after Kirsty, having given the girl time enough to forget, hopefully, that she was still in range. The adults were still deeply embroiled in their discussion, and the Healer was busy prepping the now empty unit for the next student.

"Meri..."

She paused, and slowly turned her head around one hundred and eighty degrees to stare back at the warning tone, blinking her eyes innocently.

"Leave young Makay alone. I do think she's had enough excitement today."

"Yes, sir..." The gremlin continued on, ears drooping a bit, till the door closed behind her. Didn't say not to go pick at that seal though, did he? Her ears perked back up as her feet sped her toward the Observation Tower.

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

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

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


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

Expect the next installment in two weeks.  University classes have started again, and the courseload is rather heavy.  This installment will go live on the main site sometime tomorrow.

rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)


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

If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

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

Selkies' Skins
Chapter 16
Flat Note
part 1

installment 22
~~~~*~~~~

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

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

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

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

"Miss Makay, What happened?"

"Kirsty, are you alright?"

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

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

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

"More than enough, Maldein."

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

"Maldein, demerit. Leave now."

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

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

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

"Can you go on?"

"Yes Director, I think so."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is anything about my life usual?

"No sir..."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Edit: Typos fixed.

rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)


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

If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

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

Selkies' Skins
Chapter 15
Temple of Mara

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The shark turned itself, more directly facing the pair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Etain blanched.

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

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

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

"What do you mean, Lady?"

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

The goddess trailed off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The jaws closed, and the darkness was absolute.

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

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

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


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

Expect the next installment in a week or two.

rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)


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

If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

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

Selkies' Skins

Installment 20
Chapter 15
Temple of Mara

~~~~*~~~~

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Indeed."

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

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

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

Expect the next installment in a week or two.

rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)


"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies. The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and other societies Magical and Cowan, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.
 
Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet, Smashwords, and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.  If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

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

Selkies' Skins

Chapter 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes Mistress."

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

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

"Well?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

 

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

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

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


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


"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies. The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and other societies Magical and Cowan, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.
 
Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet, Smashwords, and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.  If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

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

Selkies' Skins

Chapter 14

The Rig
~~~~*~~~~

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

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

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

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

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

"Yer a seawitch. Work harder!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



I hope to make the next installment by September 2, as I think I will be done with the move by then and have the internet on.  The laptop has not been repaired yet either, and that is unlikely to happen until after classes start and my aid packet has arrived, so it is unlikely that I would be able to post from my brother's home if such is not the case.
rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)


"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies. The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area (large territory) and Wizarding society, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.
 
Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.
 
If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note. Story is mirrored to my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

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


Selkies' Skins
Chapter 13
Out in the Storm

~~~~*~~~~

 

Kirsty made her way through the halls, padding softly and avoiding the other cats that sometimes prowled the corridors, especially the one that belonged to the castle caretaker. She liked the night, how it gave a more mysterious and ancient aura to the already ancient and mysterious stone passages. The sense of height was intensified by the darkness, and her ears twitched at every noise, and the whispers of the ghosts going about their business. The scent of the old castle was very different from the scent of her home, though she knew both grew and shrank as need arose, and that her home predated this fortress. Once in a while, the light footfall of a student breaking curfew hit her ear, and she would take shelter in one of the standing suits or behind the ever rippling tapestries.

White blond hair and pale skin reflected the light of the flameless torch held by Morvan Lilitu, when she came across him making his way out of the dungeon unaccompanied and wearing the green and bronze of his house. She grinned to herself, leaping up onto one of the ledges above the nearest door, and waited, watching. As he stole closer to one of the cases featuring artifacts meant as motivational displays, black kid gloves clearly indicated that he desired something from it. She yowled as if something had stepped on her tail.

He spun around gasping, directing the light at her, and her blue eyes reflected a demonic red in the darkness. She puffed her fur and arched, taking full advantage of the height and surprise to be even more terrifying, and yowled again. A loud clang sounded in an adjoining passage, and there was a cackle as the castle gremlin hot footed for the disturbance. In response, Morvan spun again and tore away, Kirsty leaping after and following close to his heels as possible.

She was passed by the gremlin. When she saw the raggedly legs flash by, clothed in freshly stolen and mauled socks, she slowed to a more moderate pace and continued her trek to the door, flicking her tail side to side in satisfaction. At last, the oaken doors soared in front of her, and the castle heralds did not stir at her presence.

It took some ingenuity to actually get out of the castle, with the wind pressing in on all the doors, mostly in the form of timing her pushes just right after slipping back to her human form, in order to open the heavy doors enough to slip though.

Once out, her travel was not any easier. The rain soaked her swiftly, and the same winds that had locked her in the castle temporarily now thrashed the trees and threatened to scoop up her slight form and toss it around like a hailstone in a cloud. In truth, they did more than threaten to scoop her up, but actually did so on occasion.

The biggest gust carried her hissing and yowling all the way to the lake, where she landed with a splash. The storm exacerbated the lake's currents, to the point that in the normally placid swimming area there actually was a current. She would have never believed it possible if not for this current pulling her out, where normally she was winning swimming races and getting teased for her extremely conservative and old fashioned swimsuit.

The water pulled her under, and once again she took her birth form to better swim, giving up the idea of running around in her cat form, for the time being. She swam across the current, as she would a riptide, and angled herself back toward shore.

A net closed around her in the black waters while the current continued to pull. She struggled, then reached for the pouch at her waist, glad that her parents had taught her to always strap it on whenever leaving for anywhere. Willing the water to be breathable as air, she worked the silent magic that would allow her short periods of water breathability. Her lips and lungs tingled, and the burning from the inhaled water stopped. Kirsty reached inside the pouch for her silver dagger, and began sawing at the braided lake-weeds.

"Nightfish, over here. The alarm went off on this one."

She stopped sawing at the net, and turned toward the voice and the name. She saw the glint of silver scales in the green wisp-lights that the Hunters held by their sides, and the men-fish of the loch were by her in only a few thrusts of their powerful tails, despite the current. They looked more like shark-folk to her, than the fish-folk or seal-folk she could see around the Point at home.

"You caught an airbreathing 'fish,' Carin. Seaswimmer, no less." Nightfish untangled her from the net, then frowned, noticing the hole she had already managed to make. "I hope you feel like weaving a new net. My mate already has several to replace for the village."

"Not my fault, you're the one that picked this spot to set it." Carin crossed his muscular arms and looked Kirsty over. "We didn't expect you till tomorrow night, Seaswimmer."

"I got blown in by the wind."

"What do you expect on a night like this? That's why we're fishing this way, it's got everything stirred up and makes the fish run. It's your own fault for being out of the land-dweller's castle. Even the wind knows the proper place for you is in the water. Why aren't you changed yet?"

"No skin yet. Next summer I get to go."

Nightfish finished dealing with the net, wrapping it up and securing it to his waist. "You should at least have taken a dose of the changing paste. I know our herbalists taught you how to make it."

She looked sheepish, and even in the greenish light her blush was evident. "I forgot it was in my pouch... and since it lasts an hour a dose... and I'm trying to get somewhere..."

Nightfish nodded knowingly. "You're out going someplace you shouldn't. As usual."

"NO!" She blushed deeper.

"Bah... adolescents. When you get to be our age, storm time courting is less important. Taking the opportunity for more food to feed the fry is far more appealing."

"Storm time... courting...?" She stared at the two mermen, who now looked at her with as much perplexion.

"Yes. Isn't that how it works with the land-dwellers too? While everything is stirred up, there is this energy that makes you just want to-"

Kirsty cut Carin off with a disturbed hand motion, and ah-ah-ahed like a pup, before resuming her swimming.

"They make me want to dance and sing, or knit, or put the Lilitu out in it. I have no idea what they do to you and am a little afraid now to find out." Nightfish chuckled as Kirsty continued. "As for humans, magic or not, most want to stay indoors during the storms. That's why we merfolk all get in so much trouble when a ship is downed in a storm."

"We know, but we're inland so we don't get blamed for that as often." Carin shook his head at her harping yet again on differences. "Here... this is painful watching you, though the teasing is fun."

The pair grabbed her under the arms, then hauled her to shore and tossed her up. She landed in the shallows, and they surfaced laughingly.

Kirsty rubbed her rump. "Thank you. I'd rather not have to sit here and wait for the paste to wear off. I'll be in the water tomorrow night for my lessons. I assume they go on, under Lady Mara's rage against the land or not?"

"Always. What's a little wet to the people of the waters?" The mermen waved their spears, then dove back under to resume their net checking. Kirsty took a look around to get her bearings, making sure that she was still on the grounds, and not likely to attract the attention of anything dangerous, then sought the least windy path to the secret passageway that she could.

It took a bit to find a sufficiently sheltered path, and then she shifted again despite how unlikely it was for anyone to see her.

She slank, belly down as close to the ground as she could get. Despite the storm, the lake called for her, and the salty waters beyond the underground passage out to the sea. The older she got, the more tempting the song of the sea was, urging her to leave her lessons and claim her birthright first. Yet a skin wasn't a right, as she always had to remind herself, but a privilege.

Kirsty continued for the sanctuary passage though, instead of answering the sea's calls. She had somewhere to be. There was not much that she could do to make what David had given her, by protecting her so often, anything close to equal footing. However, she could be there and hold him when he resumed the form that everyone knew, and rest next to him in the meantime so that this part of him currently in its ascendancy would know that there were at least some that were not of his kind that accepted him simply as he was.

Kirsty smiled grimly once winning her way to the cave passage and then through the protective vines that led to where the rare students that were enrolled with his condition were generally sent. It always amazed her how much the humans, herself included truthfully, took for granted that their precious schools were all free of non-human students. While there was the whole, and as she understood it, usual "my family is older than yours" and "we're Pure Blooded human" nonsense out in the open, in her short years in the school system she had found several students outside the "norm." Some of those students knew, and hid, what they were. Others did not yet know, and though she could guess at their ancestry, it was not any of her business.

Thankfully, for now there were those in power that would see to it that those with rights to more than one type of magic would be able to learn it. As much as she wished to be with her mother on the Sea Witch, she was also glad to be here.

Soon enough, she found herself doing more swimming down the passage than walking. When she had gone several meters paddling through the water, she gave up and slipped back to her birth shape. With a wave of her wand, she parted the water in the passage, which constantly was having more added to it, so that even though it was shallower, there was always going to be a bit of water where she walked, even with Imp's help. Kirsty sighed and made a note to lay down some charms that would allow the both of them to pass dryly in the event of another deluge like this, and hoisted the hems of her sopping nightclothes.

She held her breath when she pushed open the plank door at the end of the passage, remembering how the first time she had seen David's secret, fully and without the way he'd hidden it during the strange blood moon their first year of acquaintance, she had been forced to scramble all over the castle's post-room to escape. It was many months ago now, but she still rubbed her forehead where she'd plowed right into the door, when she'd forgotten that a cat shape was not going to open the post-room doors with any sort of efficacy.

The wooden door at the end of the cave passage ended her reverie, and when she opened it, she was able to step up and out of the water. Warily, she drew her wand and mimicked the swirls her mother often used to temporarily stay water when doing some rerouting of waterways, just in case the level rose further than the base of the door. The Selkie hair at the core of the willow shaft sang and whispered wistfully, and she briefly saw glimpses of Germanic coasts and Scandinavian firths.

She heard a faint whoosh behind her. The warmth of the fire that inexplicably started up in the hearth whenever it was needed seeped into her bones, and she was aware of her scent beginning to fill the room. She sniffed delicately, making use of her sharper sense of smell. The smell of wolf hung in the air, stronger toward the stairs leading to the upper level of the structure built in the cave system, trapped by the rock.

No werewolf tore down the stairs of the refuge to rip her up for the crime of smelling human around him, despite how sure she was that her scent had reached him. She closed the door softly, then extracted as much water from her clothes as she could. Her pelt bristled at the idea of going and curling up next to a warm dry bundle of fur and robes as a sopping, stinky, most likely demonic looking, drowned cat. Now, if she could finally go on her skin-quest, then she wouldn't mind curling up next to him furry and wet, as a seal could at least be expected to be wet, and thus be less of a shock.

Though probably not an appreciated one in the middle of the night... She smiled a bit at that ludicrous thought.

Still there was no sound of him coming, though she was still certain that by now he'd scented her and expected it. That could only mean, or so she thought, that he was either too tired to care, knew her smell enough to not automatically have the stereotyped reaction that folklore (and the increasingly common reports of attacks) would lead one to think... or that maybe she did not smell as human as she had just a year or two ago.

Kirsty shook her head in irritation at herself for so much dwelling. As far as scent went, maybe all that rain had just washed it all off, and it was silly to pick apart that riddle when she needed to rest before his change back. She slipped back to her cat shape, and padded up to the bed, where there would be a warm furry body and a great big paw to lay over her back.

She hopped up on the bed, her claws sticking in the thin, musty blanket as she attempted to pick her way to her favorite spot. When she laid down, she saw the thick white pelt, beneath the too thin blanket and too large robes. An ice-blue eye opened when she curled up on his chest, and she kneaded at him, purring soothingly. She purred louder when he whuffed softly in reply, and put the expected paw over her, grumbling lightly from the awakening. It did not take either of them long to fall back to sleep, and the night passed by quickly.

 

His restlessness woke her shortly before the howl, and she sprang off of him as he bolted up in bed. David grabbed at himself and howled again, sometimes scratching, and often snapping his teeth, as the fur slid back into his skin, and bones cracked loudly to reform. Kirsty's stomach twisted at the sounds, but she stayed. She threaded around him and rubbed against him as soothingly as she could, purring and meowing loudly till he was sufficiently transformed that he wouldn't be able to bite and pass the infection on.

Though she wasn't so sure it was an infection in his case, no matter what all the books she had read on werewolves stated. Not given what she knew of his background and connection to a certain Lord of the Hunt that her goddesses had interest in.

Once he was transformed enough to not be too great a threat, she transformed and wrapped her arms around him from behind, careful to remain clear of his jaws while he continued his twisting, simply holding him and humming a healing song. She could feel the magic welling up from somewhere inside herself as she hummed, and the way her palms and skin tingled where it passed through to him. He clung once he had managed to turn enough in her tight grip, and though the whimpers broke her heart she kept holding and humming until his pain seemed gone, and he was simply resting in her arms, once more human, if more than slightly disheveled.

He took a shaky breath and looked up at her. Kirsty smiled at David and nodded, hoping he didn't notice how wet her eyes were. She waited on his breathing to even a bit more, laying her head on him, and relaxed when his hand moved on her back. When he was recovered enough, she told him of her aunt's warning, and the new rules for the year...

David eyed her. "So, what aren't you telling me?"

Kirsty blinked innocently. He sighed.

"The Mistress got put in the lake by the wind!" Imp piped up, popping into view and illustrating her flight with his hands. And she got caught in a net again Master. Imp wasn't quick enough, and the wind was too strong..."

David sighed again, and shifted uncomfortably, his bones still aching. "Again? Why didn't you stay inside? Especially with how those things searched the train." He frowned, and gingerly extricated himself from the bed. "You weren't seen by one, were you?"

"No, I don't think so. I'm still here, and not whisked off to one of the reserves or in front of some tribunal. I would have at least had to fight one if I were seen."

David went to change into his normal robes, and Kirsty went down to the lower level while he changed, waiting. While she waited, she thought about the best charms to use in the passage, settling on one that would work only for those authorized to be in the sanctuary. By the time he was done, she had worked out the wording and the way the energy would need to flow, and again decided that using her wand would be the best focus, in her lack of a spear. She was practicing the motions when he descended the stairs, books in hand and the twin ravens of his house emblazoned in silver and blue on his robing.

Kirsty blushed when she realized she was being watched. "I was just getting ready. I had to take this form to get through the passage, I wouldn't have been able to swim far enough as a cat. So I thought that, if I added a bit of a charm to the passage, the headmaster wouldn't be mad, since I'm taking care of something only a waterwitch can do properly..."

"Go on... I'd like to watch you work."

She nodded and entered the tunnel through the bedrock, making her way through and singing softly under her breath. Now and then, Kirsty paused to trace arcane spirals and sigils on the walls or floor, which glowed a brilliant sea green briefly before fading from sight. The entire passage thrummed, the echoes magnifying the song, causing it to reverberate like seals under ice or whales calling. As they moved through the knee-deep water, it parted around them, leaving the floor where they walked dry, but closing again behind them.

Finally, she tapped the walls just shy of the vines, satisfied with her work, sealing it. The storm continued, but now it was a steady downpour instead of a tempest. The mood of the storm had also changed, and Kirsty wondered what had changed the mood of the sea goddess that she had felt in it. She glanced over at David, who smiled at her despite how tired he clearly was, and she found herself blushing when he complimented her work. The blush held for quite some time as they left the dryness of the sheltered cave passage, and pushed through the grasping vines to enter the rains.

Luck was with them, when they won their way through, and into the castle again, the others still slept. The castle gremlin snoozed on a lintel, smugly clasping Morvan's overrobe as he waited on one of the teachers to pass by. Quietly they passed by, careful not to wake him, and went to wash away the scent of the past night, before students or staff would be stirring from their beds.


~~~~*~~~~
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"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies. The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area (large territory) and Wizarding society, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.
 
Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.
 
If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note. Story is mirrored to my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site.

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

Typos and missing stuff fixed.  I know I had those fixed before saving...
 
 
We now continue with Selkies' Skins.
 

Selkies' Skins

Chapter 12
Den of the SeaLion

~~~~*~~~~

 

 

They did not get to watch the castle, built to incorporate the sacred three, instead of the more usual sacred four, giving it a triumvirate look instead of the more usual foursquare layout, grow and rise during their approach. The storm was so thick, they did not see it at all until nearly at the foot. They therefore did not get to see the statues of the three houses' heralds come to life and attention. Yet still, despite the tearing wind and rain, the black marble and white marble ravens of Bertramus hopped and glided from parapet to rampart eagerly from Bertramus' Tower, at the top of which was the Observatory. The fishtailed lions of Leomaris sported over the walls, coming from their tower, closest to the loch. The serpent of Spiralis awakened from where it coiled above the underground secrets of the subterranean House, and slipped up the walls to watch their approach.

As usual, a Spiralis serpent could not help trying to eat one of the Ravens of Bertramus, whilst the first students were filing in the main door once through the main gate. One of the Sealions of Leomaris put a stop to it, as usual, by a "gentle" application of giant paw to stone head, bringing the usual titters (and huddled gasps from those whose first year in their hidden world it was) when Spiralis coughed the White Raven back up.

Kirsty paid the display no mind. Like the Sealion of Leomaris, she was too busy helping to make sure that one of Bertramus' "Ravens" could slip off unscathed. She planted a swift kiss on David, before he made his break away from the others to dash into the forest. Thomas was already busily bustling some of the females inside, using his own cloak to help shelter an unusually short first year that had lost their cape to the wind.

"An unusually tough initiation for the younger ones this year..." She mused, whilst humming and distracting anyone that might have seen David slip away. If any had not already been distracted by the storm, they would easily forget or believe he had just been one of the storm shadows that were sighted often when the storms came. Indeed, those around her that were still out in the wet were already beginning to forget the chill cutting to their bones, hearing her as they all filed in.

Once in, she dried herself and went strait for where the Choir was gathering. On a day like this, she knew their Director would be certain to make use of the magical voices he had selected, and was always adding to. He was one of the suspected half breeds, and like her aunt, was involved deeply in some of the other students' "special studies."

The other members of the Choir had all known the same in their bones. When she met them, the tall form of the Director had just strode to the lines forming, slightly pointed ears peeking out from his dark hair and slanted eyebrows hovering over smiling eyes. She stood in her place with her rank, and when Thomas arrived and took his place to the side with one of the school lutes, Kirsty listened to the soft rolling rumble of instruction given to them. As one, they marched into the Feasting Hall, up to the stage behind and above the Head Table, and gave their performance. Though the storm still raged, fueled by a divinity's anger, none were able to hear it while the students sang and bones warmed and dried, nor after the Headmaster gave his speech, nor even during the following feasting.

 

~~~~*~~~~

 

Kirsty went up the stairs, her belly full from the welcoming feast, ahead of the others of her House. Here too the tempest still howled and tore at Castle Carrick's ramparts, far more noticeable than in the Feasting Hall, and whipped the loch below into froth. She wondered whether it was fierce enough to do anything to the loch-Selkies' village. The Lake called to her, she heard it whispering in her blood, just like the streams of water below the castle. She closed her eyes, trying to picture it, but was too distracted by knowing what night it was, to focus well enough for any better water-knowing.

"When I can get into the Lake, I'll find out."

Instead of passing through the secret entrance like her Housemates would to their House common room, instead she went to the door of her aunt's chambers. Not the office, which everyone knew how to find, but where she lived during school months, which hardly any of the students knew about.

When she got to the door, and hovered her hand over the trigger, the fishtailed lion emblazoned on the shield covering the entrance sprang to life and looked her over, no longer paint on steel and leather. It reared, rampant, and seemed as if it might leap right off the shield to devour her. Taking a deep breath, she reached out a hand and placed it firmly on the muzzle, even though she risked having her hand bitten off.

"Easy Leomhann, it's just me. Kirsty."

The lion calmed, and nuzzled gently on hearing her whisper its name. After a polite request, again in Gaelic, though this time Scots Gaelic, it returned to being a golden ornament painted on an ancient shield. The shield swung open, a door appeared, and she opened that too. Kirsty went in and sat beside the fireplace, on the cushion beside the green velveteen wingbacked armchair.

On a table nearby was a tin of biscuits, and a small settee that matched the armchair was off to one side of the room with it. On the other, a bookcase dominated the wall, and around the room prowled a lion through the paintings. One portrait was empty, as it almost always was, due to Lady Bloomsworth being employed, as she had been since her commissioning at the Founding, with standing guard over the trigger entrance to the Leomaris' common room. Behind a desk, a dark wood door led to Professor McLeomhann's bedchamber.

She only had to wait a half hour or so longer for her aunt to finish eating and discharging the rest of her first-night duties, before the door opened again. Kirsty rose, and curtsied, before the tall woman with the severe dark bun and flashing eyes hugged her tight to green velvet robes, the scent of old books, magic, and the lake.

"I missed you auntie."

She nodded. "I missed you too."

Another bone crushing hug from the aging professor pressed the air from her lungs. Kirsty sat when requested, again on her cushion, while the professor sat in her armchair listening to what could not be sent in owls about her experiences back home since her visit for the Midsummer rituals.

"I am glad the Midsummer went well, but I must say I am not surprised by how busy your parents are and have been. There is far more afoot than I can tell you. All the worst sort of timing. Too much pressure on the clans." Professor McLeomhann sighed deeply, rubbing her forehead at the thoughts of other news her position made her privy to, then continued. "I am glad that it is still safe enough for you to board the train with the others, instead of having to be brought directly by Byron. I fear that day may be coming though."

Kirsty nodded. "I'm nervous. I don't know how I can balance school and what Mara and the Lady want me to be learning."

"You'll manage. Your mother did, and her mother beyond that. I daresay all of your ancestors on her side have balanced everything well enough. However, I want you to be particularly careful with these" she paused and wrinkled her nose, weighing her words, "things on patrol this year." Her sharp green eyes pierced her niece. "You stay in your usual areas, or in the lake during your night studies when I am not able to be there. And no running around the forest hunting. That goes for both you AND David."

"But... not even a mouse?"

"Not even a mouse, unless it's inside. When you are with David for his transformations, you stay inside. Please. Helping him stay safe is the whole reason you are allowed to bend the rule regarding male and female students at night, and why I agreed to teach you how to be a shifter on top of everything else on your docket."

"I know..." Kirsty sighed, chastened at the usual reminders, then nodded. "Yes auntie. I suppose I'd better go lay down and wait for the others to go to bed, so I can go keep him company without suspicion."

Her aunt nodded.

"It would be wise."

Overhead, a particularly large clap of thunder rolled, and the rain beat harder on the tower window's glass. Kirsty got up, and gave her aunt one final hug for the night, before she would have to start referring to her as "Professor" in front of the other students, then left for bed.

 

~~~~*~~~~

 

Kirsty sighed, looking up tiredly from her spot on the bed where she rested from the long, rather harrowing, train ride and the effects of the welcoming feast. Visions of darkness and storm continued to haunt her, which was not aided by the uncharacteristic tempest beating on the castle. That had blown in from the sea, off the loch, and Kirsty could still feel some of Mara's rage in it, though she had no reason to understand why.

Crimson velvet hung around her, and Imp sat watchfully beside her pillow, back from his ranging. She listened carefully to the sounds in her dorm room, the soft rise and fall of her dorm mates' sleep. Carefully and quietly she slipped out of bed, looking to see if they had left their drapes open. Several sleeping heads were peeking from crimson blankets trimmed in gold, but all eyes were shut in sleep. Ally was even snoring.

She slipped from the room, her blue night robe giving barely a whisper as she pulled it over her moon-white night gown. Down the steps she padded, the stone walls cool on her hand. Each wooden door gave forth the same heady silence on her way to the common room.

And that room, she was pleased to discover, only had empty chairs, study tables, and the crackling fire. The boys of her House were at least in their rooms, if not asleep. Imp nodded a reply to her unasked question when she glanced at him. Kirsty sighed deeply, glad that she wasn't going to have to wait any longer on her self-imposed mission.

She made next for the portrait hole, and stepped out silently, with a nod of thanks to the guardian of the House where she hung upon the hidden door, stroking the fishtailed lion lounging on the painting of the shore. The lady in her rose dress and ancient blonde updo, threaded with pearls, nodded back in return, long since resigned to the fact that those under her care snuck out now and then for interhouse rendezvous, pet projects, illicit adventures, emergency toilet runs – and in Kirsty's case, specially approved classes, lengthy swims in the bath or lake, and monthly visits.

"Be careful... remember what's stationed outside the grounds."

"Don't worry, Lady Bloomsworth, no side trips."

"Good girl. I'll let your aunt know you've left. Everyone else is inside."

"Thank you."

She gave a formal curtsy to the lady, spreading her skirts with a rather provincial flourish. With a breath, she willed the change she had been practicing at for years. Bones compacted and slid to new positions, and the disconcerting shrinking and changing of her skull and brain accompanied the unnerving momentary discomfort. Her vision and sense of smell sharpened more than it already was, and when she opened her eyes to verify her change as complete, she found her point of view much lower down.

Kirsty stretched, then examined sharp claws before making sure her fur lay in proper order. In less than a minute total, a sleekly long furred white cat, with piercing intelligent blue eyes and black whiskers padded off. Lady Bloomsworth watched the cat as far as she could down the hall and stairs, before shaking her head and settling in for her rest.




 

~~~~*~~~~
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rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)
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"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies. The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and Wizarding society, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.
 
Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.
 
If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note. Story is mirrored also at my LiveJournal, as well as on a dedicated site.

I have a few week's worth of posts written for the story.  We are finally getting closer to the loch for Kirsty's training with the inland Selkies, and then it will be time to go back to Etain.  First though, a bit more of the world she moves through (and feels so separate from) and a look at what is out there for suspected non-humans to have to deal with on a regular basis.  As for this chapter, I might or might not include it in the finished version.  Feedback on whether you the reader think this chapter can safely be left out or not is welcome.
 
We now continue with Selkies' Skins.


 

Selkies' Skins
Chapter 11
The Moon Extinguished

~~~~*~~~~

 

The storm raged, lightning splitting the sky and then the sea below, like lances and crackling dragons hurled without a care of where they would land. Ozone and salt filled her nose, and she could feel yet more electricity in the air. She wasn't sure if she was walking or swimming, but it was cold.

Freezing actually, the rain that was being whipped around was turning swiftly to ice as the temperature continued to drop, and it would not have surprised her to see a Titanic-sinker bobbing about like a cork. She wished for a thicker pelt, a fuller pelt, or a blanket - better yet, to be back on shore. Wherever shore might be.

She tried to get her bearings, but all she saw were storm ravaged waves, and a single boat, or perhaps a small ship. Another flash of lightning, and something pulling her closer, revealed that to be a more familiar outline than she had originally thought.

"The Sea Witch! Mum!"

The roof had been pulled off the top of steering room, leaving the wheel exposed to the elements, giving the boat an overall older look than it already had. It was more like the paintings she had seen of the family's smaller vessels, from back when they had possessed a fleet and the voyages were more often. Etain's cloak whipped around her, and her hair too, long snarled into a hopeless nest of tangles that would take a week's combing. A terrible fate for any Merwoman, Selkie or any other breed.

Faint strains of her mother's song drifted to her, but were snatched and bandied about easily. It didn't matter, Kirsty knew the words, and she sang them herself, praying that they would soothe the storm. There was the thrill-taste of magic in the air, and in the water when it splashed over her, both the rousing, and the calming varieties.

Someone, or thing, made this... But what?

She cast her eyes around, then felt a something, a tingle of magic, just like she did at school when other students were practicing, more like her own though, like what she felt when singing with the Selkies in the loch and learning what they still retained. Yet, it was still not quite like theirs either. Following the direction it had been in, she saw a swell wash over the face of a white haired, smooth faced, old man... trident glowing.

"Why couldn't it be a blasted collywobble? Does it have to be a Triton?  Why do I even have to go to school with other students and not be taught both human and Selkie magic at home?  I can only think of one reason, and it's silly."

She took a breath, and extended her hand, biting her lip and summoning all the energy she could muster. She could only hope that, if it were a dream, or she was projecting, she could do something to loosen his grip on the storm. Kirsty sent all that she could into the spell, sending it flying toward him.

 

The cold was what woke her from where she slept, warm and comfortable around David, though he looked both as if she'd socked him somewhere soft that she oughtn't when coming back from her dream, or as if every single bad memory he ever had had decided to gang up and well up in his mind all at once. Or at least, that was what she gathered from what little she could see.

It was dark, and she could feel her breath on her own face, the moisture freezing. None of the other students seemed to have turned the lights back on. Lightning flickered outside while winds howled and rocked the train on the track, and the rain beat every available surface. It sounded as if that rain was turning to hail, felt so too, according to her blood.

 

David had felt her move, and he rubbed her back soothingly. She'd not hit him, but neither had he gotten a pleasant feeling off of her as she woke, as if the thing, whatever it was, that caused the lights to go out wasn't enough.

"Stay here. I'll go find out what's wrong. Thomas?"

"Help Nevin watch over the girls?"

"Yes."

Thomas nodded. "Like I'd do anything else. Can't leave any of these girls alone long without something happening. Poor us Nevin, we're still outnumbered."

Nevin gave a wry smile, blushing a bit at being noticed. "Like they're goddess touched."

Diana gave Nevin a sidelong look and elbowed him.

 

Kirsty was not keen on the idea of letting go of David, but she also knew through long experience he was not going to let her follow, and not going to stay if he thought there was something that needed doing. He more than likely was not going to make his way down the hall dragging her as she clung to his waist, though at any other time she might have tried for comedic effect. Or maybe just blushed and not done it...

She released him, with a soft whuffing sound that she was sure he understood by now. Her blue eyes pinned him, as if, if she tried hard enough, she could impart some form of protection to him, like how a mermaid's kiss supposedly could keep a man from drowning.

He replied with a nod, and a squeeze of her hand, before he drew his wand and left their cabin. She looked at the others as well as she could, after David had closed their door. The moon-faced girl's face was not the usual, dreaming serenity that it normally was, nor did it exude anything remotely like serenity. Curiously, her face and eyes still seemed to shine in this darkness, at least to her eyes. The boy that was with her, Nevin, held her close as they tried to keep each other warm. Thomas and Ally were doing the same, as the cold only seemed to be increasing.

"You'll freeze..." Ally opened an arm to Kirsty.

Kirsty went over to that side and slipped into the arm, now between Diana and Ally. They all huddled close together.

Thomas whispered. "Think you can do that warming song without being too loud? The one you're always humming when you knit."

Kirsty nodded and began humming the song, mentally knitting up some warmth, though she never had any idea where it came from. There was a shifting sound up where the owl was, the bird moving closer to the source. Her friends pressed even closer, and the sense of dread only continued to grow.

"Diana, cover your face. it's coming closer."

The moon-faced girl did so without question, though the others looked toward Kirsty's whisper questioningly. Diana closed in on herself, trembling. Kirsty tried to keep an eye on everything, pulling her wand from the sheath next to her pouch, but flashes of memory distracted her.

Her mother's screams for her brother filled her ears momentarily. The feel of crumbling stone was below her feet as she tried, and nearly failed, to pull Etain from the cliff, and the rocks below. A sickening feeling grew in her belly and heart as more memories, or more like fragments, assaulted her mind. She could see the green fish face, the serrated teeth of the Finmen above her own crib, and hear the scream as her mother drove them back, and her father's shouts. The scent of burned fish filled her nose.

The door opened, and another body squeezed in, pulling Kirsty from the jumbled memories. She looked to see who or what it was, then relaxed as she recognized one of her Housemates, before turning her face again toward Diana.

The light that she always saw inside Diana, soft and silver, was out. Kirsty swallowed.

"Nevin... Check Diana? She's not glowing anymore."

"Anymore? She never glows..."

"She does. Just check her." Kirsty ran her fingers through her hair. "Hop in the huddle, what's going on out there?"

The new person squeezed in closer.

"Some things are searching the train. Not sure for what. I came to check on-" the girl, an underclassman, broke off and blushed, "someone, but couldn't go any further back. I'm just, so..." She shuddered, and everyone felt it and nodded. "I think they're looking for more than one person. I heard screams at one end, like someone was being pulled off."

Nevin adjusted Diana in his lap, after checking her pulse and vitals the best he could. "Wonder what made her pass out? I feel terrible, but not that bad."

"Pulled off?" Thomas rose, gripping his wand. "All our parents were assured the usual travel to school was going to be safe."

Kirsty waved him back down, stifling the urge to conjure a light.

"One of the Spiralis' had hoped it was a suspected non-human." The girl continued. "Because they react a bit differently than us."

"Hogwash." Thomas spat, wishing he could use a harsher term, but refrained due to the presence of the ladies. "Everyone reacts the same. Scared. If there's any truth to it, it's because non-humans and part-humans get treated worse overall than someone from a non magic family. Almost puts me in a mind to try for Minister when I'm old enough. Stop this blasted segregation nonsense."

Ally nodded. "I wish you would. I'd really like to see something bring the three communities together, instead of all the secrecy."

Kirsty wretched a bit. The feeling in her gut intensified, and her head began to throb as she tried to ignore or conquer the fear and bad memories. The cold also intensified, and she could feel her blood rebelling and fighting the unnaturalness. The pain flared, and she could feel something pulling on that source deep inside her. All she wanted right now, was to be back at Seal Point, in the water, or down the Lady's well again, or at least in the loch by the school. Even a bathtub would do, so long as it had water.

Imp's energy flared up around her own, she could feel his magic fighting to shield her from detection, but she could feel as it was pulling on him as well.

 

After the darkness and pain, there was the sound of voices. She felt, more than heard, the cabin door, and David's voice. It was much sharper than usual, and that made her want to fight her way closer. She felt someone hand her body to him, and could hear, as if through water, her and Diana's names mentioned.

When she came to again, she was in David's lap. The train was moving, and the lights were on. Looking up, David looked both relieved, and more than a little ill. Kirsty reached up and stroked his cheek, smiling what she hoped was reassuringly. She turned to look toward the others, and breathed a sigh of relief to see the light was once again in Diana's face, even if she was the only one that ever seemed to see it.

"They're gone?"

David nodded and hugged her a bit tighter. "They're gone now."

Ally spoke. "We didn't lose anyone that David saw, Kirsty. Human nor not, in case that's what made you and Diana faint."

Kirsty looked at David, and he nodded again, affirming what had just been said.

"I did not see anyone taken. Maybe so, but no one that I know of. I'm sure we'll find out later though if there was. I think we got rid of them fast enough." Kirsty pressed a bit closer, listening to the way his accent rendered the words.

"Oh no, I didn't pass out from the thought of someone being taken. One of the things was close enough to take some of our life force. I'm alright now. I bet Kirsty could use a bath though. Baths fix everything." Diana smiled at them serenely, and not for the first time, Kirsty wondered exactly what was really running in that girl's veins. There was never the opportunity to ask her though.

Thomas sighed, looking first at David as he stiffened at Diana's comment, and then around the now packed cabin. He thought of a way to draw the others away from the hint, since he knew most in the cabin knew neither of their secrets. "So, how many students could we actually cram in here? Think we'd annoy the Prefects finding out?"

Ally looked at him incredulously, before starting to laugh. "I think I'm a bad influence on you."

Kirsty started chuckling as the others' tension also broke. When they were firmly ensconced in their laughter, she shot David a look that, all too clearly, conveyed exactly how much she needed in some water soon. He squeezed her while no one would noticed, and nodded tiredly, looking out the window, upward to where the moon should have been.

 

 ~~~~*~~~~

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rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)
"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies. The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and Wizarding society, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.
 
Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.
 
If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note. Story is mirrored also at my LiveJournal, as well as on a dedicated site.
 
We now continue with Selkies' Skins.
Selkies' Skins
Chapter 10 part 2
Parting

~~~~*~~~~

 

Kirsty pushed her cart, laden with trunk and cage, along the platform while watching for her owl, or for David. Her brown owl had arrived ahead of her, having left last night, and was perched on a ledge watching for her. It threw itself into the air and swooped toward her, landing on the cage in a flurry of feathers. With a screech, it opened the door with a claw and flounced in to glare at her, as if accusing her of tardiness.

"We had a detour!"

The brown owl turned its back on her at the answer, and looked back toward the train, fluffing its feathers. She continued to push the cart along, toward the form she could now see, sweeping her eyes over the thin lad with the sandy hair and dark, well cared for, somewhat imposing, clothes. Since he didn't see her yet, she openly admired the sweep of his traveling cloak and his cool manner, while he looked the other way down the platform toward whatever had caught his interest.

"David!"

She left her cart and flung herself at him, intending to wrap her arms around him and demonstrate exactly how glad she was to see him. He looked toward the voice and smiled, opening his arms.

"Kirsty!"

She thudded against him and he stepped back a bit, but managed to hold firm. His arms closed in as fierce a hug, and her breath puffed a bit when she kissed his cheek.

"I missed you."

"I missed you too." He held tighter for a moment, then let her go, looking to see if anyone had accompanied her. She appeared to be alone, without even Byron to watch. Then again, since she was here it was obvious he had brought her, and when they had first met she had been alone then as well.

Kirsty blushed a bit when she realized exactly how tight she'd been hugging, and how occupied she'd become by his ice blue eyes, and hoped she hadn't bruised him. Together they pushed their carts toward the train, once the doors were finally opened, and eyed a wan and figure that that been napping against a lamppost.

"Think that's our new professor? I hope he's good."

David nodded, and turned his eyes back to his task, conscious of the figure's stiring and the weight of exhausted eyes.

They boarded the train, he helping her with her things and getting them settled securely. They had not been settled long before there was a knock on their cabin door.

Both looked up, and moved away from each other, having previously been comfortably leaning against each other. Kirsty straightened her clothes surrepetitiously, just in case anything had skewed. They saw blue eyes gazing out from a tired face, just as exhausted as he had seemed on the platform. Both of them recognized the look. It echoed David's that came and went with the moon. He was lean, but would be more muscular if he were fleshed out a bit more, not in the stocky way of a body builder, but in the lithe way of some forest creature. Again, much like David's physique, but less well fed. Kirsty noticed what she thought were scars around his hands and wrist, but couldn't look for long without being rude.

"The two of you would be Mr. Valnarius and Miss Makay?"

The voice was soft and gentle, and Kirsty decided already that she liked him, if he were indeed the new professor. Both nodded and rose.

"Professor Hemming Gerwulf." He stooped down a bit to their height, and shook their hands, smiling. "I've heard good things about you both from the Headmaster," he paused and nodded toward Kirsty, "and your aunt. It will be a pleasure to have you in my class this year. Mr. Valnarius, a private word in my cabin if you please?"

David and Kirsty looked at each other. Kirsty then curtsied and sat back down arranging herself again. David bowed slightly to her, then slid the door shut behind himself after stepping out into the all behind the professor, following him to the very back.

Kirsty sighed and settled in her seat, watching out the window while waiting for the professor and David to be done talking about... whatever it was. She could guess it had something to do with David's condition, and if it was one that was shared, like she thought, that was one less nightmare. Imp slipped out from his hiding spot in her clothes, to find another spot in the cabin. She saw familiar faces moving around the platform, such as the blond of Thomas' head, chased after by his parents in blue and green- with a lute?

She looked again. She had been right. Thomas was being pursued by lute weilding parents, and she wondered how he ever found the time to practice the instruments he accompanied the school choir with, on top of his pet projects. The red haired butcher's daughter, Ally, she saw being given bone-crushing hugs by both parents. Kirsty sighed, then yawned. The glass against her forehead was cool, and though she saw the Lilitu family through it as well, she was too tired to give a flying walrus.

"Flying walruses" was exactly the last thought she had before drifting into an open eyed nap of indeterminate time. The sound of the door sliding open startled her awake, and she turned large, deeper blue, blinking eyes toward it. They stayed that way even after they had focused, and she relaxed on seeing it was only David, and not a trident-armed collywobble or whatever else her befuddled brain might have thrown at her.

David paused in the door a moment, and she inclined her head to the side shyly, feeling a tinge start to burn her cheeks. She hadn't been the only one blushing, however slight, and he slipped back into the seat next to her and got comfortable.

Once he was re-seated, she leaned against him comfortably and he put his arm around her.

"All well?"

"Well enough."

"What I think?"

He nodded, and she yawned, snuggling. Her own private talk would probably come later. She found herself hoping the professor was able to grab a decent nap. The silence stretched out, warm and heavy like a winter quilt on a stormy night.

"So, where are your parents?"

"Mum's out to sea again, and Da got called out to deal with an oilspill. Been having some nightmares about mum though, so if they get too bad, I'm supposed to talk to Professor Sevrin."

"I see..."

She yawned again, and curled into him.

He held her a little tighter. "Why don't you take a nap?"

Kirsty didn't fight the suggestion. Before the train whistle blew to sound the final boarding call, she was asleep, and when Ally and Thomas found the cabin, and the moon-faced girl and a couple others, she didn't wake.

~~~~*~~~~
Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.

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

Donate Here via Paypal
rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)
 
 
"Selkies' Skins" will be a tale told serially, as I have the time to work on it. For now, updates may be spotty, but donations can help speed it up a little. I hope to at least manage an installment a month. I expect it to mostly center around Kirsten (Kirsty) and Etain Makay, two part selkies living in the modern era. The world is influenced by the Harry Potter novels in part, but also by Celtic mythology of Selkies. The main stories told will be Etain's work as a waterwitch, her work as a bridge between the Selkies of her area and Wizarding society, and Kirsty's own quest toward gaining her own seal skin.
 
Once the full story is down, an ebook version is planned. This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.
 
If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note.

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


Selkies' Skins
Chapter 10
Parting

~~~~*~~~~

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Lady Mistress? Little Etain?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet, it was still no answer where she was.

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

~~~~*~~~~

Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.

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

Donate Here via Paypal



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

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

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

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

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

Selkies' Skins

Chapter 9 part 3

Soul Fish

~~~~*~~~~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plaintive voices rose up to her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~~~*~~~~

Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.

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

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

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

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

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


Selkies' Skins

Chapter 9 part 2

Soul Fish

~~~~*~~~~

Kirsty shook her head violently to clear the odd daydream, and scowled as she bent lower into Byron's mane frill. Once again, she scanned the waters with her eyes for things that might "mistake" them for food, wand ready and feeling the waters as they swept deep into her lungs. Behind her rode her trunk, large enough to stow even her broom safely, secured firmly to the harness over the Kelpie's flanks by bindings and his own magic. She rode without saddle or blanket as they coursed through the frigid waters, her thighs locked on him as she shifted with him, stuck well by the same adhesive that had once pulled many a rider to a watery demise and tearing teeth. Her large brown owl would meet her at the platform, but the cage rode with her at speeds faster than one would expect of a "horse."

The remaining days before she was due to leave Seal Point for the train in London had passed slowly for Kirsty, the sands of her mental hourglass sticking together as wetly as while a tide ebbs. The sheep really did not need all that much in the way of tending, under Byron's guardianship, despite her never knowing quite exactly how he managed. A "stray" roan colored female of his kind had once nighted over in the barn with him. Other than that, Seal point had been calm since Finnol's departure. Only so much excitement could be had in teaching the Selkie males how to fish from land, since both boats were gone. Mani had developed a habit of watching from where she had begun to sit on the shore while Banu played.

And yet, her dreams had gotten worse, despite the peacefulness. Now, it seemed as if even while she was awake they came.

"Another?" Byron's gait did not break or slow as he spoke, his own eyes also keenly watching for dangers to himself and his charge. "You should speak to your Potions Master about those if they go on, or your Healer..."

"Glad he has stopped prodding about going to the Divination instructor..." Kirsty grumbled still, liking the school's Healer well enough. "I prefer the Potions Master. The Healer... she is good and knows my my heritage, but he I can talk with about the latest discoveries or my own experiments. And he doesn't fuss."

A memory of waking in the hospital wing, and of the burn where poisoned claws and spear point left their mark, flashed into her mind. For a moment, she was back in that bed, looking down in horror at how much of her half pelt must have been exposed when the Healer had done the needed cleaning, and hoping that David had not seen if he had been present- despite how he always turned away as decorum called for. Now, it didn't matter as much, and her pelt was closer to an adult coloring than the childish brown. Being fussed at to take potions to speed the knitting of flesh, while awake enough to do it on her own, was something she'd rather avoid though, and even more the psychological discussion that might ensue if talking about disturbing dreams.

Byron snorted, creating a foam that rose upwards toward the surface after passing over her.

"You know when you're still wishy-washy and weak-kneed you need hounding to do anything that you should. I wager you don't complain about taste nor hounding if it's young David a-asking."

She grumbled again at his needling. "David has yet to fuss. Somehow he seems to get able to get me to go be looked at by just suggesting it."

This time, the Kelpie's snort was in amusement at her irritation. It passed quickly though, and as he avoided a particularly sticky patch of the silt bed below the sea, he frowned.

"So, what did you see, Kirsty?"

Kirsty shook her head, shifted against the Kelpie and drew another breath of the water. She let it release the oxygen into her lungs before breathing it out, grateful that Byron could prevent people from drowning as easily as he could kill them if he so chose. "This time I saw Mum's boat up in the air, like something had knocked her up out of the water. It was... weird. Disturbing. It wasn't designed to fly."

He frowned deeper and tossed his head, this time veering off course to avoid the shark he had scented in the water before it could scent him, not being in the mood to hunt. Despite how her news worried him, Byron did his best to not show it, since his goal was to keep her focused on school and training. "She's been knocked skyward by whales a time or two before, maybe that's what you saw."

The half-Selkie shook her head. "I don't know... I just hope these visions are just waking dreams and not actual visions."


~~~~*~~~~

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

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

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

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


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



Selkies' Skins
Chapter 9 part 1
Soul Fish

~~~~*~~~~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~~~*~~~~
Like the story? Vote here at Top Web Fiction.

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

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

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

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

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

Installment 9

Selkies' Skins

Chatper 8

Here and Gone (part two)

~~~~*~~~~

Oilspill.” Kirsty's voice was dull and flat. "That's going to be a pain to clean."

Her father nodded, resting his hands on her shoulders from behind her, gazing at the glaring dot of fire. "You know what this means."

"That you definitely won't be going with me to the station."

He nodded again, then retrieved a quill and parchment from his desk, writing down the coordinates. "Be good for Byron, won't you?"

"Of course, Da."

Finnol nodded, then quietly left the study. Kirsty could hear him walking down the hall to the mudroom, and the squeak of rubber as he put on his response gear. Closing her eyes, she could picture him in the yellow suit easily, though it did not suit him. Perhaps a minute later, at the most, she heard the door open and shut, and she knew he was gone to the Cosantóir.

A gentle tap sounded on the doorjamb. When she turned around, she saw Olan, wild dark hair framing his face in bushy masses that eerily resembled seaweed, and onyx pupil-less eyes regarding her.

"What's the alarm about?"

It sank in that Banu's cries had joined the din, and continued after the painting's calls and the klaxon had subsided. She pointed to the map.

"Oil spill out in the Atlantic. So Da's gone to help deal with it."

"Alone?"

"Doubt Da will be alone. He'll likely meet up on the way with the Merrow family and the Andersen's." She paused a moment, considering the likely trajectories of the others whose home ports she knew offhand without the need of looking up. "Possibly a few other seawitches. Then, of course, the Cowans will have their disaster response crews out. Let's have a look at the weather."

She went to one of the many shelves, tracing her finger over a small silver and gold globe, etched with an accurate map of the planet, then blew over it lightly. On removing her finger, it began to spin slowly, and clouds began to form and pass over the surface. Olan flinched back warily, then approached when nothing struck out at him.

He tapped warily, and Kirsty shook her head.

It won't hurt you. It's just an enchanted item to show the current weather patterns. Handy thing when planning voyages, but not good for predicting weather.”

With a tap of her wand, she planted the coordinates of the spill onto the globe, and it stopped spinning. She frowned at the size of one of the fronts in the northern sea, and sighed.

At least the spill is on what looks like the trailing edge, and not the leading edge of a storm system. Biggest problem will be the Tritons, if I'm remembering Da's map of known locations rightly.”

So, Lady Kirsty... What do we do here?”

Here?” She looked at him, and her voice dropped to a whisper and flattened. “A dhath ar bith... Nothing at all... Just fish from shore with the nets, help Byron tend his sheep, keep the Lady company and bring her anything she desires, see to any that wash up on the shore, or go fix Mrs. Kitsch's water problems if she sends word.”

A tap of her wand, slightly harder than needed, wiped the globe of its clouds, and Olan winced at the contrast of the sharp sound with the silence that had followed her statement.

Let's get back to bed Olan...”

He nodded, following quietly and shutting the door, making no comment on her clenching fists or her paleness. Instead, he slipped up the stairs and into the room he was sharing with the other Selkies.

Well?” Connor whispered, after the door clicked.

Olan continued looking at the doorknob, not quite ready to raise his eyes to the tangle of limbs, discarded skins, blankets and pillows on the floor of their erstwhile lair. Banu had begun with his soft snores again, but the stirring next to Connor's voice told him that Mani had not gone back to sleep yet.

In the morning. Hopefully she won't start having nightmares about this too.”

Do... You think we should ask her if she wants to come and den with us tonight?” Mani whispered.

I think she might take offense right now, though she could use the contact.”


~~~~*~~~~

Like the story?  Vote here at Top Web Fiction.

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




Donate Here via Paypal

rainstardragon: Selkies' Skins Icon (Selkies' Skins)


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

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

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



Selkies' Skins:
Chapter Eight
Here and Gone
~~~~*~~~~

Kirsty watched as Mani swallowed down the potion, hovering quietly nearby, and was gratified to see the healing process speeded on its way. Quietly she washed the old bandages and hung them to dry by the fire, disguising her sigh of relief. For her part, the Selkie tried not to make a face of disgust at the taste from the potion, choking it down with little relish.

Connor met her eyes and nodded, a silent acknowledgment of respect, for having finally gained the wild Selkie woman's trust enough. After a short period of observation, Kirsty released her charge to bed, and Mani drifted out of the kitchen and up the stairs to the bedrooms, guarded and guided by Connor. Retreating from his corner in the living room, Olan followed, carrying the now fast asleep Banu to the room at the end of the upper story that they shared. In short order, Kirsty herself followed, bound for her own room.

Ten o'clock came, heralded by the soft chiming of a clock on the mantle, the click of the doorknob opening, and the quiet swing of the front door. Finnol slipped quietly into the house.

Late you are, my boy.” Marsali spoke softly from her place on the mantle. Pulling herself onto her rock in her portrait, she arranged her tail carefully before continuing. “What happened at the office, then?”

More shoals of ghost fish to investigate, moving shoals of rock, and a possible report of a captured Selkie to look into. I don't know if I'll be able to see off Kirsty at this rate. School's so close. Some of these I can put off, but I don't know about those shoals reaching for the shipping lanes...” Finnol yawned widely, sat down on the couch, kicked his feet up, summoned a mug of tea from the kitchen with a swish of aspen and Kelpie hair, then looked at the painting.

It's an active time of year. If it's this bad now, think of what Samhain will be like.” Marsali played with her hair thoughtfully, eyeing her descendant.

Mmm.” Finnol nodded. “Always busy when the veil's thin.”

He drank his tea down, before taking it to the kitchen and setting it to wash and stow itself, then ventured past the door to his study, up the darkened stairs, and turned into the upper hall. Quietly, he opened the one that was his daughter's, peeping in to see the usual mass of dark hair spilling in waves over her pillow. The water imp lay beside her as well, his head propped on the pillow beside hers, despite the pillow being too large for his diminutive body. On her desk, a final potion was left to brew, though he was unsure as to whether it was one of her experiments, or for use in the pantry. Quietly, he shut the door, then opened the one directly across.

Soft snoring greeted him from the portrait on the wall, and looking, an elderly woman in garb that suited a retired pirate leaned against a wall in her frame. He changed to his night clothes as quietly and quickly as he could, not wishing to wake Kara at this hour. Just as quietly, he slipped into bed.

At three in the morning, a klaxon sounded through the house. One of the elders from the family portraits, Stephen Makay, the former captain of the Tempest Queen, ran from picture to picture, calling “All hands on deck,” and waving his walking stick or poking other paintings awake as occasion dictated.

Feet hit floors with resounding thumps, somewhat confused in the room of the full-blooded Selkies, and much more certain in Kirsty and Finnol's rooms. Kirsty managed to beat her father down the stairs to the study, her blue night robe open over her white nightgown, and skidded to a stop before the wall map. Red witchfire blinked balefully at a point in the Atlantic. Below the dot, a label wrote itself.

~~~~*~~~~

Like the story?  Vote here at Top Web Fiction.

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




Donate Here via Paypal
rainstardragon: (Default)



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

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

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



Selkies' Skins:

Chapter Seven

Selkie Refuge

~~~~*~~~~

When Kirsty returned inside, a full blooded Selkie was in the living room, leaning back in one of the heavily upholstered, winged armchairs, that was drawn up to the fire. Dark hair spilled down over her shoulders and pooled around her, to spill out of the chair. In her arms, covering the bandages around her midsection, was a chubby toddler, suckling hungrily at her breast. Like almost all Selkies she knew of, the baby seemed to have a large appetite.

Mani.” Kirsty nodded as she murmured the name, sweeping lightly over, and bending close so as to speak quieter. “Is there anything I can get you?”

The Selkie shook her head. “Not yet, Lady. When Banu finishes though, I will be ready, and allow you to check my wounds.” She shivered slightly, and the toddler's complaint could be heard mumbled through the mouthful. Mani stilled herself, though the color still drained from her skin. Her eyes took on a distant, haunted look, empty windows gazing into a not so distant past.

Alright. I'll heat the water and prep new bandages then.”

I'll help.”

Turning her head, Kirsty saw movement in the corner, the form that had been sitting in the shadows rising, then making for the kitchen. When walking through the firelight, the orange glow made his skin seem a normal flesh-tone, though she knew in the sun it would have an odd green undertone. Though in human form, he was hairier than what she knew of the average human male, at least judging by the anatomy books. The hair was more akin to fur though, where the loincloth and the straps bearing pouches did not cover it. It was a fine, light brown furring running from the base of the neck, to upper arm and mid thigh- somehow both thinner, and yet much denser than that of her own and her mother's, which was always so carefully hidden under cloth. The male chanced a short look at Mani, then shook his head sadly before continuing on.

Kirsty followed. If Connor had been in the corner, Olan, his brother, was as well.

I'm glad there's another female here... less to worry about, even though she lost her husband.” The thought slunk through the dark recesses of her mind before slipping to her consciousness, quickly suppressed again once realized.

Kirsty shuddered at the memory of how Mani had looked when David and Byron had brought her up from the shore. His sandy hair, usually neat, had that tossed and disheveled look she associated with stress and speed. In front of him lay, stuck to the Kelpie as firmly as David himself was, the bleeding Selkie mother, as a sleek brown seal, a large arc of red indicating clearly her brush with the sharks that were becoming more common in the area. Held in David's arms, clinging tight, or as tight as any pup could with only fins, was a white seal pup, not yet bearing the darker speckles common to the local subspecies. The amount of blood to clean up had been far more distressing than the water, equally as distressing as the look in his eyes, and no where near as distressing as the wound itself had been.

Connor and Olan's advances toward her had fallen to a manageable level at Mani's arrival, possibly due to a combination of her sheer presence, and worry. This did not mean, however, that she trusted either of them with her fishing nets. She shuddered again, this time at the memory of having been entangled in her own net, and what could have happened if David hadn't been there visiting that day.

Kirsty walked over to the cabinets that housed the healing goods. Opening the door, folded bandages, rows of bottles and jars, and even various Cowan healer's instruments greeted her. They kept everything that a well stocked “medicine cabinet” ought to, due to their location and the nature of the wayward souls who tended to find their way through the various protections.

Go slow Connor, you and Olan both. Give her grieving time.”

She extracted the wash, healing ointment and bandages, shut the door firmly, then took the items to the table and set up. As she worked, the cauldron she kept ready filled itself, and the water began to heat, long practice making it an automatic task.

Lady Kirsty?” Eyebrows rose into his dark hair at the statement.

You have no herd, that's why you and Olan tried to capture me. Now, you have one forming. With a pup in it already, no less.”

He made a noncommittal sound, fussing with one of the chairs to have it suitably located between kitchen fire and table, placing and plumping a cushion. A couple moments passed, before he spoke.

She smells good. Takes good care of the pup. With no male to look over her, and not able to go back to the herd...”

It's already been told to you all that you can refuge here, so long as no trouble is started. Help out when it's needed.” She began to roll some of the bandages, a final preparation.

Well. That wasn't it. I mean... how...” He gestured toward the door separating kitchen and the living room, then back to her, and vaguely northward, furrows in his forehead, formulating how to ask, “How did David catch your attention, and keep it?”

She blushed, and this time it was her eyes getting a far away look. “He helped me pick up my things, when I was knocked over by a prat that thinks he's something important just because of his family. Knocked over by that blonde upitty Pureblood right in front of everyone, then having to put up with him making a snide comment about water witches that I don't remember much of. That's quite the bother. I got the treatment fairly often actually."

A pause, and Connor rested his hands on the back of the chair while listening. Kirsty took a breath, then continued. "David helped me pick up my things even though he had helpers to get his own things for him. It was our first year we were getting ready for. I had no one with me, other than Byron, waiting where no one would see him, to take me home, because Mum and Da had been called away. Because he was kind to me, I was mildly interested, since so many of the 'good' families treat us so poorly, because our kind of magic and usual job isn't well respected when known."

Connor frowned, then went to help roll wrappings. Kirsty continued working, moving from the bandages to adding into the cauldron herbs, placing her wand in and breathing a short spell in singsong Gaelic, causing the sanitizing water for the used bandages glowing brightly.

"I met him again on the train to school, and we sat and talked about who we were, what we are. He didn't do anything special to keep my interest, we just talked and found similarities. Differences too... The more I saw of him, in class and out, the more I liked him, because he was easy to get along with, and doesn't care that I'm not a full human...” Kirsty blushed deeper, “and he smells good to me. Like snow, and pine, fur and potion ingredients, and som-.”

Connor raised his eyebrow and opened his mouth, having smelled some of the potion ingredients that she used, but she cut him off, already knowing what he was going to say. With her eyes, she tossed daggers his way, pressing her lips together.

The better smelling ones, not the ones that smell of decaying meat or ancient crusty socks!”

He paused a moment after her clarification. “So be nice, and helpful, and hope she doesn't think I smell incompatible.”

And don't push. Fishing nets are out.”

Never going to live that down, am I? Even though the two of you disarmed and subdued us.”

Kirsty nodded. "That was the worst thought out courting ever in history. It really popped the whole idea lore tells about Selkie males being irresistibly charming. Weren't you ever taught to think with the head on your shoulders, not your hormones?"

The door opened, and Mani came in, wincing now and then and holding herself stiffly, somehow always seeming three steps farther back than she actually was. Connor went over to her quickly, escorting her to the chair he had set up. Kirsty glanced at the floor, expecting a dark haired toddler, or a waddling pup, but saw neither. Mani's dark eyes swept the table, warily looking over what was to be used, on her way. Finally, she sat and wound her long hair up, exposing her torso, which was covered only in the bandages and lightly dappled fur.

"No magic on me? Only your healer's tools, little seawitch?" The voice was quiet, and young, like it always was each time she had had to place herself in such a vulnerable position during her now months long sojourn.

"Only on the supplies, not on you Mani."

She nodded. "I will trust you."

Kirsty very carefully approached, making low, soothing noises unconsciously, and began the process of unwrapping manually, her eyes slowly able to survey her progress on the jumpy Selkie woman.

She smiled grimly at the progress, which would have been swifter had she been allowed the methods she would have preferred. Kirsty deposited the bandages in the sanitizing water, with another song, and started them to stir.

As she expected, the healing song calmed Mani, as it always did. Patiently, Kirsty cleaned out what remained of the shark bite, then applied the ointment that bore the healing and pain aids. Wrapping in fresh bandages just as patiently, she was startled out of the dreamy state she often fell into, by the sound of her patient's voice.

"Lady, I am willing to try one of your potions..."

Kirsty's hands hesitated a moment, then finished tucking the end. Without a word, she returned to the cabinet, fetching and carefully measuring the proper dose.

"If this doesn't work as well as I know it should, I'll have to find a formulation that will work optimally for them..." She thought.

~~~

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