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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. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)

This is a little late, it's been a busy month for me. Reading has been more convenient than writing due to all the stuff. This installment finishes out the first section of book two. When I go through the manuscript deciding what will stay for the print/ebook edition and where I might want to reveal more this chapter might see some additions. The next installment will be both a new chapter and the start of the middle section of the book. We'll be returning to Kirsty where she's been thrust into the Labby, completely unaware of what is going on both above and in her proper timeframe.
 

Some people have gotten to hear me read parts of this chapter live while it was in the writing area. I'm grateful to those that are interested in the backstories of Marsali, Kara, The Captain, and Finnol. Sadly I can't get all of it into this story, but maybe some day I'll get to write shorts for these different characters to show some of their stories.



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 1: Descent
Installment 21
Chapter 9 part 2
Skins and Figureheads

 

Finnol extracted himself from the chair even as Hyacinth spoke and grabbed his coat and hat on the way out. Outside the offices of the Order of Fisheries and Water Conservation it was cold and grey. It would get colder yet, he was sure, making for a winter as bleakly empty as the house back home. Pulling the blue hippocampus and sheep blend wool lower he attempted to ward off the worries always at the forefront and distracting him from his duties.

The Corsair lay heavily in the water where he was docked. Beside him and bobbing far more lightly was a small dinghy that was reserved for local operations where a larger craft was less suited. Finnol slipped down into it and planted his rump of the frigid plank seat.

Didn’t take ye long. If you are the mate of Marsali the Brinetreader you are smaller than I would have expected.”

Finnol looked over the Triton before him. The wild white hair and cloudy beard was much the same as other tritons, but this one lacked ornamentation in his beard to denote his place in the hierarchy. The well muscled torso he could see refused to shiver in the cold.

That is my wife, yes. You look like you should be familiar, but I can’t place your name. My apologies.”

Mimir Merisson, second eldest son of Merisson, late Triton-king of Alwinmeer. You might know my name from my exploits or the face due to the family resemblance. My brother was the one that sent for help for Alwinmeer when the humans started their invasions, after it was clear that what little we could do would only bring more humans and the threat of those accursed ‘refuges’ on our heads.” Mimir rose higher in the water and glared down at the small half-selkie.

Finnol locked eyes and held his breath, listening. At last, it came to him. “I’m sorry that more could not be done for Alwinmeer. I hope that your people are safe and have been suitably relocated. There were several suggestions sent by the Order to your brother as to sites that don’t match known deposits and hopefully will be a bit safer.”

Mimir relented a bit, schooling himself down and sighing. “Your Order did what it could. Your wife was the last that came to the area, by then everyone but myself was gone. I was searching for stubborn stragglers and mourning father perhaps more than I should have been.”

Finnol drew his breath in at the mention of his wife and her last known location.

Mimir continued, nodding. “She successfully deactivated the old Temple. I’d already taken care of the Throne. While in the Temple though we had an incident with the Lady of the Sea. This led to several other strange incidents.”

Mimir finished his recounting of his adventures with Etain, from front to back, including the vision of a selkie-child having been in the passage with them, and even admitting the dark desire he’d had for selkie flesh while they were battling their way through the Rocks That Sang.

She’s beyond one of the Gates?” Finnol couldn’t keep his voice down, nearly falling out of the dinghy leaning toward Mimir by this time. “So help me, if you intentionally left my wife beyond the edges of our world I’ll--”

Mind yer place, half-seal.” Mimir pushed him roughly back onto the plank. “I tried to get her through. When all was said and done all I could find was this.” He produced from under the water a small black figurehead.

Finnol took it from his hands, running his fingers over the strangely familiar design. It matched exactly the faux figurehead that had been found when investigating Etain’s wreck. The energy from it was stronger though, living, as if it were the true Figurehead of a ship of Mara’s living fleet. “This is...”

The Corsair creaked where he still lay docked, verifying. Something in the sound, the way the small ship tried to speak, some plaintive note of it chilled both selkie and triton more than any of the other groans it had been issuing while listening to the tale. The figurehead in Finnol’s hands pulsed in reply to the creak. The hair rose on both as the energy unwound and reached toward the mated ship. The Corsair groaned in reply to the pulse, reaching its own energy toward it.

She was a good ship.” Mimir acknowledged. “They took excellent care of each other.”

She will be again.” Finnol pulled the figurehead to his chest in a possessive hug. “By Mara, we can rebuild her and give her a new body. If Etain is truly gone then she’ll go to Kirstin for Pairing. If Etain can be found then the family will be whole again. And by the Ladies I will find a way to make it whole even if Etain is beyond the veils. Byron did it with Marsali and kept her from fading, I can too.”

The Corsair creaked and groaned in agreement, beginning to bob again. The color somehow seemed to enliven once more.

I’m glad that I could help a little bit then by bringing the Sea Witch home.” Mimir’s voice grew soft, as if Finnol were a fry in the palace hatchery. “Marsali, what I know of her, is one of those special cases. Having had her skin stolen if she died and wasn’t given a chance to reunite, she’s gone forever and never gets reborn. Your wife though... She’s got a skin unstolen. She can be reborn to the sea. Would it be wise to interrupt whatever pattern she’s supposed to be in? I’ve been giving things a lot of thought, and I’m half convinced that some of these more outrageous things happening point to the Weavers.”

Finnol wrinkled his nose. “I believe in a great many deities, but I’m not so sure those are actually real.”

I wasn’t either, until recently. Something much bigger than what we normally pay attention to is off balance somehow, or there’s some fight brewing. Not Ragnarok, but something.”

Something’s always brewing.” Finnol sighed, acknowledging Mimir’s point. “What will you do now?”

Try to find where my people relocated to, see if the camps I had left them in have found somewhere permanent. I have been given a place that I can take some of them, the ones that want fully away from humans.”

I see. You’ll always be welcome to visit here, and at Seal Point.”

Mimir nodded and left, leaving the inanimate dinghy, the animate Corsair, and lonely selkie behind him. Finnol pondered the things Mimir had related, especially the strange appearance of the little white seal. “Not all there... hmm...”

Finnol looked toward the Corsair. “Well, old friend, I suppose now I need to call together what remains of the Shipwrights. Mara won’t just materialize a new vessel. That will have to wait until I see to Kirsten though, you know.”

The boat creaked and groaned at him.

I know. As soon as I can. Until then I don’t suppose it will hurt anything to have the real figurehead in your cabin. I’d put her with yours, but I don’t know where your real one is hidden in you.”

Near huffs this time from the boat, and the waving of ropes. One finally wavered in the direction of home, raised when by normal physics it would have simply hung.

Yes, you’re right. Byron will likely want to be with me for that. Fitting for the real patriarch to go with me, I guess.” Finnol drew his nose down and flared it briefly before relaxing. At least it was a position he wouldn’t know the full drawbacks of. “You don’t mind not going with me then?”

 

A stiff pop, and Finnol nodded his head. “Right then. I’ll let Hyacinth know I’m off, and have her pass around the news. He sighed, pulling some golden earplugs from the same pocket as his notebook then stuffed the soft material into his ears. There would be no repeat of the head buzzing that had come from when she’d found out from him about the extent of the debris of Etain’s wreck.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So what’s it mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

“That doesn’t help.” Marc grumbled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And?” Marcus leaned forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finnol shouted.

They left abandoned empty mugs behind them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Edited to fix the dates...because those buggers like to flip around on me when I am ill.
rainstardragon: (selkies skins)

Welcome back to another installment of Selkies' Skins. I'm still going to do this bi weekly, unless extra episodes get funded (find out how you can speed up the installments at the bottom). The book's sections will likely be a bit different from the website's since too many chapters in a section starts to look really confusing in the nav bar on the site. Or they might not. This is one of the issues that the editor and I will discuss. If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to my LiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. If you would like a heads up on when the serial novel is updated before it goes to the main site (usually) or for news as to when the full novel will be available you can 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, and the table of contents is in the sticky note.

Selkies' Skins installment 34, Chapter 20: Finnol's Hunt, part three )
Selkies' Skins Section Two
Installment 34
Chapter 20
Finnol's Hunt (part 3)
~~~~*~~~~
Finnol collapsed into the booth, his vaguely Victorian era ship's captain attire blending in perfectly now with the pirate air of the favored reenactor's hangout. In the pocket of his doublet lurked the letter from Kirsty's school on her progress, mundane, magical, and "merstudies." It had joined the small notebook crammed impossibly full of the notes from his recent adventures and the tales that had been... brought to his attention otherwise.
The rotund and sandy Marc slipped into the booth on the other side, the largest flagon of ale he could get in each hand. One he slid in front of the man that looked rather like a piece of wilted seaweed. Marc drank from the other himself, then kept his voice carefully jovial.

"This is unusual. What's going on that you're calling me? On a phone no less, instead of by carrier pigeon."

He normally would have finished with "Who died?" but did not, given the usual sadness in Finnol's eyes being more pronounced than usual.

"Needed a friendly face outside the Office."

"Etain's still out then? I've not seen you looking so out of sorts since that fight you had-"

Finnol waved his hand and took a drink from his own flagon. Marc let the observation go, waiting companionably. After a long pull, he continued.

"How's your girl then?"

"Well enough, though Aunt Belara is rather concerned about her nightmares getting worse. She's a Sensitive you know."

"Aye, crack shot with knowing where a pipe's leaking. I remember her finding that without a set of dowsing rods and saving me a thousand pounds since I didn't have to have all the plumbing redone."

"Well, she's got other gifts than waterwitching. She's got the Sight too, now and then."

"Ghosts? Or you mean like clairvoyance and such."

"Foresight. So those nightmares bother me."

 

Marc took a pull from his flagon, not disturbed in the least about the thought of "little Kirsty" being able to do more than point out leaky pipes, though he himself had no special powers. He'd always wanted them, and always loved the mage characters in the fantasy books... particularly Gandalf and Harry Potter. This was probably part of why he loved helping gather modern, supposedly true, sea and ghost stories for Finnol's book... and often found many other odd happenings for him.

 

"She loves her Mum, hopefully it's just worry dreams."

"Maybe, maybe not. She gets involved with quite a lot."

"Where are you headed, Sailor?"

Finnol quirked his lips a bit in a smile at that, while a large bead of condensation coursed down the side of his flagon. "Crazy with longing most like."

Marc watched him a while longer, pulling slowly at his ale. "You got some bad news somewhere. Out with it boy. What's eating at you really? Other than no Etain."

"Do you believe in the gods?"

"In what way? Metaphor, literal?" Finnol gave no further indication of what he was meaning. "I do I guess, plenty of strange things to point that they might exist. Probably not as all powerful as they say in the old myths, probably quite a few of them too. Maybe I just need more ale though." He took another drink, disconcerted about his friend's unusual turn to the world of religion.

"And psychic powers I know you believe in."

 

"Everyone's got 'em." Marc agreed amicably, far more comfortable with that thought. "Whew, thought he was going to go looney and say the gods are going to destroy mankind or something."

"So... what about some of these mythological beings you bring me stories about, in your professional opinion?"

"I believe in them. And I think they've got as much right to exist, if they're real, as you and I do. In a proper habitat for them too, not some lab. How great would it be to be friends with a mermaid and hear about what it's like on the seafloor where we can't go?"

"And if you saw one, or found some proof, would you keep it quiet?"

"Are you nuts? Of course! Well, maybe not a boat eating kraken... but if it talks, definitely."

"Fancy a little cloak and dagger?"

 

Marc leaned forward, forgetting what was left of his ale. There was a spark in Finnol's eye that he'd seen now and then, usually when catching the very end of a broken off conversation between he and his wife. He'd seen it in the eyes of people at the Fisheries Office too, when even those who were paper jockeys seemed to have the determined step of someone set on changing the world.

"You've got my interest."

 
~~~~*~~~~
Expect the next episode around Feb. 10th, unless an extra episode funds. 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.
 
 
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As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story. >.> *whacks at the formatting one more time and hopes it fixes it...*

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