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 This story is unassociated with my Dragon Shaman series available in my Lulu outlet and on Amazon, or any of my unpublished manuscripts.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.
Pocket of Death
The amulet on Etain's chest continued to heat, and the storm around her continued to thrash the sea into froth and mountains. Her ship continued to rise and fall, traveling several stories in what seemed like mere seconds, and it only seemed to be getting worse.
Unbidden, the prayer rose from her throat, a lone voice of song threading through the sound of waves and storm, drawn and mournful, slipping back and forth between English and Gaelic unconsciously.
"When the Storm is raging and the Thunder rolls, Oh Lady Mara, save my soul and deliver me from the storm, carry me onward to fulfill my duty to you... and then to be reunited to my husband and daughter."
At her hip, in the plain, and yet somehow oddly ornate leathern pouch strapped securely to the belt holding her skirts, a stirring answered. A pulse. The odd coalescing of Power around her, quite different from the human magic, and different yet from the magic of the Merfolk she was a descendant of. Mara watched, the goddess of the bitter seas always watched the mariners that traversed her realm.
Etain couldn't remember a time that it comforted her less to be a Priestess of the Waters of Life and a waterwitch. Especially as the towering wave rose before her, obscuring the sky of the northern sea... Not that the sky was very visible except for when the lightning lit the clouds and took the form of dragons lancing across.
The wave before her began to crest, directly ahead, so without using her magic the boat was not going to pass safely over, as it would have if just 100 yards left or right. The closer the wall of water drove, the more that she could see, through the white froth frosting the green "glass" the phosphorescence of algae and forms of fish and sharks caught too near the surface. Normally, the sea life would have gone further down... but she had no time to ponder how quickly the storm must have come.
Clinging to her wheel, she banked hard right, toward the closer of the uncurled sides, murmuring commands in Gaelic to the boat. Unseen, due to focusing so hard on her course and willing the boat to move faster, and the sails to finish adjusting themselves, strange glowing glyphs formed and vanished, even though her wand lay in the sheath near her pouch. For her part, the old boat raced forward as eagerly as her Captain willed, skimming faster than should have been possible, were it not for the old magics impregnating and enlivening her.
Eternity seemed to pass, then water crashed over the stern, yet her humble old "fishing vessel" cleared well enough and began the rush down the backside. Even with sea legs, the rise of her guts was unsettling.
On the downward ride, instead of the gulfing chasm before her, Etain saw the face of her husband. Blue eyes bored into hers filled with worry and that knowing that he always had when he knew she was in danger. His dark hair was tousled, the way it usually was when stressed over paperwork or when that reporter would come too close to discovering the secret of those others also responsible for dealing with the water... from plumbing problems, to driving new wells, to... more dangerous and intricate things. Etain's own blue eyes bored determinedly back into his own, and every tiny bit of her soul screamed silently at him her resolution.
"I will return to you, even if I have to come back from my own drowning. Just keep the light going for me and do what you can at the Well, Finnol."
The downward momentum stopped, and the boat began to climb the next wave, the Sea Witch as resolute at the current captain. The crest of the wave was won, and then the gully and the next crest, till seven waves passed below and away. Each wave, the amulet grew hotter, till it glowed with baleful green and blue lights, and the Devil's Fire played about the boat's bow and masts. And then, once that seventh wave was passed beyond, the Devil's Fire closed over the whole craft, and with a loud, rolling BOOM that rolled away into untold dimensions and jostled the spaces between all things... The storm vanished.
The Devil's Fire crackled away.
Stars shone with a high, cold, light, where before clouds had roiled and hid the skies, and far overhead hung the large pocked mirror of the moon, perfectly full and round. The amulet, that perfect disk of sea worn stone on the same leather thong through the hole at dead center that her mother had hung round her neck the night of her very firstborn's birth, still seared her warningly. Cautiously, Etain released the wheel and undid the sticking charm keeping her feet secured to the floor, then flowed out onto the deck.
Over the side, the sea lay flat and smooth as glass, glowing a sickly green, mottled with blue. It wasn't the vibrant, beautiful glow that was known to amaze surfers, fishers, and divers. Somehow, it was more like an abomination of color, saturated with a menace that she rarely came across. A reek that could only be described as unholy wafted upward and filled her nose.
"Deadzone..." She observed, despite the lack of Finnol, Byron, or any members of the Finned Ones. Her hand rested protectively on her pouch, the shapes of two cloth wrapped vials, at the top of all that lay within, pressing back upon her fingers. "The storm must be a containment field the local water spirit is using. This is even worse than I thought..."
Plastic became apparent to her eyes next, floating and languishing, decomposing and slowly poisoning the waters even worse than they already were. Etain pursed her lips, knowing well how it would be entering the food chain if anything happened to still be alive below the surface.
Now she drew her wand and pushed back her darkened, reddish hair. Spell after spell she began to work through, and soon her hair, red cloak, and green skirts billowed around her, despite the severe lack of wind. And yet, spell after spell failed to do enough to clean the physical and magical taints that had somehow managed to be mingled together at the heart of this particular gyre...
Or what had been a small gyre...
Hours passed in this manner, and the moon slid beneath the waves while the stars faded, creating a silver bridge over the waters, for a short time, to the Land of the Faer. "But... I am already here, aren't I?" Cut the dry observation through her mind, with all the weight of anchor and chain. An even deeper part of herself acknowledged the passing of the moon, and cringed at the pain she knew would be and already had been felt that night by the boy she had come to think of as one of her own.
When the sun rose, still she had made little progress on the water. Even worse to see in the light, the water was a dead, decaying brown sludge. Even the red bloom algae taking advantage of the state of things seemed to be languishing.
"There is little else that I can think of for it..."
A sigh and a shiver passed from her at the same time, dread, and more than a little fear, weighing her down. First, the clasp of her cloak... and it puddled on the deck. Next, the outer layers, and the divided covers below her petticoat joined it. From her pouch, she pulled out a brown sealskin cloak and unfurled it, clasping it about her shoulders in preparation for use. Sheathing her wand, she murmured a plea to the Lady of the Sea and the Lady of the Well for help and strength.
Her legs carried her to the top of the railing seemingly of their own accord. Several deep breaths she drew into her lungs, overventilating as best she could, anticipating that there would be no oxygen for her to draw on in the murky depths. And then she dove, knifing deep, and once more the green and blue flames licked around her, and the curdled magic and dying water burned her skin before the fur sprouted to cover her, and her legs joined to form a long, muscular seal tail to drive her even deeper.
The numbers three and seven figure prominently in Celtic mythology, so will be used often.
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