Early Days

Ice Age

Age of Conflict

Through the Eye of Paal

Maps and Tables

Ch 2

Chapter 2

Finding a Boat

It used to be boat. Well, it could still have been called a boat. The boards that ran flat along the bottom rotted and split and the paint left it a generation ago. It would be seaworthy again with a great deal of work. This they had neither time nor knowledge to do. Unwilling to let this stop them, they simply shoved it into the water and balanced it on their backs. After a surprisingly short period of time, (and a few interesting mistakes) they got the knack perfected and off again they went to the lady on the shore.

"What, by the deep, are you doing?" The voice startled them with its raucous clicking and barely suppressed laughter.

"Joshu!" Coral fumbled the boat and it began to sink.

"Let it go, Coral. That's less seaworthy than a dry one's calf. What do you want it for, anyway? You thinkin' of giving up the fur?" and he chuckled and did a figure eight around the girls, jumping high into the air to show off. He enjoyed showing off, for he knew the smooth line of his long body and his black, unblemished fur made him far and away the most handsome bull Selkie in the pack.

Sylvie watched the boat settle to the spotty green land-shelf, then slide into the deep. "Now what'll we do?" she queried Coralline.

"C'mon, what did you want the boat for?" Joshu repeated, "Tell me, and maybe I'll show you where there is another one."

"You know where there's another one, Joshu?" Coral said a little too eagerly.

That did it. Joshu refused to budge until satisfied. It wasn't until he'd been told the whole story that he'd show them the other boat.

Even still, it wasn't much of a boat. But what do you expect from someone who swims the seas?

This one was quite a bit more seaworthy. With a great deal of tugging and pulling, they eased it off it's mounts and into the water. The paint that hadn't yet dried on its side was wiped away in the grasses and washed away in the salt water.

"Coral," Sylvie asked once they were on their way again, "What happened to you in the up when we met the lady? You didn't say anything."

"Didn't you see the man?"

"I saw the lady. That's all."

"There was a man there too, Sylvie." Coral did a nervous flip and glanced at Joshu, "Maybe more than one, and they were wearing fur." Joshu snorted and Coral went on hurriedly, "someone else's fur. He smelled different, and he had green eyes."

"Green eyes!" Joshu laughed merrily and flipped high into the up, "That's rich! Really swimming! Green eyes, you say, Coral? No red hair or blue teeth?"

Grimly, Coralline plowed on through the water. //The man I'd seen had had red hair. No, not red hair, more like rust... Coral thought, the dark ancient tasting rust that we used to flake off the sunken ships. It reminds me of the spawning banks--Marasa Banks--where the warm waters swirled around the twined bodies. Where old wood and metal ships covered in shallows mosses cushioned the moving, touching…// damn! What had gotten into her anyway?

She could finally see the group of drylanders standing on the shore ahead. Coral let go of the boat and let the others take it to shore. What an amazing species, these humans, she thought. They seemed so intense. They didn't ever smile and they moved so heavily. Perhaps the "fur-of-others" that they wore was water soaked.

Joshu and Sylvie had managed to pull the boat close enough for the party of humans to help. The one with the green eyes was talking to the lady when Coralline pulled her fur off to join the others.

"Would you be willing to aid these fine men in their return from the island?" the lady addressed Sylvie, but with two older Selkie there, she didn't have a chance to answer.

"We will do this for you, lady," Joshu said. Coral saw he was also enamored by the woman's charms. As Oonah turned to look at him, he stepped quickly to her side and said something to her in a voice too low for Coral to hear.

The one with the green eyes spoke up, "How can we let you know when we wish to return?"

"The lady can call." Sylvie said.

"She is not going with us," a second bull human answered.

The one with the green eyes was looking at Coral, making her blush and think again of the warm waters off Marasa Banks. Quickly she handed him the only thing handy. Pulling the pack crest from her hair, she pressed it into his hands saying, "When you wish to leave, throw this in the water. We will come." She paid no attention to the other bulls snickering and making odd noises at the two of them but she couldn't ignore Sylvie.

"Have you gone *carp-brained?" Sylvie began to challenge, but Coral stomped on her foot to shut her up and blushed again.

"What is your name?" The green eyed man asked, taking the little gold fishhook and turning it over and over in his hand. His voice was deep like the grey whale's cry when she calls her pup.

"Coralline Sea-sung," Now she'd done it! She'd given her name familial. Already she'd made more social blunders than in her entire life previously. //This bull--no, this man--will turn tail and leave soon.// Coral thought. //How can he look at me after watching me turn into a *skunk-cleaner shrimp right before his eyes.//

"Coralline. That is a lovely name," He pinned the pack crest to his fur. "I'm called Lynn."

The rest of the drylanders had already climbed into the boat and Joshu and Sylvie stood near a massive piece of driftwood, waiting for Coralline. No doubt to give me a piece of their minds! Coral brooded.

 "Let's go," Lynn said, walking unsurely on unsteady sand. Coral followed and soon they had pushed off for the island.

On the way there, Coral refused to say anything at all about her strange behavior so it wasn't until the drylanders had climbed out of the boat, said their thanks and headed up over the grassy hill, that Coral allowed Joshu to finally explode.

"By Triton! Coral," he swore, his face turned red with suppressed anger, "Have you lost your mind? You've loaned a drylander your pack crest and given him your pack name."

"By the way you were whispering and gliding by the lady, I was afraid you would soon have given her yours."

Joshu was brought up short by that, but only for a moment. "I am not so foolish. Do you have any idea what it means to give away your pack crest?"

Coral lifted her head defiantly, "It means I'm ostracized from the pack till it is returned but I don't care. I'm going to wait right here till he comes back." Really she wasn't feeling so defiant now, but she couldn't see a way out of it. She had nowhere else to go.

"If this be the current of your life, so be it, Selkie." Joshu spoke the ritual words then covered to Selkie, turned his tail on Coral and slowly swam away. Looking miserable, Sylvie said, "I'm sorry Cora...Selkie." and she followed suit.

  • **Calf**: a baby or young Selkie. Until puberty they cannot go to no fur i.e.human like. They can suckle in full(Selkie) or half fur(Mer) Their pack crest is given to them at birth. Its origin is a closely guarded secret held by select elders.
  • **Bull**: a male Selkie. Selkies live to be fifteen to twenty years old and mature at age four. Bulls are most fertile when copulating out of the water.
  • **Pack**: the group of Selkies equal to a village in human terms. They swim together and sometimes mate within the pack. When meeting other packs there is often commingling so that the gene pool doesn't become stagnant. Selkies are not monogamous though generally cows sleep with only one or two bulls on the sand.
  • **skunk-cleaner shrimp**: A breed of saltwater shrimp that are best known for eating dead skin off from fish, though they are actually omnivores. They are bright red and white and spend their time on coral reefs. On Earth they are native to the tropics. On Bascore they can be found anywhere.
  • **Carp-brained**: a contemptuous scoff meaning empty-headed

Chapter 3