A Breath of Fresh Air
‘I think I want to learn more about what I’m able to do now,’ you say, and you turn your gaze to Moirine. ‘Are you open to showing me how I can become human? And, well, teaching me the other things I can do besides control the water around me as a selkie?’
Moirine nods. ‘I certainly am, pup. I told you I would help teach you more of your capabilities, and I’m more than happy to do so. It’s something I’ve done many times for other humans that became selkies, whether through djinn or other magical means.’
‘Thank you,’ you say.
‘You’re welcome,’ Moirine says.
You then turn back to the Seamother. ‘And thank you, Miss Seamother, for, well, telling me all that you’ve told me. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s so… fascinating, really. I never once dreamt I’d be learning that selkie and other supernatural beings exist, but I’m astounded by all the history you’ve taught me today. I appreciate it a lot, honestly.’
Voadia chortles. ‘No need for the formal addressing when speaking to me, young one. Seamother or my name, Voadia, are both perfectly acceptable should you wish to use them. But you’re welcome. You are welcome to return here whenever you wish to speak with me or to learn more from your new selkie sisters and brothers. Should we ever change our abode’s location from the Cayreeg to somewhere else, or, should I ever be out and about among the ocean, you will know where to find me, I promise.’
You nod to this, and, you watch as the massive selkie rests her head back down.
‘Come along, pup,’ Moirine says. ‘And we shall continue your lessons on the surface.’
You follow Moirine out of the Seamother’s domain, and it doesn’t take long for the two of you to leave the Cayreeg behind. You spot all the other selkies, or at least some of them, as you depart, and you do wonder briefly what sorts of stories or information each one of them would be able to give you. But, you shelve this for the moment, and swim.
‘Is the Cay… reeg… is that not the only home for selkie, then?’ you ask Moirine.
‘Oho, no,’ Moirine replies, and she turns to grin toothily at you. ‘Remember what I said before about this being one belly button among a plethora of belly buttons in the sea? The Cayreeg is just one – there are roughly forty different belly buttons in the depths where selkie live, and this isn’t counting the Beneath, nor does it take into account the selkie that live on the surface world. Some live with humans, others split from humans.’
You both exit the Cayreeg, and return to the ocean itself. You follow Moirine, listening.
‘Split from humans?’ you say. You wrack your brain to better understand what she means by that. ‘Like how the Cayreeg isn’t a part of the human realm, I’m guessing?’
‘Exactly,’ Moirine replies. ‘There are countless pocket realms attached to the earth, my friend, and these pocket realms come in all manner of shapes and sizes. In most cases, they are the preferred domains for other beings similar to us selkie, the ones you define as supernatural. Now, mind you, humans don’t have access to these realms normally, but there are a few that humans can end up in at random, depending on… factors.’
You frown at this, and naturally, you wonder what sort of “factors” she means.
Moirine seems fully aware of your confusion. ‘When I say factors, I mean that it isn’t common for your average person to stumble onto one of these pocket realms. It’s based ordinarily on the person themselves – some will be drawn to these realms, or they’ll find them without realizing because they sensed them. Does that make more sense, pup?’
‘I think so,’ you say. ‘Then, does that mean when I found that one realm with the genie… was I drawn to it? I don’t recall sensing it before I ended up there, really.’
‘Drawn to, most likely,’ Moirine says. ‘They work in rather curious ways, indeed.’
You don’t disagree with her there, not after your experience. At this rate, you honestly hope to not have any more run-ins with genies. Or, if you do, you vow to yourself you’ll not assume that what you’re witnessing is smoke and mirrors, and instead, you’ll be more mindful… and polite, too. You don’t want to make the same mistake twice.
‘I suppose I should note that these realms are typically called Shards,’ Moirine adds, and she snickers. ‘I, however, like the phrase “belly button,” which is why I prefer to use it when describing them. You, pup, can’t use it,’ she pokes her tongue out at you, and laughs mentally, ‘so don’t try using it unless you’re referring to your own belly button.’
You can’t help but laugh; the fact that Moirine, who speaks and seems so formal and… posh, almost, would stick her tongue out at you and act like a normal person is funny.
‘Noted,’ you say. You find yourself smiling at the humorous contrast between Moirine’s demeanor and how silly she’s willing to be. It’s charming, in a way, too, you admit.
‘And as the Seamother said,’ Moirine adds, ‘don’t fear the possibility of not knowing where anyone is should she decide to change up where she’s staying. We selkie frequently move about depending on our own whims and desires, and when we do, there are ways to sense where others have gone. That said, I don’t feel the Seamother will be leaving anytime soon. The Cayreeg is a very comfortable place to live in.’
‘Alright,’ you say. ‘That’s good to know, honestly.’
Once you depart from the area surrounding the Cayreeg, you follow along with Moirine as she swims upwards toward the surface – after a few minutes, you break through the ocean’s surface, and you are greeted by the smells of the sea breeze wafting through the air, and with the scents, the feeling of the wind softly brushing against you.
‘This way,’ Moirine says.
She leads you back toward the large rock formation you hopped onto not long ago when you first spoke to Moirine (since she led you there on purpose then), and you slide onto it with ease after she does. You end up near the center of the rocks, where the stone is smooth and mildly damp from the ocean’s spray being spilled onto the surface.
Moirine turns her body around so she’s facing you.
‘Alright then, pup,’ Moirine says, and she smiles at you one more, an eager and cheerful smile. ‘As a human that’s been turned into a selkie, I admit that I don’t know the full extent of what it is you’re capable of in full – it seems to vary depending exactly on HOW it is a normal human becomes blessed with our abilities for themselves.’
This piques your interest. ‘You and the Seamother have brought that up… how is it humans can become selkie, then? She made it seem like genies are the cause, but, at the same time, it sounds like it isn’t always genies that are responsible for it?’
‘Djinn are often the culprit for this sort of thing, to a degree,’ Moirine replies, and she shrugs her shoulders. ‘That isn’t to say it’s them acting out the way the djinn you encountered did; forcing a human to become a selkie, or any other being similar to a selkie, is against many of the unspoken laws that exist in our world, as the Seamother told you. If it’s by choice, however, that’s a different subject, because it involves consent.’ She nods. ‘That is the key to differentiate between what is lawful or not.’
You gawk at this, and, you also feel curious to know…
‘So how else can a human become a selkie?’ you ask.
‘There are… we’ll call them rituals, pup,’ Moirine says. ‘Rituals that relate to bonds formed between a human and a selkie – there are similar rituals for other beings, too, mind you.’ Her eyes soften. ‘These are rare, but, they have happened, for they allow a selkie to gift their human lover with the same powers. It’s a very meaningful thing.’
‘Oh…’ you say. That makes sense.
‘Be that as it may,’ Moirine remarks, ‘the question becomes what it is you wish to see for yourself, pup, in terms of your abilities.’ Her features grow inquisitive. ‘Do you want to learn how to become a human first? Or would you like to see what else you may be capable of? We selkie possess many traits, you know, and you might as well…’
She trails off and then eyes you thoughtfully.
Now, it’s your turn to decide once more on what you want to do.
Written by Hollowpages on 18 March 2021