Girls Horse Club Blog

The Sea Horses’ Gift – Part 3

Published by • Dec 3rd, 2010 • Category: Fiction, Loft Book Club Favorites

by Findabhair Blacksgote, age 14

« PART 2 PART 4 »

CHAPTER 11

Kale walked along after Catarin back down the halls. She hoped she wouldn’t be asked to find her way around by herself ever, because she was lost already, and they had barely gone a few hundred feet.

“Now I’m going to do my best to keep Finvarra occupied and your job is to seat yourself somewhere in a corner and stay there. I’ll send Ahearne for you later,” said Catarin.

Ahearne again!! So she was one step closer to solving all this. Kale nodded. After she found Ahearne she was going to find out more about everything and then she was going to make Eoghan take her home.

They were in the grotto again. Kale slipped around the edge of the hall, keeping behind people whenever she could, and oozing closer and closer to the table. For the first time she noticed barnacles growing on its legs and reminded herself to keep her dress well away from them. Barnacles were sharp, as she had discovered by experience.

She seated herself at the corner of the table nearest the front wall, hoping it was the most unobvious place. She knew that people rarely looked right under their noses, especially when there was something right in front of them.

After sitting quietly as she was told for a while, Kale helped herself to a bit of food, feeling she deserved it. Every time someone walked by she expected it to be Ahearne, but they always kept going, oblivious to her.

She sorted through the information in her head. Finvarra and Tara were her parents. Tara must of come from Ralayiana, because Eoghan said only one of her parents came from there, and that the other one might not have been an elf. Now she had to find out who Finvarra was. She knew he ruled this kingdom, and that Catarin was his Queen. There were some strange rules that Eoghan was bending, and he couldn’t tell her very much. Finvarra was a very strange name for a male. To be noticed by Finvarra was bad. Ahearne could tell her more. These people knew a lot about her.

The data was all scrambled around; she couldn’t make much sense of it. She picked at her food, not actually eating very much. After a while the music began to grow softer. A waltz. Kale noticed with a start that Catarin and the man were stepping down from the throne to dance. An idea jumped to her head. Was that man Finvarra? He sat on a throne, was waltzing with Catarin, and was very strange looking. She tried not to jump to conclusions, but she couldn’t help studying his features to see if she bore any likeness to him. If he was her father, then why was it bad for him to notice her?

Someone tapped on her shoulder. Kale twisted around. A boy her own age was standing beside her, looking uncomfortable.

“Are you Kale?” he asked over the sound of the music and dancers.

“That’s me.” she confirmed. “Are you Ahearne?”

The boy looked relieved and nodded, then plucked at her sleeve imploringly. “Let’s get out of here. I hate all the noise.”

CHAPTER 12

Kale followed gladly. It was all she could do not to start asking questions right away. She spotted Eoghan on her way out and waved.

They left through another side door. This time the hallways were badly lit, straight, and there weren’t very many doors.

“This is the servant’s quarters,” Ahearne explained. “No one important ever comes down here, and the servants are a lot nicer than most of the others.”

“Where does this go?” she questioned as they turned down a larger hall.

“This is the stables. There’s hardly ever anyone here because the Sea Horses hate them. I would too if I had to live here.” Ahearne chattered.

“So why are they here?”

“Oh, sometimes I bring one in when I’m lonely.”

Brought one of them in? One of those creatures? Kale shuddered.

They left the stables and were in more dark hallways. They climbed a staircase just as badly lit. It ended in a trap door. Ahearne pushed it open and crawled up. Kale grabbed his wrist with one hand and gathered her skirts with the other.

She found herself in a round room at the top of a tower. The floor and walls were wooden and barnacles were growing along the corners and seeping up the walls. The window was open and fish moseyed around the room, then darted away as the two elves entered. A wrought iron bed sat in a corner under the window.

“Eoghan said you could tell me some things.” Kale announced, deciding to take matters into her own hands.

“Did he now?” Ahearne seemed surprised. “He must like you, he normally doesn’t do that. Mother said you’re Tara’s daughter.”

“Is Catarin your mother?” Kale asked. She noticed that he looked a lot like her, except with brown hair and green eyes, and very pale skin, like the man on the throne beside Catarin.

“Mmhm. Finvarra’s my father, but I steer clear of him, which is why my room is here.”

“Apparently Finvarra’s my father too,” Kale exclaimed. “Is Finvarra the one who was dancing with Catarin when we left?”

Ahearne shuddered. “Yeah that’s him. He’s weird, hey? Hey! That means we’re half siblings!!” he looked thrilled at the notion. “I’ve never had a sibling before!”

“Yeah,” Kale agreed. “So who is Tara?”

“Tara?” Ahearne repeated absentmindedly. “Tara was Queen before Catarin.”

“So what happened?” Kale persisted.

Ahearne shrugged. “She died,” he answered.

Kale winced.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Ahearne gasped, looking stricken. “I really am.”

Kale shook her head. “Forget it. I didn’t know she existed before today. Why couldn’t Eoghan tell me what was going on and why was I brought here in the first place?”

“Well I expect Finvarra forbid him to tell you anything, and he probably wanted you here because you’d be his firstborn–” Ahearne stopped. “Ooooh. That’s bad. For you.”

CHAPTER 13

“Why?”Kale demanded.

“Firstborns are traditionally sacrificed to the Sea Horses,” Ahearne replied uneasily. “Unless the first born’s the only heir, then they sacrifice the second-hand, who would be Eoghan.”

“That’s bad,” Kale echoed. That was bad. That was very very bad. “So when am I supposed to be sacrificed?”

Ahearne cocked his head. “I’m not sure. Probably sometime next month.”

“Good. That gives us some time to find a way to get out of it,” said Kale matter-of-factly.

“Us?”

“Yes us,” Kale snarled. “If we had grown up together I would be in charge because I’m the oldest. It’s me or Eoghan. I’m not sure you want either of us dead?”

“Well no…” said Ahearne uncomfortably.

“So, you answer my questions and we find a way to get out of it,” Kale finished. “Why are we sacrificed in the first place?”

Ahearne shrugged again. He shrugged a lot. “I don’t really know much about this stuff… Why don’t we go to the library? Maybe there will be some information there.”

Library? Under water?

“Sure,” Kale nodded. She was good at finding information. “It’s as good a place as any to start.”

They climbed back down the ladder (Kale cursing her skirts all the way) and crept down more gloomy corridors. Soon the number of the glowing lights increased and Kale was actually able to see where she was stepping.

They turned into a large cheerful room. Kale couldn’t stand it any longer.

“How can you have books under water?” she blurted.

“Books?” Ahearne laughed. “I don’t know about books, but we write on seaweed so that we have stained words. I’ll show
you.” His explanation didn’t make much sense, but then neither had anything else.

“Should we get Eoghan to help us with this?” she asked uncertainly. In all the stories, the children always solved the problems, but they always had unnatural good luck or a lot of time to solve their problems. She didn’t have either of that right now.

“I don’t know if he’s allowed,” Ahearne replied, frowning. “Finvarra might have forbidden him to help you.”

“Us,” Kale corrected firmly.

“Us then. Here are the books.”

Kale smiled as Ahearne hurriedly changed the subject. She let it go for now, but vowed to confront him about it later. She wasn’t going to have him bailing out on her at the last minute.

The books were strips of seaweed stitched together into large sheets. The words were purple, stained in, as Ahearne had said. Kale was glad that the runes were the same as the ones in Ralayiana. The sheets were rolled up and stuffed into shelves of boxes. Each box had words on it, like Sea Horses, Dancing, Poems, and Elves.

“So we want Sea Horses and sacrifice and kings or whatever it is you call Finvarra,” Kale attested.

“We just call him Finvarra,” Ahearne said unhelpfully. Kale tried not to grind her teeth.

“Well Catarin’s a Queen, so he must be a king,” she snapped. “You look through the Sea Horses box and see if you find anything interesting. I’ll look for Kings.”

CHAPTER 14

They searched and searched. Kale looked through the boxes labeled Kings and Traditions of the Sea Horse’s Land. There wasn’t one called Sacrifice. Ahearne went through Sea Horses and helped her with Tradition of the Sea Horse’s Land. All without success. Kale was regretting not eating more, and her eyes were starting to ache. She rubbed them irritably. Where else would there be information they needed? Maybe she should go drag Eoghan in here. She could pull rank on him. She was Finvarra’s oldest child after all.

“So there you are,” said a voice. Kale whipped around and fell against a shelf of boxes. She stiffled an oath; she was sure it wouldn’t be considered appropriate to curse aloud.

It was Eoghan. He must be telepathic, she thought.

“You,” she accused. She was very confused now. Maybe he had kidnapped her to save himself. That was all very well, but someone who would rather doom an innocent person rather than solve the problem was a problem.

“You don’t seem very pleased to see me,” he noted.

“Don’t seem very pleased to see you????” Kale repeated in false sweetness. “Why would that be?”

“I was wondering the same thing myself. Look through the Poems box, there is some interesting history in there.” He disappeared as quickly as he had come.

Poems. More riddles. Was he fooling with them or was he giving her some more of his indirect help?

“Go ahead. Why not?” ordered Kale.

“Are we still looking for anything useful?” Ahearne quieried.

“Yes Ahearne, we are,” Kale replied, talking as if he was a toddler. “After all, we have to find something, don’t we?”

Ahearne didn’t take the hint and cheerfully went in search of the Poems box.

Kale ground her teeth, thinking. She had Eoghan, who talked in riddles and had a functioning brain, and she had Ahearne, who could answer these riddles, but other than that was practically useless. Well, she could work with that. She had to.

CHAPTER 15

She pulled out a poem at random, titled “The Death Of…”

The name of whoever’s death it was and the author of the poem had been ripped, and the writing had leaked and bled into itself, so that even when she dug the torn fragments of the corner out from the box all she ended up with was a muddle of purple and green. Having nothing better to do, she read. One glance at the page told her it didn’t rhyme. How annoying.

On full moon bright of this dark month

Died Eliar, Prince of The Sea Horses.

Firstborn of Finvarra and Sienna,

King and Queen of this land.

Eliar was young and brave,

Good of heart and mind;

A promising heir to the throne of the Sea;

T’would be a welcome respite from his fore bearers.

Oh really! How boring. Kale was about to toss the poem back to the box when she remembered something. Heir to the throne of the Sea. A firstborn. Wait a minute. He couldn’t be Finvarra’s first born. That didn’t make sense. Maybe she should keep reading after all.

The People loved Eliar as a king,

And turned to him instead of Finvarra.

Black eyes glittering, Finvarra did decree

A sacrifice was needed,

To appease the Sea Horses,

Rulers of the Sea.

Though the People argued and cried,

The sacrifice went ahead.

He left us for that other place,

Our bright Eliar,

By the hand of a jealous father,

Unwilling to leave the throne.

So still he sits, our Finvarra,

On his throne of black.

And still he sacrifices his enemies

Posed as firstborns,

In tradition.

That was very interesting.

“I just found out why Finvarra kills his firstborns,” Kale announced quietly, so as not to be overheard. “Read that.” She thrust the poem at Ahearne. “Who wrote it?”

Ahearne squinted at the seaweed page. “Probably someone who died,” he replied affably.

“That doesn’t help me, brother dear,” Kale snarled. “Who wrote it?”

“The author’s name is scribbled out.”

“What do you mean?” Kale peered over his shoulder.

“His name should be there, but it’s scribbled over,” Ahearne repeated.

“Well, you read that and I’ll keep looking.”

« PART 2 PART 4 »

The Sea Horses’ Gift was first published at GHC in the former Loft Book Club, and was a finalist in our monthly Judge for Yourself competition in December 2006.

One Nicker »

  1. good story