Girls Horse Club Blog

The Sea Horses’ Gift – Part 4

Published by • Dec 6th, 2010 • Category: Fiction, Loft Book Club Favorites

by Findabhair Blacksgote, age 14

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CHAPTER 16

They went through the whole poem box. Kale found two more poems concerning the ‘tradition’ of sacrificing firstborns. It turned out that the firstborns were sacrificed when they became a threat to Finvarra’s reign. Kale supposed he was immortal, because he had been around a long, long, long time. She also supposed that Finvarra must care at least a little about Ahearne, or he wouldn’t go to all the trouble to find her instead. The first born of every generation was sacrificed. She read more tales of Finvarra’s brutality. It seemed he was a very cold-blooded ruler.

“I have an answer to our problems,” she said, after thinking it over for a few minutes. It meant treading on more dangerous ground and breaking even more rules than she’d anticipated breaking, but it meant an all-around win-win for everyone except Finvarra.

“What?” Ahearne asked curiously.

Kale took a deep breath and looked around. She whispered in his ear to make sure no one heard. “We over-throw Finvarra.”

Ahearne became even paler than usual. “We what?!”

“Need I repeat myself?”

“Are you absolutely insanely crazy?” Ahearne hissed. “We can’t do that!”

“And why not?” Kale challenged smoothly. She already had a vague idea for a plan.

“Because-” Ahearne stuttered. “We just can’t, Kale. I know we have to find a way to get out of this, but does it have to be so drastic?”

“When you think of a better way let me know,” Kale answered calmly. “I’ve almost got an idea. I just need to think about it for a while. You can show me to my room or get Catarin to do that. Do not go near Finvarra or he’ll guess something’s up.”

CHAPTER 17

“I- Kale… how are we going to do that?” asked Ahearne weakly.

“I’ll tell you later. Where’s my room? I’m very tired,” Kale insisted.

“No. I mean get through the dance hall without getting near Finvarra?”

Kale tutted. “It’s simple. We get Eoghan to talk to Finvarra about whatever it is kings and their second-in-commands talk about and I ask Catarin where my room is.”

“You’re a manipulative little creature, aren’t you?”

Kale recognized Eoghans voice. “What are you doing back here?” she inquired, suspicious.

“Just wondering how you were getting on with those poems,” Eoghan replied vaguely.

“Hmm. Well we went through the whole thing,” Kale returned, and glared at Ahearne to keep him from saying anything he shouldn’t. No wonder Finvarra didn’t think him a threat. He was as easy to control as a pebble, or some other infinitesimal object of no value.

Ahearne returned her gaze with wide eyes and wisely kept his mouth shut.

“Well I was going to tell you that Catarin said to come wait at the table again when you wanted to get some sleep, but you preferred I wasn’t here…” Eoghan trailed his sentence off, smiling slightly. Kale glared at him too. He left. Good choice.

CHAPTER 18

Ahearne pleaded and begged all the way back to the dance hall. Kale ignored him. Her mind was set. She doubted she’d get much sleep for the next little while, but that wasn’t really a problem compared to the issues at hand.

“You can go now,” she said as they walked through the side door to the grotto again. Ahearne immediately turned and walked very rapidly in the other direction. Kale mentally raised an eyebrow and discreetly sat in her corner again. She almost burst with indignation when Eoghan drew Finvarra (who was still dancing with Catarin) away from the floor and off to a corner. She knew what she found so annoying about him. He was so infuriatingly simple. He said exactly what he meant with as few words as possible and with as little explanation as he could, if he explained at all. She highly doubted he was actually simple, he was just very straight-forward. She waved at Catarin and crept over to her.

“So you tired of books at last?” Catarin teased.

“How did you know I was reading?” Kale asked, surprised.

“You were with Ahearne. All Ahearne does is read,” Catarin replied, laughing. “Just a note to remember; your room is two floors above Eoghan’s. Eoghan’s room is directly across from the drop-off. That should help you find it. The drop-off is very hard to miss.”

Kale paid close attention to where they were going as Catarin led her out of the grotto. They turned down the same side door they had gone down earlier to Catarin’s room, except this time they didn’t turn. They went in a straight line down the hall. Kale wondered if Catarin had purposefully led her on such a twisting route before to confuse her and keep her from finding their room later. Kale knew that’s what she would have done if she had been in Catarin’s shoes.

“That’s Eoghan’s quarters,” Catarin said as they passed an intricately carved door. Then they turned up a stairway and then a second. They turned right and soon stood in front of another carved door. Sea shells decorated the border of the door and Sea Horses and waves danced across the door’s front. The door had no handle; Catarin simply pushed it inward. “There’s a plank inside so you can lock the door,” she explained.

Kale nodded. Nice, simple, and delightfully hard to get by doors without keys and barricaded from the inside.

Her quarters were a two-room suite consisting of her bedroom and a small study. The front wall of her bedroom had been taken away and led to a large balcony, which overlooked the drop-off from above. Kale leaned over, savouring the view. There were curtains she could draw across the empty, non-existent wall for privacy or to keep the fish out. She smiled as a pair of guppies flitted around near the ceiling.

“I’ll leave you to explore then,” Catarin said, stepping out of the room. “I’ll have someone wake you for breakfast. Same as last night; stay out of sight and Ahearne will come and get you.”

CHAPTER 19

Kale grimaced as the door closed. She immediately crossed the room and lifted a large plank of wood. She fitted it across the door and tested it to make sure it wouldn’t lift back out. Now for exploring, as Catarin had said.

Kale systemmaticly searched her study. It contained a desk complete with paper (or seaweed), weights and a sharp stick to write with. She was very careful to keep the lid firmly on the bottle of purple stain. She would have to ask Ahearne how she was supposed to write when the ink would surely float away.

Her bedroom contained a tall wardrobe, which was full of more gowns about her size and a large array of other types of clothes, including tunics and leggings, and sleeping clothes. She changed into a green tunic and brown leggings, glad to be rid of the loathsome skirt.

Kale went back onto the balcony and sat on the railing, letting the ocean currents pull her hair around. All Catarin’s brushing gone to waste. Kale grinned wickedly. She would braid her hair for the night and see if it turned wavy when she brushed it out in the morning. She closed her eyes and listened. It was very quiet, except when a pod of dolphins swam over. She wondered if they would come into her room. Probably not. She turned her attention to her plan, which had been slowly developing.

She stood there for a long time, thinking. She had long since lost track of the time. Her plan was perfected. It was like her door; nice, simple, and delightfully hard to get by when there was no key and it was barricaded from the inside. She swung her legs, pleased. Better yet, she wouldn’t have to wait too long to carry out her plan. She only needed to do one thing…

CHAPTER 20

Kale heard a sharp whistle below her. She pulled her feet back onto the balcony floor and leaned her upper body over the railing. A ways below her was another balcony, identical to hers. Eoghan was standing on it. He grinned and whistled again. Now was a good time to bring the important part of her plan into focus. She pulled back from the railing and looked around for a suitable way down. The currents were blowing to the left, so she crossed to the right side of the balcony. On the rock wall coral was growing in abundance, perfect for handholds. Kale swung over the railing and latched onto the coral.

Just then the herd of Sea Horses galloped by. On impulse, Kale whistled softly at them. One of the mares came over and nuzzled her ear. Kale laughed. It tickled. She climbed onto its back and directed it down towards Eoghans balcony the same way she guided the faerie horses in Ralayiana. To her surprise the mare obediently spiraled downwards in graceful circles. Eoghan wasn’t on the balcony; he must have gone back inside.

The mare touched down, snorting. She jumped a little when Eoghan rushed back out, looking flustered. Kale smirked. She had finally done something to catch him off guard. Within an instant he had recovered his composure, but she had seen the moment of confusion; it was enough.

“That’s not how I expected you to come,” he admitted. “Very fitting, however. I wouldn’t try it again though.”

“Why not?” Kale demanded. It was fitting. She was the daughter of the Sea King after all.

“Because you can’t control them,” Eoghan explained. “She might turn around and eat you next second, or buck you off over open water, where you’d just fall forever.”

“I don’t believe that,” Kale retorted. “The ocean always has a bottom, not matter how deep.” She dismounted anyway.

“Well you’d fall for a long time and then you’d be crushed by the weight of all that water.” Eoghan ran a hand through his hair distractedly.

“Why’d you call?” Kale asked, going on the attack. She was determined to keep control of the meeting.

Eoghan shrugged. “I thought you didn’t like me.”

Drat. He knew she was trying to dictate the conversation.

“Well trust works both ways,” Kale announced, changing tactics.

Eoghan raised an eyebrow, obviously amused. “Very well, sea princess. I trust you found my advice about poems helpful?”

Kale ignored him. “How loyal would you be to someone if you knew they made up a tradition to keep themselves on the throne?” she asked. She could tell by Eoghan’s quick look that he knew exactly what she was talking about. He took a long time to answer.

“I try to do what’s best for the kingdom at the time,” he replied slowly.

Kale pressed on. “What if the best thing for the kingdom happened to be replacing the king?” Hah. Now he didn’t know where she was going. She had control, at least for now. She waited before going on to make him answer.

“What are you thinking, sea princess?” he asked cautiously.

So he was playing at being honest. Well she could too. “If Finvarra gets his way then I get tossed to these things here,” she patted the mares shoulder, “And the kingdom stays under the hand of a ruthless king. If it doesn’t go his way, like I’m planning, then Ahearne gets handed the role of king. Wait I’m not finished. I can guarantee the first thing he’ll do is abdicate. That puts you on the throne. Then you can make sure the kingdom gets looked after without actually doing anything.”

She waited to let her words sink in. She could see Eoghan thinking it over.

“And your plan?”

Kale smiled, baring her teeth.

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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.