Girls Horse Club Blog

The Sea Horses’ Gift – Part 5

Published by • Dec 7th, 2010 • Category: Fiction, Loft Book Club Favorites

by Findabhair Blacksgote, age 14

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CHAPTER 21

“You’d better come in,” said Eoghan when Kale had finished telling him her plan. The ball was in his hands now. All she could do was wait.

Kale followed docilely. He led her into the study, which was bigger than hers, and filled with seaweed scrolls. Eoghan pulled a scroll out from a drawer and stared at it intently. He handed it to Kale and left the study. He barricaded the door and came back.

“I have some improvements to make on your… idea,” he said quietly.

Kale smiled again. Her plan was underway. “And what are these improvements?”

Eoghan looked at the Sea Horse, who had followed them into the study. “I’m going to teach you how to control the Sea Horses and I’m going to give you some information that will change your plan slightly for the better,” he answered.

He frowned and ran his hands over the mare’s head. “Sea Horses are immortal and the only thing that kills them is if they are poisoned or stabbed. The herd only gives birth to one foal every thousand years, which is what keeps the herd from growing forever. The next foal is due in about a year. Soon this mare will show signs that she is carrying this foal. In fact, if you listen closely to what she tells you, you could tell now.” The mare rubbed her ear against Eoghans shoulder as if agreeing. “We can use this against Finvarra. We can say that the new foal means the death of the ‘tradition’ and that it needs to be changed slightly. Do you see where this is going?”

Kale shook her head truthfully.

“We can change the tradition slightly to help us. We could say that the sacrifice and the king need to go to the Sea Horses lair together so that the king can honor the dam of the to-be foal.”

Kale gasped. Now she understood. She smiled her special teeth-baring smile. “Honor indeed,” she hissed.

“And now I’m going to begin teaching you how to control these horses so they don’t eat you,” Eoghan went on. “You will have to know the words very well because you can be sure Finvarra won’t give up his rule easily.”

For the next few hours they sat at Eoghan’s desk. At first Kale couldn’t get the words to form in her mouth properly, but they gradually became more understandable until she could order the mare around the room. Then they went on to learn the charms needed to control the Sea Horses and convince them to do her bidding. At last Eoghan called a halt. Kale rode the mare back up to her bedroom and patted the mare goodnight. She wearily changed into her sleeping clothes and floated onto her bed. She was so tired she forgot to braid her hair.

CHAPTER 22

The next morning Kale was awakened by someone knocking on her door.

“I’m up!” she called, rolling off the bed.

“It’s Catarin. Would you let me in?”

Kale ran to lift the barricade from the door. “Come in,” she called. Catarin stepped through the door and carefully avoided the plank in Kale’s arms. As soon as Catarin was inside, Kale kicked the door closed and replaced the plank across it again.

“I’m here to make sure you dress properly and brush your hair,” smiled Catarin.

“Do I have to wear a dress?” Kale asked warily.

“Course you don’t,” Catarin promised.

They picked out a soft brown tunic and a pair of sable leggings. Kale liked the soft feel of the cloth against her arms and back. She patiently stood still while Catarin combed the tangles out of her hair and then brushed it until it floated. They discussed dancing and parties in great detail. Kale decided that she would think of Catarin as an older sister. She was warming to the older girl’s company quite a bit. She guiltily hoped Catarin wasn’t too attached to Finvarra.

CHAPTER 23

They walked to the breakfast hall together, then Kale snuck over to the corner of the table like before. This time she ate as much as she could and tucked some extra snacks into the belt of her tunic for later.

She didn’t have to wait long for Ahearne; she had only just fnished eating when he arrived. She noted with some satisfaction the way he kept his distance from her and the worried looks he sent her. She bared her teeth at him in what she was sure was a very frightening smile befitting a to-be usurper.

They went to Ahearne’s room where Kale updated him on her plan and Eoghan’s help. She was careful to explain that he could abdicate in Eoghan’s favor; they only needed him to be there to take the throne before Finvarra’s supporters did. Ahearne didn’t look too happy, but he didn’t complain.

“Oh, I remembered something!!” Ahearne exclaimed.

“What?” Kale demanded. She hoped it wasn’t too important.

“Don’t make eye contact with Finvarra because he’s a mind reader,” Ahearne warned.

“That’s bad,” Kale breathed. “I’ll remember. Thank you. I have some more questions,” she added.

“Go ahead…” Kale laughed as Ahearne eyed her cautiously.

“Eoghan has pointed teeth. Catarin doesn’t. Why?” Kale asked.

Ahearne looked relieved that it wasn’t more political riddles to answer. “Catarin’s not a water elf. Water elves have pointed teeth. I have no idea why. You don’t because you’re only half,” he explained. “I don’t because I’m half. Your mother was a land light. Catarin’s a sea nymph, or nyad. If you look closely all the water elves have them.”

Kale nodded. She was glad she hadn’t inherited that particular feature. Pointed teeth were unnatural, in her opinion.

“Can you show me around outside?” Kale asked suddenly. She was tired of being indoors. Ahearne looked surprised again. She was getting good at being unpredictable.

They wandered around the rock face for a while, observing the diverse forms of life. The coral and rock felt rough under Kale’s fingers. She tried to catch a few of the fish that swam by. They were much quicker than her and keep swimming away. Ahearne showed her which seaweeds were edible. To her surprise, some of them tasted very good.

At midday Ahearne grimaced and said he had to go to his lessons and wouldn’t be done until supper time. Kale waved him off, glad for the time by herself. She sat on a ledge of rock and watched the sea before her.

CHAPTER 24

Kale sat for a long time. Presently she became aware she was being watched. She twisted around and felt herself go pale.

Directly behind her was Finvarra. He was staring down at her with coldy amused eyes. She dropped her gaze, remembering Ahearne’s warnings, and turned around and scrambled to her feet. She would have stepped back — there was less than a foot of space between them — but less than a foot behind her was the cliff.

“Hello, daughter,” said Finvarra in a soft, ice-cold voice. Kale looked at her feet, playing bashful. “Eoghan informs me that you are enjoying your stay?”

“Yes sir,” Kale mumbled. She could feel Finvarra’s eyes on the top of her head.

“I am occupied today, but perhaps we could go for a father-daughter stroll tomorrow?”

Kale’s heart began to pound. So this was it. The sacrifice was going to happen sooner than she had thought. She had until tomorrow to master that charm Eoghan had taught her.

“I would like that sir,” she replied slowly.

“Good.” Finvarra spun on his heel and walked away.

Kale exhaled. She had to find Eoghan now. She waited until Finarra was out of sight and dashed back to the castle. The Sea Horses galloped by. Kale watched them and decided not to test the strength of her charms just yet. Besides, they looked beautiful running wild.

CHAPTER 25

Kale raced back to the castle and up towards her room. She stopped at Eoghans door and listened. She didn’t want to intrude unless she had to. No voices. She knocked on the door. The noise was muted by the water, so she knocked harder.

The door opened almost immediately. Eoghan peered out.

“Let me in,” Kale demanded. She wasn’t going to put up with any nonsense.

“Yes your Highness,” Eoghan replied dryly.

Kale marched in.

“In case you haven’t heard, Finvarra asked me to go for a father-daughter stroll tomorrow. I don’t have those charms down yet,” she said, hating herself for asking Eoghans assistance.

Eoghan raised and eyebrow. “You want my help?”

Yes already!”

They worked on the charms until dinner and decided to meet again that night. Kale almost had them all. She said them in her head all through the evening meal and didn’t even talk to Ahearne. He had outlived his usefulness, and wasn’t worth her time for now.

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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.

One Nicker »

  1. My teacher litaraly printed all of those stories and made th damation press make them books!