Betrayal, P-1

Betrayal Part 1 

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 Despite his sitting close enough to the hearth fire of his Uncle’s cob house to scorch his wool-sweater, Hew Torhaven still felt enough of the outside cold to make him shiver.

The winter winds of the Orcadian Islands in which he lived, were both constant, and relentless in their quest to chill the skin of the inhabitants, whether they be Human or Selkie.  

Flinching from yet another chill breeze, Hew felt picked on by the early-evening winds that had managed to wend its way to the back of his neck, and parts south. Despite his Uncle’s home being located in a prized wind-shadow in the Village of Skara Brae. There was always at least one whistling gust that managed to find its way through an unseen crack in the walls.

Despite the ever present cold that spared him little because of his lean frame, Hew felt himself smiling in contentment. He felt content, because he was in his second home! His better home.

This place was the spot where he always felt welcome. He knew that his Uncle Magnus could be relied on to create a grand grin when he caught sight of his nephew. It helped that he always made sure that Hew got the best spot by the peat fire when arrived. Hew admired the fact that Magnus was a warm and welcoming man, and apparently always known to have been one since the days of his youth.

Hew sighed enviously, as he watched his uncle Magnus flirt with his wife, Moira, as she worked to fill a basket with scones to take to her sister and her children. Or, as Moira liked to put it, ‘Blather time with her sister.’ He loved to watch the way that Magnus nuzzled Moira’s neck from behind; who he suspected, did so just to make her giggle. Magnus was like that, he simply liked to make people laugh and be happy.

‘Unlike my Da, who only thinks of his own happiness,’ thought Hew of his own home, sourly, ‘but that is enough of that!’

Turning his attention away from his Aunt and Uncle’s near constant flirting, he glanced over at ‘Aunt’ Jennie who sat silently on the wooden floor of the main room, mending her sealskins. She, paid no mind to anyone else in the room. Her entire attention being focused on the task draped across her knees.

Sparing Jennie a glance every now and again, Hew couldn’t help but admire her form. There was nary an extra bit of fat anywhere other than her breasts. He could see the muscles of her tummy play about in the firelight as she moved and breathed.

‘According to Magnus, Jennie is a fine-looking woman.’ Hew thought to himself with a smile. ‘But he never says that, when Moira is near. Odd thing though, Moira hasn’t looked at Jennie or in her direction once, since I arrived.’

Jennie had her flaxen hair tied into a ponytail to keep it up and out of her way, while she had her sealskin on her lap. Nary once, did she look up from her repair work of fixing a tear, putting in stich after stitch, evenly.

‘How can she sit there as naked as the day she was born, and without so much as a single goose-bump on her anywhere?’ Hew idly wondered, as he shifted closer to the fire, when yet another breeze inspired a wave of them across his own skin.

‘Perhaps it has something to do with the Selkie being the toughest of all of the Sea Mamono. If the Selkie can dominate the ‘Fin-Folk’, such as the Mermaids, Mer-Sharks, and Mer-Orca, then they could probably handle a wee bit of chill.’

“Hew? Lad! Are ye away with the fairies again? Or are Jennie’s bubbies too fascinating for yeah to pay me no mind?” Hew flinched, as he realized Magnus had been talking to him for a short while.

“Wh-what? Nay Uncle!” Hew stammered, “I be wondering how is it that Jennie is able to nay mind the cold, her not being dressed as she is!” Hew said a bit too loud, with a hint of a blush creeping across his face.

“So, is that the reason ye be fascinated with her then lad? Neither you nor she be yammering on much tonight.” Magnus replied with an obvious wink, still embracing his beloved wife, standing behind her shoulders.

“Uncle, you yourself keep telling me to mind my manners. I canna think of no way to politely ask her, how she can no mind the cold as she does!” Hew said trying, and failing, to change the subject.

At that, Jennie stopped her sewing and glanced over at Hew and his Uncle, a smile starting to tease itself across her alabastrine face.

 “Now Magnus, stop teasing your nephew. You and I both know that he’s probably full of questions concerning the Compact, and his role with it.”, Moira interjected then, with her own grin, looking sidelong over her shoulder at her husband.  “He’s of Age, and you said yourself that it’s time for him to learn what his duties as Foresti would be.”

 Hew noticed then, that Moira was dressed as if she were going out into the evening’s squall. She was dressed in a long, warm, and heavy dress. On the table next to her, lay a basket of scones. Next to them were a pair of small woolen women’s hand gloves and her favorite scarf that was neatly folded. Now if one included her husband’s arms, that were currently wrapping around her at the waist, it’d be unlikely that she’d be feeling any cold at all in the outside air.

“We’ll get to that in a wee.” Magnus stated. “But first, me bucko, allow me to ask Jennie your question for you!” Magnus said, releasing his wife from his arms, then he made to stand in front of Jennie.

Moira took that moment, to take her leave and go to the kitchen. She chose to carry her basket, along with her gloves and scarf, smiling all the way.

Hew thought for a second that Moira’s smile seemed just a bit forced, but his attention was torn away when Magnus spoke aloud.

“Pardon me, my good lady Selkie!” Magnus said with a bow to Jennie.  “Would you be so kind as to enlighten yonder bairn, as to why you can endure the winter’s chill without so much as, a by your leave?” Hew frowned then, his eyes blazing at his uncle’s bairn comment.

Jennie smirked, and rolled her eyes up to stare through her eyebrows at Magnus for a moment. She chose to turn her attention over to Hew, “There’s cold, Hew Torhaven, and then there’s cold.” She said drawing out her o’s.
“Now under the roof, of this pile o’rocks your uncle calls a home, it’s nowhere near as cold as the shores of a skerry during a Nor’easter storm. As such, it’s not as cold as it could be, if yon fire weren’t burning as merrily as it were.” She explained with a twinkle in her eyes.
“Perhaps, after you’ve ridden a Selkie’s back during your Foresti training, then you’ll understand better the difference betwixt.” She spoke with a finality, ending her speech and turned back to her mending.

Hew shook his head, not understanding her meaning. He then opened his mouth to ask her to clarify, when…

“Leave it be lad. Once you’re a bit older, then you’ll understand.” Magnus interjected quietly, as he sat down next to Hew near the hearth fire.

“After you’ve had to ‘negotiate’ a quibble with the Selkie Foresti, you’ll discover that they tend to be hot blooded enough to melt an iceberg all by their winsome.” He finished with a half-grin, half-leer.

At that comment, Jennie looked up from her nearly complete mending and gave Magnus a withering look tempered with a smile, which he ignored.

“Which brings me to the reason I called you over to me home tonight Hew. It’s been decided, that you’ll be needing to learn how to properly deal with the Selkie, soon enough.”  Magnus said cryptically.

“But uncle, I dinna understand. After you, my father will be Foresti. Why bring me into this?” Magnus turned to Jennie and they shared a look, then he turned and looked back over at Hew.

“Because lad, one can never be too careful to not have a backup plan in place. Sort of like not keeping all of your eggs in one basket, as it were.”

“Now Hew, tell me what you do know about the Compact and the Torhaven’s role in it.” Jennie spoke up then.

“Well, Aunt Jennie” Hew began. “I do know that the Compact is an agreement between the Selkie and the folks of Orcadia.” Hew spoke from memory, glancing over at his uncle. Magnus smiled and nodded at him to continue.

“It’s considered to be a good thing for everyone. This is because it allows the Villagers to trade with the Selkie, and settle disputes that crop up between the two.” He continued, recalling the details by rote memory.

Jennie had by now finished her mending and was putting away her sewing kit, all the while giving Hew the occasional glance and nod, to let him know that she was listening.

“I also know, that it’s considered to be a terrible thing by that Order Priest, what with us ‘consorting with monsters’ as Father Skalos puts it.” Hew said, then spit. Magnus’ smile turned into a grin when Hew did that.

“Now all I know about my family, no, OUR family’s role in it. Is that we’ve been the Foresti between the Selkie and we Orcadians since forever.” Hew finished.

“You’ve got the basic gist, Hew. But.” Jennie said lifting a finger up in the air, “We and the Orcaidians have not had the Compact quite that long. “Because there was a time when we needed a Compact, and there wasn’t one.”

“Then when did it come about, and how?” Hew asked, looking at them both in surprise.

“You tell your side Magnus. I’ll correct you when necessary.” Jennie said with a smile. “Correcting shouldn’t be too terribly often, even for such as you.”

“Aye, Jennie,” Magnus grimaced at her quip. After a thoughtful look on his face and blowing out his cheeks, he began.

“To begin, many centuries ago Hew, there was a time in which the Selkie had Men-folk.”

Hew’s mouth fell open in shock. He looked over at Jennie for confirmation, but she’d turned her head away. From what he could see, she was frowning fiercely. Hew moved to ask her about it, but then he saw Magnus waving at him and shaking his head: ‘NO.”
Hew wisely chose to bide his silence. All he could hear then was the wind outside, starting to die down. Magnus continued,

“In those days, the Selkie Men were as handsome then, as the Selkie women are beautiful today! As such, they turned the eyes of the Village’s women. So much so, that the biggest complaint the Villagers had then, was that they weren’t leaving the male Orcadians enough women to marry. Quite the opposite of today.” Magnus grinned with a quick glance at Jennie, who ignored him.

“Well any-who, the result of all this ended up being, that our ancestor, Traill Torhaven, got it in his head that he needed to ‘even up the score’ as it were.” Magnus shifted his position and leaned a different way.

“He came up with what he thought to be a crafty plan. He decided to steal himself a Selkie’s sealskin, and did so.”

“What?” Hew cried, outraged. “That’s both daft and dishonorable!”

Jennie injected with a smile, “You do yourself credit with that, Hew.”

Magnus nodded, and then continued, “So, you can understand Traill’s father’s reaction, when he found out what his son had done!”

Magnus stood up and lowered his voice, “Traill! Have ye taken leave of yer senses lad? Did I raise a changeling? Ye’d better be one! For I’d rather ye be that!  Than to think that I’ve been raising a thief all these years.”

Magnus pitched his voice just a bit higher and stepped to his left. “But Papa, how else am I to find meself a wife, what with all the Selkie Men taking the best available!”

“Och Lad, 20 years on and ye canna catch a woman’s heart?” Magnus spoke in mock exasperation.

“No wonder you felt the need to coerce a Selkie! BUT EVEN SO! I’ll not have a Thief in my household! If you want to be inheriting me lands- you’ll do right by this woman you’ve wronged.”

“Very well Papa, what would you have me do?” Magnus said, resignedly.

“Go to the very spot you stole those sealskins from lad. Chances are, she’ll be waiting for ye. And take her skins with ye!”

“Da! She might murder me!” Magnus pantomimed Traill’s quivering voice.

“She’s got every right to lad! I’m quite surprised at ye, knowing what ye ken about those who did what you just done!” Magnus said, rolling his eyes for effect.

“You’ve got the gift of gab, now put it to good use, and you’ll probably get her to agree to some lesser fine than your life’s blood. Now enough blather and start scooting!”

“And so Traill took his purloined sealskin over to the beach in which he’d stolen it from. And who did he find?” Magnus looked over to Jennie.

Jennie stood up at this, still as naked as ever. Magnus smiled warmly, at the sight of Jennie’s nakedness. Hew, on the other hand, didn’t allow himself to be affected by it.

Jennie stepped over and stood next to Magnus and then began, “He met Mara, who was most annoyed at him. Not only for his thieving, but also for scooting away before she could find out whom he was!” Jennie said, handing Magnus her sealskin head piece.

“Oooh! Lookie here! Here comes the thief of my sealskin! About time ye finally came a looking for me, since I dinna come a crying to your doorstep?” Jennie continued, speaking in a raspy tone of voice as if she’d been crying.

“Nay Selkie, I dinna come here because o’ that. I came here because me Da told me to.” Griped the Traill/Magnus voice.

“And what would he do that for? A Selkie woman isn’t good enough for his kin then?”

“Nay Selkie! My Da says he doesn’t want a thief under his roof. So, I’m sorry for inconveniencing you, and wish to give ye back your skins.” Magnus held out Jennie’s head piece back to her, making his hand quivering in mock fear.

“Take them back I will indeed!” Jennie said, snatching the proffered head piece. “It’s good to see that there are some men with honor in their blood!” Jennie/Mara then turned and gave Magnus/Triall a sidelong look.

“So, tell me, when did your father adopt you?” she snarked. Magnus/Traill grimaced at that remark, but chose to let it slide.

“Well now that you’ve got your skins back, I’ll be on my way.”

“Hold on laddie, we’re just getting started.” Jennie said as she stepped forward and pulled a knife from out of nowhere, then held it to Magnus’ throat. Magnus went all wide eyed at this bit of method acting, reaching his arms up to hers.

“I demand compensation!” Jennie shouted, “You left me to nigh on to freeze to death out here, for hours without me skins!”

“What would you demand of me? I have nary by way of gold.”

“What would I have need of that useless metal for?  It never holds an edge for long. I demand instead, that you become my thrall for seven years!” Jennie said to Magnus standing close to him, close enough to, but not quite kissing him.

Magnus made no move to back away from her. Hew felt his face turning red from embarrassment, at what almost seemed to be playing out before him.

“Seven years?” Magnus gaped. “Are ye daft Mara? I could understand a few weeks, but years?” Magnus cried in consternation.

“And how long would you have me be your wife then Traill? Just a few weeks, until ye get tired o’ me?” Jennie returned fiercely, sneering.

“Ye got me there, lass. But still I canna give in so easily,” Magnus said indignantly.

“I demand the right to fight for my freedom.”

“Oh, would you now?” she said huskily, her knife still at his throat.

“What do you propose, Traill Torhaven?” she spoke with her tongue sliding along her upper lip.

“I propose a duel! Winner takes all! If you win, I’ll be your thrall for life.”

“Ye’ve got my attention.” Jennie said, she then looked at Magnus with her head tilted, “And if you win?”

“Then, you become my wife for life.”

“Och! Aren’t you the sassy one?’ Jennie said with a smile.

“Very well then Traill! I agree!” She then moved her knife slightly against Magnus’ throat, and it came out with a trail of red along its edge.

Hew looked wide eyed at Magnus, who seemed to take it in stride. Jennie then took her blade and lazily licked it clean with her tongue, keeping her eyes locked with Magnus all the while.

“Now what do you propose we settle the score with? Knives? Running?” Magnus asked.

“Oh, nothing so cheap and tawdry as any o’ that Lad. Since I’m the one challenged, I get to pick the game. And I choose…” Jennie dropped her knife onto her sealskins, then moved back close to Magnus placing her hands on his shoulders then looking straight into his eyes.

“I choose that we tumble.”

Magnus gaped in mock surprise. “What? Why would you want to go that route?” Hew gaped with real surprise.

“I feel that any ‘man’, who feels the need to steal a Selkie’s skins, must be desperate for a woman’s touch. As such, it shouldn’t take him too long to finish.” Jennie said with an evil grin.

“That will be the deciding factor, Traill. Whomever finishes first- loses.” Jennie said, gripping Magnus’ shirt and grinding her pelvis into his.

“uuuh Uncle, what’s going on,” Hew said nervously, “There’s play acting to teach a lesson and then there’s this…” Magnus turned to look at Hew to reply.

“Hew, this is part of the training I’ve been needing to be telling ye about. Now, part of being the Villager Foresti, is knowing how to ‘negotiate’ with the Selkie.” Jennie turned her head and looked at Hew with a smile, then she started to unbutton Magnus’ shirt.

“If neither you nor the Selkie can find a common ground in any dispute, this is the traditional way to end that stalemate. It’s done with the same terms as Mara demanded all those years ago: If you finish first, then she wins all that she demands, and the same goes for you.”

“But why do all this, here, now in front of me?” Hew begged, nervous as a human bride on her wedding night.

“Because you’ll be needing to know how to make love to a Selkie, Lad. Every Orcadian who comes to you, will be counting on you to represent his or her terms. So ye will be needing to know how to make her finish first, if ye can!” Magnus laughed, then Jennie pinched him on one of his nipples with a saucy look on her face.
“Now no worries tonight Hew. This time you’re just to observe and learn. Jennie and I have a dispute to ‘settle’ tonight, so we thought we’d combine the two lessons together.”

“But Uncle! What about Moira? She’s in the kitchen, surely you’ll not be dishonoring her bed while she’s in her own home?” Hew said, grasping at straws.

At that, Magnus carefully, yet firmly, detached himself from Jennie, who seemed to be a bit reluctant to let him go.

“Don’t worry about Moira lad, she understands what a Foresti is, and has since the day she and I married. Come.” Magnus directed.

He then walked over to the kitchen and motioned with a finger for Hew to follow. Hew couldn’t help but notice right then, that his Uncle’s pantaloons seemed to have sprouted a tent pole.  He went over and stood behind Magnus, looking over to peer, but he couldn’t see hide nor hair of Moira.

“Oh, so that’s why she was loading up her basket…” Hew realized.

“To visit her sister tonight, Aye.” Magnus finished for him.

“But still Uncle, to dishonor your marriage bed?”

“Nay lad, I’ll not be dishonoring Moira’s bed. Come back this way!”, Magnus said as he turned and returned to the hearth room.

Hew followed him back, and that’s when he noticed that Jennie had, in his absence, unrolled her sealskins. She was now in the process of spreading them out onto the floor in front of the fireplace. Once done, she went and sat upon them, waiting with a patient smile on her face.

“There lad! Every dispute between a Selkie and an Orcadian that cannot be resolved Properly is resolved, Improperly.” Magnus said with a wink directed at Hew, as he started to take off his shirt, moving over to sit next to Jennie on her skins.

“But Uncle, how did the dispute between Mara and Traill end?” Hew said nervously, in an effort to forestall the two.

“Well Hew, the fact that the Torhavens aren’t serving as thralls to the Selkie should give you a clue.” Magnus replied, putting his arms around Jennie from behind. He started kissing her on her neck. Jennie tilted her head to one side, eyes closed and opening her mouth breathlessly, keeping her hands atop his.

She seemed to be guiding his hands, as he stroked them lazily around her midriff, tummy, shoulders, and everywhere in between. His fingers just seemed to be barely touching her skin. Hew, also noted that he didn’t seem to be in any hurries to ‘finish negotiating” anytime soon.

After a few minutes of giving Jennie such fine touches and kisses, he turned his attention back to Hew.

“Traill did as we’re doing now. He took his time to make love to Mara, carefully, slowly, taking his time to learn what she liked. After all, he needed to learn this, Hew. Particularly, if he wanted to retain his freedom! Doubly so, if he was going to make her his wife, as he’d need to know such things any who.”

Jennie pursed her lips at Magnus’ suspension of his touching her, but she made no complaints in the spirit of the lesson.

“Mara did the same, Hew!” Jennie prompted. “She wasn’t ready to be land-bound so easily, and she decided that a Human thrall to keep her warm on the skerry shores wouldn’t be such a bad thing.”

“And so, they made love, as only a man and a woman can do Hew. They were both sneaky and they both had experience, as can only be expected of two youngins. They made love on the shore that Traill had stolen her skins from. Ye’d have thought that Poseidon herself had summoned a tidal wave, judging by the way the two, tumbled hard enough to make the earth move!”

“Aye, she was in need of some warmth after her hours of freezing without her skins, not knowing what for!” Jennie said, after taking Magnus’ hand and idly kissing his wrist and arm, seemingly tasting his skin for all it was worth.

“Traill, to his credit, didn’t end quickly. He may have been a fool when it came to finding a wife, but he did manage to keep himself in check.” Magnus said, nibbling on Jennie’s ear.

“But youth being youth, eventually someone did finish first!”

“So, who?!” Hew asked in frustration.

“They both did.” Jennie said with a smile.

“What? I dinna understand!”, Hew near shouted.

“It’s simple Hew. They both had their orgasm at the same time.” Magnus explained.

“What?” Hew shook his head in bewilderment.

“Such happens Hew, particularly if both are wanting to make it happen.”

“Wait Uncle, are ye telling me that Mara and Traill, let each other win?”

“Aye lad, Traill didn’t know for sure if he truly wanted a sea wife. He admired her beauty and her stamina aye. But deep down he knew that he couldn’t take the sea away from her. That his doing so, would’ve been a crime.” Magnus said, laying his chin on Jennie’s shoulder.

“Mara, felt the same way.” Jennie spoke, “The only reason she demanded a thrall was to put a scare into him. Which she did. But she too didn’t want someone around her, who didn’t want to be there. And as luck would have it, she could sense when he was getting close.”

“They both sensed the other, in that way that two people will do when they’re truly making love.” Magnus said, stroking Jennie on her arm.

“When they both finished together, they both agreed, that since both won and both lost, that they should part company amicably.” Jennie said with a smile. “Both of them went to their homes satisfied.”

“Traill’s father was amazed about how his son returned home some hours later, all tired, but relatively unmarked. Naturally, he inquired as to what happened, but Traill refused to say anything other than: ‘Father ye told me yeself, that a Gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell.’ So Traill’s reputation increased because of his honesty and forbearance.

“The same happened for Mara,” Jennie countered, “she wouldn’t talk about what happened to anyone, despite the many Selkie witnesses who watched what had gone on. But all who did watch, agreed that it was a good thing that Traill and Mara could be counted on to keep not only their word, but also their honor.”

“That, might’ve been the end of it, if only Selkie and Men could’ve gotten along.” Magnus added. “A few days later, another dispute came up, and the Selkie Men were all ready to take up arms against a village man. Neither side wanted that, so both sides turned to Traill and Mara to settle the dispute.”

“Oh, I think I can see what happened next.” Hew put in.

“Aye Hew.” Jennie smiled at him. “Eventually the negotiating went down to being decided by tumbling. This time Triall ended first.  And because he did, he decided that the Selkie Men were within their rights to demand compensation. Between Mara and Traill, they were able to come up with a fine that both parties were, if not happy with, at least could abide by.”

“And so, it’s been ever since, Hew. If there be a problem between Selkie and Human, that neither are willing to settle the finer points on, we Foresti are called upon to settle it, for them.”

“Traill’s descendants became the Foresti for the Village people, and eventually all of Orcadia.  Mara’s kin became the Selkie’s Foresti. As such, the Compact has been for many generations. Eventually, it also grew into something greater. This was because of the need for cooperation between us both. After a while, the mutual trust grew to the point that one could call the other for aid, if need be.”

Magnus interjected, “Which brings us to today. You’re aware of the Holm’s of Ire dispute, Hew?”

“Aye, I think so.” Hew stuck his tongue out in thought as he spoke, “That’s where Skinnar Siggurdsson led seven of his ewes and their followers, onto the outer holm during low tide, and when he went to retrieve them after next low tide they were gone?”

As many sheep lost would be quite the blow to anyone.’ Hew thought to himself.

“Aye Hew, that it is!” Magnus smiled. “Good lad, ye been keeping up with matters.”

“So, I dinna know what’s the problem be then? Is he claiming that the Selkie took them?”

“Aye Hew, that he is.” Magnus nodded.

Hew looked at Jennie. “So, did they?”

“Aye Hew, that we did.”

“But, …”

“I’m not finished Hew.” Jennie interrupted.  “We had a good reason for doing so. When Skinnar led his ewes over to the holm, he killed a seal burd (pup). And nay lad, it weren’t a selkie baby.” She said with a frown.

“But if it weren’t a bairn, then why the fuss?” Hew asked, trying to get a handle on the situation.

“Because Hew, Skinnar didn’t know if it were or not. He just killed it for no reason that we can fathom.” Hew thought about that for a second.

“Then I think I can understand the Selkie’s view, if Skinnar would, or for that matter, anyone, just kill Seal burds with impunity, then it may end up one time, being a Selkie bairn.” Both Jennie and Magnus nodded in unison at him.
”You’ve indeed, got the blood of the Foresti in your veins lad, you understand the situation!” Jennie gushed at him.

“So, what is today’s ‘Negotiation’ for, then?”

“Both Jennie and I agree that Skinnar should pay a fine to the Selkies for his foolishness.”

“Skinnar says he shouldn’t pay anything at all. But that’s just Skinnar. There’s no way a man can do such a thing, and expect to get away without paying some kind of fine.” Magnus said, “I feel that Skinnar should pay a fine of three ewes and their lambs, to the Selkie.”

Jennie countered, “I say, that Skinnar should pay a fine of 4 ewes and their lambs.”

“That’s it? You’re both going to ‘negotiate’ over one ewe and her follower?” Hew asked in confusion.

“Aye lad, you can expect such manner of quibblings, when you take over as Foresti.”

“Well may that day be far off then.” Hew stated. “I’ll leave you two alone then, to continue with your negotiations.” Hew said, getting to his feet and picking up his coat in preparation to leave.

“And where do ye ken ye be going Hew?” Magnus said with a rare stern timber to his voice.  Hew stopped, looking at them both warily.

“I guess he didn’t hear the part where ‘negotiations’ by Foresti are witnessed.” Jennie said with a smirk.

“What?!” Hew said aghast, his face paling.

“That’s part of the Compact, Hew. Whenever we negotiate.  A disinterested third party has to witness it, to make sure that neither Foresti aren’t just lying about the outcome. If asked, the witness has to answer truthfully under oath.” Magnus said, looking at Hew straight in the eye. Despite the cold, Hew started to notice sweat beading down his back.

“But surely Moira could’ve stayed….”

“She’s hardly disinterested Hew.” Jennie said. “No one can expect her to watch her own husband tumble with someone other than herself.”

“But WHY!?” Hew half yelled. “This is foolishness! Why should Magnus betray Moira like that! Why should Jennie have to betray her people like that! Why can’t folks just simply agree on their own without all of this higgeldy piggeldy!?”

“If you can ever find an answer to that question Hew, you’ll be a far, wiser man than I.” Magnus said with a sad smile. “It’s Tradition Hew. It’s the old ways that have been done for centuries. It’s done, because it works!”

“And we don’t want to go back to the old ways of cutting each other open over pittances.” Jennie injected.  

‘I could argue with them. But I’m not sure I know how.’– Hew thought, steeling himself, as he sighed a great sigh.

“All right, what must I do?” Hew replied, with as much resignation in his voice as he could muster.

“You’re of age Hew, so I assume you’ve had an orgasm, or two, of your own by now?”, Magnus asked. Hew nodded, blushing heavily in embarrassment.

“And you’ve been close enough to someone else having one as well?” Hew nodded his head rapidly, desperate to have them get away from THAT subject.

“Then is it safe to assume that you’ll be able to know when either of us will ‘finish first’?” Jennie asked sweetly.

After several seconds of looking down at the floor, Hew lifted his eyes and nodded at them both.

“Well let’s be at it then! Time is a wasting!” Jennie said eagerly, reaching for Magnus, all but ripping his pantaloons off of him. Hew went over to a stool near the fire and sat down tiredly. He had hoped that this was going to be a short lesson. But he got the feeling that he wasn’t going to get off that easy.

‘Nay, I’m not the one who’ll be getting off at all tonight, the way things be going.’ Hew grumbled to himself.

Magnus and Jennie broke off momentarily and both looked at Hew. Magnus said, “I say formerly, that Skinnar should pay a fine of 3 ewes and their lambs.”

Jennie countered, “I say that Skinnar should pay a fine of 4 ewes and their lambs.”

“Now Hew, it’s up to you to say the next bit of formality, that I taught you last week. Remember?” He said to Hew with a tilt to his head. Hew closed his eyes with a sigh.

“Human Foresti- do you give?”

“Nay.” Said Magnus.

“Selkie Foresti- do you give?”

“Nay.” Said Jennie.

Hew flung my hands up in the air with exasperation, “Let the ‘negotiating’ begin!”

Both Jennie and Magnus had switched position by now. He was sitting in the cross-legged position, she sat facing him while straddling him.

Jennie pulled Magnus to her, and started to give him some mightily lusty kisses, as she held his head in her hands.  He returned her passion, as his hands stroked her back and arms, as they sat tightly together on her sealskins.

‘I hope Egil doesn’t leave our trysting spot thinking I’d forgotten him.’ Hew thought to himself with a silent sigh of frustration at the display before him.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

Magnus’ wife, Moira, did in fact go to visit her sister. But not for long, for after dropping off the scones, she had made an excuse to get out after a short while. Once she had done so, she made a Bee-line for her original true destination. It was a place that would’ve created a scandal if any of the villagers witnessed the Foresti’s wife going into it.

Thus, she felt the necessity of going there under the cover of night. This night in particular, when that hateful Jennie, worked her wiles into her husband, again.

Moira had long since gotten tired of putting up a brave and gracious face around her ‘guest’. She felt that if she had to endure another minute around Jennie, she’d have reached for a knife.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

Father Heilar de Skalos, the sole Order Priest for the Village of Skara Brae, and several other nearby villages, stood in front of his reading desk in joyful contemplation. He was contemplating the collected wisdom of the wonderful and glorious book which sat open on the reading desk in front of him.

He’d been village Priest for only a few months, after having shown up on the Island’s shores after concluding some Order business nearby, and decided to stay.

He wasn’t aware that he was smiling as he studied the wisdom within his book, and if he ever did become aware of it, he would have admonished himself for such an unseemly and undisciplined display of unprofitable emotion.

After all, he felt that emotional outbursts were best used for the manipulation of others. But, if his smiling were ever pointed out to him, he could be assured that the Chief God would have forgiven him his lapse, after an appropriate amount of self-mortification prior.

Any passing casual observer would’ve thought that this Order Priest was enjoying a volume of the Chief God’s collected sayings and benedictions. Alas, such an observer could be forgiven for such an error. After all, what other kind of book would the one sole village priest be expected to be reading?

Now, if an Order bishop happened to have come along and saw him and his book, he would’ve immediately tossed it into the nearest bonfire. Then its erstwhile owner along with after.

For this book was about the furthest away from being holy, or uplifting to the soul as possible. The book title alone would’ve revealed that. The Book of Degradations.

But that casual observer, probably wouldn’t have been able to read the title anyways. For it was written in the forbidden runes of a language even the common Forest Elf would claim ignorance of.

 It had taken de Skalos many a long and patient hour to properly translate just the title alone. But then, there were few scholars who wouldn’t have taken much longer to do the same. After all, it wasn’t every day that a Scholar stumbled across such a tome of Dark-Elf secrets.

This book, was originally intended to help a nascent Dark-Elf learn how to instill loving obedience in others. It pretty much did this like the Chief God’s holy books do, if only in a somewhat more enjoyable manner.
It was: an Instructional, a Spell book, a History book, and a Diary, all rolled into one.

For the years it had been in Father De Skalos’ hands, it had been modified to include a laboratory notebook as well.

This, was because Father de Skalos had been putting into practice everything he could glean from it. The villagers of Skara Brae, were turning out to be just the kind of experimental subjects that he had needed for some time.

In this, his latest entry, he was jotting down the results of his latest experiment. Which was to see how effective scourging someone with a birch cane, could stimulate the pleasure center of their brain. Father de Skalos deemed it to be an unrequited success. This was due to the fact that, Old Widow Mogenssen had blessed him and thanked him profusely afterwards for the experience.

After finishing that entry, he skipped backwards into the diary portion, to the part that always made him smile and sigh with contentment. Heilar did this for a very good reason. For he always liked to read about himself when he was a young man.

Reminiscing, he remembered that he had just barely reached the age of being a man, when he was snatched up by that wandering Dark Elf. She’d been most determined in purchasing him from the secret slave pens that lay underneath the old, ruined section, of the city of Omphalos.

Breathing in and holding his breath to quell the excitement that threatened to bubble up and overflow his self control. He relived the sensation of the many hateful months that he had spent under her ’tutelage’ and ministrations. But over time, he had come to adore the lashings, and the discipline, that had been patiently administered by his beloved Domme. Administered with love.

Now, many years later, long after he had been emancipated from her clutches, by the Inquisitorial Arm of the Order. He remembered the chill of the night’s air upon his scar covered back, when he had been given an opportunity to choose between being Sanctified and freed of the Dark-Elf Demon energy, or being put to the Torch.

Even now, he still wasn’t sure which would’ve been the least painful.  Nonetheless, he knew now, that if had had chosen the torch, he wouldn’t be here, now, on this island in the far north of the northern hemisphere of the world. Also, he wouldn’t be worshiping a far more worthy Domme. The Chief God.

‘Ah, the Blessed Chief God Ilias, I worship the Light of HER Truth.’ Heilar thought to himself, in a close eyed prayer.

‘In her service I dedicate myself to the rooting out of Heresy and the Evil that is known as the Mamono. I sacrifice everything, all that I can to help save Mankind from Perdition. Amen.’

Opening his eyes from his reverie, de Skalos continued on in his perusal of the delightful wisdom and insights of his dead and beloved first Mistress. Without whom, he’d never have been introduced to what he felt to be his true calling.

A calling that, ironically, led him to tracking down his Dark-Elf Domme. This was because she managed to seduce, and abscond with, the son of a major Order Ally. Because of his own history, Heilar had been assigned to pursuing her and retrieving that young man. Eventually, he tracked them both to the local area of Orcadia, that lay far to the north of the young man’s home port. After a short chase over land, he then managed to capture his long absent Mistress.

The young swain in question proved to be most reluctant to leave her side, and her boot. Luckily, he was both hale and hearty enough that he managed to survive his own Purification Ritual, as administered by de Skalos. But only barely. Heilar then arranged to have him sent home to recover. 

Father Heilar then chose to deal with Her in like coin. Unfortunately, she did not survive her own Purification. Amongst the possessions that she had left behind after her long and drawn out passing, was the Book Heilar was studying before him right then.

Unfortunately, he was interrupted by a knock on the door to his private office.  Closing the book with a snap and a frown, he quickly transferred the book into a locked drawer of his desk. He felt that it wouldn’t do him any good, if his one sole deacon happened to see it.

Once he had made sure that everything was in their proper place, he called out loudly, “Enter!”

With a squeaking that rattled his nerves, the door to his office slowly opened to reveal Sigurd Erlendsson, his one sole deacon. Sigurd was a portly middle-aged man, and a bit of a half-wit. He was also clearly nervous at the thought of disturbing his superior, shaking fearfully as he was then.

De Skalos figured that Sigurd probably had a good reason for the disturbance. But, he decided that that wasn’t enough of an excuse to let him off of the hook. So, he glowered as long and quietly as he could at Deacon Erlendsson, until he had stopped his fidgeting.

Sigurd blanched at the sight of his superior’s glare, which caused him to quiver even more before he felt safe enough to speak. But, just before he could, de Skalos spoke acidly.

“Yes Sigurd. I take it that you have a good reason for disturbing me. DESPITE, my standing orders?” Heilar emphasize for effect.

“Yes Father! There is someone wishing to meet with you!” Sigurd said as steadily as he could.

Heilar gave out a hearty sigh, closing his eyes with an aggrieved patience. Finally, he said, “And this man couldn’t see me during the day?”

“She, actually Father, she insists that she meet with you, here, now.”

“Does she have a name?” Heilar asked quietly, in an attempt to not appear too eager for this rare opportunity.

“She refused to give it, Father. But, I’ve seen her before.” Heilar, waited silently for his numerary to continue.

“Her name is Moira Torhaven, Father!” Sigurd said, his excitement threatening to bubble up and over, at this potential snippet of gossip. Heilar did his equivalent of a happy smile at this bit of good news: His near constant severe expression, became slightly less severe.

“Calm yourself, Sigurd, your emotional display is unseemly in the eyes of the Chief God.”, Heilar admonished him with a steely reproof. Sigurd went all wild eyed for a second, then dropped his head in apology.

“I’m sorry Fath…,” He began.

“It is not to me that you need to apologize, Sigurd. But to HER.” Sigurd snapped his head up to face Heilar fearfully.

“Yes Father?” Sigurd said quietly, his face paling.

“Before you retire for the night, be sure to give yourself an extra five minutes of flagellation.” Heilar, not-smiled.

“Father?”, Sigurd breathed, just barely keeping a quaver out of his voice.

“The Chief God expects nothing less, Deacon.” Heilar spoke in that tone that promised a greater punishment if defied, “Now direct our guest in, if you would.”

 Sigurd licked his lips, then nodded once with sadness as he turned to go.

Heilar waited until the door was nearly closed before asking, “Oh and Sigurd?”  Sigurd stopped, then turned around and peered back in to face his superior.

“Yes Father?” he asked nervously.

“May the Light of HER Truth fall upon you, Good Night.” Heilar almost-smiled.

“I worship HER Divine Truth.” Sigurd said automatically, “Good Night Father.” He then turned and shut the door behind him, shuddering. Father de Skalos stared long and hard at the door, after Sigurd had left,

‘If only I could find someone to replace him. Someone I could rely on to be discrete.’ He thought to himself.

A few minutes later, there was a timid knock at the door. Heilar once again called out, “Enter!” and after a second or two, the door opened (squeakily) and a youngish woman heavily dressed for the constant cold winds, came through to stand halfway in, and out of the door. She continued staring at Father de Skalos with no small amount of trepidation.

“Ah, come in my dear,” de Skalos said, as he stood up from across the room from her. The youngish lady looked quite nervous at the turn of events. But without saying a word she entered fully into the room, looking nervously about her, and then shutting the door as quietly as she could.

“Ah yes, Mrs. Torhaven. It’s nice of you to return.” said the Father. Moira jerked in surprise as her eyes widened in fear.

“Please Father, not so loud! Someone might hear!”, she stuttered nervously, as she looked up and around herself.

“I can assure you Mrs. Torhaven, there is no one here to listen in on you. Other than just you or I.” De Skalos said, putting on his second best fake smile.

“I am a priest in service to our Divine Lady: The Chief God. I am privy to many secrets. Particularly when it comes to such secrets as that blight upon our world: The Mamono. Whatever you say to me will always be kept in the strictest confidence. I make it plain to my underlings, that those who dare to violate my confidences, never get a second chance to do so again.” Heilar said with a grim finality, that made Moira shiver involuntarily.

“Now Mrs. Torhaven, would you take a seat?” he asked pointing over to a chair that sat in front of his desk. Timidly and unspeaking, Moira did as he asked, carefully sitting herself in the proffered chair.

“So, Mrs. Torhaven, I imagine that you’re here to discuss further about that, which you asked me last month?” he said, as he continued to stand facing down at the woman across the desk from him.

 “I shouldn’t be here! I’m terribly sorry to have bothered you Father!”, Moira suddenly stated, then she stood up and made as if to go.

“Mrs. Torhaven!” de Skalos said, ‘Wait!” Moira stopped on her way to the door, not facing him. “I’d say that you wouldn’t have come here, unless you felt that you wanted my help. Am I wrong to assume that?”

 Moira continued to just stand there for a few seconds longer until finally in a meek voice she said, “No.” She then started to lean towards the door once more.

Heilar frowned for a second, and then called upon a small portion of the Dark Elf magic he had memorized.

“Sit”, He commanded her. She turned and obeyed without a thought.

Moira, was surprised to discover herself sitting in the chair she had just vacated. Then, when she realized what had just happened, she was mildly surprised to discover that obeying him, seemed somehow ‘natural’.

‘So forceful he is, how unlike Magnus.’ She thought to herself, looking down at the floor.
After several seconds more, she made herself look up and found that the Father had also chosen to sit at his chair across the desk from her. She found that his doing so, had both made her feel slightly better, yet somehow more alone.

“As to what we discussed.” He began, “Yes, I have found out a bit of truth in your suspicions concerning the Selkie. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that you were asking me if it was possible, that Selkie women have the ability to, as you put it: ‘steal the seed’ from the men they lie down with? Heilar asked Moira quietly.

Father de Skalos quietly stood up, and went around the desk to stand next to Moira. He then put a hand on her shoulder as if to comfort her.

‘Physical contact during a moment of distress, has the potential to increase the bond between a Master and a potential slave.’ He quoted to himself from the Book of Degradations.

Once she felt his hand upon her shoulder, she turned her head to face him. She then gave him a look, that was filled with the kind of desperation that only a woman with a perpetually empty crib could employ.

 “No, Mrs. Torhaven, Selkie women do not have that ability.” The Priest said solemnly. Moira folded into herself with despair in response.

“However.” He said, as she crouched down next to her, Moira looked at him, tremulously.

“Selkie Witches, do.” He lied, looking at her straight in the eyes, “After all, Mrs. Torhaven, why else haven’t you been able to bear your husband a child?” Moira flinched, her eyes starting to fill with tears.

“The Selkie Foresti has undoubtedly been stealing your children away from you all these years.” Heilar continued, smiling inwardly now that he knew that he had something to manipulate her with.

“B-b-but why?” she sniveled, half-moaning.

“Who among us can explain the motivations of such evil as evidenced by the Mamono, Mrs. Torhaven?” Heilar asked. “But it might help me in my investigation if you could reveal to me all you know concerning the secrets of the Selkie.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about Father!”, said Moira, just a bit too quickly.

“Come now, Mrs. Torhaven, do you really expect me to believe that you’ve been the Foresti’s wife for all these years, without picking up a nugget or two of knowledge from having Jennie ‘visit’ every month?”

Moira licked her lips, and refused to meet his gaze, breathing just a bit quicker. Every last detail of which Heilar didn’t miss.

‘I just love a game of verbal cat and mouse Mrs. Torhaven, and I, am the Cat!’ he said to himself quietly.

“Perhaps I might know of a thing or two, Father! But I cannot break the trust that my husband has placed in me. Please don’t ask it of me!” she all but wailed, the tears in her eyes starting to overflow.

“Then I’m afraid Mrs. Torhaven, that without the help that I could so easily give to you. You’ll have to face the remaining years of your life facing an empty crib.” He said quietly.

At that, Moira’s tears started flowing in earnest as she started to sob. After a couple of minutes, Heilar patiently noted that she seemed to get herself together and look back at him.

“I’m sorry Father, I truly am. I do wish for your help! But I cannot, WILL NOT betray my husband, no matter what the cost!” she said, sniffling.

“I understand where you’re coming from, Mrs. Torhaven.” Heilar said aloud.

‘Damn you Orcadians and your unbreakable sense of Honor! You leave me no choice Moira!’ he swore to himself.

With that, he pulled out a ‘special’ handkerchief from one of his pockets and gave it to her. Moira, upon being presented with it, put it to her nose and blew, then she used it to wipe away the tears that had started to flow again.

de Skalos then waited patiently for the signs that the percutaneous toxin the handkerchief was infused with, to take effect.

“All we can do now, Moira,” he continued, “Is for us both to work together to find some other way, to fight off this menace to your husband, and your unborn children.”

“Is there anything else I can do or say, that m-might h-help?” Moira asked as she started to stare off into the distance. Heilar, noticing her vacant look, plucked the handkerchief from her hands, and tossed it onto his desk, only to replace it with another normal handkerchief. Moira didn’t notice the change-over.

Patiently, Heilar waited a few more seconds before replying. He wanted to give the ironically named ‘Devil’s Breath’ drug, more time to work its wonders upon Mrs. Torhaven. Finally, when he was satisfied with what he saw, he spoke.

“Yes you may Moira. In fact, why don’t you go ahead and tell me everything you know about Selkies, the Foresti, and the Compact.”

“Leave nothing out. You will do that for me won’t you Moira?” he growled.

Mrs. Torhaven just turned to him with a glazed expression, then she nodded with a smile.

‘This will take a long while. But sleep deprivation is another form of mortification in which I can show my devotion to the Chief God.’ He thought to himself, as he sighed audibly.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

Hew couldn’t recall having been more embarrassed, and that included the time he had been caught doing something unnatural, with the Smithy’s son: Egil.

It had taken Magnus and Jennie, what seemed like HOURS to get done with what they called: Foreplay. This, seemed to consist of an extended bout of the two of them, fondling this, stroking that, suckling on something else, slight kisses, deep kisses, and then doing it all again, over and over. Every once in a while they looked over at Hew to make sure that he was paying attention.

‘I’d be surprised if Jennie didn’t need to mend her skins again, after they get done. Assuming there even IS an after.’ He complained to himself.

Right then, he noticed that they had FINALLY chosen to end the foreplay, and get down to a proper tumbling. Hew also noticed then, that his uncle Magnus was lying on his back with his arms spread. He had done so at the insistence of Jennie. She on the other…’hand’ (?), was now lowering herself over his manhood and taking him up in her nethers. She took her time doing this, partly because he assumed that they were determined to make him wait even longer, but also because Magnus was…well…that large.

When she finished engulfing him, she did nothing more than just sit on him and then clench her well defined stomach muscles. Magnus gave out a lusty moan as he arched himself under her.

“Damn Jennie,” he said, “Ye be cheating with THAT!”.

’What on earth is all that about?’ Hew thought to himself.

“What’s wrong Magnus? Ye’ve never complained about that before!” Jennie said  with a smile.

Magnus started bucking underneath her, and Jennie shook her hips to match. Both of them were breathing harder and harder by then. Faster and faster they went, until they were both moaning together in unison.

Suddenly, Hew noticed that Magnus gave a jerk, and stopped his bucking. His eyes rolled back into his head and he shuddered violently as his face turned red. Jennie seemed annoyed at the change of pace. Then, Magnus stopped, and relaxed himself onto the ground, panting heavily. After a few seconds, Magnus said to Jennie.

 “Well what are ye waiting for Lass? Keep a bucking! I just had meself a minor hitch.”

Jennie gave him a jaundiced eye and replied, “Nay Magnus. There is no need to keep going. I won.” With that, she pushed herself up off of Magnus’ staff, and moved herself over to a pair of towels that were sitting near the hearth.  As she did, Hew could see what could only be Magnus’ semen dripping out of her, from between her legs.

“NAY, JENNIE!” Shouted Magnus, as he quickly got up to a sitting position, he then tried to grab her arm, but she avoided him.

 “I’m just getting started! So come back over and lie down with me, so that we can continue!”

Silently, Jennie put one of the towels between her legs, she then gave Hew a LOOK. Hew took the hint and spoke.

 “Uncle! It’s obvious to me that you finished first! So by the terms of …”, ‘The Compact’, he was about to say.

“Hew, don’t you be giving me any lip, lad! I nay be done!” he shouted at Hew with a glare. He then got up from his sitting position to stand up to his full height.

“JENNIE! Get back over here and let us continue!” he said reaching out to put his hand on her shoulder.

“Nay Magnus”, Jennie all but shouted, avoiding his touch with a disgusted look, “We’re Done here!”

“Nay, we nay not be done!” Hew noticed that Magnus’ voice kept getting louder every time he opened his mouth, “Jennie!”, Magnus all but shouted. Jennie just kept backing away from him, shaking her head: ‘No’.

 “JENNIE! You Cow!” Magnus screamed. Jennie’s hunched down as her eyes and face turned bright red with anger, at his insult.

“Uncle Please! Calm do,..” Hew put his hand on his Uncle’s arm in an effort to placate him. Magnus shook him off violently, then pushed Hew aside so hard that Hew stumbled and fell to the floor in shock. He’d never seen his Uncle angry before!

“All right Hew! Let’s have at it! You owe me Lad! All these years, I’ve put up with you coming over, with you absorbing the heat from my fire then sucking up the broth I’ve given ye!” He half shouted. “I’ve done you more than my fair share of good turns, Hew. Now I want you to do one for me.”

Hew gaped in shock at what he was hearing! He had no idea that his Uncle had felt that way about him. It was rather humiliating in fact. But still.

“Nay Uncle, I will not change my word. You lost. Let it go!” Hew said as evenly as he could, not looking at his Uncle.

“Oh?” said Magnus, is that ye final word then Hew?” Magnus asked, looking down at his nephew. Hew stared back at him for a second or three, far angrier than he could ever remember. He then nodded.

“Are you sure about that?” Magnus asked, with a hint of a grin on his face. “Because I’m sure that you’d not want the Village to know about what’s been going on between Egil and you!”

If Hew was humiliated before, it couldn’t have held a candle to his humiliation now! Quivering with rage and embarrassment, he turned his head away from both Jennie and Magnus. Magnus got up close to him and spoke quietly in his face.

“We both know what the Villagers do with Sodomites, don’t we Hew? Particularly, with that new Priest de Skalos, directing them on.”  Magnus said coldly.

Hew was scared, but he didn’t let that daunt him, he knew what was right! “Then out me then Uncle! I’ll not stand by and be quiet! You LOST! You lost FAIR AND SQUARE!” Hew screamed, and started crying with fear.

Magnus froze. Then he stepped back away from Hew, blinking as if he had tears of his. Licking his lips, he said in a quiet tone, “Satisfied?”

Hew was shaking with something, he didn’t know what. But he did know that he was most wroth with his Uncle’s unseemly behavior. He was about to reply back with a loud: ‘NO!’, when he realized that Magnus wasn’t looking at him.

Turning his head and following his uncle’s gaze, he noticed then that it was Jennie that he’d been looking at when he had asked. 
Jennie was standing tall, and was looking back at Magnus with something akin to abashment.

“I withdraw my objections, Magnus. You were right.” she said in a quiet voice.

Hew kept looking back and forth between the two. “Wha…? UNCLE! What is going on? What is happening!”, Hew half shouted in confusion.

“Hew,” said Magnus. “I think that we both need to apologize to you for that bit of tomfoolery. I’m sorry.”

Hew, breathing hard, closed his eyes, and then just shook. It was the only thing he could do. He felt hands gently guide him over to a stool and then had him sit down. Opening his eyes he saw that the hands belonged to Jennie. His breathing was slowing, but his dismay remained. After a few seconds he looked up and noticed that both his Uncle and Jennie were seated on the skins together, side by side. They were both looking at him with concern.

Finally, Magnus tilted his head and cocked an eyebrow at his nephew to ask him the silent question. Looking back, Hew just nodded his head and waited.

“What all that was about Hew,” Magnus began with tears in his eyes, “was a test.” Hew just sat there staring at his uncle for a few seconds, and then closed his eyes.

“Well. Did I pass?” he asked in a hurt tone, after a few seconds.

“Yes Hew you did, quite well in fact,” Jennie said nodding. “Better than I expected.” Hew sighed.

“And what exactly, was the test?” he asked.

“Whether or not you were your father’s son.” Hew flinched at that, then frowned.

“Am I then?”, he said bitterly.

“Nay Lad, you’re not. You’re far better. You’re far more worthy of being the Villager’s Foresti than he is, or ever will be.” Magnus said quietly.

Hew opened his eyes and looked up at him then. When he made eye contact with Jennie, she just nodded her head up and down with a sad smile.

 “It was necessary Hew, and I’m sorry to have done that to ye.” Magnus stopped, then closed his eyes with a sigh. Opening them again he went on.

“One of the things you’ll have to remember as Foresti Hew, is that all too often you’ll discover friends you never knew you had. Provided of course, that you find things in their favor, this ‘test’ of ours, was meant to find out just how steadfast you’d be, to committing to telling the truth.” Hew put his arms up in surrender.

“It seems like a daft test to give, all things considered. My Da will be Foresti next! It won’t matter a hill of beans if I pass your tests or not!” Hew said, fighting back some tears.

“Actually it does Hew.” Jennie said, “you know your Father is a less than honest man. He’s made deals with the townsfolk ahead of time,  promising to do everything he can, to insure that he ‘wins’ every negotiation with the Selkie Foresti. To that end, he’s done everything he can to get away with tumbling every unmarried lass in Skara Brae, and beyond.”

“Not to mention he’s tried to, if not succeeded in, creeping into every widow’s bed as well.” Magnus added.

“He says he’s been doing it all under the guise of ‘learning all the ins and outs of women-folks’.”

“Now Hew,” Jennie continued, “We Selkie would have no problem with your own men-folks doing what they will, when it comes to a tumbling. Far be it for us to condemn anyone for that.” Jennie glanced over to Magnus with a smile. He smiled back.

“But our problem is with your Father, Hew. He chose the path of dishonesty to get into their beds, many times. All too often, he’s more than hinted to the ladies that if they didn’t tumble with him, he might not find things in their favor, or their families favor. If and when, it came time for him to work out a dispute.”

“And how do ye ken all this?” Hew asked, looking back at Jennie sadly.

“Because we do, Hew. If you wish to find out for yourself, all you have to do is ask one of the ladies. They’ll tell you. After all, you’ll be the next Foresti.”

“And how do you ken, THAT!?” Hew shouted. “You don’t be getting to make the pick! The Village Council does! And they always pick the next heir!”

“Actually Hew,” Magnus said quietly. “They don’t always pick the next heir.” Magnus looked away for a second, then continued, “Remember the stories of Daft Willie?”

“Aye, Great Grand Uncle of ours, he was supposed to be as daft as brush. What of him?” Hew said in an annoyed tone.

“He was the elder brother of our Great Grandfather, by right, Willie should’ve been the Foresti ahead of him.”

“But why not?”, Hew said, “I mean other than the obvious.”

“The Village Council Hew. They had final say.”

“All right, all right! I understand that part! But why give me this test tonight? It’s not like Jennie will be visiting the council will she?” Hew said.  “Will she?” Hew asked after turning and looking at her. Jennie just shook her head no.

“Actually no I won’t Hew.” She went on. “But Mari will, unofficially.” At the mention of Mari, Hew looked away. He had always been friendly towards her, but Jennie’s niece came across to him as being…’obsessed’ with him.

She had been such a pest while he was growing up. The way she always wanted to be near him, it made him uncomfortable with her being around him anymore now.
“The Village Leader traditionally listens to the input from the next Selkie Foresti and gives weight to her concerns, if any.” Jennie saw the light go on in his eyes.

“And since my Da is the way he is.” Hew went on. “Mari is probably very concerned, and rightly so, with the possibility of him being Foresti.”

“Aye, Hew that she is.” Jennie replied and then continued. “What you did here tonight, showed me that you have not followed in your father’s footsteps! You chose the path of honesty, even if it meant angering your Uncle. Of whom I know you feel you owe. You chose that path, even if it meant the possibility of you getting hurt.” She smiled with pride at him.

“Aye Hew, I’m so very proud of you! Well done Hew! Well Done!”, Magnus smiled. “I’m truly sorry for the things I’ve said just now, do you think you could find it within yourself to forgive me for all that?”

Hew felt his face burn with embarrassment, as he started to feel better about it all. He could see where they coming from…

 “If anything else, you’ve also proven that Mari’s confidence in you is not misplaced.” Jennie added.

Hew felt his pride disappear, as he felt a chill go up his spine when he realized what would happen, if he and Mari were both Foresti at the same time. It was not something that he cared to contemplate.

Gulping, he asked nervously, “Uuuh, you’re not thinking of retiring anytime soon are you Uncle?”

Magnus laughed at his nephew’s concerns, “Nay Lad! I’m having too much fun as it is! Never mind you that! I’ll not be thinking of retiring for at least another ten years!”

Hew let out a sigh of relief at that bit of good news.

‘A lot could happen in that amount of time!’ Hew thought to himself.

 “I forgive you both! I can understand, or I think I do, why you did what you did.” Hew stood up and asked. “Well since that’s all out in the open and all.  I find that I’ve got myself a lot to think about now! So if it’s all the same to you two, I’ll ask to be excused?” Hew stood there hopefully, looking at the two.

“Certainly Hew. Just one thing before you go.” Jennie said.

“Aye, Jennie?” Hew asked.

 “What does the witness say about who ‘won’?”

Hew sighed, and said, “I think Skinnar Siggurdsson will be short 4 ewes and their lambs.”

He just smiled as he turned to leave, listening to his Uncle and the Selkie laugh behind him.

“Oh and Hew!” said Jennie.

“Yes, Aunt Jennie?”, Hew said saucily.

“Don’t forget! Mari will be coming by tomorrow morning to collect you for your training in Selkie life.”

“Yes Aunt Jennie.” Hew said, as he turned around and lost his smile. Suddenly he wasn’t in a laughing mood anymore. He’d completely forgotten about that!

‘A week, a whole week I’ll be living the life of a Selkie. Mari! As luck would have it, Mari! Oh, why did does it have to be her back that I’ll be having to ride, the whole time?’

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> Heilos listened patiently to Mrs. Torhaven for at least an hour beyond his usual evening prayer, and flagellation time, taking notes all the while. Finally, after many questions and cross questions, he was satisfied with what she’d given him. Most particularly he was interested in something called: The Saami.

Of that, Mrs. Torhaven didn’t know much about it, other than it was something that the Human Foresti were taken to view, while they were in training to see what life is like for the Selkie. That, and the fact that this Saami, had something to do with the source of their power as being almost human-like in appearance, and yet still Mamono.

Suddenly, Moira blinked her eyes rapidly and started to come around. She gasped and stood up, hobbling about in an attempt to get to the door. Heilar was surprised by her actions, as she almost was able to get away. But, he was quicker than her, and interposed himself in between her and the door.

“Mrs. Torhaven, is there something wrong?” He asked.

“Get away from me, you BASTARD!” she half-screamed at him, wavering and wobbling, but still trying to stand firmly upright.

“What’s wrong Mrs. Torhaven? We were having a discussion about your concerns with the Sel…,” he began.

“LIAR!”, she screamed, swinging her arm at him. “I don’t know how you did it! But you somehow managed to get me to reveal all of Magnus’ secrets! Bastard! Get out of my way!”

Heilar was most concerned now, she had remembered everything! She was a rare breed indeed! Most folks, upon coming out from the effects of the drug he’d given them, never remembered a thing about what happened when they were under.

‘Oh this is bad, very bad.’ He thought to himself desperately.

But thankfully, he had prepared for this eventuality. He pulled out of his vestment pocket a special pipette, and positioning it carefully- he blew out a measured amount of the same drug into Mrs. Torhaven’s face.

Moira, already gasping and half-crying, inadvertently sucked in most of the cloud of white dust that was suddenly in her face.

Heilar observed the look of utter fear as she realized what had just happened. Within a few seconds, the look of fear was replaced by a dull look, as she settled down.

Heilar sighed both in relief and, what was it?

Regret? It was Possible, possibly not.’ He decided. 

He had hoped to have yet one more person to mold, and experiment upon in his flock. But sadly it was not to be.

‘A shepherd is sometimes called upon to cull his flock.’ He consoled himself.

Heilar shook his head, at the now drug-zombie in front of him.

“I’m terribly sorry about this Mrs. Torhaven”, he lied.

“But I simply cannot let you go, with that extraordinary recall ability of yours. With which to accuse me of something inconvenient later.” He explained to her, shaking his head all the while.

“I’m sure you would understand if you were in my position, of what I’m about to do now.” He then reached over and took her firmly by the hand. “Why don’t you come with me, my dear?” he said quietly.

 “I’m given to understand, that the view from the northern shore cliffs is quite spectacular this time of night, what with the Full Moon. Why don’t we go and take a look?” he said, as he opened the squeaky door and led her out.

The same door closed with more squeaking, as if in protest of what was about to happen to Mrs. Torhaven. But nonetheless, it was something else that ended, as Father Skalos closed the door behind them both with a firm finality.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

 

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2 thoughts on “Betrayal, P-1”

  1. Typos:
    > Forseti
    > Trail (x2)
    > Triall
    > Skalo’s
    > be discrete
    > where they coming

    > Hew watching his uncle bone a Selkie

    I get the “tradition” and such, but couldn’t they just flip a coin? The humans and selkies could make the coin together so no side could get more of a chance to rig it than the other.

    Of course, if this were to happen in modern times, they’d likely just film the encounter to do away with the observer – now I’m wondering if they’d sell the tapes and use the money to compensate the foresti, they’re essentially civil servants and should be compensated as such

    > Holm’s of Ire dispute

    I get that the selkies are mad someone’s going around wantonly killing baby seals when it could be their children, but how could they seek redress by taking his lambs when no Selkie was actually damaged by his actions? Maybe I’m bringing too much real-world law into this but I don’t think he should have to pay the selkies when he didn’t actually harm them, unless there’s some law against wantonly killing seals that wasn’t brought up

    > Magnus grilling Hew on his sex life to be an observer

    What if Hew was a virgin though? Going further, what if one foresti is much more sexually experienced than the other? Is it just considered an easy win for the other side until they develop some outside skill?

    > Hew being gay

    Is not being attracted to the other foresti considered an advantage? A disadvantage? It likely doesn’t matter all that much since the “negotiation” focuses more on response to physical stimulation, but it’s a thought.

    This story is going to get worse for all involved before it gets better, and I don’t see it getting better from here.

    1. Hew watching his Uncle bone a Selkie.
      I’m sorry Volcano, but did you actually read the story? Or are you just skimming to find the typos?
      The reason I ask, is that I thought it was explained fairly well why they do what they do: Tradition.

      Holms of Ire dispute.
      In the original Holms of Ire dispute (in legend) Skinnar character paid for his foolishness with the loss of his entire flock. http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/selkiefolk/vengeance.htm
      So you tell me, if you were the one who had to pay, which would you have preferred?

      Magnus grilling Hew.
      Well Magnus did ask if Hew had experience first. And part of the viewing is getting to know what the other party may like. Orcadians may dispute it, but just about every one gets ample opportunity to learn.
      As to having more experience, such does not always guarantee one to be the winner. Even the most skilled warrior has a bad day. Same with being Foresti.

      You are correct, response to physical stimulation. It works both ways. If they’re both gay, it’ll end up being a long negotiation. Though in the past, some Foresti candidates have requested to be passed over, for the same reason.

      No, I can see things getting better for at least one character. But I suppose the Title was a bit of a foreshadow, eh?

      Well, what is that Mist Continent curse?
      Oh yes: May You Live in Interesting Times.

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