The Sun's Tear

"Do you think rabbits carry their skin around?"
"I don't think so. Have you ever seen a rabbit walk around with its skin over its shoulder?"
"No."
"Then they probably don't."

In an age where drakaina are going extinct and selkies are eaten as a delicacy, two selkie siblings find their childhood washed away when they find a locket that can raise a person from the dead.
What created the locket — and who wants their fingers on it?

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2. Chapter 2

 

He woke up to the sound of hooves.

He hadn't seen a horse in a while – they usually didn't go further than the edge of the forest. It'd been a few years since him and Aff had last visited Jaris, too. Maybe they had salmon now?

He poked his head out of the shelter, watching the bushes as he turned his head. There was a pack of horses in diverse colors, they all wore reins and saddles. Some had baskets strapped to them in twos or fours. They were closed, he couldn't see what was in them. Wheat and fish, most likely.

One of the horses, a grey one, neighed at him. He scurried into the shelter, his heart stuck in his throat. Did someone hear it? No, they wouldn't mind, it's a horse after all. He stuck his head back out, watching the horse gnaw at a patch of grass.

He tucked his head back at the sound of feet stepping on twigs. A group of women emerged, they wore autumn-colored clothes and had their hair braided. Sil watched them in awe as they pet the horses' muzzles and cleaned them with rags dipped in water.

"How long, Celosia?" One of them asked, breaking the silence.

"Patience. It's a days' travel at most." A woman answered, her hands caressing the grey horse. Her eyes slit, and scales covered her body. The crooked horns above her ears reminded him of a dragon, he'd never seen anyone like it. He'd listened to his elders' tales that talked about dragon people, but he'd assumed they were extinct.

"Pack your things, we're leaving in ten minutes. And remember – we will restore the drakaina no matter what it takes." She said with a voice that could cut vines. She disappeared into the bushes, leaving the rest to tend to the horses.

The group soon took off, leaving only hoof prints in the ground. Sil went out to search for food, knowing Aff had a large appetite in the morning. The forest welcomed him, and a bluebird flew past his nose as he walked. He found a long stick on the forest floor and took out his dagger, sharpening it until he was satisfied.

By the time Aff was awake, he'd caught two fish, one for each. They ate and ventured further.

"Are we there yet?" Aff groaned, still rubbing her eyes of sleep.

"It's just up ahead, past this hill." He said, wiping sweat from his forehead. The sun was hotter today.

The forest stopped at the hill's peak, and a fresh sea breeze met them. Indeed, at the bottom of the hill was a town. Houses were scattered about, all with thatched roof and cobalt blue window frames. Sil took off without a second glance, making his way down while trying not to fall.

"Do you have any coin?" She asked on the way down.

"Why?" He yelled at the bottom of the hill.

"I want crab for dinner!" There was a precious joy in her voice.

"Okay, okay, I'll try. But leave some for me!" He said that every time, but she never did.

Seagulls chirped in the skies, there was a tranquil calm on land different from the sea. Aff was running off to look at the fish at the market, she was never in his line of sight. He passed many on his way to find her, it was fishing season, there were bound to be many.

When he got to the shoreline, he found Aff looking at the boats as they sailed out to check on their fishing nets. He ran up to her, her hair a golden wave in the breeze. They watched the water in silence, daydreaming themselves back home.

"Do you think Mom and Dad are worrying?" Aff asked.

There was a moment of hesitation in his voice, "I—don't know, I don't think so."

"If you don't know, you can't say you don't think so." Aff caught on, her brow raised.

"Let's go find some crab." He said and turned away, running back to the market.

He bought crab for her with the last few coins he had. If they needed anything else he'd have to steal his way to it, and that usually didn't end well. They sat on a bench, looking at the water fountain that sat in the center of the village. 

Sil wanted to go back to the forest as soon as possible, but Aff insisted on staying until sundown. He couldn't blame her, they hadn't been here since her 9th birthday. They had crab that day too.

There was yelling. 

A door to a large house was kicked open some ways up the road and a large woman walked out with a wooden spoon in hand. She was screaming at a boy in the dirt, and raised her spoon, beating him with it as he lay there with his arms over his head.

Aff froze in place, her eyes fixed on the boy. Sil ran off and got in between them. She followed, trying to pry the woman away.

"Brats!" The woman roared, pushing Aff to the ground. Sil flared and stole the spoon out of her hand, beating her upside the head with it.

"Don't touch her!" He yelled, and the woman put her hands up in defeat, her face redder than the crab in his bag.

"Bastard kids... don't stick your nose where it doesn't belong!" The woman heaved, out of breath. Sil got his sister on her feet, they both glared in disgust at her.

The woman picked up her spoon from the dirt, and disappeared into the house, smacking the door behind her. Sil and Aff took a minute to catch their breath, veering their eyes to the boy.

"You okay?" Sil asked as he offered him a hand. The boy accepted with little hesitation.

"Thank you." He said, dusting off his clothes.

"Why was that mean lady beating you?" Aff asked, her worried gaze landing on Sil to find solace.

"She wanted me to prepare a selkie." He answered, eyes dropping to the dirt.

They both froze. His heart was beating against his ribs. His blood felt cold, had a breeze run down his back? Aff wasn't moving, he had to reassure her, calm her, anything.

"T—That's not true, he's joking Aff, don't worry." Sil couldn't believe his ears. Aff looked at him with tears in her eyes - he couldn't lie to her now.

"People love eating their skin," the boy began, "but I know what selkies are... They're living, I saw one at the beach! They—they had legs and arms, they're not food!" His voice was breaking, images of the selkie clouding his eyes.

"We're selkies..." Sil said with reluctance, his hand squeezing Aff's shoulder. He felt safe telling the boy, but if word got out, he and Aff could never visit Jaris again.

Not only Jaris but every fishing town in the country.

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