Under Silver Shallows
xxix. She Grew Intangible In His Arms
One night, a soft knock came at the door―and young Seven heard Marietta speaking in the hallway. She opened up.
In the doorway stood a black-haired, pig-tailed girl in patched overalls—with two lower lip studs either side of her mouth—and a curious glint in her eyes.
“Seven, this is Shea Cavil―our new neighbour behind the Alterman’s …” Marietta said, stepping into the room. “Will you come say hello now, please?”
He crossed to take her hand. “Shea?” he said. “Where are you from?”
She smiled at him rather demurely.
“From the other side of the world.”
“Have you been here for very long?”
“Just since yesterday. It’s so crazy.”
“Do you like it yet? First reactions?”
“The owls keep me up. Not sure.”
“Shea wants someone to show her around the Forest, Seven. I said that you made the perfect guide. You always do.”
Seven shook his head, sensing a set-up. He was not into being corralled into hanging out with strangers on whim.
“Maybe tomorrow?” Shea said. “I should get going anyway … Mom’s making dinner for me about now anyway.”
So then Seven retired to his room—where he thought about both Shea and Faye until dawn. His head was spinning.
Then the next night, Shea came tapping at his bedroom window—urging him to come out and show her around—flashing a set of fiery old rebellious eyes.
She almost seemed aglow in a light.
“It’s almost midnight, Shea … Have you even been out past the Witching Hour in French’s Forest? It’s really not safe.”
“No … I thought it was a good time to start. Marietta told me you know it.”
So he found himself forced to teach her all about the dangers of the wood—at least long enough to show her how to explore—or defend herself in an emergency. Otherwise she was a goner.
He remembered one time, they got caught crossing into twilight while bridging the Payne on an old stone dam―when Shea slipped, planting a foot underwater—and it burst into blue flames, burning the shoe away—revealing silver skin underneath—to which Seven instantly suspected Faye was at foul play with them. He put himself on guard instantly.
Shea shrieked—pulling her foot free of the water. She could not believe it.
The skin of her foot returned to normal—but the blue fire continued to spread up her leg—as she now fainted.
Seven caught her before she landed on a bank of sharp rocks—and he carried her over to shore—where he tried to beat the fire off of her with his leather jacket.
The flames were resilient—but after dunking jacket in the Payne, he did manage to snuff them—and Shea recovered despite spontaneous combustion. She was all aghast at it all.
“Shea, are you … are you okay …?”
She blushed. “I’m fine. It was my fault, I slipped,” she said—lowering her brow shyly. “Maybe I am out of my element out here after all. You’re right.”
He nodded. “It will be okay. You will learn in time,” he said. He lifted her chin, so that she had to look him in the eye. “The fire was not your fault. It was someone else sending me a message.”
“What? Really? Who? Why? How?”
“It’s a long story, for another time. Come on, we’ll make short work of the way home—and spare ourselves any further unwanted interruptions I promise.
“Thank you,” she said now smiling.
Helping her up, he looked into her eyes—where he saw a loneliness in her that was deeply seated. Brushing back a red bang from her face—they now kissed.
A month on, they were making love at midday on a rock in the Payne. They had crossed out on a cobbled causeway Seven had constructed much earlier on.
Just as their lips were sealing into an unbreakable crush, when their passions were at rapturous peaks—dark storm-clouds started to gather above—and lightning flashed spasmodically across the distant horizon. The forest was so alive.
He shielded Shea in the sudden onset of whipping rains—which turned to sheets of blood—and when they let up for a break, the clouds parted to reveal the full moon. The Silverskin floated down toward them―descending in a funnel of raging winds―shaking the very lake-bed up in water-spouts of shell and sand—pushing the Payne away, clearing a place for Her to land. Her terror was arresting.
Then Shea began to grow intangible in Seven’s arms—collapsing his grasp upon her—and she vanished like a fleeting fog—as if she was never there in the first.
The Silverskin looked on in delight, from where She hovered overhead—chortling madly at Seven’s surprise. She loved so torturing his feeble mind such.
But to the east, the clouds parted again—this time revealing a brilliant sun. A feathered avian of fire flew down through the rift—transforming into a woman—the brilliant spirit of Faye’s twin sister—Solana Lytebird. An angel entered.
Once within range of Faye, Solana whirled about with a dazzling flourish, producing her darksword Mirce―and spinning her bright shield of light—Sunna.
She flew in fast, slicing Mirce toward the Silverskin’s heart at lightning speed—but Faye spun away at the last second, for their reflexes were so very well matched.
Then Faye raised one fist—casting a cataclysmic thunder clap across the sky—sending a wall of electric precipitation tracking toward them from the storm.
She whirled into a silver wind—unleashing Draca from the frenzied eddies of Her mercurial twister. All was on.
Draca struck at Solana, coiling around her torso—burning from her hot bands of light, but not letting go of her.
They collapsed together into the rapids—as Draca squeezed the spirit from Solana’s frantic frame. His grip was steel.
Now again Faye hovered down over Seven. Now again did she mesmerize him with her evil stare. Now again he faltered.
She landed beside him in an arc of blue fire—snapping out, clutching him by the throat—and then lifted him aloft, choking the breath from him. Her strobing green eyes sent him into a supernatural submission. He was no match for Her.
His eyes rolled back into his head as She moved in to kiss him. She sucked his soul out through his mouth—sealing their lips with a firm grip on his throat—as She quivered in glee for Her kill now at hand.
Meanwhile, under the Payne, the last light left Solana’s eyes, as Draca sunk his fangs in deep. This was the last stand of two sisters—long entwined through history as eternally bonded by birth, forever at odds by heart—now destined to be written into the good books as tragically meant for bad ends. In the end, Faye would think nothing of ending her sister Solana’s life, just as long as Seven was Her next victim, Her next easy prize.
(Author’s Note: If you are enjoying The Silverskin, you can buy the full 400 page Revised & Expanded 10th Anniversary edition paperback here. Forever Yours In French’s Forest, Rian Torr)