Dresden Files - It's a Small World
Sweet-talking, half-selkie changeling with a penchant for trouble and a love of surfing.
Single Half-Selkie Surfer
My Biological Clock is Ticking
The (Seal) Skin I’m In
Mother, Guide Me…
Blood of My Blood
+4 Conviction, Presence
+3 Discipline, Endurance, Deceit
+2 Athletics, Alertness, Rapport
+1 Stealth, Survival, Lore, Weapons, Scholarship
STUNTS & POWERS
-1 Selkie Robe
-3 Incite Emotion [Desire]
-2 Channeling [Hydromancy]
-1 Fleet of Foot and Fin
-1 Scientist [Biology, Marine Biology]
PHASE ONE: Background
Phase Aspect: Mother, Guide Me…
Raised on the island of Eynhallow, off the northern coast of Scotland, Ava was born into the knowledge of what she was – a mythical, shape-changing creature called a selkie by the humans who lived on the mainland. Though all selkie pups are raised as an initiative by the entire village, the only parent Ava knew growing up was her mother, Vivianne. It was her mother who first taught her how to swim against the icy current, who first sang her the songs of their creation, and who first warned her against the curse that haunted females of their kind.
“Without a mate from outside of our kind, we dams degenerate and become Hags. Our ties to the sea are cut, and we can no longer wear our pelts and swim with our brothers and sisters. We gain great power, but we are lost to our kind…”
True to her words, Ava’s mother, who had fallen in love but failed to take her lover as her mate, changed as time drew on. Every seven years, her body would morph and twist – she lost her ethereal beauty and her ability to take her seal form. She was cast out to the edge of the island, to an outcropping of shanty houses called Hag’s Row, and her daughter taken from her by the Priestesses of Myridon.
Myridon was the Great Mother of Selkies, and the first of their kind. The Priestesses kept her temple and guided the selkies in matters of the spirit. They taught Ava the prayers for good hunting, and how to judge the coming weather by the tides. They were kind, but emotionally distant, and Ava often snuck away in the dead of night to Hag’s Row to visit her mother who, in her growing magical power, taught Ava secrets of the Hags. Vivianne taught her how to draw on the power of the Great Mother and call up the waves, creating whirlpools and undercurrents that could drive away a pod of hunting orcas or propel her through the sea like a falling star.
Her mother also taught her the secret of how to draw on a person’s emotions, to instill desire in a potential mate or protectiveness in a former enemy. And when the time came for her trial of adulthood, her mother watched over her as she retrieved a whale’s rib bone from the heart of the Graveyard, and an abalone shell from the shore of a human-populated isle. When she brought back her treasures, the Priestesses blessed them in the name of the Great Mother, and gave her a surname – Serendon, or wave star – for how she swam during her trial.
They tasked her with going out into the world and finding her mate. They gave her means of slipping into the human world unseen, through a contact in the United States. They also gave her a warning.
“Guard your seal pelt closely, for it is as much a part of you as your own soul. If a human were to take it, you may never leave his side until you retrieve it again. Therefore, your gifts must remain a secret until you find your mate.
And remember, Serendon, you must find your mate within seven years, or you will be brought back to Eynhallow, with the Hag’s Curse upon you."
PHASE TWO: Rising Conflict
Phase Aspect: The (Seal) Skin I’m In
Though Ava had been given an identity and a fabricated history that placed her as a student from New Smyrna, Florida in the United States, she still had a hard time blending into the human population. The human lessons, and apparel to go with them, were nearly thirty years outdated, placing her somewhere in line with the 1980s. Fortunately, the University of Central Florida was a large enough school that her oddities were mostly looked over. However, she was hard up and in need of money to find a living situation. So when one of her fellow classmates suggested she go on a free-diving expedition to find sunken treasures, she agreed immediately.
It was here than she met Megara, or “Meg,” Chasey; a girl whose boisterous and confident personality belied her diminutive size and delicate features. On first meeting Ava, the blonde glared and raised an eyebrow before questioning her ability as a swimmer, suggesting that she was little more than a pretty face. Needless to say, it was not a good start and on the first day out, Ava separated from the group dive. She instead found a secluded place to slip into her seal skin and dive beneath the waves, and after many long hours, she found the half-sunken hull of a ship. Amidst the ancient sediment, she managed to retrieve a few corroded old coins and a shining, though cracked piece of pottery. She brought them back to the camp that night and was satisfied by the look of shock and disbelief on Meg’s face from across the fire. She was also pleased to note the lingering gaze from Meg’s assistant, James Walker.
Over the next few days, both Meg and James trailed after her, trying to find out where and how she was retrieving the little treasures, without letting her know they were tailing her. However, they didn’t escape her notice, and she wasn’t surprised when, nearly a week into the expedition, she turned to come out of the sunken ship and found Meg staring at her through the murky depths.
Of course, what Meg saw was a ribbon seal, much too far south to be there naturally, with a mouth full of gold and silver coins. Ava simply turned to swim past her, when she heard gurgling in the water. The back of Meg’s dive suit was hung up on the metal bracing along the broken hull, and her fins were kicking wildly in the water. One hand was braced over her mouth and it was only now that Ava realized that Meg had been free-diving while following her. Dropping the coins, she swam over to help, but Meg swatted at her and lost whatever hold she’d had on her breath, sucking in a lungful of saltwater. The blonde thrashed wildly for a moment before hanging limply by her snagged suit in the water.
Not wasting a moment, Ava ripped her from the broken metal and propelled them through the water as fast as she could swim, dragging the unconscious girl to shore. As she slipped from her seal skin, she failed to noticed the other set of eyes on the beach. Ava prayed to Myridon and, using the skills that her mother taught her, drew the water from Meg’s lungs before trying to resuscitate her.
A moment later, Meg coughed and gasped for air, looking blearily between the naked auburn-haired girl above her and the brown and gray striped fur in the sand beside her. “You’re a… mermaid?” she gasped.
“No,” responded James, who stood from where he’d been crouching behind a stand of driftwood, “She’s a selkie.”
Ava felt her heart jump into her throat. “No one can know,” she demanded. She felt her panic rising to a peak. “It must remain a secret or -”
“Relax, Ava.” Meg rolled over to her knees in the sand, still panting. The selkie put out a steadying hand when she swayed. Meg looked at her gratefully, “You just saved my life. I think I can keep your secret,” she glanced up at the young man who was staring at Ava curiously. “And so can James. Can’t you?”
James nodded. “Of course, just,” he suddenly turned scarlet and looked deliberately away. “Put some clothes on, would you?”
Meg laughed and Ava scrambled for the pile of clothes she’d tucked away with the pieces of her treasure by a rock. The three of them stayed there until nightfall, talking about themselves and how they’d grown up. They asked Ava a hundred questions, and swore again to never tell a soul about her transformation or her origins. They learned that, while her kind had tried to prepare her for this world, she was essentially homeless and without the means to take care of herself.
As they drove home some days later, Meg invited her to stay in the extra bedroom at her apartment above the shop she ran, provided that Ava work the counter until she found a more permanent residence. Gratified and still a bit wary of her new found human companions, Ava accepted her offer and prayed to the Great Mother that they would not betray her.
PHASE THREE: First Adventure
Phase Aspect: Blood of My Blood
Title: Traitorous Heart
As the months drew on, Ava settled into a rhythm of life at The Treasure Trove, the store that Meg owned, and that both girls lived above. Customers would come in and out, ooh and ahh over coral jewelry and twisted whelks with the words “Welcome to Florida” painted on in Meg’s graceful script. Ava would run the register and maintain the large saltwater aquarium when she wasn’t at school or looking for jobs. She adopted the tiny blue octopus as her own and named him Pudge. James came and visited regularly, sometimes staying to talk to Ava for hours at a time, while Meg discussed possible artifact retrieval expeditions with clients in the private back room.
“He’s got it bad, you know,” Meg told her one day, after James and the client both left.
Confused by her phrase, Ava cocked her head to the side and asked, “Is James ill?”
At this Meg burst out laughing, shaking so hard that tears tracked down the sides of her face. When she finally came to, the blonde leveled Ava with the look that she normally reserved for selling old ladies overpriced shell jewelry. “James likes you. I think if you gave him the time, he’d probably like to date you. He’s a decent guy – a little weird with his historical fanaticism sometimes – but nice, and well-off to boot.”
True to her prediction, James came in the very next day and asked Ava out. They went on a date to Sea World – James thought that she’d enjoy being close to the marine animals, without having to worry about other people noticing – and she came home that night with a job as a junior animal handler and a boyfriend.
For many months, the two saw each other intimately until one day, Ava finally told him the reason that she’d been sent from Eynhallow: to find her life mate and either join him as a human here, or to return with him to the faerie isle. He said nothing for a long while and left that evening, still having said nothing on the subject. Many days later, he brought her flowers and took her to lunch, apologizing for his behavior; but there was a new, almost haunted light in his eyes that caused a shrill alarm of warning in the back of Ava’s head.
Less than a week later, as Ava was packing up at Sea World, talking to the veterinarian, Michael, about a seal who was expecting her first litter soon, she felt a sudden tug, hard and sharp in her chest that took her breath and caused her to double over in shock. She brushed away Michael’s concern and took off towards her apartment. Meg was downstairs in the shop, emptying the till when she burst through the door. Ava didn’t stop running until she reached her bedroom, where she proceeded to tear it apart, looking for something.
Meg came to the door just as Ava was moving to run down the stairs again. Ava grabbed her by the shoulders. “Meg, where is my skin? Where is my seal pelt?” At Meg’s dumbfounded look, she pressed. “Has anyone been here today? Has anyone been in my room?”
“Y-yes,” she stuttered, “James came by earlier and said he’d left his bag in your room. I didn’t think anything about it -”
Another sharp tug jerked in her chest, and Ava dropped to her knees, dragging Meg down with her. “Where is he,” she keened, “Where is James? He has my skin, he’s taken my soul…” She collapsed in tears and Meg tried to sooth her.
“He’s supposed to be at the warehouse in Titusville tonight. He said he’d be meeting an important client. He said it could be life-changing…” Meg glanced down at Ava, clutching her chest in pain, and suddenly understood. Without saying another word, she dragged the selkie to her feet and pushed her towards the stairs.
“Go down to the car, I have to grab something in my room and I’ll be right out. We’re going to find James.”
Nearly an hour later, they pulled into the dark, empty lot beside a run-down warehouse. It was flanked on two sides by equally decrepit industrial buildings and backed by what appeared to be an abandoned marina. Just around the far corner of the building, a dim light flickered and glowed. The girls parked and moved towards the light, listening closely for voices or movement in the dark. As they rounded the corner, they were surprised when all they saw was a tall, thin man in a gray suit and James, sitting cross-legged on the ground, stroking the seal skin on his lap with a gentle hand.
“I told you she would come. She has no choice; she can’t help but to come at my call,” James said, cracking a wide, friendly smile at the girls from across the fire. Even from the distance that separated them, they could see the wild mania gleaming in his eyes.
Ava felt another pull in her chest, softer this time but stronger, and she stumbled forward. She stared at James in wide-eyed horror. Behind her, Meg began speaking softly, in a careful, beseeching voice.
“James, you need to give Ava her seal skin back. It’s a piece of her – it’s like her soul – and taking it from her -”
“SHUT UP!” he cut across her. He stood, then, and though he wasn’t nearly as tall as the rail-thin man beside him, he seemed enormous in his rage. “You don’t understand. The power. With this fur, I can do anything – make her do anything!” He looked at Ava, then, the hysteria that had slipped into his voice was evident in how his face was split nearly in half with a smile and his eyes screamed desperation.
“I can give her pleasure,” he winked at her, “or pain.” He inched the fur over the flames and suddenly Ava’s body was engulfed in heat. Where the fur was singed, her own hair began curling at the ends. It fizzled and snapped as it burned its way up the strands. Her skin flushed bright red and she began panting as she collapsed to her knees. James face softened as he looked at her and he drew the fur away from the fire. Ava shuddered and stilled on the floor as her body returned to normal.
“I can make her stay with me forever,” he whispered, still staring at her prone form. “She can take me back to her home, and we can stay there together, forever – never age, never die -”
James stared at Ava on the floor. “W-what?”
She hefted herself from the concrete. “I said no. You can make me stay with you, but I would rather die than take you back to Eynhallow. I will not make you my mate.” The glare she sent him was fierce, her lips pulled back in an animalistic snarl.
James sputtered, his fury growing, and he thrust the skin back over the fire, causing Ava to convulse in pain. Beneath the high, keening whines from the selkie’s pain, and the lapping of the waves in the wharf, there was a soft metallic click. James jerked his eyes back towards Meg and stumbled towards the open back of the warehouse in shock.
“You heard the girl,” she said, her voice hard, “No means no.” Fast as a striking snake, she unloaded three rounds into his chest, stomach and the arm holding the pelt. Turning on her heel, she made to aim her 9 mm at the tall, silent man who’d been standing beside the fire. He was gone. On the floor in his place was a narrow, shiny rectangle of paper.
Ava pulled herself from the ground and jerked herself across the warehouse, snatching her fur coat from the ground and cradling it to her chest like a lost child with its blanket. Where James had been lying, a long, dark streak of blood lead to the edge of the water and disappeared.
Meg didn’t even bother to check him. Even if he made an escape, she’d shot him three times, and was fairly certain that he’d bleed out long before he could get away. Instead, she went to pick up the card that was lying on the ground.
Ava walked up behind her friend as she was crushing the little piece of paper in a shaking fist. “What is that?”
“Maelstrom Recovery – they’re a direct competitor of mine in artifact recovery, but they’re based in London. It seems James may have been giving them information about your… predicament.” She huffed a sigh. “If I wasn’t sure I’d done it already, I’d kill him again.”
“Meg,” Ava grabbed her hand and turned the short blonde to face her. “We have now saved one another. Whatever comes, you are as my own family – blood of my blood. I would protect you with my life if I were able.”
Meg laughed uncomfortably. “Yeah, well I’d already started considering you like a sister, so I’ll watch your back too.” She slung an arm around the taller girl’s waist and guided her back towards the car. They were both still shaken, and as they drove home, they would glance at the crumpled blue and white business card on the dash that silently warned them of dangers to come.
PHASES FOUR AND FIVE WILL BE UPDATED SOON.