Stronger than the

Chatterbox: Inkwell

Stronger than the

Stronger than the Sea: A Tale of a Fisherman and a Selkie

Here's the thread for my romance/fantasy short story - I'll start posting it once the thread's up. I hope y'all enjoy it! Feedback and comments are welcome :)

submitted by Poinsettia, age ?, kingdoms by the sea
(May 19, 2024 - 9:32 am)

Ooo the title sounds intriguing. Can't wait to read it!

submitted by Moon Wolf, age lunars, A Celestial Sky
(May 19, 2024 - 2:55 pm)

thanks! :))

submitted by Poinsettia
(May 20, 2024 - 7:29 am)

i'll try to read! you're a good writer (especially your writing, like wordcraft, is always very good). does feeback include stuff that could be improved or criticism? I won't be super harsh or mean or anything (at least not on purpose) i just want to check :D 

submitted by Blackfooted Bobcat
(May 19, 2024 - 2:55 pm)

Thank you! Yes, you can suggest things that could be improved; it's always good to see other people's takes on my work :)

submitted by Poinsettia
(May 20, 2024 - 7:30 am)

Okay, here we are! I'm going to post it in several installments because it's not such a very short story - here's the first one :)

(also I've seen that this thread already has 2 comments; sorry for not replying to them, it's just that they haven't shown up so I can't see what they say)


Sunset was coming over the wild little harbor. Dalriad leaned against the cliff wall and pulled his coat closer around him. How cold it was! But he liked the cold; the sting and the thrill of it, the way he could feel his body bracing itself, and the pureness of the sea air.

In the west the sky was blazing, burning with the storm-tossed clouds that had turned red and yellow. Above them the sky was a dark blue, almost periwinkle. A chilly wind blew past the cliffs, mingling oddly with the sound of the waves that ran up the sand and sighed back, in a peculiar sighing, crashing sound that was soothing to the young fisherman. Crassh;... crash. Crasssh;... crash. The waves were very red, like the finest of silk. The crags were silhouetted against the vivid sky, black and imposing. A lone pine tree stood starkly at the far end of the shore.

For a long time Dalriad stood among the rocks, gazing out to sea. He was thinking of something that had happened to him only that day; something that had troubled him.

He had been going to market to buy the usual meat and fish for his mother, who was growing old and could no longer walk about as she used to, when he spied an old woman coming toward him along the road. She went at a brisk pace, and as she drew nearer, he could see that her blue eyes were sharp and her expression intelligent. Her hair was quite white.

He stood aside as she passed, for he had been brought up to be respectful to all women, regardless of age. Instantly she turned and looked at him.

"Good day to you, my son," she said in a high but direct voice. "And where might you be going, this fine morn?"

"Only to market, good dame," answered Dalriad courteously.

"Not to sea?" She was looking him up and down, and he felt uncomfortably as he used to do when his second-grade teacher asked him a question in an oral exam.

"Not today, good dame. Perhaps tomorrow, for I am a fisherman by trade."

"Ah! Perhaps you don't know the Spell?" She eyed him shrewdly. "Now, good sir, heed my words and do as I say. You're a right courteous lad, and I shouldn't have warned you but for that. The sea's a dangerous place for all; heaven knows we all know it. But others have a chance when they go out to sail there. You don't. You might as well lie down in your coffin and be done with it. Years ago in this very village, a man kidnapped a maid of the sea - and the sea will have its revenge. You were born under the same sign of the stars, at the same hour, and given the same name as that man. Thus you are under the spell of the sea goddess. And the sea's marked you out - and it'll take you, one of these days." Her tone grew more pleading. "Good sir, I know right well what I say. Do not go out on the sea. It will only bring you ruin."

Dalriad felt a chill. He remembered things suddenly, things he'd never connected - or perhaps not wanted to connect. The way his father had told him about the way his mother had taken a drink of water just after giving birth to him, and the water had spilled out over him, even though the glass was not tipped enough for even a drop to fall. The way his grandmother was always so nervous when he left the house to go fishing. The way the older fishermen told him, "Don't keep at this business, Dalri. It's not for you." And when he asked them why not, they only said, "You're not right for it. You're too good to be wasted."

On impulse Dalriad asked, "But madam, how will I fare if I do not fish? I know no other way of living. Other men may teach or build houses or make shoes if they like. Not I."

"You'd have to find a way," the woman answered.

"Is there no way to remove this spell?"

"No. Not unless a girl, who loves you more than herself, gives up her place at your side - forever."

"That will not happen," replied Dalriad, "for I have met no girl who loves me as you say."

The old woman had taken no notice of this, but only entreated him once again to stay away from the sea, said goodbye, and hobbled off.

That had happened this morning. Now it was evening. Dalriad stood on the shore a long time, looking at the horizon and thinking. The glistening sand was almost obscured by the dusk, and only the waves and sky had any color left. But Dalriad did not stir.

He was very young still - only twenty years of age. He had a straight nose, finely marked dark eyebrows, and a clear-cut mouth with, though its lines were soft and relaxed, had a firm, undaunted set to it. The same expression was in his eyes, which were almost the color of melted chocolate. His skin was the clear, tanned shade of the village fishermen, and his slick hair was straight and dark. He was usually smiling - a smile which showed the laughter and firmness of his personality - but just now his face was serious, and it made him look younger, more innocent. 

He lived in the village of Darnie, on the shore of the kingdom of Eldira. It was a simple, happy place, where everyone knew each other and the men spent the morning out in their boats, fishing, while the evenings were spent doing household tasks - or having parties, for they were gay folk in the village. He was the son of a fisherman - a calm, white-haired man who spoke little but loved his family passionately - and his mother was a brisk woman with merry eyes and a matriarchical air, who labored tirelessly for her husband and son. Dalriad felt how the two of them leaned on him as he grew older, and determinedly did what he could to help them. Every morning he set out from the shore and fished in his boat; some of the fish was sold, some of it his cousin Nino took to market to sell. It was a comfortable, loving life.

But he was not satisfied. Deep down inside, he longed for adventure, for drama, for color and vivacity in his life. The drab, practical-minded fisherfolk were well enough, but his keen imagination yearned for something more akin to his own wildfire personality. Something - or someone - who was not conerned with the dry details of how much eggs had cost last week, or what to do about Mary Jane's new dress, but with the thrill of a sunset and the mysteries of the world and the pure enjoyment of living.

With a start, he came to himself and looked around. The moon had risen, flooding the empty beach with patches of cool, white light. Dalriad straightened up and fixed his eyes for a minute on the cream-topped waves sparkling in the moonlight. Gradually, he found his body relaxing. He liked the beach best when it was nighttime, not in the uneasy moments of sunset. The ripped red ribbon of the sky had healed and been reborn, as a dark scarf glittering here and there with stars. Again and again the waves broke against the beach and sighed as they ran back, but now it was only a gentle lullaby. The world was at peace.

A dark, smooth shape broke through the water for a moment, out to sea. Dalriad's eyes widened. A seal, perhaps? The glistening shape surfaced again and dived under. Yes, it was a seal, but more graceful and beautiful than any he had seen before. Now more shapes broke the surface. Here and there was the flash of something white, the soft splash of something diving.

The moon was shining full on the beach. Dalriad hardly knew why he felt so intrigued. And now a soft echo of a song, now rising, now falling, in a lulling melody that might have been the voice of the sea, came to his ears. Dalriad started. It wasn't possible - but yes, it was - it was girls' voices singing that tune!


Now I'm going, so you're all going to be cliffhung MWAHAHA :)

Hope you're enjoying it so far!

submitted by Poinsettia
(May 19, 2024 - 5:13 pm)

:000 THAT WAS SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD ackkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!!!! But mwahaha back at you because nope not a cliffhanger we know it's a selkie >:) but I mean wow your writing is gorgeous as ever and I love this sm ackkk... um feedback maybe later but for now just grammar stuff bc haha what did you expect I love grammar >:)

-Instead of "In the west the sky was blazing," put "In the west, the sky was blazing,". West should actually technically be capitalized, but I'll leave that up to you :)

-prob just a typo but maybe you meant "a clear-cut mouth which" instead of "a clear-cut mouth with"?

I love the line "You might as well go lie down in your coffin and be done with it." sm btw!! 

submitted by CelineBurning Bright, and love the title!!!
(May 20, 2024 - 1:56 pm)

Thank you!! :)

-ah yes, good point. I tend to leave out commas sometimes :/

- YES I DID mean "which" not "with" how did I not see that typo?!

glad you like that line! I like it too :)

submitted by Poinsettia
(May 20, 2024 - 9:58 pm)

aah I LOVE THISSS!! this is already so so good!! your writing is actually so gorgeous, and i love how you're able to seamlessly incorporate worldbuilding and characterization without it seeming info-dumpy! :D the dialogue is also great - it's very witty, and gives a strong sense of the characters - i must agree with Celine, i love the line "you might as well lie down in your coffin and be done with it" :D

very excited to meet the selkie!! :DD

but yes i am very much enjoying this so far! i always love your writing :) 

submitted by pangolin, age she/they, Outskirts of the Galaxy
(May 20, 2024 - 5:44 pm)

tysm!! :D so glad you're liking it! I love reading your thoughts on my work btw :)

submitted by Poinsettia
(May 20, 2024 - 9:58 pm)

Ah so good! Such amazing descriptions and stuff! I rlly love the setting and everything. For feedback, it's rlly good already, but maybe breaking it up into more paragraphs? Tho honestly you don't have to. Can't wait for the next part!

submitted by Moon Wolf, age lunars, A Celestial Sky
(May 20, 2024 - 5:48 pm)

Thank you! I'm always fond of descriptions myself :) More paragraphs, hmm. I'll keep it in mind :)

submitted by Poinsettia
(May 20, 2024 - 10:00 pm)

Ooh it has a nice fairy-tale kind of feeling to it :) All the figurative language is amazing. I love the detail of the lone pine tree--for some reason it seems symbolic. I also thought it was interesting how he went to the sea even after what the woman had seems to say something about his character. 

The only things I'd suggest (unless it doesn't work for the story) is to make Dalriad be going to the sea instead of to the market, to make what the woman said more urgent to Dalriad's life (in other words, raise the stakes/risks). Also, it seems like the world this is taking place in (Darnie, Eldira) is taken place in a time before modern times (guessing from the old fashioned language and way of life). The mention of second grade (as far as I know grades are a pretty modern invention) and chocolate (also pretty modern) sort of confused me about the time period, and idk, almost broke the fairy-tale kind of feeling I was talking about earlier? These are just my personal opinions though. (If this is too much constructive criticism, let me know and I'll water it down a bit :D )

submitted by Lyric, age :D, Jellyfish
(May 20, 2024 - 9:40 pm)

Hi! Sorry I didn't reply to this at the same time as the other posts, it hadn't shown up when I posted my other replies :)

Hmm, I made Dalriad be going to the market because I wanted him to be sort of pensive and thoughtful when he's at the beach, but I agree that having him go the sea could work too. As for the grades and chocolate... well, I've set the story in a fantasy world (which I maybe should've specified lol) which just happens to have grades and chocolate - problem solved! But I do see how it could seem incongruous, I'll keep that sort of thing in mind for the future.

Don't worry, it's not too much constructive criticism! However, I'd be okay with less, too - I don't want you to feel like you have to put a lot of time/effort into it :) Anyway, thanks so much for reading and commenting! I greatly appreciate any and all thoughts on my writing, and I'm so glad you're reading along :D

submitted by Poinsettia
(May 22, 2024 - 9:35 pm)

Here's the second part, have fun reading it :)

Seleni was having the time of her life swimming through the water with her friends and sisters. Most of them were daughters of ocean kings, and they all knew each other intimately, since they were often at the same courts and ceremonies. Tonight they were going to do one last thing before they married the men their fathers had chosen: dance and sing under the moon, on the little beach of Ardira, which had been sacred to the ocean people for so long.

It was a solemn occasion, but Seleni didn't feel solemn. She and the other girls - or seals, at the moment - were all talking and shrieking riotously as they arched through the moonlit waves. Now and then she did pause, to enjoy the creamy-colored water and the sparkling pinpoints of stars. But she was always diverted by the uproar of the others.

"Can you imagine what Prince Akman would do if you made his socks turn pink in the wash?" someone was laughing.

"I shudder to think," agreed someone else in a tone that meant she didn't really shudder to think at all.

"What's the joke, girls?" Seleni asked interestedly.

"Well," explained Lailania, "you know Prince Akman, of course? Kardilia was just saying that he completely messed up her father's kingdom, and we started thinking of silly ways to show him that that is Not What One Does."

Seleni had to laugh at the idea of making the pompous, self-righteous, puritannical prince's socks go pink in the wash. "Someone should do it," she suggested. "Who's up?"

"Me!" volunteered Lailania at once.

"Right," Seleni agreed. "Ten years from now, I will expect you to be able to say that you have turned Prince Akman's socks a bright and cheerful rose color."

The girls all burst out laughing again, then suddenly grew silent. Seleni looked up. She caught her breath - the cliffs of Ardira Beach were looming up ahead.

"We're almost there," whispered Lailania.

"Shall we dye it pink, too?" suggested the irrepressible Kardilia, unable to restrain a small giggle.

Lailania turned to Seleni, ready to make a joke, but the words died upon her lips. She had never seen her friend look like this. She had always been pale, as all the water-creatures were, but now, in the moonlight - or perhaps for some other reason - she looked positively white. Her large dark eyes, the color of the night, were fixed on the beach, her eyebrows drawn together in a frown.  She didn't look tense and drawn, as she often did when she was worried. No, she just seemed - a little frightened, and fascinated at the same time, as one might who sees a bad dream coming true before her. There was a strange expression in her eyes, fixed unswayingly on the beach.

Seleni was thinking of something that her father had told her that afternoon, before she set out with the others.

"My daughter," he had said suddenly, standing before the window of their rock palace, "it may be that Ardira Beach tonight you will find your destiny... what destiny that is, I do not know exactly, but I have an idea..." He sighed and drew the curtain a little. "Joy and sorrow, love and fear, may be waiting for you there. But I rather think that the path that Fate has laid there for you is a path of unhappiness and suffering. My daughter, if anyone should appear there, while you are on the beach, do not take up company with him, for it may prove to make your life harder than it has ever been yet, and it would be better not to fall into the trap at all." He passed a hand over his eyes and murmured, "And yet - and yet - I do not know if you will be able to keep out of it."

That was why Seleni was treading water and staring at the faraway beach, unable to take her gaze off the shore and the cliffs. It was beautiful, in a wild, tangled way - but she felt as if this was the end of something. She felt as if her old life was about to disappear, the way the ocean ended as it reached the glistening sands, never more to roam free and wild through the world. Perhaps something new would come of it. Perhaps not. And yet, eagerness was rushing through her, and the sea and the moonlight and the coolness of the waves made her want to move forward. She glanced down at her reflection. It gazed back at her in wide-eyed curiosity.

"Are you all right, Sel?" asked Lailania softly, slipping her arm through her friend's.

"Yes, I'm all right," Seleni said, nodding. "Let's go on."

The girls started forward again, and then the silence was broken by a haunting melody. They had started to sing: the ancient, timeless song of the sea. It had been heard at ocean ceremonies for as long as anyone could remember. Heard over water, especially, it had a curious effect, as if the very ocean were singing its woe and despair and sorrow in one longing, yearning song, and yet at the same time it sparked quivering happiness in the listener. The silvery, tingling selkies' voices lent it an extra air of wildness, as it swelled and dipped and wove steadily on, now and again rising for a quick note or so, then dropping back to its old melody that was at once bitterly slow and unearthly soaring.

Dalriad had heard the song. At the first cry it had sent a quick thrill over him; at the first chorus, it had enchanted him. He saw the seals draw closer, almost not believing his eyes, and was stunned when he saw them draw off their fur coats and transform into girls, and come ashore and dance.

He drew out of sight into a shady corner and watched. They must be selkies. He had heard his grandmother tell tales of them many a time. An odd yearning filled him. The sight was beautiful; he was enchanted by the grace and rhythm of the dance, captivated by the mysterious gaze of one of the girls, the most beautiful in his opinon, who seemed to be leading the dance. And yet he knew that she was no ordinary girl. He could not go up to her and speak to her, as he might with one of his own kind. After tonight he might never see her again.

Seleni was feeling wonderful, dancing with all her natural abandon and enthusiasm. She saw nobody on the beach - surely her father's warning had been silly. The moonlight and the sound of the waves cast a spell over her, and for the moment the only thing in her mind was the beauty of the moment.

Suddenly a shrill cry broke the dance. It was Lailania.


Seleni spun around.

A young man stood there, just a few steps away from her, his eyes looking straight into hers. He was handsome. So handsome that she forgot where she was, forgot who she was, forgot everything except the look in his eyes - half enthusiasm, half cockiness. They were dark-brown, with a spark of gold in them, and they held laughter and happiness and radiance all at once. It was a look she recognized, and something inside her leaped up to answer it, even though she had never before seen anyone who looked that way. His hair was slick and dark, slightly longer in the back than it should have been, curling up on itself. He seemed confident, but in a calm way - not the sort of confidence that is overbearing and must make itself felt, but confidence that came naturally. There was something relaxed and radiant about him that she had never seen anywhere else.

"Quick, girls!" gasped Lailania, snatching up her fur coat, flinging it over herself, and transforming into a seal in one swift movement. The others did the same and dived into the waves, one after the other. In a few seconds the beach was empty. Seleni glanced around wildly for her fur coat.

Then she realized that the young man held it in his hands.


sorry y'all I have to go again :/

submitted by Poinsettia
(May 20, 2024 - 10:00 pm)

So great!!!!! Um feedback:

-I think it's unnecessary for Lailania to say "Well, you know Prince Akman, of course?" because it's already a given that Seleni knows him, and you go on to describe him in the next paragraph ("the pompous, self-righteous, puritannical prince..."). Saying that doesn't really add anything. In my opinion, you could just put, "Kardilia was just saying that Prince Akman..."

-gtg :)

submitted by CelineBurning Bright
(May 21, 2024 - 12:37 am)