SHADOWS IN THE SEA - Part 3a/? in the Demon's Blood series

Notes: Whee! Lookit! I'm actually writing! :) Took me bloody long enough, and I don't think Tris is too happy with me... o.O

Summary: Why is Tris afraid of flying? Well...


The coast of Scotland has never had and likely will never have the sunniest of weather, or the driest of climates. To be strictly truthful about it, the "weather" tends to consist mostly of fog and rain, with a few temperate months throughout the year. All in all, not the cheeriest of places, weather-wise, to raise children. Nevertheless, that's precisely what Rosaranne Tasaret and Calum fa Toren had been doing for the last decade or so. More than that, they had been doing it on the highest point on a beach near Yuletree.

It was an isolated spot on the west coast, and chilly most of the time. It was isolated for two reasons; one, because Rosaranne was a demon. A good demon, a demon who had spent the better part of her life before marriage rescuing pagan families from witch-hunters, but a demon nonetheless. She had a patently unusual appearance, with plum-coloured skin and maroon eyes. Fire-bright red hair did little more to make her inconspicuous. Her husband was human, and had light blond hair and green eyes, but he was also a sorcerer and this was generally frowned upon by the townspeople.

The other reason they avoided the towns was that their children had rather taken after their mother in appearance. The twins had inherited their father's green eyes, but their mother's skin-tone, and their hair had been blond at birth but had faded since to a feathery white. Ten years old now, it was hard to explain to two children why they couldn't go to the villages or be seen by normal humans; few parents would likely ever want to tell their children that if they went out in public, they'd likely be stoned to death or burnt at the stake.

So they stayed at their isolated little place, venturing only infrequently into the Otherworlds and sometimes inland to where Calam's family lived; also sorcerers, they rarely looked askance at their young cousins and welcomed them when they visited.

Not that Anden and his sister, Antrisel, really minded where they lived. It had always been their home, and they were used to the solitude, to the crashing of waves and the screaming of seagulls. But every now and then, they wandered a little too far, a little too bold, and got lost. This was something both their parents lived in fear of, for while Anden was a good swimmer, Antrisel was not, and though her brother was a steady and loyal protecter, there were times when Antrisel evaded even his reach. And she had long been afraid to use her wings.

For both twins had also inherited that trait from their mother; a set of magical wings that could appear at whim, wings made of light; but Antrisel was afraid of flying.

Calam and Rosaranne had tried in vain, for years, to convince their daughter that it was safe to fly, to use the power she'd been born with. But an incident on the twins' fourth birthday had frightened Antrisel into a serious fear of heights. Rosaranne had been teaching them how to fly, and Tris had slipped from her mother's arms and plummeted nearly three hundred feet before plunging into the ocean. Afraid of water even then, Antrisel had struggled and panicked for almost five minutes before her mother had rescued her. No one had been able to convince her to make a second attempt since.

This morning was an unusually pleasant day for the area; the sun was shining, and while it was not warm, it was tolerable. Rosaranne woke her children early, rousing them when it was still dark.

"Give me my shirt, Tris," Anden said to his sister, reaching out one hand. She groped around on the floor a moment before coming up with Anden's shirt in her hand, which she threw in his direction. Anden pulled it over his head, tying the laces on the cuffs before reaching for his jacket. It was sheepskin, and very warm, which was perfectly suitable for what they would be doing today.

"I can't find my coat," came Tris's voice from the floor, where she was rummaging through a pile of their clothing. She stood up, brushing dust off of her grey woolen tunic.

"It's right here, dear," said a voice from the doorway. Both twins looked up and saw their mother standing there, Tris's sheepskin coat draped over her arm. She tilted her head to one side and raised one eyebrow. "You know, if you two cleaned your room more often, you probably wouldn't have nearly as much trouble finding things."

"Yes, Mother," Tris said, stumbling over the cluttered floor and taking the coat from her mother.

"Is breakfast ready yet?" Anden asked, hopping down from the top bunk of the home-made bed the twins shared.

"Ready, and getting cold," Rosaranne replied, turning and leaving the room.

Breakfast was as always a simple affair. Bread, milk, and fruit was laid out on the table, with steaming porridge that was, by the time the twins reached the table, at best lukewarm.

"I hate it when Mum's right," Anden muttered, scooping up a spoonful of lumpy porridge and watching it *plop* back into the bowl with an expression of distaste on his face.

Tris wrinkled her nose. "I think I'll just have tea, all right, Mum?" she said.

Rosaranne turned from the sideboard and tilted her head at her daughter. "Well, drink your milk, at least." Rosaranne handed Tris a hot mug of tea and went back to packing their lunches for the day. She wrapped up several apples, a wedge of cheese, and a loaf of bread up in a cloth and turned back to her children.

"This should do you for the day," she said, handing the bundle of food to Tris, who put it into the leather satchel which hung over the back of her chair. Then she stood up, pulled on her coat and slung the satchel over her shoulders.

"I'm coming, I'm coming," Anden said, stuffing a last piece of bread into his mouth and washing it down with milk. "Come on, let's go."

"Bye, Mum!" Tris waved at their mother over her shoulder as the twins passed through the door.

The air was crisp and stinging outside, and Tris and Anden wasted no time in half-stumbling down the cliff-face to the beach, where the wind was less strong. The tide was going out, but still fairly high, forcing the twins to pick their way across the loose gravel at the top of the beach. Anden shot a backward glance at his sister and then spread his wings, floating up above the water. He looped back after a moment, grinning down at Tris, who was still making her way on foot, looking up at him occasionally with trepidation in her eyes.

"Come on, Trissie," taunted Anden, reaching out his hand. "It doesn't hurt -- it's easy! Come on!"

Tris shook her head fiercely and ignored him. She was soon at the border of their little beach, and hopped down over a border of rough sand onto the next one, which had much higher ground and was drier, the tide further down the beach by now. Anden landed with a spray of sand and gravel and his wings vanished. He unbent his knees, then tilted his head toward the water. "Looks like a good crop down there," he said, and the twins moved down the beach. Bubbles were visible every now and then in the wet sand, and the children lost no time in setting aside their bundles, rolling up their sleeves, and digging into the sand with vigor. Tris came up first while Anden was still elbow-deep in the sand, brandishing a large clam twice the size of her hand.

"Hah! I win!" she cried happily. Anden rolled his eyes and continued searching while Tris pulled a rough cloth bag from her satchel and put the clam inside it.

Within a few hours, the bag was half-full and heavy, also brimming with a few stalks of seaweed, which their mother had insisted they bring back. There were many dishes that could be made using seaweed as the main ingredient, few of which the twins were very fond of.

"We'll tell Mum there wasn't much here," Anden had said. Tris had brooked no argument.

By now it was early afternoon, and both twins were muddied and cold, but Anden still wanted to try some fishing. Tris wanted nothing to do with it -- she liked fish, but fishing for them required flying. Anden's method involved flying out over the water with a net, something that Tris paled at, even just thinking about it.

He paused briefly before going out, trying to convince her once more: "Come on, Tris. Please? It's not so hard."

"I don't want to," Tris protested.

"Don't be such a baby," he accused. "You'll have to do it eventually, you know."

"Leave me alone, Andy. You can't make me, and I don't want to," she answered angrily.

"Fine, then," he returned. Rolling his eyes, Anden spread his wings and took a running jump into the air.

While Anden went out over the waves, Tris sat only a few minutes sulking on the rocks before boredom overtook her and she went in search of something else to do.

Picking her way across the sand onto the next beach, and the next one, she picked up smooth, colourful stones as she went. Her mother was teaching her to charge the stones with what Rosaranne called Force -- it involved storing a bit of personal energy inside the stones. This could be useful for Healing -- a power that Tris alone had inherited. She knew that her mother fully expected her to properly train it, as soon as she was old enough, and Tris was actually looking forward to it. Of all her inborn abilities, Healing was the only one she felt confident with, even proud of. Anden couldn't do it, and his ability to "See" things before they occurred was still sporadic and not something she envied.

She walked for a long time. She supposed, later, that she hadn't been paying attention, either, for when she finally looked up, she had no idea how far she'd come, and she didn't recognize the beach.

She stood looking around her for several moments before it ocurred to her to worry. How far had she come? She couldn't possibly have been walking for all that long...she looked at the sun -- it had sunk to near the horizon. It was late afternoon!

"Oh, no," she said to herself, and then she turned and looked down the beach.

The tide had come in while she'd been searching. Looking frantically from left to right, she realized that she couldn't possibly get back the way she'd come. The water was too high, lapping at the path she'd just traversed.

She turned around. The cliff was blank, and the only way she could go was up.

Tris stamped one foot petulantly in the sand. "Now what am I supposed to do?" she wondered aloud, starting to seriously worry. The tide would come in further, the water would probably reach well above her head before it went out again. She had to get off this beach, or at least to higher ground.

But she was well beyond the sound of Anden's voice, and as she closed her eyes, she realized that she had gone beyond their range of sensing, as well. She could feel him, just vaguely on the edge of her mind, but she couldn't reach quite far enough to speak to him.

Teeth chattering from fear as well as cold now, Tris backed up against the cliff wall.

There's no way out of it now, except climbing, she realized with a sinking heart. She looked up. The cliff towered dizzyingly above her.

She closed her eyes, shook her head, and looked again. Still, the cliff refused to hold still or assume reasonable proportions.

She voted instead for looking directly ahead, and slightly up. There seemed to be enough hand- and foot-holds for her to make it at least halfway up, to where a wider ledge became a path and led to the top of the cliff.

Tris shot one last backward glance at the water, hoping against hope to find it slowed, stopped, or even gone -- but found it advancing just as steadily as before.

Paling slightly, Tris turned back to the rock, took a deep breath, and started to climb.