The Maiden & the Selkie 'Lady, long have I loved you
I would have you for my wife
I will stay upon your shoreland
Though it robs me of my life
I will stay one night beside you
Never go back to the sea
I will stay and be thy husband
Though it be the death of me.'
From Heather Dales The Maiden and the Selkie
Her family had ever lived upon the shore in the rugged northern reaches of their kingdom, simple folk, those who fished and hunted for their livelihood following the Old Ways even as a new religion started to take hold of the country. After all, living so near the power of the ocean and near the great old woods there was too much proof of magic to ever believe otherwise, or that it was purely evil. A fisherman's daughter freshly coming of age could never imagine living elsewhere, in love with the wild rugged beauty of her home, teasingly told she was more than a bit fae herself, what with her way with animals, and how she would dance upon the shore line with the waves, her voice hauntingly beautiful. It was rumored that several generations back there was blood that wasn't human to lend her kin and her their arresting beauty and skills. And she was a beauty, with hair the color of forest loam with hints of red and gold in the sunlight, skin of pearl luminescence and dark eyes that saw much.
A lord of the Iron Faith caught sight of her one day, nearing sunset as she danced upon the nets in a pattern dance to call good luck to the fishing trip to start the next morning. It was old magic, magic that the new faith did not approve of, but he was willing to ignore her heathen ways and pardon she and her kin should she allow him certain liberties. Politely the girl pointed out it was simply a tradition, not true magic work and that no spell woven could be proved, that she was a dutiful daughter and not beholden to him. He disliked her delicate refusal, vowing it was not the end for he would have her for his own, through wooing or other means.
And so he wooed, attempting to buy her love with hard coin and favors that simple folk always needed, though her dark eyes never warmed for him and his temper warmed. Yet how could a man iron bound in thought and faith win the heart of a wild thing like her? Particularly when her heart was already given to the lord of the sea she had spied only a handful of times since she was a girl. It was for that male that she danced, the selkie among the waves who watched over the coast and ruled the weather. The ocean lay in her blood, a deep yearning that mean she would never leave her rugged home to live in a stone cage that was the lord's castle.
Yet the lord's patience wore thin, by laws of man she must bow before his plan to wed her or else suffer his wrath. The day before what would be her wedding day, the loss of all she yearned for, dreams abandoned she went to dance one last time with the waves. Clad in only her shift, her dark hair flowing freely around her shoulders the girl moved, her voice lifting in a soft melody woven in the Old Tongue as she celebrated that moment and gave her goodbye to the love that she had always dreamed of. She had never expected him to join her, coming from the waves in the moonlight to take her hand and lead her through a dance that made her blood race, her eyes sparkle with delight. This one moment would be worth the rest of her life sealed away from that which made her herself. Only...
His hand cupped her face, drawing her dark eyes to his and then the male she had loved for years offered to take her beneath the waves to be his wife. Oh the joy that leapt in her heart, only...Lord, long have I loved you
As a Selkie on the foam
I would gladly go and wed ye
And be lady of your home
But I cannot go into the ocean
I cannot go into the sea
I would drown beneath the waves, love,
If I went along with thee.'
*From the song
Her heart nearly broke to utter such words, and threatened to shatter fully when he offered to stay this one night with her, to face the dawning sun that would mean his death should he remain upon the shore. And so her mind turned to the old tales, the memory of how the ocean had always called to her and so with a smile she proposed seeking the aid of her grandmother who had ever dwelt beside the sea. Hand in hand they went, each touch singing in her soul that this was the one she would love for all her life and beyond. Hope was a sharp thing in her heart, brittle when they knocked upon her grandmother's door. Knowing eyes met them, dark as her own, and they knew the sea lord for what he was, a selkie. Her counsel could not offer a way to live upon the land, yet if they stayed the iron lord might well kill her love or attempt to take her. So when her grandmother confessed the secret of her mother having been a selkie who buried her seal coat beneath a tree the maiden accepted the chance, going with shovel and selkie lord both to seek out the chance to escape into the waves.