There is much and more you do not understand, Earthchild, Awkward Wanderer, Child of Woman. You have seen me before; you know my people by our bright eyes and sharp laughs, by how the wind plays in our many-colored hair, and how we dance upon the sea. Yet you have not seen me for all this. You do not know. You dwell upon the surface.
Many things have I been called by your people. Selkie, they say, foul siren, windborn and too free. Or thief. Or murderer. Or sneak or cheat or liar. I laugh at these petty jibes—weak chains of words by which you would bind me, as you have yourself been bound. I, though, am shinh’ar, speaker of the Secret Tongues, ancient beyond your reckoning—I will not be bound. I fly with the wind or against it, as it suits me.
For long ages have I plied the waters of Alandar and dove in her depths. I know more than you. I know how the sun rises over each horizon, and how to read the future in the stars and clouds. I know the taste of fear and the sound of cold; I can speak with birds and gamble with the waves. Your sorcery of which you are so proud cannot do this; it is dissection of the Truth, distortion of what is Real. It is but another kind of chain.
You do not see your chains, do you? It is strange to me, for I have watched you and your ancestors forge them with great care over centuries—always improving their strength, always testing their power, sundering them only to reforge them again. You are bound from birth—to land, to kin, to country, to king, to philosophy and religion and god. It saddens us; for all that you revile us, we pity you. With you it is ever what cannot be done, what ought not be allowed, what must be stopped. There is no end to your bondage or the burdens it lays upon you.
Could you but sail the waves as we do and taste the bounty of the Mother of All Things! To wander free of care, to fight or to run as passion dictates, to be a mote in the wind—present and full of promise. I have taken many lovers, killed many foes, lost many battles, wept many tears; when it has ended, though, I have laughed. How can you not? Is this not beautiful? You wonder at the magic of our singing, you speak of how our voices might tempt sailors to founder on the rocks, but have you ever thought that the wonder you feel and the joy our songs bring is not our doing, but your own? It is your souls, bound and docile within your hearts, screaming out for their freedom!
Ah, but what grand jest this is. You will not listen; I have told you this before. If not I, then another of my brethren; if not you, then one of your fathers or father’s fathers. You are bound—you are Earthchild, doomed to live and build and die for duty or honor. I am shinh’ar, windborn, Speaker of the Secret Tongues, base selkie, siren, and foul cheat and liar. I make a game of your struggles; I mock your pain. Why would you heed me? Where would be your profit?
Call me mad. You I shall call slave.