Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 2.7

Posted by harmony0stars on September 7, 2008

Falling forward to her hands and knees, Glory struggled to regain enough oxygen to think clearly. Her neck wasn’t broken or she wouldn’t be able to hold her head up. Behind her, someone suddenly let out a shriek and the old cultist suddenly began laughing maniacly. Out of the corner of her eye, Glory saw a large tree branch fall to the ground.

Still gasping through her bruised throat, she dragged herself upright and turned to look behind her. The eldest child, Robert… his name suddenly came back to Glory, was inexorably being drawn toward the squatting horror. Its long, sticky tongue was wrapped around his arm and was slowly pulling him towards its gaping maw. Even as she looked on, the toad god’s tongue tightened, cutting through the flimsy sleeve of the boy’s shirt. Robert screamed again as blood welled up and began dripping from the wound.

“Yes my lord!” the woman cackled. “Accept this sacrifice! I will retrieve the others as you digest this morsel.”

Apparently, she had forgotten about Glory. Even as she turned, Glory had snatched up the fallen tree branch. It connected with a sickening CRACK! The old woman was knocked off her feet and lay as still as death, but Glory wasted no time in making sure of it as she leapt over her prone body. The boy was screaming non-stop at the top of his lungs. The vile toad’s tongue twisted and squeezed as it drew the boy towards it’s gaping jaws.

“It hurts! It hurts! Get it OFF MEEEE!!!” the boy wailed. His sleeve was already in tatters and the skin of his arm wasn’t much better. Blood trickled from the wounds in rivulets, staining what was left of his shirt and the ground. Glory only hesitated a moment before grabbing hold of the slime covered tongue and pulling with all her might, but she could only hold on a few seconds before the thing’s acidic saliva ate through her leather gloves to her palms. With a frustrated scream, she let go and the boy slipped another few inches closer to the grinning monstrosity. It seemed to mock her as she glared at it. Robert’s socks were already in shreds as he desperately dug his toes into the hard packed earth of the clearing.

Glory looked down at her hands. Through the gaping holes left in the gloves from the monster’s saliva, her skin had healed almost instantly. She gave another short scream of frustration. Beyond a very small quiver when she’d first taken hold of the tongue, her tattoos did not seem to have any effect on the creature. And the sword Aaron had so thoughtfully given her did not seem to want to make an appearance. The most she could hope for was if Tsathoggua ate her too, it might get indigestion.

The boy was slowly being drawn to certain death. His eyes rolled in their sockets, only the whites now visible as panic overrode any coherent thought beyond freedom. Glory cast about for any weapon, but only found the broken branch where she had tossed it as she ran to help the boy.

Desperately she raised the branch over her head and brought it down, point first, into the tongue. One instant she held in her hands nothing but a broken tree branch, the next, the flaming sword erupted from her hands, instantly vaporizing the wood and impaling the tongue. An ear splitting howl filled the night as the tongue was retracted into the mouth of the angry toad god. The shuddering thing twisted and jiggled as if its flesh were only held together by formality.

Glory fell to the ground, staring at her hands in shock. The sword evaporated even as the tongue whipped away. There was no sign of the branch at all, not even ash. Aside from the screams of Tsathoggua as it raged and rolled among the trees, no one moved or made a sound in the clearing.

Glory looked around her as if in a dream, then slowly crawled to the shaking boy. Robert rocked, clutching his wounded arm to his chest. He flinched as she touched his shoulder, but continued rocking and muttering to himself. “It hurts… It hurts…” he whispered between whimpers.

“Come on kid. We gotta go.” Her fingers tightened on the remains of his shirt as she attempted to pull him up, but he was dead weight in her arms. Prying his hand away from his wounded arm, she concentrated, willing the ragged acid burns to heal, the skin to seal over them. A wave of energy passed through her and into him, just as it had when she healed his foster mother. His sobbing ceased between one breath and the next. As the pain faded, his breathing became calmer, and he looked up into her face with complete awe. Neither of them noticed the old woman stirring or the mad thrashings of the toad god become more purposeful as it lurched through the devastated trees back towards the clearing and revenge.

He looked down at his arm in wonder. “It’s… healed,” he whispered. A thick red scar encircled his arm from elbow to wrist. He was still covered in his own blood, but beneath that, his flesh was whole and unbroken. “What did you… how did you?” He looked up in confusion which quickly turned to horror. “Look out!” he shouted, leaping to his feet. He pushed Glory away even as the old hag made a grab for her throat. At the same time, the monstrous toad god lashed out with its tongue, probably intending to grab the boy. Instead, it wrapped around the waist of its evil priestess and did not even pause before it shot back to its mouth with its morsel.

The hag was so unbalanced by Glory’s fall, she only had an instant to register her fate. “Master! No! Not me! Not mph!”

It seemed content with its meal, or at least distracted by it. Glory grabbed Robert and dragged him from the clearing. It was enough that they escaped. Even as they made their way through the woods, the stinking fog was dissipating. He leaned on her as she led the way. His silence was a relief as she was feeling dead on her feet and not up to a lot of questions. His listlessness worried her, but not so much as every twig snap and creaking branch made her cringe. The giant, furry toad… thing… was busy munching on its devotee, but who knew how long that would take or what else might be lurking in the woods.

The wood was surprisingly shallow considering how long it had taken Glory to reach the clearing, but she was sure the mist had something to do with that. The boy slowly regained his senses as they reached the street, and by the time they came to the police station, he was almost boisterous.

“Come on! They’re not going to believe our story!”

“Probably not, but you’re going to have to tell them yourself.”

“What? But…?”

“Look… it’s complicated, but I’m not exactly their favorite person. Besides, I left something in the woods. I have to go back for it.”

He was incredulous as she walked away. No one was going to believe him. He didn’t even believe it, and he had the scar to prove he’d been there!

_______________

The morning sun had burned off the last of the foul mist as Glory reentered the small stand of trees. The police had never come, and she doubted they would until they were sure Tacita Ruggles was not around to sue them for invading her privacy. Old money could always be counted upon to keep the cops at bay.

How had she mistaken it for a vast forest the previous night? It was hardly endless. Glory couldn’t believe she’d wandered around so long before discovering the clearing. Still she was cautious as she stepped through the eerily silent trees. Barely a yard in, she came to the deserted clearing. The fire pit was cold and might not have been used in months or years. The giant toad no longer crouched on its boulder, and the hard, packed earth gave no indication that a struggle had taken place there only hours before. Even the teeth from the old woman’s ghoulish necklace were gone.

She jumped as her backpack came flying from the trees to land at her feet. Glory scooped it up into her arms as the snake man stepped from the wood’s edge. She hadn’t seen him there despite the sparse autumn foliage.

“I assume you came back for that,” he spat. She couldn’t do much more than stare at him, but he didn’t come any closer. “I’m grateful for my freedom, girl. I’ve been a slave to that imbecile for more years than I can count…” his eyes narrowed as he continued. “But if I see you again, don’t think I won’t rip you open and eat your heart while you still live.”

Without another word, he stepped back in among the trees and faded from view as quickly as the sun warmed mists. Glory stood shivering in her dew drenched shoes.

to Book 2, Part 2

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10 Responses to “Tattoo Book 2.7”

  1. Alderin said

    Yummy devotee, with a healthy helping of irony. Bravo!

    Too bad the freed monster is too proud to be friends. Glory really doesn’t need more enemies lurking about.

    *HUGS*

  2. harmony0stars said

    Eh… Tsathoggua probably couldn’t stand her any more. lol She was a bit… obnoxious in her “toadying.” πŸ˜‰

  3. Miladysa said

    So the baby got it?

  4. Miladysa said

    You could do with a link here to the next chapter πŸ˜€

  5. LordCainn said

    i have to say i love how u worked in some of H. P. Lovecraft, to your story

  6. Delisa said

    totally loving this story. I also love the bit of Lovecraft!

  7. Amy said

    “yes, my lord” the old hag cackled. “except this sacrifice……
    it should be accept. there have been a few misspells and such up to this point but this was the only one that actually ruined the flow for me. Now on to the praise…. I love the unconventional and sometimes painful way you have woven the magical and supernatural into this tale. I find it interesting that the old hag sorceress has to be enviromentally freindly and has to try and convince others to be also to keep her power and unnatural youth, quite an interesting twist, if only she could find a way to keep her god appeased without having to sacrifice children. ah well enough of this, I’m going back to reading the story. πŸ˜‰

  8. Amy said

    roflmao, I must state that my previous comment was made before I had read this entire page so I felt must weigh in again, I laughed so hard at the part where the devotee got chomped, wonderful!!! And it is too bad that snake man is not interested in being a little more friendly.

    • harmony0stars said

      Thanks πŸ™‚ Can’t catch all the errors, especially when they’re technically spelled correctly. lol Gotta admit though, that one was painful. So thanks for pointing it out. Feel free to point out any other errors you see. I don’t mind. It’s really hard to proof your own work. The mind has a habit of just skimming over the story since it’s familiar with the words already. πŸ˜‰

      And you know those sons of Yig, much too proud for their own good. Probably the hardest thing he ever had to do… accepting Glory’s help, such as it was.

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