Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 4.4

Posted by harmony0stars on May 24, 2009

The only word Glory could think of to describe the room was sumptuous. From the canopied bed to the tapestries hanging from the walls, it reminded her of something out of a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Of course, no one had occupied the room for several months at least. The tapestries and canopy were furred with dust and a thick layer lay over every surface in the room like talc, but that couldn‘t mask the opulence of the furnishings.

There was a heavy wardrobe near the room’s only window and a chest at the foot of the bed. Both were heavily carved with knots and whorls. The chest held extra blankets for the bed, looking much the worse for wear from moths. Opening the wardrobe, she found several medieval style dresses which only reinforced her feelings of temporal disorientation. The whole situation was very strange.

Dilys entered with a steaming pitcher of water and bowl and some folded towels on a tray along with a thick candle. Without a glance at Glory, she carried them to the only other piece of furniture, an ancient vanity which sat next to the bed at an angle which would afford anyone who sat there the best morning light. The room was dim and growing darker as the storm wore on and the light, such as it was, passed to the other side of the house. Thunder rumbled vaguely overhead as if some gigantic entity in the clouds were rolling over in its sleep.

“You and your cousin don’t like each other very much.” Glory volunteered, hoping to goad the child into speaking, but Dilys ignored her entirely. She set the tray on one arm of the vanity and picked up a grimy dish from the other side. Dripping wax from the candle onto the crusty wax deposits, she pressed the candle into the softened mess. Then banging it down onto the vanity with a sharp clack, she turned and left the room again without a word. Apparently the warning on the beach was all Glory would get out of Dilys.

Glory picked up the pitcher to pour water into the bowl and was startled to see a folded note underneath. She picked up the note, setting the jug back down.

beware the knot

Frowning at the cryptic warning, Glory crumbled the paper into a ball and shoved it into a pocket of her backpack. As if the house wasn’t full of knots, she grumbled silently. Pouring the hot water from the pitcher, she scrubbed the sticky black mud from her fingers. It had begun to dry, but had lost none of its viscosity. She was sure that at least one of the towels would never be the same again, not that they hadn‘t also seen better days. Everything in the place seemed worn and outdated. Even the clothes the people downstairs had worn seemed like hand-me-downs, shabby and ill-fitting. It was clear that they didn’t have much contact with the outside world, but then, why would anyone come here? What was the lure?

She hadn’t thought to bring a change of clothes, which was a problem. Her clothes were still sopping wet. If she was going to skulk about the house for clues, she’d be less obtrusive if she wasn’t leaving a trail of water everywhere she went. Shrugging, she took off her clothes and began wringing them out into the bowl. At least she could get rid of the excess water. It wasn’t as if she was bothered by the wet or cold.

Glory froze as Dilys returned with a second pillar candle. If the child was surprised by her tattoos though, she didn’t show it. Setting the dish on top of the chest, the little girl opened the wardrobe. After rooting through it for a few seconds, she pulled out a velvet green dress and approached Glory.

“Uh… no. I can just wear these once I’ve rung some of the water out of them. Really. I don‘t mind.” Glory insisted, holding up her sweatshirt which was now a mass of soggy wrinkles. Dilys just stared at her until Glory sighed. Now she’d have to skulk about the creepy mansion like a pretty, pretty princess.

Shimmying out of her jeans, they hit the floor with a wet plop. Not wanting to get the dress wet, she grabbed another towel and scrubbed at her skin and hair before allowing Dilys to help get the silly thing on. It was clear from the way the girl pushed and poked Glory that she wanted her to sit at the vanity. Figuring she’d get more answers by cooperating, she did as she was directed.

Dilys pulled a brush from the apron she now wore and began trying to tame Glory’s curls. Like all of her other bodily functions, the growth of her hair had eventually slowed and stopped. Glory was just glad there’d been some kind of adjustment period after Aaron had given her his sword or else she’d have been walking around conspicuously bald, but her short hair still presented a problem. She had naturally curly hair, and while it had been under control when her hair was long, her curls had a mind of their own at this length, especially wet.

“Is this really necessary?” Glory asked, reaching up to take the brush away from Dilys. She couldn’t help but wonder what all this special treatment was about. Everyone in the dining hall had been wearing modern-ish clothes. Why was she decked out in  renfaire garb?

With a tiny gasp, Dilys caught Glory’s arm and traced the Pictish knot that was tattooed onto her wrist. “It’s nothing.” Glory insisted, pulling out of the child’s grasp. “It deflects…”

“Spells gone bad,” finished the child matter-of-factly.

“Er, yes,” Glory agreed, not sure why it was important or even how the girl would know that.

“All these others?” the child asked, touching one of the tattoos on her shoulder.

“Do various things…” she replied, reluctant to go into detail.

Dilys just nodded as if she hadn’t expected full disclosure. Still, there was a look on her face very much like hope. Biting her lip, she looked around the room suspiciously before pulling open one of the drawers of the vanity and rummaged around until she found a decorative cloth bracelet. Slipping it over the Pictish knot, she pulled the drawstrings tight, effectively hiding it from casual view. She didn’t seem to have a problem with any of the other tattoos, but then, Glory supposed the others wouldn’t be a problem if no one was aware of their significance.

“Dilys, this is important… I’m here looking for someone. Her name is Jess. Her mother asked me to find her and bring her home.”

Dilys gave no sign that she had heard, and it seemed that their conversation was over before it had properly gotten underway. The child blew out one of the candles and picked the other one up as she headed for the door. Apparently Glory was meant to follow.

The corridor was just as empty as it had been before, but from the way she had looked around after noticing Glory’s tattoo, Glory had come to believe that Dilys’ silence had more to do with fear of being overheard than any implied rudeness. Her tattoo had shocked the girl out of her silence for only a moment. From the size of the place, it might be riddled with secret passages like the servants‘ stairs from the dining room to the second floor hall. Anyone could be listening, or even watching. There could be spy holes anywhere.

to Book 4, page 5

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One Response to “Tattoo Book 4.4”

  1. here2read said

    ah… thanks for the chapter.

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