Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 4.8

Posted by harmony0stars on June 21, 2009

By Glory’s calculations, Carys must have been close to one hundred years old. It was no small feat to have reached such an age, but Glory felt it was quite possible Carys had had help, albeit without her knowing. After making sure that the old woman would accompany the others in the morning, Glory left her to her sleep. Glory had an idea about the door and Carys‘ role in its opening, but she suspected she would have only a few minutes surprise on her side to test her theory. And if that didn’t work, there was always a chance she could smash it with her sword. She had no idea what its limits were, but since it would be impossible to grab her bag on the way to her fate, her sword would be the only other weapon in her arsenal.

Glory had ample time to consider how to play it. She could have gone to the door early to examine it, but decided the chance of being seen wasn‘t worth tipping her hand too soon. Besides, just because she hadn’t seen anyone in the swirling colors the first time didn’t mean she wouldn’t upon closer examination. She’d been all the way across the room when she’d been caught like a deer in a car’s headlights, but she’d easily drawn her attention away from the door with Dilys’ prodding. It had been the swirling colors and the sheer beauty of the door that had held her attention at first glance… she hoped.

Someone came for her just before dawn. The rain had ended sometime around midnight, and aside from the faint dripping of the trees outside and the creaks and groans of the ancient building, the place was as quiet as a tomb. She had lain for hours, pretending to sleep while going over her plan in her head. Being a seemingly immortal insomniac was a tedious sort of existence, but she was getting used to it.

Blinking, bleary-eyed at the woman who came to wake her, she pretended to fall back to sleep several times. Of course, the woman didn’t seem to mind Glory’s feigned fatigue in the least and happily chatted away at her about nothing in particular as she tugged at Glory’s bedding and gently roused her from her slumber. No doubt she was eager to welcome another family member back to the land of the living and in light of that, a little grogginess on Glory’s part was no big deal so long as the woman got her down to the door in time for the show.

Glory had given it some consideration as to why they did this thing at dawn and decided it was probably just convenience coupled with a bit of quaint symbolism… a new day for the dead so to speak. Carys hadn’t specified that the door had opened on the first occasion at any particular time, and Glory doubted it had been exactly at midnight when her husband went through and her brother reappeared. She did know that fairy doorways were supposed to work at halfway times, midnight sometimes according to legend, though dusk, dawn, and noon were also acceptable. The time didn’t seem to matter much with the Door of Caer Wydr though. Dawn was probably just a comfortable time for everyone to wake and gather for the exchange, and the drugged wine was most likely intended to ensure that Glory was just muzzy enough not to question why she was being woken so early.

Once Glory was up and out of bed, the woman gently took her by the arm and led her down the hall towards the stairway. Several groups of people, young and old stood murmuring along the balcony and at the bottom of the stairs. As Glory and her companion appeared, the crowd grew silent and solemn. Glory took great care in managing the steps, as if afraid that she might fall. Some of the people reached out to touch her as she passed. Reverently or to prevent her from falling, she shouldn’t tell which.

Carys sat in an old fashioned whicker wheelchair, sunk in a swaddling of quilts and cushions. She raised her head as Glory approached the door, and Glory was again struck by how delicate she appeared. The years had whittled her down until the chair she sat on seemed more substantial than she did.

Dilys and her group stood close to Carys. As elated as everyone else seemed to be, her small group watched Glory with sad eyes as she stumbled towards the door. Carys had probably not had time to clue them in to the fact that she was only acting. All they knew was that Glory had drunk the drugged wine and would shortly be gone, replaced by another relative.

Cadfael stood by the door, a huge idiot grin plastered on his face. Glory was eager to erase that smile, though she wasn’t at all sure what would happen if her theory worked. Still, she was no fatted calf heading for the slaughter. One way or another, she was going to put a stop to these exchanges.

Cadfael was nearest the door with a small group of men and women who stood by the radiant glass with pride, as if chosen specifically for the honor of seeing Glory off. All in all, there were probably close to three dozen people assembled, but to Glory’s relief, most of them were stationed along the stair and balcony, making her plan a little easier to accomplish

As Glory passed Carys, she suddenly wrenched herself from her guide’s hands. Dilys blinked at her in surprise and relinquished her hold on Carys’ chair, calmly stepping away as if she‘d been expecting the move. She cocked her head at Glory wonderingly. Cadfael shouted and made a step towards Glory, but after a moment of surprised paralysis, Dylis’ group stepped between them, grappling with their relatives and allowing Glory to wheel Carys closer to the door.

“W-what?” Carys wheezed in a surprised whisper. She was trembling in her chair, startled by the turn of events.

“It was your blood that opened the door. I think you are the only one who can close it.” Glory announced as she brought the chair to a stop next to the glass. She carefully kept her eyes averted, though the glow of the door was as enticing as a sunset.

“But, none of the family can go through the door.” Carys announced, flustered.

“Have you ever tried?” Behind her, she could hear people running down the stairs and shouting. It wouldn’t be long before Dilys’ little group was overwhelmed by their relatives.

Carys blinked up at Glory in confusion. “N-no… but Dilys and others have, many times.”

“But they’re not alive.” Glory explained patiently. “You are.”

Carys gaped up at Glory, then stared at the door, as mesmerized by the idea as others had been by the pane‘s swirling colors. She abruptly struggled to push the quilts and pillows away, eagerly lifting herself from the chair though it was obviously she had very little strength to do so. Glory quickly slipped an arm under her. The old woman weighed less than the blankets that cover her. She was as fragile and brittle as glass.

Glory raised her eyes as they got nearer the glowing glass. She felt no compulsion to touch it, but the colors made her feel something… indescribable. Exhilaration? Anxiety? It was more than she’d felt in months, as her senses faded away to a dim recognition. She still retained all her senses, but any gratification she received from them was merely based on familiarity and nostalgia. The glow of the door filled her with trepidation. The light washed over them both like the warmth of the sun after a dark night. Carys shuffled forward, reaching towards the glass. After a few seconds, Glory swept her up into her arms and carried her closer to the door, afraid they wouldn’t reach it before Carys’ relatives intervened. With a sigh, Carys lay her hand against the door’s frame. Time seemed to slow to a crawl.

to Book 4, page 9


5 Responses to “Tattoo Book 4.8”

  1. manajemen1 said

    hey! nice to meet you

  2. here2read said

    Ohhh she took the old hag who started it with her.. I so like Glory…. even though a little bit of me feels pity for the hag.

    • harmony0stars said

      Well, it kind of wasn’t initially Carys’ fault, though she did repent a little too late to do anything about her brother bringing more family through the door. I feel sorry for her too.

  3. Fiona said

    …”but Carys and others have, many times.”

    should be Cadfael, or someone else…

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