Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 4.10

Posted by harmony0stars on July 5, 2009

The rider stared down at her like a bird of prey, his eyes boring into her like coals. Glory stared back at him, bold and unblinking. Inside however, she was quaking, wondering if this was Arawn… which at the very least would make him a king. Yeah, she should be so lucky if he was only a king. She felt the doe shudder against her leg and felt like shuddering herself. This was almost worse than when she’d faced down that toad-thing in Graymalkin Park. At least at the time, she’d been able to convince herself that it was nothing more than a big, dumb, furry mutated amphibious… monster. A little digging and she’d found out it really was some kind of ancient god. She’d really been hoping Tacita was just a psychotic old hag with delusions of grandeur and weird taste in pets. She couldn’t even look at a frog or toad any more without feeling a vague dread. In most old stories, gods had a tendency to exact revenge on mortals who crossed them. Did she really want to tick off another mythological entity so soon?

Arawn might or might not be a god, but he certainly wasn’t human in a traditional sense of the word. According to the Mabinogion in addition to being a king, he was something of a magician, able to change people’s shapes at will. What else might he be capable of? Hopefully her tattoos would protect her, but this rushing into trouble habit of hers was starting to worry her. She was intelligent enough to know that the reason she kept putting herself in harm’s way stemmed from an unconscious urge to make up for what had happened to her mother coupled with frustration over Lori’s disappearance. You’d think that being aware of a “death wish” would make it easier to control on a conscious level, but here she was, protecting a stupid animal from a possible god in a mythological land inhabited by the dead. Apparently, her subconscious had a vicious sense of humor.

The man dropped his eyes to her sword and then glanced at his dogs which continued to cringe and hide behind the horses. “Fine… we can always hunt the doe on another day,” he announced haughtily as if it had been his idea all along. “But if you have ruined my hounds, my father will decide your punishment.”

Father? Well, then this was probably not Arawn, she thought with relief, though she could not remember the Mabinogion mentioning a son. Then again, Carys and her kin had to be descended from someone.

Glory opened her hand and her sword disappeared. There were quite a few raised eyebrows at that, but they were all much too self-important to comment on it. Their leader had already turned his back on her and another man was rounding up the dogs. Glory heard a sound and turned in time to see the white deer disappear into the bushes. So much for gratitude.

“I don’t suppose you ride,” muttered one of the men as he danced his horse a bit closer to her.

Even the horse gave her a dubious look as she looked down at herself and then up at the man. “Um… not in a long time and never in a dress.”

He blinked, cocking his head to the side, and she had a sinking suspicion she’d just told him she preferred to ride in the nude. After all, what would a lady wear but a dress? This was going to be awkward. And worse yet, she didn’t have even the remotest idea how to ride sidesaddle. Blushing, she climbed up onto a fallen tree, and he caught her by the arm and hauled her up into the saddle. She landed with a tiny, embarrassing squeak in his lap.

At least he didn’t make any snide remarks. As soon as she was in the saddle, the whole party began trotting back through the trees. They followed no trail that she could discern, but she imagined they must know where they were going. Glory was relieved that they didn’t gallop, but the trot was bad enough. After a few seconds of feeling like she was going to slide off despite her escort’s arms on either side of her, she was compelled to throw her arms around his neck as they cantered down a slope. It was either that or slide down the horse’s neck. She gritted her teeth and looked out of the corner of her eye. Was he smirking? Glory had never been a particularly physical person, but at that moment, if she’d been given a choice, she’d much rather have faced off against an elder god, sword in hand, than submitted to the indignity of clutching at some anonymous guy for balance.

Trying to ignore her circumstances, Glory focused instead on memorizing landmarks, but unlike the park woods of Sybar City, these trees went on forever and ever it seemed in a completely homogeneous blend. There were no pockets of sunlit grassy thickets, no trees that stood out as an elder, no trees grouped together for aesthetic reasons. In the park, she could walk for a predetermined amount of time and expect to come out the other side. She had no idea how long she might have to travel before seeing the end of these woods.

Deeper into the woods, there seemed to be more hilly outcroppings and twisting tree roots, but she’d have been hard pressed to find her way back and sincerely hoped she wouldn’t have to. It reminded her of the enchanted woods she’d had to fight through to save the children from Tsathoggua, and the fact that there was no mist obscuring their path was a very small comfort. She doubted turning her clothes inside out was going to work here.

Just when Glory was beginning to feel completely claustrophobic, they stepped out from the trees and into another sunlit meadow similar to the one in which she and Carys had arrived. The change was as abrupt as turning on a light, and she’d had no warning that they were even near the edge of the forest. One minute they were trotting through the woods and the next, they were stopped on the edge of a meadow.

In the distance was a fort set on a slight rise, if fort was the proper term. The buildings were grouped inside a wall of wooden poles. Each round house had a peaked roof whose edges nearly reached the ground. Despite the fact that they were quite primitive by her society’s standards, obviously lacking concrete or plumbing, they were still quite lovely. Their construction had clearly required a great deal of skill and artistry. The gentle flow of the thatched roofs of the buildings was smooth and almost organic. It was no fairytale castle, but it was exotic enough to remind Glory that this was not her world.

Now out of the trees, the party picked up the pace, and Glory was forced to hang onto her companion even more tightly than in the woods. When and if she returned to her world, she was going to take riding lessons, among other things. She had a whole list of things it would probably be a good idea to learn if she was going to continue to get into trouble… like how to actually wield a sword properly for instance. A fiery sword was all impressive, but she doubted she could stand up against a trained swordsman. And now, of course, she was trapped in some kind of medieval world where sword play was probably what people did on a Saturday afternoon to fight boredom.

In the sunlight, she noticed that Carys didn’t just look younger, she looked like she could be a college student. Her time bleached hair had darkened to a dirty blonde, and the wrinkles covering her face had faded to nothing. Now Glory could see the scar she’d mentioned, cutting across her right cheek. Her skin had turned a sun bronzed color, and the scar was a splash of white starting just below her right eye.

to Book 4, page 11

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13 Responses to “Tattoo Book 4.10”

  1. here2read said

    Hmmm, there is something intimate about riding on a man’s lap. Bet Glory liked it…. LOL

    • harmony0stars said

      I don’t know… I think she was much too embarrassed by the whole thing to enjoy it much. o.O Especially after her little faux pas.

  2. Darkthorn said

    Trust Glory to put her foot in it! Heh, perhaps she’ll learn how to ride and fight while she’s in this weird world.

    • harmony0stars said

      Glory’s a bit socially inept, much like her creator. lol My mother has said that I’ve lacked tact for as long as I’ve been able to talk.

  3. Fiona said

    Good story. I like where this is going.

    Dear author, is there any way you can create links to the chapter subsections, to make it easier to navigate through them?

    • harmony0stars said

      Thanks 🙂

      Actually, everything is linked individually, page by page, in the index. It’s over on the left under the Twitter and the Library heading. If you click on the Index, it will take you a chapter by chapter page with every page individually linked.

      If that’s not what you meant though, can you clarify please?

  4. Fiona said

    What I meant is: Under chapters, there’s chapter 1, chapter 2, etc, but I would like to be able to access Chapter 6.1, 6.2, etc rather than just Chapter 6.
    Right now if I”ve missed a few updates I have to go to the beginning of Chapter 6 then page through until I get to the last section I read. This can be time consuming when there’s many sections (pages) to a chapter. Maybe I’m missing something and there’s some way to go directly to a section/page ? I’m not seeing it, I seem to only get the chapters…

    • harmony0stars said

      No, you don’t have to do it that way. There’s a link on the left right under the Twitter listed under _Library_ called Index. It’s the link just below the Sybar City forums. It’s before you get to the chapter links and looks like this….

      The Library

      Sybar City Forum
      ***Index***
      Historical Documents
      Ancient Sybaris by the Sea
      Character Histories
      The Tattoos
      Tattoos: The Head and Torso
      The Tattoos: The Limbs
      About Me

      You should be able to get to any page from the Index. Hope that helps!

  5. Fiona said

    ahh INDEX yes…that Index, right where you said it was..I guess you had to draw me a map lol
    thanks for explaning 🙂

  6. Delisa said

    I have just spent all my time reading this. I’m enjoying it. I can’t wait to read more!

    • harmony0stars said

      I’m so glad you like the story so far. That is really the greatest compliment to any writer… that someone reads their work and can’t wait for more.

  7. Christy said

    Awesome story so far and I’m definitely intrigued. The only thing I have trouble with is when she makes references to her past after she met Aaron and it throws me off a bit. Do you think it may be possible to have side stories or flashbacks so to speak so readers have a better understanding of those?

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