Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 4.12

Posted by harmony0stars on July 19, 2009

Gwythyr couldn’t hide his happy grin as he jumped up and lead her to one of the tables. He was positively beaming with relief as he seated her by his side and everyone went back to their conversations. He was like a big human puppy, especially now that he was out from under the Prince‘s shadow. He seemed like a completely different person.

Some of the diners glanced at her from time to time, but for the most part, now that she’d been accepted, the others were content to ignore her. Glory mused that Gwythyr could not have much social standing, seated as he was at the very end of the table. Which also spoke volumes of her own social standing, though she’d never been one to care much about what people thought of her. She knew that by the rules of courtesy however, that the farther away from the lord a person was seated, the less regard they had in the community. There was also the way Arawn’s son had treated Gwythyr, making him wait outside with Glory like a common servant or soldier.

Glory couldn’t help but notice that while most of the other diners were blond haired and blue eyed, Gwythyr’s hair tended more towards red-brown and his eyes were black. When actual outsiders like herself weren’t around, she suspected he was probably the next best thing. He peered at her shyly as servants brought out dishes of food, serving the high table first before carrying less popular dishes outwards from there. The food had not yet reached the very ends where she and Gwythyr sat.

“What is this place you come from like?” Gwythyr asked eagerly after a few seconds of barely contained curiosity. “America, you called it. I had thought that the only land that lay across the ocean was Eire and beyond that, the land of the dead.”

It was on the tip of her tongue to say that they were in the land of the dead already, but instead she said, “ America is much farther away than Eire, and beyond America is another ocean. Perhaps the land of the dead lies beyond it.” It was hardly her place to destroy his illusions. Glory wondered if any of them knew that they were dead. Then again, maybe they weren’t. It could be that as relatives of Arawn, they enjoyed some kind of second life in this place. Were they reborn here or did they just appear, she wondered.

He consider this a moment, but it was clear now that he had no cause to be embarrassed, he was consumed with questions. For her part, Glory was a little worried about revealing too much. There had to be a reason why these people forgot about their lives once they came here. Maybe it just made things simpler in the long run, but she didn’t want to be the one to put any ideas in Gwythyr’s head about leaving. Apparently Arawn wasn’t happy when his family chose to wonder… if it was something they chose. He didn’t seem to think so, and she had to wonder: How exactly were they chosen and extracted by Caer Wydr?

Before Gwythyr could ask any more questions, and it looked as if more were already dancing on the tip of his tongue, Glory steered the conversation away from her homeland. “I’d love to tell you about America, Gwythyr, but I think perhaps it would be better if you told me more about your people. Just so I don’t end up making any more enemies.”

For a moment Gwythyr looked confused, then he glanced up at the high table and flushed crimson. “You mustn’t worry about Prince Neirin. He’s… well, that’s just the way he is. Now that the King has said you’re a guest, there’s not much Neirin can do. He’s bound by his father’s word. You’re safe enough.”

“I’m just curious, but what is your relation to him?”

Now Gwythyr looked absolutely appalled. “I’m… his foster brother.” he choked out glumly, looking to a bowl which had just been set down by one of the servants. “King Hafgan was my father.” He filled her plate with what looked like peas and some other vegetable before serving himself.

“Oh,” Glory said after a moment, trying to recall who Hafgan had been. She was going to need to reread the Mabinogion when she got home.

“I bear King Arawn no ill will for my father’s death.” Gwythyr assured her. “I was only a babe when my father was killed by Pwyll. Arawn might have sent me into exile when he became king over all of Annwn, but he took me in as his own child instead. Neirin was born a year later, and we grew up together as brothers.”

Glory wondered at what point Neirin had decided that Gwythyr was a rival. Gwythyr seemed like a very gentle sort, eager to please and kind by nature. He reminded her a lot of herself before she’d come to the conclusion that nothing she ever did would please her mother or placate her sister‘s jealousy. No doubt the reason he was seated at the very end of the table had a lot to do with Arawn attempting to keep his son pacified, though she couldn’t rule out that Gwythyr’s adoption had been a mere formality which Neirin’s birth had made redundant.

They endured several minutes of awkward silence as Glory tried to figure out if it was safe to eat the food. If she did, would she be stuck in “fairy land” forever? She finally decided if Pwyll hadn’t suffered any ill affects from his year in Annwn, then she was probably safe enough. She stuck a spoonful in her mouth and was not disappointed by the lack of taste. The “curse” of her sword continued to interfere with any enjoyment she might garner from the act of living. But, it wasn’t as if she needed to eat. So if food in general had no affect on her, then eating enchanted food was probably not going to do anything either. And even if she was stuck here for some indeterminate amount of time thanks to this meal, she’d at least be safe from her sister. It wasn’t as if she’d been at all successful in finding Lori or getting her book back either. Maybe now that Lori had her book, she was finally content to let Glory live in peace… not that she believed it for a second. Lori was much too conniving to let Glory go.

“I’m sorry if I embarrassed you with my question,” Glory announced after a few minutes of silent eating.

“Oh, well, you couldn’t have known,” Gwythyr replied with a shaky smile. After a moment, he asked, “This girl you are looking for, you think she came here?”

Glory frowned. “I really don’t have any doubt that she did. I think she was forced through Caer Wydr just as I would have been if I hadn’t taken events into my own hands.”

“But I don’t understand why you would come here alone. Even if her mother is your bondswoman, you should have had an escort.”

“She’s not my bondswoman,” Glory said with a laugh. “I don’t even know her.”

“But then, why…?”

“I help people. It’s just something I do,” she explained with a half shrug. It seemed no matter how much she tried to avoid it, if someone honestly needed help, she was incapable of saying no. It was practically a geis… which was probably one of the most disturbing thoughts she’d had in a while. On the one hand, it could just be the tremendous guilt she felt over the death of her mother, but on the other, she really had no idea what more subtle effects the sword had on her psychology. She really wished she had someone to ask about it. She supposed if Aaron had had any answers, he would have found a way to pass them on. Funny, she never would have considered millions of dollars as a consolation prize before receiving the sword.

to Book 4, page 13

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4 Responses to “Tattoo Book 4.12”

  1. here2read said

    Too short!! Too short!! I call for a word count!!!!
    🙂 ok maybe I am addicted to this story but what does that have to do with it?!?!

    • harmony0stars said

      heh, well, I promise that you were not cheated. Sometimes I post closer to 1600 words, and sometimes closer to 1200, but this post about the average -1353 words. It all depends on where it seems a pause in the narrative could naturally occur.

      If all goes well, I may soon be changing careers, and I may then have more time to write. Hopefully. 😉 That or I’ll finally win the lottery. That would be ideal because then I could just write all day long.

  2. here2read said

    ah.. well if I win the lottery, I will hire you to be my personal story writer.
    Does that sound like a deal?

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