Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 4, Part 2.2

Posted by harmony0stars on September 6, 2009

Glory was really at a loss as to what she should do. Whatever this world was, afterlife or other dimension, she felt completely out of her element. If she’d had her bag, maybe she might have come up with something, but that was lying on the floor of a room a world away.

She sat in the room she had been given, the room where Gwythyr had deposited her after attempting to reassure her that she would be safe, unable to form a cogent plan of finding Jess or even getting herself home if she did. And as flattering as it was to have Gwythyr concerned about her welfare, and he’d even given her a small bronze dagger, unstrapping the sheath from his own waist before leaving, she didn’t feel she deserved his protection. Not with Lori running around in her own world doing who knows what, and she had still not been able to tracker her down after months of searching. Not, she admitted to herself, that she had tried very hard.

It would be very easy to just give up, but it was also far too convenient to accept that she was trapped in this fairy tale world, that her hands were tied and therefore she was no longer responsible for Lori’s actions. Somehow her sister had been connected to the kidnapping of the shapeshifters, and Glory couldn’t imagine she’d been twiddling her thumbs since then. Lori knew more about the world than Glory did, despite all her book learning. Her sister was more than familiar with criminals and their world, knowledge that was obviously very useful in her situation. Lori knew the right people to talk to, to stay hidden from the police and from Glory.

One way or another, she was going to get back home and once she did, she resolved to stop sitting on her ass. The first step to solving a problem was admitting you had one, and she certainly had a problem standing up to her sister. Old habits were always the hardest to break. As much as she loved books and research, she had to admit to herself that sitting in her vault scanning newspapers for some hint of her sister’s activities was not getting her any closer to finding Lori. While studying old books in the hope of accumulating enough esoteric knowledge to overcome the theories Lori had already stolen from her was all well and good, it was merely a form of procrastination, busy work for her idle brain… something to distract her from her obligations.

She felt ashamed, and Gwythyr’s attempt to protect her only made it worse. She wasn’t worthy.

So, step one, solving a problem… She stood up from the bed. If Jess was still out in the woods, and not gracing Arawn’s dinner table, she needed to find her… Then she could try to figure out a way to turn the girl back into a human and get them both home. Not necessarily in that order. But first she’d have to get back to the surface, and as well meaning as these people seemed to be, she doubted they’d be happy to show her the way.

Strapping the dagger to her waist, she blew out all but one of the rush lights. Glory crept to the door, but she needn’t have been so cautious. When she opened it a crack, there was no one to be seen in the dark tunnel, though of course, in the absence of light, it was impossible to say for sure. Opening the door all the way, she stepped into the corridor but no one stepped forward to ask her what she was doing. The place was as quiet as a tomb. She couldn’t know what time it was, but it was probably getting late. Hopefully she wouldn’t have too many people to avoid.

As her eyes adjusted to the lack of light, she could see other rush lights in sconces dimly shining through the darkness. They were probably left burning through the “night” to help people find their way in the perpetual gloom of the caverns. Glory was unsure of which way to go, but decided that any upward tending tunnel would probably break through to the surface at some point. She only needed to follow the tunnels until she found one.

Extinguishing her own rush light, she walked towards the next closest light. She held on to the sedge candle though. If she encountered anyone, she could always say it had gone out in her search for the privy.

Glory was lucky enough to find an upward tending tunnel before encountering anyone and followed it until she felt the faintest of breezes. There her luck gave out. As she approached the exit, she heard voices. It would have been too much to hope for that any entrance or exit from the caves would be unguarded. As she rounded a corner, she could see them ahead, illuminated by another rush light. The two guards were gambling by tossing what looked like bones on the ground. One of them seemed to be wearing huge furry gloves even though it was not that cold. He had dark eyes to match his hair and a cold grin every time he won a round. The other man was young with blond hair a little too long. With every loss, he let out a frustrated groan, sweeping his hair out of his eyes with nervous hands.

She hung back in a small cross tunnel, hoping something would happen to draw the two away from the entrance, but they continued to play for what seemed like hours. Finally with a grunt, the younger of the two kicked at the bones on the floor, said something in a sharp tone that sounded like “cheating,” and threw down a pouch. He stomped down the corridor without looking back. Apparently they were not both guards as the other man laughed nastily but did not demand that his companion return to his post. Perhaps they had been changing shifts and paused for a game. Glory shrank back into the small side passage as the young man passed, but he was so disgruntled, he wasn’t paying attention to anything other than leaving the area.

That left one guard and he seemed content to stand in her way till dawn. After snatching up his bones and dropping them into the pouch at his side with another nasty chuckle, he bound the second pouch to his belt and stepped into the opening. He stood staring out into the darkness with all the unhurried calm of a statue. She really didn’t want to attack the man. She had no grudge against him or any of Gwythyr’s people, but she needed to get out. She had a sense of foreboding, that if she didn’t get out soon, something horrible would happen. Of course, she might just be obsessing about Jess and the possibility that Neirin had already tracked her down.

Glory had just made up her mind to sneak up behind the man and knock him unconscious when he called out a greeting to someone outside. He evidently knew whoever was approaching because he never made a move for his sword. After a moment, he stepped aside and several men entered the tunnel. She stared in horrified awe at their misshapen limbs. It became clear to her that the guard was not wearing gloves… he actually had the paws of some animal attached to his arms, and his friends also sported various animal parts in place of missing limbs and other… bits. If she knew her mythology, she knew who these people were… Fomorians and they were not considered nice people. They were evidently accepted here, else the other guard would never have left one of them as his replacement, but Glory couldn’t shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong.

They were a jovial bunch, laughing and shouting as if proud of some achievement. Their comrade asked them something, and they replied with hoots of vicious amusement. Glory was too far away to hear anything accurately, despite how loud they were, but she did make out Gwythyr’s name and became more determined than ever to get out.

to Book 4, part 2, page 3

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One Response to “Tattoo Book 4, Part 2.2”

  1. Fiona said

    On the edge of my seat as to what happens next!

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