Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 4, Part 2.3

Posted by harmony0stars on September 13, 2009

Glory nearly groaned aloud when one of the men pulled out a bottle from somewhere, and the guard dug out the bones he had so recently put away. They proceeded to drink and play, laugh and argue over who was cheating whom for an interminable amount of time. She caught Gwythyr’s name several times, as well as Aonghas, Neirin and Arawn. Whatever they were discussing, from their raucous laughter it was not good. Frustrated, Glory paced to and fro in the twilight of her little side tunnel, anxious for the men to disperse but beginning to doubt they would before dawn. And she doubted she‘d be able to get away undetected once the sun was up. She froze as her foot hit a pebble which went skittering into the darkness, but none of the men noticed with all the noise they were making.

Unable to leave her hiding place without the possibility of being seen, she began to slowly feel her way down the dark side passage in which she’d taken refuge. The pebble had skipped for several seconds before coming to a stop, so she knew the passage was fairly deep. Unlike the main tunnels however, this passage was narrow and treacherous. Worse, there were no lights in what amounted to little more than a crack in the rock. Wanting to remain unseen, she didn’t dare pop her sword just in case someone noticed the light. She was careful to keep her hands on the tunnel walls in case there were any side passages, though no holes interrupted the uneven stone. If she did decide to retrace her steps however, she didn’t want to get lost so she kept her fingers in contact with both walls at all times.

The tunnel seemed to be natural, which made Glory nervous. What if it wasn’t a tunnel at all? What if it was quite literally a crack that happened to join the main tunnel? There could be sinkholes or a cliff further in. As she continued to proceed in the dark, she began feeling ahead with her foot before taking a step. If anything, inching along in the dark the way she was, was only an illusion of progress. She might as well have stayed near the crack’s entrance and continued to spy on the drunken Fomorians until they said something definitive or left. But she persevered.

The further down the dark passage she crept the more tempted she was to pop her sword. Several times she froze as she thought she heard something moving, but every time she decided it was only an echo of her own movements reverberating off the walls of the tunnel. Even though she decided it was only an echo, the furtive sounds preyed on her imagination. No matter how hard she tried to be silent in her movements, she still heard the scuttle and clack of displaced pebbles. Her own breathing sounded loud in her ears.

Someone coughed so close she could feel the air move on her face. With a startled squeak, she jumped back, dropping the unlit candle stub as she involuntarily let her sword out. The passageway lit up bright as day.

“T-tesni?” The same serving girl who had led her to her room and fussed with her hair was now cowering against the wall. Her eyes were scrunched shut as she trembled in the dirt and grit of the tunnel. The tunnel really was just a crack in the rock, unworked by any hand.

Slowly the girl looked up, then gaped at Glory. Somewhat embarrassed, Glory drew her sword in until the palm of her hand glowed just enough for them to see one another. “L-lady?” Tesni murmured uncertainly, then her eyes widened. “P-please lady. Don’t tell.”

“Don’t tell who, what?” Reaching down with her free hand, she helped Tesni to her feet.

“I’m not supposed to go out, I just… I have a beau and… ”

“I won’t tell Tesni, but you have to show me how to get out.”

“You want to go out?” Tesni looked perplexed. “But lady, why would you go out without… an escort?” Suddenly she looked suspicious, glaring at Glory as if she’d just admitted to being a secret assassin.

“Look, Tesni. Something bad is going to happen. I’m sure of it. There are Fomorians back the way I came, and they were having quite the party. I don’t know what they have planned, but I heard them talking about Gwythyr… and it wasn‘t nice.”

“Oh, THEM,” the girl sneered with distaste. “They think they own the place.” She went suddenly pale. “N-not that I don’t love Lady Muireann. She’s sweet and lovely, but that Aonghas, he’s nasty to all but his own. And his lot are worse than pigs, even the ones who don‘t have pig parts.” Tesni chuckled wickedly at her own wit.

“Tesni, I have to get out. I heard them talking about Gwythyr, Aonghas, Neirin, and Arawn. I don’t know what they have planned, but it sounds bad.”

“Yes, lady, it does.” Tesni agreed solemnly. “We should tell Lady Muireann.”

“No, we can’t.” When Tesni cocked her head quizzically, Glory explained. “I didn’t hear anything specific, and besides, Aonghas is her kin, and she hates Arawn and Neirin anyway. She doesn’t know me beyond the fact that her son brought me here. There’s no reason for her to believe anything I say, especially when I have nothing beyond a feeling to share. Besides, whatever is happening, I think it is happening right now. We don’t have time to convince her that Gwythyr is in danger when I don’t even know why yet. She’d probably just lock me in my room or something and then who would save Gwythyr?”

Tesni nodded thoughtfully, though it was clear by her expression that she didn’t like the idea of going behind Lady Muireann’s back in so far as Gwythyr was concerned. Finally whatever internal argument she was having was resolved with a nod. “Come on,” she said turning back the way she had come. “Deryn should still be nearby. I’m sure he’ll help!”

“Derwyn? He’s your beau?”

Tesni blushed and looked at Glory out of the corner of her eye. “He’s… one of the guards that usually accompany Gwythyr when he comes home. The Lady would be furious, but I’m nearly of marriageable age, and then Deryn has promise he will ask for my hand. I’m sure Lady Muireann will see it as terrible treachery, but he is really very sweet and kind. I don’t think all of Arawn’s people can be as horrible as she says. Deryn will show her that he is a good man and then we‘ll be married and maybe our people won‘t hate one another so much.”

“Odd that he would be here when Gwythyr and I came alone.”

“Oh no, he and the other men followed you all the way here, but when nothing happened, they all went home. Deryn stayed to see me. He sent a little bird into the caves like he always does to tell me that he was here.”

Glory smiled. So she had been right. They were bait. Then she frowned. “Why didn’t they stay to make sure Gwythyr got back alright?”

“Well, maybe he wasn’t supposed to leave. Deryn didn’t say anything about it.”

“Maybe….”

“You should… make your light go away. Someone might see it from outside.” Tesni crouched down and crawled through a dark opening.

Reining her sword in, Glory followed after. As soon as she entered the small passage, she could feel a breeze from outside. Though it was nearly as dark outside as it was underground, after a moment, she could see Tesni force her way through the branches of the bush that covered the tunnel’s opening and stand silhouetted by the stars. Tesni cupped her hands to her mouth as Glory emerged from the tunnel and made the cry of some bird. She waited a few seconds, then did it again. Finally, after the third try, a call came from the trees. It was very faint, but got louder as Tesni’s beau returned. Either that, or some night bird was defending its territory.

to Book 4, part 2, page 4

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7 Responses to “Tattoo Book 4, Part 2.3”

  1. here2read said

    let me go contribute, since I am so addicted to your story.

  2. here2read said

    Wish I could have donated 50. but I did what I could, simply because I love your writting 🙂

    • harmony0stars said

      It’s not how much or how little you contribute, but that you sent anything at all. If nothing else, it makes me feel that my writing has value. So thank you. 🙂

  3. Fiona said

    Just looking at your web story links – L.M. Bricker (aka AlienEater)’s “Dead End Streets” is no longer online, but you might consider substituting the link to her latest serial “Enter Three Witches”, which is really good and complements this story well.
    http://enterthreewitches-story.blogspot.com/

    • harmony0stars said

      Thanks 🙂 I should really update more than just that one link. heh

      And thank you for your donation as well. I really appreciate it.

  4. Darkthorn said

    Wow, this chapter just keeps getting longer and longer!

    • harmony0stars said

      I know… Annwn has taken on a life of its own! lol A few more twists and turns before it’s done, but I promise only a few more entries before Glory gets to go home.

      You think 20 entries is a lot? In manuscript format, it’s actually closer to 55 pages! This is a chapter I maybe should have broken up into three parts…. maybe. heh 😉

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