Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 4, Part 2.5

Posted by harmony0stars on September 27, 2009

“Well, I am not giving up.” Glory announced crossly. “And neither are you.”

“Lady?” She couldn’t tell in the dim lighting whether his expression was pained or perplexed.

“I’m not a tracker, so you’re going to have to lead the way. Whatever you choose to do once we catch up to them is entirely on you.” When he continued to stand and look at her as if she had lost her mind, she purposefully strode across the clearing so she was right in front of him. “Just show me which way they went!” she cried, waving her hand at the nearest patch of trees which looked pretty much the same as every other bit of woods that they‘d passed through in the last hour.

Deryn flushed and scowled, hanging his head, clearly humiliated by her determination. As the moments ticked by, Glory wondered if he was weighing the chances of her getting captured or killed, therefore ensuring his cowardice would not be revealed. With a sigh his shoulders sagged. He looked up, opening his mouth to say something, but he paused in mid-breath, his eyes focusing past Glory. Glory spun in place even as Deryn’s hand darted toward his sword.

“Oh…” Glory stepped back as the white doe stepped shyly into the clearing. “Jess?” The doe nodded vigorously. She stood very close to Glory though she watched Deryn fearfully. Glory heard Deryn’s sword sliding from its sheath and spun around again, her sword erupting from her hand along with the fury in her heart.

“Don’t you dare!” she hissed fiercely as Deryn jumped back in surprise at the light that filled the clearing. He released the hilt of his sword, raising his hands to shield his eyes instead. The sword slid back into its sheath with a soft clink.

“Lord Arawn has ordered…” he stuttered out, not daring to look at them. Glory wondered if Tesni’s boyfriend would have the courage to defy convention and ask for her hand in marriage when the time came, or if he’d just bow and scrape and fall back on blaming someone else for his actions… a good little soldier, but not much more.

“I don’t care,” Glory announced coldly. “She hasn’t done anything wrong, nor has anyone else that came here. Your lord can order all he likes, but the only obligation I‘m under is to take her home to her mother.” The doe made an inarticulate noise something between the lowing of a cow and the bark of a dog, and Glory laid a comforting hand on her neck. “Are you going to stop me?” she demanded, glaring at Deryn though he had not even gained the courage to unshield his eyes.

When Deryn seemed disinclined to answer, she turned back to Jess. “What brought you out of hiding?” Glory asked, though she didn’t expect an answer. In reply, the doe swung her head back the way she had come and then looked back to Glory expectantly. “Did you see which way they took Gwythyr?“ she demanded with a thrill of hope. Jess nodded again and swung her head towards the dark trees. Jess might or might not know who Gwythyr was, but she obviously knew that Glory was out there looking for someone.

“Well, it seems I won’t need your help after all, Deryn. Thank you for getting me this far,” Glory announced airily, drawing her sword back in until all that marked its presence was a gentle glow in the palm of one hand. The other hand she placed on Jess’ shoulder, ready to follow the doe into the darkness.

“W-wait!” Deryn called after them. Jess shied away at his approach but stayed under her hand when Glory stopped. “You cannot go alone… Lord Arawn would… If he knew I abandoned Gwythyr to his fate, with only a girl and a, a doe to help him…” Glory rolled her eyes, but didn’t say another word. She wondered if Tesni knew what a consummate coward her boyfriend was. Apparently he was more afraid of Arawn, than of dying, though in all honesty she couldn’t blame him. Arawn could probably come up with punishments much worse than death at the hands of Fomorians.

Under Jess’ guidance, their path through the woods was much smoother. Either her night vision was better or she had had enough time as an animal to become accustomed to her heightened sense. Either way, it allowed her to follow the path of the Fomorians in the near pitch blackness of the woods and also keep Glory and Deryn to a path which was more or less clear of undergrowth. This was fortunate, since Glory didn’t dare increase the glow in her palm, having no way of knowing how far ahead their prey might be. In fact, as they continued their trek, Glory let the light go out.

They moved quickly, or at least more quickly than when Deryn had led the way. There was no need to stop to look for signs, and their passage was not impeded by Glory’s inability to make friends with the forest. It seemed that so long as she stayed by Jess’ side, the forest was inclined to ignore her.

Glory needn’t have been so cautious with her light. They heard the Fomorians long before they caught sight of them. Even if Glory had gone blundering through the woods like a deranged bear on roller skates, the Fomorians would not have been the wiser. Even so, the trio inched their way closer, wary of any guards or missteps. Jess kept her head low as they inched up to the bushes which surrounded the clearing.

“What are they waiting for?” Deryn muttered, for it was clear that the Fomorians weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Some of them were playing their game with the bones or drinking and laughing as they commented on the winners and losers, while others had rolled themselves up in blankets near the fire. Aonghas stood talking quietly with a few of his men who occasionally scanned the tree line with barely concealed impatience.

The Fomorians had made camp in the middle of an ancient stone circle, some of the stones so worn by time and the elements that they were barely nubs sticking up from the hard earth. Whether the encampment was chosen by design or convenience, Glory couldn’t tell and Deryn made no comment on it. It didn’t seem like much of anything grew in the circle, so Glory assumed they’d taken up residence for the sake of convenience. Gwythyr sat against one of the weathered stones, sagging in his bonds. He’d either been knocked unconscious or was drugged.

They sat in the bushes and watched for something that might give them an opening, but despite the fact that the Fomorians had posted no guards, the trio was clearly outnumbered. Someone called from the trees, and instantly the Fomorians were all business, their games and drinking forgotten. Deryn could not contain a gasp as Neirin stepped into the silent circle, all smiles and malicious glee, and several of the men turned in the direction of their hiding place. Jess tried to bolt into the dark forest as angry Fomorians dragged Deryn and Glory into the firelight, but she was quickly subdued as well and hobbled with rope so she could barely stagger where she was led. Their hands bound in front of them, Glory and Deryn were roughly deposited by the bonfire.

Neirin clapped his hands in glee, as if he had been given an unexpected gift, while Aonghas looked vaguely discomfited. He glared down at his new captives with an irritable scowl. Gwythyr was dragged from his stone and dropped next to the fire with Glory and her friends.

“Do it, Neirin. Do it now. We don’t have time for this.” Aonghas growled before Neirin could begin to gloat.

“I’ll do it in my own good time, thank you very much,” he hissed at his ally with barely concealed contempt. “Don’t forget I am the one who can open the door of Caer Wydr.”

Aonghas rolled his eyes in disgust as Neirin turned back to the captives but didn‘t make any more demands. Neirin aimed a vicious kick at Gwythy’s head, but Glory managed to pull his limp body mostly out of the way. Gwythyr still grunted as Neirin’s foot clipped him in the shoulder and opened his eyes to blink up at his foster brother blearily.

“Would you like to know a secret, brother?” Neirin hissed as he looked down on them. “There is no harm in sharing it, seeing as you will never find your way back home.”

Gwythyr blinked, clearly still confused. “Pay attention!” Neirin shouted, lashing out with his foot again before Glory could save Gwythyr a second time. Gwythyr doubled up in pain as Neirin landed a solid kick to his stomach. Neirin bent down and grabbed Gwythyr by the hair, jerking his head up so he could stare into his foster brother’s eyes.

“I… hear you… Neirin,” Gwythyr panted. He swallowed as if trying not to throw up. The Fomorians had clearly worked him over before Neirin got there. His face was a mass of bruises, and his clothes probably covered more.

Neirin snorted, and released his hair. “Your mother knows. It’s why she tried to kill herself when she discovered she was pregnant with you,” Neirin sneered, looking into Gwythyr‘s eyes as if to catch every bit of misery his words inspired. “My father came back one day early from his agreement with Pwyll. He took on Hafgan’s form while Hafgan went to the ford to meet with the man he assumed was his brother. Arawn tricked your mother into laying with him. All his conniving and tricks, just so he could sleep with your mother. I heard him confess to my mother when I was only five, and I have hated you for being first born ever since. And hated our father for his weakness. I will never be so foolish over a woman when I am king,” He smiled cruelly as he stood. “Which will be very soon.”

to Book 4, part 2, page 6

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One Response to “Tattoo Book 4, Part 2.5”

  1. here2read said

    Wow… and the family dirt is out!!! LOL

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