Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 4, Part 2.7

Posted by harmony0stars on October 11, 2009

Glory found herself wondering if Cadfael would have to send more people through in order for she and her companions to pass through Caer Wydr even as she felt herself falling forward onto the hard floor in front of the glass. For a moment she panicked. None of her companions were evident.

Even as she began to scramble to her feet however, desperate to find her friends, Gwythyr appeared suddenly in the radiant glass. He fell to his knees with a gasp of surprise as if Neirin had only just flung him through the fire that second. Jess appeared in a leap and skittered across the floor, finally coming to a stop as the barrel of her body collided with the wall. The doe fell to her knees, then struggled back to her hooves and stood panting, head down. Finally Deryn appeared, stumbling forward as if Glory still had a hold of his sleeve. He was the only one to keep his feet, but that made sense since he’d been the only one not running or falling as he entered the frozen flames. Behind Deryn, the light of Caer Wydr suddenly went out as if a switch had been flicked. The room was plunged into the dim twilight of dawn or dusk.

“Well, that can’t be good,” Glory mumbled, but she was still dazed from her trip and not fully cognizant of what had happened or even the fact that she was home. The others were in shock as well. They all remained more or less where they had come to rest, staring around without really understanding what they saw. Several minutes passed before it even occurred to Glory that Gwythyr and Jess had gone through the fire first, and yet, she had appeared before them. Why? And had they appeared in that moment merely because her panic had summoned them forth? She shook her head, trying to clear her head.

A shout from the balcony above brought her back to her senses, reminding her that just because she and Jess were home, didn’t mean that they were home free. For one thing, Jess was still a doe. Glory had half hoped that passing back through the glass would restore Jess to her proper form the same way passing into Annwn had restored Carys’ youth. She looked up just in time to see someone’s heels as they darted back through the corridor on the left. It was as if her mind were in a thousand disconnected shards which were slowly and excruciatingly drawing back together. No wonder people who came through the glass forgot everything. She wondered how long she’d sat in the meadow on the other side of the glass while her mind rebooted. Her tattoos or the sword may have helped put her back together the first time. This time though, it seemed she’d come through more or less intact, just dazed and easily distracted. Maybe the more she traveled from one world to the other, the better her mind coped with the transition?

Galvanized into action, Glory moved towards Gwythyr first. As she raised her hand to help him up, the glass pendant caught her eye. Somehow she had forgotten it was still wrapped around her fingers and wrist. It twisted on its chain, winking in the poor light. After a moment, she carefully placed the chain over his head. He looked up at her in confusion, clearly struggling to herd his thoughts together like errant sheep to their paddock. Still, as she looked into his eyes, she thought she saw some glimmer of recognition. If the necklace was responsible for her more cohesive translation from one world to the other, maybe it would help him remember who he was as well. Besides, so far as she was concerned, it belonged to him if he was in fact Arawn’s son. Neirin had probably stolen the necklace in the first place.

“You…!” hissed a voice from the balcony as she stooped to help Gwythyr up. Glory sighed and looked towards the stairs. Cadfael fairly flew down the steps, fists clenched at his sides. Several others came with him, though more slowly, cautiously. From their grim expressions, their forbearance was only due to the lanterns they carried. Every door on the first floor and the second was clotted with Cadfael’s angry family members. There was no escape, not that escape was what she intended. Grabbing Jess and going home would be nice, but she didn’t know the first thing about changing her back, and even if the spell was designed to lapse in a year, what if Jess had to be in Annwn for that to happen? She doubted Jess’ mother would be happy with a doe for a daughter, for any length of time. More importantly, Glory was worried that going through Caer Wydr had scrambled Jess’ memories just like anyone else who used the door. Once she regained her composure, they could be dealing with a very wild deer in the house.

Before she had time to speak, Cadfael slammed into her, pinning her against the wall. “Where is my sister!?” he growled, spitting on her with each shouted word. When Glory didn’t immediately answer, he grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her before slamming her against the wall again. “Tell me!”

As he drew back his fist to hit her, Gwythyr grabbed Cadfael’s wrist and twisted his arm behind his back while Deryn did his best to jump out of the way. Gwythyr slammed Cadfael into the wall chest-first before turning him to face his family and wrapping an arm around his neck as an implied threat. “You need to calm down, Cadi.” Gwythyr panted. “Whatever you may think, Glory hasn‘t done anything to anyone.”

The affect was instantaneous. “You… know me?” Cadfael asked, clearly confused. But he stopped struggling. Murmurs came from the assemblage as it sank in that someone had finally come through the glass, memories intact. Gwythyr not only knew himself, but their leader as well.

Gwythyr carefully released Cadfael, who quickly stepped away from them to stand with his kin. He glowered at Gwythyr as if trying to remember who he might be. As his eyes dropped to examine the newcomer’s clothes, he focused on the glass pendant. Even if he did not recognize Gwythyr, he clearly recognized the necklace.

“That’s mine!” he growled, angrily gesturing at the pendant and taking a step forward as if to snatch it back. “I was wearing it the night… the night…! Oh… oh god!” he cried aghast as some lost shard of memory finally worked it way loose. He looked around the room as if he recognized no one there, despite the fact that he had spent decades with these people, his family, waylaying the innocent. The blood rushed from his face as he choked and stumbled back to sit on the steps. Several of his family supported him or he would have fallen. Whatever memory the pendant had dredged up, it was clearly a doozey. Some of his people glared at Glory and Gwythyr, perhaps thinking they had cast a spell on him, but Cadfael sat quietly shaking with his head in his hands for several seconds before looking up.

He looked from Gwythyr to Glory and then looked only at the floor. “I’m sorry. I didn’t remember what happened… I thought I was dead, that if I could come back, I could bring back my family too.” He sighed. “It was on the ferry, after the explosion. Dad pressed the pendant on me, said it would save me. So many of us were already dead, and the lifeboats had all been sabotaged. I didn’t believe the necklace could do anything, but I took it.“ He rubbed at a spot on his chest. “When the ferry started to sink, I fell, and the glass cut through my shirt as I slid towards the water. I could only hold onto the railing for so long, but my blood and… and the blood of my family was spilling into the bay. I opened my eyes as I lost my grip, but there was a light in the water, and I fell into it. When I woke up, I was in Annwn. I was in Annwn for almost a year before Neirin…” he trailed off, finally looking up as it sank in.

“Damn it! You have to go back. Neirin’s planning to kill Lord Arawn! That’s why he stole the glass shard from me. He tried to convince me we were friends, but all he ever wanted was the key to Caer Wydr!”

“Yeah, kind of figured that out when he tried to get rid of us by sending us through too,” Glory replied. “But it’s quite obvious by the number of people here, that he’s been whittling away at Arawn’s most loyal for years, and Neirin’s got the Fomorian’s on his side as well.”

Gwythyr nodded, understanding immediately what Glory was getting at. “We must all go back,“ he announced decisively. “Lord Arawn will need the reinforcements. Who knows how many traitors Neirin has inspired in our home, let alone the number of warriors the Fomorians and my mother will marshal.”

to Book 4, part 2,  page 8

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5 Responses to “Tattoo Book 4, Part 2.7”

  1. here2read said

    cool… its going to be an old fashion stomp down on Neirin… I know its rude and wrong, but I can hardly wait for it. Mauahahahaha

    • harmony0stars said

      Eh, we all want the bad guy to get what’s coming to him, whether it’s Neirin or Lex Luther. Personally, I think Aonghas deserves it more. Neirin’s nuts. Aonghas knows exactly what he’s doing. It’s the difference between a psychotic and a sociopath. A psychotic can’t help being off kilter. A sociopath has reasoned his way to moral ambiguity.

  2. Fiona said

    Aonghas may have a just cause, though. Sounds like Arawn is an usurper, and a tyrant too.
    I see Aonghas as doing what he thinks is right and justified, whereas Neirin is just vicious and traitorous and trying to take something that never belonged to him.
    But I guess my view differs from the author’s…

    • harmony0stars said

      I will withhold comment in light of the fact that the chapter’s wrapping up in the next few posts, and I don’t want to give anything away. 😉

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