Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 4, Part 2.14

Posted by harmony0stars on October 30, 2009

Far on the other side of the settlement, Gwythyr fought on, though his men dwindled around him. Deryn had been one of the first to pass through the portal, and Gwythyr had given him special instructions to send a bird ahead to his mother and then go himself to her home and beg for her help. How long ago had that been? He’d seen neither hide nor hair of reinforcements, and it felt as though hours had passed. He had sincerely hoped that once she was reassured that he was still alive, his mother would set aside her hatred of Arawn and ensure he remained in that state. But what if Deryn had never made it? Had he been intercepted by Fomorians?

Gwythyr did not let his concerns distract him as he hacked and slashed his way through the Fomorians, nor did he allow his misgivings about fighting his mother’s kin stop him from slaying them. He knew that they would carelessly throw themselves into battles that other men would run if it meant that they could kill one more foe, and if they did happen to survive the battle, there were few wounds they could not fix with the judicious use of animal parts.

Many a Welsh warrior would rather throw himself over a cliff than fight a Fomorian warrior. It was rumored that they would steal human limbs and other parts they liked on the field of battle and use them to replace their own mangled appendages and those of their comrades. Not that this was true, so far as he knew. His mother had told him the Fomorians had a taboo against using human parts because they feared taking on the characteristics of the donor, which certainly explained some of the bad habits he’d observed in his Fomorian kin over the years. Apparently they thought nothing of taking on the characteristics of animals.

He spun at a shout from one of his men, barely avoiding the swing of an axe which would have laid open his shoulder and rendered his sword arm useless. As his opponent struggled to recover and pull his axe head from the ground, Gwythyr ran him through and looked for another opponent, chopping at a man who attempted to stab one of his men in the back, then crouching under the swing of another who tripped over his fallen comrade and conveniently impaled himself on a dropped sword.

A small bird flew overhead, momentarily distracting him from the battle. Was it one of Deryn’s? From behind, someone slammed into him so that he pitched forward into the blood and mud at his feet, his sword flying from his hand as his head struck the breastplate of one of the many dead who littered the ground. Gwythyr felt someone fumbling at the chain around his neck as he struggled back up. A shout and the clang of steel told him that someone had engaged his attacker, but he was dismayed as he finally turned to see Neirin and Aonghas fighting one another. No matter who won, he’d lose without a weapon of his own. Even as he turned in search of his sword however, he saw he was surrounded by a force of Fomorians who quite efficiently kept those few of his men that remained at bay.

“Retreat!” he cried out to his people, not wanting them to sacrifice themselves on his behalf. “Go!” he screamed when they hesitated. They were proud warriors, and he knew the laughter and jeers of the Fomorians would weigh heavily on them as they ran. He also knew that they would regroup and perhaps come up with a means of freeing him if he survived long enough for that to be an option.

Aonghas knocked the sword from Neirin’s bloody hands, and Neirin’s sickening feral grin quickly turned to a grimace. He dropped to his knees before his erstwhile ally and raised his hands. “Kill him first, I beg you!” he cried, gesturing to Gwythyr with one of his hands. “We both want him dead. Why not do me this small kindness before you take my life as well?” When Aonghas hesitated, Neirin added, “He still wears the key. I would have had it in a moment and been gone. Once you have secured your rule here, I can show you how to use it conquer other worlds.”

“There are others?” Aonghas queried, lowering his sword slightly. “I thought there was just the one.”

“No, I can show you,” Neirin replied. “If you will spare my life,” he added with a sly grin.

Aonghas gave Neirin a look of disgust as he lowered his sword and turning to his men said, “Bind them, and take them to the village green. See if any of the prisoners remain, especially Glory, and bring them as well. By the look of him though, Neirin may have eaten them all,” he sneered, striding away from his kneeling enemy.

At her name, Gwythyr gave a start and his eyes were drawn to Neirin. For the first time he noticed the blood not only on his hands, but crusted around his mouth as well. When he caught him staring, Neirin grinned widely and clicked his teeth together in a feigned bite even as the Fomorians manhandled him to his feet.

Stumbling as he was forced to follow after his demented brother, Gwythyr swore to himself that if Glory were dead, he would kill Neirin himself. Aonghas stepped up behind him, deftly pulling the glass key on its chain from around his neck. Reading his expression, Aonghas softened for a moment. Leaning forward, he lay a hand on his cousin’s shoulder and whispered, “If Neirin has hurt her, I will see to it that he suffers for it for a very long time.”

Though he doubted Aonghas cared for Glory as anything more than a commodity to be owned, Gwythyr had to content himself with his cousin’s promise. She really annoyed the hell out of him, especially the way she continually defied him and put herself in harm’s way, but like the rest of her people, she was an unfortunate victim of Neirin’s machinations. He knew it was stupid, but he felt responsible for her. If he could protect her and ensure that she and the girl, Jess, were returned safely to their home, he would feel at least partially redeemed for not acting against Neirin sooner.

Neirin and Gwythyr were pushed down so that they knelt side by side in the center of the village, while Aonghas sent his men out into the settlement bawling about the capture of the sons of Arawn. “I killed her, you know,” Neirin announced, grinning at his brother with malicious glee.

“Killed…?”

“Glory, I ate her heart,” Neirin hissed, his brow creasing in irritation at his brother‘s obtuseness.

Gwythyr stared at his brother out of the corner of his eye, unwilling to turn his head and give him the benefit of his full attention. Flexing his muscles, he tried to work the ropes around his wrists loose. If he could not save himself, he could at least kill Neirin and stop him from showing Aonghas how to travel between worlds. If he had any say in the matter, no more innocents would die because he had failed to act.

to Book 4, part 2, page 15

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 4, Part 2.14”

  1. […] Chapter 6, page 31 Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Tattoo E-Book ContentsContentsSkit on Case Study […]

  2. here2read said

    Wow

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