Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5.11

Posted by harmony0stars on December 2, 2009

“Normally, I would ask you not to talk to the press about anything I’ve shown you or am about to show you, but I think given your own delicate situation with your sister, that you will not wish to expose yourself to public scrutiny. Just as we do not wish the public to know what we do here beneath the campus of Miskatonic. Don’t get me wrong, Ms Lewin. I have great faith in the individual to overcome the stigma of ignorance and defend our race from xenite predation, but let me be frank. People, as a group, are stupid, often reacting in panic rather than using their god given reason to determine the best course of action. I think you and I have a great deal in common in that respect. We do not easily lose our heads despite circumstances.”

Glory was very careful to keep her face blank as he continued. Inside however, she was seething at his assumption that they were anything alike. She’d never met anyone so pompous, arrogant, and austere however. She wondered if he had any emotions at all. Glory suffered for every mistake she had ever made and wondered if Professor Scott was even capable of admitting he had made any.

“Now, as I said, we’ve had issues at a dig sight in Sybar City. We’ve ruled out ghouls, as those who have caught sight of the entity have uniformly described it as a blackened corpse.” He pulled out a photo of a very blurry figure running at high speed towards the photographer. “You said you killed a vampire. Have you any idea what kind?”

“No. She was extremely fast and strong, but other than that, she looked completely normal. Very sharp fingernails. Salt seemed to burn her skin, but it really only annoyed her.”

“Hmm, salt,” he muttered thoughtfully. “Interesting, it sounds like a variation of the Slavic-eastern European species.” He leaned forward, explaining their theories on vampirism. “Now from what we’ve been able to discover, vampires are usually created via parasitic infestation. This can be a physical infestation or a metaphysical invasion of the body before or after death. We’ve identified several subspecies, from unintelligent revenant to vampires which retain their human memories to entities which have no human memories but seem to retain the ability to reason, perhaps indicative of outside, rather than native intelligence guiding the body. The entity within the site is most certainly some kind of vampire, but is no mere revenant despite its appearance. This thing has intelligence, very malevolent intelligence. In Norse mythology, it is referred to as a Draug. Are you familiar with the term?” he asked when she nodded at the term.

“After I killed that other vampire, I did a lot of research on the subject for future reference. Up until that point, I‘d believed vampires were just a reflection of primitive people‘s inability to connect correct causation with the spread of disease. But, well, Grendel may have been a Draug I think, and there was a researcher who suggested Draugr and Dragon have similar roots, but there wasn’t a lot of information about it beyond that. Just that it’s some kind of grave ghost that guards treasure.”

Professor Scott nodded at the assessment. Pulling out newspaper clippings from his folder, he pushed them across the table. Some mentioning deaths and disappearances at the site, some seemingly unrelated but by the dates, occurring after the grave was opened. “We estimate that nearly a dozen people have died or gone missing from the area since the tomb was opened.”

“So close it,” she announced, suddenly disgusted. They‘d had no issue dropping a ton of earth on Gozala‘s monstrous father, and it was unlikely they‘d known about the gold. So why now were they reluctant to bury another monster? “You know this thing is laired in there and that it was freed by opening the tomb. Close it. Arrange an accident that collapses the structure. Have it declared unsafe. Mention the catacombs under the city. People always get a kick out of that urban legend crap.”

“And what of the missing, Ms Lewin?” Scott demanded suddenly  angrily. “Bury them with the creature?”

Glory snatched up one of the clippings which described one of the murders in all its gory detail. “If this is it’s modus operandi, it‘s extremely unlikely that someone could still be alive down there. It is a lot more likely that you are just keeping the tomb open because there are artifacts or information that you might be able to collect.”

The professor rubbed his temples, looking tired. “Ms Lewin, I assure you that we are not keeping the tomb open for our own gain. According to folklore, the draug can also swim through solid stone. The construction crew that broke through the tomb most likely destroyed some seal that kept the draug inside. Since we‘ve been unable to find any such seal and my people have been reluctant to enter the tomb even during the day, there‘s no guarantee that collapsing it would ensure the draug was laid to rest.”

“So you‘re hoping I‘ll go down there, aren’t you?” Glory demanded, suddenly sure that she’d hit on his true reason for asking her to go to the site.

The professor paused, blinking at her in surprise before looking away. “You saw the stone I used to unlock the elevator? We call it a starstone. It’s proof against a variety of creatures, even some sanguivores. Unfortunately, it has no affect on the draug, a fact my nephew…” He stopped, rubbing his temples again. So he wasn’t completely emotionless after all. “I’ve had a description of some of your tattoos. I know that they are protective.”

Glory made a face. Had Jacoby gotten a glimpse of them before his tirade, or had Gil shared with his superiors what he thought was harmless information? “My tattoos had very little affect on the vampire I fought last year. They basically made her hand hurt for a few seconds.” At the professor’s obvious disappointment, she added, “But I’ll go to your site. I’ll have a look around. Because I’m nosey and apparently lack common sense.”

More than that, she knew she couldn’t leave the draug to run amuck in Sybar City. It didn’t look as though Professor Scott and his cronies had any control over the situation and they seemed to be at a loss as to how to proceed, which meant a lot more people might die before they figured something out. And if it did happen that the professor’s nephew was still alive, she couldn’t just leave him down there.

to Book 5, page 12

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