Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5.12

Posted by harmony0stars on December 4, 2009

Though the campus was a bit of a maze, Glory eventually found the cafeteria and a very bored Robert who was relieved to finally be going, ice cream or no ice cream. As they made their way to the car, he announced, “I don’t like that guy,” before she even had the opportunity to ask if he’d enjoyed his ice cream.

“Yeah, neither do I,” she agreed quietly, “but we can’t let him know that or Jacoby could become the least of my problems, capiche?”

“Yeah,” he replied glumly before brightening. “So are we going to eat out for dinner too? I’ve never eaten out three times in one day before!”

Glory snorted. She’d heard that teenage boys were hungry all the time, but she was beginning to think Robert had a black hole squirreled away in his guts. “Hey Robert… wait in the car for a minute. I think… I just saw someone I know,” she announced suddenly, pushing the keys into his hand and darting across the campus to a walkway between two buildings.

The day had gone from overcast to threatening while she’d been underground, and it looked as though there might be a torrential downpour any second. The student body was conspicuously absent, possibly taking alternate and drier routes to their next classes. Surely a campus as old as Arkham’s had to have maintenance tunnels between the buildings.

The passage appeared empty for all that it was nearly as dark as any pitch black alleyway in the wrong part of town. She could see a dim block of gray light at the far end of the two buildings, but a winged elephant could have been hiding in the darkness between, and she would have been none the wiser. Glory could have popped her sword for light but if there were any of Professor Scott’s flunkies lurking nearby, she didn’t want to give them another reason to drag her down into one of their holding cells for possible vivisection. Besides she was trying not to use the thing. She had no idea how sentient it might be, if at all, but every time she thought of letting it out, she had to wonder if the thing was somehow influencing her, making her think it was a good idea. She obstinately refused to release it unless someone’s life was at stake.

“My imagination,” she muttered, turning to go back to the parking lot. Before she could even take a step into the light however, she was grabbed by the back of the shirt and swung into a wall. Anyone else would have been seriously injured, but she only squeaked in surprise as the breath was knocked out of her. “Crap, you do have camouflage,” she gasped on the ground. Twinges of pain in her chest told her that she’d probably cracked or broken some ribs, but the pain quickly faded.

“You’ll get me down below,” hissed Tacita Ruggle’s former slave. In his rage, his appearance fluctuated between that of the man with dreadlocks and his other scalier form. “or I’ll rip your fingers off, one by one.”

“I’m sorry. I can’t do that,” she grunted as she climbed to her feet, her ribs giving another little twinge before snapping back into place. Sneaking snake had probably let her see him to lure her over.

“I know you’ve been below. I can smell it on you, and that bastard Scott.” He hoisted her against the wall by her shoulders, lifting her off her feet. His eyes glittered dangerously in the dark as he glared at her. “I’ll… kill the boy if you won‘t…”

“Don’t,” she growled angrily, feeling the sword very much on the verge of letting itself out. “I said I can’t, not that I wouldn’t.” He dropped her and she landed on her feet, forcing her hands to unclench. “Do you know what a starstone is?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I don’t have one on me, and that’s what they use to open their locks, alright?” Glory  replied, stomping her anger down flat. He hissed something that was probably a curse. “I have one back at my house though.”

“It’s useless to me. I can’t touch it.” he muttered, turning and slapping a wall with his bare hand. A crack of lightning momentarily lit the dark walkway. Even with the impending storm keeping students away, they couldn’t continue this meeting. Despite the impending storm, some brave soul might decide to cut across campus, rather than under it.

“Look, you want my help? Then you don’t need to touch it. I’m assuming it’s your daughter below.”

He spun, glaring at her accusingly. “You’ve seen them?”

“Scott tried to impress me by showing me his prisoners. I saw your daughter,” she clarified.

“Chusi,” he whispered, “But not Tanith.” He clenched his eyes in obvious sorrow, but snakes couldn‘t cry. They had no tear ducts. Instead the heavens finally opened up, letting loose a flood of icy cold raindrops which instantly soaked her to the skin.

“I’m sorry,” Glory replied, and meant it. She didn’t care about Scott and his colleagues’ politics. The serpent man cared enough about his family to put his life at risk, and that was human enough for her. “There’s something I have to do before I can help you, but hopefully if I’m successful, it will make Scott and his people more trusting. We‘ll need to meet after… but I don‘t even know how long it will take.” She rubbed her face, feeling a bit overwhelmed.

“Why should I trust you?” he demanded suddenly, back on the offensive. “As soon as I’m gone, you could go to Scott and tell him I’ve been here.”

“Do you remember how we met?” she demanded a little disgusted for all that she understood his fears. “I know you were coerced into stealing those children, not that I imagine you have a lot of love for humans in general, but I could just as easily have sucked the life out of you with my sword when you attacked me just now. You did stay long enough when Tacita was killed to see my sword, right? But I don’t like people who threaten kids, any kids. It doesn’t matter to me if the kids in question are human, ghoul, shapeshifter, or serpent-person.”

“Naga,” he muttered, some of the tension going out of him.

“So come back Monday night at midnight and hopefully I’ll be here. If not Monday, then Tuesday,” she promised, hoping the draug wouldn’t end up killing her outright. He nodded and faded away into the dark without another word. “Hey, naga! What do I call you?” she demanded suddenly.

“Ehecatl,” she heard after a moment and wondered if he was clearing his throat or if that was his name. As he made no further sounds, she quickly ran back to the car and Robert.

to Book 5, page 13

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