Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5.18

Posted by harmony0stars on December 18, 2009

“Can you read it?” Sam asked shyly.

“Not much,” Glory replied enigmatically. She could, in fact, read a bit more than ‘not much,’ but she didn’t want them to know how much that was. Like any words found on an ancient grave, the runes spelled out a warning to anyone who was bold enough to consider robbing it. It was not a curse exactly, but it did speak of a hunger that could not be sated. There was also no mention of whose final resting place it might be, not a single name anywhere on either slab of stone. In fact, if she understood the runes correctly, the ‘tomb’ was in reality a treasury, buried for the good of all humanity by some unknown king. No wonder the Miskatonic scholars wanted it opened, she thought in revulsion.

“Robert, stay here please,” she announced as she stepped through the gaping opening. The room was small, only just large enough that she could stretch her arms out or up without touching the walls or ceiling. The walls, ceiling, and floor were fitted together as solidly as if the room had been chiseled out from one solid block of stone, but a crack ran the length of the floor, probably made when the doors were busted open. Though door was a bit of a misnomer. The way the room had been fitted together, it was likely that it had simply been another wall. The room was much too small to be a tomb or a treasure vault, and if there had ever been anything collect there, it was long gone.

Just as Gavin had suggested, every surface was covered in runes. It made her wonder if all the outer surfaces where inscribed with the same runes as were on the door. As small as the room was, chiseling all the runes into the stone must still have taken months or longer. They covered the ceiling, the walls, and even the floor with a continuous trail of runic script, each one smaller than her smallest fingernail. While the outside of the door had been a warning to anyone foolhardy enough to seek entry, the runes within the room consisted of bindings and threats designed to keep something in. So… the draug was a watchdog of some sort perhaps, though that didn‘t explain where its treasure had gone.

Touching a wall, it was so damp and cold, she was almost surprised there was no ice as close as they were to the Hudson. It was a little surprising that there‘d been no significant water seepage at all over the centuries the vault had been buried. It would have been right along the shore before Sybar City was built over top of it. Urban legends had it that the whole island was riddled with limestone caves created by the two rivers that ran on either side and that there were things living in those caves that didn‘t like humanity. Had legends of the draug given rise to such stories?

She sat down on the cold stone, playing the flashlight over the runes, but they became repetitious after a few lines. Letting the light wander from the wall to the ceiling, she followed the seam of their joining to each of the four corners before doing the same with the corner between the walls and floor. Every surface was identical, except for the crack which ran along the floor, starting from the fallen door and stopping halfway into the room.

Perhaps it was technically incorrect to say the room was completely empty however. Minute dust particles were illuminated by the flashlight’s beam where they hung all but stationary in the stagnant air. Closer to the floor however, there was movement, as if some current of air was invading the room. At first she chalked it up to air coming in through the door, but then why would the dust only be moving near the floor?

Kneeling, she leaned down to examine the crack up close, watching the dust motes erupt upwards every so often as some draft from below caused them to dance. Fishing around in her pocket, she pulled out a dime and searched for a spot where the crack was wide enough to force the thin coin through. Glory listened for several seconds before the faint tap of the coin hitting rock found her ears.

If Professor Scott was correct in that the Draug could ‘swim through solid stone,’ perhaps the crack in the runes had given it access to a cavern below. That might explain why it and its treasure were absent. Glory stood and stepped out of the tiny room. Sam, Gavin, and Robert all looked at her expectantly as she stepped into the light.

“I don’t suppose you have a sledgehammer lying around?” she queried.

“Um… I guess maybe there’s one up in the construction site,” Sam replied, glancing at Gavin for support.

Gavin looked mildly alarmed, probably the first time he’d exhibited an emotion that wasn’t vaguely insolent. “I don’t know that we should be using a sledgehammer on anything without Professor Scott’s permission. This is an archeological discovery that should be preserved as much as is possible.”

“So dynamiting the door in half was an attempt to maintain the archeological integrity of the site?” Glory demanded contemptuously. “Just find me a sledgehammer and call him on your cell if you must.”

“Th-there’s no signal down here,” Sam replied half-heartedly.

“So go up and find me a sledgehammer, and call him while you’re up there,” Glory answered snappishly.

“Fine, whatever,” Gavin growled, stalking up the dark tunnel.

“I-I don’t want to stay down here alone!” Sam called, running after him.

“Go with them, Robert,“ Glory ordered calmly, “and make sure they bring back a sledgehammer whether he says it’s okay or not.”

Robert glared at her suspiciously. “This isn’t just to get me out of the way, is it?”

“No Robert, I honestly need a sledgehammer. So as my apprentice, I order you to go find me one. And see if your coat’s in the car. I think you left it there last night.” He pursed his lips as if he might argue, but the possibility that his coat might be in the car must have won him over as he went scampering back up the tunnel after Gavin and Sam.

to Book 5, page 19

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