Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5.21

Posted by harmony0stars on December 25, 2009

Glory crawled forward. Setting the flashlight and sledgehammer aside, she surveyed the pile from all angles. There was the wooden shaft of what looked to be a spear, probably Odin’s gungnir. A few feet beyond that, there was the tip of a blade, nearly buried under the draug’s pile of detritus. It could be any number of swords, most of them cursed, though she had a feeling it was Freyr‘s sword and wished she could hide it and Odin‘s spear from those would follow her once she‘d dealt with the draug.

The loop of a belt hung out of the pile, and she carefully tugged it free. If the hammer was mjolnir, then the belt was megingjord, Thor’s belt, said to double one’s strength. It was wide and resembled nothing more than a belt meant for back support. Maybe it wasn’t magical so much as it was practical, Glory thought wryly.

What if she took only the weaponry and armament that she could easily hide on her person? Miskatonic would still collect some of what they’d set out to get, but hopefully they didn’t know exactly what was in the draug’s collection. It was a pity that some of the larger artifacts wouldn’t fit in her pack, but Mjolnir would at least. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it put her mind at ease that she was at least minimizing the damage they might do.

Even as she slipped out of the straps of her backpack and carefully crept around the sleeping draug, she casually considered what it would take to make a bottomless purse. They’d been part of fairy lore for centuries, so it should merely be a matter of experimenting until she came up with a workable prototype. She strapped megingjörð around her waist and pulled her shirt down over it. Scanning the hoard, she spotted one of Thor’s gloves, the járngreipr, and set it aside as she searched for its mate. Leaning over the draug’s body, a sharp inhalation of breath was her only warning that he had awoken.

Glory cursed herself silently for her greed even as the draug rolled over with lightning speed and caught hold of her. She should have taken care of him first before ogling his treasure. Where he gripped her, it seemed as if all the strength went out of her along with her warmth. Icy cold threaded its way through her body like worms. If megingjörð was meant to increase her strength, it was doing a hell of a job.

She could barely make out his features in the dim lighting, but his teeth gleamed, black and oily like his skin as he snarled at her in what she assumed was old Norse. Managing to get her foot and knee between them, she waited for him to adjust his grip before pushing with all her might. He rolled down one side of the pile, and she landed on the other.

He continued to curse and spit as he jumped to his feet to attack her again. “It’s no use. I don’t know your language,” she panted, ducking away at the last instant and bolting to the other side of the space, “so it’s no use cursing at me.” The draug had relocate his new treasure trove to an area barely larger than its initial prison. Perhaps it felt more secure in such a tiny space, but it gave her literally no room to maneuver.

“Thief,” he suddenly growled in perfect English as he lunged at her again. Catching her by the foot, he hauled her back and lifted her up by her leg.

“I’m not a thief!” she hissed, kicking at him with her free leg, though he was technically correct. He swung her through the air so that she landed with bone jarring force against the stalagmites which framed its lair.

“Liar and thief!” he grabbed her by her shirt and lifted her up. Thor’s belt glimmered in the wan lighting. He tossed her again, this time to the other side of the tiny space.

Scrambling to her feet, she dodged his next attack, but just barely. “I’m here,” she panted, “to ensure that the real thieves don’t take all of the dangerous weapons you were meant to keep safe!”

He lunged at her again and missed, this time only because she tripped on the handle of her sledgehammer. Somehow he knew English, but it certainly didn’t make him more reasonable. The draug jumped on her, pinning her to the ground. She shrieked in pain as he pulled her arm forward and bit into her shoulder with his needle-sharp teeth.

With a grunt of disgust, he pushed away from her, spitting her blood out as if it sickened him. It seemed either her tattoos or her sword didn’t agree with his digestion, but a second later, he launched himself at her again, perhaps figuring that he could still kill her even if he couldn’t eat her. With no time to search for a weapon, she gritted her teeth and let her sword rise into her hands. It bloomed like a hungry phoenix, impaling the draug through his chest as he came at her.

For a moment, he looked down at the sword, his face finally completely illuminated by the flames which licked at his chest. Then he looked up at her, his coal black eyes furious. He lashed out with his arm, knocking her away as contemptuously as one might swat a fly. Though it had seemed to have no effect on him, she kept her sword extended from her left hand just for the sake of keeping up with him. He seemed to have no problem fighting in the dark, but she wasn’t so lucky.

Perhaps her sword had had some effect after all, as he stood near the center of the chamber rubbing his chest. While he was preoccupied with the tingly aftereffects, she scanned the ground for a weapon. Crouching, she darted to the sledgehammer which lay nearly at his feet. He snarled, his fangs dripping with black blood, and leapt at her as she brought the handle of the sledgehammer around between them.

The draug snapped at her face with his fangs, either already forgetting she was inedible or not caring. Glancing to her right, she saw the contents of her backpack had been scattered in their struggle. Taking a chance, she made a grab for the spray bottle. The draug overshot her face and got a mouth full of rock for his trouble.

The spray bottle had been half crushed in her fall from the construction site, and she hadn‘t even noticed. Some of the liquid still remained though, and as the draug sat up, several of his teeth broken by his latest meal, she pulled the trigger. He gave the bottle an incredulous look as she pumped the lever three more times before anything came out. She was just glad he seemed more curious than threatened.

He yelped and scrubbed at his face as the liquid hit him. Though it didn’t seem to do him any real harm, he rubbed his eyes and mouth as if the potion was unbelievably vile. Congratulations, she thought ironically, you‘ve invented the supernatural equivalent of pepperspray.

Not waiting for him to recover, she quickly scrambled to her feet, wrapping both hands around the lower end of the sledgehammer as if it was a baseball bat. The light of her sword wrapped itself around the handle as sinuously as a snake. She could almost have sworn the end broadened into a diamond shaped head, as if it really were a snake, to look back at her mockingly for her lack of success. She swung the sledgehammer at the draug’s head, but he was already moving. Though she only managed to clip him, it was still enough to send him staggering to the far wall.

“I don’t want to do this. I swear,” Glory declared as she recovered from her swing and stalked toward the draug. “If you were content to stay down here, I’d let you have your treasure and guard it indefinitely. I really don’t have any use for it. But you’ve been eating people in my city, and I can’t just let that go on.”

He hissed at her and suddenly seemed to sink into the ground. Glory gasped in astonishment, too late remembering what Professor Scott had said about the draug’s ability to move through solid stone. She spun, but not in time to avoid a vicious punch to her head from behind. As she staggered into the wall of stalagmites, he picked her up by her shirt and brought her down over his knee, breaking her back with seemingly no effort.

The draug dropped her to the floor of his little cell with disinterest. He couldn’t eat her, and now she was broken and no longer a threat to his treasure trove. Or so he assumed. In their battle, his hoard had been kicked to the four winds. While it was true that her legs weren’t working, she had every confidence that she would eventually heal. She was still more than capable of moving her arms however, and by the waning light of her sword, she saw the hilt one the draug‘s relics lay very close to her. If she waited for her back to heal, the draug might kill who knew how many more people before returning to its lair. She didn‘t have the luxury of waiting that long.

As he wandered around his scattered pile of artifacts and debris, retrieving the bits and pieces kicked to the far corners of his lair, she pulled the sword from the mound. She made no attempt to hide her actions, knowing it would infuriate him. Glory hoped that while he might know his possessions intimately, considering his collection of shiny candy wrappers, he wouldn’t necessarily know what they were capable of doing, if anything. Thor’s belt had seemingly been a bust, though it was impossible to really say for sure since she hadn’t attempted to fight the draug without it.

With a resentful growl, the draug stomped over to where she lay with the air of someone more than ready to move on to a new project. Her legs were a dead weight as she rolled away from the foot aimed at her head. Though he wasn’t even wearing boots, she had no doubt one kick of his foot could probably cave her skull in. Two might scatter her brains as easily as they’d scattered his treasure around his lair, and she doubted somehow that her sword could fix her if her head was smashed in like a Halloween pumpkin.

She continued to twist and roll away from his every stomp until he shouted something Nordic in frustration and leaped at her, probably intending to pin her and break her neck. She brought the sword up at the last instant, impaling him for the second time that night and with more spectacular results. The sword itself did not seem to bother him so much until it decided to jump from her hands and finish the job for her.

The Draug stumbled back under the onslaught, unable to defend himself from a foe without a body. He threw up his arms to fend off the blade, only to have his limbs hacked away. He attempted to run, and the sword chopped off his legs. Despite the horrors the draug had visited on countless souls, she felt pity for him as Freyr’s sword dispatched him with indifferent brutality. It’s job done, the sword dropped to the ground. With a sigh, Glory let her light go out, finally prepared to wait for her body to heal itself and reasonably certain the draug would not get up again.

to Book 5, part 2

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