Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5, Part 2.2

Posted by harmony0stars on December 30, 2009

Shouldering her bag, Glory glanced at the pile to make sure it didn’t look too orderly before calling out. It wouldn’t do to make it seem as though she’d rifled through the treasure her erstwhile allies already planned to pillage for themselves. There was an instant response from the darkness, though it sounded as if someone tripped over their own feet a second later. Though she was tempted to called out to tell them there was no rush, she held her tongue. She had just been through a horrific and life threatening experience after all. Of course she’d want to be rescued as soon as possible. Who wouldn’t?

As an afterthought, she snatched the feathered cloak back up and draped it over her arm. If she didn’t try to claim at least one thing from the hoard, Professor Scott would probably just be more suspicious of her bag. Walking to the entrance of the draug’s lair, she shown her flashlight out into the greater darkness and called again as if utterly exhausted, leaning against one of the stalagmites.

Waiting by the narrow entry into the draug’s lair, Glory returned the calls of her soon to be rescuers and moved her light to give them some indication of her location. As they finally reached her, she was surprised to see Professor Scott leading the way, though perhaps she shouldn’t have been. From what she’d seen in the Pine Barrens, he was a hands on kind of researcher-slash-xenophobe. He rushed to where she stood before stopping short with his men in tow. Belatedly she realized she must look horrific with her own blood and whatever passed for the draug’s blood all over her.

“Is it…?” he asked breathlessly, never mind whether she was mortally wounded. Apparently if she was standing, he was moving on to other business.

“Dead as dead can be, barring cremation, and I do hope you’ll be scattering the ashes afterwards,” she quipped, making her feelings in the matter as clear as crystal.

“Is there… were there any survivors? Jacob… my nephew?”

“I’m sorry,” she sighed tiredly. “I only saw the draug.” She gestured to the mess that lay nearly at their feet.

That one small crack in his armor was all she got. Suddenly he was all business. Looking down at the cloak on her arm, his eyes narrowed. “I hope you are not intending to keep that cloak,” he announced, his voice oozing contempt at the thought she might take something of archeological significance.

Glory looked down at it in surprise. “You and I both know this will never make it into a museum where it belongs, and that said, we both know what it is.” She grinned then, ignoring his surly expression, “Can you blame me for wanting to try it out? Who hasn‘t wanted to fly just once outside a dream?”

She rolled her eyes as he wordlessly held out his arm for the cloak. “There is a time and place for fun, Ms Lewin,” he announced sternly as if she were one of his students, and thank the dead gods for small favors that she was not. “Perhaps if you choose to join our organization, I can arrange for you to be among those who examine the artifacts once they are safely under lock and key.” The man was arrogance personified. He dropped his eyes to her backpack. “You’ll forgive me if I ask to check your bag?”

Adopting a disgusted expression, Glory carefully set her bag on the stony floor of the cavern, cautious of any telltale clanking, and unzipped it, pulling out her spray bottle as if it were the only item inside. He glanced at the battered bottle in her hand curiously, but it was apparent from his expression that he was far from satisfied. Shifting the open bag toward him, he shone his light into the bottom and only then did he straighten, though his eyes lingered on the bottle.

Glory was tempted to just hand it to him, but then how else to explain the odd bulges in her bag when she picked it back up? She set the bottle back in her bag, but said, “It’s like paranormal pepperspray. I don’t know if it works on everything yet, but at least it gave the draug some pause.” She smirked. “Let me borrow the cloak, and I’ll share the recipe.”

With a noncommittal grunt, the professor turned to examine the draug’s body. His followers, students or fellow professors, she couldn’t tell in the dark, hesitated, some of them at least a little more concerned with her wellbeing than their leader. She waved them off, not wanting them to see that despite the gore and rips in her shirt, her injuries had healed. She’d have to check to see if any of her tattoos had been damaged when she got home.

Professor Scot let out a tiny cry as he leaned over the head of the draug with his flashlight. His companions quickly stepped over to where he was kneeling, the draug’s head in his hands. “Ohmygod!” cried the only woman of the group. “It’s Jake!”

“I- I’m sorry. I didn’t know,” Glory announced, though her apology felt woefully inadequate.

Professor Scott didn’t say anything for a few seconds, but finally he set the head down and edged past her into the draug’s lair. “No, of course, you wouldn’t have,” he replied in a voice almost devoid of emotion. “Obviously the draug’s original body deteriorated, but the runes held its spirit confined. Jacob was simply the first to enter its prison. I doubt there is anything anyone could have done for him.”

Glory opened and shut her mouth without dispute. It was a plausible explanation and the one to which she would have come eventually. She felt sure that given enough time however, she might have managed to free him from the draug, though that really was moot considering the circumstances. The professor stopped as he passed the entrance to its hoard and turned back to address his colleagues. “I will not have this talked about. His parents will believe the draug killed him. They do not need to know he degenerated into… This.”

“Y-yes, of course sir!” one of the men stuttered and his companions followed suit, falling all over themselves to assure him that no word would get out. Clearly Professor Scott was a man both respected and feared. It didn’t make Glory any more inclined to join his little human-centric mission. She wasn’t convinced that every other race needed to be brought to heel in order for humanity to survive, though she wasn’t exactly sorry the draug had failed to kill her. She only wished that she hadn’t had to kill it.

to Book 5, Part 2, page 3

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