Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5, Part 2.3

Posted by harmony0stars on January 1, 2010

Though his companions tried to follow him into the draug’s lair, they’d barely made it in before Professor Scott was coming back out. Four really was the maximum number of people that could fit into the small space and still manage to have a look around, but it was clear Professor Scott had no desire to spend any more time in the cavern than he had to. As he fought his way back through his followers, Glory heard him mutter sheep under his breath. As much as he might want people to do as he said, clearly he was not overly fond of their sycophantic mindset. It struck her that maybe the reason he’d been so delighted to see her in Arkham had been because she had a track record of success and therefore a veneer of competence. She doubted he’d be much impressed if he ever learned that her survival hinged more on sheer dumb luck than on any clear planning on her part.

Their eyes met as he was exiting the tiny space and she could read the relief there as won free of his minions. Did he suffer from claustrophobia or perhaps agoraphobia? Probably the latter, considering his cluttered office. She could certainly commiserate. She wasn’t all that fond of crowds herself.

“How on earth do you manage to kill it? There’s barely room in there to maneuver,” he announced.

Glory walked over to where draug‘s body lay, though the professor was disinclined to follow. She certainly couldn’t blame him. Picking up the sword gingerly, she walked back and offered it to him, hilt first. “I got lucky,” she replied. He trained his light on the blade as he examined the runes, looking up sharply as she explained. “It’s Freyr’s sword. The draug had me pinned next to its hoard.” She tugged on her ripped sleeve for illustration. “I pulled the sword out and stabbed him with it. If it hadn’t taken over for me, we probably wouldn’t be talking right now.”

“Luck… you seem to have in abundance.” Professor Scott replied almost sourly as he continued his examination of the weapon. Perhaps he was bitter that she’d survived and his nephew had not, or maybe he was realizing she was less skilled than he‘d hoped.

Glory shrugged. It would have been easy to explain her tattoos, and how they theoretically contributed to her luck, but it was really none of his business. He wanted to play things close to the vest, well she was an expert at keeping her lips zipped. The formula for her anti-beastie potion, she might share as a token of good will, but she didn’t trust him or his colleagues enough to explain the nature of her tattoos, nor to mention her little parasite problem. As for luck, it really was in the eye of the beholder. If she was truly lucky, she would have been back from her jaunt in Arawn’s lands in time to put a stop to the draug sooner, and a lot of innocent lives would have been saved.

Glancing around, Glory looked for a marked path through the stalagmites. It was more than time to get to the surface. She’d been below at least twenty-four hours, which meant poor Robert had been on his own with no one to look after him or make him go to school. Though he tried to pretend as if he wasn’t bothered by his life so far, he wasn’t all that great an actor. It was just as she’d feared; she was not such a good guardian after all. Hopefully the idiots running this little archeological fiasco had had the compassion to make sure he got a ride back to the house, a warm bed, and a full fridge.

Finally spotting a chalk mark on one of the rock formations, she set off for the grand egress. For a few seconds, she’d been worried that her supposed rescuers hadn’t bothered to mark their path. And wouldn‘t that just be the icing on the cake? Lost in the dark on top of everything else.

She caught sight of the well lit cave-in and hole she’d made in the roof of the cavern sooner than expected. At least she didn’t have to look for any more poorly rendered chalk marks on the stalagmites. The sprawl of rocks formed a fairly gradual incline to the room above, and she was just grateful that none of it had landed on her. She must have bounced or rolled or something because none of it had been visible when she woke the first time.

Taking hold of the rope which sprawled over the heap of rock, she gave it a tug before starting up. The scree pile was still fresh enough to be treacherous, and the rope came in handy a time or two as she climbed into the ruined chamber above. Gavin and a few of his fellow students gaped at her as she stepped into the spotlight filled tunnel, though Sam was nowhere to be seen. The poor girl would probably need therapy before she’d be able to even set foot in her own basement, let alone ever venture into a freshly dug hole like the one her peers were haunting.

“Holy crap! I thought you were dead!” Gavin blurted in astonishment.

“Yeah… you wouldn’t be the first,” she muttered, annoyed at the attention. “Where’s Robert?”

“Oh, the kid? I sent him up for coffee about ten minutes ago,” Gavin replied irritably, rolling his eyes. “He’s been underfoot since the cave-in. Scott said to wait until we found your body before calling child services.”

“Nice…” Glory replied in disgust. “I sincerely hope it’s a long time before you breed.”

As Gavin looked confused and his companions amused, Glory brushed past him and started the trek to the surface. It was a long walk. Though she couldn’t really get tired, she felt crusty and irritable. The harsh light of the sun left her blinking as she finally stepped through the tunnel’s entrance, so she was unprepared when Robert collided with her.

“You’re alive!” he cried, tossing the tray of coffee to the ground and throwing his arms around her. “I was afraid my case worker was going to show up any second.” He added as if trying to prove he wasn’t so much concerned about her as he was about what would become of him.

“Nice to see you too, Robert. Now let’s go home. I really need a shower.”

Robert eyed her clothes as if just then noticing how filthy she was. “Yeah, you kind of stink,” he announced, stepping back as if he hadn’t just hugged her, dirt and all.

to Book 5, Part 2, page 4

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