Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5, part 2.14

Posted by harmony0stars on January 27, 2010

Phoenix did the equivalent of a psychic shrug, his morality apparently a fickle mistress. It was none of his concern what had happened to his brethren so long as he was separated from them, and from his thoughts, she could see that he hoped to forever be separated from them. Joined with a single human mind, he had the power to make his own decisions and press them upon his host as he never had among his own kind. Of course, the only reason he’d been able to influence his other hosts for so long was because they were unaware of his existence or his mental prodding. It had been nothing more than a nudge here, a suggestion there, but not knowing the difference between his urges and their own, his hosts had never bothered to question his direction, especially when it was an idea that would please them both. He’d suggested Aaron go out and find someone to spend the night with, but not that he bring home a vampire!

Ugh! Glory recoiled at that revelation, which completely baffled Phoenix.

Most humans consider it to be a completely enjoyable exchange of spiritual energies. It was something he, his host, and whoever they picked up…  She was now grasping his thoughts as if they were her own, ‘hearing’ any directed at her as words but also understanding the context of his thoughts at the same time, and she didn’t like it. Glory had just learned more about sexual gratification in a nanosecond of exposure to his recollections than she had in a lifetime of avoiding the subject for her own piece of mind.

Stop it! That’s just… private interactions! No one but the parties engaged in the activities should be privy to them! she berated him, feeling more than a little scandalized at her unintentional voyeurism. They’re meant to be shared by consent only!

Her attitude mystified him. True he’d had some hosts, members of various religious sects who were more austere than others, but they’d all secretly enjoyed it, and the Elder Gods had altered… Glory cut him off impatiently, not wanting to hear about what the Elder Gods had done to make encourage sexual contact. Can we just… talk about this later? she demanded irritably, realizing that with a being who’d never had a reasons to explore the concept of personal boundaries, it was sure to be a looooong talk. This is not exactly a conversation I feel comfortable having surrounded by people in the dark. Right now, I kind of need some light to see my way out from under several tons of rock.

For a moment it seemed he would argue, demand to continue their dialogue. The prospect of ‘continuing a conversation’ of any kind was such a new phenomena to him however that he accepted her offer almost immediately. He may have been linked to humans for millennia, but that didn’t mean he entirely understood them. No doubt he looked forward to clearing up the discrepancies. Perhaps he was even beginning to enjoy the fact that he had not been submerge into her psyche, that he had become almost a true individual, even if he couldn‘t instantly gratify whatever urge he had by deferring it to his host.

Phoenix remained very present in her mind as light erupted from her palm like lotus blossoms, licking around her fingers and hand and lighting the dark tunnel. Glory felt his amusement as Mrs Jacoby shied away with a tiny cry of surprise and empathically chastised him for his lack of compassion, but gently. She didn’t want him to get upset again for her supposed ingratitude at his companionship and retract his light. For someone who’s been around since before humans were properly even proto-humans, you don’t really understand the concept of compassion, do you?

She can’t sense me, he protested unabashedly as Glory opened the tarnkappe and flipped the hood behind her. Turning to Mrs Jacoby with a gentle smile, she raised her hand above her head and said. “Don’t worry. It’s just a light to see by.”

The woman returned the smile shyly, but seemed disinclined to refasten herself to Glory’s free arm as she accidentally had when the door closed. After a surreptitious glance at their companions, Mrs Jacoby must have come to the conclusion that Glory was the safest person to stand beside, though perhaps not too close. Ehecatl snorted noncommittally, but Glory had come to expect nothing more than contempt from him no matter what the circumstances. Phoenix surreptitiously confirmed that the tribes of Yig were uniformly scornful of all other tribes of men, and Glory rolled her eyes. Though she’d have liked to pursue the idea of ‘tribes,’ they were entirely too close to the tunnel entrance with no way of knowing when or if pursuit would arrive.

The ghoul boy was already loping ahead at the very limit of her light and the others seemed not to care whether she led or followed. Chusi was only a tiny thing, the size of a four year old, but Ehecatl had been carrying her for close to an hour. Now that they were underway, he carefully set the little snake girl down so she could walk beside him. He’d heard as well as Glory that people had gone missing in the tunnels and probably felt that having both hands free was more tactically sound than carrying his daughter and risking both their lives. Chusi stared at Glory and Mrs Jacoby unblinkingly, turning every so often as if to keep an eye on them.

The cinder-man was a slow mover and when the passage momentarily widened, Glory and Mrs Jacoby edged past him, wary of the heat he still gave off. Phoenix’s emotions concerning his brethren were decidedly mixed, ranging from fear to a kind of homesick longing. Though he might protest that he did not want to return, and if Cthugha were as insane as he believed it would definitely be an interesting homecoming, there was a part of him that was nostalgic for the unity he’d given up for the sake of freedom.

Glory also had the impression that the cinder-man didn’t realize that Phoenix was the one who had betrayed Cthugha and that Phoenix was afraid his kinsman might somehow find out and force him to return to face the music. At the same time, his memories of swimming through the outer atmosphere of their host star while mindlessly singing the praises of their great hive mind awoke a kind of wistful yearning to be back where he had begun his existence, if only to visit. Glory could sympathize. If she could go back to before her sister had stolen her book, she’d destroy the damn thing like she should have in the first place.

to Book 5, part 2, page 15

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