Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5, part 3

Posted by harmony0stars on February 15, 2010

The trip back to Sybar City was thankfully uneventful. Cleaning her face and hands in a small stream, Glory marveled at her restored tattoos. Much of her flesh had been burned down to the bone, especially on her hands and arms, yet her tattoos had been restored along with her skin. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of her clothes. Her pants weren’t too worse for wear all considered, but her shirt… well, what little was left of it started to deteriorate as soon as she got it wet. She felt bad for Cindy that she’d had to see her fresh injuries before they healed.

When they finally found a road, Glory left her companions in some deep foliage and took off towards Arkham. Pulling the tarnkappe around herself, she began jogging. She was just relieved that the cloak was made of sturdier stuff than the rest of her clothes. There wasn’t one rip or burn on the diaphanous material.

Phoenix remained smugly silent on her run. She couldn’t blame him for being relieved that he wouldn’t be going back to Korvaz to face the music. Of course, she hadn‘t been looking forward to being turned to ash in the process of his removal. On the other hand, she couldn’t help but feel sorry for the Cinder-man. All he’d wanted was to go home. Would it have been kinder to leave him in Scott’s tender care? Probably not. But what she’d been forced to do to prevent him from incinerating everything for several yards, killing two innocent people, possibly more… it left her feeling more than a little guilty.

She made it into Arkham with dawn breaking. The Cinder-man hadn’t had too much energy left, but it was enough to bolster Phoenix’s stores. She wasn’t winded, though she’d run at least five miles to her car. She did ache as if someone had beaten the crap out of her with a baseball bat, but she wasn’t breathing hard at all. It was a small comfort, all considered.

Glory was just lucky she’d parked on a side street. As she attempted to navigate back to her car, there were already a few people out and about, heading to work or breakfast. She had to dodge several cars as she cut across the streets, and it was more difficult than one might suppose to cross even a quiet road when none of the drivers could see her. Dogs didn’t seem to have that problem however. As she cut in front of a lady walking two huge, slobbery Saint Bernards, they went absolutely nuts. Maybe they smelled the ghoul boy or the remnants of her extra crispy morning and thought she was a Beggin Strip, but she was lucky the woman managed to hold onto their leashes as she beat a hasty retreat.

Waiting until no one was around, she opened the car door and sank down into the seat. Unfortunately Glory couldn‘t drive around completely invisible; that was sure to freak people out. She wasn’t going to drive around half naked either. That’d get just as many stares, and she did not want Scott to know she’d been in Arkham if she could help it. Removing the hood from her head, she left the rest of the cape wrapped around her torso and hoped that no one would recognize her before she got out of town.

As she drove, she questioned Phoenix. Though he complained that he was tired and didn’t feel like talking, Glory wanted to know what he knew about ghouls, specifically what the ghoul she’d met in Sybar City had meant about ‘guardians.’ Phoenix shrugged the question off dismissively. There were a few kings and the like who discovered the supposed immortality of my hosts. He coerced or bribed them into watching over his tomb for ‘all eternity.’ Eventually the ghouls would come. They were mostly helpful in keeping human grave robbers out of the tombs. So long as they left the body of the king intact, we didn’t mind if they ate the slaves or lesser dignitaries buried with him.

So the ghouls wouldn’t have known about Phoenix and would just have assumed there were guardians, plural. Well, that explanation was less interesting than she’d expected. Despite the story he’d told her in the caves, she’d kind of been hoping there were others, if only to ask questions when Phoenix was disinclined to humor her.

With Phoenix occupying an irritable little pocket of her brain, it was a relief to get back to the woods and pick up Cindy and the boy. Glory was honestly surprised that the ghoul had stayed with them as long as he had, but then, she wasn’t really sure how old he was. He looked about Robert’s age in terms of size, but considering he could make himself larger or smaller at will, he could be much younger.

She opened the back door for him, and he gave her a dubious look as if to ask her if she was serious. “You can sit in the back, or I can open the trunk for you. I think you’ll be more comfortable in the back though. Less fumes.”

He snorted, almost a sneeze, and crept towards the open door. The boy sniffed inside the car before very carefully crawling inside and settling onto the floor behind the driver’s seat and out of sight. Once the door was closed, he couldn’t even be seen, which was all for the best. He was bipedal, but until they managed to get some clothes on him, no one was going to mistake him for a human. Once he was dressed, there was still the matter of his feet and his face. So long as no one got a good look at his hoofed feet or baboon-like features, he might be mistaken for a human boy. He was like a living shadow though, his hair and eyes, black, what skin was not covered by fur, black, and the dusty fur itself, also black, just like the other ghoul she‘d freed in the shapeshifter lab. If they were all as black as coal dust, sticking to the shadows was probably a survival tactic of his species.

The boy might be subterranean or nocturnal, but the light certainly didn’t seem to bother his eyes at all. As she got into the car, he propped his head up on the console so he could watch the scenery fly past. Cindy quickly fell asleep, but the boy stayed awake and avidly watched the tree canopy give way to the open sky of the highway.

to Book 5, part 3, page 1

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One Response to “Tattoo Book 5, part 3”

  1. Fiona said

    Extra crispy morning…lol

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