Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5, part 3.9

Posted by harmony0stars on March 5, 2010

As the minutes ticked by, Glory reflected that feeding Edgar had probably not been such a good idea. What could she have done though? Let him starve? There was no telling what or how often Scott’s people had been feeding him, and his fur made it very difficult to see how thin he really was. If Cindy was any indication however, he couldn’t have been getting any kind of balanced diet, whatever that might be for a ghoul.

It was ten or fifteen minutes later that she heard splashing and bird-like chatter from within the tunnel again, this time much louder than before. Obviously there was more than one ghoul approaching, and she honestly wasn’t sure if she should be wary or honored.

Though most of them stayed in the deeper shadows of the tunnel, two ghouls approached without fear. Though he looked similar to the first, the smaller ghoul was obviously someone new, a leader or elder of the tribe by his wizened features. He seemed almost awed by her and cowered close the ground as if ready to drop to his knees in worship. The second ghoul was larger by at least a foot and didn’t seem to feel the need to bend and scrape at her. He wore rags like the other, but he walked with his head up and his eyes on her the whole time. When he was close enough for her to see his face, he broke out in an almost sunny grin which betrayed his massive canines. He laughed suddenly, and in that moment, Glory recognized him as the ghoul she’d helped escape the laboratory.

“You fed the pup what now?” he chuckled, hunkering down so he could peer at the boy who shyly ducked behind Glory’s leg.

“Edgar,“ she chided as he tried to avoid the older ghoul’s interest.

He gave the boy a good sniff nonetheless. “Not one of my kinsfolk, I think, though I hoped. And a most excellent name for a ghoul! Edgar!” He crowed in laughter which was echoed by the ghouls hiding in the darkness.

“Will you… take him?” she asked hesitantly, but the ghoul shook his head almost sadly.

“No can do, lady Guardian. He wouldn’t stay, not since he’s been fed fresh meat. He’d never be content with our fare now. Maybe when he’s grown, he’ll see fit to come back to his own.” He straightened to look her in the eye. “Didn’t come for him though. You did me a favor, getting me out of that hole, so I owe you, my offspring will owe you, big time… for the rest of your life, however long or short that might be. Besides, that sister of yours… she’s stirring up all kinds of trouble.”

Her throat closed up in shock and it was several seconds before she could choke something out. “You know where Lori is?”

“Nah, but we know what she’s been doing, maybe where someone working for her is going to be. She’s been stealing, stealing, and we all know how Guardians feel about that!” He chuckled and was again echoed by the others in the tunnel, more boisterously now that her identity had been confirmed.

“Where?” she begged, her voice husky with emotion.

“Here and there and everywhere,” he replied airily. “Museums mostly. We read the papers, put the pieces together. If it’s not her, it’s someone else you’d be interested in stopping, yeah? Gonna be at the Museum of Natural History any time now, we think.” He pulled out a plastic bag full of newspaper clippings and placed it in her trembling hands. “We’ll keep watch for you, bring you any signs we find. Look out on your back porch everyone once in a while.” He grinned again.

“Th-thank you.” She clutched the bag to her chest as if it were full of live butterflies. Glory wanted to tear it open and begin looking through it immediately, and it was only by sheer force of will that she redirected her attention back to the reason she’d come. Swallowing slowly, she looked back down at Edgar.

“What should I do with him? I don’t want to make him a prisoner in my house, but I can’t let him out like this. The people at MU would spot him for sure. I know they watch me from time to time even if there’s no way for them to know it was me who freed him. He understands English, but he won‘t talk, not even in your language from what I was told.”

The ghoul coughed or barked something, she wasn‘t sure which, and crouched down again. When Edgar continued to shy away, he barked more insistently and banged a knuckle on a convenient stone. The boy reluctantly detached himself from her leg and approached the older ghoul. Barking what sounded like another order, Glory watched as his face slowly shifted to something much more human and then back. He did this several times, not only with his head, but also with his hands and his feet, though his feet never lost the large hoof like nails which gave him the appearance of a dark-coated Pan. At least they elongated enough that she’d be able to slip some shoes on the boy when he went outside. Gradually Edgar followed suit until he could alter his appearance with ease, even lightening his skin and reducing the amount of hair on his body. The only trouble he had were with his ears which remained slightly pointy no matter how many times the elder ghoul shifted for him. By the time he was done, he could have passed for someone of middle eastern descent.

“Can’t do much about the talking,” the elder ghoul explained when he was finally satisfied with the child’s transformations. “We’re born with all the languages of our forefathers. Couldn’t say what those bastards at MU might’ve done to make him go quiet. Least he still understands. Guess he’ll talk again when he’s good and ready.”

“Thank you.” Glory was relieved that even if she couldn’t get him to go back to his own people, at least she could hide him from Scott’s men in plain sight. She mulled over how best to ask her next question before blurting it out in frustration, “How much should I be feeding him? He’s like a bottomless pit.”

That brought a cacophonous chorus of yipping laughter from the canal’s opening and the two ghouls before her. “Lady, he’ll eat as much or as little as you give him. The only thing overfeeding him will accomplish is that he’ll sleep a lot more. You could starve him for a week, and you’d still have to lock up the garbage at night if there are any leftovers. Are there, by the way? Inquiring minds want to know.” He grinned widely, wiggling his eyebrows like some parody of Groucho Marx, displaying his canines in a now customary grin.

“Can you tell me how old he is? How fast will he grow? Is he an adolescent? Teenager?”

“Ghouls grow very slowly, very, very,” his companion volunteered in a quiet, almost reverent voice. “That’s why we traded our offspring for yours in other times. Faster and easier to raise yours than ours. That and changelings bring strength to both races. It is a high honor. We’ll take your other one, if you like.”

“Ah, no… I don’t think Robert would go for that at all.” Glory said with a slight laugh.

The other ghoul nodded his understanding. “Too old for it. Infants are easier.”

Glory thanked the ghouls again and draped the tarnkappe back over Edgar as they wondered towards the outer wall. He might be able to alter his appearance, but having a him run around naked would still raise questions if they were seen. She wondered what Robert would have to say about his new foster brother. It was perhaps better if she didn’t mention that the ghouls had offered to take him instead.

to Book 5, part 3, page 10

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 5, part 3.9”

  1. here2read said

    Yea! Glory has a ghoul!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: