Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5, part 3.17

Posted by harmony0stars on March 24, 2010

Though she really wanted to ask him about this Ilyaa Ghft he kept mentioning, instead she said, “Well, it’s something to work towards at any rate. I’m sure you’re not so idealistic that you’d expect acceptance overnight.”

He laughed. “Well, if you listened to Father Miguel scold me, you might think otherwise. He often says, Chester! If it wasn’t blasphemy, I’d wonder if Dagon had gone mad in choosing you as his priest! It’s one of the only times Father Llugh defends me. Apparently Father Miguel was just as naive when he first took his vows.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being idealistic, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call you naïve. Naïve would be marching off to Miskatonic, looking to make friends in all the wrong places.”

“No,” he said, his smile fading. “No, you’re right about that. I hate that Father Llugh and the High Priest in Innsmouth can both so readily find a bogeyman like Miskatonic to scare us all into submission, but after what’s happened to Cindy… Well, I doubt anyone will be so eager to leave the enclave any time soon. In fact, I know that many of my people are talking about returning to Innsmouth as we sit here, even knowing what kind of ceremonies are performed there. Even those born here in Kingsport are talking about returning to Innsmouth. Not that we all don’t go back eventually when the change becomes unbearable. I just wish…”

“What?”

“You don‘t know what goes on there. It‘s… shameful, and I thank the stars every day that I passed through Kingsport on my way to Innsmouth.” He shook his head and pulled up his sleeve to show a series of scars along the inside of his arm. There was probably a duplicate set on his other arm. “We send a blood tithe on the high holy days, our own blood, not that of unwilling sacrifices, not like in Innsmouth. They take any outsider they can find, sometimes abducting people from neighboring towns if they can get away with it. If they can’t find the number Dagon demands, sometimes they sacrifice from within the congregation.”

“And your god demands this?” Glory asked, suddenly uneasy.

“I really have no idea,” he replied helplessly, pulling his sleeve back down. “I’ve never gone to Innsmouth myself, and I have no idea if Dagon really speaks to the High Priest there or if he just decides arbitrarily who and how many the sacrifice will be. I almost wish Dagon would talk to me, just so I’d know once and for all what kind of god I’m serving. There’s the dreams of course, but everyone has those. They don’t really tell me anything I couldn’t find in the Ilyaa Ghft. I want to blame all these blood rituals on sick minds serving Him. I take comfort in the fact that the Christian god was not always so benevolent according to his Book, so maybe gods can change. I could be wrong, but surely if He was a cruel or vengeful god, Dagon would destroy us as we come back to the sea during the change. I know people here that have had contact with their great great grandparents who live in Y’Ha-Nthlei and swim along the coast to visit now and again.”

“So this Ilyaa Ghft is your holy book? Does it say anything about sacrifices?”

“Unfortunately, it does.” He ducked his head as if ashamed. “Though it’s very general. I’ve already tried to argue that the text doesn’t mention blood anywhere, but Father Miguel always points out that blood is the preferred sacrifice of all the Old Ones.”

After having battled Tsathoggua, Glory could argue with him on that score. He‘d seemed mighty determined to have those children. “So… are you thinking I should leave Chelsea in Innsmouth?” Glory asked after a few minutes silence.

“Not at all! The tide will be at it’s lowest point in the eighteen year cycle in two days, and the High Priest may very well decide to sacrifice her along with any outsiders they’ve collected. I couldn’t say for certain that she will be sacrificed, but her chances aren’t good if she’s told them her heritage, and having been kept ignorant of her mother‘s people, there’s no reason to believe that she hasn’t.”

Glory sat back in her chair with a sigh, trying to think how she could even get out to Devil’s Reef to find the girl, let alone bring her back to land. “How do you transport this tithe to Innsmouth?”

“Tomorrow evening, we’ll hold services to collect the blood of all the adults in the congregation. Fathers Miguel and Llugh will transport it by refrigerated truck to Innsmouth to keep it fresh. From there, it will be taken by ship to Devil’s Reef.”

“Is there any way you can go with them?”

Chester paled visibly. “For twenty years, they’ve asked me to go, and for twenty years, I’ve begged off.”

Even with his receding hairline, he hardly looked to be older that thirty, but she let his statement slide. Instead she said, “Because you’re afraid you might be wrong about Dagon.”

“Yeah,” he croaked before repeating himself in a stronger voice, giving her an embarrassed smile. “Yeah, as much as I want to know, I don’t want to know, you know?” He laughed self-consciously, running his hand over his head again.

“I’m not worried about getting into Innsmouth or getting onto the boat, but to get Chelsea out…”

He nodded, looking at the table. “I’ll go. It‘s about time I sorted this out. I‘m not much of a priest with this doubt gnawing at me anyway.”

“Don’t be too eager,” she cautioned, “when they ask you, I mean. They might figure something’s up.”

“Oh don’t worry about that. I doubt I could make anyone think I was eager to go.” He laughed at himself as he stood.

“Don’t worry if you don’t see me on the ship. I’ve got more tricks than a stage magician.”

to Book 5, part 3, page 18

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