Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5, part 3.18

Posted by harmony0stars on March 26, 2010

“If you’re only going to Innsmouth to make trouble, then it’s just as well that you not attend the ceremony this year,” Father Miguel sneered. Though Father Llugh was the elder and often the more severe of the senior priests, it was Father Miguel who tended to criticize him for his shortcomings more often than not. Father Llugh was more apt to observe Miguel’s frequent tirades without comment, something that both Fathers Miguel and Chester took as approval.

“I said I’ll go,” Father Chester replied testily. “It’s about time I go, especially if we all end up returning to Innsmouth in some kind of mass exodus. I don’t think that would be wise though.”

“Oh?” his brother priest demanded. “And why don’t you think we should return to Innsmouth?”

“Because if Miskatonic is after our people again, going back to where they tried to wipe us out the first time doesn’t strike me as the smartest movie.” Chester snapped and tugged his suitcase from a hall closet.

“That is a very wise statement,” Father Llugh said as he tottered down the corridor. Chester might secretly resent the severity of his own transformation, but Father Llugh had dealt with his own sign of Dagon’s favor for far longer and without complaint. He jumped to the old man’s side to assist him down the hall, but Llugh waved him away. “It is something we should bring up with the High Priest when we meet with him. Perhaps it is time we abandoned Y’ha-nthlei for Ahu-Y’hloa or G’ll-Hoo.”

“To be honest, sir, I don’t even know if that would be safe,” he said before hastening to explain himself when both priests gave him querulous looks. “Pollution of the seas is only getting worse, along with over fishing. Some of us need to stay on land if only to safeguard the quality of life for our forbearers. I still say it‘s not wise to keep to ourselves as we do. We need to get out into the world and ensure our people will have a future.”

“You are in rare form today, my boy,” Father Llugh announced with a faint smile and Chester brightened visibly, just as Miguel’s scowl deepened.

“I’ve just been thinking about what the future holds.”

“For much of the night by the dark circles under your eyes.” He staggered past, wheezing with exertion and dragging his left leg. It had been more finned flipper than leg since birth. Lately his other leg had begun to turn as well and breathing on land had become more and more difficult. It was the lot of a priest of Dagon to suffer for his people, but when it was no longer possible to remain dry for more than a few hours without wheezing, it would be time to go on to Innsmouth or into the sea for good. Even as the transformations they were born with made it difficult to remain land bound, a priest of Dagon was obligated to stay for as long as was possible, despite a comparatively accelerated transformation.

Dagon knew he’d lasted longer than most priests. A hundred sixty two years was long enough to stay land bound in service to one’s people, not that he envied Chester having to deal with Miguel alone. Though he typically refrained from criticism, the man was as pig headed and quarrelsome as they came. It had constantly surprised him that Miguel remained in Kingsport instead of moving on to Innsmouth and the bloodier rituals. Sometimes he suspected Miguel only stayed in Kingsport in order to be a big fish in a little tide pool, not that he’d ever put such a thing into words.

Whatever his flaws, Miguel knew the doctrine inside and out, and it wasn’t as if Llugh had any evidence that Miguel was abusing his position aside from a vaguely sour stomach whenever the other man was allowed to give a sermon. Miguel had a habit of dwelling on the darker passages. His Sign was not even that extreme. If Father Llugh had been the Elder priest when Miguel was offered to the priesthood by his parents, well, he’d convinced himself that he would not have accepted the boy. After all, a tail was something with which even generic humans might occasionally be born. Besides, in all the years they’d performed their duties, Miguel had never shown any other signs of Dagon’s favor, not like Chester, poor boy.

Miguel had never made a secret of his dislike for Chester, which was just one more reason that Father Llugh had struggled to remain on land for so long. Miguel was sure to make Chester’s life a misery once he was in charge. Chester had not been brought to the priesthood at seven as was customary. He had come on his own as a grown man and therefore none of his story could be verified. Who knew when the webbing on his hands had grown or been cut? Maybe he had cut the webbing himself, which Miguel had argued long and loudly was a sure sign he was not fit to be a priest. Father Llugh didn’t believe that for a second, but there was nothing he could do to convince the other man.

It was just a shame Millicent’s girl, Hyacinth, had never shown any interest in the clergy. Gills were a pretty clear sign of Dagon’s favor, but even as a child, Cindy had been hard pressed to quell her insatiable curiosity about the human world, even marrying one of them. No, perhaps it was just as well she hadn’t joined the priesthood. One forward thinking priest was enough. Two might have attracted the notice of Miskatonic long before now. Pity about her daughter though.

The high priest of Innsmouth had lived through the blitz on Devil’s Reef and the raid in Innsmouth, though he‘d been one of the lesser priests at the time. He kept his congregation in line mainly through violence. Though he and Llugh had been the only two priests to survive the attack, they had taken entirely different routes to preserving their people‘s way of life. It was just as well that Llugh had led his dissenters out of Innsmouth so long ago. Otherwise many of them would no doubt have been chosen as sacrifices and object lessons to those remaining. Even so many years later, his contemporary in Innsmouth continue to keep their people in line more through fear of being chosen as a sacrifice than by any real faith in Dagon’s largesse. It was just a shame that so close to the sea, his brother might continue to lead the main branch of the Church for many years to come. He wondered what effect Chester’s arguments would have on the Innsmouth Elder. It would be hard to dispute with such facts. A hundred years in the future, or five hundred, the sea might not be capable of supporting their people, and what then? Better to consider such things sooner, rather than later. Not that Dag would want to hear it. On the other hand, if he chose to stay in Innsmouth at the end of this trip, Dag would have no choice but to share power with his brother. After all, no one could say that Llugh Marsh was not every bit as pious as his brother. If he could not prevent his people from returning to Innsmouth, perhaps he could serve to tone down the violence his brother espoused.

to Book 5, part 3, page 19

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 5, part 3.18”

  1. Alderin said

    “Am I my brother’s keeper?” hehe

    “had never shown any interested in the clergy.” interested -> interest

    *HUGS*

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