Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6.14

Posted by harmony0stars on May 26, 2010

The campus was nearly deserted when she arrived. Most of the student body had left Arkham for the weekend. There were a few stragglers, die-hard academic types or kids with a terminal fear of failing, but they kept their heads down and quickly scurried back to their dorms or to the library. It was just past noon, so she assumed that classes were over for the weekend, but it was the weather that was making the student body cringe. The sky was gray and the wind was sharp, perhaps heralding the first snowfall of the season or worse, freezing rain. Glory zipped up her coat to keep up appearances and dashed to the administrative building.

Perhaps she should have stopped at the front desk and asked the secretary to let Scott know she was on her way down, but the woman had seemed busy, and Glory didn’t like to bother people needlessly. As she neared his office, she saw two very embarrassed students waiting in the hall and heard Scott shouting at someone. One of the men wore a cast on his leg and was propped up on crutches. Even though he couldn’t have any idea who she was, Glory was embarrassed all the same. She was at least partially responsible for his injury.

“What going on?” she asked in a murmur, flinching as Scott yelled over a very reasonable sounding female voice.

“Mad Murdock’s threatening to quit,” Tom replied with an awkward shrug. “Not that I blame her. I’d transfer out if I didn’t think Scott would stop me from getting in anywhere else.”

His companion elbowed him. For a moment Glory thought it was because he’d realized she wasn’t a fellow student. “Shhh, he has ears like a bat, and you’re in his Sanskrit class, and you‘re on the short list for field work in Ethiopia next summer… if you‘re healed up in time. He could still mess with you, even if you don‘t try to get into another school. No sympathy for those wounded in the line of duty.” He coked his head to the side and held out his hand. “I’m Teague, and this is my twin brother Tom.”

“I’m Glory,” she replied, and Teague whistled quietly.

“Hope you won’t pass any of that along. The old man’s real excited about you.”

“That’s a shame because I intend to disappoint him.”

Tom and Teague both grinned, and she could suddenly see the family resemblance. They weren’t identical, but their smiles were. “Everybody does,” Tom replied with a snicker. “He has high standards and low opinions. It’s a wonder he can stand to get out of bed in the morning, all of us racial impure heathens crowding up the place. You, uh… been downstairs?”

“Yeah,” Glory replied without going into detail.

“There was an… incident a week back. Kind of how I got hurt. Some of those… things down there, they’re practically human. I mean, there are monsters too, but there are- were people down there, just not like us. I‘m… I‘m glad they got away. It wasn‘t right.” He looked as though he was expecting an argument, but neither Glory nor his brother disagreed with him. “I should have stayed in Botany,” he groaned, and his brother punched him lightly in the shoulder.

“Damn straight. We could have gone to South America and discovered the next super diet supplement.”

Tom snorted as the door to Scott’s office whipped open. “I don’t care about tenure. I don’t care if you won’t recommend me to another college. I am done, Nigel. Those serpent people just wanted…” She clammed up as she realized she had an audience. Flushing as red as her hair, she turned and looked Scott right in the eye. “I Quit,” she announced, biting off each word. Professor Murdock patted Tom’s shoulder in passing and nodded at his brother. Though she gave Glory a curious look, she didn’t stop to introduce herself. Walking down the hall, she kept her head high and her back stiff and didn’t look back.

Professor Scott was pretty red in the face too, and he practically turned purple when he realized there’d been an audience to their quarrel. His nostrils flared as he attempted to bring himself under control. Though he remained flushed for several more minutes, his voice was perfectly cultured when he finally spoke. “I‘m sorry, boys. I’m afraid I have a prior meeting with Miss Lewin. Was there something you needed before Monday?”

Teague and Tom looked at each other. Apparently she wasn’t the only one who was a little disturbed by Scott’s mood swings, not that he seemed to notice. “I guess not, professor,” Tom replied. “I’ll catch you in class then.” They shuffled down the hall to the elevators, Teague holding the doors as his brother struggled to get in without falling.

“Well,” Scott said, running his hand through his hair. “I’m very sorry you had to witness that. Ms Murdock has always had a fiery temper, and things came to a head recently.” It didn’t escape Glory’s notice that he’d already dropped her honorific. He also made no attempt to explain the nature of their quarrel, though if Teague and Tom were right, he certainly wasn’t going to ruin his chances of recruiting her by describing a recent breach in security.

Glory shrugged. “Don’t worry about it.” So far as she’d seen, it was Scott, not Murdock, who had the fiery temper, but she was glad to see it was possible to ruffle his feathers. She reached into her backpack pulled out the report she’d promised him.

Scott gave it a cursory look, pausing at the formula she’d used to stun the draug, just on the off chance that they found the residue on the body. “Did this really work?”

“It gave him pause. I don’t think he was hurt by the spray, but he didn‘t like it. I’ve been calling it cryptid pepperspray, though for all I know it would affect a human the same way. I made it into a salve as well, but I didn‘t get a chance to test it.”

Scott rubbed his upper lip as he scanned the formula. “The pentagrams on the bay leaves, that’s medieval, but the sulfur?”

“It was burned in exorcisms in the city-states of the Tigris-Euphrates, all the way to Hattusa I think, as well as other pungent sulfurous herbs like asafetida. It was one of the reasons the Church claimed Christian demons smelled of brimstone, most of them having been borrowed from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean mythology.”

“Interesting… you’ve certainly given me some food for thought here.” He set the report on his desk and smiled. “Shall we take that tour?” he asked, so gentlemanly she almost expected him to offer his arm to her.

***

Hattusa

***

to Book 6, page 15

Bonus update this Sunday > Robert’s notebook

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