Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

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Tattoo Book 6 part 2.25

Posted by harmony0stars on September 3, 2010

Their leader looked less than pleased. He pushed himself up from his chair, and as he did so, he waved his hand. His companions and the room itself faded from view as quickly as they had appeared, and he walked through the table even as it faded away as it tattered and disappeared like smoke. He stepped down the stairs of the dais towards Glory and Phoenix, the room reforming around him as he moved until Glory wasn’t sure if their surroundings were an illusion or she was physically being moved while he only seemed to approach.

“I wish you had not done that. She hardly needs the encouragement.” He strode past them through an archway that had not been there a moment before. Glory and Phoenix hurried to catch up. They followed him down dark and chilly stone corridors that could have been centuries or millennia old, cold drafts alternately pulling and pushing at them. He said, “We cannot help you reach Y’qaa,” not bothering to look behind him to see if they were still there. Well, he was a god; he probably knew exactly where they were.

“But…?”

He cut Glory off. “Father would know this. Sending you here was merely a formality, his way of keeping us at each others’ throats by renewing our rivalries. We can only set you on your path, nothing more.” He paused before a stout oak door decorated with heavy iron bands which extended from the hinges.

“I- really have no idea what I am supposed to do. I don’t know anything about the Dreamlands, or even who you are,” Glory said quietly, trying to keep her voice from developing a tremor.

He put his hand on the door, and it swung inwards to dark space. “Then you will have to learn fast or die in the attempt!” he snapped before bringing himself back under control. He turned to look at her, and his gaze was half pity, half contempt. “We have all gone through this in our time, a quest to prove we are worthy of our parents’ sufferance. Our progenitors will not accept weak offspring, nor would you survive long among us if they did. You cannot trust any of our race, not even myself. I tell you this so that you will not think to depend on me in the future, and this warning is the only concession I will make to our familial bond. Any one of us would kill you if we stood to benefit from it. If you survive, you will have our father’s protection and our peerage, but you will likely fail in retrieving the tablets as so many larvae have before you.”

Glory bit her tongue on the other questions that squirmed to be free and didn’t bother to mention the bag of starred gemstones in her pocket or the dead men who had come seeking mercy and found only death. It was entirely possible that Oukranos knew all about the men. Maybe he had willfully chosen to let his river run dry, killing all those who inhabited his shores.

“I am Tamash, former god of Sarnath,” he announced with bitter dignity. “I am at least still free to go there, even if I may not travel elsewhere.” He stepped through the door and was instantly swallowed by the darkness. His voice trailed after him as if he were talking into a tin can. With a glance at Phoenix who looked as miserable as she felt, Glory stepped into the dark and was instantly numbed by the cold that wrapped around her like a vise, robbing her even of her breath. Tamash’s voice continued, though how he could draw breath to speak in the omnipresent cold was a mystery. “It is a dead place ruled now by Bokrug’s phantom children. Do not linger by the Nameless Lake, but make your way down to Ilarnek. From there, you may follow the river Ai to Kadatheron. It is there you may find some indication of where to find Y’qaa.”

His voice faded away to nothing as she squelched out of the shadows, her feet sinking in the marshy shore of a vast lake. The moon was high overhead and loomed at least five times as large as its terrestrial counterpart, as if it were about to fall from the sky and smash into the water. Tamash was nowhere to be seen, but she hadn’t expected him to stick around. She didn’t know whether to resent him for his callousness or feel grateful for his honesty. He could have pretended to be her friend, but his honesty could just as easily been a ruse despite his warning that she couldn’t trust him any more than the others. Her first perverse instinct, because he had told her he was unworthy of her trust, was to trust him.

A scuff behind her made her turn in time to see Phoenix stumble from the dark shadows of the surrounding crags. He was trembling, his eyes wide and staring as he stood in the moonlight. Not that there was much to see, not a ripple stirred the Lake or the image of the moon which stared up at itself unblinking.

“Are you alright?” she asked.

Phoenix swallowed and nodded without speaking. He looked around at the shore, visibly shaken by his journey. Maybe it had been the cold. It seemed to affect him more than it did her. At least there was no snow in Sarnath. It was positively balmy there, even if they were still on a mountain. She peeled off her coat and left it on a large boulder half sunk in the mud and rushes.

The lake was obscenely quiet, as if they had just walked in after the death knell of something truly abhorrent had died away. There was no sign of a city aside from the barest indication of what had once been a road leading away through the mountains. She would not have chosen to wait for dawn even if Tamash hadn‘t advised them to leave as soon as they arrived. Turning her back on the still waters, she set off down the boulder strewn road, breathing a sigh of relief when the ground stopped sucking at her shoes. Phoenix quickly followed after, his coat pulled tightly around him.

to Book 6, part 2, page 26

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7 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 part 2.25”

  1. Fiona said

    he probably knew exactly where they were.

    Do we even know what Y’qaa is? Is it the tablets – which I assume were mentioned in the dead men’s note?

  2. Emote Control said

    It struck me that Glory said nothing about the drought. It would be in character for her to ask the Gods to do something about it.

    • They didn’t really give her the opportunity and the whole ordeal had her somewhat off balance though she hid it well. Don’t worry. She finds out more about the drought later on and passes the info to someone in a position to do something about it.

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