Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 2.26

Posted by harmony0stars on September 6, 2010

There had been a time when Glory would have welcomed any sensation, even the cold, but all the same, she was glad that Sarnath was warmer that Kadath. It was positively muggy as they navigated the ancient boulder strewn highway. The road had seen better days, but if enough time had passed to erase an entire city, they were lucky there was still any sign of it at all. At least the moon was bright enough to illuminate their path. She wouldn’t have liked to find her way down in the dark.

Glory paused now and then to allow Phoenix to catch up. He huddled miserably in his coats, stumbling over stones he should have been able to avoid even in the dim moonlight. She had no reason to trust him, and while she might feel pity for him, that didn’t make him a friend. The secrets he had kept from her called his continued companionship into question. She might not have believed him even if he’d been upfront with her about her heritage, but knowing he hadn’t even tried made her trust him even less than she had before. What reason could he have for staying by her side now when it was likely only to put him in more danger later? She suspected he would abandon her at the least opportune time.

And if she did manage to find her way back to Earth, would he remain in the Dreamlands or would they be bound together again? It was an important question and one she wasn’t likely to find an answer to until and if she succeeded in getting home. She could only hope that getting home wasn’t contingent with going along with her father’s quest.

She didn’t appreciate Tamash calling her a larvae either. Maybe that was the official name for what she was, but she didn‘t like the implications. What little she knew about her father’s ‘people’ made the idea that she might change into something else an uncomfortable possibility. Nothing she had heard or read about her father’s people made her comfortable with following his directives. Sinister was really the kindest epitaph she could ascribe to them.

All of her brothers and sisters, or cousins, or whatever they were… they had all looked human, but given how easily Tamash had controlled their environment, maybe the faces she’d been shown were nothing but illusion. She didn’t know, and that was the problem. She didn’t know anything about the Dreamlands or her family, and she had no one to ask. Phoenix obviously had no interest in clueing her in. It kind of made her more understanding of Professor Scott’s stance concerning other races. For one moment, the thought of coming clean with Scott skittered through her brain before she choked back a laugh. That was a sure fire way to get imprisoned or vivisected, probably both.

So wrapped up in her thoughts was she that she almost mistook the sounds behind them for an echo of their own movements. She paused again, and Phoenix stumbled closer with a grateful sigh. Funny how he seemed to have no energy, but she was brimming with it. He caught up, and when she did not immediately begin moving again, he leaned against a nearby boulder to rest.

Glory listened without looking behind them, pretending to rest as well. Was that the sound of furtive footfalls or simply dry grass brushing against a rock in the wind? Considering the number of boulders in the road, rockslides were not unheard of. So one would assume that the occasional small stone falling, tap-tap-tap, down from the cliffs was normal; if that was in fact the source of the sound.

She leaned against the boulder with Phoenix as if she was also exhausted. “I think we’re being followed.”

He stiffened, but was smart enough not to look around. “There’s no one up here. Even the shepherds stay away from Sarnath, and treasure hunters only come during the day. No one is foolish enough to stay here after dark.”

They both flinched at the echo of stones sliding from somewhere behind them. Though they’d been traveling for hours, their path was so clogged by rubble that they could not have gone more than a mile. A sharp ‘whap’ could have been the sound of a large bird taking flight, but Glory didn‘t think so.

“Can you run?“ she whispered, glancing sidelong at her companion.

Phoenix shivered, huddle in his furs. “No… I don’t have the energy, unless you’ll share.”

Glory frowned. “How would I do that? We’re not connected. You can’t just steal it any more.”

He bowed his head, tired or ashamed, or maybe just acting like he was to gain her sympathy. “Just… take my hand and will it.” He held out a dirty hand that trembled with exhaustion. “You have so much. You’ll hardly notice the loss… just enough to get down the mountain. That’s all. With food and rest, I won‘t need to ask, but if we must run… I‘ll never make it.” When she seemed disinclined to take his hand, he forced himself to say, “please,” in a desperate tone.

Gritting her teeth, she reached out and took his hand. It was cold, which surprised her. Given what he was, even confined to a human form, she’d expected him to be warm. She did as he had told her, willing some of her energy into him. For a moment, she thought it hadn’t worked, but within seconds, his hand grew warm. He let out a sigh of relief. He’d been right too. She didn’t notice a change in her own energy at all, but he seemed to get some benefit from her efforts.

The sound of more rocks falling, followed by the shuffing of flesh or fabric brushing against stone, made them both glance back up the trail. There was no sign of any one following, but neither of them was inclined to wait and see. Phoenix immediately pushed away from the boulder where he sat, and they both rushed over the rocks and boulders that littered their path. From behind, the sounds of pursuit continued at a renewed pace as whoever followed gave up trying to be sneaky.

to Book 6, part 2, page 27

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4 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 part 2.26”

  1. Fiona said

    Gollum?

    • LOL

      In all honesty, I would not be surprised to learn that the Dreamlands inspired Middle Earth or that Dunsany was the inspiration for Middle Earth as he was for the Dreamlands.

      • Fiona said

        You are so educational. Why had I never heard of Dunsany, the dude with 7 names who was pals with Yeats and Lady Gregory, whom I had heard of? I googled and learned. Sounds interesting and the right time period – he could have been an influence.

        • 🙂 Dunsany is a well known influence on Lovecraft’s work, especially his more fantastical work like the Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath (though that particular story has also been compared to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars books). It’s hard to say though whether Lovecraft or Dunsany, or both, were an influence on Tolkien. It may be only that Tolkien drew on similar themes as Dunsany, both being Celtic/Gaelic scholars.

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