Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 2.33

Posted by harmony0stars on September 22, 2010

“No one should know about the gems,” Phoenix insisted as they stumbled down the road. It was nearing noon, and they were both bone tired. Glory might not need sleep, but apparently her muscles could still get sore from prolonged use. Her energy had kept them both going well after sunrise, but even she had limits.

They’d been sure for at least an hour that they were coming up on a village. The road which had been little more than a crease in the grasslands was showing more signs of use. The detritus of humanity’s passage lay in the dust along the wayside. Scraps of fabric and worn out bits of wood and leather appeared every so often. The wind brought the intermittent smell of wood smoke to them as they stumbled through the weeds. They had just come upon a field of grain, nearly ripe enough for harvest, and the argument they’d been having since the sun rose had reared its head again.

“A small gem to pay for food supplies, maybe horses,” Glory said, trying to convince him that the pros outweighed the cons of revealing their wealth. “If they have horses, we could be far enough away by the time we stop for the night that we won’t have to worry about anyone trying to rob us.”

Phoenix shook his head. “Two of Lucka’s friends got away, and we don’t know where they came from, maybe this village. We don’t even know what they look like. If we don’t show we have funds, maybe they’ll think Lucka was mistaken and not press their luck a second time. Otherwise they have access to more friends here who might be willing to consider murdering two travelers no one will miss. Besides, I doubt the village will be large enough to have more than a handful of horses,” he said with certainty, “and those will all be used in farming. They won‘t want to part with any of them this close to harvest. Not for a stone that won‘t have value until they manage to get to Ilarnek to trade it. It‘s more likely they‘ll have oxen or cows and no horses at all. Horses are luxury for the kind of small village we‘d find this far away from civilization.”

Glory hated to admit it, but he had a point. She wished she’d brought her backpack with her from the car, but she hadn’t thought she’d need it in the asylum. At least there might have been things to trade… twine, a small pair of scissors, even her markers would have been a novelty worthy of some surplus food. They didn’t need much, just enough for Phoenix really.

There was a shout ahead and the clop, clop of some large animal approaching. A minute later a massive red cow appeared at the top of the hill. She paused as if deciding whether the travelers would challenge her right to passage before she continued down the road towards them. The cow had some kind of torn harness on her back as well as a rope wrapped around her long face in a primitive halter.

She tromped along the road as if she belonged there, head held high. Glory would not have expected something so massive to move with such speed, but she supposed there was a reason people baited bulls in Spain for sport. Phoenix stepped to one side of the road and Glory to the other as the cow barreled towards them. A man and a boy appeared at the top of the hill, running to catch their escaped livestock.

Glory turned and started running as the cow passed, keeping pace with the creature as she tried to catch the rope that dragged along the ground. With a growl of frustration, Phoenix turned and started running too. Even as she tried to catch the animal, Glory wondered what she would do if she succeeded. The cow probably had a good two hundred pounds on her, though she’d heard of bulls weighing as much as a ton. She might be off by a couple hundred or so.

The rope dangled just out of reach, and with every miss, there was a chance Glory might fall under the cow’s hooves and be trampled. She was as surprised as the cow when by some miracle she latched onto the rope. Catching hold of it and stopping the animal were two different things unfortunately. Glory could tell right away that if she tried to get the cow under control by brute force, she’d either be trampled or get her arm ripped off for her efforts. She abandoned the rope and grabbed the broken harness still strapped to its back, swinging herself up on top of the stampeding animal.

The cow barely broke stride, and Glory got to learn firsthand why horses were the preferred animal for riding. With each impact of its hooves with the earth, she skittered around so an observer might have thought the cow’s back was greased. There was no way for her to wrap her legs around its broad back and so no stability as she tried to calm the animal. Once she was astride it however, there were only two ways to dismount… fall off or find some way to calm the cow. She braced herself as best she could and leaned forward, trying to say soothing things into its ear while simultaneously patting its neck. It didn’t seem as though the cow would ever stop, but gradually it began to slow. The cow slowed to a walk and then finally stopped, its muscles twitching with exhaustion. With a groan, Glory slid off onto the ground, holding onto the rope just in case the cow decided to make another break for it.

“You are insane!” Phoenix gasped as he staggered to a stop, panting and trying to catch his breath from the run. He leaned forward on his knees, practically weeping with fatigue.

“I’ve never seen anyone try to ride a stampeding cow!” gasped the boy as he and the old man caught up.

“You never will again, either,” Glory groaned, holding the rope out to him from where she sat in the grass. She had no idea how they had expected to stop the cow themselves, but she was just glad her ride was over. The cow lowered its head to the grass and started eating, oblivious to the drama it had caused.

With a chuckle, the older man took the rope and gave it a gentle tug. The cow tugged back, taking another bite of grass before allowing itself to be led back towards the road. “Well, she stopped and no one was hurt,” he said, smiling. “The least we can do is offer you a meal for your efforts. Run on home to your mother, Tans. Tell her we have guests.” Tans wasted no time in formalities but set off running through the field.

to Book 6, part 2, page 34

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 part 2.33”

  1. capriox said

    Hullo! Saw your link with the tagline “not a good idea to ride a cow” or something re-tweeted by a friend. I’m a farmer who works with a variety of livestock, so of course I was interested. I just wanted to say, a mature cow easily weighs 1400 lbs for a large breed, maybe only 1000 for a small breed. So if Glory is a typical 130-170lb woman, she needs to work on her weight estimating skills, lol!

    • lol, thanks… she (and by inference, I) know nothing about cows. She’s a city girl. I’ve at least grown up around horses. 🙂 I think a lot of people think because a cow or horse is “smaller than a car,” it must weigh only a “few hundred pounds” or so. heh I figured giving her a low guess would be amusing.

      But I think we can agree that riding a stampeding cow no matter what its weight is not a good idea… unless you’re the big guy from Blazing Saddles!

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