Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 2.39

Posted by harmony0stars on October 13, 2010

Milet led them through a warren of dirty streets. Glory never realized how useful pavement and sidewalks were until she had to fight for space with wagons and horses… and the little presents they left everywhere. In a city the size of Ilarnek, she would have assumed someone would be paid by whoever ran things to collect it. Thankfully Milet stayed away from any dark alley shortcuts or Glory was certain Phoenix’s head would have exploded from sheer paranoia. Once they exited the main thoroughfare, their path became much easier to navigate, and the people moved with more purpose. There were fewer sightseers to block their way.

It was only five or so streets over that they finally came to a stop in front of a very plain building. There was nothing to tell them that they had found a jeweler, but Milet confidently knocked on the door. After a moment, a middle aged man appeared. His belly was beginning to go to fat, but it was clear he had once been quite muscular. He stared down at the little street urchin with wariness before eyeing Glory and Phoenix with the same expression.

“Master Pon-D’lek,” Milet said in a respectful tone, not looking up from the ground. “These folk would like to sell a stone, and I immediately thought of you as the most honest of gem merchants.”

“Come in! Come in, my friends,” he said, an eager gleam in his eye. Milet started to hunker down against the building to wait for the coin Glory had promised, but the gem merchant scowled. “You, boy… You had best come in as well. I’m sure these gentle folk would not have you running off to whisper in any ears that two travelers with a pouch full of gold are wandering the streets.”

Milet colored under his grime but said nothing in his defense. He followed Glory and Phoenix into the building with a studiously blank expression. Phoenix was smiling for the first time in days, no doubt at Milet’s expense. The boy settled himself into a corner near the door, pulling his legs up and staring off into space. Glory was impressed with his ability to hold his tongue, but being at the mercy of pretty much anyone who took a dislike to him had probably taught him to guard his tongue from an early age..

There were two doors leading from the small sitting room, one curtained and the other lit up by firelight. Pon-D’lek called out, “Wife!” And a very spare, almost nondescript woman came out from the kitchen. She wiped her hands on a towel and patiently waited for her husband to explain why he‘d called her. “Food for our guests… and the boy,” he said as an after-thought.

The woman glanced at Glory and Phoenix, but her expression only softened as she looked down at the child. She turned with a nod, going back the way she’d come without a word. Her husband led his visitors to a small table at the center of the room, gesturing to one of the two seats and taking the other for himself.

“I am not an uncharitable man,” the gem merchant said, giving a vague nod to Milet with his chin. “but a beggar at the door is bad for business, and I can tell by your dress that you are strangers to our city. Thieves are always a concern, even for those who have lived here their entire lives.”

His wife was not long in bringing food and wine on a fine silver platter. She set it down and returned to her kitchen. A moment later, she reappeared with a small bowl and offered it to Milet. It was piled high with steaming rice and large bits of meat. He took it almost with an air of embarrassment, casting a wary eye to the table where Pon-D’lek sat as if afraid the man would change his mind. When Pon-D’lek did not even spare him a glance, he quickly began shoveling the hot food into his mouth with his fingers. It was probably not often that he received a hot meal.

“Please feel free to refresh yourself,” Pon-D’lek announced. “I know from experience that gems are easier to hide from robbers than coins. No doubt you’ve not had the opportunity to rest or eat since your arrival.” As Glory had taken the only other chair across from him, he now addressed her exclusively, assuming as others had that Phoenix was her servant. He poured her a cup of wine, and she dutifully sipped at the liquid.

“Thank you,” Glory replied. She took a few grapes, cheese, and a piece of paste slathered bread. The green paste was zesty like mustard greens mixed with something sweet. She would have passed some food and drink to Phoenix, but she wasn’t sure of the protocol, and Pon-D’lek had only filled two cups, one for himself and one for her.

The food was delicious, but she ate only to be polite. She only took a few bites before reaching into a pocket and removing a small pouch made from a corner of Jake’s produce blanket and a bit of twine. It held only the smallest of the gems. She and Phoenix had agreed that they should keep the majority of the stones hidden.

Pon-D’lek was eager as he accepted the bag, and Glory took the opportunity to hand some food and her cup to Phoenix where he hovered behind her. The gem merchant seemed slightly agitated as he examined the stones, but Glory couldn’t tell if he was disappointed or excited. He glanced up at her and then at Phoenix as if uncertain how he should continue.

“I should not even ask this and a do not want to offend you, but… did these come from a tomb? These gems are so rare and so well cut…” he trailed off as he dropped his eyes back to the stones.

“No,” Glory said, though the cave where she’d found them had been an impromptu tomb of sorts. “If that were the case, I’m sure we’d have more to show for it than a few small stones.”

Her dismissive tone and reference to the stones as small seemed to put him at his ease. Pon-D’lek nodded as he retrieved one tiny lavender stone from the bunch and held it up to the light. “I am not a wealthy man,” he said at last. “If I were, I would take the lot from you. Seeing such gems… it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I can’t let you leave without purchasing something, but alas, I can only afford the smallest of what you offer.”

to Book 6, part 2, page 40

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9 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 part 2.39”

  1. Alderin said

    Greetings and *HUGS*, sorry to be gone so long.

    “show for it that a few small stones” – ‘that’ should be ‘than’.

    Referring to the discussion on the previous chapter, I too think there is nothing quite like holding the book itself. My problem is, with real books, that I suffer from just-one-more-chapter disease. Web serials help immensely in that regard: the next chapter hasn’t been written yet, so I guess I just have to actually get something else done. 🙂

    *HUGS*

  2. Raven said

    After looking at the “possibly related posts” (interesting!) and thinking about all the runes and other symbols you’ve used as tattoos for Glory, Candace, it occurs to me you might be interested in the rune-like ancient writing of Abdul al-Hazred’s old stomping grounds before Damascus — South Arabia, locale of Yemen, and the Rub’ al Khali, and lost Irem of the Pillars. (Who knows, maybe Abdul kept notes in this rather than Arabic!)

    Ancient Scripts: South Arabian.
    Omniglot: South Arabian.
    The Wikipedia article has beautiful photos of inscriptions.
    Corpus of South Arabian Inscriptions (send email to request extended access).
    Nabatea.net

    Although that alphabet is “obsolete,” there are current computer fonts to render it on screen, as well as its living descendant, Ethiopic (Ge’ez) script.

    Hmmm, why not find an old Necronomicon translation in Amharic? There’s a direct language lineage, and the Inquisition would never have gotten down there to burn it….

    To this day, in North Africa, there’s a similarly rune-like script traditional to the Tuaregs, called “Tifinagh”, tracing back to Punic (Phoenician) letters — other Berbers use a variant of it for “secret writing” — and there are computer fonts to render these too.

    I hope you’ll enjoy exploring these.

    • Tell me you haunt the Yog Sothoth forums too. lol If not, this is slightly eerie timing on your part because there was just a post there concerning a recently uncovered tomb in Yemen where this topic was mentioned.

      For all we know about history, there’s 99.9% that we don’t know, will never know, can never know, and probably should never know. Humans have been around a lot longer than recorded history and many cultures have come and gone without our knowledge. There is more anachronistic history discovered by archeologists than what actually jives with the stories we tell ourselves to give the illusion of continuity.

      • Raven said

        Yep. “Iohannes.” But if you look at the timestamps and do the timezone conversion, you’ll see I posted to you first, and then (while it was hung up due to all the links, which by the way it still is at the moment, hint hint) reposted all but the first two links to Yog-Sothoth — where I’d posted the first two links back in March.

        The computer fonts I mentioned, I also have, by the way, so I can email them to you and save you the expedition. But it’s worth going to this Ethiopic font site for the keyboards, manuals, and just for the beauty of the background information. (And they have one Sabaean — Old South Arabian — font, the ancestral script to Ethiopic.)

        • Haha! I’m more popular than Yog Sothoth…. my place among the GOO is assured. 😉

          I’ve been collecting symbols and alphabets since I was in elementary school. When I was just eight years old, before I knew that there were dictionaries of hieroglyphics, I was combing through history books and copying anything I found. I remember in eighth grade I was so excited that we would be talking about Egypt in History class and I brought my little book in with my collection and the teacher passed it around. It’s funny. I can’t speak any other languages, but I can identify probably a dozen scripts. lol Don’t worry about emailing me. 🙂 I’ll go over and harvest me some dead languages. heh

      • Raven said

        The Tuareg/Berber fonts are on a Quebecois site, so I provide a Google-translated link to the main page (you can click the “original” button if you’re comfortable in French); here are the fonts and keyboard layouts, with comments on word-processor and mail software compatibilities.

  3. Raven said

    Oh, yes, Rome’s “Punic Wars” were against Carthage, so why do I say Punic letters are Phoenician? The Carthaginians spoke a form of late Phoenician. And the Tuareg people have lived a long long time around where Carthage once stood. Amazing how some connections last….

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