Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 3.4

Posted by harmony0stars on November 1, 2010

Glory kicked the door shut behind her, not that she thought it would slow the priest down much. Before she had even climbed a handful of steps, she heard him slam into the ancient wood as if he believed she had somehow locked it. With a hand on the wall to steady her, she ran up the steps as quickly as she could. The twinkling sconce at the top of the stairs might as well have been the North Star as far away as it seemed. The panting of the priest filled her ears, though when she stole a glance back, she was relieved to see the bobbing lantern several yards behind her. Nearly at the top, her hand encountered one of the extinguished wall sconces. It was securely fastened to the wall, but she wrenched it free with her pseudopod and cast it behind her.

The priest let out a cry of disgust as he was struck by the mineral oil, but there was no slowing him down. Why couldn’t he at least slip in the oil or something, she thought petulantly and staggered as she raised her foot for a step that wasn‘t there, her night vision ruined by his bobbing lantern. Snatching up one of the towels from the shelf on the landing, she dipped one end in the flickering sconce and flung it down the stairs. She cringed at the screams which followed. The towel wrapped itself around the priest‘s head, igniting the oil which saturated his robes. As he flailed, struggling to remove the towel and put out the flames, he lost his footing and fell back, his body lighting up the darkness as he bounced back down to the bottom. Her hope that he was dead warred with her shame at being the cause. It wasn’t so easy to blame her savagery on Phoenix when he was no longer a part of her.

She felt for the door, too flustered to think of how the priest’s screams had been magnified by the stairwell. Something hard and heavy struck her in the face before she even had time to realize she was under attack. In hindsight, she should have realized there’d be more priests in the inn itself.

It was dark when she regained consciousness, but she didn’t dare hope that she was still in the inn. She felt weightless as if she were suspended somehow, and nauseous, which was new. When she moved experimentally, she found herself so thoroughly bound that she couldn’t even twitch. They’d taken special measures in securing her transformed arm, it seemed. It burned and ached as if she had sunburn on top of bruises on top of broken bones, though she was certain her new limb had nothing even analogous with bones, let alone muscle to bruise. She wasn’t even sure if it had skin.

As she shifted, trying to get her bearings, she heard movement nearby. “I think she’s awake.” The boy’s voice fairly oozed malicious glee. With his high pitched voice, she pictured him clapping his hands like a precocious English school girl in musical. “Should I remove the hood?”

“Don’t be a fool!” rasped the voice of an old man, and she heard a scuff of shoes on grit, as if he had grabbed the boy and pulled him away. “Who knows what tricks she might work against us. We weren’t warned about that arm, that’s for certain.” His voice sounded closer as he said, “Are you awake, girl?” He poked her roughly with a finger or stick, and she felt herself sway in what seemed a lattice of ropes and boards.

“Mayhap she was only stirring in her sleep,” suggested the boy with an air of disappointment.

“Let us hope so for her sake,” the old man muttered close to her ear before straightening and loudly announcing, “Though I’m certain our lord would prefer her awake.” He might have been trying to reassure his god of his devotion or simply feared that his words might be used against him by the boy or some unseen listener.

Glory didn’t hear them leave so much as the sound of their movements receded. There was no sound of a door or lock sliding home. Wherever she was, she suspected it was a large room. If the priests had Milet or Phoenix, they were being held elsewhere. She hoped they had gotten away and that none of the other patrons had gotten in trouble because of her, though she wouldn’t mind if the innkeeper came to a bad end. Shub Niggurath’s priestess might be willing, but that was no reason to mistreat her. Glory suspected if the priests had realized the girl was a rival priestess, they would have had cause to shut the inn down much sooner. They were probably the ones who had initially defaced the carvings leading to the pool, however many decades or centuries ago that had been.

When she had not heard any movement for several minutes, Glory slowly began to struggle again, looking for some weakness in her bindings. All she could feel in her mutated arm was pain. Unfortunately, the ropes more or less kept her from doing more than exhausting herself. Her arm might as well have been a tendril of black gelatin attached to her shoulder. It didn’t so much as quiver no matter how she struggled, and after pulling the sconce off the wall back at the inn, she knew it was much stronger than any of her other limbs. She had read once that to escape ropes, one had to systematically tense and relax their muscles to make them loosen. Providing it was not just an old wives tale, it was obviously something which required a lot more patience than she had.

Feeling more dejected and tired than she had been since arriving in the Dreamlands, Glory eventually gave in to her frustration and stopped struggling. She suspected that the board laid across her chest just below the collar bone, and upon which most of her weight seemed to lay, was the only thing keeping the ropes from strangling her anyway. All she had accomplished was a gentle rocking, which coupled with the darkness, only made her feel more disoriented. Her bonds might as well have been made out of iron for all the good her squirming had done her.

to Book 6, part 3, page 5

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 part 3.4”

  1. Raven said

    “… her night vision ruined by the priest‘s fiery descent.”

    Just a few moments premature, as this immediately precedes her igniting him.

    The old priest who (helpfully) mutters in her ear doesn’t seem to share the previous priest’s sword-in-the-heart urgency to kill her. Hmm.

    • Oops! I hate when that happens. All fixed. 😉

      Maybe the old priest knows some things are worse than a quick death? And…… you’re not getting anything more out of me on that subject. 😛

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