Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 3.5

Posted by harmony0stars on November 3, 2010

Milet and Phoenix crouched in the dark. Phoenix had already thrown up once, much to the girl’s disgust. At least he’d waited until they were well away from the inn to lose his dinner. Maybe he was the Lady’s lover; he was certainly handsome enough, but he was no kind of warrior.

She hadn’t survived on the streets for so many years without being a light sleeper, though lately things had been harder, with the priests collecting many more sacrifices than they typically did. Initially the populace had shrugged it off; if it helped clear the streets of beggars, it was all to the good. Incidents involving a few late night revelers and the children of the local gentry however had begun to sour even the most hardened citizens of Ilarnek to the presence of Bokrug’s clergy. Their long standing presence aside, the sudden increase in sacrifices had many worried that Bokrug had ordered his servants to empty the city. It was only the legend of Sarnath that kept the people from rising up and casting the priests out, but even that threat was wearing thin. Though Ilarnek was still a trade hub, more and more people left every day. Soon the city would be inhabited only by travelers and greedy merchants.

And now, suddenly the priests were raiding inns! There had been rumors on the streets of homes emptied in the night, but as these belonged to families which objected most strenuously to the priests, everyone assumed they’d moved on. Only their closest friends suggested otherwise.

Milet had woken up at the first covert sounds from the inn below and been dismayed to see the Lady was gone. Creeping to the top of the stairs, she had heard the imperious tones of the priests as they ordered the innkeeper around and recognized them for who they were from the long months spent avoiding their culling. Certainly the city’s nobles and merchants wouldn’t ignore this newest offense. The inns brought in a great deal of money through taxes. If the priests were raiding them now, the nobles would have to get involved.

Fat lot of good that would do Milet and her new friends. She was nothing if not a pragmatist however. If the Lady were in trouble, getting caught themselves would do her no good. Milet scurried back to the room and poked the guard until he woke up. She’d seen some lackadaisical guardsmen in her time, but the Lady would do well to replace him when and if she was able. In the meantime, even if there would be no apprenticeship in her future, she felt obligated to at least try to help her remaining companion save himself. Her new friends had done more for her in a few short hours than anyone else had in her entire life. She would not let the Lady’s idiot protector be taken by the priests.

He snorted and groaned irritably as she poked him, rolling over without opening his eyes. Grabbing a shoulder, she tugged at him until he woke with a muttered, “Wha-?” and slapped at her in the darkness.

“Please, sir, the priests are below. We must leave,” she said, relieved that he was finally awake.

“Where’s Glory?” he groaned, letting his head fall back on the bed and closing his eyes. “She’ll know what to do.”

“Please, sir, she’s gone. I don’t know where, but if they have her, we’ll do her no good being caught ourselves.” The guardsman sat bolt upright in the bed and immediately clutched at his head. Milet was not going to take much more of his foolishness. “Sir, please! We must go before they take us!”

“Glory,” he groaned, trying to curl in on himself.

“You’ll do her no good moping in this bed. Now get up, or I’ll leave you to your fate!” Milet snapped, losing patience. If the wine affected him so poorly, he shouldn’t drink.

With one hand clutching his wine fogged head and the other on Milet’s shoulder, he followed the girl down the candlelit hall to a shuttered window. A horrible scream split the night and doors began opening all along the hallway as the inn‘s patrons sought the source.

“Don’t go down!” Milet hissed as a man and woman started towards the stairs. “It’s the priests!”

Both of them visibly paled in the dim candle light and disappeared back into their room. All around them the patrons murmured in fear and returned to the assumed security of their rooms, perhaps hoping the priests would leave them alone if they stayed out of sight. Some did return to the hall a few seconds later, their belongings in hand. They trailed after Milet and Phoenix like children in a line behind their teacher.

Milet reached the window and carefully pushed the shutters open a few inches to look into the street. She didn’t see any priests, but that didn’t mean a thing. They had all kinds of spells to keep themselves hidden until they were ready to strike. Taking a chance, she pushed the shutters all the way open and sighed with relief when no one called an alarm.

There was no way to get down to the street from the window. All they could do was go up. Milet climbed up on the sill and reached for the roof, glaring at the guardsman as he reached up to steady her. “Just trying to help,” he muttered as she got a good hold on the eaves and pulled.

“Hurry!” whispered one of the patrons who had followed them to the window. “There’s a light on the stair.”

With a grunt, Phoenix climbed up after the street urchin, and they were followed by five more of the inn’s patrons. The last man carefully reached down and closed the shutters, though he could not latch them. Hopefully in the dark, the priests would not notice that the window was partially open. They huddled on the roof, a pitiful gathering, and hoped none of the priests would have the poor taste to come into the street and look up.

to Book 6, part 3, page 6

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 part 3.5”

  1. Fiona said

    She hadn’t survived on the streets for so many years as a light sleeper,

    without being a light sleeper?

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