Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 3.6

Posted by harmony0stars on November 5, 2010

There were sharp bangs and cries from within the inn as the other patrons were dragged from their rooms. The small band climbed over the roof, hoping the sounds from below would mask any missteps of their own. As they came to the other side of the building and the roof of the stable, the group eased down into a hay cart only yards from a priest watching the yard gate. Luckily his back was turned, but that was not to last. As quickly as they dropped into the cart, they climbed out and hid behind it, leaving it free for the next person to drop. One of the men slipped as he waited to jump, ripping some thatching from the roof and falling heavily onto the cobbles below. The priest spun around and opened his mouth to alert his brothers, but the big man who’d been in the hall earlier grabbed the distracted priest from behind and wrung his neck with a snap like wet wood. Not waiting for his erstwhile companions, he disappeared through the gate. The others followed, scattering as they left the inn’s perimeter.

Phoenix followed Milet, his head finally clearing in the night air enough that he stole glances back the way they had come. Milet moved quickly, and he struggled to keep up in the dark. He paused as they entered a dark alley, little more than a crack between buildings, and called out to the child to wait as the food, wine, and exertion caught up with him. He vomited hot bile against the wall.

“It’s well you didn’t do that closer to the inn,” Milet said, curling her lip. “They might have tracked us by such leavings. Hopefully they will be content with those who stayed behind and let the rest of us alone.” A clanging filled the night, and Milet dragged the man into the dark crevice as people filled the streets. “They’ve set the inn on fire to hide their crime,” she guessed as the citizens of Ilarnek hastened to form lines from the river to the burning building before other nearby structures went up.

“I have to find Glory,” he said in a plaintive voice, following Milet into the darkness. “If she dies, I die.”

He did not elaborate, and Milet was left to assume that the woman’s family would have him killed if he failed to protect their daughter. She wondered idly what it was like to have that kind of protection. Milet barely remembered her mother, and her father, not at all. It had been all she could do to survive after her mother died of a wasting illness. Her aunt had taken her in, but the constant beatings had driven her to the streets before a year had passed.

She crouched down and felt along the wall as they moved, the guardsman following suit. When she felt the loose bricks, she stopped and began pulling them out. Normally she would only make a hole large enough for herself to squeeze through, but the man was at least twice her width. Though she had some misgivings about showing him her favorite hiding spot, it wasn’t as if she had much choice. No others were near enough to be useful, nor were many big enough to accommodate more than one person.

Milet pulled at him and pushed until he struggled through the hole. Crawling in after him, she replaced the bricks behind her. She pawed through the rags that made up her bed until she found the old tinderbox someone had thrown away and lit a nub of a candle from her collection. It didn’t shed much light, but it was enough to make at least their immediate surroundings visible.

“Where would they have taken her?” the man asked, fidgeting and standing close to the wall as if he’d just as soon go out again.

“Keep your voice down,” Milet admonished. “The people who live in the house above us might hear.” The cellar was one of many across the city which had fallen into disuse as Bokrug gained supremacy. Every spring it seemed the rains stayed just a little longer, turning the land around the city into a marsh fit only for frogs and squirming things before the summer heat baked it back into a desert. More and more people found the weather filled their lungs with liquid as well, drowning them along with the land. The rains also had a habit of filling many old cellars with water. Houses had been known to collapse into cellars that the owners had forgotten even existed. The one they were in had collapsed long ago in one corner and been sealed up by whoever lived above.

“You’re assuming she didn’t get away,” the girl said. “She seemed very capable to me.”

He shook his head, scowling. “She’d never leave me behind or you, now that she’s decided to save you. She’s not that kind of person.”

Milet shrugged, not sure what to say. She didn‘t really like his tone, but he‘d know better than her what kind of person his Lady was. “If they have her, they’ll take her to the main temple, but only priests ever go in and come out again… Sacrifices are never seen again, one way or the other.”

“They won’t sacrifice Glory, not her. I’ve got to get into that temple.” He rubbed at his face either trying to wake himself up or simply frustrated.

She didn’t know what made Glory so special that she was exempt from sacrifice, but it wasn’t her place to argue. “There are supposed to be tunnels under the temple, but most of them are collapsed or full or water, and I don’t think it’s much safer to go in that way, but at least you wouldn’t immediately be found out.” She paused, then added, “And I maybe know someone who did escape the priests long ago, or at least he says he did.”

to Book 6, part 3, page 7

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 part 3.6”

  1. Raven said

    Wrung his neck with a snap.” (Like a towel, not a bell.)

    If Phoenix didn’t have much respect for Milet before, I think that’s beginning to change.

    Now he’s going to have to earn her respect. Next up….

    • Oops! Thanks 🙂

      Milet is a hard cookie to crumble. I have a feeling he’s going to dig himself a lot deeper where she’s concerned before he begins to rub off on her. After all, it’s not as if he cares what anyone thinks of him. When he thinks of anyone beyond himself, it’s more a case of enlightened self-interest.

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