Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 3.7

Posted by harmony0stars on November 8, 2010

Glory continued to struggle off and on for what seemed like hours but made no progress. At least her discomfort never intensified, though the nausea did wear on her patience after a while. She wasn’t used to feeling much of anything, let alone ill. There was no way to be sure if whatever seal they’d placed on her arm was even the root of the problem. She could just as easily have been concussed, though her head didn’t hurt.

In the dark, she had a lot of time to worry about her friends, Phoenix and Milet in the Dreamlands, and Robert, Edgar, and Ann back on Earth. She’d avoided bringing it up to Phoenix because she really didn’t want to know and he probably would have made a snide remark regardless, but alone in the dark, she had nothing else to distract her from her fears. It had been almost a week. Was that a week Earth time? Was time moving faster or slower there? After her experience coming home from Annwn, she was afraid to find out. All she knew for sure was the time was strange in dreams. An entire lifetime could be crammed into a few hours of sleep.

She froze in her struggles as she heard the scuff of someone’s shoe.

“Oh no,” wheezed a vaguely familiar voice. “We know you’re awake. We’ve been watching you for hours. So tenacious.” The contempt in his tone was palpable. Strong, spongy fingers gripped her chin, heat pouring off the man’s hand like a furnace. Tilting her head back painfully, a choker of some sort was strapped to her throat. She immediately felt a hundred times worse than she had, her entire body aching as if she‘d come down with the worst flu of her life. “Let her down,” the voice ordered, and she felt herself lowered to the floor to lie at his feet.

If she had any thoughts on fighting back, her disorientation and dizziness completely overwhelmed her. She lay on the floor as they removed the ropes and boards which bound her, barely able to move her limbs with any mastery. In fact, she was so numb with whatever seal they‘d placed on her, she could barely feel the coolness of the floor or the small particles of dirt which dug into her bare hand. Though she struggled to push herself up, her muscles and joints refused obey her will. She was unceremoniously hoisted to her feet by her captors, though she could only assume there was someone on either sides of her. From her shoulder to the tip of her transformed arm, she felt nothing. It was only on her other side that she could feel someone’s hands digging into her armpit and supporting her weight.

Her jailor snatched the sack from her head and grinned at her as she blink at him uncomprehending. His body oozed with burns and an oily black slime which migrating across his skin with a life of its own. It slithered like worms, like a black tide, like bubbling tar. “I should be grateful. Because of you, Bokrug has rewarded me. Unfortunately, your reward will be far different.”

Glory’s vision slowly cleared enough that she could switch her focus from his skin to the priest himself. His robe was tied around his waist, leaving his upper body bare. Burns and blisters populated his torso, arms, and head, but they were not as shocking as the black oily thing which slithered over and under his skin. She didn’t recognize him at first, her brain sluggish and stuttering as she tired to focus, but the burns finally clicked in her mind.

She shied away from his black-smeared hand as he reached for her head again. “That’s one of…”

“My god’s children, yes.” The priest gave her a feral grin as he adjusted the collar around her neck. She could feel general pull of his administrations, but the actual touch of his fingers was absent. As he pulled his hand away, she could see the black ooze swarm back over his hand as if it also detested the seal which kept her disoriented.

“But it will eat you!” she squeaked in disgust. Even though she was fairly certain the thing had not touched her, she wished her hand was free so she could wipe at her neck.

The priest snorted. “Only if I displease its Father. For the moment, it alleviates the pain you caused and marks me as one of the favored. I have been chosen to nurture one of His children, and in return, it will see to my health for as long as it needs me. I may outlive every man in this room, their sons, and their sons’ sons.” He leaned in close with a leer. “Soon you will also be favored. You may yet wish death had found you at the end of my sword, but being what you are…” He shrugged. “I’m sure you will have a very long time to regret your actions.”

Glory’s brow wrinkled as he gestured to his fellow priests to take her away. She tried to walk, but they moved much too quickly through the labyrinthine halls for her sluggish reflexes to keep up. It didn’t help that her mind was having trouble with continuity as well. There was no way of knowing how much time had passed when they finally deposited her in what seemed to be a well appointed bedroom, something that might be reserved for visiting dignitaries… certainly not for a prisoner.

She sat on the edge of the bed where the priest left her for several minutes before it occurred to her to look down at her pseudopod. Somehow they had encased it in what seemed to be a plaster cast. Strange symbols wended from top to bottom, leaving no space unmarked. She couldn’t be sure if it was the collar they’d placed around her neck, but the weird characters seemed to squirm until she looked away. She raised her free hand to her throat, but the seal which dug into her skin was so cold it burnt her fingers numb. She quickly dropped her aching hand into her lap. There was a mirror which sat not quite in a position for Glory to see her reflection, but when she attempted to stand, she almost immediately slid to her knees on the floor, her bound limb leading the way.

With a growl of irritation, she raised her pseudopod high into the air and slammed the cast into the stone floor. She could at least do that much without worrying about her coordination. The impact made her dizziness one hundred times worse, but before she lost consciousness again, she had the satisfaction of seeing the plaster shatter like glass and melt into the stone like so much dirty ice.

to Book 6, part3, page 8


2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 part 3.7”

  1. Raven said

    The series title still comes into play, as a war of surface-markings: when it isn’t skin-graffiti, it’s cast-graffiti (and none of it saying “get well soon!”).*

    Pity more couldn’t have happened while her arm was confined in that cast, and, say, a sling, purportedly helpless and useless, until she learned how to make use of even that — as a club or shield, letting missiles lodge in the plaster: “The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune.” 😉

    * On top of her own tattoo disadvantaging her. BTW, there’s a sequence in DC/Vertigo’s The Books of Magic where Timothy Hunter gets butterfly and scorpion tattoos to control his magic, with unexpected drawbacks — like getting stung any time he tries to use it. Whoops. As Dream said elsewhere, “Tools can be the subtlest of traps.”

    • You caught that, eh? Yes, her tattoos were useful while she was still human, at least vestigially, but as even the most mundane among them evolved from the signs of the Elder Gods who made the Earth into a prison for their offspring… well it stands to reason that all of them in one way or another are meant to limit or control, not enhance, the development of young starspawn. Why? Hopefully that will be evident by the end of the series. While she was still passing as human, Glory was able to “fool the symbols,” but now, she’s up the proverbial creek without a paddle. As for the cast, it was only a temporary necessity. Tsathoggua has other means of keeping her weak, and other reasons as well.

      Magically speaking (and beyond the borders of the story), tattoos are hardly ever a good idea. Not only can they not be “turned off,” they can also interfere with one another as well, like drugs interacting. Glory would have been better off having the symbols sewn into her clothes (though she wouldn’t have been able to use her mother’s ashes then). She’ll just have to figure out some *other* way to get rid of them. I have not read the Books of Magic. I tried, but couldn’t get into them. Dream on the other hand… I covet his library. I hope he invites me there someday. 😉 I am a very good dreamer, but I tend to wander into dark places.

      I think I should mention… I have three favorites among the GOO, and they are Nyarlathotep, Ithaqua, and Tsathoggua. (Cthulhu doesn’t even come in a close fourth actually.) Ithaqua will probably not come into play on Tattoo at all (unless inspiration strikes), but somehow, for the purposes of this story, Tsathoggua has become the “creepy old toad-god” instead of the sleepy, smiling furry-toad god. It’s like he decided that he was “not cute, dammit.” I really have no idea how this happened. I always thought he was the sweetest of all the GOO. lol

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