Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 3.15

Posted by harmony0stars on November 26, 2010

The heavy brocade of her dress made maneuvering down the stairs difficult, not to mention exhausting. As they moved from hidden stair to hidden passage, it became increasingly difficult to avoid clusters of priests rushing through the halls, as well as the servants sent to search the passageways they were using. Glory stopped flinching after the second disembowelment of some poor man just trying to move from point A to point B without getting under the feet of his panicked masters, but the murders didn‘t endear her to her new companions. No one who killed others so easily could be all good.

She was under no illusion that there was an organized search going on and hoped their new allies had some plan on getting out of the place. She’d just about rather get a lobotomy than become intimate with Tsathoggua or Bokrug or whatever he chose to call himself… and given the state of his ‘brides,’ the end result might be just about the same. Autonomous black slime was one serious STD, and she doubted there was a treatment regimen.

They had just entered a room which seemed to have an indoor pool, when a scarred man jumped down from his perch on a ledge decorated with grotesque humanoid kings. The left half of his face looked as if he‘d had an encounter with one of Phoenix‘s people at some point. “Looks like he’s already been at her,” he announced with a sly half-grin.

“Excuse me?” she said, her irritation on the verge of making her violent. She’d been through enough in the past few hours that she really didn’t appreciate the suggestion.

He smirked, opening his mouth to say something salty, but Phoenix cut him off. “Never mind. Let’s just get out of here.”

Glory looked at the water skeptically. Her dress was already heavy enough that she was sweating, and wet, it would seriously slow them down. “May I borrow your knife please?” she asked of the turbaned man nearest her. She supposed she shouldn’t have been surprised that the Dreamlands had escapees from Ali Baba and the Forty thieves, but she was getting just a little tired of all the surprises.

The man grinned nastily as if he thought she was about to stab the scarred man and handed her his blade without question. Even the other man stepped back, cocking his head to the side, his hand hovering over his own blade. Instead she leaned over and started cutting at the heavy fabric, struggling one handed to cut it away just above her knees.

Milet came forward. Though she shied away from Glory’s black pseudopod, she pulled the fabric of the dress taut so that Glory could more easily cut the lower half away. It was on Glory’s tongue to berate Phoenix for letting the girl come with him, but instead she said, “Can you get this thing off my neck, please?” He edged around Milet to examine the choker though he couldn‘t get a hold of it with her still cutting.

“It’s a shame to ruin such a lovely dress,” the scarred man said, though he seemed to have eyes only for the jewels in the fabric that was quickly falling onto the dirty floor.

Glory gave him a look of absolute disgust. She was out of patience and just wanted to curl up with a good book for a few hours to calm her jangled nerves. “You want it? You can carry it.” She stepped out of the ring of fabric and kicked it towards him.

“We don’t have time for this, Lady,” the tallest of the turbaned men announced, stealing a glance towards the doorway. There was no sign of pursuit yet, but they couldn’t hope that would last forever.

Phoenix yelped and yanked his fingers away from the necklace. “I was afraid of that,” she said with a sigh. “Guess that will have to wait. I just worry that He will be able to track me through it, and of course, it‘s keeping me from fixing this.” Her tentacle flopped uselessly in the air as she waved it.

Phoenix sucked on his fingers, glaring at the choker. One of the turbaned men eyed him curiously as he stepped forward to examine the thing himself. He pulling out a small blade and started to reach for her neck, but then hesitated, giving her a worried look as if he were afraid she’d get the wrong idea.

“Go ahead. I’m not going to bite you,” she snapped. For some reason, he didn’t look reassured, but he stepped forward regardless. She bent her neck so he could more easily get at the thing.

A moment later he said something to his nearest companion. It was not a language she recognized, but she understood it nonetheless. He asked the man for his pricker and was given a small tool like a long nail with a hilt. Again he hesitated. “You may have trouble breathing,” he said in an apologetic and worried tone.

“It’s alright. Just do it.” She held her breath and hoped the coldness that permeated her head as the stone dug into her flesh would disappear when she was finally free of the thing.

Using the pricker, the man levered the choker up so that he could get the knife underneath without cutting her or touching it with his bare fingers. Then he began sawing at the material. It seemed to take forever, during which time they began to hear shouts from deep inside the temple as the searchers broadened their hunt.

The choker fell to the floor with a clatter, and she almost followed it as she was released from the strain of the man pulling at her neck. The scarred man looked at it greedily, the length of fabric from her dress already folded over his shoulder. The gems sewn into it represented a small fortune, and he was obviously not the kind of person to leave money lying around.

“Don’t even think about,” she said and gave the thing a hard kick. It flew into the water with a dull plunk. “It’s more trouble than it’s worth.”

to Book 6, part 3, page 16

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