Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 3.20

Posted by harmony0stars on December 8, 2010

Glory sat on the bed with a grunt, sinking into the thick furs without appreciating them. Dropping her head into her good hand, she rubbed her eyes. She wasn’t tired; she wasn’t even sure she could get tired any more, but she was frustrated… and depressed. She hated feeling vulnerable and powerless.

There was a thick, salty smell in the room, like an animal’s lair, though that could have been because of the furs. There were star charts and maps of waterways pinned to the walls, as well as tubes which probably contained more. It might have been Bho-Rehd’s room prior to his giving it over to them, but she suspected it had been the captains prior to that. Just from the way they dressed and treated the crew, she doubted Bho-Rehd and his men were normal crew members.

“So, what now, oh Glory-ous leader?” Phoenix mocked her, putting special emphasis on her name. The lantern rolled slightly as the wind picked up and the ship rocked, sending shadows around the room. Beyond the room’s only window was darkness.

She looked up, scowling at him. “Stop it. Just stop it. I am doing the best I can, and you are not helping.”

“Do I ever?” he asked, his voice dripping with scorn. He glared at her, arms crossed as he propped himself against the wall. Milet hid behind a part of the smaller mast which went through the back half of the room as if trying to make herself invisible as her companions argued.

“Sometimes,” Glory muttered. Her eyes felt hot. She quickly rubbed them again as she thought she heard someone at the door.

One of the men who had helped rescue her shuffled through the door, his body bent to shield the tray he carried from the elements. His robes flapped in the wind as it tried to force its way into the room with him. It pulled the door from his grasp, nearly knocking him down in the process. Glory jumped up and took the tray as he snatched at his turban to keep it from flying off his head. She blinked at the horns which were revealed before he managed to tug the loops of the unraveling linen back in place.

The color washed out of his face as he saw who had taken the tray. He fumbled with the straps that tied a water skin to his waist, staring at the floor as if afraid that looking at her too long might cause him to turn into a pillar of salt. Phoenix rolled his eyes and pushed away from the wall, snatching the skin away from the man‘s trembling hand. The goat-man wasted no time in bowing and scraping his way out the door, the entire time muttering praise in his native tongue without daring to look up at Glory again.

“I’m sure you’d like me to act that way,” Phoenix said in disgust as the turbaned man hurried from the room. The wind slammed the door behind him. A few minutes later rain began to hammer the deck with a sound like boiling oil, and Glory felt a little guilty about demanding food in the middle of the violent storm.

“Not on your life,” she replied, setting the tray on a table built into the mast. Milet shyly came out from hiding, and Glory gestured to the tray as she threw herself back onto the bed. “And don’t you think you have to act like that either. It only makes people look like idiots.”

There was black bread and dried fruit on the tray but not much else. The bread looked hard and stale, which was proven by the sound it made as Milet tore off a hunk and began gnawing on it. She was too used to deprivation to turn her nose up at food, no matter how unpalatable.

“W-won’t you eat too, lady?” the girl asked as she swallowed a lump of the dry bread.

“No… I can eat, but I don’t get hungry. So eat as much as you like.” Glory twitched her mutant arm, pulling it into her lap.

“Are you… really a goddess?” Milet asked, gaining confidence.

“No, I am not,” she replied a little more forcefully than she intended. Milet flinched at the heat in her voice, and Glory continued more gently. “Whatever I am, I am not that. I am a person, like you. I just have a more…”

“Interesting heritage?” Phoenix quipped, his tone still condescending.

She gave him a cool look. “Are they human, these… men who worship my father? That one who brought the food had horns.”

Phoenix shrugged and grabbed a handful of dates, dried apricots, and what looked like banana chips, setting the water skin on the table beside the weighted platter. “They have hooves too, or so I’ve heard. Beyond that, I have no idea what the Miri Nigri are. That Bho-Rehd just gave us more information about his race than I’ve picked up in a millennia.”

Milet’s hand froze as she reached for the water skin. She blinked at Phoenix anxiously. He grinned down at her as if waiting for her to ask about his own eligibility for divine status.

“Yes, he’s very, very old,” Glory said dismissively, “but he’s not at all mature. Though I’m beginning to think no one who identifies as a god ever really grows up. Or maybe it’s something to do with being a boy.”

He made a face as if she had spoiled his fun. “So what, you were stuck playing jump rope and hopscotch with old toad-face the whole time? Or maybe it was spin the bottle. When’s the wedding, by the way?”

It was her turn to make a face. “Don’t even,” she said in disgust.  “I’m no more interested in him than I am in you. Though at least you‘re more like an obnoxious little brother than a creepy old uncle.”

Pouting, he snatched up some more dried fruit and stalked over to a chest near the room’s only window. Even if the glass hadn’t been filthy, it still would have provided little light. The gloomy flickering of the lightning barely penetrated into the room, making the dull glow of the lantern almost cheerful by comparison.

to Book 6, page 3, page 21

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 part 3.20”

  1. Fiona said

    Sounds cozy to me!
    Phoenix, you are so punny; hope you can keep it up once seasickness hits.

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