Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 3.23

Posted by harmony0stars on December 15, 2010

She couldn’t stay in her room all the time and that wouldn’t have been fair to Milet who would barely step outside without an escort. Only the prow of the ship was free of the cloying smell of rotting meat on a regular basis. Everywhere else the smell was oppressive, but most of all in their small room, where the tiny space seemed to concentrate the odor and humidity in a thing which crouched in the corners and snapped at their ankles if they moved around too much.

After the first day, Glory made a habit of dragging Milet out onto the deck in the morning and the evening when the number of Miri Nigri was the lowest. Milet could give no specific reason why she feared the goat-men aside from rumors that they were “bad,” but that was enough for Glory. Despite their reverence or maybe because it was due to their worship of her father, Glory did not like the toadying Bho-Rehd or his people. She did not discuss her plans for once they reached Kadatheron with Phoenix or Milet for fear of being overheard, but as soon as the opportunity presented itself, she would make every effort to ditch the bowing and scraping servants of her father. They claimed they lived to serve, but she had no doubt they expect some kind of reward when all was said and done.

Phoenix, at least, had no fear of their new allies. Or maybe he was just too arrogant to give in to it. He stalked about the deck as if he owned the place, and the sailors stared after him resentfully. Several times Glory saw Bho-Rehd and his remaining… servants? minions? sons? watching Phoenix and whispering to one another as the days passed. They stopped as soon as they noticed her, making her regret letting on that she understood their language. Bho-Rehd and his companions kept their voices low at all times now, but their entire attitude towards Phoenix was one of hostility.

Bho-Rehd and his underlings were cut from a different cloth than the men who piloted the boat, and that applied to more than just their robes. They were larger and their bodies more ambiguous, with strange bulges under their clothes that could have been extra limbs for all she knew. In contrast, the crewmen seemed more human, and maybe they were. The Miri Nigri would certainly not be the first race she’d encountered that made a practice of cross-breeding with humanity.

They made good time with the rowers working day and night. No one but the crewmen came up from below, but Glory was fairly certain that they were not the ones rowing the ship. Unfortunately there was never a moment when someone was not near the entrance or watching her on deck. She suspected that whoever it was that manned the rows, they were not altogether willing members of the crew. There was no way for her to sneak below and ease her curiosity or conscience however.

Though she would just as soon have dropped her former wedding dress over the side with the rest of their fouled clothes, Milet was scandalized when Glory tried it. As the days passed and Milet balked more and more at going out on deck where the crewmen would stare at Glory and by association, Milet, Glory was glad enough that she had kept the rag of a dress. She gave it over to Milet to peel away the pearls and gems. When they parted company, Glory would give the girl as many of the stones as would fit in a pouch.

As Bho-Rehd had said, most of the smaller ships and boats gave way before the massive galley. The folk who traveled by the river kept their faces averted from the black ship as if afraid to look at it or its crewmen. Even in the nameless village where they’d stopped for supplies, Glory had watched the Miri-Nigri as they interacted with the villagers. Though the goat-men were more than generous with vividly red rubies and other lesser stones, the fishmongers and farmers accepted the trades sullenly, handling the gems as if they were dung. Apparently Milet was not the only one who had bad feelings for the servants of her father.

On the third day, they encountered a ship large enough to block their passage. The sailors hollered back and forth to one another, each ship demanding the other give way. In respectful tones, Bho-Rehd asked her to return to her room as the deck filled with crewmen, roughly a dozen in all. It seemed to her that he was more concerned with the sailors of their other ship seeing her than that he thought there might be violence, but she didn’t argue.

Milet looked up when she stepped inside, but Phoenix was nowhere to be seen. Well, no one seemed to care where he was so long as he stayed out from underfoot. She doubted that Bho-Rehd was worried about the other ship seeing him. Glory sat on the bed and helped Milet pry gems from the dirty fabric while the two ships yelled back and forth. There was little else to do. She heard some thumping from below deck but paid it no mind. There had often been weird sounds from below as the days passed though no voices aside from the Miri Nigri.

Finally it seemed something was resolved and the yelling between ships died down. There was nasty laughter from the crewmen as the other ship was somehow made to give way. After a few more minutes, the drums began beating again and the rows dipped into the water, propelling the ship forward.

Glory looked up as the door was whipped open. She expected to see Phoenix and was not disappointed, though having him propelled into the room by their hosts was a bit of a surprise. Phoenix pulled himself up to sit on the trunk and glare at his persecutors, the sleeve of his borrowed shirt dripping blood.

“Apologies, lady,” said the smaller of Bho-Rehd’s two underlings, bowing to her. “But please ask your servant to remain inside until we reach Kadatheron. The Master says we should reach the city by tomorrow evening. Until then your man is no longer welcome to go where he pleases.” Bowing again, he stepped back and closed the door.

to Book 6, part 3, page 24

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 part 3.23”

  1. Fiona said

    oh boy – what did he see??

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