Tattoo Book 6 part 3.24
Posted by harmony0stars on December 17, 2010
“What did you do?” Glory asked, staring at Phoenix with astonishment.
“You just assume I did something.” His eyes darted from the floor to her face and back to the floor as he squeezed his arm to stop the bleeding. She just raised her eyebrows at him until he spoke. “Fine, and I blame you by the way. I was never so foolishly curious until I bonded with you.” He paused. “While all the Miri Nigri were on deck, I went below.”
Glory got up from the bed and reached for his arm, but he jerked away from her. “Stop being a baby and let me see,” she said, tired of his attitude. Scowling, he let her pull back the bloody sleeve, not looking at her or his arm. Considering his general blood thirstiness, she didn’t understand why he was being so squeamish. Then again, he wasn’t used to seeing his own blood.
She’d expected a cut, but it was more of a puncture wound in the mass of veins and tendons just below his palm. At least it was small. Channeling her energies, she tried to make the hole close, but only managed to stop the bleeding before she felt a painful twinge just behind her eyes.
“Milet, rip some of those clothes into bandages, please,” Glory said, rubbing the skin between her eyes. She took the basin onto her lap and clamped his injured arm against her body. Without warning she squeezed his wrist, forcing more blood from the wound. Phoenix yelped and tried to pull away, but she had a good hold on him. “Hold still,“ she said, trying not to drop the basin in her lap so she wouldn’t end up covered in blood and water. “We have to make sure the wound is clean before we bandage it.”
She poured water over the oozing wound, using a strip of fabric to clean it and hoping the clothes had been clean or at least relatively so. It was impossible to smell them with the odor that permeated the entire ship. Glory continued to alternately squeeze and wash the wound until she was satisfied that it was clean. Wadding up a small piece of fabric, she put it over the sore and bandaged his arm while Phoenix tried to control his whimpering. He yanked his arm away from her as soon as she let him go.
“We’ll have to keep it clean. I’ve read that puncture wounds can get infected more easily than a cut,” she said, dumping the basin out the window and rinsing it.
“Fine,” he said sullenly, “I’ll keep it clean.” He sat on the trunk without speaking, his shoulders hunched and his entire demeanor like that of a spanked child.
“Phoenix,” Glory finally said in exasperation when he showed no sign of speaking, “What happened?”
“Could at least ask if I’m okay,” he said, twisting his mouth as if trying not to cry.
“Phoenix…” she said in a stern voice, “if I didn’t care that you were okay, I would have just let you bleed.”
He continued to scowl, but just when she was about to yell at him again, he finally began to speak. “So I waited until I saw most of them come up. I’ve been watching them since they took us onboard, counting them and learning their faces while they thought I didn‘t notice them watching me. I knew there were still two below deck, but it’s a big ship. I thought I could avoid them.”
“So you didn’t see anything before they caught you?” Glory asked, trying not to sound disappointed. It was a morbid curiosity after all. It wasn’t like she could do anything for whoever was rowing.
“Oh no, I saw plenty. They didn’t catch me till I was on my way out.” He hunched his shoulders even more as a look of absolute disgust washed over his features. “Wish I’d stayed up here.”
“I… supposed that they were using slave labor to row,” Glory offered as Phoenix lapsed into another silence.
He gave a weak laugh. “Yeah, I guess you could call it that, but if you’re trying to think of a way to free them, don’t bother. I don’t know how you’d get them mobile.” He shuddered. “They’re slaves, yeah, but they’re… grown together somehow, like, like a bunch of barnacles clinging to a rock. They haven’t got legs any more or mouths, so I don’t imagine they eat. They’re just… arms and heads sticking out of a puddle of dried, black jerky.”
Milet made a retching noise. Glory sat back down on the bed, putting an arm around the girl while Phoenix looked at the floor. “I don’t think they’re really alive. I hope they‘re not conscious at least,” he said in a consolatory tone. “Their eyes, the ones that still have eyes, were milky white, and they didn’t even flinch when…” He swallowed hard, looking as if he might be ill. “I’m just glad they stopped at that village for supplies for us,” he finished without elaborating, his disgust surprising considering he had so little experience with food and thought nothing of incinerating one of his own kind to sustain himself.
“And your wound,” Glory asked trying to distract herself from the mental image. Suddenly Bho-Rehd’s comments made a whole lot more sense.
Phoenix rubbed his bandaged wrist. “I was on my way up when one of the crew came down and found me. They held me until Bho-Rehd came. Then he and his cronies had the sailors hold me down while he took out a black stone, jade or jet maybe. One of the priests stuck me with that poker thing they used to get the collar off you and made me bleed on the stone. Then they all stood around waiting for something to happen. I only know after a few minutes, they dragged me back up here, and they weren’t too happy about it. I don’t think they got the reaction they were hoping for. At least, I think Bho-Rehd looked disappointed. It‘s hard to say with as dark as it was down there.”
Glory shook her head. “Well, do as they say and stay inside. If they’re right, it’ll only be another day and a half.” She leaned in and said more softly so hopefully only he and Milet would hear in the small room, “We’ll try to get away once we reach Kadatheron. I don’t care how much time they’ve save us, the less we have to deal with these people, the better.”
to Book 6, part 3, page 25