Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 3.26

Posted by harmony0stars on December 27, 2010

“I am perfectly capable of defending myself, and Phoenix is an expert swordsman,” she snapped at the priest, tapping on the railing impatiently as he attempted to assemble her escort. “Besides, the larger the group, the more attention we will attract. I doubt my father wants all of the Dreamlands to know I am here.”

Bho-Rehd wrung his hands as if her comfort and safety was his first concern. He had presented her with a half dozen ‘protectors’ when she and her friends left their cabin at first light. Like as not, it was a calculated move to ensure there would be no escape attempts. In the back of his mind, he was probably thinking if he displeased her, he might live to regret it. On the other hand, if she managed to get away from him and his people, her father would probably b even less forgiving. She didn’t give him the opportunity to come up with excuses but began giving orders of her own.

“Two will suffice, I think, and yourself if you think it’s necessary,” Glory conceded, allowing him to think she trusted him by including him. “We’ll stop for shoes at the first stall offering them.”

“Lady,” the priest said in a almost condescending tone, “people go barefoot all the time. It is not unheard of for scholars to arrive at the library without shoes. No one will deny you entry based on your footwear. And aboard the ship, bare feet will give you more stability… in the event of a storm, that is.”

She turned from the rail and gave him a withering glare. Glory suspected he was more concerned that she would find a way to leave the company of the Miri Nigri with appropriate foot coverings than that he felt she was being too girly. “I can see people leading livestock through the streets from here. I am not walking all the way to the library without something covering my feet.”

“I am sure there will be no cobblers with the skill to make shoes appropriate to your station,” he said, attempting again to dissuade her.

Glory shook her head. “Look at me. I am wearing secondhand robes. Do you think I care if I must wear secondhand shoes? You’ve obviously mistaken me for someone who cares about fashion. But,” she said thoughtfully, “on the subject of appropriate clothing, you can send these others to purchase better garments for all three of us while they go about their regular business. Sturdy clothes and clean,” she said, pointing to the captain and his men by way of assigning tasks. She had not learned the names of any of them aside from Bho-Rehd. His junior priests were too humble or terrified to introduce themselves, and the captain was referred to by all as Captain or sir.

“Nothing fancy,” she added. If she didn’t specify, she was sure she’d find herself decked out in silks with lace, embroidery, and fancy beadwork. Not that she intended to return to the ship, but as Robert Burns had written, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. It wouldn’t do to act as if she wasn’t coming back, especially if it ended up she had no choice.

The men looked relieved. It had not escaped Glory’s attention over the past few days as the sailors talked among themselves, that they were traders first. Bho-Rehd had commandeered their vessel, but that did not mean the captain and his crewmen did not have their own work to do with profits to be made. The captain bowed to her, keeping his face carefully blank as he avoided meeting Bho-Rehd’s eyes.

“It might also be a good idea if you would send someone to the school of magic you mentioned?” she said in a questioning tone as Bho-Rehd’s expression curdled. “If I cannot find what I am looking for at the library, I might need to ask some discrete questions from whoever passes for an authority on the subject of Y’qaa.”

Bho-Rehd’s demeanor went from sour to thoughtful. Maybe he was impressed that she was taking her task seriously. That did not stop him from snapping waspish orders to his underlings as he adjusted to her demands. Though visibly torn, he finally assigned the task of journeying to the magic school to one junior priest, telling the other to remain onboard and see to nil-bthnk, whatever that was. She hoped it was nothing that would come back to haunt her as he glanced at her slyly from under his lashes. Not one to let the Captain get away without putting him in his place as well, Bho-Rehd harangued him, telling him what foods to bring aboard for their guests, what he considered appropriate garb, and generally how to do his job. From his flushed cheeks, Glory was certain if Bho-Rehd had been anything other than a priest, he’d have been a dead man somewhere after his second word.

The sun was well above the horizon when they finally managed to disembark. Though Kadatheron was as much a mercantile base as Ilarnek, the character of the city was quite different. Despite the shocked and outright ugly stares her entourage earned her, no cloud hung over the citizens of Kadatheron as they went about their daily business. All manner of travelers filled the streets and none of them seem to have much concern for anything but their own business.

Bho-Rehd had selected two burly sailors as her escort. The men were clearly unhappy about the assignment, and Glory imagined they would have preferred finding a nice tavern for a few hours of peace away from the obnoxious priest. She might find their personal habits deplorable and their diet worse, but as loathsome as they were as a race, she wouldn’t wish Bho-Rehd on anyone as a spiritual leader. He certainly didn’t make life comfortable for the crew, and they were no doubt looking forward to a time when he would return to whatever place he‘d come from.

The priest stayed on her left, practically underfoot as he tried to make conversation. Despite her fear of the goat-man, Milet stayed on her right, all but holding onto her sleeve. Glory ignored Bho-Rehd, which only made him more determined to draw her into conversation. She was in no mood after his final attempt to reign her in.

As they had prepared to disembark, he had said quite casually, “Perhaps the child should stay here. If there is trouble, she would be safer on the ship.”

If he thought he was fooling anyone, he was sadly mistaken. “Milet will come with us,” she said sharply. “If we need anything from the ship or make any purchases which are too large to carry around with us, she can run them back while we continue on to the library.” They eyed one another for a moment, but Bho-Rehd finally shrugged and smiled his sharp-toothed grin as if he accepted her at her word, even though she was certain that she was not fooling him either.

to Book 6, part 3, page 27

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