Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 3.28

Posted by harmony0stars on December 31, 2010

Glory kept her hands tucked within the voluminous sleeves of her borrowed robes. “I know how this looks,” she said, “but I promise we are not with them by choice.” Milet nodded emphatically at her elbow. “Any control I have over them is temporary at best..”

“What is it they want with you?” he asked, giving her a suspicious look.

“That’s hard to say,” Glory said, trying to think how best to put their mission into words without outing herself.

Phoenix cut in, “They believe she can fulfill some prophecy handed down to them from their god. They have kept us prisoner on their ship since Ilarnek, only making a pretense of doing as she says to maintain the illusion that we have any free will at all. If you had seen what I saw below deck… you would not be asking what they want, but how you can help us get away.”

The senior librarian frowned and cocked his head at the passage where the younger man had disappeared. A group of librarians in gray and blue robes had gathered in the hall and whispered together as they peered out into the antechamber. “Come with me, please,” he said finally, motioning to one of the men in the hall. A dark-skinned man of middling years hurried over to the desk, while his colleagues scattered like leaves in the wind, disappearing into the dark before Glory and her friends had even reached the opening. The librarian at the desk followed the travelers with honey-colored eyes as they trailed after his superior.

The old man led them along the central passage, ignoring branching passageways as they passed them. After a few feet of darkness, sunlight poured into the main hall from open doorways. There were only a few wall sconces for lighting and these were probably only used at night or during inclement weather. See some of the doors led to large, well light rooms full of books while others opened out into small contemplative garden areas where more scholars sat quietly reading or in conversation.

They followed the elderly librarian to the end of the corridor and up a long, well-lit staircase. Large windows lined the hall on both sides, creating a cloister walk which bisected the building and provided an expansive view of the port and bazaar on one side and the large mansions of the wealthy on the other. The library spread out around them, a honeycomb grid of garden nooks and rooms. Some of the rooms had a second level which gave to the place a style reminiscent of illustrations Glory had seen of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon when she was a child. The corridor down which they walked took them well above the rest of the library and led to the living quarters of the librarians on the far side of the building.

They passed a young boy in gray robes, and the old man paused to ask that tea be brought to his rooms and extra chairs. The boy bobbed a quick bow and bustled past the librarian’s guests, sparing them only a curious glance. The room to which he led them was a small library unto itself with several shelves filled with books and scrolls lining the walls. A door on the far side of the room stood slightly ajar and there was a fire flickering in the fireplace.

They had barely stepped through the door before several more gray-robed acolytes appeared with additional chairs and a platter with a clay teapot, cups, and biscuits. The old man waved them to the seats and took his own seat in an over-stuffed armchair which had seen better days. He carefully poured out the tea for his guests, introducing himself as Soter and offering them honey and cream while watching their every move with keen eyes. “Is there something wrong with your arm?” he asked innocently.

“No, not at all,” Glory said after a moment’s hesitation. She lifted her arm so that the sleeve fell back and was relieved to see the illusion was just as she’d left it. That didn’t stop her from letting the sleeve slide back down to hide the offending appendage.

“Hmm,” he said, sipping his tea and looking from her to Phoenix and Milet. “You have the look of dreamers. Perhaps not your companions, but you are most certainly not born of the Dreamlands.” He waved away her surprise. “Many know that Dreamers walk among us, but few could point one out if it were needful. Dreamers rarely even know it themselves until they wake, but you are wakeful here and now. I can see that much. It‘s no wonder the men of Leng are interested in you. It‘s not only slaves who end up on their ships. They are known to collect strong Dreamers as well, though this is the first I‘ve heard of a any kind of prophecy… outside of my young colleague who insists he has visions.”

“The man who looked so frightened when we arrived?” Glory asked and was answered with a weary nod.

“I fear he has read one too many forbidden tome,” he said in a tone that was just a little too dismissive as he fished for information. “Whenever the men of Leng come to our port he tries to convince me that they are plotting some mischief. I do not doubt that the half-men are evil, but until he gives me something less nebulous than a ‘feeling’… So little is known about them and so much is said, that it is hard to separate the truth from rumor. I can hardly go to the Watch and ask them to bar the black ships from our ports without evidence. Our merchants would have fits.”

He looked at his guests expectantly, but Glory shook her head, “Phoenix saw what they do to the slaves they take onboard, but I don’t know how much that would count for anything. If people cared anything about the plight of slaves, they‘d outlaw the practice.”

The old man grimaced and put his teacup down as Phoenix quickly outlined what he had seen. He shook his head sadly, “Some would object, but you are right. Most would not care.” He cocked his head to the side. “What of this prophecy?” His casual demeanor did not mask the eagerness of his tone. Despite what he had said, he was only making a pretense at dismissing the younger librarian’s ‘visions.’

Glory shrugged uncomfortably. “Since I arrived here, I’ve been pushed into going to Y’qaa, and not just by the men of Leng. I have no idea what I am supposed to do there or even if I would make it back out alive, but I am certain that there will be consequences if I try to avoid it.”

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

to Book 6, part 3, page 29

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 part 3.28”

  1. Fiona said

    I’ve forgotten what she was supposed to be doing at the library.

    Happy New Year Candace! Happy writings in 2011!

    • lol Thanks 🙂 Happy New Year to you too.

      She was trying to find the location of Y’qaa. There’s a reason no one who it seems should know its location has given her a straight answer on where she might find it, but you’ll find out the reason next week. 😉

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