Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 3.29

Posted by harmony0stars on January 3, 2011

“Y’qaa?” Soter murmured, rubbing his chin. “There was a man who came here when I was just a boy, newly apprenticed. Tesla, I think his name was. He also felt compelled to seek the gray-litten cavern. I see you know the name…”

“If it’s the same man, he was a famous inventor on Earth, but I really haven‘t read much about him,” Glory replied, wondering if Tesla had been another ‘brother.’ “Did he… find it?”

“That I cannot say. I never saw or heard of him again,” the old man said, spreading his hands. “Tell me, do the goat-men have any other power over you? A friend left behind on the ship, personal items?“

“No. They tried to keep Milet but…” Glory trailed off.

Soter nodded and levered himself to his feet, waving Glory back to her chair when she would have risen also. “I think then, that I have a way for you to get well away from the city before they even know you‘ve gone.“

She thought he was going for one of the many books on the shelves, but instead, he began sorting through a desk piled high with scraps of paper and books. He pulled a cord which hung nearby, holding a blank sheet of paper in his other hand. It was another few seconds as he searched for something to write with, finally coming up with an ornate quill and a half empty inkwell. He scratched out a quick note and dusted the paper with a bit of dirt or ash from a box to dry the ink. Tapping the note once to remove the excess particles, Soter rolled it up and slid it into a metal tube. He held out a taper to the fire until the wax was soft and dripped it over the tube before pressing his seal into the soft wax.

He handed the tube to the young man who had arrived. The acolyte nodded as his elder patted him on the back, murmuring instructions. Soter turned back to his guests as the man left the room. “I have a way for you to leave the city quickly and secretly, but you may not thank me for later. I have heard the trip is quite harrowing. I could send you out by a side door, and that is what I will tell those half-men when they come searching for you, but this will take you quite a bit further and hopefully closer to your goal.”

“Couldn’t you just tell me where Y’qaa is?” Glory asked. She was starting to feel like she was on a fools errand. “Aren’t there any maps here?”

The old man shook his head. “Even if there was a map, it would be useless. Y’qaa moves, you see, like many of the places the Elder Gods have claimed. It is not located on Earth or in Earth’s Dreamlands, though it may have once been some other world‘s dreaming place. There are many portals that might take you to it, but they are inconstant and dangerous. Such doors will sometimes wink out as the stars move out of their assigned places, and that is for the best. Others find new termini or lead nowhere at all.”

The way he stressed the last part, Glory was sure that he didn’t mean she’d end up back where she started. “So how can I find out where Y’qaa is now?” she asked and winced as she heard the petulance in her own voice.

Soter smiled though, maybe understanding her frustration. “High Priest Atal should be able to set you on the path. I would have directed you to the magic school here and any number of magi who would have access to the required spells, but dancing around those half-men as they search for you… You’ll be better off in Ulthar.”

“Ulthar?” Phoenix blurted. “That’ll take months.”

“No, only a single night, though as I said, it is not a trip you will enjoy. You have no doubt heard of Sarnath and the doom that befell it?” At their nods, he went on. “Tamash was the god of Sarnath, but he has always been a god of wizards and learning as well. The loss of Sarnath was as much a blow to him for the destruction of the Great Library there as it was in regards to the death and madness that flowed from the children of Ib. We have very few items from that doomed city. To ensure that such a great loss of learning should never occur again, Tamash spent what strength remained to him on connecting the Great Library of Kadatheron and Ulthar, as well as the libraries of other cities across the Dreamlands. This is a secret thing, which I hope you will keep to yourselves. Tamash may not have the power he once did, but he can still punish those who displease him.“ He fixed them with a stern eye before going on. “It is meant only as a way to send books hither and yon, not people, but it has been attempted by other travelers in dire need. Of those few who have taken Tamash’s road, most have found their way to their destination.”

“Most…?” Milet whispered. She nibbled on a biscuit, most of the rest having disappeared into her pockets when no one was looking. Even on board the ship she made sure the platter was empty before the Miri Nigri came to replace it, putting the excess in her pockets or squirreling the dried fruit away into hiding places around the room.

“I have taken the precaution of sending a message to Atal that you will be coming so that he might perform a ritual to expedite your arrival,” he assured her. “Lenon will show you to a room where you may rest until lunch. As soon as we hear from Atal that he is ready, we can send you on your way.”

to Book 6, part 3, page 30

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