Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 3.35

Posted by harmony0stars on January 17, 2011

“The prison is failing as it does at the end of every great Age,“ he said, holding up a hand when it looked as though she might explode again. “Despite all my spells and rituals, it slips a little more every day. But, the Elder Gods never intended their children to sleep forever. You see, there was… a misunderstanding… at the dawn of time.”

A misunderstanding, Glory thought with grim amusement. That’s one way to put it.

“To stop the war and prevent their children from tearing apart this reality and each other, the Elder Gods sealed them away where they could observe the progression of time but not interact with reality in any meaningful way, perhaps in the hope that they would learn patience. As the stars slowly drift apart, the bonds of their prison grow lax. Those who transgressed the least against the Elder Gods find their way to freedom before their brethren, but eventually all will go free unless their jailor decides they are still a danger to one another.”

“That’s nice in theory,” Glory said irritably, “But I don’t think their imprisonment has done anything for their disposition but make them meaner.”

“Then you will have to be a better jailor than Nyarlathotep was before you,” he said, his hands clasped in his lap. “That is why your parent, whoever he may be, has sent you to Y’qaa.”

She flinched at her father’s name, covering her shock with a pretense of fear. “I was told never to say their names. I… he was their jailor? Isn‘t that like putting a fox in charge of the hen house?”

“When the Elder Gods withdrew, they left him to see to the maintenance of the prison they had constructed. For eons, he alone has had charge of choosing new star patterns as Earth aligns with Azathoth at the center of the universe. He has allowed some their freedom in the past, only to put them back at the start of a new Age if they did not live up to his expectations. Such events have been… cataclysmic on Earth. He is also given charge any new children of the gods, to protect them till their maturity and imprison them if and when it becomes necessary.”

Glory shuddered. “I would not put him in charge of anyone’s children,” she said vehemently. “You don’t know what he’s been doing on Earth.” She was sure she didn’t even know the half of it.

“I know some of what he has done to humanity through the ages,” Atal said calmly spreading his hands, “but he was not tasked with protecting any of the lesser races, merely protecting and pacifying the spawn of the Elder Gods.”

She was tired of the lecture. “That doesn’t take into account the fact that your Elder Gods bred with just about anything on Earth that moved before their little misunderstanding. At this point, all earthly life could qualify as spawn of the Elder Gods.” He couldn’t admit her father was a monster and then absolve him of his guilt by saying other races didn’t deserve the same consideration.

“Where did you hear that?” Atal sounded scandalized.

“Shub Niggurath, or at least the piece of her that I encountered under Ilarnek. She showed it to me. She showed me their little misunderstanding too,” Glory said, feeling just a little smug. “and let me tell you, your Elder Gods aren‘t much better than their spawn.”

Atal shoved himself to his feet, his face flushed with fury. “Did it never occur to you that she might be lying?” he shouted.

“Of course it did.” Glory crossed her arms. “But it’s not like she sugar coated anything. I saw everything they did, the Elder Gods and the Great Old Ones, breeding and killing and eating one another.”

There was a quiet knock on the door in the silence which followed, and Atal visibly brought himself under control before saying, “Come.”

“Master, is everything all right?” asked a young priest, sticking his head in the door and glancing at Glory suspiciously.

“Yes, Mateo. Everything is fine, thank you.” Atal sat back down. “Will you please bring something from the kitchen for our guest?”

“Yes, Master.” He bowed and quietly closed the door behind him.

“So what is my part in this?” Glory asked in a disgusted tone. “Why does Nyarlathotep need me to go to Y’qaa?”

“He sent you?” Atal asked, seeming unsettled by the revelation. “Nyarlathotep is your father?”

She paused a moment before nodding.

“That explains how the Miri Nigri became involved,” he said thoughtfully giving her a speculative look, “and why others have moved to stop you.”

“I didn’t even tell you about the Miri Nigri,” she said, sitting back in her chair.

“No, but Soter sent me a copy of your story while you were recovering.” He lay his hand on a scroll case by the table like the one she’d seen Soter send hours before. “I think you left some things out of your account.”

Glory blushed and wondered if she was too old to sulk. Talking to Atal was becoming an emotional roller coaster, and he hadn’t even told her how to get to Y’qaa yet. “I didn’t know how they’d feel about me if they knew what I was.”

“Of course.” Atal smiled like someone’s kindly old grandfather. “But now I must have proof you are who you say you are.”

She frowned, wondering how it changed anything, but Atal sat waiting. With a sigh, she said, “I went looking for him because… I wanted answers, but next thing I knew, I was on Kadath with… my friend, and we were pretty near to freezing to death before we found that cave.” There was no reason she had to betray Phoenix’s secret as well as her own.

“No,” Atal said with a hint of irritation, “start with how you were conceived.”

Heat spread over her cheeks as she blushed anew. She groaned and started the story as her grandmother had told it to her. Mateo’s return from the kitchen allowed her to pause in her narrative while Atal thanked him and sent him on his way. The High Priest offered her the plate, but she waved it away. “I don’t get hungry, not anymore,” she said, to which Atal nodded as if he had guessed as much. As she continued, he seemed to know whenever she was leaving anything out. He wanted to know everything, from the story of her parents and her sister to her encounters in Ilarnek with Tsathoggua and Shub Niggurath and the hounds on Tamash‘s Road.

“Well?” she demanded, as he sat across from her looking thoughtful. “Did I pass your test or whatever?”

“Yes, though your grandmother was mistaken. As I said, your father was never imprisoned until they bound him into human flesh. That they tried to burn him…” he shook his head in amazement.

“So why does this change anything having to do with Y’qaa?” she asked.

“The stars have been moving out of their alignment for eons. They are nearly right for the Great Old Ones to rise from their slumber. Dreamers have gone to Y’qaa before… they do not return. I would have sent you expecting you to fail as well. The tablets are not for mortal hands, nor even for the Gods of Earth. Only He may retrieve them from Ubbo Sathla. ”

“You… you would have sent me to die?” Glory was aghast.

The old man pushed himself up from the chair and crossed the room to a shelf containing many scrolls and books. “Yes,” Atal said without apology. “But now it is more important that you do not fail. If you die, the Great Old Ones will be free whether they are worthy or not, and there would be no putting them back without the tablets, at least not until Earth aligns with galactic center again.”

“So now you’ll help me?”

“I can’t help you,” he said, carrying two books back with him.

“But you said…” She felt like tearing her hair out.

“I would have sent you to Y’qaa, expecting you to die. I would have given you no warning of what to expect, nor of what you were seeking. No one has ever managed to take the tablets from where they lay, but as Nyarlathotep’s own offspring, you have a better chance than most. So I will tell you of Ubbo Sathla and I will give you such stories as have been collected about him so that you will be prepared for your encounter. I hope that you succeed, but I have my doubts as well.”

Old or not, Glory had never felt so close to punching someone in the face.

to Book 6, part 3, page 36

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