Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 3.36

Posted by harmony0stars on January 19, 2011

How many others had gone to Y’qaa over the eons, believing they were being directed by a benevolent parent? Atal seemed to think that Nyarlathotep would only send his own child if he was unable to go himself, but Tamash’s words gave lie to that sentiment. She was not the first he had sent to Y’qaa, and if Atal was right, it was always a death sentence.

She didn’t want to think about it.

Atal shooed her out at dawn so that he could perform his daily meditations, and she retreated to her room with the books. Most had been wizards obsessed with the question of what was on the tablets that the protoplasmic horror guarded. Too bad they hadn’t consulted Atal on the subject. Not that he seemed to have all the answers either. She couldn’t rule out that there might be more to the tablets than a cosmic get out of jail free card.

Only her father knew the answer to that question, and she couldn’t even say for sure if he’d sent her there intending that she succeed or fail. Maybe he saw her as a threat. Maybe he’d sent her to Y’qaa to die like all the others. She should have asked Soter how old Tesla was when he came to the Dreamlands. That might have given her some idea of whether he had succeeded. Or not… she might not know much about Tesla, but she did know he’d lived to a ripe old age and died alone in his hotel room, promising theories which he never did reveal. Maybe he’d been seeking Y’qaa and Ubbo-Sathla’s tablets right up until the end.

Even Atal’s about face did not fill her with confidence as to his motives. A man who would send innocent people to their deaths just because one of their parents happened to be a cosmic horror wasn’t trustworthy in her book. He could say anything, and how would she know if it was true or not? The one discrepancy that left her bewildered was the fact that if he had really wanted her dead, he could have let her take Tamash’s Road without the amulet to protect her from the Hounds. Maybe he just wanted to get her story before sending her to die, but it seemed an expensive method of getting her measure. At least no one had removed the pendant once she’d arrived. It had her blood in it after all, which made it a dangerous tool for her enemies if they got their hands on it.

The temple sat on the highest hill in city, a jumble of eastern and western architecture overlooking a town of medieval cottages and cobblestone streets. The main structure strained towards the sky like a tiered ziggurat wedded to slender Grecian columns and stonework which shared the arboreal feel of Gothic architecture. It sat at the center of an untidy ring of smaller buildings constructed in more or less the same style but nowhere near as large. These overlapped like mushrooms in a ring, some of them built overlapping their smaller neighbors. Why anyone would build in such a fashion, she had no idea, but it leant the whole complex an organic feel, as if it had grown that way rather than having a human origin.

Glory sat in one of several gardens filling the irregular spaces between the buildings. As she had explored the temple grounds, she had seen many of the tiny gardens from windows high up in the main temple. Some of them were so overgrown that it was hard to call them gardens at all, access to them cut off by the overlapping buildings around them. Maybe the plants within had germinated on their own, growing in the cracks and crevices as seeds were wont to do wherever they could find a source of soil, water, and light. She found the ground floor easily enough, but getting into the gardens was another matter.

Even after the sun rose, there were not many people about, and she was disinclined to ask them about the gardens anyway. She wanted privacy to read the books Atal had given her and having people know where she was seemed counter productive. It seemed that most of the outbuildings were used for storage though they might have once housed priests and acolytes. It seemed that the priesthood was not what it had once been. The buildings had been gently crumbling for centuries if she was any judge, overtaken by tiny internal forests like pictures of ancient Eastern temples lost to an encroaching green menace. Though here the jungle existed in the crevices between the buildings and would not be seen by the denizens of the city below until they had dragged down the structures behind which they sheltered.

After much wandering in and out of the temple and its companion buildings, she finally found her way into a smallish garden. It was overgrown enough that she expected she would not be disturbed, and its only entrance lay through a building which seemed not to have had any traffic in days, if not weeks. There were two benches in the irregular space, one claimed by the prop roots of a rampaging banyan tree which also grew into the building behind it while the other was half buried by a gardenia bush which was itself being overtaken by tendrils of jasmine. Their combined odor filled the area with a cloying scent which probably made most people who strayed into the area uncomfortable.

The first and smaller of the two books Atal had given her looked to be nothing more than a collection of children’s cautionary tales. Wizard-type goes looking for trouble, finds trouble, and either dies, goes mad, or gives up. She couldn’t afford to give up, so it looked like she could either go mad or die. Lucky, lucky me. She feared it might presage of how her life would ultimately end. The descriptions of Ubbo-Sathla were not at all pleasant, and she hope that they were at least embellished for the sake of a good story.

The other book… the other book gave her a shock as she opened its black suede cover to see the same pristine white vellum she’d last seen in her own bedroom. She barely managed to riffle the pages before she was interrupted.

to Book 6, part 3, page 37


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