Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 3.37

Posted by harmony0stars on January 21, 2011

“Do you know how long it took me to find a way down here?” Phoenix grumbled, leaning against the doorframe as he stretched.

“How did you know I was here in the first place?” She set the second book down on the bench beside her as he approached, but left her hand resting against it’s cover, coveting the information she had already once been denied.

“I saw you from up there.” He jerked a finger at the row of windows from which she had first seen the garden herself. “Been a while since we could talk alone.”

She waited, but he didn’t say anything for a few seconds, looking around the overgrown garden for somewhere to sit. With a grunt of annoyance, he finally settled onto a large piece of masonry which had long ago broken off from the main building. It didn’t look comfortable. He was still pale and tired looking with dark circles under his eyes, and she marveled at the way he seemed entirely human right down to suffering from the physical effects of fatigue.

“I never thanked you for coming to rescue me in Ilarnek, and I’m sorry I snapped at you.” She stood up a little, tucking her legs under her so that she sat without slouching. “I was in a bad mood. I don’t like to feel helpless.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said with a tired smirk. “Too much of that when you were a kid.” She shrugged, and they fell silent again. “So what’s the plan now?” he asked, stretching again as if his bones ached.

“Atal gave me these books to read, but I don’t know how useful they’re going to be. Apparently he’s been sending people like me off to die in Y’qaa for a really long time.” She told him about her meeting with the old man and his insane flip-flopping over her mission.

“So what are we going to do?” He sounded as frustrated as she felt.

“Go to Y’qaa, of course.” A gust of wind sent gardenia petals flying, and she bushed one from her leg. “I still don’t have a choice. If I try to get out of it, I don’t want to think of what might happen to Ann and the boys.”

“I don’t want to die,” he said in a plaintive voice.

“You could stay here…” she offered, but he cut her off.

“You don’t get it.” He didn’t raise his voice, just stated his case in a tired voice. “No matter where I go, if you die, I die. If you do manage to get back to Earth without me, I die. The only reason I’m still alive is because we’re both here together in the Dreamlands. For the moment, your presence keeps me stable. But your life is my life; I can‘t live without you.”

“There has to be a way…” she said despite a decisive shake of his head. “I can’t not go to Y’qaa, Phoenix.”

He sighed, lowing his chin to his chest in defeat. “I know. Even without worrying about other people, I know your father wouldn’t let you get away with it. If he sent you, then he’s bound to take exception to you avoiding it.”

A sudden thought occurred to her. “You don’t think he’ll go for Edgar or Robert because I ducked out on the Miri Nigri, do you?”

He scowled but shook his head. “Probably not. I’m sure he’s got other ways of keeping an eye on you.”

“That’s a comforting thought,” she said sardonically. He shrugged without replying. “What do you know about Ubbo-Sathla?”

He didn’t even flinch at her use of one of Their names, too tired maybe to argue the point any more. “I know it’s nothing I want to mess with. It makes the Goat with a thousand young downright nurturing by comparison.”

“And it guards tablets stolen from the Elder Gods, according to these stories,” Glory said, putting a hand on the books by her side, “but Atal said my father was the warden of their intergalactic prison, and the tablets are some kind of key to lock them all back up when the stars have all moved too far away from one another or however it works.”

Phoenix shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m sorry; I don’t.”

“Are you okay, Phoenix?” she asked, cocking her head to the side.

“I’m just… tired. I’ve been feeling tired since those goat-fu… since the Miri Nigri jabbed me.” He rubbed his arm, reminding Glory of the injury she couldn’t heal. “Getting attacked by the Tind’losi Hounds was just icing on the cake.”

“Those things on Tamash’s Road? They didn’t look like any kind of hound I ever saw.”

He snorted. “Tamash can’t claim ownership of that place, and it’s no wonder people have gone missing trying to use it. Books are one thing; they aren‘t alive. The Tind’losi hate humanity though. I think they got my scent the first time we went through, and what would your brother care if they turned me into a hungry ghost too? That’s probably how they found us when we went through again, even with Atal’s amulets.”

She rubbed the pendant where it hung under her borrowed robes. “I don’t think they did anything but strengthen our etheric bodies. Considering Atal meant to send me to my death all along, they might not even be protective in the strictest sense. Maybe having us come through from Kadatheron was just a test to see if I could stand up to these Hounds.”

“Maybe,” he said in an unhappy voice. “In which case, should you really read the books he gave you? They might be full of bad information.”

Glory tapped the books beside her, hungry for information but acknowledging the possibility. She picked up the book she hadn’t read, the one it seemed her father himself had not wanted her to have and passed it over to Phoenix. “Here, you read it. Tell me anything you think I should know, but only if it’s absolutely necessary when we get to Y’qaa. That way I’m not influence by it, but we’re still sort of forewarned.”

Phoenix made a face, but took the book. “What about the other one?”

“Too late,” she said. “I already read it, but it’s just a collection of stories no worse than anything the Brothers Grimm might have written. Aside from acquainting me with the very depressing region of Y‘qaa and its resident monstrosity, I don‘t think I‘ll be unduly influence by any of it.”

to Book 6, part 3, page 38


2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 part 3.37”

  1. Fiona said

    I wonder if Phoenix could be passed on to someone else within the dreamlands…hmm..who would want him?

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