Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 7 part 1.19

Posted by harmony0stars on April 4, 2011

Phoenix was in no better mood when she stepped into the vault later that night. Glory didn’t bother to apprise him of what had happened while he sulked. She put his gem back down on the shelf after holding it only a few seconds, though she felt him brooding behind her for the rest of the night.

Instead, she turned her attention to her torn cloak. If anything, the tear was worse than it had been. The threads, if they could be described as such, were not unraveling; they seemed to be evaporating, shriveling into fragile burnt twigs like dead spider legs. They turned to ash and floated away with the slightest jostling. To her other eyes, the damage looked even worse, like a suppurating bruise in a piece of fruit.

Aside from that one mark, the cloak was immaculate, but it was clear that the wound was spreading and whatever magic the tarnkappe had would disappear along with the cloak itself. She examined the hem, but felt no wiser for it. If there was a way to save the cloak, it had to lie in the seams that kept it from unraveling along the edges. Else how had it lasted so long without evaporating from the outside in, as it now was from the tear, out?

But the answer wasn’t self-evident as she ran the edges through her fingers, and she didn’t really have time to unravel the tarnkappe’s mysteries or to dwell on any of the other artifacts she’d collected. Chances were, when she finally did have the time, the tarnkappe would already be long gone.

Glory pulled her computer to her with a frustrated sigh. She’d much rather play with magic than go on a scavenger hunt, especially when chances were someone else had already beaten her to most of the pieces. At least thanks to the Elder Key and her jump started genes, she knew what the Black Stone was supposed to look like, if not where its various pieces might have wandered over the ensuing centuries.

She also didn’t know exactly what it was for, which was weird.

If she thought hard enough on any subject dredged up from her junk DNA, or wherever it had been hiding, she could follow the idea through its various permutations and divergences to other related ideas like going from one link to another on the internet. The only reason she hadn’t gone to any great lengths in examining the contents of her own mind was because it was like the root system of some massive tree of knowledge or more aptly, a maze in which she could easily become disoriented. She was wise enough to not go far in her explorations. Some concepts loomed large on the horizon of her mind however. The Black Stone was such an idea.

But there was a curious blank spot there when she tried to reach the Black Stone. She could see it whole in her mind’s eye, every symbol on its bowl-like surface rimed by luminescence, but it sat there, off in a star filled space with no clear pathway leading to or away from it. Glory knew that it was important. If nothing else, the episode yesterday with the little girl had shown her that. But she didn’t know why. The Stone was unreachable, the racial memory seeming to exist merely to taunt her. Yet she knew, even if someone else had not already been searching for it, that she must have it.

As the minutes ticked by to morning, she gained no ground in tracking the pieces of the Black Stone online. She purchased top of the line image recognition software, but it would take weeks to reach her. In the meantime, she couldn’t even find images of what had been taken from the museums to verify which pieces might still be out there.

It was clear that she would have a hard choice to make concerning Professor Scott and Colonel Bitman. Which could she trust?

It was perhaps fortuitous that as soon Ann left in the morning, this time to take Edgar to get new shoes to replace his mud caked sneakers and possibly to a bookstore if he behaved, that Steiner knocked on her door. Or perhaps not so fortuitous as it was planned.

“You have got to loosen up or my neighbors are going to think I’m being audited,” she said, trying to lighten the mood. Steiner said nothing as he removed his sunglasses, carefully folding them and putting them in his breast pocket as he surveyed the interior of her home. “How’s Redfield?”

He glanced at her for the first time. “He’ll be in quarantine for at least a week, but he’s doing better than anyone would have expected. Thank you.” He looked away again, using his interest in her home to hide his emotion. He and Redfield were obviously close, but then, even if they had not been distantly related, their job made them unusually dependent upon one another.

“So what brings you to my door today, Agent Steiner?” Glory asked, gesturing for him to precede her into the kitchen. After leaving Bitman alone in the dining room, she wanted to be close enough to her guest that looking around while she got him a cup of water was still an option.

“Since you refused to be debriefed at HQ, Colonel Bitman sent me to take your statement.” Steiner stopped at the kitchen table, setting his worn leather briefcase down in the light streaming through the French doors.

“To be honest, it was careless of me to get in a car and go to an undisclosed location with three strangers, let alone compound it by letting your boss cart me off to your headquarters where I might never be heard from again,” Glory said a little coldly. She collected a pitcher of water from the fridge and two glasses and followed him to the table.

“But you can see by the fact that he brought you home that he never intended to detain or threaten you,” Steiner replied reasonably. Before she could open her mouth and tear him a new one for attempting to influence her again, he flushed and met her gaze. His eyes were an frosty gray-blue despite his almost Mayan features, their color made all the lighter by the sunlight pouring through the doors.

to Book 7, part 1, page 20

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 7 part 1.19”

  1. Alderin said

    Nice addition, with the standard cheerful gripe about cliffhanger chapter endings.

    “…, she didn’t want to be so far away from her guest that looking around while she got him a cup of water wasn’t an option.” – Didn’t read smoothly. Maybe ” she wanted to be close enough to her guest that…”?

    *HUGS*

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