Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 7 part 1.24

Posted by harmony0stars on April 15, 2011

“How… is she?” Glory asked, her eyes on the bundle on the table, but her mind a million miles away.

“You would not recognize her,” Ehecatl said. “I know you are twins only because you told me so. It seems as though she is much more her father‘s child.” Glory felt decidedly queasy and sat down across from Ehecatl while he grinned with cruel humor. “Had you properly eaten her when you were both infants, you would not have this rivalry now.”

“Is that what your children do?” she asked faintly.

“The first hatched will devour any unhatched eggs in the nest until it is full and smash the rest,” he offered casually as if discussing the weather.

Not wanting to offend him with her opinion on the matter, Glory changed the subject. “Where should I look in Islay?”

“Find your way into Cnoc Rhaonastil through the caves. You should recognize the signs. From there, you’re on your own.”

“Ugh, more caves,” she groaned. It was barely any help at all, but it seemed it was all she would get. “Why is everything always underground.”

Ehecatl snorted and stood. “It’s the best place to hide things obviously.”

“What are your plans now?” she asked as she walked with him back to the front door.

“Now? I am free to seek my revenge.” He smiled a very nasty smile, his fangs showing despite his human shape.

“Professor Scott?” she asked anxiously. “Be careful of him. He’s poisonous.”

“So am I,” Ehecatl smiled like the cat who ate the canary. He seemed bizarrely happy for someone on a suicide mission.

She shook her head sadly. “He went after your wife purposely, didn’t he? What is it between you two?”

His eyes narrowed dangerously. “Don’t presume upon our friendship,” he hissed.

The door opened suddenly, and Edgar came barreling into the house. He bounced off the serpent man and landed on his butt. With a very audible sniff, gaped up at Ehecatl before rolling over and bolting on his hands and knees around the naga. He cowered behind Glory’s leg making mumbling noises as if he were afraid Ehecatl would come after him for running into him. Ann stood in the door dumfounded by his strange behavior.

“So you decided to keep the runt,” Ehecatl said in a nasty tone. He walked to the door, giving Ann a cool glare. Her eyes had gone round at the sound of his voice, the color gone from her cheeks.

“Th-that was the s-ser… the naga from Miskatonic,” she said in a wheeze as she stumble away from the door.

Edgar scrabbled around frantically as Glory stepped around Ann to close the door. “Yes, but don’t worry. He only came to settle his debt,” Glory explained without bothering to say why.

“Mummummummum!” groaned Edgar, cowering against the wall and crawling along it slowly like a rat trying to escape notice.

“Shhhh,” Glory crooned, kneeling and gathering him into her arms. “It’s okay. He’s gone.” Edgar buried his face in her shoulder, snuffling as if to replace Ehecatl’s scent with hers.

“He said mum!” Ann cried half delighted and half still confounded by meeting Ehecatl face to face.

“Did you say mum?” Glory asked, hoisting him like a toddler. He wrapped his legs around her waist. Anyone else would have had a hard time with that kind of weight, but Glory easily carried him into the living room.

“Mum!” he agreed, resting his chin on her shoulder.

Once she managed to remove his jacket, he crawled from her lap singsonging word mum. He dug through his toy box, content now that he’d been assured he was safe. It had probably only been the shock of running into Ehecatl head first. Ann sat down next to her and shook her head.

“Do you suppose nagas… eat ghouls?” Ann whispered and Edgar’s head shot up, looking all over the room and sniffing loudly.

“It’s okay, sweetie,” Glory called to him, though this time he didn’t seem inclined to freak out. “He’s still gone.”

“What was he doing here?” Ann fussed with the corner of her coat, her fingers trembling when they weren’t occupied.

“Don’t worry. He was just repaying what he felt he owed me for helping him save his daughter. I don’t think he’d come back here again unless it was to ask for help, and gratitude isn’t something that sits well with him. He can’t just be grateful; it’s a debt to him even if none was implied.”

“It’s just… I don’t like snakes,” she chuckled weakly, “Nothing even happened to me to make me afraid of them. It’s just… ever since I saw Indiana Jones.”

Glory smiled and stood, “Here, give me your coat. I’ll put it away.”

Ann slipped her jacket off and then slid off the couch to chat with Edgar. He responded with chirps and croons as he always did, though he did slip a few “mums” into the conversation.

She put the coats in the closet and slipped into the kitchen, collecting the wounded cloak and the second piece to the Black Stone. The way Ehecatl had spoken, the cloak might very well have come from a naga, maybe someone he’d known. Though that would make his very old.

It seemed to her a waste of a life though, just to let the cape shrivel up. Opening the vault, she set her burdens down, her brushing over Mjolnir. She picked up Phoenix’s stone and sighed once again at his irritable response.

What can I do for you, oh master, he muttered sullenly. She could see him in her mind’s eye, a red, black, and white blur of fire, sparkling with blue along his edges as he floated in the remnants of a ruined room much like her library, ashes and charred wood lying helter-skelter wherever she looked.

How can you be thousands of times older than me and still be so immature? She thought at him. He didn’t answer and she said, If you want, I can carry you around with me, even give you some autonomy I think, but not if you’re going to act like a child every time I talk to you. Think about it. She set the stone back on its shelf and left. He could give her his answer when she came back later.

to Book 7, part 1, page 25

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